Monday, July 30, 2007

Beans, Squash, Peppers and What Not


The title sums it up. Life has been busy here at “Keepsake Acres”. That’s the unofficial name I’ve given our homestead. Last week we began picking green beans and I have frozen 13 quarts, not to mention we’ve given away several pounds and eaten several pounds. The Summer Squash and Zucchini are prolific so I am looking for new ways to prepare these veggies. We have eaten them sautéed, deep fried and in casseroles and spaghetti sauce to name just a few ways. Today I made a gallon of squash pickles!

The tomatoes aren’t ripe yet, but the peppers are abundant. Some plants have well over 20 peppers on them. I picked a basket full of Hungarian and Jalapenos this morning, as well as a few more green peppers. Come on tomaters, I want to make salsa!

With everything coming on we will be setting up a roadside stand soon in hopes to relieve ourselves of some of the excess produce. I’ve submitted a listing at localharvest.org.

As a result of that add I was contacted by a fellow named Brian Yarvin from New Jersey. Brian is an author, educator and photographer. His current project is a book on tomatoes.

He is interested in coming to our place among others, and speaking with us and photographing our tomatoes. If this transpires, we may be included in his book…or at least pictures of our tomatoes may be! It should prove interesting and fun. His website is http://www.brianyarvin.com. I’ll keep ya updated.

Here’s a photo of one of two young deer that (along with their mamma) seem to be ever so curious about our garden. They’ve managed to nibble the romaine as well as my sunflowers. So far and fortunately that’s all they’ve attempted to snack on. The string fence and whirly gigs (CD’s and ribbons) seem to help deter them.

And here’s a picture I took early one morning last week when I was up as the sun rose. This is the meadow across from the house. I thought the scene was lovely with the fog lifting in the breaking light.

Tomorrow we’ll be going to see the outdoor drama Tecumseh! in Chillicothe, Ohio. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I’m really looking forward to seeing this historical reenactment. For a brief history of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, visit http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=373.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Trashion-making a halter tunic from a t-shirt

I really loved this simple idea... If you're a crafter like me and haven't checked out Etsy Labs
be sure to!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

After"peak"oil:"Will"America"survive?

After trying for so long to debunk "peak oil" alarmists the big oil companies are finally admitting that oil supplies cannot and will not keep up with our mass consumption. This article gives us serious food for thought and offers preparedness advice.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Environment is Everything

In an effort to do my part in the world, at least in my local area, the following is a letter to the editor I wrote in response to Monday’s Times-Gazette article on Freecycle.

Environment is Everything

I am most appreciative for the opportunity to have been a part of the article about Freecycle. Thank you to Jarrod and TG for bringing this subject to the public’s attention.

According to the national website Freecycle began as a way to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown in an effort to help preserve desert landscape and prevent it from being taken over by landfills.

The mission statement of the Ashland county Freecycle organization is “…to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources, and eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community." The message Freecycle brings home to me is to think globally and act locally.

Freecycling is a win-win solution for everyone with access to a computer. I think that point was well covered in the recent article. As a longtime recycler and advocate for the environment, it’s my hope that many more will join and partake in this grassroots effort to reduce waste.

It is also my hope that more people will join the ongoing movement to live a simpler, more conscientious lifestyle that has for too long been lacking in America. I believe it is essential for us to wake up to the reality of our mass consumerism and it’s affect on the environment.

If we take a long, hard look at what is truly essential and compare that to how much waste we accumulate and produce as a result of our consumerism, we might be surprised. If we take a serious look at the affect our waste has on the land, the air, the oceans, the wildlife and how all these things suffer (and die) as a result of our need to consume in excess we might be appalled. It is time we wake up and smell the ozone.

We can all recycle, we can all choose wisely by supporting local and organic farmers, choosing products made from recycled goods, avoiding over packaged and “throw away” items and repairing rather than replacing. We all have the ability to think beyond ourselves, to practice and develop responsible habits. We all can reduce, reuse and recycle and in doing so alter the course of tomorrow.

