Monday, December 31, 2007

Immersed in Chocolate

On Solstice we received the gift of water and chocolate from our niece. She did a superb job of putting together a gift package to embrace the health benefits of both from a physical and metaphysical standpoint. Very nice indeedy! The chocolate selection included not only dark, rich candies made from high percentages of cacao, but also raw cacao nibs. Then lo and behold, more rich chocolate came our way via our son's gift to Coop. So, being curious as to how I might put the nibs as well a some of the chocolate to use, I searched recipes. I found a few fairly easy recipes, even a couple that integrated the Aztec tradition of combining cacao with chili powder and/or peppers. The Aztec bark uses semi sweet chocolate as opposed to raw nibs. I can't wait to try the nib rub!

cacao nib drop cookies

chococlate shortbred with cacao nibs

Aztec Chocolate Bark


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Chipotle Mexican Grill is Nation's First Chain to go Entirely rBGH-Free

Survey Shows That 81 Percent of Consumers Would Prefer to Purchase
Dairy Products Produced without Added Hormones

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 5, 2007--Before the end 2007, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG and CMG.B) will no longer serve any cheese made with milk from cows treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). That will make Chipotle the first national restaurant chain to eliminate rBGH entirely from items on its menu.

Chipotle began serving 100% rBGH-free sour cream last year, and has begun shifting to rBGH-free cheese over the last several months, a move it will complete by year-end, making 100% of its cheese rBGH-free. It also serves rBGH-free, organic milk at some of its locations.

rBGH, also called recombinant bovine somatotropin or rBST, is a synthetic hormone that stimulates milk production in dairy cattle. Use of rBGH has been banned in a number of countries, including 25 European nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Since its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993, the use of the hormone in this country has been controversial for many reasons, including potential health concerns for humans and the animals treated with the hormone.

"We want to change the way the world thinks about and eats fast food," said Chipotle Founder, Chairman and CEO, Steve Ells. "Serving our customers cheese and sour cream without rBGH is the responsible thing to do. It's better for our customers, better for the animals, and better for the food system."

Today's announcement represents the latest development in Chipotle's Food With Integrity mission - a commitment to making socially responsible, gourmet food available and affordable so everyone can eat better. To that end, Chipotle now serves more naturally raised meat than any restaurant in the world - meat raised humanely without antibiotics or added growth hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet. Beyond naturally raised meat and rBGH-free dairy, 25 percent of the black and pinto beans Chipotle serves are organically grown.

"We care about the quality of the ingredients we are serving," said Ells. "Everyone should have access to great-quality, great-tasting food. So, we look for ingredients that are grown and raised with care and respect."

According to the results of a recent survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 81 percent of respondents would prefer to buy dairy products derived from cows that do not receive synthetic hormones, assuming little or no pricing difference. Other findings from the Opinion Research Corporation survey include:

  • Of those who said they would not prefer to buy rBGH-free dairy products, 64 percent said that they would buy rBGH-free dairy products if the synthetic hormone was linked to health issues with humans, and 42 percent said they would if the use of rBGH was linked to health issues with dairy cattle.
  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents were aware that many dairy cows in this country are treated with rBGH.
  • Nearly half of those who had no preference said they would prefer to buy rBGH-free dairy products if they knew the hormone was banned in a number of other countries.

"Chipotle has been making positive changes to the food supply system for a number of years, and we're extremely pleased that they've chosen to make being rBGH-free part of that commitment," said Rick North, director of the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility's Campaign for Safe Food, a non-profit group that's been collaborating on a nationwide education campaign opposing rBGH. "As consumers become more aware of the issues associated with rBGH use and the alternatives companies like Chipotle are providing, they are clearly stating their preference for rBGH-free dairy products."

About Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG and CMG.B) offers a focused menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods and served in a distinctive atmosphere. Through our vision of Food with Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food not only from a variety of fresh ingredients, but ingredients that are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food. Chipotle opened its first restaurant in 1993 and operates more than 670 restaurants today. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chris Arnold, 303-222-5912

SOURCE: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Flying Spaghetti Monster Cookies

Originally uploaded by fsmcookies

For the Pastafarians out there...wish I had seen this prior to the holidays! But would make a tasty treat for any Friday. Arrrr! :)))

Friday, December 28, 2007

Can New Kind of Chocolate Make People Happier?

This company is seeking people who want to test a new kind of chocolate (all natural) derived from the way the ancient Mexicans made their legendary cacao drinks. It's free but you have to give them feedback.

read more | digg story

Thursday, December 27, 2007

post Yule

It has been awhile. I am hoping everyone had a very happy and safe Yule.

I am in an odd place…have been for the most part since Thanksgiving…kind of a blah mood. I probably can contribute some of that to the lack of sunshine and the shorter days. For the most part I’m feeling a lack of energy and a need to sleep more than normal. I’m in a foggy place, with the desire to be doing something but having a lack of focus and energy. Perhaps I feel somewhat out of pace with the rest of the world during the holiday season. Hopefully I’ll return to a more energetic level soon.

The holiday season was a very, very good one despite my state of being. Lots of unexpected goodies came our way. Our daughter and son in law had already purchased a new alternator for my 93 Eagle Summit, so we didn’t expect anything more. But lo and behold, a bag of goodies to boot! My favorite was a basket full of all natural hand and body lotions and creams as well as a foot scrub. How nice! Then I had the surprise of my life when my son and family gifted me with a 16 quart pressure canner. Now, I know not everyone would be as touched and excited as I was over this. But, you see, I have been wanting one for quite some time and even more so recently as we are now back to gardening and preserving each year. I was so surprised, touched and elated when I opened it, I couldn’t contain the tears. My family did great, giving us very useful or consumable gifts. And to top it of, our daughter in law made lemon sponge pie. This is a recipe my mother in law used to make and which we loved. We have not had lemon sponge pie since a year or two prior to my MIL’s passing about five years ago. It was SO good! In fact it was perfect. Needless to say, my intention to eliminate most of the sugar from my diet will have to be postponed until the pie is finished!

To all our family and friends I want to say a big “Thank You” again. Your generosity is incredible and so very, very much appreciated. We had a wonderful time gathering with each and every one of you and feel and are so very blessed by your presence in our lives and the love you express in word and deed.

As for our gift giving, I was delighted to see such appreciation for the hand crafted items we gave. Even the little ones were delighted to open their new hats and scarves. For my two oldest grandsons, I had also made crocheted medicine pouches to wear around their necks. In each one I placed a gemstone heart. Luke, who is six, said, “Grandma, this will remind me how much you love me.” He definitely got the message, bless his heart.

