Fall & Winter Stock Up

Pantry Essentials – by Kim VanderWerf

Also:

  • remember the books you’ve set aside & magazines
  • last years seed catalogs until the new ones arrive
  • fall & winter prep lists
  • cozy socks
  • soft warm sweaters
  • good quality tea
  • soup and casserole recipes

This year we’ve decided to do Christmas differently as far as gifts go. I believe we are going to go with more intentional, possibly handmade, custom made/designed or sentimental gifts that may be bought or made or have someone make. But as far as gift lists, or wants, or commercialism–nope that’s out for our household this year. I’m still working all the details out but I will share them here as I come up with them.

Update on our move–that’s complicated as is everything this year. Normally, the person with citizenship would return to their country and start the residency process and then the rest of the family would follow. That is not how things are working right now with our move. The residency requirement vs. how long, because of covid-19 restrictions, aren’t meshing. At this time I cannot stay long enough to meet the requirements so I will be traveling for a few days to meet with our house-sitters/renters who are caring for the home we have purchased. We will be working on winterizing everything and working out winter/spring 2021 details. Hopefully come March 2021 we can begin again–we are thankful to have friends that are helping us to take care of our property. We couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to do it all without them.

Fall Prep–   from This Old Home

 

Stock up Fall 2020 -video on how to stock up for an emergency

Until next time–be safe and be well!!

 

Gardening 2020 Container Garden–Starting a garden during a pandemic 🌱🐲 🌿

I began thinking about our container garden in January when the first seed catalogs started to arrive. By March I had our garden all drawn out and then the pandemic, our current crisis, emerged. Suddenly companies weren’t selling seeds, seeds were back-ordered, plants were out of stock–every one pressed pause.

I had vowed to myself in January that all I was going to grow was herbs and flowers. I’ve been container gardening for almost twelve years and each year–thanks to climate change it gets tougher. Winds have gone from an occasional wind gust here and there to the last two years wind all the time. Heat–well our deck twelves years ago got up to 100 degrees and we thought that was hot. Now, it’s nothing to be 112 and 116 degrees at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Everything wilts–and continuous wilting =very little if any production. With the pandemic, I changed my mind and decided to order plants from online when none of the regular places had any or closed up due to regulations.

I do have to add in that finding good stock has been incredibly hard for about five years for me. Plants, at least around here, are not what they used to be. I have changed soil off and on, fertilizers, food, and hybrid vs. heirloom, even saving seeds and nothing seems to really change the awful effects of climate change.  Regular seasonal weather is bad enough between the rains and winds of spring to the scorching humidity of summer.  Let’s not forget about root rot, diseased plants, bugs, and lack of one nutrient or another leading to no fruit. Every year, for me, it’s a nitrogen problem for everything I grow no matter how much I amend my soil. This year that problem has led to no female blossoms on 3 of my tomatoes and none on my pumpkins. I’ve tried everything.

I think it’s been raining for almost three weeks–or so it seems. I hope to take photos this weekend and will add more to this post then!

2 weeks later:

I had five tomato plants in all–3 of which are pictured above. The tomato on the right in the cage has not produced any flowers–on this particular day (2 weeks ago)due to space/crowding I said–let’s just get rid of it.

Here’s what it looks like today–

It’s grown out of the cage and stands almost 2 ft above the cage top. And boy am I glad I didn’t get rid of him because he’s not going to produce. I tend to think he heard me say that, because he’s taken right off and now provides shade for the tomato plant on each side of him and the little guy in the red pot right in front of him. Without the shade he’s providing (yes my tomato plants are always he 😉 ) the other plants would be suffering afternoon wilt so much more–previous to the shade he’s providing all the plant but this plant were doing really poorly. It just goes to show–don’t be quick to get rid of non-producers–the shade they provide in hot humid times like these is priceless. I mean we’ve tried sun shades, screens, even umbrellas. Nothing has worked very well at all–until now. And my nitrogen problem has been fixed for now: all total I have over 20 tomatoes growing at this time!!

 

Drying Lamb’s ear for a decorative wreath —

Time for Farmer’s Market veggies–we gloved up, masked up, kept our distance 6+ feet, grabbed what we wanted, paid, and were on our way. We had a cooler with vinegar that we soaked the veggies in, dried them, and put them in a dry cool cooler until we got home.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to get some strawberries ( the last week for them around here the first week was two weeks ago–and then everyone shut down) at a local stand to make jam. Both of the local u-pick fields shut down this year due to low quantity and poor quality–as said it’s been raining for weeks here..

