What I Ate This Summer

Every week for 16 weeks we’ve spent $35.00 on locally grown produce. That’s $560 worth of fruits and veggies since Mid- May.

We’ve consumed:

16# of tomatoes

22# of green beans

100 ears of sweet corn

50# of zucchini

#12 pears

2 bushels of peaches

1 bushel of Macintosh apples

40 heads of green lettuce

12 heads of red lettuce

9 bunches of green onions

6 bunches of beets

2 Bok Choy

4 leeks

28# and counting of carrots

100# acorn squash

10 cantaloupe

3 watermelon

15 pints of strawberries

7 pints of raspberries

25# of peppers

5 bunches of kale

3 bunches of swiss chard

more bunches of spinach than I can calculate.

What we’ve consumed is essentially an investment in more ways than one. We’ve solidly made an investment in our health. What we’ve eaten all spring and summer long is what is in our medicine cabinet. It is our belief we are living our best life eating this way and helping to keep ourselves healthy–hoping to avoid health problems of any kind. We also believe in and support the farmer’s that have grown this food. People may think me crazy, but I would spent my last dime on locally grown produce. Twenty five years ago we ate zero fresh produce, including the stuff sold in grocery stores. Seventeen years ago, I changed our way of life by deciding that nutrition and a healthy lifestyle were going to be our top priority. With limited funds I joined a CSA and drove 2 hours round trip to pick up a box of organic produce every week. This was the beginning of our journey and for years, whether it was convenient for us or not, we traveled all over our local area buying produce. I went from having tasted 8 different vegetables in my life to now 35. We no longer drive hours to find our food because truthfully that just isn’t a sustainable way to live. It’s 2021 and the majority of what we spend our grocery budget on is fresh produce. I do feel very privileged, that despite the travel and time and prep work involved, we’ve found farmer’s that grow and sell their produce to us.

Until next time,🐝well and🐝safe.

Goodbye Summer

Temperatures for the past two weeks here have been in the 70’s (21 celsius) and overnight in the 50’s (10 celsius). Some of the birds that we have been feeding are now migrating south for the winter such as –the redwinged blackbird, the baltimore orioles, robins, and soon the hummingbirds. We are truly lovers of all birds. We know it is spring when the lone red-winged blackbird arrives back to the marsh in front of our deck. There he sits in a tree competing with the robins for the first sound of morning. This usually happens around 5 a.m. every morning until both migrate south for the winter. After they’ve left there is no morning call, though our finches, nuthatches, chickadees, and others remain waiting for us to begin the fall/winter/spring feeding. Also added to our little friends these last couple of years is a pair of mourning doves. I have no clue if feeding birds is something one starts enjoying when they slow their life down a bit? or arrive in their 50’s with a greater appreciation for some things? All I know is that in the last 10 years I’ve become very fond of bird-watching, feeding them, and caring for them. My seasons are built around the times they come to our deck and the times they last see us before they head out for winter. I do miss all of them until they or some like them return in spring.

Now it’s time to clean up our deck and look for a place to feed the birds all winter. We are thinking about a feeder in the marsh vs. our deck. We will have a new neighbor living below us and goodness knows how receptive that one will be–the last two haven’t been bad, but then I’ve always cleaned every day and also swept off their patio daily. I’m not planning on doing that anymore–it’s a lot of work in the winter. I’m already doing that April- October and after 10 years of doing it, we need to come up with a better plan. Which we will because I want to continue feeding the birds and seeing them, even if from afar, every day. I’ve also noticed they need water–something I figured they found in nature, but in fact, they rely on us to give them. So, we have a small bird bath on our deck used daily by the finches and two dishes filled with fresh water. Something for those that love to feed and care for birds like we do to keep in mind.