Let us stop being the willing victims of capitalistic brainwashing and act responsibly by taking only what we need, using what we take and doing no further harm. Let’s choose to stop poisoning ourselves, our children and our planet with over processed, unnatural, genetically modified and chemically laden products. Let us think before purchasing goods that are designed only to benefit profit margins and which may be harmful or are likely to end up in a landfill.

It is my sincere hope that more and more of us choose to live in a state of global and environmental awareness by educating ourselves and taking responsibility as the stewards we are of this beautiful planet. It is after all our home, our only home. Let’s make it available to future generations and be remembered as the generation that did the right thing, not as the generation that could have.

There is a saying credited to the North American Cree. It goes, “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

Let us realize this before it becomes too late to act. The environment is our food, our water, our shelter, the air we breathe. It provides all that is necessary to sustain life...at least for now. Isn't it time we evolved into a more environmentally conscious, sustainable and responsible society?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Getting the message out-we made the front page!



Photo By Times-Gazette photo/Tom E. Puskar
Sallie and Ken Cooper pose with some of the things (computer monitor, canister set and breadmaker) they have obtained through Freecycling.

7-16-07

Times-Gazette.com

Another way to recycle / Avid recyclers enjoy trading items with others through Freecycling

11 hours ago

By JARRED OPATZ

T-G Special Projects Editor

Ken and Sallie Cooper got their computer monitor from a lady in Jeromesville, their bread machine from a Sullivan resident and their vintage canisters from someone in Mansfield.

They didn't have to pay for any of them.

The Rowsburg-area couple got the items through freecycling -- a grassroots, nonprofit movement of people who give and get stuff for free that really has grown since it began four years ago in Tucson, Ariz.

The Freecycle Network is made up of more than 4,000 individual groups across the globe with more than 3 million members, according The Freecycle Network Web site, www.freecycle.org.

Members contact each other through e-mail to get and give away things that otherwise might end up in the trash by joining local Freecycle groups. The Coopers belong to both the Ashland County and Mansfield groups, which have 724 and 1,269 members, respectively. It's free to sign up for a group, but there are guidelines to follow, such as not reselling items received from freecycling or not just joining to get things.

"There are some people who get into it just to get stuff, but I think most people are glad to trade things, get rid of stuff and not have to throw it away," Sallie said.

"It's a good thing, but, like with anything, you have some people who abuse the system," she added.

The Coopers have given away quite a bit of things through freecycling, too, such as organic tomato plants, clothing and canisters.

"I had some blue canisters he bought at an auction," Sallie said looking at her husband one day last week while talking about their experiences with freecycling to a reporter in their rural home. "They were really nice, but I had a pink kitchen and didn't use them.

"So, when I had a chance to get these," she added pointing to the canister set she now has in her kitchen she got through freecycling, "I freecycled the blue ones."

For the Coopers, freecycling has fit their lifestyle perfectly. They have been avid recyclers for many years and they like to live a simple, frugal lifestyle.

"We're big recyclers," Ken said. "I would rather recycle something than send it to the dump."

Freecycling has given the Coopers another "recycling" option with the benefit of getting things they usually need and not having to throw away things they don't need and can't take to the Recycling Center.

"We don't throw away things unless there's no alternative," Sallie said. "In the process," she added looking at stereo speakers and a few of the other things she has decorated her house with through freecycling with a big smile. "I really like my stereo speakers. They would have taken up a lot of room in a landfill."

If there's something the Coopers want, they can post an offer on the group's Web site or goes to members' e-mails.

"If you're the first one to respond, you're mostly the one to get it," Sallie said. "Most people will respond to the first person who responds to their ad."

Freestyle discourages sharing private information with the group, such as phone numbers and addresses.

"A lot of times when you're dealing with someone you don't even exchange phone numbers," Sallie said. "You just contact through e-mail, and a lot of times it's just on a first-name basis."

"A lot of times you don't even meet the people," Ken said. "If you're not going to be here and someone is coming to pick something up, you just leave it on the porch or where ever."

What makes it fun is some of the unique things you can find with freecycling or unique ways people use some of the things you give them, the Coopers agreed.

