Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2012

What Do You See In a Tree?

Just a short, inspirational quote, for today! The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.  -William Blake, 1799 

Venison Roast: A Gift From a Good Hunter

Last night I made a very yummy dinner.  I threw a venison roast into the crock pot with some salt, pepper, and onion, as well as a little water at the bottom, and left it alone all day.  The result was mouth-watering. Where'd I get the venison, you ask?   No, I didn't go out hunting, although, to be honest I'd love to learn to shoot with a bow.  No, my father is the hunter in my family.  When I was very little, a lot of our food came from hunting and fishing.  The truth is that if you manage to take down just one deer, you've more than made up for the cost of your hunting license, and the meat gained from it will stock your freezer for 6 months. The idea of hunting turns some people's stomachs.  I get that.  It seems like a cruel sport in which people kill an animal for the joy of the hunt.  Yes, some people out there are like that... but most are not. The fact is, most hunters have a deep respect for the wildlife they're hunting.   Unlike the soc

Planning Next Season's Garden

Last night I got a catalog in the mail that reminded me of something very important: It's time to start planning next season's garden! The catalog in question was from Territorial Seed Company. Since I was still sick yesterday, I couldn't really give it the attention it deserves, so instead, I asked my daughter what we should plant this next season.  She opened my Nook (don't worry... I got the oops-I-dropped-it-in-the-toilet-then-managed-to-flush-part-of-it-down protection plan, so I'm covered), opened her profile, and started using her drawing program. What we're looking at is blueberries, plums, and raspberries.  Unfortunately, we found out the hard way that blueberries can't share soil with black walnut trees, so those are out.  The juglone released into the soil acts as a toxin.  Drat. Plums are out, too.  Not because the black walnut trees would kill them, though they might, but rather, because we've extended our lease u

Still Sick... But Not As Sick As Some.

So... yeah.  I'm still sick. We're pretty sure it's the flu.  People that live in my mom's area have been swabbed "flu positive".  The interesting part?  A large portion of those people (that I know of) had gotten the flu shot, so it's not particularly effective this year. It's pretty much unheard of that I'm sick for longer than 24 hours, but today, which is day three, I'm feeling pretty much like I did on day one, so I'm sure I'll be back to normal tomorrow... which means real posts again! Hooray!!! Be sure to eat lots and lots of organic fruits and vegetables.  I'm sure that's why I haven't been hit as hard by this as others have.  The nutrients I take in every day are making a huge difference in weathering this illness. My fevers have held at between 100 and 101.7.  Most other people I've talked to have had their fevers reach up to 102 or 103.  I've been taking acetaminophen to reduce my fevers, but

Eat Your Way to Recovery From Illness!

Uuuungh... I shuffled downstairs to the kitchen.  I begin to cough.  It's a very weak cough.  Nothing particularly spectacular.  Except that it won't stop... and it feels like my rib cage is trying to exit my chest through my mouth. Not particularly happiness inspiring. My husband got sick while we were off at my grandma's house for Christmas, and as an extra gift... he gave it to me. I'm actually pretty good at not succumbing to illness.  The problem this time, though, is that I was trapped in a vehicle for 4 hours with those germs as I drove my family back home.  Coughing galore. So... yep.  I got it. Once I reached the kitchen I made my typical morning blend of carrots, celery, lemon, orange, and apples.  They were all nicely liquefied in the blender, and so they came out as a rather hearty smoothie.  Normally, I like juicing them, but since the juicer requires a lot of cleaning, I opted for a blended mix. Oh!  And I added some blueberry into the mix, b

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas, Everyone! What you're looking at is my grandma's freshly cut Christmas tree.  It's about 3 1/2 feet tall, and was once growing on her own land. Sure, it's not the biggest tree, and yes, there are plenty of trees out there with branches that are much more full. But!  This one was cut with knowledge of the area it was growing within.  It was chosen not only for its shape, but also with an eye for how its removal would effect the surrounding area's life.  This tree wouldn't have grown to its full potential.  There were others that would have kept it from receiving proper light and nutrients. Choosing a tree that isn't grown on a tree farm requires proper knowledge of the environment, and I was proud of my family's choice.  Respect for the world around you goes a long way. Have a Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the Season!

