I’m doing research on the American Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you will take a few minutes to help me out by filling out this survey. I will reveal the results in the upcoming Living and Lovin Herbs Thanksgiving Show in mid-November.
The American Thanksgiving meal is iconic. We often see images of a perfectly roasted turkey on a table overflowing with side dishes such as bread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, pumpkin pies, apple pie, and a mince pie. But are these foods still popular on the 21st century American table? Have we changed what we make and serve? I know in my house the answer is yes!
What’s on your Thanksgiving table? Do you cook dinner? Do you still eat the same foods today as your family’s past generations? Do you stick with the traditional Thanksgiving herbs and spices or do you use different herbs and seasonings? Is your dinner now 100% vegan?
Please take this quick survey and I’ll reveal the results in my Living and Lovin Herbs Thanksgiving Dinner Podcast Show.
It’s the end of May here in Connecticut, and how is your garden doing? Things here are painfully slow going here. We’ve had a wet, cold spring and in between rainstorms, we’ve been busy rebuilding the yard and changing some things around for easier maintenance. We’re not as young as we used to be and its time to transition the gardens into the next phase of its life. More perennials and fewer annuals.
To add insult to injury, this winter’s brutal polar vortex combined with the wet, cold spring has taken its toll on our garden. Many trees, flowering bushes, and lavenders didn’t survive. My hubby has been busy digging up the deceased and replacing with new softwood bushes and flowering plants. I’m amazed at the extent of the damage. Mother Nature can be so cruel!
I’ve been surveying the raised bed area and figuring out what new perennial herbs I can plant that will survive our crazy winters. My big experiment will be seeing if I can grow old fashioned big bush roses. I’m planting them in the largest raised bed we have. Winter freeze will be a huge concern since the beds are above ground. Will the roots overwinter in a raised bed? I don’t know, so stay tuned…
In the greenhouse, we ripped out the aquaponics system and reverted the 2 beds back to dirt. I planted more rosemary and experimenting with scented geraniums. The variety I’m starting with is “Rose of Attar”. The leaves really do smell like roses! If they survive the winter, they will be a wonderful addition to my herb garden.
Time Well Spent!
The good news is, the time spent waiting for storms to pass and temperatures to rise has been productive. I’ve been working on the last bits of my garden book. It will be published sometime this summer titled “My Garden Journal” (although, the title may change…I’m currently playing with different titles).
I started journaling my gardens 20 years ago to remind me what worked and what didn’t from one season to the next. Gardening is a journey – your yard is an ever-changing ecosystem and I found that journaling gave me a higher success rate.
My personal journal evolved over time. It wasn’t fancy, just a list of plants and comments in the margins of how things went during the growing season.
However, when I was teaching children how to garden, I discovered by accident, my journals were a great teaching tool. My simple journal pages made the perfect outline for the curriculum I was creating. I took what I learned from these very talented students and reworked the format. The results were a simple easy to follow garden journal for children (and adults too!)
In addition to the journal pages, I also added other useful sections. For example, Parts of a Plant, Themed Gardens, How to Make Compost Tea and 10 Easiest Plants to Grow from Seed. These sections were designed to give young gardeners basic tools to be successful in their first years of gardening.
Excerpt from “My Garden Journal”
Here is the section from the book on the “10 Easiest Plants to Grow from Seed”.
Arugula is a small leafy green that has a peppery taste. It makes a perfect addition to salads and pasta recipes. To get ideas on how to prepare this green, do an online search. There are lots of recipes to pick from.
Arugula can be direct seeded into the ground and prefers to grow in cooler temperatures and is best grown in early spring and late summer into fall skipping the hottest part of the growing season.
Basil is an excellent herb to grow. Basil does not do well if direct seeded into the soil.Start your seeds indoors in small containers and then transplant outside when it’s warm enough.
When the plant gets big enough, pick the leaves off to add to a fresh tomato salad.Dry the leaves and save them for your herb and spice collection.There is nothing better tasting than homegrown basil in spaghetti sauce!
Basil prefers hot weather and full sun and best-grown late spring through the hottest part of the summer. Make sure the flowers are pinched off frequently for a bushier plant, which will produce more leaves.
If you are growing this plant in a container, water frequently.Plants grown in containers dry out quicker than plants grown in the ground or in raised beds.
Microgreens are 5 to 10 day old baby plants that you can harvest and eat. Don’t confuse them with sprouts which are seeds that have sprouted in water and then eaten. The difference is to grow microgreens you must plant them in potting soil or some sort of growing medium sprout them and then harvest the plant.
These baby plants are high in nutrition and can be grown on a kitchen counter with no sunlight. They are the perfect plants for a kitchen garden.
The easiest microgreens to grow are:
Spicy mustard greens
Cucumbers are a gardener’s summer favorite. Make sure you have plenty of room to grow these plants; they like to spread their vines everywhere.Do an online search
to learn how to save space by growing up.There are many ideas on how to build simple trellis’ using materials such as long sticks and twine.
Cucumber seeds can be direct seeded into the ground in late spring, or can be started indoors (early spring) in small containers and transplanted into the garden when it’s warm enough.
5. Green Beans
These are one of the easiest plants to grow, and you get a lot of beans in return for your work.They can be direct seeded in the ground late spring. Beans like to grow in direct sun and love hot temperatures.
When researching seeds, make sure you know which kind of beans you’re buying. There are bush beans and pole beans.Bush beans don’t need any trellising.Just plant and watch them grow and harvest them when big enough.
Pole beans need a trellis to climb on.
6. Green Onions
Green onions are tall, green and white stalks and they are fun to grow.Patients will be essential, because they may take most of the growing season before you can harvest them.
Green onions grow well in containers but need frequent watering during hot weather. They are a perfect vegetable to grow if you have a spot that has partial shade.Direct seed in early spring and keep watering.Onions take many weeks before they sprout.So be patient.
