Fresh from the garden lettuce & RMO Essential Oils and Pest Control blend

For most of the last three weeks, all we’ve had in Wisconsin is rain, rain, and more rain. Every day is cloudy. Somehow in my fond dreams of yesteryear, I remember spring having some sunny, warm and simply satisfying days before the hot and sticky days of summer arrive. This year I made a solemn promise to take spring slow and enjoy every moment of it. Now all I want is heat and sun–go away rain, the rivers are flooding.  Less than two weeks after planting the last six lettuce plants we’ve had two big salads from those six plants, a lettuce leaf on five sandwiches this week, and lettuce on our hamburgers tonight. Believe it or not, there is still at least one salad left and more to come. This has been my most successful year of growing bibb lettuce.  While harvesting the lettuce I was bitten a total of three times by pesky mosquitos, which reminded me I need to order some Bug off! from Rocky Mountain Oils.

Last year I used a blend made from RMO’s cedarwood, lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass essential oils in purified water in a 4 oz spray bottle. I put in 30 drops of cedarwood, 25 drops of lavender, 15 drops of peppermint and 15 drops of lemongrass. I shake the spray bottle gently before each use.  I use either, it just depends if you want to make up your own batch or buy a blend that has all of the essential oils and more already in it. Either way, you cannot go wrong using Rocky Mountains Oils as your go-to pests go away and stay away from me spray.

 

Container Gardening 2017

I planted lettuce plants 10 days apart, all of which were bought at the same time, same place, but I ran out of big box potting soil for the rest of my veggies and six of my lettuce plants.  Every year I use regular potting soil from a big box and I add nutrients/minerals to the soil. Last year I bought really expensive organic fertilizer, that did absolutely nothing for any of the vegetables I was growing. This year via Facebook I noticed the coop I shop at was stocking Purple Cow Organics products**.  We found someone local who carried them and proceeded that very night to plant the rest of the lettuce and veggies.

I re-potted a tomato plant that had been severely frost burn in Purple Cow Organics Tomato Gro. Currently, that tomato plant is thriving, the one I did not replant died in big box potting soil.

Side by side you can see big box vs. Purple Cow Organics– the big box potting soil lettuce plants were given a 10-day headstart and still we’re not even close to a lettuce salad.

The lettuce planted 10 days ago in Purple Cow Organics is ready and waiting to be harvested. This picture was taken 3 days ago for a photo op, today I am planning on harvesting what I can and having a salad. The beauty of all of it is the lettuce will grow back and we will have several salads from these six plants.

Ten days ago this was a container filled with Purple Cow Organic Potting Mix and three seed potatoes–today a potato plant appears! So get out there and get you some and enjoy that first home grown salad grown all by yourself (with a little help from Purple Cow Organics, of course)! 🙂 Enjoy.

**not compensated in any way by Purple Cow Organics for my awesome experience using their products and then blogging about it.**

Seed Catalogs and Spring Planting

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I apologize in advance for how bright the photos are. We haven’t had sunshine for about two weeks now. Today–the sun is shining. It’s bitterly cold out, but the sun sure feels good when you’re out in it. I love my seed catalogs, from my two favorite seed catalog companies. I have yet to place an order with them hence the Burpee seeds, also a favorite.

I buy all my tomato seeds from Baker Creek. You can request your free catalog here. I receive a Seed Savers catalog every year but have never ordered from them. They come highly recommended, so this year I will be placing an order for cucumbers, pumpkins, and assorted flowers. I usually buy planters and pots of flowers, but this year I am going to try growing my own. You can request your free catalog here. 

So that’s my spring plan thus far. I have all my pots washed out, soil purchased and grow light ordered.

 

The Benefits of Taking a Nap

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The benefits are listed here.

I am big on naps for many reasons.  Naps feel good.  I wake from a nap fully ready to take on the world. I am a bit saner after a nap, less cranky and way more energetic. But not everyone likes taking a nap. Remember when your mother used to force you to go take a nap? I do. Until I became an avid bookwork nap taking was pure evil. Do you remember laying in bed as a child staring at the ceiling counting sheep restlessly until your mother let you know nap time was over? I remember that too. But now, well actually for about the last 20 years, I am a regular nap taker.  I often try to get my husband to lie down and nap, but it’s just not his thing. Something tells me he is more the fall asleep in the recliner during the 6 o’clock news kind of guy.  For my nap to be successful I first plan how long it will be and set my clock. I make sure everyone in my household knows I am going to lie down. I turn on my white noise machine, rub lavender over my face and on my pillow and down I go. Whether it’s a 30 minutes nap or two hours I feel like a million bucks when I get up from it.

I do have night time sleep problems, but I’ve had those for many many years. My taking a tap doesn’t make them any worse and sometimes my nap makes me tired enough later in the day to fall fast asleep at bedtime. Try it. Just go ahead and try it.  What are you waiting for? Sweet dreams~ 🙂

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!

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!

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!

Apple Fritter Bread

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Every fall we make our pilgrimage to an area I used to live in and buy our mums, our apples and our apple fritter bread. We bring along a thermos of hot cocoa, a pat or two of fresh butter, and head up the hill in La Crescent, Mn for the views on Apple Blossom Scenic Drive. It never gets old and I’ve been doing this for the better part of almost 30 years.

