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Showing posts from November, 2012

Orographic Clouds Are Amazing!!!

Clouds!  I have Clouds!!! Thin, beautiful lines of clouds, right above my head! Yippee!!!! I quickly grabbed my camera to take a picture.  I couldn't waste even a second.  Those clouds were moving fast . Click! Oops... In my excitement, I completely forgot that my camera phone didn't have a flash... and it was just after midnight.  I think this is probably an extreme form of selective memory, no? Not only that, but I had no clue where my real camera is, and it doesn't allow me to transfer pictures half the time, anyway.  I watched the clouds zoom away. But they were so awesome that I had to tell you about them! I know, I know... you're wondering why I'm going crazy over something people see every day.  They're just clouds, after all... But these were orographic clouds, which are typically formed due to cold, dry upper atmosphere air getting pushed downward by wind at a fate rate, toward warmer humid air.  It then lifts i

DIY Kit Homes: A Viable Dream

Well, I've really done it, now... I can't truly blame myself.  Well, ok.  Yes, I can.  I just don't want to.  Instead, I'm electing to blame Mother Earth News. See, I have this special relationship with Mother Earth News magazine . That magazine is like the evil friend that you spend tons of time with, and always manages to get you into trouble.  Why?  Because the articles are just so awesome!  The second you open an issue, you fall into sustainability heaven.  It's loaded with useful information directed to those of us that are excited about the possibility of making these dreams come true. One issue caused me to want to buy a milk cow and raise it in a completely sustainable manner.  My family was lucky that we rent our home.  Of course, that caused me to think about chickens as an option.  I went through article after article about raising them, as well as doing my own DIY portable chicken coop.  This, naturally, caused my dad to consider doing the same t

Accidental Critter Feast, or How I Lost My Dinner

As mentioned before, I spent Thanksgiving weekend with my parents and grandparents in the frigid Northland, otherwise known as the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Honestly, though, I don't think there can be much of a difference between there and the North Pole. See?  I told you it was frigid.  There's even some deep snow covering the trail to prove it! I returned home to a nice and toasty 38 degree evening. Yeah, you heard that right... toasty.  That's how freakishly cold it is up there!  I know, I know... those of you that are real Minnesotans think I'm overreacting.  I have one defense that trumps your argument, though: Desert Girl!!! Anyway, the morning after I got back to my house, I noticed that my backyard habitat was still providing critters with happiness. How? I accidentally left the two mini pumpkins from my Happy Thanksgiving post on the outside table.  One showed clear evidence of critter contentment. My first thought was a simple

Christmas Decorations: The Ultimate in Reuse!!!

It's finally time to decorate! Normally, our family tradition is to decorate for Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving, but we spent the weekend with my parents and grandparents, and so we weren't able to go about our yearly Christmas treasure discovery.  I had to wait until after I came back home. A few hours before we drove off for the weekend, I brought the decorations up from the basement. That's not all of it.  I really have a lot. I was so glad to finally be able to open those boxes upon returning home! Part of my Christmas decorating joy has to do with the ages of some of these treasures.  There's a lot of history in those boxes. Made by my grandma in 1985 There are ornaments that mark important years. Perhaps the most important of all years! Some decorations remind us of loved ones lost long ago. My great-grandma made this one. All of these pieces make up a great example of reuse at its very finest.  Unlike many other occa

Wildlife Offerings in the Middle of Nowhere

My grandma lives in the middle of nowhere! Well, ok.  Not quite. She does, however, live very far outside of town in Northern Minnesota, surrounded by woods on three sides, and the great Lake Superior on the other.  It takes around 30 minutes to get to the closest (small) town.  In my mind, that is the middle of nowhere. It's actually pretty nice. One of the more exciting aspects of living off in "the boonies" is the large amount of wildlife.  Aside from the smaller critters that I'm now used to, such as rabbits and squirrels, larger animals may frequent your yard. Like deer, bears, and wolves. I told you it was exciting!!! After picking oodles and oodles of apples from the trees back in September, many of them were left outside "for the critters." Granted, this was probably just a really nice way of saying, "There's no room in the fridge for all of this, so I'm just going to leave it outside and let nature take care of it."

Sustainable Giving: Heifer International

Everyone has that one person that frustrates them beyond belief during the holiday season.   Whenever you ask this person what he or she wants for Christmas, the answer is something along the lines of, "I don't need anything"  or  "Whatever.  I'm not picky." It makes you want to strangle them.  What do you do for these people??? Well, one option is donating to a charity in their name.   This doesn't always work... some of those annoying "I don't need anything" people really do want some sort of physical item.  Donating may not be the best idea for them. For the ones who truly don't care if they get a gift or not, though, finding a non-profit organization that they agree with, and making a donation in their honor may actually be a very good idea. Heifer International is the one we'll talk about, today. I got a gift catalog in the mail about a month ago, and thought, " Huh.  Maybe I should check it

Support Small Business Saturday! Find a Local Store!