Onions also do well if left in the garden over winter. Once the garden bed is established, they will self-seed (the seeds drop into the garden bed after they flower), and new plants will grow the next season.
There are many kinds of kale to grow, so do your research on which varieties will grow well in your area.Kale likes cooler temperatures but will tolerate some heat if the plants are well established.
Kale is another plant that can be stared in early spring and late fall and will tolerate colder temperatures until a hard freeze or even snow.These can be direct seeded into the ground.
Dinosaur Kale is a good recommendation if you are looking for tender leaves, which are perfect for salads.If you want to grow big leaf varieties like Red Russian Kale, their leaves are perfect for making crispy kale chips – which are like potato chips.Yum!
Peas are another early spring and fall plant to grow and can be direct seeded into the ground.My peas never make it to the kitchen because I eat them right off the vine while working in the garden.They make a great snack!
These plants require something to climb on otherwise they will grow in a heap of strings on the ground.
There is nothing more satisfying than a fresh picked homegrown tomato! They are gardener’s pride and joy! Do your research on what kind, or color you want to grow.There are hundreds of varsities to pick from and you need to know the difference between an Indeterminate and Determinate tomato variety.
For beginner gardeners, I would recommend not growing tomatoes in the heirloom (or determinate category) until you are an experienced gardener. Heirloom tomatoes taste great but can be very temperamental if the plants don’t get an even amount of water and sustaining hot temperatures.They are also prone to disease and fungal problems.
If the plants get stressed this results in what is called end rot or blossom rot.The tomato is not ripe enough to pick but instead starts rotting on the bottom of the fruit and the falls off the plant.Once a plant starts producing rotten fruit the problem cannot be fixed. The plant must be pulled out of the ground and thrown away.
I recommend varieties like “Big Beef” or “New Girl” for a nice evenly round healthy tomato and are perfect for sandwiches or salads.These varieties are what is called “Indeterminate” hybrids and are not prone to disease or fungal problems.
There are smaller tomato varieties you can grow too.Grape and cherry tomatoes produce a lot of fruit and are fun to grow.Make sure you share with friends and family if you have too many.
Indeterminate Tomato: Tall plants that require staking for trellis and will keep producing fruit up until first frost.
Determinate Tomato: A bush variety that is low and compact and doesn’t require staking. These plants grow a certain number of fruit and then the plant stops growing and dies.Unlike the indeterminate tomatoes where the plant continues to produce fruit until it’s too cold.Heirloom tomato varieties are determinate plants.
I recommend you start your seeds indoors in small containers and then transplant into the garden in late spring. Do not direct seed into the ground the seeds will have difficulty sprouting.Tomatoes need full sun and plenty of hot temperatures.
Sunflowers are beautiful and can be a showy centerpiece to any garden. The good news is sunflowers now come in many different sizes.These are a perfect plant to direct seed into the garden.
There are shorter more compact varieties that produce multiple flower heads that are smaller. These are great for flower bouquets.
The tall varieties like Royal Hybrid produce one big flower and need lots of sun.Make sure your seeds are organic if growing these flowers for bird food and don’t spray your plants with pesticides or herbicides. Chemicals hurt the birds and wildlife that will live among your plants in the garden.
At the end of the season, cut the flower heads and dry them. The birds will appreciate a nice snack when there is little food to forage on during the cold winter months.
Happy Spring!! Astronomically speaking that is. But that doesn’t mean its warm outside and flowers are blooming here in New England. Mother-nature can be cruel sometimes and tease us mercilessly with a beautiful warm sunny day and dump a foot of snow the next.
So technically (at least around here) we wait until the end of April to officially declare spring. In the meantime, if you live in a similar climate as we do, why not begin work on your winter body now. So when the warmer weather is here to stay, you’re looking and feeling pretty darn good!
On another note, did you also know that today is also International Happiness Day? What are you happy about? Post it in the comments below. I’d love to know.
I’m happy that today is a bright, warm sunny day. This is the first day I opened the greenhouse to cool things off and bring in some fresh air. I’m excited that soon, I’ll be back in the garden planting this seasons herbs and flowers for our Farm to Bath herbal bath and body products. Cue the confetti… Whoohoo!
It’s Our Ancestors Fault Or Is It?
According to scientists we consume an additional 200 calories per day during the long winter months because of low levels of Vitamin D. Other researchers believe its part of our DNA we inherited from our ancient ancestral relatives.
Back in the day eating more calories was critical to surviving a long winter. The more “fluffier” our relatives were the better chances they survived the cold, harsh winters than the skinny rail thin ones. Remember there were no McDonalds or grocery stores to supply them with food when it ran out.
They either starved to death, froze to death, or survived on their reserved body fat. It was survival of the fittest or in this case the fluffiest. Thank goodness we don’t have to live that way anymore and can control our environment and what we eat!
Whatever the reasons we gain weight, come spring, what goes on, must come off. Whether it’s our DNA flipping its hibernation switch (my analogy) or we’re getting more Vitamin D because the days are longer. Our body is telling us its ready to shed the extra pounds.
What Are Detoxifying Foods?
There is a whole industry devoted to detoxifying one’s body, and sometimes it can be confusing and misleading. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is some middle ground without committing to a strict detox cleanse and spending hundreds of dollars for someone to tell you what you already know. Stop eating junk!
There’s no one size fits all to detoxing. You just need to be aware of what you’re eating. I call it “conscious eating.” Eat more plant-based foods and herbs. Eliminate foods high in sugar, fat, carbohydrates, and processed foods.
Here is a general idea of what a detox lifestyle looks like. Typically there are 3 goals:
“(1) to remove potentially “toxic” foods, (2) to eat a simple diet so that detox organs like the liver can focus less on digestion and more on detoxification, and (3) to increase your consumption of water and foods that encourage the detoxification organs to do their job more efficiently.”