Now, after all the giving, receiving and overindulging I am in the process of purging my environment. Along with putting the new things away, I seem to have the irrevocable need to eliminate other stuff, asking myself, “do I really need this?” and “have I any real use for this?” It seems for me this is a constant, ongoing process. So today, in between loads of laundry and napping, I cleaned out and organized the bathroom cabinets and the medicine cupboard. Tomorrow perhaps I’ll accomplish a little more. Baby steps.

To all my readers, I wish you a very safe and joyous new year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Poinsettias-dispelling the "poisonous" myth

According to an article in the Dec. 13th issue of Farm and Dairy, poinsettias are not toxic to animals and other living things. In fact, the article states that humans are far more likely to harm a poinsettias than vice versa. However, if exposed to it, the milky sap has been known to cause skin irritation to some folks, according to Ward Upham, who heads the Master Gardener program at Kansaas Sate Research and Extension. The biggest risk is in the fact that the leaves are very fibrous, so they could result in choking if someone got them lodged in their throat. Odds are against that happening because the leaves are said to have a terribly bad taste. Upham also goes on to say that the American Medical Association has never received a confirmed report of any serious or fatal results stemming from poinsettia ingestion. He also cites a study at OSU which found that if a child of fifty pounds ate 500 poinsettia bracts (the leaves that look like flowers), said child might develop a slight stomach ache.

So, all you folks who have feared poinsettias in your home over the holiday season can rest a little easier now. Having poinsettias around the holidays as well as having two housecats has never been a problem for us anyhow since my cats have never had a hankering to bother the plants, but it’s good to know that if they did, I have little if anything to worry about.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Meaning of It All

"There is a fundamental disconnect that people have between their money and the way they live their day to day life. They view money as something separate and distinct, something to be managed. [...] It is that disconnect, that separation, that has led to a sense of our money being completely out of our control."

read more | digg story

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Magic of the Season

I awaken to another dawn
and bid good-bye the night,
and find, as I was sleeping,
a shroud of the purest white
has crept in, in stillness,
without effort or a sound,
and softly tucked the world in white,
the trees, the roofs, the ground.
And in this still and softened landscape
I remember… and once again I find,
the magic of the season,
the touch of the sublime.

©s. cooper 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

my take on consciousness

Consciousness…to not only be aware, but to be responsible, to develop and have an awareness of the natural cycles of the earth and nature, to understand the seasons and the gift each one brings and to live and work in accord with understanding and a grateful heart….to be comfortable with yourself and unafraid to be real, honest and able to laugh at yourself, to see hope despite how the world or things and people in it may appear, to trust your inclinations and not go against that inner knowing, to honor and respect other’s right to be who they are and not feel it’s yours and anyone else’s responsibility to change them, to love and appreciate what you have and feel no lack, to know there is much you don’t know and some things you will never know, to live and love without regret, to know peace and simplicity as the way to peace and simplicity, to be grateful for all you have and thankful for all the people and the lessons you have learned in your life, not just some of them…to be mindful and kind to people and all living things, knowing they deserve to be here as much as you do…to trust there is always enough, to live creatively, to be unafraid to love and express that love in word and deed, to spend time alone in nature and in silence because you find it essential to your well being and you enjoy the company, to share with and serve others out of love rather than a sense of obligation and to place no expectations on others, to harbor no guilt or blame, but to see a bigger picture and trust the outcome, to understand you cannot control anything but your own responses and to know that no matter how things turn out, it will be ok…and to remember life is a journey, not a destination.

Friday, November 16, 2007

From My Homestead: a simple and seasonal recipe

From My Homestead: a simple and seasonal recipe

a simple and seasonal recipe

Now this is very seasonal, simple and sounds very yummy. I just happen to have a good supply of butternut squash from the garden so think I may be trying this soon.

Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake


It’s less than a week until Thanksgiving and I’m happy to say everything seems to be lining up quite well. This is our first time hosting the day since moving back to the farm a year ago in August. And now, here we are, gathering our family around, back in the old house where the kids spent most of their younger days. All in all it should prove to be a very abundant and filling Thanksgiving Day and we have much to be thankful for.

My son in law Tom picked up a 17 pound turkey from Whole Foods for the big day. Next week, Tom will be bringing homemade pumpkin pies and his yearly gift of homemade chocolate fudge, something I await eagerly each year. No one makes chocolate fudge like Tom and he knows how I anticipate it every year. He has been gifting me with it traditionally each year at the holiday season since long before he and Kandice began dating.

Speaking of Kandice, she will be making her traditional organic green bean casserole and some additional stuffing. My niece, Jenni, will provide deviled eggs and daughter in law, Linda, will be bringing a salad. My sister Susan will be contributing homemade bread or rolls and the traditional cranberry orange relish. I don’t know about others, but to me Thanksgiving is not complete without cranberry sauce or relish alongside the stuffing on my plate. And speaking of stuffing, I will make my traditional sausage stuffing as well as the turkey, gravy, taters, sweet potatoes, corn pudding and of course, Waldorf salad. I almost forgot about making the Waldorf salad. Fortunately while at the grocery store yesterday, it occurred to me, so I picked up the necessary ingredients. I make my Waldorf with pineapple, apples, raisins, and instead of nuts I add sunflower seeds. I tried it that way one time, we loved it and I have been making it that way ever since. Along with the aforementioned items, I may make some zucchini bread, since I have plenty of grated squash in the freezer.

I am thankful for so many things. I have my health, a wonderful relationship with a loving husband, a generous, loving family I hold dearly, healthy, happy grandchildren, good, kind friends, a warm home filled with memories and I am surrounded by country. I sleep well at night with few worries and many blessings. We have adequate everything and life is full and peaceful. Yes, I have very much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Question Of Lifestyle

"Why do we live the way we do? What things are important to us, and why? What is a "lifestyle," anyway?"

"The question of lifestyle is more than a question of deciding whether or not to participate in those parts of the human enterprise that endanger the living Earth. In the end, it is a question of choosing who we are."

This article from IN CONTEXT asks some interesting questions that just might get you thinking about who you are and what defines you.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sweet Potatoes

As I was browsing online for recipes I came across this link with a variety of sweet potato recipes from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. I love sweet potatoes, but too often don't think about serving them often. Gonna try and change that! Thought I'd share, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner.

New Makes @ the Homestead

Here at home I have, as usual, been busy crafting and creating. My daughter is modeling the newest hat style I created in 100% cotton yarn.

It was simply a matter of using a basic skull cap pattern in double crochet. By adding a few increased rows at the end instead of finishing off, I made what I call a boat hat. Great for spring and fall. I was going to keep it but it looked so much cuter on Kandice I had no choice to send it home with her. (Thanks Sue for taking the snapshots!) The cotton yarn gives a lot more when wearing, so it helps to use a smaller hook than a pattern might call for. As you can see, my boy Arther had to get in on the photos. I think they’re both pretty cute kids. :)

In other project news, hehe, Coop (bless his heart) made this simple peg rack for the bathroom wall.

