The Pesto Cookbook by Olwen Woodier– a book review

I’ll be honest with you prior to reviewing this cookbook I had always bought pesto in a jar. Pesto wasn’t really a part of our diet because I thought it would be way too spicy, and way too hard to make homemade. Hence, the jars of pesto which were quite expensive, they didn’t last long, and my opinion–I could live without them. Fast forward to my choosing to review  The Pesto Cookbook by Olwen Woodier. I loved, loved, loved this Pesto Cookbook. Easy to understand recipes, alot of variety, and many uses for the pesto that literally knocked both mine and my husband’s socks off. Homemade Pesto– get you some!

Here’s my review-

The Pesto Cookbook by Olwen Woodier is a fabulously written cookbook on Pesto that is great for both beginners and more experienced home cooks. I loved that each recipe provided a bit of information about the pesto alongside the ingredients list. The Pesto Cookbook includes international pestos, seasonal pestos, herb-filled pestos and more that the home cook can utilize in pasta, purees, soups, and sauces. If you’re passionate about Pesto this is the cookbook for you.

Available for pre-order from Amazon and other bookstores now and due to be released April 17, 2018.

Professional Reader



You’ve probably been hearing a lot about permaculture lately, and like I, wondered what on earth is all the buzz about? Initially, I’ll be honest –all I saw when I looked at the word was culture, and I immediately thought it was a new group to join.

So what does permaculture really mean? Permaculture is defined as an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings.

So how do we integrate human activity with natural surroundings?

Whether on your homestead, property, or in your garden everything created- food scraps, plant waste, and animal waste is all put back into the soil, hence composting, creating a closed loop system of farming/gardening. Nothing is brought in from the outside–you use everything that is already available to you from the resources you have on hand. Thus creating zero waste.

In essence, you collect waste, you compost the waste, and then you return it to your soil. In your soil, you grow your food, and if you have livestock you grow their food too.

By doing things this way your operation is considered sustainable, as well as efficient, less costly to operate, it’s environmentally safe, as well as safer for you, your family, and anyone that eats what you produce–nothing from the outside is being hauled in that may be contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, or other pollutants.

In closed-loop farming, you try to use everything such as:

  • Table scraps are composted- all scraps even bones and meat scraps.
  • Lard is rendered from pigs
  • Animal hides are tanned and turned into gloves, vest, jackets, and so much more.
  • Garden scraps–any and all safe plant scraps
  • Animal waste is composted.

By the way, this isn’t something that is new in farming, gardening, or homesteading. I grew up this way in the 70s, and know many hundreds of people that grew up this same way too. I grew up on a farm, but even most of the city kids I knew had compost pails under the sink. All kitchen scraps were thrown in the garden, and/ or fed to the chickens and pigs. Chickens scratch the ground–they are natural compost tillers. I found a great article about this here.

What is vitally important to remember as you start your spring planting is — you need your soil to be at its very best. You need to start with soil that is alive, healthy, and thriving. Chemical-laden soil grows a chemical laden product. Depleted of its nutrients soil grows depleted of its nutrients product. Small scale or large scale you don’t need to rely on places outside your farm or homestead to provide you with nutritious resources for healthy soil. You have everything it takes to make it if you have kitchen scraps, plant and animal waste, time and space.

Here’s an article I found that teaches you all about composting.

Here’s an article about building healthy soil.

Here is a Composting 101 Guide.

Here’s a Permaculture Film.

Here’s some free online streaming of all things permaculture.

And last but never least here is a family that blogs about homesteading, permaculture, and gardens created by chicken tillers– The Rhodes Family on Youtube. You will love them and find a ton of useful information about permaculture and chicken gardens here.

A special thanks to the website Permaculture Research Institute for providing hours of rich and comprehensive information for me to consume on Permaculture.

Blog Dedication

This blog is dedicated to my great- great- grandfather Manuel (4th generation farmer) pictured here with my great-great-grandmother. Many many years ago now he bought his first farm in Ontario, Canada and soon after helped to frame his first barn–his pride and joy. Shortly afterward he contracted pneumonia and refusing to rest properly died at the young age of 40.

Happy Valentines Day –How to keep your flowers fresh!

I like having/buying flowers for my home on a regular basis, not just for Valentines Day or other special occasions. To do this I must buy my flowers at a friendly price within my budget constraints. So I buy all of my flower bouquets from the supermarkets we shop in every week. Often when you look at the bouquets of roses in Walmart they look pretty sad. But for less than $5.00 they’re not too bad. Here’s a trick I’ve learned that a friendly florist once showed me.