It's the day before Christmas, so I'm taking the day off to enjoy time with my family to the fullest.   To care for the earth, after all, we have to care for every part of it, including the people within it. Family and friends are precious, so enjoy the time we have with them.  Let them know how wonderful they are, and how they helped form our personalities. Enjoy life, and enjoy this season!  Everything is precious.  Take nothing for granted. Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

The Best Holiday Gift Can Be the One We Don't Know We Gave

The Winter Holidays are a time of discovery. Specifically, a time of self-discovery.  If we take a moment to do so, we all learn just a little bit about ourselves.  The problem, though, is that in modern society, it's hard to do that. We feel rushed.   We become more and more stressed.  Christmas turns into a time of panicking about what we're giving to whom, and how quickly we can get that done.  Road traffic volume increases, and we find ourselves shouting at " those drivers " that are making our lives so difficult.  We get in line to buy our prized piece of electronics that was created, in large part, by cruel child labor and poor working conditions for adults, never pausing to consider that the low prices we pay are due to money these businesses don't have to pay for that labor. We don't think about that, because we can't see it.   Out of sight, out of mind.  But it happens, and it happens pretty frequently.  I'm not saying this to po

Eco-Friendly Ideas for Those With No Wrapping Talent

And now it's time for the last minute, panicking because we waited until the last minute, how-in-the-heck-am-I-going-to-get-everything-done-in-time post. What am I talked about? Gift wrapping. Ugh.  I've always been bad at wrapping gifts.  Mine never look pretty and perfect.  I just don't have that kind of skill with paper and tape.  That's just not my sphere of expertise.  Well, unless we're talking about something that resembles a gift given by a Dr. Seuss character.  I'm pretty good at that.  Just ask my sister that received a lopsided, cone shaped gift that actually looked nothing like the present inside. My talents clearly lay elsewhere.  It's because of this that I wait until the last possible moment.  This usually works out pretty well for me.  I have always wrapped as little as possible, finding the wrapping paper to be a total waste.  Some people, though, really enjoy ripping the paper to shreds as they discover the gift inside.  B

My Massive Migration of Canada Geese

The sound was deafening. Canada geese honked, and honked, and honked.  It wasn't just a single V.  There were scores of them.  I pulled my gaze away from the sky and looked around.  Just about every other person within the grocery store parking lot had their faces tilted toward the clouds, as well, mouths agape. I wasn't alone in my amazement. Indeed, I was so awe-stricken that by the time I realized I needed to capture this moment... I kinda missed the impressive part of this group... this is the small, unimpressive tail-end. They had flown too far, and I only managed to catch the tail end of this massively huge group. How's that for bad timing? Geese have places that they wait until they have a nice sized grouping, and then the group flies off to a new location.  They follow the food, basically.  This means that flying South is not entirely necessary for them.  If food is in abundance, why leave? These geese were flying Northeast - a far cry from South

Snow Day!!!

The Protective Environmental Bubble that encompasses the Faribault area has not yet popped! Woohoo!!!!! The Winter Storm that has blown through the midwest has effected just about every school district around us, causing closings and delays, yet our school district is still on schedule.  What does this mean? It means my daughter still gets her Christmas party today!  Hooray!!! Don't get me wrong, the roads are pretty bad.  Parents that I walked by during when I got to the preschool were all talking about barely making it up hills, as well as slipping on some roads. But me? I skipped past them with my daughter in our snowsuits and multiple clothing layers, happy beyond belief.  We walked to school, after all, so had none of these worries. Sure, heads turned as I blew by in my Germany-bought military grade snow pants that were handed down to me by my father, while all of the other parents were shivering in their jeans, and in one case, slippers.   Clearly, this desert

Learning from Trees

Everything is as it should be. Isn't it great when we can say those words?  The leaf buds covering my trees, the ones I was oh so worried about , are perfectly normal. I had never seen this when I lived in the desert Southwest, but perhaps that has to do with the fact that plants in that region don't need to work quite as hard.  The temperatures are very rarely below freezing, so that means (and I'm only guessing here) that the few trees and shrubs in the area don't have to start shooting out buds prior to winter at the same level as woody plants in the upper Midwest. I was actually worried that the buds had to do with the higher than normal temperatures, coupled with the lack of rain that we received last year.  While this may have had some bearing on the specific timing of the buds' presence, it was not the reason that I saw buds prior to winter itself. Good to know, right? It turns out, woody plants generally produce small buds before winter.  D

Time to Relearn the Basics: Leaf Buds as Teachers

Every now and then, something happens that causes you to rethink everything that you thought you knew. In my case, that happened this morning when I looked out at the house from the fenced-in area of my backyard.  I found this: Yeah, I know... it's a really bad picture.  Try to ignore that.  Instead, look at that green fuzziness in the center. That's a leaf bud. See, I always thought that trees started to form buds at the end of winter.  You know... so that when Spring hit, they could burst out with gorgeous leaves.  I mean, that's the way it happened on the Mexican-American border.  It's also what I had always seen/inferred through television. Yet, there I was... staring at a leaf bud a few days before Winter even truly began. Shows what I know, right? At first, I figured it had to do with that one tree.  I went off to take a look at a few other types. The pussy willow had a huge assortment of buds.  This one, however, was in the same area of the