I like these so much better than regular towel bars as they hold so much more. We have one near the tub to hang towels on, but needed something more for my jammies and such. A simple board spray painted black (to match the other) and a few inexpensive hooks completed the project. Total cost was about $2.00. The premade ones I priced at Home Depot and such were about $14.00. (Pay no attention to the unpainted woodwork…a project that hasn’t been tended to just yet. )

Today’s project is making up a batch of my “Winter Magic” aromatherapy spray. It’s a wonderfully spicy seasonal blend of essential oils. I concocted it to create a welcoming feeling conducive to ease and enjoyment. Last year I included it in my gift giving and it became an immediate favorite, so now a new batch is in order. I have a new scent or two in mind to work on, also, and can’t wait to get started. Here at the homestead the creativity never ends!

Monday, November 5, 2007

another monday ramble

It's Monday and I thought a good time to just ramble about things here at the homestead. I seem to have a thing for Monday rambles.

My friend Vicki flew back to Florida last Tues. We had a relaxing and enjoyable couple of weeks while she was here. I received my Reiki Master attunement and have a lot of good memories to hold me until we see one another again. The Friday after she arrived we went to a Halloween haunted forest put on by the local fire dept. What fun taking a hay ride to the woods and walking in the dark woods, not knowing who or what might spring forth to scare you.! I had not done that since my kids were teenagers still at home! We sure had a lot of laughs that night and some healthy exercise, too! The weather was great while Vicki was here and she got to experience the height of the Ohio autumn as she'd hoped, including a walk in the woods and a bonfire. I guess we even sent her home with a little bit of an education in making healthier food choices as well as some new recipes. We did some bead swapping, gift giving and receiving and shared lots and lots of laughter. Needless to say, like the sign in my kitchen reads, it's all good.

Fall is here in a big way. The view into the woods is fairly clear now with just a few trees holding on to their leaves. I imagine within the next few days, many of those remaining will disappear. We have spotted several large bucks nearby and imagine we'll be seeing more deer now that the trees have grown bare. Coop (bless his heart) has managed to get the garden space cleared. Summer items and patio furniture are gradually being put away for the winter to come. I've gathered enough zinnia seeds to share with family and neighbors for planting next Spring.

This month proves to be a busy one with birthdays and holidays approaching. I have a freezer full of plenty from Summers garden and will certainly be putting it to good use soon, baking loaves of zucchini bread and simmering pots of chili and stuffed peppers throughout the winter months. I have been devoted to crocheting gifts for family and friends, as well as becoming inspired and crafting some new and unique jewelry items. I really must get some of these things uploaded and listed on Etsy !!! Seems I am a plethora of inspiration, projects and plans most, if not all the time. I can really seem to drive myself crazy! It seems there are too few hours in the day and I find myself scattered at times, torn between so many plans and ideas that I seem unable to stay focused on just one thing at a time. I can take multi tasking to whole new level I think! Meanwhile, the dishes and dust do tend to lay in wait until I can give proper attention to them. Such is life!

I noticed the other day how much healthier our dog Shadow appears to be. His fur is so black and shiny now and he looks so much sleeker and fit. He is still shy of men, but has turned out to be quite playful with me at times. He's learned some tricks and now he volunteers a paw shake, awaiting the goodies. He's also become a fairly good watch dog. He is a sweetie to be sure. He greets me at the car whenever we come home from someplace and I have taken to carrying dog treats in the car, so he gets a snack when he greets me. To say he has become a tad bit spoiled is putting it mildly. It is a shame that such a lovely, well behaved, gentle spirit had been neglected for so long. But he is now apparently happy and comfortable and that is very rewarding for me, also. I just love the guy and am thankful for his presence here.

Well, I am off to go about the day and act as if it Monday despite it not feeling like a Monday to me...if that makes sense. As I said, the dust and dishes lay in wait. Coop has gone to town to renew his license plates, stop at the hardware and check on the prospect of an "over the winter" part time job. Coop will be 65 in 6 days and now that Medicare part B is kicking in this month, that will reduce our income by nearly $100. Doesn't sound like much, but when every penny counts, it makes a big difference, especially with the cost of winter heating. But, I have faith that we'll manage because we always have. I can stretch a dollar as far as it can go and I continue supplementing our income with sales of my handmade goods. Speaking of which, I just fulfilled a request for some of my massage oil from my daughter's acupuncture therapist. Her clients love it! And, although she cannot legally offer my aromatherapy products to her clients, she can refer them to me for their purchasing needs. Like I've said, it's all good!

Ok, I really am outa here...for now. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

a few beads, a few safety pins, some wire & voila'

A recent wisebread article, Savvy Suggestions for Safety Pins inspired me to get creative. Well, to be honest, it first reminded me that I had the components necessary (leftover from a few craft projects of the distant past) to make use of. So here are the results...two candle covers. The green and red one I made first to set over a tea light. Next I put together the purple one, making it with the daisy style beads and large enough to set over a votive cup. They turned out so pretty I just had to share. When lit, they look like jewels shimmering. I thought they'd be especially nice to use over the holiday season. All it took was a few large safety pins, an assortment of plastic beads and some 18 gage wire to string them all together. I've shown them here in bright light and then when lit in the dark.

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's no secret-LOA

Last week while my friend Vicki was here visiting, we had the opportunity to view "The Secret" together. As most know, it was a video about the law of attraction, how like attracts like and using the LOA to manifest the life we want. For us it was a refresher course in what we already were aware of. Actually, it was a very welcome and much needed reminder.

For a brief synopsis there are two main concepts. One is that there is a force (law of attraction) at work in the universe, (whether you call it God or Nature) that responds to our thoughts and energy. The other concept is that thoughts are things and the creative force behind what "happens" in our lives. Or as I always say, thought=action=result. I've studied this concept for several years, but had gotten out of the habit of practicing it. So being the open minded, willing participant in what I (from previous experience) already know works, I decided to take a few refresher notes while watching the video. And today, after reviewing my gratitude list, I thought, why not share the notes? They are posted as written.

Images/thoughts attract. Thoughts become things, sending a magnetic signal out, attracting like. Positive thoughts are far more powerful than negative. (Thank goodness!) Manifesting is not instant, allowing time to change your mind. You can always assess or reassess.

Most attract by default. Thoughts and feelings create your life and experience.

LOA is really obedient and always on.

Passion is key ingredient. Controlling feelings is easier than the impossible task of controlling thoughts.

Key Point-feeling good attracts more good feelings and good things. Shift emotions. Feeling creates the attraction.

Think of the universe as a big genie waiting to grant our wishes.

