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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hormones and Mood

The last of the ice in the woods

After some reflection and alot of reading, I have come to understand my extreme mood swings a little better. In the span of a day I went from hopeless, anxious, mad as hell to calm, energized, enthusiastic. All I needed was my period. This has been a pattern I never picked up on because some months I am fine. If I am exercising and relatively low stress I don't fall apart. There is even a name for it PMDD-premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

There is some interesting info out there on the relationship between estrogen, progesterone and cortisone. Biology is SO cool. The human animal is such a finely tuned machine and then we do things like caffeine and HFCS and hydrogenated oils.

Rose and Christy both have my excited to share the view from my home with you. There will be two 'homes' to view: the suburban house (the home to my body and mind) and our rural escape-my Dad's place (the home to my heart).

We just spent two days of our spring break at ArkWorks Farm and I realized that I cannot be torn between homes. We had planned to split our time this summer between house and camper, with my main gardening efforts at the farm. As much as I love it there, I can't do this-I will be setting myself up for frustration and stress. I can be happy at either place, but not both. We need to choose-the yardstead or the farmstead, I can't and won't try to do both. So another round of discussions for DH and I. This is important, and is worth going over again and again if needs be.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I started my (modified) detox plan by dropping coffee. Even with green tea to ease me through-I enjoyed a crushing headache for three days. I was a royal witch at work on Saturday! Apologies to my employees! Today I feel better, no headache, not tired. I am sleeping better now-no more waking up through-out the night.

I am also trying to eat as much raw food as possible-lots of salads, fruits, raw nuts and water, water, water. I miss sugar! But I do enjoy tasting the texture and naunces of plain yogurt flavored with fruit instead of the too-sweet homogenized Yoplait I usually eat.

I came across an interesting bit of info about protein-(we eat too much of it!), apparently there are cultures who maintain health at 10-25 gram of protein per day. Hmm, think our food pyramid is a little lopsided? I also saw on Yahoo news today, a new study which shows too much red meat and processed meats are bad for you. Really? Huh,who would have thought?
Anyway I feel good, optomistic and ready for the fruit juice fast (2 days max)!

PS Horse manure/wood shavings: I have a good supplier-how do I use? is it too hot to use fresh, I was going to till in fresh manure this spring.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I need an intervention! I don't like how run-down I feel. I feel closer to 68 instead of 38. My brain is foggy, I often can't find the words I am looking for, my memory is poor (this is NOT a new symptom). I just feel so tired and numb 50% of the time. I know I feel better when I exercise and stay away from simple carbs completely along with limiting even the whole grain carbs. I also feel better with a chance to play and unwind each day. I have gotten into a bad rut-and the difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the hole!

Long story short-I have 5 days off for spring break and I would like to seize this time to perform some detoxification. I realize that the detox may only be in my head, that there will be some placebo effect gained by the effort of taking control back into my own hands. But rituals are very powerful things.

I am considering a raw food only, limited fast. Any suggestions out there? My herb craft is very rusty, I will be doing alot of research into any suggestions made-no following blindly! I plan to reduce my caffeine and refined foods intake over this coming week leading to my 'spring break'.

In other news-I (minimally) pruned the apple tree, no luck yet in an organic dormant oil. My seeds finally arrived, mostly from Baker's. I will start the tomatoes, peppers and cabbage this weekend (about 9 weeks from our historical frost free date). The solar hot water class is next weekend. Our bunnies got some lovin'. We should see a litter in 30 days! No luck yet on the Silver Fox doe. I also resisted the impulse to buy a new car. My (paid for) 2002 Saturn will do just fine for us for a while longer. I was almost seduced by the new car tax breaks and the hybrid tax credits until I did the math on monthly payments. Told you veterinarians are cheap!! I'll keep putting the payments into savings.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Have You Played Today?

