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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Deodorant, To Use or Not to Use, That is the Question

Last year, in my baby step attempts to keep chemicals out of my home, out of my body, as well as off of my body, I bought a "rock" or "crystal" type deodorant. Otherwise known as "imaginary deodorant" by my husband.It seems to work really well if applied right after a shower, but isn't good for slathering on after a run or workout so you don't stink while you run to the store. I have great phobias of stinking, so I chose not to use it over the summer, just in case. Now that the weather has cooled off, my "imaginary deodorant" has re-emerged. Like I said...baby steps. Maybe next year I will use it through the summer as well.

Why do you ask, would one use this type of deodorant?

Recently I was looking around for some other options to a "rock" or "crystal" type deodorant and found, Simple Mom's blog has a homemade deodorant recipe.

She lists some reasons she has made the switch, which include:

Store bought antiperspirants contain aluminum which may cause:

1. Aluminum may impact breast cancer risks.
2. Antiperspirants block sweat glands. Is that a good idea?
3. Aluminum mimics estrogen. (technical term: “hormone disruptor”)
4. Aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s.

Check out her blog for more reasons to make the switch.

Leave a comment on what you think. Store bought vs. all natural vs. homemade.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We Are Sowing

We are sowing, daily sowing
Countless seeds of good and ill ...

Seeds that lie unchanged, unquickened,
Lifeless on the teeming mold;
Seeds that live and grow and flourish
When the sower's hand is cold.

selected passages of the poem "Pure Diamonds," anonymous

When my 8-year-old daughter giggled with confusion that we were planting bulbs in November -- a time, she pointed out, that's really the harvest -- I was again glad that gardening provides a unique classroom for so many life lessons. You reap what you sow. We won't have tulips in spring unless we plant bulbs now, I explained. Though you may not see the outcome for many years, dear girl, the choices you make now will affect the rest of your life.

This Thanksgiving I'm grateful for new insight into the law of the harvest. I'm thankful to know that If I keep sowing, even when my hand is cold or my heart troubled, my Maker understands and makes up for my deficits.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

God Giveth the Increase


So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God giveth the increase.
1 Corinthians 3:7

This Thanksgiving I pay homage to Heavenly Father, who provided the sun, rain, air, and soil which are the source of all we have. We fool ourselves into believing that we create what we have, that it is of our own doing. But we simply transform the elements that God has given us through intelligence and dominion he bestowed upon the human race. No matter what your culture, I hope you make room in your life for our Lord, particularly during this Holiday season. I am afraid that so many in this world ignore God or even disbelieve. But on a backyard farm through the seasons of the year, it is difficult, if not impossible to deny his higher power.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The gift of the seasons.


1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the gift of seasons. I am grateful for the renewal they bring. For the glorious summer and all her sweet berries, for the crisp fall and her warm apple cobblers, for the furious winter storms and the potatoes in dark cabinets, and the return of spring with it's gift of tender seedlings. What wisdom to give everything it's place, it's short time - to remind us of temperance, wisdom, and the chance to begin again.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Wheelbarrow musings

My 12th grade English class studied William Carlos Williams’ famous brief poem:

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


We seasoned teenagers scoffed. This is an American masterpiece? You’ve got to be kidding. What a joke! We could write something better ourselves.

We always thought Mrs. Parker (the teacher who, the rumors said, postponed her planned retirement to the next year because she didn’t want our disappointing class to be connected with her legacy) was a bit … odd. But this? Cuckoo!

One of the student body officers even typed the poem into the electronic message board in the lobby for comic relief.

The poem's simple beauty? We didn’t get it.

Whether it was the red dots of the quickly advancing text, or Mrs. Parker’s misunderstood passion that has helped me remember this poem all these years, I can’t say. Just a month ago I thought about the poem as I used my own rusty red-orange wheelbarrow to haul the last of the gourds and squashes out of the garden.

I thought about it again as I worked in my kitchen and heard a snippet of radio news. Somehow, the crisp British voice rose above the usual cacophony that is lunch and dishes, and I heard declarations of a catastrophic food crisis if current population patterns and food production methods don’t change. Further, with Ethiopia noticeably hit, the United Nations warns there are more hungry people on the world and less food aid than ever before. (Here's the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8319166.stm.) While not exactly new news, it hit me that day.