Today is Small Business Saturday!  Yay!!! Small Business Saturday gets such a small amount of media exposure.  A really, really tiny amount.  So miniscule, in fact, that unless your local news station does a story about it, you probably won't remember it's happening. Even then, there's a chance that you'll be gung ho about heading off to support small businesses, but have absolutely no clue who is participating, or even what the big deal is all about. That's what I want to do today. I want to help you find small businesses in your area without having to get redirected about 5000 times. Small Business Saturday is sort of like Black Friday for the little guys... minus the insane shoving, rudeness, and heart attack inducing stress levels.   The frightened employees, cringing every time a customer comes within a three foot radius, are also absent. Come to think of it, maybe it's not much like Black Friday at all... They do have deals, though.  And th

Grinding Flour Using a Mortar and Pestle

Swirl!                                       Swirl!   Shake!                 Shake!   POUND! I was grinding my flour... finally!  It took a while, but I finally found the pestle that my daughter had absconded with.  Where was it?  Deep inside the darkest corner of the couch.  Where else does something like that go? I got my supplies together, flexed my muscles, and went to work. First, I removed the grains (seeds by this time) from the stem, placing them in a bowl in order to have a visual indicator of how much I was going to be working with. Not much. I added the grains to the mortar, ready to grind it into flour.  I grabbed my pestle, which had transformed into a great and terrifying   +1 Club of  Pounding , and went to work.  My inner Kitchen Ogre rejoiced. I alternated between a cyclical grinding motion and outright pounding. Loud pounding. The kind that makes your dogs bark, and causes the neighbors to wonder if they should alert the police to unus

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want all of you to know how thankful I am that you're here. Not just today, but also in the past and in the future.  Even Green Boots Leave Trails is all about stumbling along the path to becoming environmentally responsible, and every person that visits, whether they come once and never again, or they stay and continue reading, has made a difference by caring about the world around them. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for you . And lookee there! The "Happy Thanksgiving" up there was created using black walnut twigs.  Looks like I found another good use for those trees!  My neighbor thinks I should glue the letters together and reuse them next year.  Not a bad idea, hmm?  What do you think? You know what I think?   I think you should stop sitting at your computer and go have some Thanksgiving yumminess and joy.  That's what I think ! Have a happy Thanksgiving! I look forward to having you here again, tomorrow!

Carrot Surprise! Using Milk Jugs to Protect Your Find

Huh?! Wait... what?  How?! I was dumbfounded.  I stared at the patch of soil in which I had grown lettuce and spinach , only to discover healthy green leaves that had burst out of the soil at some point. Carrot leaves. Carrots in a patch of soil that I had planted spinach and lettuce inside?  After a few freezes and temperatures that never left the range of 20 to 50?  In November ??? How could this be? " Oh, yeah... " I remembered. Back in July , I had planted a few carrot seeds in that patch, having completed my run of greens.  My daughter loves carrots, and I'm pretty enamored with them, as well. Of course, soon after planting them, I completely forgot about their existence... and we had a nice little drought in the area.  They were left on their own to do what poor little carrot seeds do when they're neglected and un-watered. Apparently, there were a few survivors.  Not many... just three.  They continued to grow against all odds in an are

The Kitchen Ogre's Quick Thanksgiving Recipe: Cranberries

"Oh, no!  It's almost Thanksgiving, I'm in a rush, and I still have to figure out a side dish to bring to grandma's house!!!" We've all been in a similar situation.  Maybe it was somewhere other than grandma's house.  Maybe it was a different holiday.  But we've all been there. Some people are lucky. They don't cook, so they bring the chips or some drinks.  They just have to suffer through long lines at a grocery store. The rest of us, though, are stuck trying to figure something out a day or two beforehand, fighting the impulse to transform into an Ogre due to the stress, because we just kept putting it off until tomorrow. So what do you do in a case like this? I have this problem... well... a lot.  Indeed, my procrastination has caused this so often that I've made a list of holidays, and which "quick foods" I need to offer to make... well ahead of time. Seriously.  A list of holidays with foods beside their names.  Co