Be a deliberate creator:
(1) ask the universe and it will respond
(2)believe (in the unseen and your deservedness) without knowing how or when
(3) be open to receive, feel wonderful about it coming

Pay Attention!! When the universe nudges, act. Don't delay, don't guess, don't doubt.
"You don't have to see the whole stairway, just take the first step."- Martin Luther King

No rules; don't place time, place and other limitations and restrictions

Practice gratitude. What we think about and thank about we bring about.

Idea: carry a gratitude rock in your pocket daily. Whenever you take it out of or put it into your pocket, it reminds you to be grateful.

Visualize-if you've been there in your mind, you'll go there in the body.

Intend it to be.

Trust and act on inspired thought.

No one has the ability to control your happiness but you. Your joy is within you.

Do you treat yourself as you want others to treat you?

Fall in love with yourself.

Activism: don't be anti-war, be pro-peace.

It's not my job to change the world but to celebrate the world that exists.

Ask yourself, "So what?" Change your mind/your thoughts, change your life.

No regrets.

"The Secret" was very inspiring to watch and if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. So many seem to go through life being victims of circumstance and if anything, this video will at least inspire people to take more charge of their lives and happiness. For me, the result was very encouraging, and a positive reminder. Plus, I realized once again, that there is very little I desire or feel is lacking in my life. And I am working on what seems to be. :) I am back to starting my day with a gratitude list, spending moments thinking about how blessed I am. I am reminded of what I used to practice on a more regular look for the gifts that exist in what circumstances bring me...remembering to have the eyes to see.

a home, a reflection, a refuge

As we go through the days we may tend to take our living space for granted, seeing it as simply a place to eat, sleep and work. Caring for our homes can begin to feel tedious at times as there are always dishes to wash and floors to sweep and bills to pay for the privilege of living within the walls we call home. Before long, one can become focused on all that feels burdensome rather than what is actually a blessing.

A home is so much more than a space we occupy or come to at the end of a day. It is more than a building that shelters us from the elements. A home is a refuge, a dwelling place that offers us warmth and protection, a gathering place for family and friends. A home reflects the spirit of those who dwell within it.

Everything in the universe is composed of constantly changing energy, so this is true also of your home and its contents. We invite energy into our home, (consciously or not) that makes it what it is. This energy not only mirrors us, but can greatly influence us. Realizing this, we can become more conscious and appreciative in caring for our homes. Rather than viewing our daily housekeeping as a burden, we can see it as a privilege and a blessing. We are the caretakers of the space we call home. We are not separate from it, but an integral part of it and everything within it. It is sacred space and with this thought in mind, we can imbue it with love and appreciation by the way we go about our tasks.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Organic food really is better for you

Organic food is healthier than conventional produce and may be better at preventing cancer and heart disease, according to the biggest study of its kind.

read more | digg story

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Arts & Crafts Madness @ the Homestead

With fall weather arriving I have been focused on the holidays and as you can see, creating handmade gifts as well as finishing up work on a couple afghans.

The one on the left is a granny scrap afghan, made up of bits and pieces of leftover yarn. The one on the right was made per special request from my nephew. Again, a simple granny stitch, but aren’t the colors of the sun, sky and clouds pretty?

So, thought I’d share those with you here today and some other exciting news…my good friend Vicki will be flying in on Tuesday from Florida to spend a couple weeks with me!

I’m pretty excited about that for several reasons. Number one, she’s a really, really, really good friend whom I love and I laugh more with her than I think I do with anyone…we think way too much alike at times! Then there’s the fact that we both are crazy, jewelry making fools, so we’ll be playing around with our beads and getting creative. (Speaking of jewelry, I made a couple of goddess necklaces that you can check out below.)

Along with the laughs and crafts, Vicki and I will really get a chance to catch up and spend some quality time together. I have known her for about six or seven years and although she has been in Florida for a few years now, originally she is from Ohio where we met after (get this) connecting on eBay! And last but not least, while she is here she will be giving me my Reiki III Master level attunement! So, the next couple of weeks should be fun while we laugh and play and make lots of memories. I know I’m really looking forward to this!

Crochet Pattern Links:

Unisex "warm winter hat" hat pattern (shown in the hat/scarf sets) can be found at here.

For the flowered hippie hat I simply added a brim to granny skull cap pattern found here. This is a child's hat, so use a size larger hook than called for to make a more appropriate size for the adult head.

For the purse and tote bag I used a pattern found here. For the tote bag I used two strands worsted weight yarn held together throughout, along with a larger hook than pattern called for.

The scarves and flowers were all made free hand w/o the use of a pattern. The afghans are a simple granny stitch.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Our Grandparents: The Real Environmentalists?

Some of the things we've forgotten (and should probably remember) from the generation that lived through the Depression.***A lengthy article but really worth the read. It's well written, humorous at times and makes the point about what seems to be lacking most in our matter how green we think we are.

read more | digg story

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Joy of Puttering

Putter: to work lightly, do random, unplanned work or activities, to wander around aimlessly.

Every so often I have a day when I end up just puttering. I may have a list of activities that need tending, but I somehow still end up puttering and ignoring the major jobs I’ve assigned myself. Truth is, I love to putter and I think it’s good for the soul. So, instead of doing laundry or vacuuming the house, I am puttering. On days I putter I don’t feel any particular obligation to any particular accomplishment. I guess this going with the flow is what makes it so enjoyable. There’s no sense of need or urgency, it’s simply a matter of puttering for the sake of puttering.

Today my puttering has consisted of rifling through boxes of still packed items from our move here over a year ago. It also means I have rearranged a shelf here and there and decided to display more of my crystals, (dusting here and there in the process…you know…puttering.) I’ve crocheted a few more rows to the neck scarf I am working on for my granddaughter in between shelf arranging. I think by this evening I’ll even have that project finished and probably a new one started but, it’s not a plan, just a possible and likely outcome. That could change because, well …I’m puttering.

Sometimes the best laid plans are best set aside for a simple day of puttering. The funny thing is that often I get a lot more done on these kinds of days than I would if I had planned them. Little things, mind you, but things just the same. Drawers get sorted and clothes get arranged and all sorts of small accomplishments take place. Jobs that normally might be ignored seem to magically transpire. And at the end of the day one ends up with a real sense of satisfaction for what's been accomplished through simply enjoying the process…all because it wasn't work, it wasn't demanding, it was simply puttering

Monday, September 24, 2007

Twenty-five Things to Do With Old Jeans

Recycling fabric is a powerful green living and cost saving strategy. Denim is one of the coolest fabrics to do it with. It's sturdy, gains character with age and can be acquired very inexpensively at yard sales or in your own “old clothes” closet. *If you're like me, then you just hate to throw out those old jeans even when they can't be worn anymore. Here's a compilation of very cool things you can do with old jeans and denim scraps.

read more | digg story

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Paradigm Shift- living in context/redefining success

The old paradigm of success has always been based on achievement and financial gain, but as Bob Dylan once wrote, “the times they are a changing.”