Children do it, animals do it, why have some adults lost the ability to play? Play is using imagination and creativity; getting lost in the flow, carried away even. Play is so important to childhood development and I also argue- to adult happiness. Now don't go play on the monkey bars (unless you want to), but really think about what is fun for you. Where do you find release; where can you loose your self in the moment?
Play has been put on the wayside for many of us. There is alot of pressure in our society to be productive, to accomplish long lists of important things. Play is a guilty pleasure.
Escaping is not play. Escape is trying to drown out your life with something else, like alcohol or food or TV or the internet. I will sometimes escape with a long book-hide out away from my family and escape to another place, and not come up for air until the book is done. There is a fine line between escape and play; play energizes and feels good-escape does not.
I am so guilty of this. I have nearly lost play in my life. I have actually gotten to the point where I don't know what to do on a day off if I don't have (domestic) work to do. My cycles go like this: work, work, work, burning-out, work some more,, work, work....
Incorporating play into my everyday life is one of my biggest goals, it ranks right up there with learning to grow my own food, and spending time with my kids. If gardening and planting and cooking become all work and no pleasure then what is the point? If I take something which I consider play and overdo it, make it another entry on my to do list then this experiment is for nothing.
Fun for me is horseback riding, drawing and painting, biking, getting lost in a book, flying a kite, planting and gardening. There are more but those are the biggies.
Please tell me how you play! And I challenge you to try to play a little every day!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Against the Current

Making significant life altering change is alot like swimming against the current. Years and years of habit are not changed easily. I am tired, tired of kicking against the current, yet the minute I stop-the waves are pulling at me, nudging me back into the current of our consumer driven culture.

Okay-- overly dramatic, I know!! I'm just tired. It seems like the small daily changes I am making are not enough. It is so easy to just stop at the store, or pick up the phone and dial for carry-out.

On a positive note I did finally get a SQF garden plan put down to paper and seeds ordered. I am most excited by the winter squash varieties-who knew squash came in more than 'acorn' or 'butternut'. They are so beautiful!

This weekend we will prune the apple tree. Does any one have a good handle on organic dormant oil or what I need to do to not have wormy brown spotted apples?

Weekend playtime

I've been away from the blog for a while-my computers graphics displays were all messed up (the technical term) but everything is resolved now. I have some fun news; Tom and I are taking a class together- introduction to domestic solar hot water. It is put on by the Midwest renewable Energy Association-or MREA. We are hoping to install a solar hot water system, from what I can gather a closed system for a family of 4 costs in the neighborhood of $10,000-but there are a number of federal, state and utility rebates available now which bring the price down and the system would then pay for itself within a few years. I can see the wheels turning in my husbands brain; there are a series of classes available through MREA which would lead to becoming a certified solar hot water installer-the first of which we go to in the end of March. He may be considering a second career path :)

I borrowed a copy of the Bartholomew -Square Foot Gardening book. Love it. I am going to try to restrain myself a bit so as not to get overwhelmed and frustrated -gardening IS supposed to be enjoyable. I can see that I want a sun box of some sort to get seedlings off to a good start-and as soon is the snow is gone from the S side of my house I will work on that.

This weekend we had a play day at ArkWorks Farm- the temps were in the 40's and the sun was shining so we went for a walk in the woods ( there is still 2 feet of snow out there-but our old snowshoe trails are walkable) and then built a fire at our camper site-the girls had fun re-discovering their tree forts and playing with the melt water running across the trail. Spring seems to be coming a little early for us-and we just missed the 6 inches of snow our neighbors 20 miles south received!

Sunbathing in WI

The view down the hill from our camper site to ArkWorks Farm,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Garden Yields

