September and all its Splendor

It’s Apple Season–hello September!

Apple, cabbage and squash season around these parts. And lots and lots of Roma tomatoes. This next week’s prep list will include canning tomato sauce, freezing spaghetti sauce and at least a dozen frozen bags of homemade applesauce. I will definitely post pictures and share my recipes. Until then have a lovely Labor Day weekend.

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Hello July!

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Typical summer meal–homegrown and/or local– total cost per meal- $1.22, two good-sized adult meals, or food for three! We eat three or four vegetables with every meal. This meal also included baked chicken and fish. I’ve started making homemade tartar sauce by cutting up a dill pickle in tiny pieces and adding it to our vegan mayo with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar-Yum!

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Light

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My word for 2017 is light.

I’ve started this post ten different times and each time I reread it I erased it.  How does one write about lightness and goodness without it coming off like a sermon? It’s been hard these past few weeks and I feel like things will just get harder. For those who are new to my blog, I’m an activist. If that brings pictures to your head of me tying myself to a tree you’re close. Unfortunately, I lack the kind of courage that kind of action needs. Instead, I donate my time, and money and do everything short of tying myself to that tree to fight for the environment, to fight against climate change, to recycle and reuse, and be the best activist I can for those that don’t have a voice–the animals that walk our earth.  I’m a food activist hence this blog and the many years of research I’ve got under my belt about it. I also volunteer at a homeless shelter and provide money, time and resources to those less fortunate than I.

I can’t turn the news on right now because I can’t handle everything I see being done that goes against everything so many people tirelessly worked towards. All of the work, effort, research and time being deleted, darkened and destroyed. It’s heartbreaking and I’m not sure what if anything I can do about it? I can protest sure, and I can give money and give more of my time. But what changes when programs against the things I believe become the new norm? Another thing I can’t wrap my head around is why it is always the very vital things to all our livelihoods always under fire? It’s hard for me to be full of light and goodness when people so blatantly bash the very things that give them light, and air and peace and life. It’s hard for someone like me who has been a nature lover for over 45 years to reason out other people’s disbelief in proven facts. It’s hard for me to understand the never ending plight and disgrace of racism. So that is where I am at. I’m always telling my husband he can’t keep coming at something from a defensive point of view. But that’s where I feel I’m heading and what I really want is for everyone to just sit down together and maybe agree to disagree, but let’s not go back 100 years or more to censoring everything that goes against the government’s opinions.

When someone acts or reacts from a  defensive point of view they aren’t listening to you. First and foremost to them is defending their opinion or points and really bashing you for having one opposite of theirs. More times than not this kind of conversation ends in threats from one or both sides.

Listening is an art. Communication involves both talking and listening. In a country that considers itself democratic all opinions should be on the table, but they are not. The opinions of one side are starting to be deleted, darkened and oppressed. Keywords to note- delete, darkness and oppressed.

Though I make a point of not talking about politics or religion on my blog, or in my real life, even amongst friends and co-workers.  I’m human. I’m trying as hard as I can to walk in the light, do the right thing and keep moving forward. The here and now is important but what I do, what we all do to ensure there is a future is equally if not more important. Many cannot see tomorrow or refuse to safeguard tomorrow over today. Even though tomorrow isn’t promised and never comes for some of us, it still comes. And I’ll be right here God willing to protect it because no matter how dark things get, there will be light.

What’s your word for 2017?

True North

Ask Wikipedia about true north and you’ll find–true north is different from magnetic north. True north lies a long the earth’s surface  towards the geographic north poles.  It’s quite a complex direction that is found by carefully  adjusting magnetic forces from the compass to remove compass deviations.

Metaphorically speaking someone’s true north could be made up of many things-lines they don’t cross, when they feel they are at their best, when they feel right with the world and so many more possibilities. For me it is the best version of myself; when I feel I am representing the truest version of myself. My true north was discovered several years back during a self-imposed sabbatical. That it exists for me and I can feel it’s presence is what makes it such a beautiful and necessary thing for me.  My true north can and does get weighed down by certain “magnetic forces” around me. For example negative people, hurtful people, unjust circumstances or outcomes and of course things I see happening in the world via the news, newspapers, news sources and the many documentaries I watch a year.

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During times like these the first thing I do is pray.  I pray for strength and I pray for forgiveness and I pray for more patience and tolerance. Prayer reminds me to stay focused and on course. Nothing can be gained by acting out or going against one’s own moral code. I don’t let anyone push me off center to the point I would cross a line that I’ve self imposed or act out of character altogether.

Sometimes things happen in my life that kind of shake me off my course. During times like these the first thing I do is gather my thoughts and decide if there is anything that can be done to change things. Part of what stresses people out during uneasy or challenging times is their inability to realize that they can change their reaction to them;they change how they deal with something challenging. Their go to may be worry, and worry until the challenge is over.  Instead I try to think of a better way, or a less stressed way I can react to these kind of times. Distraction also helps, as long as you don’t escape too long.