I consider success to be the ability to live within the context of ones personal values. Life is a journey, not a goal. As such, if one is striving for the old paradigm of success they might find themselves always striving to do more and to have more and never truly be enjoying the journey. When we take the pressure off ourselves to accomplish so much we begin to experience living.

Goals are not evil by any means. Thank goodness we all have them! But just because ones idea of success may not be primarily financial or materialistic in nature, does not mean they aren’t successful.

Like most things, I believe success is an inside job, determined by what brings you meaning, contentment and joy. I think the times they are a changin’ and that we are seeing a paradigm shift in which the definition of success is changing to mean a life lived true.

Sunny Outlook: Can Sunshine Provide All U.S. Electricity?

Large amounts of solar-thermal electric supply may become a reality if steam storage technology works—and new transmission infrastructure is built

read more | digg story

Deadly Dog Treats-Raisins & Renal Failure

Around 1989, the ASPCA began noticing a trend among dogs who had consumed grapes or raisins…acute renal failure which most often resulted in death. Research has shown, it doesn't matter what brand raisins, whether grapes ingested were store bought or home grown, the results are the same, and dogs for some unknown reason cannot tolerate ingestion of grapes or raisins even in very small amounts.

note-chocolate, cocoa, onions and macadamia nuts can also prove deadly to your dog. For more info visit this link.

Thanks so much Jenni, for bringing this to our attention.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hummingbird Moth - an unwelcome guest

One recent Saturday afternoon as Coop and I were relaxing on the patio, we saw the most interesting thing. Until then, I had heard of the Hummingbird Moth, but had never actually seen one up close and in person.

We enjoyed watching this moth hum about and feed all afternoon in the zinnias. It was quite fascinating. Coop even argued for a short while that it was a baby hummingbird. It measured maybe an inch in length. The distinction, I pointed out, were the antennae and the legs, neither of which were hummingbirdish.

I was able to capture a few photos as it darted amongst the flowers.

Since my curiosity was peaked, I searched the internet to learn just exactly what this interesting moth originated from. To my dismay, the darn thing is the result of the destructive tomato horn worm…an unwelcome guest in any form. There are many types of hummingbird moths I’ve since learned. This one is particular is called a Hummingbird Clearwing or Hemaris Thysbe to be precise.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why Iraqi Farmers Might Prefer Death to Order 81 (or why I hate Monsanto)

Heard about the thousands of farmer suicides in India? Well, Iraqi farmers may be next thanks to the work of U.S. diplomat Paul Bremer and his Monsanto friends. If you care at all about the future of agriculture, (and we all should since we depend on it) this article is very relevant.

I am appalled and enraged by what industries such as Monsanto are allowed to get away with in the name of science when the fact is it is about nothing more than monopolization and greed. In my opinion Monsanto should be held responsible for the deaths of not only the thousands and thousands of farmers whose lives have been destroyed, but also, if as they proceed, (which they likely will as long as our administration is in bed with these corporate giants), for the inevitable collapse of the independent farming industry worldwide.

read more | digg story

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Ramble

It feels as if Fall has arrived a tad bit early in our parts of Ohio. Temps have been dropping into the forties at night and daytime highs only in the sixties. This old house gets mighty chilly and already we’ve had to run the furnace several times to maintain a mid-sixty degree temperature. I now have to wear socks and sweatshirts to keep warm indoors, but, this could change abruptly anytime soon. All in all, I know Fall is truly just around the corner.

I love this time of year even though it seems a little bit sad as I watch the first yellow leaves flutter to the ground from my kitchen window. When the Walnut leaves start falling I know summers end is not far off. The season is bittersweet. We long desperately throughout August for the relief of cooler air, but then when it arrives we realize that summer is closing fast. Fortunately the Fall season brings with it her spectacular display of color and sunny, crisp days to relish before the cold North wind blows in snow and rain. I doubt I will ever tire of the seasons change. This is one of the reasons I’ve never had a desire to leave my home state. Ohio offers change and beauty from season to season.

The summer has proven to be an extremely busy one with gardening and obligations. We’ve seldom had time to enjoy an evening fire or cookout. Hopefully we will have a nice fire one last time and roast hotdogs and marshmallows before the nights become unbearably cold.

Last week I made up and canned a batch of zucchini mustard pickles and yesterday I managed to freeze nine pints of tomatoes. I’m not getting enough at a time right now to make a canner full so I am freezing them as they ripen, five to ten pounds at a time. All combined I have canned well over a hundred jars of vegetables not to mention the produce I’ve frozen over the summer. Had we not experienced the ravages of too much rain and a myriad of insects at the peak of the season, our garden would have produced even more. Also, next year we will prioritize better and make our priorities better known to those whom we assist over the course of the summer. I am not complaining though, as we have substantial veggies put back for the winter and have enjoyed fresh produce all summer long. August was busy to say the least and seldom a day went by that I wasn’t picking, peeling, chopping, dicing, slicing or canning. The garden is about done now. We’re still getting a few peppers, tomatoes and squash, but with the cool weather everything has slowed down. I feel relief having finally slowed down, too and feeling much less hurried and more relaxed…a welcome pace. Not that there isn’t always something that needs tending, but nothing as pressing as perishables.

My basement is storing an adequate supply of relishes, salsa and pickles to fill gift baskets for the gift giving season, plus I have been working on crocheted gifts for family and friends. I am up to my eyeballs in yarn! Over the summer I received a large bag of yarn from a fellow freecycler. Recently my friend Janet brought me a large bag of yarns and then last week I found another large box of yarn at the Goodwill store for just $5, so I am set with a rainbow of colors for a winters worth of crocheting. Right now I am working on a multicolor granny afghan, made up of all the leftover and small amounts of yarn. It’s quite pretty and I’m thinking seriously about keeping it for myself as a living room throw for those cold evenings ahead.

Coop is busying himself today by working on the bathroom doors. It’s our intention to have the bathroom and kitchen woodwork and doors painted by the holidays. Since he has been helping the landowner all summer remodel their (soon to become) summer home up the road, we’ve put our own house projects on hold. Hopefully this Fall and Winter we’ll catch up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So, you think your an environmentalist?

We talk the talk but do we walk the walk? This article (which I urge anyone who cares about the environment in the least bit, to read) brings it all home and asks,"if not us, then who?"

read more | digg story

Saturday, September 8, 2007

my two cents on happiness

Happiness for me is primarily about contentment and creativity. I do believe it's an inside job most, if not all the time. I think our moods can be and are affected by outward things such as money problems, loss, etc, but that true happiness can only come from within.

