SHORT, SWEET, AND SIMPLE STUFF.

I have been watching the news WAY too much lately.  Our weather is at the point where I can step away from all the ugly, and look to the future.  No, this is not a Syfy article.  I am talking about simple things starting with gardening.

info overload(FYI click here:  How to Avoid Information Overload, it will take you to another friendly post. My favorite is #7.)

We always start some seeds inside – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers – things that will provide an abundance of food but may take a bit longer to produce it. I have come to trust my email newsletters, YouTube videos, and even some gardening supply websites for information like this one:

So, You Want to Start a Garden?

8 tips for planning and planting your first garden

By Kevin Espiritu

We haven’t purchased anything from them in a few years (no need, we have enough), but I am thrilled that I was smart enough to sign up for their awesome newsletter.  More and more posts, blogs, and email newsletters are turning to gardening as a way to destress from all of today’s scary stuff.  I am going to try to find the special ones that are designed for “first-timers,” people that are kind of new to gardening, and those that would just like to revisit a simpler time as a refresher.

simple gardener

I learned something from an IT Tech decades ago (yes, I am ancient and proud of it – stone-age computers were vicious monsters from hell, but I did learn not to be afraid of them.):

“There is nothing you can do, that I/we can’t fix.”

Silly man! It was my task at that job (middle of the night after everyone else went home; it was my unique task: 1. I knew so much about computers; 2. I was not afraid of them.) to purposely try to shut it all down.  It was a brand new computer system at a school for financial planning, and I got very good at my job.  Well, my words of encouragement to you are the same, “there is nothing you can do that we can’t fix.”

nothing you can do

Here are five of the ways I have been handling all the scare:

  • Pulling weeds: This is actually one of my most favorite ways to handle life whenever it is out of my control.  I rip them suckers out of the ground for about an hour and I feel great (pain)!  Physically and mentally exhausted to the point of merely just sitting back and enjoying my work.  It is very rewarding (pleasure), at the end of the day,  to see what I had accomplished.
  • Disconnect: This one is very hard for me.  I have forced myself to try to do two things better in this regard: 1) Share fun, funny, or inspirations stuff in the morning.  2) Only share ideas that are relevant to all of us helping each other or protecting ourselves better.  I have to be honest that the second one is much harder for me to maintain as there is just too much B.S. coming from our elected officials.  I try to stick to traceable facts.

disconnect 1

  • Read: I love to read, but most of my reads are how-to books (and ebooks).  Perhaps this is turning out to be a great thing.  I read up on how to do something and I just want to dive right into creating it.  Unfortunately, I do not always have the supplies that I need for the project, so I just bookmark (or lots of sticky notes) it for later and go on to the next.

bookworm

  • Craft: This is my most favorite thing to do.  I have several crafts I am into and find it not only distracting, but very relaxing, and once again it is great to see the end product of my hard work at the end of the day.

crazy crafter

  • Exercise: I am in no way an exercise nut. It’s just not in me.  We bought a stationary bike after my first knee surgery to make sure I keep them (both have had complete replacements) flexible and robust.  It turns out this was an excellent idea for all year around exercising.  The bike faces a large picture window where I can watch birds eat at a feeder, trees blowing in the wind, or a good thunderstorm.  It also faces toward the TV, so I can watch a movie or cartoons (my favorite) while I am peddling away.  I am very “mental” my head never stops thinking, so even regular exercising (like suntanning – could never to that either – just lay there?) never works for me.  I get to cheat at this step by taking lovely walks.  We have a small farm with lots of gardens and a greenhouse.  Just trolling around all of that really adds up the steps without having to think anything about it.  I have a great step-tracker on my phone, and as long as I keep it in my pocket, it will add it all up for me – no brainer!  (I use Pedometer Step Counter-free version – for my Android phone, however, there are tons of freebies to download to your own phone.  It only tracks my steps.)

stationary bike

I have been researching things that, my hope is, will make my life less complicated or stressful.  One last share for you is WorkFlowy.com. I LOVE THIS PROGRAM!  It is free and so easy to use.  The best part is I create, add, delete my to-do list from anywhere at any time.  I built the original on the website (did I mention it is FREE), and then review, add, or remove as I accomplish my tasks.  No more carrying around (or abusing trees) pads of paper and losing pens. It’s all done technologically.