Until next time–be well.

Fall is fast approaching–harvest then cleanup—100 tomatoes this year! 🐛🍅🍅

Happy First Day of Fall!! 🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁

Lots of pumpkins in the store to choose from!!

I bought a hubbard squash and a white, green blue, and orange pumpkin. I plan to carve them out and then feed them while still fresh to the birds and other outside critters.

Last photos of this years container garden–

Last of my tomatoes ripening–

Last summer Farmer’s market haul–

Some pretty good food cooking with fresh produce–

Some interesting things I learned with this years container garden were pretty interesting. I started with three tomato plants planted in organic soil. I bought the plants at a nursery that I’ve been buying plants at for years. I also spent $34 on a large geranium plant that looked dead by day two on my deck. After a careful inspection I found two of the plants in the geranium bush to be rotten so  I replanted the entire large geranium plant. I then went out and purchased two tomato plants from Home Depot and two tomato plants from Walmart of which I did not plant in organic soil. A few weeks later I purchased some herbs and a single geranium plant. Once the flowers were on all my tomato plants I was pretty sure I was going to be seeing some amazing results. A short time later all the plants I’d purchased from my favorite nursery were dead and I was down to five tomato plants, some herbs, and my geranium plant. These plants were planted in potting soil called Expert Gardener and it’s sold at Walmart. It must work great for everyone else too, because it was always sold out when I went in to purchase more. By summer’s end my tomato plants produced over 100 tomatoes—mostly salad and cherry tomatoes. My geranium is still blooming, my herbs were absolutely awesome this year. My butterfly bush and the tropical flower I bought in June are thriving–prettiest hardiest plants ever and to think both were basically dead when I bought them! So mixed feelings on all this as I spent an incredible amount of money on nursery plants and organic soil and had zero results.  On top of that in years gone by having spent an enormous amount of money on fertilizers, soil, and such also very little in the way of production. Yes this year I had more plants so rightly so more tomatoes—in years gone by I had two to three plants and they produced between 10-20 cherry tomatoes in total. I have a lot to think about going forward. This was my last year for growing tomatoes on our deck. We will have one more spring here as our move has been delayed by the health issue I’ve been dealing with all summer. I am getting better but it is slow going. Next year’s garden will be mostly flowers for bees and bush beans!!

That’s it for gardening.

Stayed tuned for my next post about School & Farm : country living in the 70’s.

 

You haven’t been sick in how many years?

Since 2006 when I started college and caught a cold/flu virus. Since that time I have made it safely through thirteen years of no colds, flu, sniffles, coughs, throwing up, or fevers. Amen!  I have had food poisoning once in the past 15 years that lasted 3 days–thanks to a not fully cooked quarter pounder about 12 years ago. My allergies–I’m allergic to mold, animal dander and ragweed, have been pretty good since I quit smoking several years ago. I sneeze maybe a dozen times a year now and take absolutely nothing for allergies in the way of meds anymore. All that to say I have had an issue to deal with since June that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

For personal reasons my recent issue isn’t the point of my post–in all honesty you will thank me for this—lol. The real reason I am posting about it at all is because what I’ve discovered may convince others to make a change to their diet and lifestyle.
First of all what I’ve been dealing with is serious, but it isn’t contagious (I didn’t catch it), it isn’t life threatening, and it isn’t a disease. It’s an issue that has popped up in my body that is uncomfortable to deal with, hard to care for, and extremely painful. I have dealt with issues similar to this for several years, and it has finally gotten to the point of being a problem. One that is slow to heal and that even doctors struggle with knowing how to help other than to perform surgery which really isn’t recommended. I’m not trying to lead you on with mystery, but I’m just not willing to share the details on the internet. Suffice it to say it could be almost anything–and whether it heals or not seems to rely solely and totally on my health, diet, and lifestyle. Which of course is the story here and the real purpose of my post.

I’m in both the enviable and unenviable position of being able to reap the benefits of years of healthier living and dealing with an issue that almost solely relies on good health, healing, and lifestyle changes in order to heal and be healed entirely from this awful issue.

