October 31, 2012

Getting Dirty is Healthy

I read about a study . . . A soil bacteria called M. vaccae activates neurons in our brains. It releases serotonin that helps balance our immune system, decreasing the cause for depression. This dirt bacteria helps our brain's cognitive function and regulates our moods; also improving vitality and quality of life.

So diggin in the dirt is good. Exposure to soil microbes, and being outside breathing in good bacteria helps our immune system learn the difference between good and harmful bacteria and viruses. Helps teach our bodies to fight the right fights and lessens infections and allergies.

I got my dose of M. vaccae today!  I dug in my compost. I shoveled all the compost from the center bin into the right bin, readying the center bin for winter composting. Once down near the bottom I shoveled the new dirt, well composted kitchen scraps and garden refuse - what I call "black gold!" - thru the end sifter into a wheelbarrow. I needed compost for the garlic I was planting (garlic bulbs are separated and planted in the fall to grow new bulbs and get harvested the following summer).

So don't be afraid to get dirty! Let your kids play outside!

My compost bin


Emery and Will


Emery's first fishing trip with Grandpa Monte
Our fire pit

October 24, 2012

Infrared Sauna ... and Wine

Infrared Sauna
We got an Infrared Sauna! Isn't it beautiful?! It's made of hemlock. I sit in it every day, and sometimes twice a day. I strive for 40 minutes. I'm reading books as I sit there. I've sat in the typical rock and steam sauna before - but can't take that kind of heat. I can't breath in that kind of sauna. This sauna heats into your body - more inside-out.

It takes awhile for us Americans to sweat! That is one of the goals. Our skin is our largest organ. Sweating clears the pores of blockage, and impurities sweat out of you - like even metals and other contaminants. Organs detox. Fat melts. Joints feel limberer. You sleep better.

I shouldn't even put wine in the same title. You're not supposed to have been drinking alcohol and go into the sauna. Also not a good idea to have just eaten a meal either. Better to let it digest first. You do need to keep replenished with lots of liquids. Since I'm drinking water kefir and eating fermented foods and our water is quality well water, I'm taking in plenty of minerals for all the sweating I'm doing!

Messy looking wine fermentors next to the sauna

So why mention wine? Cuz my sauna picture has wine ferment containers sitting next to it. I'm currently fermenting four wines. Two have green grapes I'd frozen from Dawson's yard he picked for me this year. It takes a lot of grapes to make wine, so last year I tried adding some similar grapes a friend gave me to a Pinot Grigio wine kit . . . And it's a refreshing wine. So one of these ferments are with a Sauvingon Blanc kit and the other a Zinfandel Rose. Then I've got my typical Amazon Tuscany Rosso going, and too a chokecherry wine.

3 carboys of rhubarb wine, then plum, skeeter pea, shiraz, and a 3 red blend

Chokecherries I do grow here, as well as crab apples, rhubarb, and raspberries. I've tried all of them as wines. I don't care for the crab apple wine - they're frozen for applesauce. The raspberry wine is awesome, but I rarely use my raspberries for wine. Rhubarb makes a great wine, and one of my pics shows you three five-gallon carboys of rhubarb from this year. And then chokecherries make a fabulous red wine!

Cellar shelves with wine and other ferments

Cellar stairs from kitchen panty trap door

So yes, among my many ferments I've got going is wine. The room I make it in is the boys' old bedroom. The kids' bathroom (no kids at home anymore) is where all the washing and sterilizing solutions sit - in the bathtub. I want to do posts of the process, since I've taken tons of pictures over the years of all I had hoped to see as I was researching. Once bottled it gets stored in our nice cellar Dawson is finishing off this year. We poured concrete down there just before his wedding this summer. Before, for years, it's just been our root cellar, dubbed "rot" cellar by my daugher-in-law. He made great stairs this summer and some shelves (more to come). The cellar is accessed through a trap door in my kitchen pantry. We've gone through two other staircases that rotted. It's staying an even 50 degrees down there and about 60-70% humidity.

October 20, 2012

Babysitting Grandkids

Our first long-term babysitting of our Grandkids . . . But it wasn't so long. I thought I'd post some pictures . . .

Emery helped me water my outside greenhouse

Scout likes to help empty the dishwasher

Scout's a GREAT eater . . . but oh so messy!!!

My mom is a "snowbird". Her and Jim were about to leave for the winter to Tucson, so we all gathered for a last family get together with them till next late Spring. Travis and Sarah arrived Wednesday afternoon, stayed the night, leaving the munchkins with us Thursday afternoon thru Saturday eve. Dawson and Splarah came for supper Wednesday along with Nanna and Jim. Nice family time!

October 17, 2012

"A Life Unprocessed"

This post's title is the name of a blog I just looked at. That phrase got me thinking . . . I like that phrase. We choose to eat that way as much as possible, but what about all of our life? Do we live "a life unprocessed"? What exactly would that look like?

I have a workshop I've done for years - I want to write it up as a book. It's the title of this blog, which I need to write up in a profile "about me" page. But in the workshop I talk a bit about knowing what kind of person you are . . . Are you a "Process" person or a "Product" person. Knowing this can save you a lot of money.

I am a "process person". That means I enjoy the process of doing things and making things - often times moreso than the finished product. What that type of person tends to do is research a new thing and accumulate/ buy the "tools" (equipment, materials, books, etc). Maybe playing around experimenting the new thing/ skill. But not necessarily completing the project, or continuing doing it.

I suggest taking classes to get things out of your system. Learn what you are curious about in a setting where someone else has all the tools, skills, and knowledge. See if you like it? Would it be something that you'd definitely add to your life? If so, then get what you need to carry on.

Like I'd like to learn to make stained glass. Imagine all the tools needed for that?! I would love to research it, get books, and start accumulating the tools. That's the fun part for me. But once I make a stained glass something, will I keep on making more? THAT would be a great thing for me to take as a class - completing a framed stained glass picture I can hang in a window. Probably then, I'd get it out of my system - been there, done that - and move on, without spending tons of money, figuring out where to store and use the stuff.

I made a basket from a kit. I like my basket. But I don't feel the need to keep making baskets. I have tons of baskets around the house I store things in; baskets hanging from a beam in the kitchen for decoration and use. Baskets galore can be bought for pennies at second-hand stores. 

So what is living a life unprocessed?

I didn't want this post to be without pictures, so I'm posting some very old family photos. Do they reflect living an unprocessed life?

October 1, 2012

Wisconsin Fall Colors


Monte and me went to Wisconsin for a few weeks. Got to watch the progression of their fall colors. Monte grew up in Wisconsin and his mom and two brothers are still there. Monte's family roots homesteaded in Ogema Wisconsin - and the Swan Christmas Trees are famous! We visited family and also went for Monte's high-school reunion (I won't mention year). It was a combination of years for the first group of kids to have started at this new high school in a suburb of Milwaukee. And our sister-in-law grew up, never leaving till college, Wisconsin's little Washington Island - access only via ferry. So here's a stream of photos I took.

Driving to Ogema

The view from Monte's Mom's front yard

View of Wisconsin's highest point - Tim's Hill - from the Hill of Beans cafe

Washington Island cabin

Monte and brother Mike getting ready to fish

Ferry to Washington Island
View from Monte's Mom's Kitchen window

Monte fishing while I rowed

Reflection and old oar on the old boat we were in



Colorful Reflection

Kitchen window view again with lots of leaves blown off
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