I hope that some of these ideas will help you to deal with all the scary stuff, even for just a little while.

You can also check me out at:  https://lifelessonslived.com/ for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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DO YOU LOVE YOUR BUGS?

No, this has nothing to do with the virus.  Today, I am back to talking about chemical-free gardening stuff.  We are officially into the spring season, which for us means prepping, planting, and planning.

Our home has started this season as it should:

  • Flies and spiders sneaking into the house.
  • Little bunnies hopping all over to test our predator defenses.
  • Rhubarb, tulips, iris, and several other things, popping out of the ground.
  • Like every year – we have the Odd Thomas poking up out of the ground. Later it will be determined friend or foe and dealt with accordingly.

baby bunny

These are the standard spring bits of proof.  Then we have the oddballs:

  • I spotted my old nemesis – A WASP (Yellow Jacket) – grr!
  • A skunk has already invaded our chicken barn for the barn cat food, pee-u.
  • What would spring be without Miller moths (stay out of my hair!). It just seems a bit too early for them, but they are here.

skunk

We cut the cord a couple of years ago, so I rely heavily on the internet for my valuable data.  My email box receives tons of information – daily – that I have specifically requested (vs. T.V. which bombards with junk I did not ever want to see).  One such request is from my Joe Gardener.com, which originated on our local PBS channel while we still had satellite T.V.  His name is Joe Lamp’l, and he is just full of excellent gardening stuff.  The best part of his shows is the guests.  If he doesn’t know a lot about a specific subject, he is not afraid to go to a guest source for the nuts-and-bolts of the issue.  This email was about the Monarch Butterfly (one of my favorite good bugs – also endangered species.).

Several years ago, we were lucky to be witness to a Monarch migration.  They came in the hundreds and landed on our trees, bushes, fences, house – you name it, they were on it.  IT WAS OUTSTANDING!  They did not stay long, but we felt gifted that they chose our little piece of heaven to stop for a rest.

That one-time massive visit threw me into a frenzy to find out more about them and ways to help them survive.  I was not the only one that was enthralled by them.  Dr. Agrawal is a professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Department of Entomology at Cornell University, was one of his guests, and spent time learning all he can about the Monarch.

This recent post by Joe shares a ton of great information, and EVERY gardener should learn.  It doesn’t matter if you grow for beauty, for food, or both; you need to learn to save our nature’s helpers.

147-Monarchs and Milkweed: A Precarious Struggle Between Life and Death

MARCH 12, 2020 | GROWPODCAST

(Please feel free to join me in the Monarch Watch group to help monitor the migration and population.)

The big thing that caught my eye was “monarchs and milkweed,” of which I had forgotten how much the two are connected.

milkweed and monarch

A couple of years ago, a milkweed plant sprouted in our front yard – all on its own.  I took that as a sign and saved the pods.  Remembering back to my childhood, we used to love popping the pods and watching the feathery seeds fly everywhere (F.Y.I. Dad hated it when we did that because they are a weed, and as such, he did not want them in his food fields.  Nothing worse than having to walk a field and handpick weeds – wait – picking rock was worse.).

The milkweed is crucial to Monarch survival.  Knowing this, I cherished the newbies on our property and encouraged them to continue.  We do have hay and corn farmers around us, not for human food but animal food.  We also have bees and a Beekeeper, that has our blessing to use our place as needed to allocate his 600+ colonies of honeybees every year.  The bees love the milkweed just as much as the Monarch, but for a different reason.  The article goes on to explain this in more detail was some fantastic pictures.  I hope that all of you read his article – gardener or not.

HAPPY SPRING – HAPPY GARDENING!

You can also check me out at:  https://lifelessonslived.com/ for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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CHRISTMAS HELP – OUTDONE!