"When we moved to our home (about a year ago) we had a barn full of stuff we gave away through Freecycle," Sallie said. "We had a lot of huge wooden spools we got rid of. One couple from Jeromesville had the most unique reason for getting some of them. They had goats and said they were going to make pyramids for the goats to climb because goats love to climb."

Muscovy ducks have been the most unique things the Coopers have gotten through Freecycle.

"We had talked about getting ducks," Sallie said. "We really liked Muscovy ducks. I had read a lot about them. They are really unique ducks.

"Then, a lady in the Polk area had an ad for Muscovy ducks, and I thought, 'What are the odds?' " Sallie added.

The Coopers have four Muscovy ducks, which they said are quiet ducks who don't quack. They eat the eggs they get from the three females.

A basket of yarn from a Nankin woman is another interesting item they have received through freecycling, Sallie said.

As much as they enjoy the things they receive and get rid of through Freecycle, the Coopers said they mostly do it because they believe in the movement to reduce waste and ease the burden on landfills.

"We have grown up as a nation of mass consumers and a throw-away society," Sallie said. "We have to stop that.

"This seems like a small thing," Sallie added about freecycling. "But when there are so many people doing small things, it makes a difference. I think this makes a difference."

Jarred Opatz can be reached at 419-281-0581, ext. 256, or by e-mail at jopatz@times-gazette.com, regarding this story and other story ideas.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Behold the power of vinegar!

Ever since we moved back to this old farm house I have been trying to remove the calcium deposits around the fixtures and on the chrome ring around the drain of our bathroom sink. I’ve tried scrubbing, scouring, using a variety of products to no avail. Finally the other day it occurred to me (Seems I can be a little slow at times, lol!) that if vinegar could clean out the calcium build up in our coffee maker, it might just work on the sink. So I poured some apple cider vinegar into the sink full strength, soaked a couple rags in it and wrapped those around the spigots, leaving the remainder to work on the drain ring. Voila’! Within minutes and with just a little scrubbing and wiping, no more mineral build up on my bathroom sink! So in light of the power of vinegar I thought I would pay it tribute by listing some of the ways I find it to be especially useful. Hope you’ll find them useful, too.

For years I used nothing but vinegar for cleaning windows and glass. It works better than any window cleaner.

As a weed killer we have found nothing better than mixing a cup of salt into a gallon of white vinegar and spraying on weeds. This works and works especially well on a sunny day. Just don’t spray on your ornamental plants or vegetables.

Add vinegar and salt to your water when making hard boiled eggs. This will make peeling them a whole lot easier.

Vinegar and baking soda in the toilet bowl will clean it up spic and span. This combination works well to keep sink drains clean and running smoothly, also. Add about ½ cup baking soda to the drain, followed by ½ cup or more of vinegar. Let bubble, then after about ten minutes pour hot water down the drain.

Soak bird feeders in vinegar to clean them. I’ve found that swishing it around in hummingbird feeders will remove the mildew that can form.

As a child the only sunburn relief product we used was cider vinegar applied undiluted to the skin. Or add a cup or two to a bath. Since vinegar helps normalize the pH of the skins surface it makes sense to me.

Vinegar works well as a laundry additive. ¼ cup to the wash water brightens colors and whites, acts as a fabric softener, inhibits mold, fungus and athlete’s foot germs. It also helps eliminate chemicals and their odors on new clothing.

Use a spray of ½ vinegar and ½ water on shower curtain liners to remove mold or mildew.

Vinegar makes an inexpensive spray on stain remover for clothing.

Relieve insect bites, bee and wasp stings by directly applying vinegar or soaking the affected area in full strength vinegar.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Good Day, a Great Week

Having the entire week to our selves without having to think, plan or do for others has been a welcome relief. That’s really an understatement, it has been heavenly. We have been able to slide back into our own routine, accomplishing what’s necessary at our own pace while feeling relaxed and peaceful in the process. That is the form of living we try to achieve. Things got quite out of balance for awhile and I think would have continued on that way if I had not taken the initiative to change it. It became a matter of handling the situation and obligations to others with firmness yet diplomacy. Although not spoken of in these terms, the bottom line became this, we are here to assist but we are not indentured servants.