After many years of depression I learned on my own that getting to know and love (and forgive) oneself are the initial steps to happiness. From there I learned to be authentic...which can be pretty scary but, in the end definitely worth it. I think once you make that choice and have mastered authenticity and learned to base your life on your own values instead of other's values and opinions, happiness (or at least contentment) is inevitable. Getting to know oneself is key to finding what makes you happy.

For me and many others life would hold far less joy without a creative outlet. I think everyone has an innate need to be creative and I believe those who find their creative outlet in their work or can make it their work are far more likely to be happy.

I also believe spirituality can play a very important role. That too, I believe is an inside job. From my own experience, religion was of the things (if not the main thing) that contributed to my depression and feeling a lack of happiness. Trying to live up to everyone's standards (especially Gods) was a formula for failure and guilt. Leaving Biblical dictates behind and living according to my own spiritual and moral standards set me free far more than Jesus could or ever did.

That's not to say one cannot find wisdom in ancient texts and/or spiritual leaders. I agree with the Buddha, "Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others. No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

At What Cost? Frugal Living Is Its Own Reward

A few days ago there was a discussion on Wise Bread about whether frugal living was a goal or a tactic. The conclusion was, it is both. I primarily see frugality as a facet and fundamental part of a simple, freer lifestyle. As a result, consumerism is no longer the ideal. Frugal living is its own reward. Frugality is very freeing and fulfilling. I feel I have gained everything worthwhile and lost nothing of true value. It helps to create balance, it allows one to learn what is of true value and it lowers ones environmental impact among other things. These are all results which for me contribute to a more authentic, satisfying and spiritual life experience.

However, I still have friends who cannot quite grasp my choosing to live this simple and frugal lifestyle. The other day a friend suggested I could probably get a job as a cook at a nearby restaurant, without a clue to how incongruous her suggestion was. So, like an idiot I smiled and said, “Yes, I probably could” for lack of a better or thought out response.

Yes, I probably could get that job…or another, but at what cost? Let’s say I worked thirty hours a week. After the cost of taxes and gas alone I might bring home $90 a week, likely less because I’m estimating low. Then deduct the physical toll, the imbalance it would create, the loss of time in which I now garden, can and cook from scratch. I would be right back where I started from; too wiped out to care or have the time and energy to do what I do now. Our cost of living would certainly increase due to the above reasons. Been there, done that so I know what my limits are and what my current efforts are worth. I require balance and the ability to accomplish at my own pace. I have yet to work a job that allowed me that and I’ve worked long enough to know.

My friend doesn’t understand that going back into the workforce would destroy the life I have attained. Sure, a few extra dollars would be more than welcome in my pocket, but like I said, at what cost? No thanks, at least not right now. I value the life I have, the peace I have, the creativity of living life as I do. My life is pretty darn perfect for me. I can step outside and sit under the shade tree and feel so very blessed by my surroundings; the garden of good things we’ve worked hard to produce, the ducks waddling by as they search for bugs in the grass, the flowers we’ve planted in their vast array of color and truly, truly know this is the life I desire. I look around and I look within and feel my life is exactly how I wish it to be and know without a doubt I am not willing to sacrifice the peace and contentment I live in.

Being frugal is challenging at times but it allows such creativity. I thoroughly enjoy making something out of nothing…always have. Whether it be gardening, decorating our home, cooking or crafting, creativity is essential to my well being as is balance and freedom. Being frugal is a necessary choice and facet to our lifestyle that allows me to live a life free from the daily grind of employee obligation that depletes me. Yes, frugal living is its own reward.

Gunpoint Medicine

Remember the old song, 'Rubber Tree Plant'? Well, keep that tune in mind and sing along with me..."oops there goes another freedom to choose, oops there goes another personal right, oops there goes another brick in the wall" ....oops that's Pink Floyd.

It appears medical tyranny is afoot here in the good old USA and once again Mike Adams brings it to the publics attention. Read on...

Health officials in Lawrenceville, Georgia have arrested and jailed Francisco Santos, a teenager who tried to walk out of a hospital and go home after being diagnosed with TB (tuberculosis). Instead of allowing him to leave the hospital, health authorities arrested and jailed the teen, throwing him in into a 15 x 20 foot isolation chamber and not allowing him to leave until he submitted to chemical treatments pushed by doctors at the hospital. Francisco is being described as "...a threat to public safety" due to his tuberculosis.

Francisco's plight is the latest episode in a growing number of "gunpoint medicine" episodes where individuals are being arrested at gunpoint and thrown into jails or detainment centers until they submit to treatment with pharmaceuticals, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. NewsTarget has covered other cases of gunpoint medicine, including:

Katie Wernecke, a teenage cancer patient who was kidnapped by Texas authorities and forced to submit to chemotherapy. Her parents were arrested and subjected to actions by Child Protective Services, who took Katie away. This all happened because Katie's parents refused to subject their daughter to chemotherapy and wanted to pursue safer, more natural holistic medical therapies.

Abraham Cherrix, a 16-year old cancer patient who also refused a second round of chemotherapy after the first round nearly killed him. His doctor was outraged that Abraham would refuse chemotherapy and called Child Protective Services who had Abraham's parents arrested at gunpoint. CPS then took over joint custody of the child and attempted to force the teen to submit to barbaric cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy.

In this latest example of Gunpoint Medicine, 17-year old Francisco Santos is now being held against his will and will apparently be incarcerated for as long as doctors believe he is a threat to the safety of others. He's also being told he cannot leave until he takes medication.

Patients, or Prisoners?

As these cases of Gunpoint Medicine clearly demonstrate, you now surrender your rights when you walk into a hospital. You are not a patient; you are a prisoner. And if the medical authorities, in their own opinion, perceive you as resisting their authority, they can have you arrested on the spot, without a court order, without a trial, and even when you pose no threat to others (such as having cancer). These medical arrests are taking place in clear violation of both the Fourth Amendment (protection from unreasonable search and seizure) and Fifth Amendment (due process) of the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Just as worrisome, law enforcement authorities are supporting these tyrannical actions of doctors, effectively providing firepower to what can only be called the "tyranny branch" of modern medicine. Any system of medicine that requires firearms to motivate patients is, in my opinion, more a system of control than a system of healing. Whatever happened to, "First, do no harm?"

Remember this the next time you enter a hospital or clinic: By subjecting yourself to the false authority of a doctor, you are in effect surrendering your freedoms and shall only be allowed to leave the hospital or clinic by the grace of the physician! If they decide that, for whatever reason, you should not be allowed to leave the hospital, you may be arrested at gunpoint and thrown into jail for an indefinite period of time until you agree to undergo their toxic -- even deadly -- treatments.