Black Friday Shopping Mania: How To Avoid It

It's approaching... Soon it'll be time for the most scary, stress inducing, even violent day of the year. Black Friday. See, I really dislike Black Friday. People get excited over Black Friday deals, racing to get their hands on items that are significantly reduced for that one day, only.  All bets are off.  All that seems to matter for so many people is getting those deals. Pepper spray has been used on shoppers that have gotten too close to the item that a consumer wanted. Large crowds have created a stampede that injured everyone around them as stores opened with their so-called deals. People have even died because of consumer greed. Every year, there are new reports of consumer greed causing trauma . And for what?  A little bit of money saved?  Is life really that insignificant when placed in the shadow of "great deals"? I refuse to be a part of that. The only shopping I tend to do on Black Friday is grocery shopping.  Grocery stores

Solar Lights For a Treacherous Trail

Since the time change, I've dreaded taking my dogs outside after supper. Back at my old home, the time change was annoying.  Here in Minnesota, though, it's actually a bit dangerous.  That is... if, like me, you have to walk up a short trail to get to the area where you can allow your dogs to run free. This photo was taken not long before this blog began! See, by 4:30 the sun has lowered enough that you have to start turning on lights indoors.   By the time I feed the dogs and take them outside, the sun has completely set, and my backyard is swathed in darkness.  Since pushing the clocks back an hour, I've stumbled on the treacherous trail that leads up to the fenced area of the yard on several different occasions. I'm clumsy, in general, I admit, so when darkness is added into the equation, my lack of dexterity turns me into my own worst enemy.  I've tripped on rocks, as well as the steps themselves.  I've even managed to trip on the air itself, m

Mortar and Pestle: Grinding Flour For ONE Cookie...

I had one sheaf of wheat seeds staring at me from my raised garden in the backyard. Just one. So, naturally, I removed it, and stared with wonder. Jokingly, I had mentioned in an earlier post that I thought it would be fun to grind it up when it was ready, and make... one cookie. The funny part, though, is that now I'm starting to think that may not be such a bad idea! Think about it.   How many people do you know that actually grind their own flour?  Unless you live in a farm community, the answer is most likely,  "Not many." Or even, "None." It's not a common skill.  There's nothing wrong with that, of course.  If we want flour, we can just go off to the store and buy some.  It's a no-brainer. The idea of grinding your own, though... of learning a new skill... Now that's exciting! I wanted to know what to do.  What is required?  How hard is it?  What techniques are used? I st

The Agony of a Migraine, and the Joy of Water

So, about that sinus headache... It turns out I was wrong.  It wasn't a simple sinus headache that I had when I wrote my piece for yesterday... it was the beginning of a full-blown migraine.  The worst of the worst.  Public enemy number one in the world of headaches. Oops. Here's what happened. After my overwhelmingly long, hot shower, I felt better.  Sure, I still had a bit of a headache, but it was more of an annoyance than anything else.  When that happens with a sinus headache, I simply ignore it.  It goes away within a few minutes, as long as I keep my activity levels low. Only that didn't happen this time. Instead, I had a very low level headache for about half an hour.  I ignored it. Then it got worse.  A lot worse.  Suddenly. Then the nausea started. And the light sensitivity. And the sensitivity to sound. My critical thinking skills were in a complete disarray, and I was angered by just about anything that happened within the room I was i

Relieve a Basic Sinus Headache: Go To the Source!

Someone was using a jackhammer on my head. At least, that's what it felt like.  First thing in the morning, my brain decided to say "good morning" with a very loud, very agonizing headache.  It wasn't the worst headache I'd ever had... not even in the top ten, really, but it was painful, nonetheless. The good news? It was a sinus headache.  Not a migraine.  Those don't go into the good news category.  It was a simple sinus headache.  They feel horrible, but they're also the easiest to get rid of. See, sinus headaches come out to play when your sinuses get clogged.  Unclog those sinus cavities, and you're good to go. Of course, when your sinuses are clogged well enough to give you a headache, blowing your nose doesn't do the job.  You can't.  Your mucus has turned to glue.  The kind of glue that Gorilla Glue looks upon with envy. It. Just. Won't. Let.  Go. Ugh. Most people reach for their big container of pain-relieving p

Frost Patterns: Behind the Beauty

Frosted sabers. Icy feathers. Whatever you see when you look at the patterns, you have to agree that they're breathtaking. What patterns? Well, yesterday morning I walked outside to take my daughter to school, and stared at amazement at my car windows. I've seen frost patterns plenty of times before, but these patterns were different from anything I'd seen in the past.  I wondered why. I mean, I know the basics.   As water freezes, the molecules line up, so to speak, and that's what produces the pretty shapes.  Windows never (or at least, very rarely) frost up with any kind of symmetry.  There are too many impurities.  Dirt, dents, oily fingerprints, etc.  This is why frost on windows is so different from snowflakes that fall from the sky. This wasn't my problem.  Rather, I wondered why the frost patterns on my windows here , in Southern Minnesota, were so different from the patterns on my windows when I lived in the desert.  It has to do with