It’s a lot to process, even more than trying to understand Williams’ celebrated use of meter and imagery (or why it was celebrated!). Knowing that government and agricultural researchers don’t have all the answers – at least right now -- could make me feel defeated, but I won’t let it.

Instead, I want to do my part in taking care of the land and learning all I can to grow a garden and feed my family.

So much does depend upon a red wheelbarrow, but more so upon someone grateful to push it


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Backyard Farming Disaster - Layer Apocalypse

It seems that we have more than our share of backyard farming disasters. But then we have been at it for 11 years and our backyard farm is bigger than urban farms. So maybe our disasters are relatively average.

It has been one year since our old dog Cinder succumbed to cancer. We decided it was time for a new dog. It wasn’t easy finding one. We agreed that everyone in the family had to like whatever dog we chose. After weeks of scouring the animal shelters and want ads, we found Dixie, a beautiful 11-month-old Golden Retriever cross. Her personality was nice and we thought she was perfect.

For several days there was someone home to watch her. We finally thought she was ready to be left alone for a day. We set up a 100 foot zip line and halter for her with her food, water, and shelter within reach. All was well when we left. We returned to an absolute massacre. The halter was not on her tight enough and during the day she got her mouth under the neck strap and chewed it off. She got into our layer pen and killed every one of our 19 layers. Our two boys got home from school as she was finishing off the last one. There were dead chickens and feathers everywhere. It was shocking.

We were anguished not only by our chickens, but that maybe Dixie was spoiled. When I was young, a dog got in to the neighbors sheep and killed a hundred of them. They said it made the dog crazy so they euthanized it. After talking to several people, we concluded that Dixie might be okay. She is just a puppy who thought she was playing. But we will be extra careful in the future. If anyone has advice for us, please comment below.

My wife, LeAnn, knew I was taking the death of the chickens pretty hard. So while I was at work the next day, she went to a neighbor and bought six adult layers for me. So at least I don’t have to eat eggs from the store.

Goodbye, little hens, may you rest in peace… and thank you for all the eggs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eat the Seasons: Spicy Yams and Kale

This past week when making my grocery list I scoured my cookbooks for some more vegetable based meals with things that are actually in season right now. I found several recipes including one for "Spicy Yams and Kale". I had made it a few years ago and remembered it being good so I added it to the list. Then each afternoon as I looked at my options for what to make I kept skipping this meal and using the others until last night when we had made everything else, our kitchen was bare and all we had left was the yams. So what did we do? We went out and got mexican. Sad, I know, but we were really unsure of the meal. But I finally got around to it and my memory served me correctly - it was excellent! Even my family had to admit it! If you're a little unsure of how you and yours will take this meal - serve it as a side to some roast chicken or the like!

Spicy Yams & Kale (recipe taken from "Becoming Vegetarian")

4 cups yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp each: cloves, cinnamon, cardamon and cayenne
1 cup kale or parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil(optional)
2 Tbsp hazelnuts or almonds, sliced or chopped(optional - I never use these)
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine the yams, stock and ground spices, and bring to a boil. Stir, cover and simmer 3 to 4 minutes until the yams are fork tender. Add the rest of the ingredients, and toss to blend flavors. Serve hot or chilled as a salad.

Quick and yummy - makes a GREAT lunch.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't throw away those pumpkins!

We had loads of pumpkins decorating our porch for last night's holiday - several of which were carved the day of Halloween. Did you know that if you don't carve your pumpkins too early you can bring them back in and cook them into puree instead of buying the canned version later on? So this year instead of letting them rot on our porch we're going to cook up the largest of our jack-o-lanterns to reuse in pies, breads, and dinners for a long long time.

This guy is over 20 lbs so I'm glad to not let all that goodness go to waste. Cutting him up felt like I was cutting up a huge block of cheese. I felt so culinary. And I ended up with tons of pumpkin - I'm going to have to cook it in several batches.

There are many ways to cook a pumpkin but I am going to boil mine for 25-30 minutes and then scrape out the flesh into containers to stick in the fridge and freezer for later use. Today we're going to use it for Mexican Braised Pork with Pumpkin!

So if you've got some freshly carved pumpkins bring em in and cook em up! And if not, next year remember to wait until the day before or the day of Halloween to carve those jack-o-lanterns!