My true north is my center. I am grounded when I am centered.  When I am centered I am productive and I’m also the best version of myself.   Staying grounded for me means staying open, not closed. Open to talking, open to listening, open to understanding and open to dealing with fear, and uncertainly which are usually two things humans are challenged by the most. Uncertainty is hard for me–it seems like most uncertain things are dealt with by the passing of time. Thus why I pray for patience (ahem). Fear, well fear is a part of everyone’s life. Fear is often the unknown. Fear is sometimes the well known and your still not being able to deal with something.  I take what I am afraid of and said it out loud at the time I feel fear the most. I recognize what it is and then it becomes so much easier to deal with.

Soon my posts will be less philosophical and more about food again (promise). My seed catalogs just came in and I can’t wait to order seeds and start my seedlings. Until next time–be well!

Moving forward dragging feet

I’ve been stuck in kind of a mental limbo since this past fall.  I think the biggest reason why is because I watched too much news.  I watch, or did watch too much. I haven’t had the news on now for nearly two months. I also haven’t been reading the front page of my newspaper for quite some time.  Something shifted for me a  few months back that I have not been able to forget. It’s left me pondering the intent of humans, and trying to rationalize or understand bad behavior, or find some kind of explanation for the way things are around me and in the world. It’s not been often that I have to think about some of the kind of things I’ve thought about over the past two months. To the point, as my title states, moving forward dragging feet.

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The last couple of weekends my husband and I have been taking it easy. We manage to pluck  off an ornament or two and then quit. Not at all anxious to let go of the feelings we feel at Christmas time- hope, peace and faith.  This past summer and fall we spent a lot of time in nature, often driving for almost an hour to walk peacefully in one of our favorite places in Wisconsin, a wildlife refuge.  Each day now as I take my morning walk I hear a group, it would seem the same group, of Canadian geese fly over my head towards the state park we live by. Then by nightfall they fly back over our home toward the wildlife refuge to sleep. Each time I hear, then see them, they bring a sense of peace to my heart.

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This past years election news and the candidates coverage really caused me to fall into a pit of lost hope. Lost hope in people, in the process of election, and my faith in human kind. As a lifelong advocate for human rights, and a caretaker for over twenty years for people with disabilities, watching someone in the position of power (who I shall not name here) make fun of someone with a disability really broke me.  I kept thinking that this cannot be happening, I cannot be the only person who sees this as  the lowest, cruelest thing a person could do to another. Though I knew deep down inside I was not, I truly felt like this person was rewarded time and time again for his cruelness, negativity, deceitful behaviors and general overall feelings and actions toward those in society who may not be in the position to defend themselves against someone like him. I kept looking for good news and the bad just kept coming and coming.  Darkness fell and though we had a wonderful Christmas, I just kept feeling more and more uneasy about starting the New Year. But it came and we made it through and both feel a renewed sense of faith. I’ve read so many blog posts lately of people just like me who feel like I do and in their posts I have found the light that I so need.  I am moving forward now only slightly dragging my feet. It’s a new year and I must move forward and be a part of it. I hope there is a lot more happiness and light in 2017 than there was in 2016. In the words of Maria Shriver– ” I hope we can all stand up and say this is what I’m FOR rather than this is what I’m AGAINST” in the coming new year. ”

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Happy Sinterklaas Day!!

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My Sinterklaas gift! – Beekman 1802 Snow Globe String Lights (sold out in stores)

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Welcome December and busy schedule. Time is moving quickly as it usually does this time of year. Between trying to catch holiday lights and holiday movies, and Hallmark’s Christmas shows there is work, baking, entertaining and of course our volunteer schedule to keep up on. I’ve baked peanut butter cookies with chocolate stars, lefse, sugar cookies and rosettes thus far. More to come before Christmas I am sure. Here in Wisconsin the snow has finally arrived a long with the bitterly cold temperatures of this time of year. I hope this December day finds you happy, healthy, and full of the spirit of Christmas!

Cranberry Sauce

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The recipe I use is — Cranberry Sauce

It’s almost that time again for some to fix the turkey, prepare the stuffing and serve the cranberry sauce or mold to friends, family or in my case- both plus I will also serve dinner at one of the shelters I volunteer at.  I didn’t always like the tartness of cranberry sauce, but over the years it has grown on me. Now, it seems my turkey would be naked without a spoonful or two by its side.

This coming weekend we are running to Hobby Lobby and Target to look at all their Christmas decorations. We were at both places two weeks ago when they were just starting to put stuff out. Usually we don’t buy things at the beginning of the season. For years we really haven’t bought much new because we have totes and totes and more totes filled with Christmas. This year, though, we just couldn’t resist and we were able to get some things I really wanted before they were all sold out.  So far how we are decorating for the holidays seems to be what is trending right now. Woodland creatures are everywhere, but I still believe glitter and fur will be the trendiest.

Until next time–stay safe and enjoy the nice weather outdoors!

Crafts and the fall garden

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The fall temps of late have been just wonderful. Fall color came and went so quick that we really didn’t get a good fix from it this year. Everywhere we traveled the predominant color was rust, though we did see some beautiful red maples too.