We have some fall plans, but right now we’re just trying to get through overtime and my husband hurting his back/pinched sciatica drama. It’s virtually impossible to get a chiropractor appointment around here so we’re trying to do what we can ourselves to keep him moving, reduce the pain, etc. We’ve scaled back on hiking/walks, even though it’s important to keep moving, it’s hard for him to sit in the car to get to a park or area that we walk in. I have been going grocery shopping and picking up our CSA veggies alone to spare him the car ride. We’ll both be happier when this issue resolves. My garden is cleaned up for the year, though my friend the tree frog is still around keeping me company.

Look at how dirty I was!

As summer winds down I will miss the regular toads lining up a foot apart all the way down the sidewalk catching bugs, and maybe miss or maybe not the skunks up by the garbage bins (when I haul garbage out in the dark). Of course I’ll miss running outside without having to grab a coat, scarf, mittens, and boots. I’ll miss all of nature’s noise as everything readies itself, including us, for the winter ahead. Which by the way, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, is going to be a cold one.

I went on a pumpkin hunt because the kind I like are hard to find and once they’re out they’re gone. My favorite kind of pumpkin is

Photo/art by Maureen Rose

Alas, I don’t think they’re ready yet? So I got these–

I’ll be back soon with a list of all the local produce we bought and ate this spring/summer and how much it cost plus two ways to prepare greens.

Until next time- 🐝 safe and 🐝 well.

Late Summer Days

The last days of summer are here and we’re feeling it in Wisconsin. I believe I was spot on when I said fall is going to come three weeks early this year. We took a long walk this past weekend and noticed almost everything had died–milkweed, long grasses, and even a good deal of goldenrod. The temperatures have been all over this summer. There are some trees turning just a few miles from here, but peak fall color isn’t going to be here until the first week or so of October. I spend a lot of time on the weekends buying produce and cleaning it, blanching it, and freezing it. So far I have squash, green beans, Roma tomatoes, Sungold tomatoes, sweet corn, zucchini, and pumpkin in the freezer for winter eating. Canning tomato juice, trying brownie and madeleine cookie recipes out for holiday baking, sunflowers, goldenrod, glads, and brown-eyed Susans. These are the type of things I enjoy doing/taking photos of every end of August.

Lately hubby and I have been working a lot of overtime. Just like so many other things in life–our work has been overwhelming for almost two years now. Unfortunately the community we live in is mostly not vaccinated. While that may not have been my business or concern most of my life, it is now. Because, the county I live in is worse this year at this time then it was last year. Slowly, but surely the counts are ticking up and outbreaks being reported in local news, and soon no doubt more restrictions. Hubby is back to wearing his mask due to several co-workers having already missed work due to being ill with the variant. One co-worker’s wife, just 47 years old, passed away last week. All this to say it makes the hours long at both of our jobs due to call-ins and lengthy illnesses/hospital stays, even deaths.

For those wondering if we are still planning to travel to France for our anniversary. Unfortunately we are not going to be able to do that this year. Even if Covid/variant were a thing of the past, my husband’s employer really needs him to continue to work overtime at least until the end of October. Our trip was scheduled for mid-Oct and with things the way they are here and in France there is no way we could travel out of the country right now. The reason we were going to travel this year vs. when our 30th anniversary is was because at that time in the future, God willing, we will be moving into our forever home. It will be a lot harder to travel somewhere and stay two weeks when we’ve got a new home to take care of. Thankfully we work with a wonderful travel agent who was able to get refunds for all of our deposits. We will tentatively plan another trip for sometime in 2022.

This is the cover for my new guide that is set to be released sometime in September. I had originally wanted to release in it May when it was a simple living/organization guide. But, I had a few messages recently about stocking up the pantry and decided to go ahead and include that kind of information instead of organizational information. It is definitely a topic that is in demand, and for obvious reasons. Adding this additional information has caused a delay, but it will be done in September.