When you get your bouquet home from the supermarket trim the ends of each flower diagonally so that they can drink the water you will be setting them in. The temperature of the water should be whatever the temperature of your tap water is when you turn the tap on. So lukewarm to cool but never ice cold or hot. Use the flower food packets that come with. And for roses always remove the guard petal. Florists will have removed this petal, but flowers purchased in supermarkets or stands will have the guard petals still on. The guard petal is the petal on the rose that is discolored, frayed, loosened, ruffled or just has an older look to it. If you don’t remove this petal your roses will never open. Here is a great article all about guard petals on roses.

Here are my flowers a day after removing the guard petals–

Happy Valentines Day!

Building a strong immune system–what’s in my medicine cabinet

Headache/Sinus Headache/Facial Migraines –Peppermint Essential Oil.

Pain-bone spur pain, arthritis pain, bursitis pain–Copaiba Essential Oil

Colds, Flu, Sinus Issues- 1 tsp elderberry syrup every 1-2 hours for 12 hours.

Mood- I diffuse Orange and sometimes Lemon Essential Oil

Menopause issues- I eat yams–roasted, pureed, anyway they taste good. Sometimes mixed with mashed potato and sometimes with applesauce. They help a lot with hot flashes.

Sleep- Lavender Essential Oils on bottoms of feet, and I take 320 mg of magnesium a day. Magnesium works great for constipation as well. I found a great article on using Magnesium supplements here.

Rollerball for applying oil–15 drops of lavender EO and fractionated coconut oil. Put the 15 drops of lavender EO in rollerball and then fill the rest of rollerball up with fractionated coconut oil. Shake before each use.

Stress- Frankincense Essential Oils on the bottom of feet.

Same recipe as Lavender Essential Oil recipe for sleep, but you use Frankincense not the lavender with fractionated coconut oil.

Sore achy muscles- we take Epsom salt baths several times a week. Epsom salt is great for relieving muscle aches and pain and also detoxifies your body.

Not everything I use to support mine and my husband’s health is an essential oil. For over 20 years I have incorporated healthy living and a healthy diet into our lives. It’s been many years since my husband or I were sick. I don’t say this lightly–it takes work and considerable money. Eating junk food, or an unhealthy diet and using OTC products is so much cheaper.

Our diet– I’ll start by saying 60% of our diet is organic. I know some people are going to say to themselves I’m a food snob or? But I’m really not. I’ve had Fibromyalgia most of my adult life–probably close to thirty years now. I spent four years researching diets, food, and food safety and discovered that it was possible to feel better and live the life I wanted to if I changed my diet. So I did. It hasn’t happened overnight. We are still working on several changes in our diet. All total we’ve been working on a complete 360 almost fourteen years.

We aren’t big meat eaters. Before I got married I had been a vegetarian for over ten years. Since being married I’ve been a vegetarian for another ten years. We eat red meat once a week. We eat poultry or fish twice a week, and the rest of the week is meatless. We don’t eat out more than 12 times a year. When we eat out we usually choose homemade food restaurants or a local pizza place. I can’t think of anything we eat that we overeat. I don’t use any cheese in my cooking, processed foods are out, and most of what we eat is fresh and usually locally grown. When we grocery shop we shop in the outside aisles for the most part. I don’t buy anything in cans, boxes, or the freezer section except ice-cream.

We don’t drink alcohol and neither of us smokes. We also don’t use any OTC medications except Tylenol.

We weren’t always this healthy I assure you. Twenty-some years ago we had a cold every year, sometimes twice a year, just like everyone else. We also had the stomach flu a time or two. But overall I think we’ve been fairly lucky, considering I worked for almost twenty years in healthcare.

Having fibromyalgia has been the hardest thing for me because so many other things have come with it. I’ve dealt with IBS off and on since I was a teenager, but since changing our diet most of my IBS symptoms are gone. I’ve also had IC for about twenty years and that can be a very frustrating thing to have. But again diet plays a major part in controlling the symptoms of IC.

Before I quit smoking I had a lot of allergies. I probably had a severe allergy, that caused me to miss work, or be in bed all weekend, 3x a week. Now, I maybe have a couple of bad allergy days a year. Sometimes I have facial migraines, which are something new to me. I started getting these about ten years ago. I also deal with jaw pain at times which is also something found in people who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Another important thing for me to add in about my health is that I suffered from malnutrition most of my young life. I was diagnosed at eight years old. Growing up not only was I a picky eater, I had major issues regarding food. From a baby until eight or nine my diet was extremely limited. This aversion to food caused by malnutrition remained an issue until I was in my late thirties. To give you an example of the degree of malnutrition I had, I weighed 60 lbs in 5th grade. When I graduated high school I weighed 92 lbs. I tried twice in the eighties to join the military and twice weight issues prohibited me from being able to join.