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Apple fritter bread is not hard to make, I found a recipe here that I’m going to try. But even when I try the recipe and I’m able to make my own fritter bread we’ll still make our annual trip to Bauer’s Marketplace for it. Heading out for the day in Minnesota is a tradition and my husband and I value traditional things and love creating new memories every year during this time.

Thanks everyone for the wonderful feedback regarding my posts about whole foods. It’s where my family and I are at right now. You know I started this journey twelve years ago now when I quit smoking. Once I detoxed myself from years of living like a rock star, I decided I only wanted to put organic food in my body. Boy was I in for a bumpy ride. Organic food in these parts weren’t to be found in the marketplace. Soon though things became easier until gluten started bothering me. So I tried gluten-free and then I tried foods that had 5 ingredients or less in them. Finally I chose to limit or eliminate all additives and preservatives and my gluten issue worked itself out. Probiotics and whole foods have helped me a lot with my food sensitivities.  Our diet today consists of mainly organic whole foods.  I am happy to share my experiences here on my blog about what whole foods mean in terms of meals and lifestyle.  Until next time!

A Farmer’s daughter

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From the earliest age that I can remember-farms and farm animals have been in my world. When I was four, maybe five, I remember visiting my grandparents on their farm. My grandpa had draft horses, milk cows, and chickens. Oh, and kittens and a puppy too. To encourage me to make the long trip to the U.S. from Canada by bus all my Mom had to remind me of was the kittens. Once there I would run around outside for hours, visiting the chickens, watching my grandpa milk and playing with the kittens. Within a couple of years my Mom met a farmer and again I was encouraged to leave the place of my birth, my school, and friends to move to the U.S. and live on a farm. And so I did. Though I was unhappy a lot in my younger years, I enjoyed growing up on a farm.

Perhaps my biggest regret of my wasted youth was not getting to know the farmer behind the great farm I grew up on– my step-father. As his young daughter, I simply worshiped this great man who rose every day at 5 a.m and worked tirelessly until after dark at night. Even sick he worked. Even when he could hardly move his body from arthritis or take a breath because of respiratory problems he’d had for what seems forever he worked every day. He took care of his farm, his animals, and his family well. Even though I know there are many men and women farming who love the land as much as he did. In my honest and humble opinion he was and is the best farmer I will ever know.  Because of my own personal issues I never got close to my step-father and that will always be a profound regret of mine. I have talked to him many times since he’s been gone, and I know he is in a better place albeit I always thought that to be the home farm. If not for his farm; the farm I grew up on, my younger years would have been nearly unbearable. In me, I see the things I picked up from him. His memory lives in me each day, in who I’ve become, and in how hard I work. A part of him is in the reason I feel the way I do about animals, about feeding my family well and my desire to help feed others.

I recently learned that all of my grandfathers back four generations on my biological dad’s side were farmers  (this was a major revelation for me) and this has caused me great pride. I now know that farming is in my blood. My last grandfather to farm was Manuel. He struggled to work the family farm even though he wasn’t really happy farming. He did so out of obligation.  He died at forty after a long illness. His family was young and none of his children were old enough to work the farm while he recovered from illness. Soon after his death his family lost the farm, and that was the last farmer in the family on my Dad’s side.

When I am around farmer’s, reading about farmer’s I feel a sense of peace. They are my people. We as a people owe a great debt to those people that have from maybe the very beginning of time worked diligently to feed all of us. And I’m not in any way speaking about factory farms. I am speaking about family farms, families living and farming together. The family farm being passed down to son or daughter and the tradition of living and working the same land generation after generation to feed all of us.

Lately, I’ve spent many hours reading about homesteading, organic and urban agriculture.  Some of the books I’ve read are: Farm City by Novella Carpenter, Growing a Farmer by Kurt Timmermeister and The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe. I’ve also purchased several films on Amazon that I think are good depictions of what farming is really like if you’re not familiar with it or want a refresher course in farming 101 like I did. They are: Farming Forward, Betting the Farm, Eating Alabama, The Organic Life, The First Season and To Make a Farm.

My heart says it is never too late to live your dream, to accept your calling or to go after what you want and just do it. That said, physically and monetarily there are limits. I do not have aspirations to milk cows, although I love farms, barns and dairy cows. So I know I will not become a dairy farmer. I am also certain I will not become a large crop farmer growing corn, hay or soybeans. I’m looking into learning how to become – a food farmer( growing food for human consumption). Thankfully my husband is entirely on board with this so it is something that in the next two years we will begin doing together. The first step of this conceived plan is for me to graduate, which happens in just two weeks. The second step will be for us to get our affairs in order with our current home, jobs, and priorities and start visiting some of the places we’ve thought about relocating to which will help us decide where we want to make our forever home, and then once that is decided the next step will be to buy a home with land. I will still work away from our farm at a job in town because that is how we will finance our dream. Though I wish I would have heeded my true calling some twenty years ago, I’m glad I went to college and will now be able to finance our plans (hopefully) in a much more sustainable way. Me as a farmer will never be the same kind of farmer my step-father was, but the farming I will do be it ever so humble and small will surely honor that life that I once lived as a farmer’s daughter.