Body into Balance, Maria Noel Groves, 97
Just stated, eat a simpler diet, especially in the spring. This is when your body is ready to shed its winter weight. This may be the reason why trying to stay fit during the winter is like pushing a car uphill. Your body isn’t listening because you may be Vitamin D deficient and its in hibernation mode.
Don’t get me wrong, weight loss can be made at any time of the year, but it’s tough to fight those comfort food cravings during the cold winter months if you’re low on Vitamin D. Just be aware of what you’re eating and have a plan.
Talking to your doctor is also a good idea. Have your Vitamin D levels checked as a precaution. It’s important to have a baseline, so you know if your weight gain is related to a Vitamin D deficiency.
I get mine checked annually, and my doctor adjusts my Vitamin D supplement dosage as necessary. The bad news is as I get older, my Vitamin D levels drop too severely low levels during the winter months; which is triggering other health problems.
The good news is, all of this is in my control. My doctor tells me I can mitigate any future damage by merely getting outside and walking and eating more nutrient-dense foods.
After doing a lot of research on winter weight gain and Vitamin D deficiency, I found some detox and weight loss friendly herbs and vegetables that are nutrient dense that I’ve added to my diet. I thought this would be helpful to you in achieving your own health goals.
Garlic and Onions
Mushrooms (cooked in Broth)
Flax and Chia Seeds
Culinary Herbs and Spices (especially Turmeric)
Body into Balance, Maria Noel Groves, 97
All of these foods listed can play a superstar role in detoxing your body naturally and should be easy to incorporate into your diet daily. However, there is one green that is a real Superhero. It hits 3 of the most common health goals most people want to achieve.
Dandelion Greens – The Superhero Green!
Photo by Brenda J. Sullivan
I love this green and try to incorporate it into my diet as much as possible. It’s one of the few herbs that does so much good for the body. A once favorite herb/green during the Great Depression, it hardly gets a mention in herbal and culinary circles today. But, there are still a few diehard fans out there.
According to Rosemary Gladstar, International Herbalist, this green is:
“… One of the most widely used herbs in the world, dandelion is highly respected, both for its preventative and for its remedial qualities…”
Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar, 28
The dandelion chemical composition focuses its energy on nurturing the kidney and liver. The most significant health benefit I discovered is dandelions act like a diuretic.
Unlike, synthetic diuretics, that deplete the body of potassium which can cause other health issues, such as muscle weakness, fatigue, digestive issues, just to name a few problems. Dandelions are high in potassium and replace K naturally at the same time helping the liver and kidneys eliminate excess water and toxins.
Health Benefits Specifically For Women:
In some women, hormonal changes can have severe effects on their bodies. Research suggests that eating dandelion leaves and roots during a woman’s menstrual cycle can help with bloating, PMS and breast tenderness.
Also, dandelions are also known as a bitter. Bitter greens help stimulate the bile in the stomach which encourages better digestion, which detoxes the body and helps with elimination.
This can be important for women who have issues with cravings, bloating and constipation during their cycle. This green can help move things along and reduce some of the discomforts.
Personally, I can gain up to 20 pounds of water weight during my moon cycle. To help reduce the fluid buildup, and the uncontrollable cravings, I’ll take dandelion root supplement daily. I make sure I drink plenty of water and eat fresh dandelion greens several times a week to help flush my system. This keeps things moving through my intestines which is reducing the pressure in my stomach and back. Think of your body as a deflating balloon.
In addition, I cut back on the amount of gluten, starches/carbs (e.g., bread, pasta, white potatoes, white rice, and corn) and the worst offender for PMS sugar!
Move That Body!
Dandelions are rich in Vitamin A, C, Iron and Calcium which are essential for healthy bones among other things. This is important for a woman who is menopausal or has been diagnosed with osteopenia which can happen to women over the age of 50.
Also, moving your body is essential to dropping that winter weight.
Our ancient ancestors didn’t continue sitting around when the snow melted. They got outside and started hunting and gathering to feed their family. So you’re already genetically programmed to move! No excuses here…
I try and go for a walk for at least 45 minutes to an hour a day. If I can’t get that much time in, I’ll find 20 minutes somewhere and jump on the treadmill and do a quick 20. I don’t have a perfect record, but I try to get more days in than not.
If you don’t have a treadmill, do circles around your coffee table, around your kitchen, dining room, bedroom, or in your yard, whatever. Just get moving and work up to an hour, its better than doing nothing. I promise you’ll feel better.
Dandelions Achieve 3 Health Goals:
It is a bitter, that helps get a sluggish gut’s digestive juices moving. Yes, pooping is good for you when trying to lose weight!
It’s a natural diuretic that doesn’t deplete your body of potassium and other essential nutrients. Dandelions are naturally high in potassium, Vitamin A, C, Iron.
It’s perfect for bone health, especially for those who are diagnosed with osteopenia. Dandelions are naturally high in Calcium.
Honestly, I haven’t found another green that can do so much good for one’s body. It truly is a Superhero Green!
Dandelion greens can be eaten raw, sautéed or steamed. I often add them to a brown rice dish or just saute them in a little olive oil and garlic which is my favorite way to eat them.
If you’re interested in eating them wild, the best time to harvest them is in the spring and early autumn. Make sure when harvesting that no fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides have been sprayed or sprinkled on them. So please be careful if you decide to harvest wild dandelions.
Otherwise, you can pick them up fresh at your local health food store or grow them yourself. There are seed company’s that sell the seeds. Just do an online search.
According to the Flavor Bible, dandelions go great with the following foods:
1 tablespoon drained, rinsed and finally chopped capers
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice orchampagne vinegar
Mix ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to blend together. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature first, then drizzle over greens toss well, before serving.
Note: This recipe is enough for several dishes. Only use a tablespoon or so on these greens. Refrigerate the rest.