For three months I have not been myself. I have been unable to travel much, I’ve missed attending Farmer’s markets every week as I intended to do, we shortened our vacation, limited our weekend getaways, and had to forfeit a couple of friend get-togethers. The good news is my different projects in and around the apartment have been completed, I have done quite a bit of volunteering, and I have fortunately not missed any work. I really had to prioritize everything– summer fun kind of went by the  wayside. Free time was spent resting and when I was rested on the weekends I spent time in my garden or talking with my husband or catching part of a movie with him. My issue has caused me to be uncomfortable, feel helpless, unmotivated, scared, and out of sorts. I have seen my doctor, I have had him tell me what my issue is–I already knew, and I have followed his instructions on how to heal my issue. Again, I hate to be cryptic, but suffice it to say it is an issue associated with my digestive tract. I’ve been working on a healthier lifestyle for almost fifteen years now–this blog was actually created to act as kind of a journal for my journey. I started by trying to remove all of the chemicals in my diet because at the time I had just quit drinking and smoking. After I did that I started incorporating organic food and dairy in our diets. Soon after that I began changing out chemical cleaners/household stuff for non chemical cleaners. I stopped using all sprays, perfumes, dyes, candles, and began eliminating snacks, processed food, and fast food from our lifestyle. This has taken years–in no way can any of this be done overnight. There are a lot of sad moments when you realize how many things you may have to give up to live a clean, chemical free–as much as possible, life. We were never big consumers of this kind of stuff anyways, but we consumed enough. I spent years researching alternatives for everything. Nowadays all of that information is readily available online via good ole Google–thank goodness. It is more acceptable, daresay almost trendy, to do the kind of things I did fifteen years ago. Back then we got a lot of strange looks as well as some pretty negative comments about all the changes we were making. I never doubted once that what I was doing was the best thing for my husband and I to do–so we got over the negative comments and looks fairly fast. lol.

I wouldn’t say good health runs in my family. Based on information I’ve been able to find out about grandparents three generations back on both sides–the average age of death has been 80. Heart disease seems to play a major part on my Dad’s side and respiratory issues and arthritis and chronic pain issues (perhaps related to fibro and also the arthritis) on my Mom’s side. I didn’t know any of this information in 2004, but once I learned of it, I was motivated more than ever to make changes and stick to them. Somewhere around 2009 I began having GI issues related to intolerances. There were a lot of fruits, veggies, and foods I’d been eating for years that started causing me health issues. Though today there is a lot of disbelievers of gluten intolerance–it is a very real thing. I don’t necessarily think that it is 100% just the wheat or the lack of tolerance of chemicals, but more a person’s body/systems/ gut and it’s reaction to modern hybridized wheat combine with all the chemicals in today’s food system and its affect on certain people/immune systems. On top of having to eliminate wheat products, I had to eliminate all the gums–guar, zantham, locust, cellulose and all other food additive gums. Not much left for me to eat after removing everything containing preservatives, thickeners, and wheat. It was quite a shock to my system and I did feel defeated and angry for quite some time. Turns out for some reason my body is also missing the ability to break down short chain carbohydrates (fermentable carbs). So to stay healthy and symptom-free I follow a FODMAP diet. I also take a probiotic called Accuflora and in the last couple of years started taking some supplements after an intense amount of research coupled with consulting with my physician and a nutritionist.

I’ve been taking NOW supplements for four months and can honestly state I don’t know where I would be without them. I’m scared to think how much farther behind I would be in my healing without having something that was keeping my arthritis pain at bay. I’ve been taking glucosamine twice a day for four months and my pain has been cut in half. Now doctors and scientists and researchers say this is unlikely, but for me it has given me a reduction in pain–inflammation, and better mobility. I was low in vitamin b6 but unable to take it due to having IC –thanks to the Now P5P I’ve taken for almost three months my levels are improving! Last but never least I haven’t had an IC flare since I started taking D-Mannose for one week once a month almost eighteen months ago. If you are diabetic you have to be careful with this one. I am not so I’ve been taking it with great success.  I began having symptoms of IC in 2004 and really I believe I may have always had some form of it. To this day I firmly believe it is a low-grade undetected by labs UTI. That’s just my own opinion, but it fits with a lot of issues bladder related that I’ve dealt with in my life. I experienced flares that were pretty painful and at times life altering from 2004-2017. The physicians I had at the time both told me it would go away on its own. My current physician wanted to try a few procedures that had been effective in a small percentage of women. I declined. Eventually several things helped me to become flare free for the last 18 months–it took years, patience, and perseverance to get me to where I am now with this issue.