It’s fall cleaning time around here at the weekend with carpet shampooing, paint touch-ups, deck staining, and getting fall/winter clothing checked, laundered, and ready to go. Temperatures for the next few day are in the 70’s. Fall plans include a tour in a haunted mansion, apple orchard tours, last of summer bbqing, fall hiking, and decorating soon for one of my favorite times of the year–Halloween 🎃 🦇 🕷 🕸 👿

Happy September 💙 

An Article for Women

is on the blog today, The Path to Menopause: My Story

My journey started fourteen years before I entered into my final year of periods and now it’s been over fourteen months since my last one. It’s August and I’m celebrating post-menopause. I was by all accounts late to menopause. Everyone I’ve known over the years was way past menopause by the age of 57. But, by no means is 57 something to be concerned with. I’ve been a late-bloomer my entire life. Before I get too far into my story, I would like to mention that as it is with all medical issues one should first talk to their trusted physician. If you do not have one, I would urge you to find one before you enter the realms of peri and post menopause. I could make this article all about the negatives, the scariness, the uncertainties, or yes, the sadness of the end of one’s child-bearing years… But, my final years heading toward menopause where everything but all of that. I was fully knowledgeable, well as far as I could be, what perimenopause was all about. The very first thing I did was learn about my body, nutrition, hormones, my reproductive organs, post menopause, and life at 50 something nearing 60. I was 42 when hot flashes started, although I did not know this at the time. They came and then seemed to leave for several more years. The internet in the early 2000’s was a fairly new place and there weren’t a lot of articles, or groups, or google searches that led me to answers. I had no female friends near my age, I was working from home, and as far as I knew at the time, I was just dealing with a house with temperature fluctuations.

I remembered that my mother had experienced a very difficult menopause. Even going so far as having to take hormone replacement therapy. In the last years we talked, I received several calls from her crying over one perimenopausal issue or another. I had also lived with my grandmother when I was 18 and remember her telling me that she had been put on several medications during her “change of life” due to various difficulties. All of this knowledge about my close female relatives was concerning as I prepared for perimenopause. So also was the fact that up until now, I did not have a regular physician that I trusted or felt could advise me or prepare me or even care for me should menopause be difficult. On top of this my cycles for over half my life had been almost non-existent due to eating disorders. My periods started at the age of 15 and until I was 35, though they were regular, they lasted at most 2 days and never amounted to much of anything. PMS was not something I had ever been known to have as I’d never up to this point ever had what most physicians would have agreed to be “normal” monthly cycles/periods. Another concern for me was the fact that I had been pregnant seven times with only one baby surviving– (premature baby at 5 months, 3- end of first trimester miscarriages, two ectopic pregnancies, and a full-term delivery.

My mother’s/grandmother’s history, my pregnancies, and my health were a very big concern to both myself and my physician. When I continued to get hot flashes, I decided to make a doctor’s appointment and start to get some baseline labs taken of hormones etc. Unfortunately, my then physician thought me to be crazy to think that at 45 I would be going through perimenopause. So, yes he took some labs, but unfortunately, some of the labs needed need to be taken over several days/weeks in order to get accurate levels. Knowing that going to him was going to be a total waste of time and money, I sought other assistance. I immediately started looking for another physician. Several things happened around this time that really shook my faith in doctors, so while I was looking for a new physician, I began making BIG changes in my lifestyle.