To say my health was extremely fragile when I was 30, and met my husband and married, would be an understatement. I shouldn’t really be as healthy as I am now. I owe most of my good health to eating right and using a homeopathic approach to all of my health issues.

In addition to my homeopathic approach, I am also careful about getting the flu shot. I have never had a flu shot–I’m certain this statement will cause some readers to become very unhappy with me. But it’s true, no flu shot ever. I’m allergic to eggs and penicillin–and in the old days, you couldn’t get a flu shot if allergic to eggs (and I’m sticking with that recommendation, even though the CDC has now relaxed it). I still have issues with eggs if they’re not pasture raised organic eggs. In my whole life, I have had to use an antibiotic 3 times. Once in my childhood, once with strep throat, and once when I had foot surgery. That’s it. My husband has used an antibiotic just twice in his life, he too is allergic to penicillin.

Sometimes I am convinced being allergic to penicillin has been a good thing for both my husband and I. I once sat in a room with 15 students and our instructor and was the only student not to get the swine flu. My husband is 1 of 2 people out of a 100 people not to get the flu this year. It’s on its third time around in his workplace.

Three Secrets to a Strong Immune System

  • Probiotics- I eat Activia yogurts 3 x a week. I stop using them if I start to get too much gas or bathroom activity. That tells me I have enough active strains in my system and need no more at this time.
  • Sleep- 8 hours every night.
  • Drink 1/2 your body weight in clean filtered water every day.

I’d like to say we drink kombucha a lot or eat kimchi on a regular basis but we do not. We’ve tried both but unfortunately did not like them. Probiotics were difficult for both of us at first. I tried several brands of probiotic supplements and had varied results. If you’ve been reading my blog awhile you’ll remember I thanked taking Accuflora–a probiotic tablet for helping me to recover from a serious intolerance to gluten. I took Accuflora off and on for about two years with great success and then switched to Activia.

Other things that can be done to assure strong immunity and healthy living–

  • Wash bed pillow often or change it out.
  • Keep all toothbrushes separate from other toothbrushes and not out in open in your bathroom. I keep mine on a piece of paper towel in my medicine cabinet. Change out toothbrushes every 2-3 months, more if you’ve been sick. Change out the piece of paper towel or cup in is kept in every 2-3 days for the cup, once a week for paper towels.
  • Wipe down doorknobs if there is someone that has been sick in the home. Wipe down toilet flusher on toilet daily with a baby wipe or antibacterial soap.
  • Clean toilets once a week, more if someone has been sick in the home.
  • A banana or apple a day really does keep the doctor away.
  • Wash hands often. Don’t touch your hands to your mouth when out shopping in stores. Try not to touch bunker railings (where the meat etc. are kept in the meat and dairy department). Every time I’m at Walmart I see someone sneeze and wipe their hands all along the bunkers in the meat and dairy department.  My husband and I do use hand sanitizer all the time. We have heard that is really doesn’t work, but for us, it works even if it is semi somewhat pyschologically. Maybe it’s because that is what is on our hands vs. germs from the meat bunkers in Walmart? No clue.

I understand that not everyone can follow a homeopathic approach to their health. Many people have very serious issues that do indeed require regular doctor visits and prescribed medication. Other than my having Fibromyalgia and back issues my husband and I do not have health conditions that warrant being under a doctor’s care. Believe me when I tell you we do not take our good health for granted. At any time, for many reasons, our story could change. If you have some of the less serious issues I have mentioned I would encourage you to give essential oils, good herbal teas, and probiotics a try. I hope this post is helpful to some of you. I wish everyone good health in 2018!

If you are curious about oils or have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments. This month I am offering a $25.00 Amazon gift card to anyone that signs up for a wholesale membership with Doterra under my referral id–  4104948

To start an account and become a wholesale member (wholesale prices 25% off retail pricing) go here.

Choose language and country of residence and click continue and fill out account information. When you get to Account Type choose Wholesale Customer and when you get to Referral Information enter my referral id–4104948

Click Continue

There are two ways to get a wholesale membership account with Doterra–

  1. Pay $35.00 and then begin purchasing oils through your virtual office and get up to 25% off with each purchase.
  2. or Choose a starter kit (150.00 and up), waive the $35.00 membership fee and enjoy 25% off with each purchase.  I joined in 2017 with the Family Essentials and Beadlets Kit ($150.00). Best $150.00 I ever spent.