The last time this year I will be sharing info from Farmers Almanac.  Could not pass up this one just a few days before Christmas because it has so much good stuff in the article.  The fact that they have collected stuff for decades is amazing!  They have everything from folklore, to recipes, to crafts, decorations and more.  If you are running out of time (and ideas), this may help.  I enjoyed every bit of the read and went into every one of the links and picked up a ton of great ideas.  Hope it will help you as much:

Christmas Day 2018

Christmas Traditions, Folklore, Recipes, and More

By The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Merry christmas 3

As far as I am concerned, you can never have too much information.  This counts double when it comes to holidays (especially Christmas and Halloween – my two favs.).  As we get older, we lose that wonder that we had when we were kids (and that’s just not right – we need all the happiness help we can get when we grow up), this may be the way to bring some of that back.  I found that when I read the articles about where things come from, it brings that wonder back to me.  The mistletoe one I posted last week really did that for me.  (A parasite? Wow!)

So, these last few blog posts have not been very long or very funny.  They have not even been about our farm or us.  I have found them fun, informational, enjoyable, and filled with the kinds of things I love to share, especially with friends and family.  I hope you enjoyed them.

Merry Christmas 4

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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GARDENING HELP SHOULD BE FREE

I read a lot.  Most of what I read is a huge variety of “how-to” stuff.  I really enjoy learning new things, improving on the skills I already have, and helping others who hope to enjoy these things I love.  I just think that of all the great things I know how to do, gardening help should be free.

I’m not talking about spending hours or days teaching someone how to garden.  That could (and should) take a lifetime.  I am also not talking about the things you create from your gardening expertise.  You grow gourds then turn them into gourd art – you should sell your wares.  What I am talking about, is sharing what you know with others, then we can all benefit from growing our own stuff.

Not everyone has a green thumb, nor does everyone want to be one, but for those that do the information should be free.  I love sharing my gardening info with others.  I especially love sharing my mistakes.  The mistakes (for me) are my best way of learning.  I find it funny that the mistakes stick in my head forever, do it right and I will have to go back and remember what I did. (Heaven forbid I have too much junk floating around in my head all the time that distracts my remembering!)

I am connected to a ton of blogs, forums, and Q & A sites that all find sharing is caring when it comes to gardening.  It corks me off to see someone want to charge for a bit of helpful advice.  If you are building a book, that’s fine and more power to you; but if you are asked a simple question on how to solve a specific problem, just help a buddy Green-thumber out!

Gardening is not easy, but it is rewarding.  Not just in the awesome food you can produce all by yourself, but for the great feelings you get along the way:

  • Playing in the mud when you are older than ten – and getting away with it!
  • The first seed that sprouts.
  • The first flower on your plants.
  • The first fruit (veg or whatever you are growing) that shows up.
  • Running out in a storm to cover and protect your babies (you put a ton of work into them).

The first time you grow enough food to have extra to share with others, well that’s a feeling that you will never forget! 

So live, laugh, learn, and love your growing efforts; be it flowers, fruits, veggies, trees, bushes, or whatever trips your trigger.  Just don’t forget to share!

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 3 – Fall.

A true child’s story.

In the fall the whole family was engaged in putting up food.  I remember a huge walk-in, dirt floor, always cold pantry in the basement.  Three walls were lined with shelves for the tons of processed food jars to be properly placed on.  The center of the room had a huge wooden box.  This was where all the potatoes (that is the ones that we did not eat raw) went.  I dream of having something like that in our home now.  I also want to see it stocked full by the first frost.  Has not happened yet, but I have a goal.

The best part of fall was all the taste-testing:

  • Pick it fresh from the vine, tree, root, or wherever it may be growing and munch.
  • Sample ALL jams, jellies, sauces, preserves – before they are done and packed.
  • Enjoy the first of everything made at Thanksgiving with family and friends.

(Not us, but you get the idea just by the faces of these kids.)

While doing my research for this post, I was saddened by the fact that I do not have any more cherished family photo memories.  The fire of 2014 took them all out.  The fact that my wonderful photo memories are gone also helped me to see something that I didn’t before.  I went looking for pics that would be as similar as possible to my original memories.  I was shocked to discover that almost all the photos that came up in my searches were not of kids in real gardens.  A real garden (like what we grew up on) has:

  • No wooden or plastic borders.
  • Simple dirt, maybe a bit of straw, for walkways between the rows.
  • Kids that will get FILTHY while picking all the good stuffs (cuz everything on a kid with dirt turns into mud.).
  • Parents watching the kids all the time because they will eat all the food before you have time to process it.
  • Weeds that will continue to pop up no matter how much you work on them.
  • Not massive acres tended by dozens of people, but a simple backyard size that is managed by using just the family members.
  • Everyone is always smiling because you can see before you the labors of a job done in love, and a job well done.