Dandelion Greens Cooking Instructions:
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat gently infuse
the olive oil with the chopped garlic. Don’t burn the garlic!
Add dandelion greens and sauté until greens are wilted. Salt and
pepper to taste.
Drizzle a tablespoon of the salsa verde over greens and give a quick toss and then serve.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, if you have questions about your health please consult with a licensed medical professional. The information in this article is for educational purposes and not meant to treat or diagnose any medical conditions.
Links within this posting are affiliate links to Amazon
Isn’t there a game yooou need to watch? Or doesn’t your toothpick collection need organizing? I said to my husband as he declares “tomorrow, we’re cleaning the basement!” I suddenly feel like a kid. Tears are welling up in my eyes, and a meltdown is about to happen at the mere thought of having to spend a day in the BASEMENT! NOOO!
To hide my repulsion, I quickly turn leaving the room and hear him call after me “And you’re not getting out of it this time! It has to be done; it’s a mess down there.” I moan as I slip out of site avoiding anymore discussion on the matter.
Have you heard about Marie Kondo? She’s all the rage in organizing one’s life these days. I’ve never watched her show or read her books, but I saw her interviewed on Steven Colbert – and I’m wondering if she’s too good to be true. I have some questions for her. Has she road tested her own advice on her family?
I want to know what her background is? Is she lived enough to accumulate a house full of family’s life?
Is she living with anyone? Does she know, they come with stuff she may or not like?
Does she have kids? Does she know they come with stuff too? – Lots of stuff! And the more she has the more stuff there is!
Has she taken care of several elderly or disabled family members in her home? Those elderly relatives come with decades of stuff.
How many relatives belongings has she inherited over the years that never lived with her and feel somewhat obligated to keep their stuff out of respect?
I chuckle at her style of discarding. I want to ask her this…forget about whether an item brings me “joy” what do I do if ditching the stuff it could cause a World War III?
I’ve already experienced the anger of a family member when they found out I didn’t keep their prized item(s) after they so graciously gave them to me. Yes, I am grateful they thought of me. I did use them a few times, but honestly, I needed the room and a decision had to be made. So now I just lie about whether I have it or not.
My point is, Marie’s popularity isn’t helping my life at the moment. Even my husband knows who she is – and is a fan! My issue is getting rid of stuff can be a little more complicated when it’s not (or wasn’t) your stuff in the first place. It’s not as easy as she makes it seem. And what does one do if its the other person’s stuff you would rather see go than your own?
Since my husband and I married 25 years ago, every damn quarter, hubby gets this purging itch. Honest to God! Sometimes, he makes me crazy with his frequent purging’s. Besides, we’ve had this ongoing debate on the definition of what organized looks like and at this point I’m done with his version.
Yes, he’s right, our home needs frequent organizing. It’s a fact of life around here. Those of you who have a home-based business, or hobby(s), understand it can take over the whole house if not properly managed. I get it.
In our case, we have extras to deal with. We have a child with a severe disability, and there are medical supplies and equipment to keep track of. Add in a nurse with her own style of organizing (and yes, she comes with stuff too!). Plus our regular life stuff, like sporting activities we enjoy, (equipment, special shoes, clothes, helmets, accessories, etc.) and before long, things are out of control. Where do you put it all?
During the fair/craft show season, our basement ends up being the dump site for my products and supplies when I need to reclaim the living space quickly.
And, yes, if I can, I avoid or delay “organizing day” as much as possible – I will! I hate cleaning and organizing – yes, I admit it freely. I’d rather weed an overgrown flowerbed than face any dump site in my home. Especially the basement!
Opposite Points of View:
If you ask my husband if I’m organized, he’ll paint an extremely exaggerated picture of a hoarder that’s buried alive by her “stuff.” He sees little value in family heirlooms, antiques or a personal library of books and “periodicals” (aka magazines/catalogs).
I admit, my “library” is housed in the entire house, on every floor in just about every room (yes, I’m working on consolidating…) To him its all clutter. But if you ask me for something, I know where almost everything is, or at least the room I zoned for that category, and I can retrieve it fairly quickly. I call it “loosely” organized.
If you ask me if my husband is organized. I’ll laugh and tell you there is a whole lot of work to be done. What he considers treasure, I think trash. He loves to collect his “trophies” which are useless trinkets of his present and past stuffed in closets, boxes, drawers, corners of rooms, basement, or garage.
Things like large rubber bugs, a set of boob implants (don’t ask…), miscellaneous 40-year-old yellowed hand typed papers from a job he once had. Ugly as hell faded old pictures that previously hung in his office for decades, old ticket stubs, statutes, and strange pictures of various people.
He’s got a home video collection of sporting events that can be found on a classic sports channel or Youtube at any time. He’s never watched them since he taped them. Why do we need our own crappy copy? I ask him. The best part is if you ask him what or where something is, I’m not sure he could remember he has it, or where to find it.
Our Organizational Styles:
In previous cleanings, I’ve left him standing in the mess, angry and frustrated because I felt he was making a bigger mess than what we started with. My point has always been his idea of “organized” was making more work for me in the end.
My Style: I prefer things grouped in “like” categories. Everything has its own permanent place. I want segregated identified space for my business equipment/supplies, our food, and our daughter’s medical supplies etc.
For example, a shelving unit for all my kitchen equipment. Things like oversized pots. Electric skillets, mixers, large commercial containers, oversized cookie sheets, and cast iron Dutch ovens, canning jars, etc.
I like things in boxes labeled with the list of items on the outside. I also want to use vertical space to hang things from hooks and nails so when I’m looking for something I can freaking find it!
His Style: Throw everything in a bag or box then toss it in a closet, drawer, any shelf, garage, including the rafters, shed or under a bed or couch. Its the PFS way – the Perpetual Find System – out of sight out of mind – therefore organized. The reality is nothing gets organized or purged and hours are wasted looking for that one thing I need.