There are two ways to order your oils once you are a wholesale member–

  1. Create a New One Time Order
  2. Create a Loyalty Rewards Order (earn points, and get free product)

There are no requirements that you share or sell Doterra essential oils. But I promise once you learn how to use them and see just how they work you won’t be able to stay quiet for long. Even so, you can sit back and enjoy your oils and never have to sell them to anyone. Every year renew your wholesale membership –$25.00 annually and reap the rewards of these wonderful oils.

I have almost thirty years of using oils under my belt, and just a little over a year using Doterra essential oils. If you have any questions, any at all, feel free to leave a comment or email me at

Thank you!

Atrazine and its effect on the endocrine system

This blog post will outline the effects of atrazine found in our food systems and its effect on our body, specifically our endocrine system. Our endocrine system is made up of glands. These glands are controlled directly by the nervous system and chemical receptors in the blood and hormones produced by other glands. Glands regulate the functions of the organs in our body. Those functions include cellular metabolism,  reproduction, sexual development, sugar, and mineral homeostasis, heart rate and digestion to name a few. This information and more obtained here.

The anatomy of the endocrine system is as follows–

The hypothalamus is a part of the brain, located superior and anterior to the brain stem and inferior to the thalamus. The hypothalamus serves many different functions in the nervous system. It is also responsible for the direct control of the endocrine system through the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus contains special cells called neurosecretory cells that secrete the following hormones–

  • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)
  • Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH)
  • Growth hormone-inhibiting hormone (GHIH)
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)
  • Oxytocin
  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH)

So it is easy to see our endocrine system is vitally important to our living. The endocrine system controls our heartbeat, your ability to make a baby, bones, tissue, and plays a vital role in whether or not you will develop thyroid disorders, diabetes, growth disorders, sexual dysfunctions, and many many other issues connected to our hormones.

Disorder- to disrupt the systemic functioning

Types of Endocrine disorders–

  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Gigantism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Precocious Puberty (abnormally early puberty)

What disrupts the endocrines proper function?

  • Either a gland is making too much or too little of a hormone
  • There are lesions in the endocrine system
  • There are issues with the endocrine feedback system
  • Disease
  • Failure of simulation glands to release hormones
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Tumor

How food in our food system is linked to endocrine disruption–

From NIH–diet plays a significant role in endocrine disruption. That information and more was found here.

For the purpose of this blog post, I will discuss endocrine disruption and atrazine.

First, what is atrazine? Atrazine is a herbicide that kills broadleaf and grassy weeds. Second, where is atrazine used? Many if not most golf courses, lawns, farm fields, ditches, and roadways to name a few. Its primary use is to control weeds in corn crops.  A common tip given by Monsanto to farmers is to mix atrazine with Roundup and you’ll control even the glyphosate-resistant weeds. So, here in the Midwest where I’ve always lived, many many fields are drenched and have been drenched in atrazine and Roundup for years.

The EPA has noted that atrazine can cause reproductive harm to mammals, fish, and birds.

Out of all the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers on the market today, atrazine is the herbicide most detected in drinking water.

Filter all your drinking water. I bought a Berkey Water Filter before Christmas and absolutely LOVE IT. It’s affordable, easy to use, the water is out of this world, and it protects me and my family–we have access to safe drinking water 24/7.  Prior to getting our Berkey, we had to deal with really hard water that had high calcium content, borderline high chlorine content, and borderline lead ratings. Nothing, not in the 10 years we’ve lived in this area, has anything ever been said in the media about the city’s water. I go to the city website and read the water report every year to two years when it comes out. It’s scary how a lot of things are right on the border of being an issue. Berkey filters out everything and my family and I wouldn’t be without it. We bought ours on Amazon for $228.00 which included two filters that will last between 6 mo. and a year.

Speaking for a minute on Glyphosate–it is the most widely used agricultural chemical in history and the main ingredient in Monsanto Roundup. It has been determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a probable carcinogen. Atrazine manages to stay just under the radar but is every bit as dangerous.

When amphibians were exposed to atrazine it caused hermaphroditism. The researcher who learned of this was forbidden to release his findings. The article for this information is here.  The EPA was to complete a new assessment of the risks of Atrazine on humans health in 2016, but as yet have not completed a review of this very important issue. The EPA information and site are here.