First–

  • I started changing our diet from conventional food to organic (I had actually started doing this in 2004 and it was very hard to find organic food and if you did it was expensive)
  • I started to eliminate all the toxic cleaners from our home–furniture polish, glass cleaner, toilet cleaner, dish soap, laundry soap, fabric softener, candles (all gone). I learned how to make my own laundry soap, I bought my toxic free dish soap at a Coop I’m a member of, dryer balls for fabric softener, vinegar for cleaning, and microfiber cloths for dusting.
  • I eliminated all feminine hygiene products from my life at 42 and for 14 years used Mama cloth pads. You can find them on Etsy. I never regretted that decision, in fact it was one of the best decisions I ever made in being proactive about my health.
  • I stopped smoking in 2004 after twenty-five years of smoking. I stopped drinking in 2003 after 3 years of heavy drinking and a previous five years of heavy drinking several years before that.
  • I stopped wearing make-up. Which by now you’re probably thinking I’m crazy. But at the time there wasn’t any toxic free make-up, to my knowledge, on the market.
  • I stopped wearing cologne and lotions and using body washes/ painting fingernails. I’d been a life-long cologne wearer and loved, loved smelling good and shopping for scents. Chanel No. 5 was the last cologne I wore. This I did mainly because of allergens. Amazingly enough after suffering from allergies for almost twenty years at this point, once I quit smoking, and quit toxic cleaning ingredients, and quit cologne my allergies went POOF! Now- I use high quality essential oils. I’ve been an oily for almost 5 years and love my essential oils. I purchase most of my oils from RMO and Doterra. I don’t sell oils or make any money from mentioning this–but trust both these companies. In 2018 I finally took the leap for a second time and stopped using deodorants with aluminum. It took me a year to detox my stinky armpits (sorry for the TMI), but finally it worked. I used Tom’s of Maine prebiotic soap to detox my underarms and use Ivory deo–which works great!

The above were most of the real BIG things that I changed. You may ask why? Talk to your doctor, Google it, read a book on changes to a woman’s body during perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopausal years. There are some big, big hormonal changes. Read up on hormone disruptor’s and read everything you can about them. You’ll thank me, I promise you. I had a lot of things to give up–you may not. You may not give up anything that I gave up. Everyone is different. I have no regrets and know, as do my doctors, two health problems I later experienced and recovered from would have went so much different without changing a few things. A top priority of mine was above all things be healthy and stay active. My husband is 11 years younger than me and I need to be able to keep up. I do, despite fibromyalgia, back issues, and being older than him. In fact, I more than keep up—even he’s converting to some of my ways of thinking.

I worked on making the above changes and living with them from the time I was 40, 42, 45 and by the time I was 50, I had made the adjustments and had totally changed our lifestyle. We cleaned different, I slept better, I was more energetic, we started hiking, bike riding, exercising, eating better, losing weight, and all around the picture of health. Over the course of a decade I had changed many really big things about myself and done a complete 180.

Around the time I was 51, I started noticing mood changes around dinner time–5/6pm. I would feel angry, hot, irritated, and would start snapping at hubby. Within 30 minutes whatever it was would be done and I would be left feeling bad for being a _itch. This went on for quite a long time and I would say it usually occurred just before my period. So, in a sense as I’d gotten healthier over the years and finally started having a normal period (and when I say this I mean normal for or to me), I was likely experiencing PMS. I had found a great physician by this time and she agreed with me.

Eventually I got some baseline hormone levels taken and also went for a bone density baseline because osteoporosis runs in the maternal side of my family. I also got my cholesterol levels taken to make sure I don’t have too little of the good and too much of the bad as heart disease runs in my family on the paternal side. With these results we would know in the future just where I was at in my journey to menopause and post menopause.

There are a lot of changes you may experience in perimenopause, but to be honest the lists they give you are fairly broad. Most of the symptoms you would have experienced (likely) during your periods. The only way to change that cycle and possibly not continue to experience them is to make some changes. Ninety percent of what is on the lists can be history with a better diet. And by better I don’t mean fad diet. Start with any and all processed foods in your diet. You may not have to go any further than that to feel better results. Talk to a dietician, nutritionist, heck a home economics teacher and start looking into the benefits to your body of what you are currently eating. If it doesn’t benefit your body–why are you still eating or drinking it?

Exercise in any form is a good idea from now until for the rest of your life. If all you are able to do, due to certain limitations, is stand in place and move something. Do it. Help your body help itself. I rode a mountain bike until I was 53 and once I get my seat fixed, I shall again. But there have been times in my life, due to back issues, that I could do no more than walk in circles at home. So, you know, that’s exactly what I did.