Yesterday was good all the way around…perfect weather and nothing too pressing! The day started out stormy with some much needed rain. (Our garden is happy, happy, happy about that!) The dark clouds soon moved on and we became the recipients of a most perfect July day. I know I comment on the weather often, lol, but it has a big affect on me and my daily agenda. Had it been cool and stormy all day I most likely would have baked bread. But instead I spent as much time outdoors as I could, savoring the billowy white clouds in the majestic blue sky and letting my hair hang loose to allow the heavenly breezes to blow though it. Summer days like these are fleeting and if possible one must breathe them in and savor their essence.

I put a crock pot full of stuffed peppers on to cook in the late morning after which Jarrod the journalist and the photographer arrived right on time for our interview. Coop and I were happy to be able to share what we knew about Freecycle™ and the importance of recycling, I hope the young journalist does a good job of presenting the information. I urged him to revisit their website, both local and national and make note of their mission statement. I also printed off our local groups rules for him to become familiar with as he seemed to know very little about the movement in general. The article should appear in next Wednesday’s paper.

After the interview, Coop got busy and created our fire pit by digging a shallow groove about 3’ wide in the ground on the east side of our driveway area, just about where we had one years before. He gathered field stone from around the silo and old barn bank and hauled them up to the circle. Later in the evening I went out and arranged them and surprisingly there were just the right amount to make a full circle. Now we have a real fire ring to enjoy…and soon I hope!

Earlier while sitting outside under the tree appreciating the day, I finished a book recently loaned by my sister. “Mutant Messages from Down Under” came out in the early 90’s originally. I recall the big hoopla over it at the time because of it being a fictional account of the authors’ Aboriginal adventure in the Outback, a fact that came to light later after it became a big seller. Other authors went on to publish similar first hand accounts of their fictional adventures and so this book read much like “The Celestine Prophecy” or “Emissaries of Light”, with basically the same lessons in oneness spirituality and environmental responsibility. Like MMDU, none exceptionally written, but all with a valid message.

MMDU is one of those easy reads I like to take in during the summer when I am less inclined to read anything of great depth. I’m a highlighter or underliner when I come across a statement that resonates with my spirit. But since this was not my book, I thought it wiser to make notes on scraps of paper of pertinent messages I took from this book. Here are a few thoughts that I wrote down;

We can enrich our lives, give to ourselves and be as creative and happy as we allow ourselves to be.

Most die without ever knowing how it feels to stand naked in the rain.

Possession is the extreme of excluding others for self indulgence.

The end of each species is a step closer to the end of the human species.

There should be no suffering for any creature except what they accept for themselves. (This statement is best understood in the esoteric nature in which it was written and relates to soul purpose.)

***

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

See ya in the Times-Gazette!

I took the white cotton curtains down from the kitchen window today. In their place I hung sheer white panels, one drawn to each side. There’s something about white, airy curtains billowing in a summer breeze that appeals to my senses. There’s a warm southerly breeze coming through the house, perfectly suited to those curtains I hung and much cooler than the one the day started out with. Thunder rumbled and skies became overcast this afternoon bringing us cooler air and a much needed reprieve. Somebody somewhere was getting rain, but it wasn’t us as I‘d hoped. We are dry, dry, dry here in NE Ohio. The garden would love a good drenching.

I'm in the process of setting up a sewing area upstairs in the small bedroom that's used as a storage area. It will allow me to sew at whim rather than dragging the sewing machine out to the kitchen table each time I want or need to stitch something up. The only reason I hadn’t done this before was I didn’t think I had an appropriate table to use. But as I was sorting and arranging upstairs over the weekend, it occurred to me that the vanity (that was given to me none the less) that is in the so called guest room is the perfect sewing table. I never attached the mirror, so it is just like a desk. And all those nice little drawers on each side will be perfect for storing the sewing essentials and notions. Why didn’t I think of this before!?