Turn a Beloved Old Book Into an Herb Planter

Every avid reader has that one book that they refuse to get rid of.   The binding has separated from the pages so many times that glue no longer serves to keep it together.  The pages are yellowed.  It has tears throughout.  You hate to admit it, and so you continue to keep it on your shelves, but it's at the end of its natural lifespan. Heck, it's even at the end of its unnatural lifespan, when you consider all of the face lifts surgeries it has gone through in your attempt to keep it alive. In my case, it was an Andre Norton novel that I had gotten from a Deleted Books bin at the library. It was in pretty bad condition from the moment I picked it up.   I mean, there's a reason the library chose to delete it, after all!  Truth be told, it's not even one of my favorite books.  I love Andre Norton, granted, but this wasn't at the top of my Must-Read Norton list.  It just really, really had a great deal of sentimental value for me, for some unknown reaso

Homemade Honey-Lemon Cough Drops

Honey-lemon cough drops to the rescue!!! My daughter had a sore throat, as well as a cough.  In most cases, people can grab a few cough drops when this happens, and they're pretty much ok.  This is not, however, the case when the person with these symptoms is four years old. Giving any standard OTC cough or sore throat medicine to a child that young is inadvisable, and those honey lollipops that are sold for this are pretty expensive... and you don't get very many for the price. So what do you do? You make your own, of course.  It takes a lot of time, but the resulting homemade cough drops are worth it. They're yummy, they soothe a miserable throat, and, if done right, boost immunity on top of all of that.  I call that a win!!! Not to mention the fact that it's better for the environment... that is, if you use local honey, or any other ingredient in the recipe that can be found locally. Previously I mentioned cayenne as a great choice to quickly rid yo

Taking A Day Off

I'm taking a day off from writing today, since my daughter is feeling rather sick.  I need to run back and forth quite a bit, and this means that I'm not able to properly focus on my writing. That being said, I'll have a post for you tomorrow that deals with making your own honey-lemon cough drops to soothe a sore throat! Yum!

Icicles and Energy Efficiency

Icicles are so cool!!! Unless, of course, they're hanging from your house, that is.  Ugh. Obviously, icicles are created by the melting and re-freezing of snow.  Icicles on windows and roofs are partially formed due to heat escaping from a building.  The more heat that escapes, the more frost and snow melts, and the bigger the icicles.  Fortunately, my icicles appear to be an acceptable size. This is good.  It means that I'm doing a pretty decent job of creating an air seal in my home that was built in the 1890s, and has minimal insulation due to that fact. I'm happy to say that using shrink wrapped plastic really does make a difference. I also looked at the attic window.   The attic is unheated, so I don't actually use it.  Instead, I layered a bunch of blankets along the entry door to keep heat from escaping into that area. There are still icicles there, of course, but they're shorter, meaning that not nearly as much heat has managed to seep int

Relieve Muscle Aches With Arnica

Ugghhhh...  Ohhhhhh... The agony.... No more than an hour after getting inside the house, my muscles ached severely.  I had been out all day, playing with my daughter and attempting to build an igloo.  It was fun, but the result wasn't exactly pretty.  I knew I was going to be in serious pain the next day if I didn't do something fast! Fortunately,  my medicine cabinet was well stocked, and there are certain items that are always on hand.  Baking soda, and tea tree oil are two of those items.  The third, though, is the one I use for muscle pain. Arnica Sweet, heavenly, amazing arnica .  There's no better muscle pain reliever out there... or, at least, nothing I've ever discovered. It never ceases to amaze me just how few people know about it.  Arnica is certainly not rare.  You can buy the cream at any health food store.  They even sell arnica drops in some places... though, those aren't as common. To be honest, though, even I didn't pay much

How NOT to Make an Igloo

Yesterday, I mentioned that I got a great deal of playing work done. Part of the beauty of the upper Midwest is that the ground gets blanketed with snow.  The especially cool thing about snow, aside being fun, is that the air doesn't seem nearly as cold when it covers the ground, due, no doubt, to its reflecting quality. This means tons of play time! After packing layer upon layer of snow gear onto my daughter and myself, we headed out into the snow covered backyard.  Snow suits, thick gloves, scarves, boots, coats, hats, and hoods covered both of our bodies, on top of the fact that our normal clothing was already three layers thick. We both deeply resembled Randy (Ralphie's brother) from A Christmas Story . "I can't put my arms down!" First, I noticed that the driveway needed to be shoveled, even though it was still snowing.  If you let it get too deep, after all, shoveling later will be a huge pain in the butt. Some people would consider this a setbac

