Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wellness Wednesday

Scale 1
With the new year almost here, the resolutions are also just around the corner. The most popular resolution is to lose weight. Health magazine offer some suggestions to avoid mistakes we often make when setting that particular resolution. 

When you set goals or make resolutions, they need to be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Take some time to think through and map out your goals. There are lots of worksheets on the internet that can help you set your goal. Another good tool is a vision board, which is a collage that visually depicts your goals. You can put your vision board on a large posterboard and place it in a prominent place or, if you prefer to make it more private, on a simple manila file folder that you can tuck away with other paperwork and refer to when you need a reminder of your plan. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Morning Amusement

Cute but no, we don't do this. Although early on when we only had a few goats we had collars on them. My favorite and first girl, Esmeralda, had a pink rhinestone collar. She lost it in the bushes and I never found it (nor did I replace it). We've also had bottle-fed babies wear diapers while in the house. But no, no pajamas.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quote for the Day

"Every new beginning comes from 
some other beginning's end."

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Raphael's Sistine Madonna
Wishing everyone a very merry and blessed day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wellness Wednesday

Fabs knows how to relax during the holiday season
The Mayo Clinic offers some good tips for coping with holiday stress. My favorite one is to be realistic. Expecting a postcard perfect holiday sets you up for stress and a huge let down. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Adult Gift Giving

Here's a great article on why gift-giving among adults at Christmas is silly and wasteful. It may be too late for this year, but it's something to think about for future years.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Quote for the Day

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed -

I, too, am America.

~Langston Hughes

Friday, December 18, 2015

Farm Friday

We've had unseasonably warm weather this past week - we've set record highs. Earlier this week I even got outside and washed some of our windows! The forecast is for some below-freezing temperatures but Christmas is supposed to warm - in the 70s. Great for the gardens, not so good for the earth.

Cooking with my favorite cookbook
I've kept busy this week, filling orders and checking things off my to do list. Here's a quick summary of some of the things I've been up to:

  • Cooked several different recipes to use up the extra cauliflower we had (good enough for us but not good enough to sell). My new favorite cookbook (not including my own) is The Easy Vegan Cookbook by Kathy Kester. It has lots of easy and creative ways to cook vegetables and includes many gluten-free, oil-free, and soy-free options.
  • Got our refrigerator repaired. As suspected it was just the fan but it was a little more complicated than a basic fan replacement. Apparently there was a design flaw and the bracket had to be replaced, too.
  • Fixed a bench that has a hinged top. One of the hinges had bent and pulled out two of the screws. It wasn't a difficult fix, just one I had put off for weeks because I have to contort myself a bit to make the repair and it's hard on my back.
  • Made a new salve, one for bumps and bruises. It's made with arnica, St. John's wort, and plantain, among other things.
  • Organized my office so it makes more sense. Moved the printer to it's own table as it was taking up too much space on my desk.
  • Went into the jail to do a Christmas craft with some of the female inmates. My women's group has been going into the jail to do monthly craft projects for the last 10 years. We also do a brief devotional or Bible study with them as well, but the main component is the craft. 
  • Returned a couple of items to LL Bean that didn't function properly. I love their very generous return policy. Unlike many companies, they actually stand behind everything they sell.
  • Continued my purging of things that I don't want, need, or use. Starting to feel lighter already.
Have a great week!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Quote for the Day

"Religion has become a very easy excuse to cover up the true story of a war mentality in agriculture devastating the planet and soils. We really need to start telling history from the point of view of the earth."
~Vandana Shiva 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Farm Friday

Last Friday's pizza (roasted red pepper and roasted broccoli)
I'm writing this as I'm baking a batch of granola for an order tomorrow. Seems like if I wait for the "perfect" time to sit down and write a post, it just doesn't get done. So now I'm grabbing a bit of time while I can.