I spent the day puttering around the house, catching up with this, that and the other thing. Glad I got it all tidied up, too because tomorrow we’ll have a reporter and photographer here from our local paper, the Ashland Times Gazette. To explain…

Late this spring after planting the garden, I offered my remaining organic tomato plants on Freecycle. One of the takers was a lady named Nancy who worked for the paper and we hit it off on a lot of topics and issues. She emailed me some time after our meeting and asked if Coop and I would be willing to be interviewed about freecycling by ATG. We agreed, but until recently I hadn’t heard much more. After a few email exchanges I received a call today from the fellow today. He’ll be showing up tomorrow around noon with photographer in tow. I think that it’s pretty cool to get interviewed about this plus I think it’s great that the paper is going to put information out there about Freecycle.org. Groovy! See ya in the paper!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Well, I’m much happier now about hanging the clothes outside on the line since Coop fashioned two clothesline props for me. He made one from a pole style curtain rod that we had around and the other from a metal rod he found in a pile of “junk” left by the previous tenant. At the upper end of both he drilled and screwed to the pole a metal brace he had bent.

This serves as a clothesline catch and lends additional support. I was in dire need of these to keep the clothes from dragging the ground when hung. I recall my mom using wooden props with a grooved center at the top and had suggested this to Coop as a possibly less expensive alternative than the purchased aluminum props. But he went one better and made them by recycling what was on hand. I am proud of his ingenuity and so glad to be married to a man like that! And I’m sure am glad to have a clothesline and props again! There’s nothing like the scent of sheets and towels that have been hung out in the fresh air to dry.

Between installing compact fluorescents, washing primarily in cold water and hanging the clothes to dry, our electric bill has been dramatically reduced. We notice a little more savings each month as we continue to cut our usage. We unplug the microwave at night, turn off the power strip to the TV and DVD player along with shutting the PC completely down each night. It sure makes a difference when these energy vampires are not plugged in.

Coop has been busy making a new gate for the duck pen.

That required a trip to town this morning before the heat became too stifling, to purchase a roll of chicken wire. That’s the only thing purchased for the project. Everything else used was scrap wood and metal pieces we already had or came across. We stopped at Home Depot, also to check on the price of pressed wood and plywood. Pressed wood is about ¼ the cost of plywood, so that will be the way we go. We hope to build a more substantial house for the ducks soon.

Since our tomatoes aren’t ripe yet, we swung by the grocery store to pick up one or two for a supper salad. When the weather gets as hot as it is we like a light supper and lord knows, I still have plenty of romaine in the garden! I came across a few bonus buys while there and so brought home a bag of organic potatoes for only $1.50 and a big bunch of organic bananas, somewhat ripe for only .39 a pound…with the promise of making some homemade banana pudding. The potatoes are growing eyes but that doesn’t hurt them a bit and I’m sure I’ll use them up quickly enough making home fries, potato salad, etc. Oh yes, and I purchased six locally grown and very fresh and firm green peppers, enough to make a large crock-pot full of stuffed peppers, yum! I’m sure I’ll be inviting someone over to share those!

***

Yesterday I spent about four hours sorting through boxes and organizing the upstairs closet and storage room. Despite my efforts to simplify over the past few years, I still have way more stuff than one ought to. I have gotten rid of many things, but it seems each time I do a housecleaning, it gets easier to let go of a little (or a lot!) more. It’s funny that you can forget you have things until you go rummaging. When you stop and realize you had forgotten about this or that and have managed quite nicely without it, it becomes much easier to kiss it goodbye. J By the end of my work yesterday I had ended up with four large boxes of goods to place in a yard sale my sister and I have tentatively planned for late summer, plus a few additional things to offer on eBay.

Today my daughter called to let me know her mommy duck had five babies following her around the yard now. I guess she had better luck than we did with our mama. But then coons probably aren’t as thick around her place due to the openness of the surrounding area. Here we are surrounded by high grasses to the south and woods to the east, west and north (right behind the house).

That’s all my rambling for now but here’s my own recipe for homemade microwave pudding/pie filling. Enjoy!

Microwave Pudding & Pie Filling

You will need a large glass bowl that fits into your microwave, a whisk, measuring cups (1/3 c. and 1 c.) and a tablespoon.