Our container garden has been put to bed and our trees have been mulched. We grow trees year round on our deck and given them away as gifts. A tree my friends is a gift for a lifetime. We have two junipers and one pine. We had two pines but one died and we actually thought the other one would too. I took special care of it this past spring and though it still looks rough in the places it dropped needles, I think it will survive. My mum has lasted longer than any mum I’ve ever bought, it was grown locally near La Crosse WI and purchased at our coop. I think I paid $12.00 for it the first weekend in September. It’s made it through three light frosts-no problem.

We’ve made a few more changes this past summer and into the fall here in our home. The first one is once we were done with the margarine we’ve been buying nearly 20 years, out it went and in came butter. We had been using butter sparingly on sandwiches and sweet corn. But I hadn’t been cooking with butter for probably 30 years or more. Now after using it for cooking these past few weeks I never want to be without it again. We use Organic Valley butter- because well we love Organic Valley products. The one thing that has always turned my husband off from eating butter is the after taste or salty sour cream taste he claims he’s had upon trying it. Whatever that is? Organic Valley butter doesn’t have it. We’re loving the switch. The second change we made, that probably should have been made a long time ago, is we threw out the last four frozen french fries and have replaced them with homemade home fries. Every week I go and buy 8-12 organic russets to make home fries from. To make these fries you wash the potatoes well, cut into wedges and place on a greased cookie sheet- I put foil down first on mine. Then drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt and make sure all wedges are well coated. I put them into a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes until the edges are crisp but the inside is tender. I serve with a dollop of organic sour cream and voila!- no more GMO french fries ever again!
The third change I’ve made is that after 35+ years of saying no to coffee I’ve learned to enjoy a cup of French pressed coffee every now and then. I’ve never liked coffee. I don’t like the taste. I don’t like the after taste. We have bought really expensive grinders, presses and coffee pots and oh boy have we bought some expensive whole beans to grind. Nothing ever changed my mind. I’ve even owned and resold two very expensive, before they were trendy, French presses.

A year or so ago I began drinking tea, something else I said I would never do. But I don’t drink just any tea I drink therapeutic teas-Marshmallow tea is my favorite. It’s not what you think- Marshmallow tea is tea made from the Marshmallow Root, it’s an herbal tea that has mucilaginous properties. What’s that? Marshmallow tea produces, once it is digested, a silky smooth mucous-like liquid. A liquid that coats your membranes all the way down to your intestines and possibly further. You have membranes all over your body- it coats them and soothes them and calms inflammation in them. It is used by people with IBS, digestive disorders, bowel/intestinal issues even some urinary and bladder issues. It’s an anti-inflammatory herbal tea. I’ve never read about anyone getting sick from it and you cannot drink too much of it. Although I limit myself to one cup a day.

Even after starting to drink tea coffee was still out. I love hot cocoa in the winter when I want to warm up. I don’t like homemade hot cocoa instead I’ve always opted for store bought -Swiss Miss. However a couple of winters ago I experienced some issues after drinking some and discovered all of the scary ingredients in it. Which one made me sick? Well I continued to try and drink it and continued to get sick -mainly diarrhea and dizziness. I am guessing the dried milk whey and the carrageenan and the mysterious artificial flavor added. Every other kind of boxed hot cocoa mix is the same so I needed to find something else to drink in cold weather. Ahem. All that was left for me was to try coffee…again.

A friend bought me a French press for my birthday, and my husband went out and bought a breakfast blend- mild and coarsely ground and I tried it and I liked it. No plans to drink it every day, but I would have a cup socially or as a means to warm up on a cold Winter’s day. Which at some point will be upon us here in Wisconsin.

The wreath in my post is one that I am making. I bought the green part of the wreath believe it or not for $6.00 at Menard’s. I’ve added mini lights and a poinsettia that clips on and may add something else ? Maybe a bulb or two just not sure at this point. I am not a crafter, but making your own and having it around year after year makes much more sense to me than buying fresh and having it last a month and then throwing it away. In our case living in town it means city dump and I’m just not going to do that to something so beautiful that belongs out in nature. We haven’t had live trees or pine boughs and wreaths in the house for over 20 years- cats, yes cats. Though Gabe has never messed with our faux tree and ornaments he would eat a real tree- bark, sap and all. Last year we bought a new 8ft faux from Target and then this year way back in September, when Walmart was just starting to think about Christmas, my husband spotted a skinny tree. I’ve wanted a skinny tree so bad the past three years. In fact that is what led us to Target last year – they had skinny trees in their ads. But to my dismay, by the time we got there, they were all gone. So we bought a beautiful almost real looking 8 ft. tree instead. The skinny tree at Walmart was really cute and under $60.00 so we bought it. And yes you guessed it, it is this year’s Christmas tree.

The painted frame is my attempt at painting. I don’t like to paint, but I found this antique frame at a barn sale this past summer and I wanted to spruce it up. Sage is an old color, an old primitive color. I’ve got a few things in sage throughout my home so sage it is. It looks nice and will go well in our kitchen. I guess painting isn’t so bad after all.

That’s it for now. I hope you can all get out and enjoy the weather if it’s good in your area and have a great weekend!