I remember being down on the ground with bare legs getting full of dirt.  Using both hands (no gloves) to dig into the dirt and pull out potatoes and carrots.  Crawling along the row with those same dirty knees to pick every last one of the beans, peas, and all the other tiny veggies.  Heaven forbids if we missed even one. Oh almost forgot, the children were allowed to go back into the garden area when we were all done gathering the processing foods, to gleen off what may have been missed.  It was never much – but it was fun looking.  At this point, we were allowed to tear the snot out of the garden.  It’s always more fun to tear things apart than to build them.

like our garden 1

(Close, but this is city and has sheds that we did not have back then.  Also picture it about 10-times bigger.)

It would take days, sometimes weeks, to get everything processed and put up in the basement, dirt floor pantry.  I remember walking ever so carefully down those cement stairs to the basement, arms loaded with great foods.  Hang a tight right and straight on to the pantry door.  Watch your step because you had to step down to the dirt floor.  Always, someone older would take the jars of deliciousness from our arms and place them in proper order on the shelves.

The items still left from the year before were brought forward, and the new year’s yummies were placed in line behind them. Next stop – Thanksgiving Day!

We always held the family Thanksgiving party at our farm.  All morning (and most years the night before) were spent bringing up the stored goodies and prepping them for the day of feasting.  I say a “day” of feasting as our family did not just do the one meal.  People started showing up about 10:00 a.m. and some did not leave till after 10:00 p.m.

We had a huge dining room area with a huge rectangle table in the middle of it.  To give you the scope of huge – we also had an antique upright piano, a rounded glass china cabinet, as well as a couple of storage cabinets – oh and an outstanding tree/chair coat rack. (Mom had this thing for tiger wood – we still do.)  All of these things were in the same room as the dining room table.  Granted, the table leaf was added for these special occasions, but how it all fit in, with all of the people getting around it to fill plates, all day long; amazes me to this day.

(The piano and cabinet are identical to ours.  The table is similar, but the chairs were not so fancy.  I just remember hiding under there when our dad’s dad came to visit.  It was a very German thing to chase the little kids and pinch them – I have no idea why?)

Later in the day, the football games would start.  The men would retire with their plates of food into the living room and start screaming and yelling at the poor TV.  The women would gather in the kitchen which was always the place of interesting conversations, and a lot of laughing. (There is a WHOLE other story around “kitchens” and my memories.  Saved for another day.).  The kids would shoot outside like bullets at the first chance to flee.  We had horses, a hay barn, straw mounds with rope swings, and if we were lucky to have a good snow before Thanksgiving, snow to sled on down our steep hills.

kids going off to dream build

Our wonderful 80-acre farm was a fantastic place to grow up.  The limitations were only held back by our own imaginations.

Tis the season for reminding siblings that fresh veggies are better when shared.

I can fly - kid

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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What Would You Find Most Important?

My blog post on Life Lessons Lived yesterday got me thinking about what I would find most important to have, or rebuild should something ugly happen.  By ugly, I’m talking about some type of major life-changing event:

  • Plague
  • Meteor strike
  • Major volcano explosion.
  • Zombie apocalypse

I don’t think the zombie apocalypse is a real thing, but I do love watching The Walking Dead series on AMC.  Not for the zombies (too realisticly gross), even though I love the special effects makeup jobs.  We watch for the human nature aspect of it.

Thinking on that path, what would you find most important to have around when a major disaster hits?  Much of the U.S. is still struggling from our last violent Mother Nature outbreaks.  The things I find common in all of them are these:

  • Clean water
  • Food
  • People to help with clean up
  • People to help with rebuilding
  • Good organizational skills.

We have ways on our farm to pull out clean water.  If it is not real clean, we have splurged on the bottle filtering systems.