My supplements cost a total of $210.00 a year and I feel pretty grateful that they are the only thing in pill form  that I take. My diet for quite some time now has been low fat, low carb, low salt, no red meat, high in fiber, fruit, and veg. I enjoy very little caffeine, eat hardly any sweets, and I don’t drink or smoke. I sleep 8 hours a night and if it ends up being less, I take a nap when I can.  I walk year round–usually a brisk walk at least 3x a week. All that to say, I’m happy because the one thing  I’ve worried about since I quit drinking and smoking is my health and what affect both of those things had on it. Maybe I’ll never truly know but for now I’m good! Eating better, taking care of myself, and getting proper rest really works. My doctor is always blown away by my level of healthiness, both physical and mental health, and the fact I am not taking any kind of medication at all at my age (mid-fifties). He’s happy supplements are working for me–disclaimer: I would advise everyone to talk with your doctor before you start any new supplement or reduce or restrict things in your diet. I’m blown away all the time that I am as healthy as I am because most of my life I did not live very healthy, ate junk, and rest? who needs rest?

When I made the changes in my lifestyle they were pretty harsh, but they kind of had to be because I started seeing the light so late. So for anyone out there wondering if eating healthy, eating natural or organic, studying labels, restricting things that are bad for you, and getting good rest really helps– a resounding  Yes all of the above.

This isn’t a sponsored ad at all. I researched this company, its supplements, its reviews, and talked personally with people taking them and then made my decision. As I stated, I also talked with my physician and a nutritionist. I had labs drawn and because of my good health I am able to take supplements as needed. Taking supplements is a serious thing and many can interfere and even cause toxicity. Never take a supplement without consulting with your physician first. Always always remember to do all your homework and be prepared anytime you have an issue and visit with a doctor and be your own health advocate. No one thing is a magic pill-good health takes hard work and constant attention to changes, levels of stress, rest, weather, and your immune system.

So for now I’m getting better slowly but I believe surely. Had my health not been as good as it is I may have needed to take personal leave or just let everything in my life be put on hold until things progressed. The time period for healing what I have can be a year, but I hope to be healed by the end of month 3. If I’ve learned anything in my life it is to never ever take my health and well-being for granted.

One last thing I personally do not use Google persay to find answers to my health questions. I instead rely on https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/  for most of my research and information.

That’ s it for now–be well, take care of yourselves, and eat healthy, good for you, clean whole food and local if at all possible food!

Perfect Pumpkin

Now while pumpkins are plentiful is the time to start buying and baking–because pumpkin has so many health benefits not known to the general public.

About 10 years ago now my husband and I were in the middle of trying to adopt a greyhound. Our love and desire to have a greyhound become part of our family was huge. After most tracks in this country stopped racing greyhounds, local agencies formed to help people/families adopt the retired greyhounds. The one we were trying to get had really bad teeth (potential of hundreds of dollars of care) and she also had problems with her stomach also due to the poor diet given to racing dogs. Time and again at meetings we heard stories of how the foster families and forever families were always using pumpkin with their greyhounds. Pumpkin will bulk up their stool, settle their tummies, and boost nutrition. Unfortunately, because of where we were living at the time, which lacked the appropriate space for this particular greyhound, we did not adopt her.

I’ve never forgotten how much I learned about pumpkin–here’s what I know:

  • It’s rich in vitamin A
  • One cup of cooked pumpkin is 49 calories
  • High in antioxidants that may reduce your risk of chronic disease
  • It’s high in beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C–boosts immunity
  • The nutrients in pumpkin are good for your eyesight
  • Nutrient dense, low calorie, may produce weight loss
  • Antioxidants lower risk of cancer
  • Is packed with fiber
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Versatile foodstuff that you can add to anything–wraps, salads(cooked) veggies, stews, soups and more

Some people may not know this but pumpkins are a type of squash. Pumpkins and squash belong to the same family called Cucurbitaceae.  Every year I bake up two dozen squash and pumpkin, then let cool, place in freezer bags and freeze. We then are able to eat squash every single month, almost, until the next year’s season. If one or both of us is feeling ill I will make up a pumpkin risotto. Pumpkin risotto does the trick every time. Here is the recipe–Pumpkin Risotto

I also roast all my pumpkin seeds for snacks and to add to bird food.

When you’re done with your pumpkins instead of throwing them into the garbage, where they’ll just clutter up a landfill, choose to break them up and set them out in a place where the birds and other small animals can get to them.

As we head into the season of sickness I would also like to add this article that has natural health remedies such as pumpkin, ginger, rice, and sweet potatoes that help manage diarrhea, nausea, and flu-like symptoms.

Until next time– stay healthy and happy!