So, you’re probably wondering how my journey went and how I’m doing now 14 months later? Well, surprisingly enough, and despite other health issues (eventually resolved), everything went just fine. Did I experience, over the course of 14 years, constipation or moodiness? Well, no more than I’d ever experienced before and if you’ve been here awhile you know that I’ve battled IBS-C all my life. Which by the way, I’ve got under control simply by changing my diet over the year. I take a collagen booster so I have experienced no skin issues–delicate, thinning etc. Maybe a tiny, tiny bit of hair loss, though I dye my hair and that is, after all, to be expected. My sex life is the same as it was at 29 and thus far I have experienced no issues there. I drink 3x the amount of water now to not only hydrate myself,but also to avoid UTI’s, which are more prevalent with age. Though knock on wood, even with IC (interstitial cystitis for the last 25 years), I’ve never had a UTI. I can’t afford to have memory issues/fog as a CPA working in corporate tax plus handling all of hubby’s and my financials/ other issues (hubby has an awful memory). The best thing I ever did for brain fog was to give up caffeine. Once I learned how to be “awake” without stimulants, brain fog was history. If that isn’t an option for you–try yoga, meditation, or brisk walking.
As far as depression or health issues–you should always seek out a medical professional for issues such as these. My article explains my journey–each woman and her experience is different. If I could mention one thing, besides a good support system that worked for me, I’d say change what you eat. Eat healthier.

In summary, my journey went fine. I honestly experienced no issues in perimenopause other than PMS for maybe four years, some night sweats, and a short period of insomnia. My hormone levels progressed to where I would be entering the last year of my cycles, and I began to eat more foods like yams etc. to deal with the estrogen loss. I ate and still eat a lot of foods that are beneficial to promoting natural hormones in the body. There was at times a feeling of the end of something that to me had always been very beneficial to me. I may have thought different had I always had normal periods, but I actually looked forward to them. I always felt renewed after a period and benefited greatly from having fairly balanced estrogren and progesterone. My mental state– as far as the end of child-bearing years. Well, at this point, I’d had many years to come to terms with that. So for a couple years I experienced a missed period here or two periods in one month –each time something like this happened, I knew my time was coming.

As I cruised into my last year, the year of 2020, each month ticked by and no period. Now, after 14 months of no period, I am post menopausal. After thinking that I would be the oldest living woman with her period still–that time is over for me. The end of one thing and the beginning of another. To which I very much look forward to. I hope this article provides a bit of relief and information to my female followers. I wish you luck and all things healthy and beautiful when you reach the time for your own personal journey to menopause.

A busy local food filled summer!

It’s August already and we’ve been busy.

First, let me start this post by saying–“Happy August to you!”

I’ve got into they way we eat in prior posts but here’s a quick refresh-

We try to eat as many whole foods as possible. What are whole foods? Whole food are foods not processed or processed very little. We strive for not processed at all. So a potato is something out of the ground and we buy it. We don’t eat fries unless they are homemade fries. We eat vegetables out of our garden or someone else’s about 9 months out of the year. We rarely eat fast food, but I’ll confess that I do like a Burger King whopper a couple of times a year. I also eat a fish dinner at Culver’s (a Midwest chain) a couple of times a year as well. Aside from those times everything else we eat is either organic, natural, or whole food items from the garden. Four times a week our meals contain meat, potato or rice, an 1-2 veggies, we usually have at least one or two meatless meals a week. I generally leave one meal a week as an easy meal–homemade pizza, meatless homemade soup, meatless pasta, soup and sandwich, other meals similarly as easy. We don’t do leftovers in our home–we never have. I also do not and never have made casseroles. I cook according to my husband’s requests and that is generally meat, potatoes, and veg. I, myself, could live off of fresh fruits and veggies all year long. I generally cook enough for 2 plates leaving no leftovers to sit in our refrigerator. That said there are times it’s easy to make up 6 or 7 bbq pork chops and freeze 5 for other meals within the next week. The same with meatballs for spaghetti–I will make up to 20 meatballs and freeze 16 for other meals within the next week or two. Most of our meals are very simple and easy to make. Part of the reason our meals are so affordable is that they never include cheese, unless I make lasagna, never any seasonings, except salt and pepper, no cream cheese or sour cream or heavy creams.