People may be in short supply if it all goes at once.  So, we have opted for some outstanding friends and family.  We would all pull together and help to clean up and rebuild.  My other thought on that one is tiny houses.  After the Texas mess, I have been looking up all sizes and types of tiny houses.  Denver even showed their tiny house village set up specifically to help the homeless.  We have enough space that if we could figure out water and sewer, we could do it here.  At least it would house our buds until we get around to their individual spaces.

I am O.C.D. when it comes to organizing.  I MUST HAVE MY DUCKS IN A ROW AT ALL TIMES!  Yes, I am a bit nuts about this:

  • My craft room is separated into different craft projects: card crafting sorted by holidays and seasons etc.
  • My knitting is separated into the type of yarn:
    • Thick or thin, solid or self-striping colors, and then by colors: reds, greens, etc.
    • If it will only be used for Halloween or Christmas, it goes into different containers.
    • Current projects I am working on (yes, project”S” – as I can never have just one going on.  It is usually 4 or 5 at one time).
  • My beading and jewelry making is in an area close to my knitting as some of my pieces are a combination of the two. All the beads are sorted by size, type, and/or color.

This goes on, but you get the picture.  I have to know where all my stuff is or I go a bit nuts.  My grandson has ADHD/Autism and also goes a bit nuts when he cannot find something.   His room is a disaster, so I don’t go off on him, I Just remind him that if he put it back where he found it, he would now find it.  Then I help him look.

All that just left me with food.

I started to wonder.  If all the normal stuff was gone, how many people would, or could, grow their own food?  How many people could kill a chicken?  If you did kill it, would you know how to process it?  Well, while I was researching all this I came across something from my childhood I had completely forgotten and was ashamed so.

Do you know who Paul Harvey was?  Have you ever heard any of his The Rest Of The Story broadcasts?  Mom used to listen to them faithfully.  When we were home, we had the privilege of listening in along with her.  The one that I came across while searching, for me, was one of his best:

GOD MADE A FARMER

If you have never heard, or heard of, Paul Harvey; please take a moment to click the above link and allow a few minutes of peace to enter your ears.

His voice is monumental.

The story is epic.

The moral is to be followed.

We have a neighbor who has a field that runs the side of the highway on your way to Denver from Nebraska on I76.  I don’t remember exactly when he put up the sign, but I know it is still there today:

IF YOU ATE TODAY, THANK A FARMER.

Short, to the point, and true.

Just a few simple thoughts for the Thanksgiving month.

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PLOWSHARE THURSDAY 9-28-17 – extra eyes.

There are several things I wanted to share today, but my best bet became “an extra pair of eyes.”

This is not really something you can buy through Amazon, but some days I wish I could.  There are a number of times, during any given year on a farm, where some extra set of eyes would come in handy.

We do a large amount of bartering with a variety of friends and family.  We were lucky in the fact that our in-ground planting in the greenhouse provided us with a ton of food.  This year it was needed more than ever as it is the first time since we bought the farm that we are without fresh farm eggs.  Fricken coyotes and foxes picked them all off (even my beloved turkey) in one afternoon.  Brazen jerks did it in broad daylight too.

Whiskey 4-20-16Some days you just cannot make sense of something that happens, this was one of those occasions. We took major precautions over the last several years to upgrade our poultry pens.  We taught them all to go into the barns at night where they were closed up tight.  We added a 360-chicken wire, attached enclosure for them to wander in and out of at will.  The only thing we did not consider was human intervention.

Xcel Energy and W.A.P.A have access through our property to get to their overhead power lines.  Both have been down in the lower neighbor’s field making all kinds of racket changing out poles and lines.  The best part of this is that they had managed to scare off all the wild critters that were hanging out in the swamps – including foxes and coyotes.

Roughly three years now we have not heard a yip or howl from either of the two groups to our joy.  This turned out to be a curse.  Yes, it was great we did not have to worry about them attacking our critters, but we became complacent.  I would open the doors up and let the critters roam all over the farm because I believed their predators to be gone.  Oh stupid me!

Once nice summer day with none of the worker crews around, and our whole flock (except the two chickens that hung in the cat barn) was taken out by the monsters.  It took no more than an hour for the chickens.  The turkey was nabbed by a coyote later that same afternoon. (He was carried off, and he was huge!)