But isn't Santos contagious?

Skeptics of this assessment will point out that Santos has a contagious form of TB and is a genuine threat to society. Therefore, the thinking goes, medical authorities are justified in locking him up against his will, without a trial or court order.

That's a fascinating bit of delusional thinking. If you believe that, then you must also believe that health authorities should round up all AIDS patients and throw them into detention camps "for the safety of the public." After all, if you believe that TB is a disease that's dangerous enough to lock people away for having, then why not AIDS? Why not HPV, Hepatitis, or any upper respiratory illness that might pose a health hazard to some senior citizen? Once you cross the line of arresting people against their will for showing symptoms of one particular contagious disease, then you have to follow through and arrest everyone with similarly dangerous diseases.

Of course, if that happened, half the country would be behind bars, because the truth is that there are people everywhere who carry infectious germs. Simply walking through any airport exposes you to countless strains of bacteria, fungi and viruses that might pose a risk to your health.

And how about all the dangerous elderly drivers doped up on medication? I've seen some crazy Alzheimer's patients operating vehicles who should never be allowed to drive and are a clear threat to the safety of other drivers. Why aren't these people being locked up for the safety of the public? (I'm not saying they should be, but if you're going to be consistent here, locking up TB patients means locking up all kinds of other people...)

The gunpoint approach that has been invoked to imprison Santos is a demonstration of modern medical madness. The mainstream media has stirred the people into a frenzy over freewheeling lawyer Andrew Speaker and his TB infection, and now health authorities are so paranoid about being blamed for allowing a TB patient to walk free that they would rather trample on Santos' rights than expose themselves to professional risk. Apparently, the only requirement for locking someone up who shows symptoms of an infectious disease is that the particular disease has received a lot of mention in the press and the public is now scared silly over it.

Can you imagine the outcry if medical authorities started locking up AIDS patients? Don't dismiss this idea: It could be next. Any tyrannical health system that can stick a gun in the face of a teenage boy with TB and throw him in prison is perfectly capable of sticking a gun in the face of an AIDS patient and locking them away, too. Today it's TB, tomorrow it could be HIV. (Just wait for the "AIDS camps" to become official U.S. policy...)

Enjoy your freedom? Don't visit doctors

All this explains why I continue to encourage people to avoid doctors altogether. It's much better to take care of your health through exercise, strong nutritional habits, superfoods consumption and outright avoidance of toxic chemicals. Stay healthy and you won't need to see a doctor... ever! (I've known many people who have never seen a doctor in their entire lives, and yet are extremely healthy and long-lived.) I don't visit doctors, and I foresee no need to ever visit one unless I suffer some sort of accident or acute injury.

If you value your freedom, stay as far away from conventional doctors as possible. As you've seen here, they can have you locked up at their discretion, even without a shred of evidence that you're really dangerous to others.

Tuberculosis myths

This "highly infectious form of TB," for example, is largely a medical myth. Allow me to explain: The virus certainly does exist, and it can be passed through the air, but the most important point that still escapes the understanding of conventional medical authorities is that vitamin D prevents TB infections. The only people susceptible to TB infectious are those who are chronically deficient in vitamin D! That includes people who don't get enough sunlight (or who have been brainwashed into using sunscreen all the time) and who eat atrocious diets lacking in vitamin D sources like fish oils. The problem with TB is not simply the person walking around with the virus, it's the people who are in such poor nutritional health that they're practically begging to be infected by something.

This is why TB is now an epidemic in the UK, by the way: There's very little sunlight at that latitude, and more than 80 percent of UK citizens are vitamin D deficient. (It also explains the ongoing problems with dental health and bone fractures in the UK, but that's a different story...)

An incredible double standard

What's all this about doctors pretending to "protect the public" anyway? They claim to be locking up Santos in order to protect the health of the public, and yet they'll send patients home by the thousands with prescriptions for toxic pharmaceuticals that harm everyone! FDA-approved prescription drugs are now the 4th leading cause of death in the United States (tuberculosis isn't even close). I suppose if we were to really take steps to protect the general public, we should actually be locking up the drug-pushing doctors! They are right now killing far more patients than any infectious disease.

Think about it: Oncologists openly push dangerous chemotherapy drugs that cause permanent damage to the brain, heart, liver and kidneys, even while insisting that patients take no vitamins, superfoods or nutritional supplements to protect their healthy cells during the chemo treatments. General Practitioners send patients home with prescriptions for dangerous COX-2 inhibitor drugs, diabetes drugs, statin drugs and psychotropic drugs that kill, at minimum, tens of thousands of Americans every year through heart attacks, strokes, liver failure and suicides. Where is the call to protect the public from these dangerous chemicals that are causing casualty numbers resembling a world war?

Where is the effort to protect the public from all the dangerous cancer-causing food additives like sodium nitrite? Hydrogenated oils? Chemical preservatives and sweeteners? With the American population more diseased than ever before in the history of human civilization, and drug companies inundating the people with deadly chemicals, I find it astounding that health authorities would see one teenager with TB as such a huge threat that they have to arrest him at gunpoint. Doesn't this seem a bit strange to you?

If guns are to be drawn at all, they should be drawn during the arrest of corrupt FDA officials, evil Big Pharma operatives and unethical food company CEOs who are knowingly killing hundreds of thousands of Americans each year with their highly-profitable chemicals, additives and medicines. Francisco Santos is not a threat to your health, but modern medicine certainly is! And the FDA is without question a threat to your health and safety. In previous stories on this site, I've documented how the FDA is far more dangerous to Americans than any terrorist threat.

Take your meds or go to jail!

Our nation's health authorities have gone mad. They're all focused on the wrong things, and they've managed to get the public frenzied up about all the wrong things, too. They've got people scared silly about antioxidants, believing that vitamins will kill them (but that pharmaceuticals will save them!).

They've also managed to get people to believe that infectious diseases are caused SOLELY by the presence of the virus -- an idea that's utter nonsense. A virus is only a threat when the body is suppressed enough to be susceptible to infection. The real cause of an infection is just as much a weakened immune system as it is the presence of the virus, yet conventional medicine focuses solely on the presence of the virus and dismisses the role of the immune system in preventing infection.

I say we should Free Santos! He is no more of a threat to public health than your typical doctor, and no patient should be imprisoned by hospital authorities simply for having an infection of a disease that doesn't even pose a threat to healthy individuals.