I use a revolving menu broke up into quarters–spring, summer, fall, and winter. Every other week for the spring quarter we will eat the same meal –so week 1/3 are the same meals, and week 2/4 are the same and we do this for 3 months. Summer meals are lighter than fall and filled with fresh veggies. Fall meals are root vegetables, stews, soups, and roast chickens. Winter is basically the same and Spring is the start of salads and quick veggie roasts, lighter soups, omelets, or other kinds of meals not eaten throughout the rest of the year. No meal costs us more than $3.00 a plate and I’ve managed to do this or less for all the years we’ve been married (26). As far as desserts–we don’t really do desserts anymore. Though I do make homemade cookies once a month for hubby’s work lunch and the occasional pie, because I love pie. We try to eat a lot of fresh fruits from early summer through fall–eating as the seasons dictate (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, melons, and apples). I’ve never used fresh fruits in desserts because that just seems counterproductive.. Though as I said above I do make the occasional apple or pumpkin pie. I find that my kitchen, meal plan, and shopping are pretty efficient and I very much like things that way. We eat for nutrition, but we also eat for pleasure. I wasn’t always the foodie that I am today.

Our food budget is $500.00 a month–we usually spend around $350.00 on our food, nearly $100.00 on our cat, and close to $50.00 on soda, juice, coffee, and milk. We shop twice a month and travel over an hour from home. From the time we got married until just 13 years ago our food budget was around $200.00 for everything. We could not afford to travel far and Farmer’s markets were too expensive or too far away for us to visit.

I hope your summer is going well. My next post is going to be about Farmer’s markets–the ones we go to, how much we spent, and what I process and how? for the winter months.

Until then 🐝well and 🐝safe!

The Great Outdoors

Being outside anywhere, going somewhere, planning something, and entertaining people are all big things right now. And rightly so as we make our way out of sheltering at home, quarantines, and for most a very long fifteen months of worry, isolation, and a long period of time away from family, co-workers, and friends. My husband and I have a very tight circle of friends and we are all very healthy and active. We have missed being able to get together to have Saturday board game night, book club, bbq’s, and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Apart from those type of events hubby and I spend most of our time with each other and out in nature. Some of our friends want to wait awhile longer before entertaining and such and we respect their reasons for wanting to do so. For many, it is still not safe to get together, be around others not in their bubble, and may remain so for a long time to come. Not everyone is out having a good time exploring the great outdoors.

Another way to enjoy the great outdoors is in the privacy of your own home. You can build an entire outdoor area–big or small for your own family fun and entertainment. We have that too in our garden on our deck. We have some beautiful plants, veggies, and flowers and we love sitting on our deck among them listening to the birds and croakers. Some of our neighbors have built fairly elaborate outdoor areas filled with projectors, big screens, pools, and massive bbq grills- which is cool too!

If you’re unable to go outdoors right now, I found an awesome YouTube channel last year that really helped me to relax, escape when I needed, and overall “feel good”. The channel features Jonna Jinton who lives in a remote forest area in Sweden, her home, work, and life. I love watching her videos and I think you will too.

https://www.youtube.com/user/JonnaJinton

If you spend a lot of time walking in the woods, I wrote a post about Forest Bathing here

Whether gardening in a little city lot, on a deck, in a window sill–anywhere really, gardening puts you in touch with nature and nature is a balm to one’s soul. I promise you that anytime spent outdoors, spent in nature, with nature, will help ground you and prepare you for whatever you’re dealing with or about to deal with.

Until next time be well.