Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zen #atozchallenge

As April draws to a close, this teeter totter that we have been on, while still rocking seems to be finding some homeostasis.  Much like the crazy fluxes of our Wisconsin weather, as my lilacs start to open and the peonies send robust shoots up, there is the hint of soon a warming into Spring.  The expected rain is starting to fall and going over the list in my head is not a stress, it is simply that, a list, that I know will get accomplished in due time.  As I close out this A-Z Challenge I do so in a moment of Zen, one that I will hold onto as long as I can and hope to be able to tap into and return to when needed.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yawn

the windmills of La Mancha, Spain

The week is winding down, and though a busy weekend awaits, it is a good outdoor kind of busy with soccer games and garden and household tasks.  Maybe it will be intermixed with a family game or movie, some reading and grabbing a bite to eat out.  Even a busy weekend is a relaxing change.  It is less regimented by the work and school requirements of the week, and there are fewer have to get done's.  Tomorrow also marks the end of this Blogging A-Z challenge, and with that, I can stretch out stifle a little yawn and relish in a writing undertaking completed.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xander #atozchallenge

Whew, X was a tough one, and I was scrambling a bit, until my mom said "what about Xander"!  Well there it was.  This is Xander, our overly confident 18 pound farm poodle. We work closely with a wonderful rescue organization at work and he was evacuated from a puppy mill.  At 10 weeks old B did heart surgery on him to close a hole in his heart and from that time on, he was ours.  He has always been full of energy, and like many smaller breed dogs, thinks that he is three times his size! He never shies away from keeping the livestock in line or running the fences on patrol :)

Several years ago Xander was also diagnosed with Addison's Disease, which in a nutshell, is adrenal gland failure, is little body cannot keep up with cortisol production so he does not deal well with stressful situations.  He is managed well on medication and for the most part, certainly does not let anything slow him down.  In our household,  he bosses around Emerson, our boarder collie, but is pudding in the hands of our five pound kitten, Juno.  They wrestle like they are both canines, and many a time Juno comes out on top!  I took this picture last weekend he was covered in dry leaves and dust from patrolling under the porch.  He was just out and about in the sunshine watching over the homestead, as any farm poodle would do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Wellness #atozchallenge

It is funny how things in your life just come full circle, especially with mothers and daughters.  But it also seems that some of the age old resistances minimize from one generation to the next.  When raising kids, maybe we start from that place of additional insight from day one based on our experience, or maybe it is just an evolving collective consciousness over time.  When my mom first began her journey into trying to support and heal herself as she began living with MS some 35 years ago, she looked to natural solutions.  She began yoga, educated herself on Chinese medicine, vitamin supplementation, acupuncture, QiGong, Ayurveda, etc.  My pre-teen self was exploring my own way, and in typically rebellious nature was less than open to all of this.

Fast forward to present.  We moved to our homestead to teach our kids about their food sources, to respect more free play, and try to experience life separating, if only a little, from the constant day to day pressure of the society we live in.  As an adult I absolutely love yoga, strive for natural cleaning solutions and am a DoTerra Wellness Advocate.  After an eighteen month journey learning, experimenting and experiencing I am feeling strong enough to begin to teach and share what I have learned about how to use essential oils to support our bodies' own natural systems. This is especially important because the outside factors that passively effect our health when we do not even realize it continue to grow. I have learned that the marriage of traditional medicine and the 'old ways' lead to a whole person approach that is necessary today.

 My daughter, who is an avid chef in training has become very focused on seasonal, local, natural, whole foods and how superfoods assist and affect health.  Though in true teenage form she does not listen to all that I am trying to teach her.  However, as mentioned earlier, the resistance is less than what I felt when I was her age.  She feels more comfortable researching on her own and re-wording or correcting me where she deems it necessary.  That said, she is more than willing to try what I tell her about, and for the most part, ultimately returns to it later on.  Everyone's journey into wellness is unique, personal, and embarked on for different reasons, though initially it can be overwhelming, as you gain confidence it is well worth the trip.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Variety #atozchallenge

Variety is the spice of life right?  One of the most stunning things we encountered while in Spain were the beautiful markets.  As we grow most of our own food, eat fresh while we can, try to store as much as possible, cook with wild abandon and were at the end of Winter at home, these 'merkat's' were complete eye candy.  There was everything from farmers market style groceries, to sushi, tapas, and anything else you could imagine snacking on.

The variety was both intriguing and dizzying.  The best part was we simply sampled our way through, and for at least two of our meals that is exactly what we did!

These meals were as fresh as can be, prepared in their most basic form; olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs. We could travel from booth to booth with a glass of wine or beer in hand and simply immerse ourselves in the variety laid before us.  Of course, the meal ended with a bag of hand dipped truffles, what else?

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Up #atozchallenge

U is for in...In the Garden the week of April 25th.  Our weather as always is up and down.  But what is pushing up through the soft earth is amazing.  Cutting back our mammoth rhubarb severely last seems to have worked.  It is throwing up more shoots that we can imagine.  Since the stalks off of this plant have traditionally been young and tender at the size of B's arm, I suspect we will have surplus up for grabs!