The alternative is to turn the U.S. into a medical police state, where anybody with a cough is arrested at gunpoint, and AIDS patients are thrown into detainment camps, and anybody who refuses "treatment" with synthetic chemicals gets thrown into jail. Imagine being arrested for not taking your statin drugs, antidepressants or blood thinners. Big Pharma is trying to create a society where "treatment" with drugs is mandatory, and anyone who refuses to take their chemicals will be considered a criminal. Parents are already being arrested for not subjecting their children to chemotherapy or giving in to ADHD drugs. If this trend continues, it won't be long before anyone who rejects vaccinations, drugs and psychiatric medications will be considered a criminal (or terrorist). Parents, be warned: The State is out to medicate your child, and if you resist, you may have your children taken away!

In a nation where so many people claim we're sending soldiers off to war in order to "fight for our freedoms," I find it astounding that patients in hospitals are being treated like Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Personally, I think Santos should sue the hospital and local law enforcement authorities for violating his civil liberties. What, exactly, is his crime anyway? If being sick is a crime, then practically this entire nation should be locked up, because we're the most diseased population in the modern world.


The mainstream media is reporting today that Santos has finally agreed to start taking synthetic chemical medications while sitting in jail. Gee, what a choice, huh? "Here, take these medications or rot in your jail cell." That's the choice Santos has been given. What an incredible system of medicine we live under today, huh? It treats healers like criminals and patients like terrorists…


About the author: Mike Adams is a holistic nutritionist with a passion for teaching people how to improve their health He has authored more than 1,500 articles and dozens of reports, guides and interviews on natural health topics, impacting the lives of millions of readers around the world who are experiencing phenomenal health benefits from reading his articles. Adams is an independent journalist with strong ethics who does not get paid to write articles about any product or company. In 2007, Adams launched EcoLEDs, a maker of super bright LED light bulbs that are 1000% more energy efficient than incandescent lights. He also launched an online retailer of environmentally-friendly products ( and uses a portion of its profits to help fund non-profit endeavors. He's also the founder of a well known HTML email software company whose 'Email Marketing Director' software currently runs the NewsTarget subscription database. Adams also serves as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a non-profit consumer protection group, and enjoys outdoor activities, nature photography, Pilates and adult gymnastics.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm just a canning fool! :)

The past week has been an extremely busy one as August comes to an end. I actually find myself looking forward to fall and the coming colder seasons as usual, knowing they’ll bring a quieting and slowing of the pace.

Coop remains busy helping get the neighboring house ready for its part year residents and keeping up with the yard work. We’ve been so busy that our poor garden has become somewhat neglected other than when we do the necessary picking. The immense amount of rain and horn worms have done a nasty job on the tomatoes and it looks like there will be little continued production from them. I still have a separate row of the Italian plum tomatoes on the other end of the garden that are coming on and seem to be strong so we hope to save them, allowing me to preserve what I can for the winter months ahead. Thankfully I have a good amount canned already aside from what’s been turned into salsa and sauces.

Like my sister told me the other day, I am a canning fool. Friday ended with seventeen pints of homemade salsa having been canned. The basket full of Jalapenos picked yesterday morning have just been pickled and canned (12 pints!) and at least a half bushel of tomatoes are simmering into spaghetti sauce on the stove, soon to be canned. Since the tomatoes are about finished producing I will try to salvage as many of the green ones as possible. Perhaps some pickles or relish will result, but we certainly will eat a few fresh fried green tomatoes, too.

I picked my first several Butternut squash yesterday morning, also. They are beautiful! It looks like we’ll have plenty to store over the winter, plus I’ll freeze some cooked squash, give some away and of course we’ll enjoy some fresh. Coop pulled the plants while picking the last of the green beans, which I thought were finished awhile ago. But these Blue Lake beans continue to produce all summer. We’ll definitely plant these again next year! As I write I still have about 6 pounds of beans to contend with as well as about a peck and a half of tomatoes leftover to do something with. Maybe tomato relish?

Shadow is quickly becoming a good watchdog, letting me know when someone is approaching the house. He is gradually adapting to affection, getting spoiled rotten with treats in the process. Positive reinforcement, ya know? He’s such a good old boy and I am thankful for the way things worked out. Now on occasion he will allow us to rub his neck and back and let me take his face in my hands and get face to face and wooler him around the neck. But that’s only when he is in the mood. He has also taken to wanting to lie in the center of my zinnia bed…not so cute. He likes most everyone but is my boy in particular. If I go outside to sit at the picnic table or on the patio he always comes to sit with me.

Well, it’s back to my spaghetti sauce, which by the way is smelling oh so good. Once I have that canned it’s off to the car shop to drop off my little van for repairs. I have a brake line leaking and that’s not good!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Slowing Down

I have a friend who shakes her head at my way of doing things. When I mentioned hulling enough elderberries for three pies she told me the best way to do that was to use a fork to strip the berries from the stem. In this way the work goes quicker and your fingers don’t get stained. Personally I prefer the hands on method, no fork involved. It’s a job I enjoy doing, taking each cluster of berries and starting from the top, separating the stems and plucking and rolling the tiny fruit off with my finger. I guess it’s somewhat of a sensory experience for me.

I feel the same way about hulling elderberries as I do about snapping green beans or peeling and slicing potatoes. I have a vegetable peeler and a food processor. But there is something about taking your time and holding a potato and carefully peeling it with your favorite paring knife, then slicing it by hand into a skillet or pan. I often prefer to do things the slow way much of the time. Whether it be preparing food by hand rather than machine, washing dishes rather than loading a dishwasher (which I don’t even own) or hanging the clothed outdoors on the line as opposed to tossing them in the drier. In this way “work” becomes pleasure, often a meditation, giving one pause to consider the many facets of the act or the item itself or perhaps to let the mind drift where it will.

One can find much satisfaction, even pleasure in slowing down. When one proceeds in this way, the simple act of preparing a meal or doing the laundry becomes somewhat reverent. My friend questions my desire to can my garden produce rather than packing it up and freezing it all. My reasons are practical and I suppose one could say philosophical, also. A person does a thing in a way that matters to them. I preserve food because it is practical; it keeps longer than frozen food and will not spoil due to a power outage. But, I also preserve because it’s a tradition I choose to carry on, one that gives me a great sense of accomplishment. There is true pleasure in seeing the finished product, the rows of sparkling glass jars filled with relishes, tomatoes, pickles and more. They are beautiful and filled with promise of sustenance and enjoyments in the months ahead when the cold winter sets in. Perhaps they will fill gift baskets during the holiday season or be a special gift for a friend. You just can’t see all those facets in a frozen zip lock bag.

Maybe it takes a little longer or even a lot longer to dice the peppers by hand or make the spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes or can the vegetables rather than freeze them, but in each preparation there is the energy of hands and heart. These efforts are spiritual acts, creations imbued with the energy of pleasure and love, resulting in something I believe to be of far more value in far more ways than a can of commercially produced food.

So maybe it takes me longer purposefully to do certain things, but in the end I think the value of time is a result of how satisfied we are with what we do with it.