Living In a Non-Blizzard Bubble

You know that huge Blizzard that raged through the Midwest? The one that dumped crazy amounts of snow on Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota?  The storm that caused over 500 crashes, and over 1000 spin-outs, leaving cars in ditches for miles upon miles, and knocking out satellite reception due to pounds of snow falling on people's receivers? Yeah, I wasn't a part of that. We got oodles of snow here, just fifty miles away from Minneapolis, but we were in this tiny little non-blizzard bubble.  Seriously.  As the snow came down, non-stop, I periodically checked the weather radar maps, and watched the snow move over and around the area that I live in. This is a constant.   For whatever reason, this tiny part of Southern Minnesota just doesn't normally get hit as hard as the rest of the state when bad weather comes in. Perhaps the lakes that surround us have something to do with it.  Maybe it has to do with the hills.  Possibly, it's both of these factors combi

Squirrel Tracks and Movement Speed

Yesterday I promised a future update on squirrel tracks, and I thought it would be a while before I delivered. I was wrong. Yay!!! As a refresher, this is the shoddy-looking track from yesterday that I grumbled about. You can't see the foot pads or claws, the track is so old that it's beginning to lose its definition, and the paws didn't come together in that really cool line that I mentioned.  What a rip-off. Ok, maybe you don't think so, but I sure did.  I love animal tracks, whether I know what in the world I'm looking at or not, and since squirrels are so common in my yard, I wanted a really good track. And I got that , instead.  Naturally, I was a wee bit miffed. Well, I think perhaps that my little critter friends sensed this, because not long after I finished off my blog post, I came back out to this. Absolutely perfect squirrel tracks! The larger paws at the top of the photo are the hind feet.  The smaller ones below are the fr

Backyard Animal Tracks: A Lesson In Assumption

Seeing snow on the ground, first thing in the morning, always brings a smile to my face. I woke up before my daughter this morning, which is a feat in and of itself.  This means that I had plenty of time to do my own thing.  I thought about watching some "grown up" tv... you know, like an action flick or a thriller.  Something I don't normally have the chance to do, since I don't want my 4 year old to have nightmares. In the end, though, I decided that what I really wanted to do was play Ultimate Animal Tracker Detective.  Not exactly something I'm good at, but it's fun, and that's what really matters. Since it snowed the evening before, I had the opportunity to see what the critters living in the area had been up to.  Standing on the back porch, I saw a lot of squirrel tracks. This is good.   I know squirrels by now, so I had a fair shot at having my visions of animal tracker grandeur become a reality.  I ran out with my camera to take pictures.

Cookie Time!!! Jan Hagel, a Dutch Favorite

Cookie time!!! Every December I go through a mad cookie-baking spree.  Believe it or not, baking your own cookies is actually better for the environment than buying them in a store. There are no additional ingredients for preservation, and no gigantic factories using machines to press batter of unknown origin onto a conveyor belt.  It's just you, a bunch of easily recognized ingredients, a few cookie sheets, a stove, and a mixer. Every December, I take out anywhere from seven to eight recipe cards and challenge myself to get everything done.  Last year I only made three different cookie types, mainly because I was moving to the opposite side of the country.  It was not a good season for baking, considering I also had boxes after boxes to unpack. This year I took seven recipe cards out.  I plan to use them all.  First recipe? Jan Hagel These Christmas cookies are a popular tradition in Holland.  They're spread out onto a cookie sheet and cut into squares or rec

Non-Sugar Sweetener Types: A Diabetic's P.O.V.

Sweet!!! I looked up at the sweeteners on the shelf at the grocery store and saw one that I hadn't seen in the past: Monk Fruit in the Raw.  I was thoroughly excited, and immediately grabbed it up. See, I'm a type 1 diabetic, and have been since age 4.  It wasn't until around 5 years ago that I got my first insulin pump, which allows me more freedom with which foods I place in my body... and when I can eat them, so I spent the majority of my life having to stick to strict dietary guidelines. This isn't a plea for sympathy - not at all!  I actually think my diabetes has caused me to live a healthier lifestyle than the average non-diabetic in this country.  Rather, it's needed to explain my excitement over finding a new type of sweetener.  I've been raised on artificial sweeteners, because I couldn't use normal sugar in daily food and drink items. Try to tell a kindergartner to stay away from sugary drinks at a birthday party. I dare you. Ah