So my share today is to get more eyes on your property.  Friends or neighbors driving by.  Neighbors close enough to notice strange movement.  We are even thinking about installing motion sensors with cameras in all of our hard-to-see areas. 

We have been able to exchange fresh fruits and veggies, canned goods, and homemade goodies for eggs and the like.  The pantry is not looking too bad, but I still feel totally bummed about our loss, and missing the wobbly birds that would come running when I called them.

 

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DO YOU STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES?

Bad news.  Bad news.  Then more bad news.  I AM SOOO TIRED OF BAD NEWS!  I have started a new self-help campaign…seek out good news!  Here is one that I came across this week:

Love the smell of spring? Here’s where the season’s odors come from.

It was kind of sad and disgusting.  So I choose to turn it into a good thing.

I like to learn the scientific reason for the smells that I love (which was key to the above article), but I prefer my reasoning…it is because of my past.  Here are some examples:

A fresh cut hay field: This one catches me at the second it hits my nose (and it’s a big nose) and instantly throws me back to the 80-acre farm I grew up on.  It’s spring, and we have started the first of several cuttings to create bales for the winter ahead.  This follows with the families joining to bale the hay.  Kids playing in the hay, the fields, and with the horses.  Parents would gather in the shade of the large garage we had or maybe in the back yard covered with huge trees.  Fresh squeezed lemonade, sun tea, and beer were the drinks of choice (Oh, and the water for the kids always came from the hose.  We had a well with great tasting water!).

new mown hay

The air after the first big spring rain:  Once again I am flung back in time to kids with little plastic (yep plastic, not rubber – that was for city kids!) boots.  They were very floopy (is that a word?  Pronounced like soupy.) so we never bothered to wear any socks with them.  The puddles we splashed in would throw the water up and over the top of the boot, and our feet would float.  This made it even more fun because as you went running up on a puddle, your slippery foot would slide sideways and cause you to fall into the puddle instead of just splashing – laughter all around!

flowers in spring rain

Pine trees, rosemary, evergreens:  These smells are sort of the same and all lead to the same thing – CHRISTMAS!  I have had a few bad ones, but most of my Christmas’s were crammed with wonderful memories!  Once again all about family and friends all smiling, laughing, and sharing. (FYI: This smell always makes me feel better if I am sad or depressed.)

Fresh baked bread:  Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked (or baking) bread?  It never has a chance to completely cool in our house!  As soon as it’s touchable, we slice it up, butter, and eat it!  This one does not go back to my childhood, but it does include family.  Mom hated to cook.  Dad loved to cook.  I just do not remember any baking specifics (except Christmas cookies) until I moved in with my sister – she’s a bake-a-holic!  One of her specialties that I swear I can smell clear out in the barn is her bread.  She loves to make a variety of them and is always looking for a new recipe.  I have resolved myself to the fact that I will never be skinny.  I can blame it on genes, surgeries, no time for exercise – whatever- but I know the real reason is that I cannot keep my hands off her homemade bread – yum!!!

d star bread (This is one of her creations!)

With all the surgeries I have been through, I wondered what would be the worst to lose: sight, hearing, smell, touch?  I have already lost part of my hearing (major ear infection as a kid) and some ability to touch.  Getting older the eyesight fades (can sometimes be corrected), but I think the loss of smell would break my heart!  It is the one sense that can reincarnate good times no matter where I am in life.

Yep, when it comes to smells that float up my nose, happiness resides there not science.  I will continue to breathe deep and suck in all the fun fond memories that I can, while I can!

upclose dog nose

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Just How Green Are You?

One of my fav all-around veggies is cabbage.  I am half Irish, and this is a must! (Mom would find a way to haunt me about it if I don’t!  Her side of the family has always been more fun…a bit off, but more fun!)  In honor of St. Patrick’s day, my Farmer’s Almanac newsletter sent me this winner, not like I needed any more reasons to eat cabbage, but they are interesting facts:

13 HEALTHY REASONS TO START EATING MORE CABBAGE!

Happy cabbage

One of our favorite ways to have it is fried.  You can make cabbage pockets:

fried cabbage pockets

Which are yummy too, but we prefer just to chop it up, and go with it.  Sometimes we will do it with onions (sorry, bad pun!).