What really makes me crazy is when I decide to toss (or donate) something, I find it months later in a bag or box in the garage. It never made it out of the house! AHHHH! Why did I clean in the first place when it was only moved from one spot to another! And that my friends is our organizing dilemma.
I warned my daughter’s nurse she may come to work on Monday with me still locked in the basement clawing at the door like a crazed cat howling. Please recuse me. But be warned there may be a body down there with me.
She’s on my side (if there is a side to be on…) she’s worked here long enough and experienced “PFS Operation Organize Day!”
One year he organized her supplies and messed up her counting and product expiration system. OMG! That wasn’t pretty – that was years ago, and I’m still hearing about it! Message receive LOUD AND CLEAR! Don’t mess with the nurse’s supplies!
Her parting words out the door on Friday, chuckling of course, (I’m sure she’s thanking God she off for the weekend), “Good luck you two! And don’t touch my supplies!”
It’s not that I don’t agree we need to get organized – it’s essential for a healthy life and, like my husband, I hate living in clutter too. Its how we find the right space for the supplies is the problem. How do we find the middle ground to make it work? Blowing up a room and starting over, in my opinion, makes the job much more difficult and stressful than it needs to be.
When it comes to my business and kitchen stuff – it’s now organized by my rules period. I’m done hunting for my stuff. When I say throw something out I mean toss (donate) whatever, but it has to physically leave the house in a timely manner!
I insist things be categorized by “like” things. Kitchen stuff will remain separated from my business supplies. Medical supplies will be separated from food etc. My stuff will not be mixed together on shelves, closets or packed off to the shed.
Once a spot has been designated for a grouping, it stays that way. No more moving things around and changing locations every time we organize, unless it makes sense to move it.
I don’t have a problem getting rid of stuff. I’ll frequently walk through the house looking around asking myself…have I used or worn this in the last year or two? Do I need this to further my business/life in the future and make a mental note?
Once I’ve made a decision, I can quickly go through a room and say keep, toss, donate; which sometimes freaks my husband (and nurse) out because it appears I’m making a hasty decision.
For me, its pretty cut and dry by that time. If I’m not ready to get rid of it because of sentimental reasons (or fear a backlash from a family member); or I think I’ll need it at some point. Then it stays for another year and I’ll re-evaluate the next time we organize.
Yes, I’ve tossed things I’ve regretted and had to replace them, and I’m okay with that. I think its better to replace something than hang on to that “thing” for fear I may need it someday and never do.
For this organizing session, I’m reviewing some of the family heirlooms. Is it time to let them go? I have 5 sets of fine china. One set was wedding china from an old relationship over 35 years ago. Its never been used and never will be. The rest I inherited.
I once had a dream of opening a tea house, or have garden tea parties in our backyard or even open a bed and breakfast. I planned to use those beautiful dishes.
Well, to be honest, life has a funny way of happening, and those dreams evaporated long ago. So this year, (regardless of family feelings), I think it’s time to eliminate some of the china and downsize the dishes. I kept the 2 prettiest sets and got rid of the rest.
I also decided to ditch my everyday plates and replace them with one of the two sets I kept. Auntie Max’s pretty rose china won the upgrade to the kitchen. What the hell right? I might as well use them. As long as no one puts them in the microwave, they should survive for a while.
By the way, never put good china in the microwave. It cracks the glaze and plates. Washing them in the dishwasher seems to be ok, but I won’t be surprised if the gold trim eventually gets worn off.
The other set is Grandma Davis’s flower china. It’s a pretty set. It has a creamy off white, yellowish color with little pink and blue flowers with gold trim. I’m proud to say I’m the 3rd generation to receive them. Many years ago, I suggested my Mother give her wedding china to someone else and that I’d take Grandma’s china. She was a bit surprised and said it wasn’t worth anything. Why would I want them? I replied, they have value to me, and I’m thrilled to have them.
So, Grandma’s china stays on its special shelf in the basement where they’ve been for the last 25 years. The plan is when Auntie Max’s china gets broken I’ll dig Grandma’s out and use them. I might as well enjoy using my stuff and not feel guilty if things get chipped or broken.
Besides, part of living a healthy life is creating moments of happiness. Happiness doesn’t happen in a vacuum you have to make it happen. Small things like eating a meal on a pretty dish can really make the difference. It just makes me happy.
And so on the eve of another major snowstorm here in New England, we were able to relax by a beautiful crackling fire after emerging from the basement intact – happy, kissing and hugging each other in triumph we survived another purging without bloodshed or tears.
No, things aren’t perfect by my husband’s standards. But things are organized enough that he says he’s not overwhelmed and doesn’t feel like he’s buried alive (he’s such a Drama Queen…).
I’m satisfied I can find my supplies by scanning boxes on shelves and seeing what I need fairly quickly.
My dried herbs are in glass jars properly labeled, neatly organized by groups. My bottles of essential oils are grouped alphabetically (that was a huge and significant project!) And my extra packaging supplies are in boxes and labeled accurately.
I’m ready for the new season! Everything has a place and marked. Yes, I’m grateful for my husband’s help and couldn’t have done it without him. Thank you Sweetie – you are the best! I love you!
There is still a great deal more purging/downsizing to be done. There is a spare room that has boxes with thousands of pictures that need to be sorted and either scanned onto a computer or tossed.
Then there is all those drawers and closets filled with my husbands hidden “treasures” that needs addressing. I’ve mentioned to him more than once its TIME to deal with your stuff instead of just focusing on mine. The rubber bugs and boobs implants really need to go!
But I’ll leave that to him and him alone to deal with. The last thing I want to do is organize someone else’s crap when I still have plenty of my own, plus our daughter’s to deal with.