A few highlights from the week:

  • Attended a book discussion yesterday in which Bill's book was the one being reviewed. 
  • Thought our refrigerator died and was going to have to buy a new one. I happened to mention it to a friend and he told me the problem might be simple to fix, that if it wasn't the compressor, then it was the fan. I plugged the refrigerator back in, heard the compressor come on but saw that the fan wasn't turning. I called our repairman and he talked me through a temporary fix until he could get the part.
  • Tried a new dish - a spicy Indian one with cauliflower and potatoes.
  • Prepared and delivered orders on Tuesday. We'll be making deliveries tomorrow, too.
  • Getting ready for our annual farm review. Already know we'll be making some changes to the way we do things. Every year we get a little better at this business of farming.
  • Have a handyman scheduled to come do some repairs on our farm house and our house. While we try to do as much of this kind of work ourselves, sometimes we need to hire someone with more skill.
I thought I'd share an interesting perspective on the business of farming by a farm family here in Virginia. We're acquainted with the young family and have admired their drive and focus as they work towards their dreams. While we have some amazing regular customers who help support our farm - we love and appreciate every one of them - it's still a struggle to make farming a viable operation. While it's now popular to say that you support local farms and farmers' markets, it often turns out to be is just lip service. Many of those who say they support the idea don't actually shop at farmers' markets or buy CSA shares. Instead they drive to the nearest large natural food store to buy groceries. I'm sharing this information, not for us, but for young people who want to be farmers and, just as important, earn a living wage. That's the key - living wage. They need to be able to pay a mortgage payment, have vehicles and farm equipment that are reliable, pay for health insurance and medical care, cover the tax burden, etc. You know, the basics in life. As I watch the severe drought in California, I wonder what will happen when that state can no longer provide most of the food for the nation. If small farmers have to retire their tractors because they can't pay the bills, who will provide our food? Local is best and local is what is going to feed us all in the long run. 

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wellness Wednesday...A Day Late

Farmer's Market 1

The New York Times published a nice list of simple rules for healthy eating. You can find it here. A couple of the rules really caught my attention:

In rule number three, the author points out that "Things like salt and fat aren't the enemy. They're often necessary in the preparation of tasty, satisfying food. The key here is moderation." The introduction of fat-free foods and low-fat diets has not been successful. Why? Because 1) the manufacturers of processed foods simply substituted sugar for the fat and 2) food without fat leaves us hungry for more.

The tip in rule number six on consuming beverages is also great: "Treat all beverages with calories in them as you would alcohol." Liquid calories are much easier to consume as they don't require the time to slow down and chew nor do they have the fiber to make us feel full. When we take our time eating, chewing, and savoring solid food, our body has time to register whether or not it is still hungry for more or already satisfied. Liquids bypass this natural mechanism.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Quote for the Day

Today's quote is actually quite lengthy since it is an excerpt of a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy in 1967. His words, spoken almost 50 years ago, still hold true today. Politicians and business people might stick their heads in the sand and continue to rally for a "growing" economy, but such growth is like a cancer, eating up all that is healthy on the planet, just so they can point to graphs that show "progress." We need a new way of thinking. Is progress merely turning nature into commodities and communities into services?

Here are Kennedy's words (below is a recording):
Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. [As of 2013, our GDP was almost $17 trillion dollars a year.]
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. 
And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. [Source]

Saturday, December 5, 2015

More on Feeding the World

After doing research on food waste and the concept of "feeding the world," I started thinking about something that is big business in our nation, takes up hundreds of thousands of acres, and yet, for the most part, does nothing to fill hungry stomachs. In fact, although it is a food product, most of the harvest goes to...decorating...and then landfill. Have you guessed it? Pumpkins. 

Halloween pumpkins#2
According to the USDA website, in 2014 the top 6 pumpkin producing states raised $1.3 billion dollars worth of this specialty crop. In 2012, those pumpkins covered 52,000 acres in the top 6 states. Of these 6 states, it looks like only Illinois raises pumpkins for processing - that is for consumption as food. The rest mainly grow for fresh use which would be for decorating. 

Not only do pumpkins have a long growing season (meaning they occupy fields that could be used for growing other crops - food), a large number of chemicals go into their production. Check out this report on the Pesticide Action Network's website to get an idea of the type and quantity of pesticides used.

One shameful thing about this is that pumpkins are actually high in nutritional value, rich in vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and minerals, such as copper and calcium. Pumpkins have a lot to offer, yet most end up carved up and then sent to landfill to (maybe) rot.

I cannot imagine what this type of food waste looks like to those in countries with high rates of malnutrition. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Farm Friday

In case you haven't noticed, the armchair activist is back! During the growing season I find myself uber multi-tasking, doing housework, homesteading, packing orders for delivery, doing deliveries, running errands, paying bills, updating our farm financial paperwork, etc., that I just don't have it in me to keep up with current events. Nor do I seem to have the brain capacity left to craft a decent post during much of the year. Now with the slower season, I've been able to spend time researching and writing about topics that are near and dear to my heart (although today wasn't one of those days). 