I have been making lists again! It's a compulsion and a way to avoid actually DOING something. It's okay-just the way I am, bursts of activity then lists. The list in progress is a list of vegetables-yum! I have been thinking about the kinds of food my family likes to eat and the kinds of food I would like for them to eat-they are two different lists! LOL-since frozen pizza doesn't grow on trees I will concentrate on the sauce!
I am working under the assumption (right or wrong!) that food supplies will be rather tight next year. I am hearing serious talk of water rationing in LA and farmers (no -PRODUCERS) who will be under serious water stress. So much of our commercial food comes from S. CA I can't help but wonder what another year of drought will do to food prices or even availability. I do not expect or even dream of being able to grow all of our own produce this year, my first 'real' year of gardening, but i would like to make a serious stab at it! I also plan to grow enough to have seeds for the following year.
So this leads me to the question I have. How do I translate say 20# of carrots into square feet of garden or 50# of potatoes into # of hills? I know no one can give me an answer-but a guesstimate? There are too many variables-soil, rain, temp, deer etc. I am going to talk to Dad first-he has been gardening there for a pouple years now-then maybe an extension agent or master gardener. Any other brilliant ideas?
BTW thanks Rose for the book-I think you must have wrote it just for me! It is so exactly what I needed to hear-I can't wait to read more!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

create or consume?

I have been thinking about something I read out there in the 'blogosphere' about being a consumer or a creator. This has struck a cord with me. Our culture is not sustainable as it is. We are a society of consumers, what has happened to us?? Are we all so weak willed that we follow the marketing masters suggestions with out a thought, without question. We must buy to feel pleasure, to feel worthy? I don't believe it. The recession (or worse) which our government is trying to buy its way out of, is our rallying call. The boom flush times we are coming out of is a completely false economy-based on credit and borrowing. I believe that the fluff has/is being stripped away and the economy we are left with will be the true state of the union. Get used to it! No more cell phone for everyone over the age of 10, no more Lincoln Navigators idling in the driveway, no more going out to eat every other night-let's get real! The 90's are gone and we have to find a new model for our culture, for our lives. We can't buy our way out of it and shouldn't try.

Reading the March 2009 National Geographic, there is an article about Alberta's oil sands. They have to move 4 tons of trees, topsoil and oil sand to extract 1 barrel of oil. I used to read these articles and think -what a shame, that's horrible, and go on to read a cute article about the sex life of whales or whatever. Yesterday the light bulb came on (CFL of course!) in my head- THEY (the big corporate bad guys) are doing this because I (jump in the car anytime I want-hardware store 2x yesterday) am paying them to do it! Everyone of who drives a car must take some responsibility for what is going on.

I'm feeling a little mad and a little feisty today and should probably be taking this out on the treadmill instead of you guys, but it also feels good for this repressed Norwegian to say what she feels! I am changing my life from consumption to creation, from dependence to sufficiency, from things to people.

The Beginning of a Yardstead

Small steps, small steps. Together Tom and I have embraced the suburban homestead. My husband continues to surprise me-he is just as excited about this grand experiment as I am. My focus has been food, garden and small livestock. I have discovered he is the home efficiency guy! Our goals here are energy efficiency and self sufficiency. We are taking steps to reduce our electrical and natural gas (heat and hot water) needs, conserve water and produce a (yet to be determined) percentage of our own food, while buying as much food locally as possible.

This weekend we purchased some more CFLs- about 80% of our bulbs are now switched over. We installed a low flow shower head and fixed a dripping faucet. These are all small things but will add up quickly. We have also made a commitment to use rechargeable batteries in our house. We have a recharger but never use it!

Tom found a good site, Advanced Energy Systems, which allows you to plug in numbers from your utility bill, zip code and a few other things, then estimates how much a solar PV system or hot water system will cost along with payback time. We discovered that a hot water solar system would pay for itself in approx 2 years! That is on our list for spring.

Our garden plan is fragmented. I will have a small 'kitchen garden' here at home. Maybe a cold frame or two for early and late greens, etc. The primary garden will be at my Dad's ArkWork Farm. Once the girls are out of school we will be living in our camper on the hill 3-4 days per week at the Farm. It makes more sense to have the main garden there. I would like to experiment with square foot gardening in a raised bed. We are still working on how much to grow. I am working on a list of what we eat-how many times a month do we eat spaghetti? How many lbs of potatoes do we eat? Then work backwards to how many tomato plants do I grow?

I'll post more about the no knead bread (in the dishwasher :} ) tomorrow when I have some pictures to go with the post-that's always more fun!