We have grown both varieties of green and purple.  Even tried growing Bok Choy, but didn’t have the same appeal to us as regular old cabbage.

purple cabbags          boc choy

Since it goes so well with corned beef (we have feasted on a couple of those already), we just can’t help but get going on our annual cabbage frenzy!  Those of you that may need a bit-O-help getting their cabbage on, the almanac also gave up a fool-proof recipe, check it out!  (F.Y.I., we always crockpot ours at least overnight before slicing.  Oh, and always make sure to cut against the grain.)

This year my sister wants to try making our own sauerkraut?  This should be interesting since we do not have anything like mom’s old canning crocks (try to find them now – WITHOUT a huge price tag on them) to let it soak in.

old canning crock

If any of you have a good modern recipe, I would love it if you would share!!

So, HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY to you all!  May it be filled with fun and enjoyment.  (It’s our Friday “game night” this year, so you know we will!)

st pat blessing

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DO HOW-TO BOOKS COUNT AS READING?

I have never cared for romance novels.  Their stories always seemed too unrealistic or predictable.  My love life has NEVER been that way.  I have tried reading sci-fi because I love sci-fi movies, however, with a mind that wanders as much as mine does, I could not follow their plots.  I do have a passion for all kinds of how-to books.  Maybe it goes beyond passion to obsession.

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I was sitting alone after one of my surgeries and after the fire.  We were living in a trailer that was placed on our farm to use while the house was being redone.  It was a cooler, rainy summer day and the crew had the day off.  I wanted to try to crochet or knit something.  One of our many friends gave me some alpaca yarn to begin to replace all that I had lost.  The problem was that I had no patterns – 50 years of collecting, all gone.  I began to cry.

Here I sat, alone, hand all wrapped up, half my major yarn-holding finger gone, yarn – my passion- in hand and no ideas in my head.  Then, almost as if someone said “she deserves a break,”  I remembered: Knitting Daily TV is on the internet!  (Now they are connected with Interweave.com) They have free patterns, books, and even DVD’s all on “how-to” different knit and crochet things.  They did not have any free patterns, so I went digging!

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I found this: http://www.beginner-crochet-patterns.com/ – thank you, God!  I then found out through doing just the beginning basics; this was not going to be as easy as I thought!  The ½ finger was my yarn guide finger.  I saved several how-to patterns on my laptop.  I was feeling life again!

One of my goals this year is to read at least one book per week.  Now I know that some of you do not consider how-to’s in the “book” category, but I have and always will.  They saved my sanity!  Losing as much as I did in such a fast, and short time was more devastating than I had realized.  Crying on that couch woke me up to that reality.

Decades I had surrounded myself with yarn crafting.  Whenever things were bad or tough (had a lot of those), I could count on my yarn, a project, and someone in mind to give the finished product to as a means of moving forward.  To wake up one moment and realize that my “constant” in life was in a dumpster filled with ash broke me.

*The home was gone.

*Grandson is gone.

* Passions gone.

*Life forever changed.

I learned, at that single moment, just how strong I was – mentally.  I knew what would bring me back to the land of the living again, and it worked!  It took my sister a couple of years to find herself again.  My daughter is still struggling and has not figured it out for herself yet.  Time does not always heal all wounds, at least not for us.  Purpose does!

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I now have a pretty good sized library of how-to’s now.  Everything from yarn workings, to wood working, to furniture restoration, to a multitude of crafting ideas.  I am hooked on several blogs that deliver shared ideas every couple of days on how-to do something or another.  My cousin, bless her agricultural soul, has sent us a ton of ag how-to books, magazines, and hooked me into Pinterest (here is my site: https://www.pinterest.com/gardenglows/)  for millions more great ideas.

I believe that how-to books are real books and I will continue to push on to completing at least one per week.  (Truth be told, I have about 4 or 5 going at any given time and get excited when I actually get to the end of one!  Tricks me into thinking I know what I am talking about on that subject – LMAO!)

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