Those sets of china I inherited also came with the previous owners family pictures…I cringe at the thought of more organizing….but someone has to sort them and decide to keep or toss. I’m the designated family historian, and eventually, a book will be written on our family history. My goal is to create a digital filing system (or library) so I can retrieve information more efficiently and ditch the physical picture or paper.
Another Day Is On the Horizon:
I’m safe for now, but I know another organizing day is in my near future. I see my husband eyeing the greenhouse, and his fingers are starting twitch. He can’t help himself. Ugh! Maybe I should rent him out? Anyone? This organizing stuff never ends…I think I see another flowerbed that needs weeding…
I’m curious, do you think Marie Kondo will still appear to have everything all neat and tidy in her life in 25 – 30 years?…
If you’re interested (or must face) your own Organizing Day, here are some great organizing books I found helpful over the years. I own these books (or at least used to – maybe one or two may have been purged from my library) in any event, I highly recommend them.
Please note: these books are affiliate links to Amazon. I participate in their affiliate program and earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decide to purchase the books using these links.
Update: 2 trips to the donation center have been made so far, and hubby tells me he as a few more car loads to go! And a dump run is being discussed for the rest. YeeHaw! We’re making progress!
We have made some changes to our website and have gone back to old school basics and downsized a little.
What’s changed: Thompson Street Farm products will either be sold on our Farm to Bath Etsy page or in person at the South Windsor Farmers Market during the growing season. If you have questions, please email me at email@example.com.
If you are looking for our Farm to Bath products click on over to Farm to bath.com and check us out. Orders over $30.00 receive free shipping!!
2019 Season: Thompson Street Farm and Farm to Bath will be returning to the South Windsor Farmers Market in the 2019 season. See you there!
Cooking a healthy meal can be a full-time job for any parent. Between planning and organizing, it takes a lot of effort to stay on track. That’s why I have a few hacks on hand to quickly improve the nutrient density in meals.
Quinoa is a great cook ahead that can be sprinkled onto a salad for an exotic addition of protein. It absorbs flavors so you can pair it with any dressing and it will taste great. Quinoa is also a great way to cut back on rice. For recipes that call for rice, try replacing ½ of the amount with quinoa. You will hardly see the difference yet you will improve your nutrition by adding fiber and lowering your glycemic index. Quinoa is a good source of minerals such as folate, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It also contains all the essential amino acids, giving it a high score for a good source of protein. Beware though, it is still a grain and too much of it can be “too much of a good thing”.
Rich in iron and really flavorful, this makes a great addition to the kids’ mac and cheese. They simply LOVE it. Recently I have started experimenting with combining it with cauliflower rice. I sauteed a chopped onion or leek for about 5 minutes, then add the riced cauliflower (2 bags frozen) for another 5 minutes, sprinkle some dill or use fresh if you have, add salt and pepper. After it caramelizes add a bag of frozen spinach and cook for about another 10 minutes. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt or some feta and you have a low carb, Greek spanakopita inspired delicious and quick alternative. Spinach is a quick add on to rice, quinoa rice or even sautéed as a side dish. Power up!
Mushrooms act as a major immunity booster that can help the body fight illness as well as several types of cancers. It is recommended that you have a little daily. But who can keep up? Try freezing your mushrooms for easy access to omelets, and sautéed meals. Sautée some with onion and keep in the fridge as a sandwich or salad topper. Consider making mushroom burgers. They are easy, quick and very filling.
These are really misunderstood in my opinion because they are usually eaten out of a can. Try soaking a bag overnight and then giving them a quick boil until soft. No spices needed! After they are softened you can eat them plain -so sweet!- or add them to any salad. Keep in the fridge for an easy add on! You can also throw them in the blender with lemon juice and olive oil for a nice hummus.
The best way to increase your fruit intake is to keep it easily accessible. Take a few minutes to cut fruit and keep it in the fridge. It will more likely be your next snack or meal. My favorites for this are watermelon and honeydew. Another great trick is to load up on berries. They have a very short shelf life so eating them will be a priority.
This superfood can be added to any snack to boost fiber and omega 3’s along with antioxidants. Who doesn’t want that in a bowl of cereal, instantly? Consider adding to your yogurt, toasted bread, and even ice cream.
This is my go to side dish when I need that extra something to add to a meal. If I am baking dinner it can go straight into a baking dish with some EVOO. If not I can easily steam it and cleanup is a cinch. A major player in the cruciferous family, it is rich in everything, good for you and delicious. Always keep on hand.
Setting up for success with easy cheats makes up a big component of healthy eating. Now that the kids are helping themselves to snacks it’s even more important to have these easily accessible and at the front of the fridge.
My path to learning how to grow Shiitake mushrooms has been paved with years of failure until about 3 years ago. I can now say that I finally have success and have enough confidence to begin to experiment with growing other strains and in different growing mediums, such as straw and wood pellets.
Many years ago, I thought it would be fun to grow mushrooms so I bought a-grow-your-own mushroom kit from a seed catalog. My rationale was that they were a fungus and mushrooms grew wild in my compost pile, woods and in our grass. How hard could it be? HA!
My first kit arrived in the dead of winter and I eagerly opened the box. I followed the instructions, put the box with the gooey bag of ick down in the basement and tenderly cared for it for months….and…. nothing happened. I was frustrated and felt like I had been suckered (not for the first time and probably not the last). I tossed the mass of ick on my compost pile and thought it was a waste of time and money!
Then one very hot and humid day in August while tossing scraps on the compost pile I spied a mushroom. I looked closer and I thought it was a shiitake and it appeared to be growing from that lump of white ick that I dumped months earlier. I was excited but I didn’t want to pick it just yet. I wanted to wait just a little longer to see if it grew bigger.
A few weeks passed and I was thinking that the mushroom should be more than ready to pick and I hoped that more had sprouted. I went out to the compost pile and it was gone – nothing. No white lump, no beautiful mushroom nothing but a pile of dirt and gravel. WHAT? I dug into the pile and there deep under the dirt and gravel I found a shriveled up dead mushroom. My neighbors heard me cry NOOOOOO! I was crushed.