The garlic is growing literally before our eyes, and this weekend the storage onion starts went into the ground.

We also cut the lavender back to the ground, no small task with 25 mature plants, but this years harvest promises to be as large as ever!  Though the sun-chokes have not emerged yet, we prepped the area in front of them for spring sugar snap peas.

Oh, and B got the potatoes in.  Though they are not up yet, we have had tremendous luck with the layering technique.  Simply plop them on the ground and cover with a layer of straw.  As they come up we will layer compost and more straw to continue to bury them as they grow.  This allows for very loose soil and a simple harvest!

Though our plan was to move asparagus this past weekend, with everything else on the to do list coupled with a full soccer schedule it did not happen.  Now with these crazy on again and off again temperatures, it has grown like crazy over the last few days.  So this year we will remain upbeat and eat a final batch from this patch :)
I got this post in just under the wire!  Do you have anything coming up in your garden yet?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Take-Aways #atozchallenge

This morning I went to an event put on by a friend of mine called Nourish.  It was focused on wellness; incorporating mind, body, your environment and stress reduction.  We covered everything from what we put in our bodies and expose them to, to how setting priorities will also ultimately relieve stress and give us peace of mind.  There are a couple of important things to remember, especially with the competitive nature of the society that we all live in.  First, everyone is on their own journey and at a different place on the path at any given time.  Secondly, comparison is the thief of joy.

My biggest take away from the morning was that truly we are all in that different spot on the path.
We focused for a few minutes on setting three main priorities in our life.  An important part of this is learning to say no.  We were to write down things that inspired dread vs. joy and to start to consider eliminating those things that do not support our priorities.   I spoke earlier in this A-Z Challenge about detours.  Just over a year ago I came to one of those detours and quickly learned that based on my priorities that I had to say no.  It opened up the room necessary to Nourish those priorities.  As a result, today I did not have anything to write down in that area.  That made me feel a little uncomfortable, until I'd had some time to think it over, then the word take-away came to mind (a 'T' word no less!).  My biggest take-away from the morning was that truly we are all in that different spot on the path.  Even though I had nothing to write down in this area, no person is immune to needing adjustment while navigating their path.  Today's event assisted with another phase and something that I have been trying to be more conscious about, self-care.  If we do not carve out that space for ourselves, we will get lost in the commotion of day to day and potentially lose sight of those ever important priorities.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Soil #atozchallenge

We collect all of our fall grass clippings and leaves (no small volume on six acres) and those added to the pig and chicken litter and household scraps make up much of our compost pile.  It is turned throughout the off season and watered if necessary depending on our weather.  Then over this time it breaks down into a rich soil that we use to amend garden beds at the end of the season, as well as top dress new tender plantings during growing time.

As with most springs our weather is unpredictable, with warm temperatures last weekend, a moderate week, cold and blustery today, and 75 expected for Sunday.  We just learn to roll with it, and today and tomorrow it is the perfect time to take care and adjust one of our legacy plantings, our asparagus.  A few stems are just poking through, and this is reportedly the perfect time to transplant if necessary.  When we planted them seven or so years ago, we cleared a grassy area between the barns.  As we dug, we realized it was very rocky, and probably part of an old driveway.  We worked at it, amended the soil and put them in, but they have never really thrived.  So we are now going to take advantage of the hugelkultur that Brian build last year to transplant the crowns.  A fitting task on this Earth Day

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Rain #atozchallenge

Ever since I was a kid, I loved to fall asleep to the sound of rain on the roof.  There is something about a good thunderstorm that is both exhilarating and relaxing at the same time.  Spring rains are as soothing as they are cleansing.  They wash away all of the residue left over from the long winter on surfaces and in our minds.  The early garden produce is just beginning to poke its way through and it is washed gently as it emerges from the ground.  Windows are thrown open as I smell the tell tale dampness that a rain is on its way.  The old saying goes; April showers bring May flowers, and the buds on the lilacs are plumping daily, just waiting for the right conditions to burst.  This morning was foggy and the air heavy with moisture.  It has warmed through the day allowing for the promise of a storm or two early this evening.

As I write this and think of my teenage self listening to the rain fall and a little Purple Rain on the radio.  RIP Prince.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Quotes #atozchallenge

At the entrance to the city of Cordoba, Spain

I love quotes.  Each week on my calendar I highlight something that is a mantra for the week.  Many times a phrase from something that I have read and love sticks with me over time.  I was a Sophomore in high school when I was really introduced to poetry, and Robert Frost was a favorite.  I have lived my life in a constant mantra of "and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all of the difference."  In fact a variation of that is the tagline for this blog.  I find that in reading many times a quote will stick out because of what it means to me in life at the moment.  Other times, they are simply words that offer inspiration.  Here are a few that I love, what quotes speak to you?

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” 
― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

“If you ask me, that's reason enough to keep a kitchen at the center of a family's life, as a place to understand favorite foods as processes, not just products.” 
― Barbara KingsolverAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” 
― Edgar Allan Poe

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.” 
― Lao TzuTao Te Ching


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