What the experts do know is that drinking water that is contaminated with atrazine can cause low estrogen, irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal irregularities, birth defects, abdominal defects, and low birth weight for sure. If atrazine can be proven a carcinogen it could be held responsible for ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thyroid cancer.

Atrazine has been found in high concentrations in the drinking water in the following states– ” Atrazine has been found in a majority of water samples taken from Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found atrazine in 94 percent of drinking-water samples tested.”  This information was taken from here.

According to the CDC, 75% of the population has detectable levels of atrazine in their urine.

What can you do?

  • Eat an organic diet, or eat as much organic food as your budget allows
  • Filter your drinking water

Next up—-what’s in my medicine cabinet

Homemade Biscuits – an urban homesteader treat

A dream come true– I’ve just made homemade biscuits from scratch!

For years and years, I’ve been buying

and to be perfectly honest we’ve never been happy with them.

So today I followed a recipe by @colonialmilling

Combine in a bowl: 2 c All Purpose Flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt. Cut in 6 tbsp cold butter. The butter should be about pea sized when you’re finished. (use a fork or your hands) Pour in 1 cup buttermilk and mix just until it comes together. It will be very crumbly. Flatten the dough on a floured surface then fold it over on itself. Do this 3-4 times. (this makes them flaky) Cut your biscuits and bake 450-degree oven 15 min or so or until golden brown.

Total prep time- 10 min. Total bake time 15 minutes. These could also be baked in a cast iron pan. I used a cookie sheet. My first 6 weren’t as tall as my last 6 because I flattened my dough too much with my first batch. I tasted one almost right out of the oven–absolute heaven. I used organic flour, aluminum free baking soda, salt, organic butter, and organic buttermilk plus the slat and baking powder. I was able to get 12 biscuits vs. the standard 5-8 we got in the Pillsbury cans. I usually pay just a bit over $2.20 for the Pillsbury.  The total cost for a dozen organic homemade biscuits is-salt on hand, soda on hand, powder on hand, 2 cups of flour cost less than .50 cents a cup, buttermilk .35 and butter (6 tbsp).75 = total cost of approx. $1.80

Tonight’s meal- sausage patties and eggs on homemade biscuits!

Up Next- Endocrine Disruptors–what are they? and what can you do about them?

The Day to Day of Living with Fibromyalgia


I first noticed that something was wrong with me, other than just normal fatigue, when one day it hurt to lift my arms and pain radiated from my elbows. For about a year my lower arms and elbows ached really bad. After that, I began to notice burning in both my shoulders and lower back areas. A burning sensation like I had pulled a muscle or injured something in those areas. The year was 1995 and in the area I was living in the doctors I was seeing had no clue what was wrong with me. Tests were run and concluded nothing. I was told to rest more and eat a better diet.

Years later at a doctor’s appointment for what I would later discover on my own was IC (interstitial cystitis), I was asked if I had ever been diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  Yes, I had been in 1986. Back then I think the doctor called both of the things I had complained of–overactive bladder, which would turn out to be IC, and a sluggish? lazy, I think? bowel, which would turn out to be IBS.

Fast forward to 2004 when symptoms of my fibromyalgia were in full swing. I suffered from burning pain in shoulders, buttocks, and hips, burning hot feet, sore elbows, upper back and neck, brain fog, fatigue so bad I could have fallen asleep standing up, and an all-around feeling of depression, and loss of appetite & ambition.

Some of this I attributed to the fact I had just quit smoking.  But the level of pain I was experiencing was not from my not smoking anymore. At this point, I was also dealing with issues from IC, and some hormonal issues like hot flashes. So off to the doctors I went to see what was going on. After three blood draws I was escorted into a room to wait. When my physician arrived he concluded I did not have a UTI, and the one test he had done for hormones did not conclude any hormonal fluctuations. His feeling was that I go see a urologist. So I did. The urologist asked me a couple of questions–same ones the doctor did and informed me that what was wrong with me would go away on its own. I asked him what was wrong with me? He stated–“you have what we call little ulcers on your bladder wall, sometimes things like this happen, they will go away on their own.” Once home, of course, I went straight to my computer and googled ulcers on bladder wall and found out what I had was called IC, and I promptly joined a community of fellow sufferers at 

Had it not been for this network I wouldn’t have known what I had wrong with me, how to cope with it, or what things I could do that would help me live a normal life again.