A few years went by….One day I was out with our hiking club walking next to a member I hadn’t met before. We were chatting along and she suddenly stopped and said “Oh look! There’s a blah blah ish-a-toris something or another mushroom” (long Latin name). She bent down, picked it, took a bite and offered me a piece. As she stared and smiled at me, I was trying to find my lower half of my jaw as it was sitting on the ground. I thought… “Did she just do what I think she just did?”… “Uh- no thank you” I replied. I quickly gained my composure and I peppered her with questions on how the heck she knew that mushroom was edible.
I learned that she and her husband were wild mushroom foragers and that they learned this craft by going out and watching other seasoned mushroom hunters forage. She explained that wild mushroom foraging should be taught by a seasoned forager and should not be taught via books or the internet. There are too many poisonous mushrooms that look like nonpoisonous mushrooms and one mistake could be fatal. I quickly decided that foraging for wild mushroom wasn’t for me. Then I learned that she grew all kinds of mushrooms on her compost pile, logs, and wood chips, which she inoculated with mushroom kits.
Stop! Time Out! What did you say? She explained that growing mushrooms is easy if you have the right environment. I shared my tale of woe with my many attempts of growing mushrooms in my basement in the dead of winter and my hopes and dreams for a lonely mushroom growing in my compost pile from a discarded kit until it was killed…
She kindly explained that mushrooms like warm, humid shaded conditions and not cold dark basements. To grow mushrooms, you needed to replicate those conditions and my shaded compost pile in August just happened to be the perfect environment for that shiitake mushroom.
So why do those darn gardening catalogs only sell those kits in the dead of winter? She smiled kindly and stared at me…It hit me, O.K. I get it – there’s one born every minute…”S” stands for sucker…She laughed and explained that I needed to buy the spawn from a “real” laboratory that specialized in growing fungi. Oh…I said – there are mushroom laboratories??? I thought this was supposed to be easy…
Fast forward a year after my initial hike with the “Mushroom Lady.” A consultant from CT Department of Agriculture was doing a site visit for my farm certification. We were wandering around my property and he saw how much of it was covered in woods. He asked if I ever considered growing mushrooms. I had flashbacks of years of failed attempts growing mushrooms in boxed bags in my basement and of my conversations with the wild mushroom lady telling me I had to find a mushroom laboratory to get good spawn while she ate her way through our hike. I asked him if I needed to have a sterile room or some building to grow mushrooms commercially. He said no as there are mushrooms strains that grow well in the woods. Clearly I was missing something. He recommended that I do some research and think about it.
A year of research…I began to read books on mushroom cultivation. Who knew there were so many different kinds of mushrooms? I watched YouTube videos, read articles from magazines/blogs and I took a workshop on growing mushrooms. The class was packed and, after hearing similar stories to mine, apparently, I wasn’t the only one that had been suckered with those grow-your-own kits. I was not alone. I learned that the easiest and most successful way to grow mushrooms is to inoculate oak trees freshly cut into 4-foot lengths.
Months after taking that workshop and doing more research, I decided it was time. A farmer friend was kind enough to allow me to cut down several trees on his property. We hauled the logs back to my driveway and my husband (who was trying to be patient with me) hauled them to the back of our property and into the woods. On several cold spring days, we drilled, plugged and waxed hundreds of holes. It was a cold and sticky job and at that point, my husband was not- so- patient anymore and declared “No more logs!”
The logs were then put to bed on the forest floor laid out in sections. I was nervous because I didn’t know if this would work. But I was hopeful as I had done my research and felt confident that I did this right. It would be a year of waiting to get my answer. Was this going to be another failed costly experiment?
Nine months later, I was giving someone a tour of my farming operation and I took him out to the pile of logs in the woods. I spied a mushroom, then another and another! I became emotional as I tried to explain to my guest that I finally had shiitake mushrooms. I was having a moment…this was big!! However, my guest was not so sure about me and was probably thinking that I was a whack job. He soon left and I was alone in the woods carefully cutting my prized mushrooms and lovingly carrying them into the house to show my husband. I told him in a cracking voice, “It worked! It really worked!”
Hubby wasn’t impressed…
Then I told him the current price per pound for shiitake mushrooms at the market. His eye got real big and he said Oh! This year we will be experimenting growing in straw and wood pellets oyster, shiitake and winecap mushrooms.
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Sorry, this is so late posting – here is my friend Coach Theresa’s latest guest post. Once again she hit it out of the park! Now I don’t feel so guilty! I am definitely going to try her morning drink routine. Enjoy the posting!!!
The Day(s) After A Feast
I dunno about you but it seems like one day of indulging often brings another and another and before you know it you’re guiltily humming Annie’s “tomorrow” inside your head. There’s always a reason to indulge. And you know? It’s actually good for you. So for starters let’s just get over the guilt and purposely indulge in some extra calories every once in a while.
My rule is that it’s ok to indulge as long as my digestive enzymes can recognize it as food, that is, no processed yoga mat material or preservatives and trash included in my cheat days. Stick to real food even the sinfully rich variety and with moderation, you will recover. Yes, you CAN have your proverbial cake and eat it too. I do it all the time –figuratively speaking.
If you are on a sustainable plan of everyday healthy living that involves whole foods nutrition and appropriate portion sizes for your body, you are very much ahead of the game. But it’s also easy to have too much of a good thing. Being on track involves following an 80/20 rule and making sure that the 20% doesn’t expand to 80. This is where most of us fail because that proverbial slope can be so slippery.
If you are struggling, take a good look at what you are eating. Often times this sparks a lot of motivation! If you are eating well and within your recommended calories and are still experiencing difficulty with your weight, then we need to look at your activity level, and of course your last check-up.