In bowl place 4 eggs and beat them. To the eggs add 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup cornstarch. Mix together well. Add 3 cups milk and mix well again. Microwave on high for approximately 8-10 minutes, checking and stirring at 2 minute intervals. When thick and bubbly, remove and stir well to smooth. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla. Cool before serving.

To make banana pudding I replace the vanilla with natural banana flavored oil by Frontier brand, but this isn’t necessary. When pudding is cool line a dish with sliced ripe bananas (and vanilla wafers if desired). Spoon pudding over the bananas and chill. Top with whipped cream if desired when serving.

This makes enough pudding to fill a pie shell, also.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bugs, Beets & Heat

Seems the heat wave the western part of the US is experiencing is going to deposit some of its hot, humid air here in Ohio. Today is sultry and hot and the next few days don’t look any better. But then, it is July. We forfeited out air conditioners when we moved back to this house, knowing that we insulated it well in 1983 and as a result we are able to keep it cool and comfortable even on the hottest days. We simply open it at night and close it up before the heat penetrates the next day. We lived here and made it through the weeks of 100 degrees plus in the drought of 1988, so I imagine we’ll manage now. Although, at that time I even hung sheets over the window blinds to darken the rooms as much as possible to make it tolerable. That was quite the year.

The zinnias are looking brilliant and attracting all manner of butterfly and bee as well as those damaging Japanese Beetles, yuck. We’re spraying the flowers daily with a mixture of water and Dr. Bronner’s organic lavender and hemp oil soap. Seems to work well but you must be diligent in keeping up with those pests! I fill a quart spray bottle with water and squeeze a good helping of the liquid soap in and shake it up, that’s all. My niece sent me the following info on Milky Spore so maybe we’ll try that for next year.

Milky Spore is a naturally occurring microscopic bacteria (Bacillus popilliae) that kills Japanese beetle grubs before they can grow into ravenous adults. It's a long-term solution because it survives winter temperatures. The Milky Spore population increases each year, reaching peak
effectiveness about three years after application, and lasts ten years or more. You can learn more about it and order it here. Thanks Jenni!

This morning before the day grew hot I pulled most of the remaining beets. I now have a few containers of beets and beet greens in the freezer as well as a jar of pickled beets in the fridge. We enjoyed a nice helping of the sweet baby beets last week, simply cooked and chilled. I’m a beet lover! I’ve decided that next year rather than planting chard I’ll plant lots of beets. Not only do I get the beets, but the greens are as good as chard. I never thought about that before. By the way, here’s my favorite recipe for pickled beets and eggs…

You’ll need a gallon jar or large container for this recipe, but you can halve the recipe and use a smaller container. At times I’ve resorted to using a Tupperware bowl or plastic ice cream bucket. Just make sure you let the liquid cool enough before pouring into a plastic container.

Pickled Beets & Eggs

15-20 small beets (or two cans from the store)

1 c. water

2 c. sugar

3 c. vinegar

1 t. salt

1-2 t. allspice or pickling spice

½ t. whole cloves

about 15 hard boiled eggs, peeled

Place beets and eggs in jar. Combine remaining ingredients in heavy pan and heat until boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar well and watch to avoid burning or scorching the sugar. Pour hot syrup over eggs and beets. Cool for awhile, then seal and place in fridge to pickle. Eggs are best if left to pickle several days before eating.


***

I couldn’t help but share the following photo of Coop and his winged friend. It just kept landing on him so I finally couldn’t resist snapping a photo while it sat on his head. He was urging me to hurry up as it was tickling quite a bit.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month? Or Is It More?

300 Iraqis killed by Americans each day sounds like an impossible figure, but a close look at the reported numbers of violent deaths and rate of armed patrols makes it all too likely.

read more | digg story

Thursday, July 5, 2007

sun tea safety

I have been making and drinking sun tea for years, so this information surprised me. It's my understanding that making sun tea with black tea is less risky than doing so with herbs or decaf. The caffeine inhibits the microbes flourishing for about three hours.