I’ve probably had fibromyalgia since I was a teenager. Though there is no concrete reason as to why people get fibro, some think it may be due to an undiagnosed infection, injury, PTSD, traumatic childhood, and genes. All of which I am predisposed to or have suffered from for as long as I can remember. My nature is that of a worry wart. I hide my anxiety well, most would never believe I am a nervous person. I have always had what I call dark moods–dark days. I have suffered from PTSD for most of my life–learning this just recently, and had two undiagnosed infections (Strep, UTI) both when I was in my early twenties, and my first back injury at 18.

Add to that I started smoking at an early age, had a poor diet up until my forties, am a recovering alcoholic, and worked in healthcare twenty years. I’d also experienced two ectopic pregnancies, two premature births (24, 26 weeks) and a stillborn baby when I was between the ages of 18-24.

Now, in my fifties, I have suffered well over 25 years with fibromyalgia and have also been diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome (pain from knots in muscle), arthritis in my back, and feet, and PTSD.

When I was in my forties I began a lifestyle change. First I quit smoking. Second I decided to eliminate all chemicals from my life. I started by–

  • Changing my diet to a more whole food, organic, diet.
  • Eliminating all chemicals, sprays, cleaners, lotions, deodorant’s, detergents, and make-up.
  • I stopped using store bought feminine hygiene products and invested in mama pads.
  • I started drinking water vs. pop, tea, coffee or alcohol.
  • I started to be more active–daily walks, bike rides, hiking, and pelvic floor exercises along with daily stretches.
  • I started taking naps and sleeping a minimum of eight hours a night.
  • I did everything in my power to eliminate all unnecessary stress from my life-priorities.
  • My health and my quality of life became an important priority in my life and my husband’s life.

I’ve lived in the same area for almost 22 years and dealt with, due to our insurance through work, the same inept doctors this entire period of time. For the most part, I have found that fibromyalgia is still not taken seriously by many doctors. The push seems to be to give the patient a ton of anti-depressants, and or, pain-relievers and bid them farewell. I’ve found that by my doing the aforementioned list of things my mood is better, thus I am more able to perform my household duties, and work. A healthy mind helps one to have a healthier body is my mantra. I have many days that my fatigue is nearly overwhelming, and my pain keeps me grounded in my chair a bit longer than I’d like. But somehow and someway I pull through it, and I am 100% certain it is because I changed my lifestyle so drastically almost 14 years ago.  Everyone has a different story, experience, threshold, and life to live so my experience may not be yours. I definitely believe in removing chemicals from your life. I am a firm believer that if you smoke and drink and suffer from fibro that you are only making things worse–seek out a health provider and look at all your options for quitting. If there were three things I have done that have made a difference for me living with fibromyalgia I would say they are–

  • Adequate Rest
  • Balanced diet- whole foods vs. processed foods
  • Less Stress- you’re always going to have stressful things in your life. Prioritize those things that are stressing you and work on one thing at a time. For the things you cannot control or change–let them go.

I’ve also found the Facebook group –Fibro Colors Fibromyalgia Awareness (@FibroColors) to be of great comfort to me, and also extremely informative.

I hope the new year brings you peace and good health!

Spring Planning– Seed Catalogs for 2018

It’s not long after Christmas that I begin to think gardening. This year I requested my seed catalogs early–

Richters Herb and Vegetable Catalogue and Seed Savers.

I mentioned earlier this fall I was going to overwinter a geranium and rosemary plant. Well, the geranium ended up getting gnats in it and all new growth was yellow so I threw it. The rosemary plant, however—

has some new growth. I could hardly believe it because it has really been looking rough. For once following directions for care has gotten me somewhere. Anyone else out there have the same problems as I do when you follow directions of care. I’ve killed African violets, succulents, Christmas cactus, so many to mention following care directions. But my 40-year-old cactus and a couple of succulents I have are thriving and I’ve ignored them both.

At Christmas time I bought a bag of Halos at Walmart, which almost always tend to be a bad idea, but this year perfection!

Three a day has kept the doctor away even when my husband came down with a slight cold/allergy that lasted for four days after Christmas. I had him take Sambucol Elderberry syrup from his first symptom and whatever he had was cut in half and like I said lasted just four days.

My Lemon Cypress is holding on as well–

This year, coming soon, I will be posting about Endocrine Disruptors–a subject I’ve been researching for about three months.  I will have that post completed in the next two weeks. I also hope to take you on my journey ordering and caring for Heirloom tomatoes, what I order from my seed catalogs, some favorite Keto and Paleo recipes I tried over the holidays, and so much more.