Keep in mind that when we are hungry it is very hard to objectively assess intake and we are often lenient with ourselves. It is important to examine the picture as a whole. For me, as a mom, I wasn’t counting eating my kids’ leftovers! (leftover cupcake frosting is my favorite. There are, oh so many, external reasons to expand “that exception” AFTER “exception day”. This can start with simply more piled on social events in a given season, accessible leftovers, and vacation time.
Just mentally, all of these external factors can send you off in the wrong direction and seriously throw you for a loop that can get you stuck in a whirlwind of cravings and mindless eating. When I manage my cravings well, my perspective on how I can also handle unrelated situations in my environment also changes. It is very empowering!
My first recommended course of action on my START day is to get a workout in as soon as I wake up. It seriously jolts me back into reset mode. Go immediately when you wake up. Drink some water and carry some with you throughout the day. Start with 5-10 minutes of stretching that is appropriate for the type of workout you will do and then jump right in. Pop in a DVD, go for a walk/run, yoga, a bike ride, a class, whatever it is you do, get there first thing, before breakfast (if your health allows or go as soon as practicable if you need to regulate your body first.) The idea is to go as early as possible.
Exercise will have the amazing effect of making you feel good and simply even reminding you where “the course” (on that track) is so you can get back to it sooner rather than later.
Before your workout, try a warm cup of lemon water with a dash of cayenne. Surprisingly the cayenne is not too spicy in this mixture and has the added benefit of supporting digestion and elimination as well as detoxing the body of that feast. Ditto for the lemon with its own list of benefits. Think of this as a great way to rinse out. This may send you to the bathroom before your workout, so give yourself a few minutes to think that through before lacing up! (True story. Ha!)
Be deliberate in keeping a bottle of water near you throughout the day, and of course drink it. It sounds silly but it IS easy to forget!
Immediately after a workout, I recommend a recovery smoothy rich in fruits, vegetables, and protein. What is great about this is that you are providing your body with a nutrient-dense meal it has to work very little to break down. This high level of nutrition will aid in restoring your balance and help you fight cravings. A simple recipe can use ½ banana or ¼ avocado for creamy texture, 1 cup of leafy greens such as kale or spinach, 1 cup of frozen berries of your choice, a tbsp. or flax or chia seeds and a scoop of protein powder. Add some ice and 6 oz of your favorite milk, another 6 oz of water and blend to a smooth consistency. It’s that easy and it will help you resume your eating schedule much more easily.
This is key. Resume eating whole foods after recovery. Don’t crash diet. Give the smoothy an hour to digest and then have your first meal of the day. You will feel much better and empowered to break the cheats.
Another thing I like to recommend is adding some fresh juice as a snack or a pick me up. You might be feeling sluggish the day after a big feast and you might find yourself reaching for more caffeine. Try and have a fresh pressed juice instead and truly recharge your batteries. A favorite go-to of mine contains 2-3 leaves (with stems) of kale, 2-3 whole carrots, an apple or a pear with about ½ inch of ginger root.
If you cannot access a juicer consider making an effort to add more greens and fruit to your diet to avoid snacking and enjoy some green tea.
If you have a season of temptation coming up, (I, for example, just had 4 Birthdays and a Big Fat Greek Easter within 1 week, yikes!) consider planning ahead and having things in place to set your recovery plan in motion immediately. It will help you bounce back faster and empower you to make more changes. You are in control. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. Cheers, to your health!
CoachTheresaWV is a Health Coach and Personal Trainer whose goal is to help people transform their life through self-care. She believes in lifestyle habits that include fitness and clean living for their empowering and life-changing effects. As a coach, she helps individuals reach their specific goals and put systems into place for continued improvement and sustained change. A mom of 2, Theresa does this for her children as well as a growing online and community following, helping people reach health and fitness goals one day at a time. Follow her at www.TheresaWV.com on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trainandtransformyourlife/ or email her at CoachTheresaWV@gmail.com for a complimentary consultation.
A Read and Play Series from Thompson Street Farm LLC
This book was a labor of love for me and my daughter, Katie. We’ve been painting together for years and I thought it would be fun to create children’s books using our artwork. Counting Starfish is our first and it’s an interactive book. It’s part early reader and part coloring book.
Our next book is a garden journal complete with cool info sheets on how to be a successful gardener.
Children learn by experience and are stimulated by imagination. Counting Starfish is designed to build basic concepts and what better way to learn than from the natural world?
Counting Starfish was inspired by starfish (or sea stars) living in a tidal pool off the coast of Alaska. This interactive book teaches children the fundamental concepts of counting to ten with coloring pages providing the opportunity for each child to create their own imaginative version of a colorful Counting Starfish Book.
About the Authors:
Brenda Sullivan lives in South Glastonbury CT with her husband Paul and their daughter Katie.
They are avid gardeners who took their love for gardening to a new level by converting their 1.3 acres into a small farm called Thompson Street Farm LLC www.thompsonstreetfarm.com.
Brenda specializes in growing small leafy greens, microgreens, flowers and herbs. She also makes handcrafted goats milk herbal soaps and herbal bath products using the herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables that are grown on the farm or locally purchased from other local farmers. For more information on her bath and body products go to www.farmtobath.com.
Katie, the love of their life and the center of their universe, has severe cerebral palsy, epilepsy, is legally blind (with limited vision), and has other serious medical conditions. Katie is nonverbal and wheelchair bound but these challenges haven’t prevented her from experiencing life.
Katie experiences her world on her terms. With the help of assistive technology, other sensory adaptations and years of homeschooling experience, Katie understands basic concepts and has developed many interests including an appreciation for music, painting with her Mother and listening to stories.
She loves being outdoors and we’ve discovered that experiencing her natural world has been Katie’s best educator. This has been our inspiration for creating this first nature-themed series of children’s early education books.