Even though things have slowed down some, I had a full week (still a little multi-tasking going on). I did a lot of cooking:
Faux po' boy with sweet potato fries plus a salad made with Tokyo bekana, sprouts, and homemade zucchini dressing

Cauliflower in tomato sauce, braised cauliflower greens, corn on the cob (from the freezer), brown rice, and quick kimchi
Plus got a few other things done:

  • Went for a nice hike at Staunton River State Park on Black Friday. Made a picnic lunch and ate it at a picnic shelter on the Staunton River while watching the squirrels play.
  • Started a short course on Coursera - Introduction to Sustainable Development with Dr. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University (hope to finish it this weekend).
  • Made some new recipes: faux po' boy sandwiches (using cauliflower) and crisp baked sweet potato fries
  • Set up at the farmers' market for the Holiday Market
  • Finished some hot/cold therapy bags, bookmarkers, key fobs, and greeting cards to sell at the market
  • Packed orders for delivery tomorrow
  • Bill discovered some oyster mushrooms that we picked this morning (I'm going to try to make the faux po' boy sandwich with them plus freeze some for later)
  • Blanched and froze some broccoli that wasn't quite good enough to sell
  • Had to deal with a dead refrigerator. It's 11 years old so I guess it's time. So sad that appliances don't last like they once did.

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Grandma Doesn't Need Another Ugly Christmas Sweater

Nor does she need any other article  of clothing. In the global north, we have more clothes than we can possibly wear. And so do most people in the global south since we ship so many of our discards overseas. For Americans, many of the gifted articles of clothing are unwanted. They typically end up languishing the back of closets until the recipient lets go of the guilt and donates them to a charity. 
Featured Merchandise
I recently learned that when the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, the initial reaction by Americans was to ship used clothing overseas. Turns out this was not what they needed. The shipments clogged the ports, sometimes delaying the shipments of things they really needed. In the end, most of the clothes were burned just to get rid of them.

Most people only wear about 20% of the clothes they own, and sometimes items are discarded after one wearing. We pat ourselves on the back for helping the poor, unfortunate people in the world by donating our clothing. But really, do we give them our best or things that are past their prime? I once heard a blogger talking about updating her seasonal wardrobe. She commented that blouses that had tears or stains would just go into the donation box for someone else to wear. Really? It's not good enough for you but it is for the "poor"?

This article gives some ideas on how to opt out of the fashion buying craze. I also blogged about the truth behind the clothing glut and what happens to donations here

For the holiday season, instead of buying clothes (or other consumer goods), consider giving the gift of time, services, or food. Something people really want and something that is better for the earth.

*My use of the photo from this website does not mean I endorse buying an ugly Christmas sweater to "help" those in need. Why not skip buying the sweater and donate the money instead? Or at the very least, if you feel compelled to wear (or gift) one, find one at a thrift store.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wellness Wednesday

This is the time of year where I start thinking about goals and improvements. Although New Year's Day is the traditional time to begin, I tend to try to get a jump start on it. Since I'm already thinking about it, I might as well do it. So as of yesterday, I'm on a "30 Days of Me" program where I'm working on detoxing various areas of my life. As healthy as my life is compared to a typical American, I know there's room for improvement.

I found this HIIT program (stands for high-intensity interval training) that is supposed to take only 12 minutes. Plus doing it just 3 times a week is supposed to be sufficient to show results. It has been a while since I belonged to a gym or even did group yoga so I do need to get back to regular physical fitness. During warmer months (when it doesn't get dark until late), I usually walk every evening but now with it being dark by 5:30 or so, I haven't been able to do that lately. I've just started hitting the mat with my old standby - Namaste Yoga - which offers about 12 different yoga practices lasting just over 20 minutes each. I think doing the yoga practice along with the HIIT will be just about right for getting and keeping me in shape over the winter.

Yoga Mats
If you're interested in getting ahead of the game this time around, I welcome you to join me - virtually, of course - in getting fit this month. Also, for other tips for getting and staying in shape, MindBodyGreen also has a list of 7 Lifehacks to Keep You Lean and Toned. Don't wait until 2016 to start adopting healthy habits.