A Minnesota Christmas- A Ghost from Christmas Past (growing up in the 70’s)


Photo Source

A Christmas Essay by Kim VanderWerf for goodfoodgreatdesign ™ (previously posted on my blog Feast 12/12/15)

I grew up in the 1970’s in a little valley about thirteen miles from the nearest town and belonged to a family of five. Which was made up of a mom, dad, a younger brother, and a younger sister. We lived in a hundred-year-old farmhouse next to our grandparents’ on the family farm.  From our home, we could see our grandparents’ next door, our neighbors across the main gravel road in front of our home, distant neighbors by their barn light (known as a security light now) and the wisps of smoke from their wood stove.  Occasionally we would hear the bark of that distant neighbor’s coon hounds if the wind blew just right. As the year wound down and the holidays grew near, a certain mood took over in our household.  Christmas time was a special time in our home; a time when it seemed my parents’ moods brightened and even they had a child-like state of mind. You know the one I’m talking about. The happy, peaceful and hopeful feelings that every child has at Christmas time. My siblings and I didn’t have to be reminded to behave, nor do I ever remember being threatened that Santa would not come. Though no doubt we were anxious, and probably at times slightly giddy, we knew that Christmas was about more than just presents.  You see our parents’ weren’t like some of the parents’ of the time, they did not compete at Christmas time with the Jones’.

First and foremost in our home at Christmas time it was all about Christ. Christ was brought into our lives by way of the church we belonged to and its annual Christmas program. It was there that we learned the story of the baby Jesus as each year one of us took a turn participating in the play. Though I loved going to church and enjoyed watching the Christmas play, I really looked forward to the box of candy we were given as we exited the nave.  The play was held at night time so all the way home all you would hear from mom was “no candy before bed”. To which of course meant I had very little time to ever so quietly sneak out the biggest piece of peanut brittle I could find.

Christmas time meant a lot of time spent with the elder members of our family. I grew up with four great aunts all in their 70’s and one great uncle. There was also a reverend in our family along with a church choir director. So one could say I was brought up surrounded by Christian influence. Often my father would include bible verses in simple conversation, even though he himself was a lapsed Lutheran. Whether it was the ever-present Christian influence or the spirit of the season, mom made sure that giving to others remained an important part of our Christmas festivities. She was ever busy trying to find just the right gift for the elders, wrapping them just right and making arrangements from one to the other on when we’d come over to visit. Even at their ages each great aunt had their home warmly decorated for Christmas and all had made the customary goodies from their native country of Norway. Once the meal was ready we would enjoy Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, carrots, corn, and gravy. Desserts were varied but usually were cranberry salads, glorified rice and of course- lefse, rosettes, and sandbakkels.

After the meal we three kids would sit quietly amongst the adults as they visited. Then eventually we’d be handed our gift. From the elders, our gifts were usually homemade. Over the years my sister and I received handmade knit Barbie clothes, stocking caps, mittens and homemade Christmas tree ornaments. Never did we look down upon these gifts even though we knew our friends were receiving the store bought kind from their aunts and uncles.

Because of the different groups my mom belonged to there was always the Secret Santa gifts to look forward to buying and receiving. It was fun to watch her get someone’s name and then have to go out and try to find the gift requested. It was, even more, fun to see her expression when someone who wasn’t shopper savvy would draw her name and ultimately give her a gift she hadn’t requested. But of course mom would make good use of it and the rest of us, well, we’d sure get a good laugh out of it.  My sister and I belonged to 4-H so we would also have a Christmas party and exchange gifts. I always asked for a Lifesaver’s Storybook for my gift and sometimes I would actually get one. For me, that was the ultimate gift and one I still asked for up to a few years ago. As a family, I think we enjoyed the giving of gifts way more than ever receiving them.

Christmas Eve was always spent at our grandparents’ home watching Doug Henning, the magician, on t.v. while grandma prepared her Oyster Stew. Neither of my siblings nor I or mom would eat the Oyster Stew so grandma would prepare a casserole for us to eat.Of course,  it goes without saying my eyes were constantly perusing the candy dishes because grandpa would usually have quite an assortment of hard candy at this time of year.  After the evening meal, we would present grandpa and grandma with their gifts. Grandpa was easy to buy for like me he had a major sweet tooth. So he usually got a flannel shirt, some mixed nuts, and hard candy. Grandma liked the prettier things in life so her gifts were pretty knick-knacks, gloves, or her favorite– a gift set of Chantilly dusting powder. Before the end of the night grandma would open a box of chocolates and each of us would be able to pick one. I always wanted the vanilla cream one but usually ended up with a caramel nougat. Then back to our home we would go where we would shortly be sent up to bed. After a few reminders that “Santa won’t come if you’re still awake”, we would settle down and go off to sleep.