Our best bet is to make refrigerator tea or simply make tea the old fashioned way with boiling water. However it's made, don't let it set at room temperature for more than a few hours. Refrigeration is key.


clipped from www.colostate.edu

Using the natural rays of the sun to make tea is fun and popular in the summer. However, using such a method to make tea is highly discouraged. Sun tea is the perfect medium for bacteria to grow. If the sun tea has a thick or syrupy appearance, it may be due to the presence of a ropy bacteria called Alcaligenes viscolactis. Ropy bacteria are commonly found in soil and water.

Several years ago in Ohio and Washington, several people became ill after drinking tainted ice tea. In Washington it was determined that the tea had been made with tap water only heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and left to sit at room temperature for more than 24 hours
Centers for Disease Control and the National Tea Association recommend the following when making tea
Brew tea bags at 195 degrees F for three to five minutes
Never maintain brewed tea for more than eight hours at room temperature
brew tea overnight in the refrigerator
Store tea bags in a dark, cool, and dry place away from strong odors and moisture
blog it

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

On July 4, Put Away the Flags

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

There's a Lot You Don't Know About What's in Your Food

Nearly three quarters of all processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients, but you'd never know it by reading package labels. Author Andrew Kimbrell discusses the risks of genetic engineering and how to avoid it.

read more | digg story

Monday, July 2, 2007

week's review - the good, the bad & the ugly

The past few days have left us sad, aggravated and feeling overworked, under appreciated and somewhat used. The auction took place on Saturday after a work laden week of preparations.

Just prior, we lost our little black female duck Louise to raccoons, who left her wings and carcass behind. We noticed the other day that she was absent and Bruce was alone. Coop found her remains while berry picking. We discovered that our other Muscovy hen Thelma, who has been nesting for a month, was left with only 3 eggs. Of these only one hatched. Obviously a coon had been accessing the duck house regularly without our knowledge. I guess Thelma is fortunate to have one baby survive the ordeal.

Since then Coop has secured the area and rid the property of more than one raccoon. I hate having to take those measures, but sometimes one is left with only that choice. Bruce has been hanging closer to the house now that Weasie is gone. He seems lonesome. I find him parked at the front door each morning as you can see from the one photo I snapped this morning from inside the house. He’s sitting on the straw mat against the door.

This past week marked a year since my brother’s death from lymphoma. I still miss him a bunch. I’m sure that the anniversary of his death along with the recent full moon has been partially to blame for my emotional state of being, not to mention the cumulative effects of everything else that’s been in motion recently. A morning heading off the destruction of our Maple tree (the only shade tree we have out front) from an overzealous, chain saw wielding, know it all township worker didn’t help the mood much either. He was determined to take off the major limbs (which would have been entirely unnecessary) and I was more determined to not allow that, even if it meant tying myself to the tree. As you can see, the chain saw is on the ground and he (guy in the hat) was intending to begin cutting. ARRRRRGH! I am sooo glad we were home at the time or he would have done as he pleased without our prior knowledge. I finally took photos as the issue continued to be discussed. I at least wanted to remember my tree as was just in case. In the end, I prevailed and the tree stands as is with our word that the proper limbs will be trimmed as needed, by us to appease the assho..I mean township employee.


So, on to brighter things…the little black and yellow duckling is so sweet. It is curious and unafraid, so Thelma tries her best to keep it by her side.


The beets are about ready to pull now, so this week we’ll be enjoying those. Everything in the garden is doing spectacularly well (everything that came up that is) and we received a lot of compliments on our garden and flowers over the weekend. There are baby tomatoes on the vine as well as peppers. The weather has been gorgeous with blue skies, billowy clouds and moderate temps. The zinnias have grown tall and are a mass of color out front. I can’t think of anything prettier I could have planted by the porch. It occurred to me that I have all these beautiful flowers and they didn’t cost me a penny! The zinnias were planted from seed my sister gave me, the black eyed Susan by the mail box was purchased for me by my niece, the morning glories to the southwest corner of the house are from seed given by a friend along with the iris along the garage wall, the peachy pink begonia was a mom’s day gift from my son and his wife and family, the poinsettia that is growing fast was a gift from my girlfriend last winter and the pots of red hibiscus and hanging planters full of purple petunias were a gift from my nephew. In the end, I am where I wish to be, surrounded by gifts.

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