Come Christmas morning we would wait for two (sometimes more) hours for dad to finish chores. Mom would be in the kitchen making a special breakfast which was usually sausages and eggs while each of us picked up our gifts trying to guess what was in each one.  Once dad was in the house we could open our bigger present; as we each got one big present. I usually asked for LP records, while my sister asked for games or clothing.  Our little brother always wanted whatever new John Deere tractor or piece of machinery was popular that year from the local farm implement.  Smaller gifts were Christmas nighties or slippers, new denim jeans or socks. After our presents were opened it was dad’s turn and I think all of us were most excited for his reaction. Each year he got the same things, yet, he was always thankful and happy to get new ones-socks, long underwear, and that ever-present winter staple in the Midwest– a flannel shirt.  And what about mom you ask? Well, she purchased her own Christmas gifts because she was ever so particular as to what she would want. Usually, she wanted a flannel nightgown, soft socks or slippers, and sometimes a soft sweater or housecoat. She bought the gifts I wrapped them and come Christmas morning they were a complete surprise to her.

Christmas decorations in our home were simple; our tree was always decorated with handmade ornaments. The traditions were abundant from the meal we ate on Christmas Eve with our grandparents’ to the oranges in our stockings Christmas morn. Christmas vacation was a time for sledding parties and ice-skating and one year even going for a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Mom would spend two weeks every year making her famous homemade fudge and special Christmas Sugar cookies. Which of course meant that between all the Christmas break activities I was forever sneaking into the pantry eating fudge and sugar cookies. Christmas dinner was usually mom’s famous baked BBQ ribs but sometimes it was a ham with her delicious scalloped potatoes and creamed corn. I loved, loved, loved Christmas growing up. It set in stone how I’ve spent each Christmas since I’ve left home. Steeped in tradition with its common theme in giving, Christ is still the reason for the season in our home.

Each year at this time I look back and the ghost of Christmas past is very present. It’s a great experience, I’m very thankful for the memories I have. As I grew into an adult I passed some of my family’s Christmas traditions onto others, and I am certain that if they’ve remembered the giving part rather than focusing on the receiving part their Christmases have always been memorable. When I first met my husband he was very stressed at Christmas time. His family celebrated, throughout his childhood in the states, Christmas on December 5th. That is the date that people from the Netherlands celebrate Sinterklaas Day. I’ve written about this day on my blog a few times. In short, it is a day dedicated to the children in the Netherlands where St. Nick arrives by boat and gives gifts and candies to all. As adults, my husband’s family drew names and then got together on December 5th to exchange the gifts.

When we got married I was expected to change my day of celebration to December 5th.  But I would not do that. Instead, I compromised and did both because there was no way I was going to give up the way I celebrated Christmas. Their celebration did not involve Sinterklaas arriving in their home giving gifts to kids but instead was each adult drawing names and then buying the gifts from that person’s list. Christmas dinner was the same meal served at family get-togethers throughout the year. And although we enjoyed getting together with family on Christmas day what inevitably happened between family members and gift giving made it a very stressful day for us. Let’s just suffice it to say what usually happened would definitely rival some of the Christmas movies made today where the entire family is having a meltdown.

By our second year of marriage, I had taken my husband home so that he could see how my family celebrated this special time. I wanted him to experience how warm, and friendly and giving centered my family made the special day. After that experience, he was sold on celebrating Christmas the way my family enjoyed celebrating it. By the third year of our marriage, we were celebrating in our home with some of the traditions I had grown up with and some new ones of our own.  Now twenty-one Christmases later Christ and the gift of giving is still the main focus of our Christmas time.

As your family gets ready to enjoy whatever celebration you have in the month of December don’t let how others choose to celebrate the day affect how you enjoy yours. Comparison really is the thief of all joy. Enjoy your traditions and make new ones. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Good Cheer!

Here are a few more Christmas decor pictures. Notice half-way through our little ham needed to get in on the action. He kept posing in front of the camera each place I stopped to take a snap. Finally, once I got the hint, I took his picture.  Our Christmas tree is decorated in Blue, White, and Red as a remembrance of those who lost their lives and the families of those whose lives were lost in Paris. You may also notice if you click on the photo that there are spaceships. Yes, spaceships. For nearly twenty-one years my husband has been collecting Star Trek ships (Hallmark Ornaments) and this year I promised him they could go on the tree. So they are there amongst the blue, white and red and if I may so I think they look just grand!

Joyeux Noel
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Until next time always remember to eat good food!