Living life in the present

I stop everything I am doing, because I choose to live in this moment.

I put aside all my hang ups which creep up in my mind about the activity, choosing to trust my heart rather than my feelings.

I accept everyone and everything around me for who or what they are.

I choose to let go of the things that are not going my way, I choose to lose control over everything.

I drink up all the information my senses offer me at the time and savor them.

I consider the feelings and emotions of those around me and think how I would like to be treated if I were them.

I enjoy the input that I receive even if it is not what I expect.

I have no expectations, but to be pleasantly surprised by the beauty I discover in the scenery, people and animals all around me.

I live,  I am happy and free to live for today!


Mothers are always teaching us!

Whether we are paying full attention or not, mothers are always teaching us something. Children and adults are very sensitive to the facial expressions, mood swings and attitudesImage of their mothers. The atmosphere around a mother can change the environment of the home positively or negatively. She is the most powerful force in the home. Her values are intrinsic to what her children will value. How much of who you are today is because of what you observed in your  mother. This can hardly be quantified.
There are some people who have had dysfunctional relationships with their mother’s, this could have been because their mother’s did not have the tools to teach them how to develop healthy relationships with their children. Should we always hold this over their heads, saying they were bad mothers? No, a mother cannot give what she never possessed. Most mothers do the best that they can for their children. We must be grateful for all that we learned from them and thank them for everything, the good, the bad and the ugly.
So if you are a mother, think about what you have been saying consciously and unconsciously, the overt messages you may be projecting by your facial expressions and reactions can be having a huge effect on your little ones. Your children are a sum of what you have demonstrated to them. It is in your hand’s to break the cycle of what you were taught and to endeavor to be a better mother yet, realizing how powerful your influence is is the first step. From there you can break a cycle and decide to be more conscientious, reacting more from principle rather than feeling can truly help. Sometimes you need to stop yourself and think about how everything you do and say affects your little flock. Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂

My collie, Clifford was murdered by Coyotes.

When death strikes at home, with the ones you hold closest, what do you do? How do you mourn the loss of a dog who was your friend? Just one more day, if I only had one more day to pet you, hug you, and comb through your pretty hair. Whenever I think of what happened it gives me goose bumps.
We heard growling at night and my husband thought it was our two male dogs Clifford and Bud play fighting, but it was an attack. The growling and fighting kept on going on for too long, and our female dog Pumpkin came close to the house and was barking nervously. I wanted to go outside to check because I had a sense that there was something unusual about the fight, but my laziness overtook and I just went to bed.
The next day we noticed that Clifford was missing, so we called him, but he never came. As this was not the first time he didn’t answer his call we did not think too much about it.  Then later that afternoon we began a search because he had not returned, the children wanted to look for clues around the yard, they found his collar at the side of the road which was strange. The first thought that came to my mind is that someone must have stolen him and dumped his collar there. They also noticed that our other collie Bud had some scratch marks on his snout. The search continued and we finally found Clifford’s body in a field near our home. He was mauled, with a huge gash at his side and his snout all covered in blood.
We called the local dog warden to ask if he could check the dog to let us know exactly what he think happened and he said that the dog had most probably been killed by coyotes since he had other calls that were very similar recently.
My boys were devastated! They loved that dog as a brother… now with the loss of such an awesome pet, I am left very distraught. I hope that some day I will heal from this disaster. I now have a new take on the time that I spend with my animals, I savor every moment with them because you should never take the gift of love and life for granted! Bye Clifford, I will never forget your love and loyalty to this family and your bravery trying to defend the pack from those horrible coyotes. I am glad I had the courage to finally write about this, it has been very difficult, because I miss you so much!

Spring Fling with my Organic Vege Garden!

Every spring I have a fling with my organic vegetable garden, after a winter that lasted too long, I put on my boots and head for my raised beds. I can’t wait to bite into my first tomato sandwich, or pick some sweet raspberries from my berry patch, but more importantly it is the gardening process that I have looked forward to every year, that process where creativity and passion meet toil and sweat. With the motivation of a basement pantry full of canned, homemade goodness that saves us an exponential amount on our groceries bills, I bravely enter my garden fully excited at the prospect of the unique, educational experience I will have this year.

Gardening has been the most rewarding, adventurous hobbies I have ever experienced and each year I have a love affair with it just when I am truly sick of being stuck indoors.  In my garden I have a place to truly create a masterpiece, to plan a garden and then work your plan, seeing it come to fruition is to have a special walk with the Creator. When you think of gardening you probably just think, “Oh that seems like it will be a lot of work.” Well yes, there is work involved, but it is like a love affair, a  meaningful relationship, you have to work on that love affair to gain the fruit of happiness out of it, don’t you? So it is with gardening, it is on your mind night and day until you have done the work you had in mind to do with it. The garden needs tender loving care daily to give you the rewards that are worth receiving.

I believe gardening is essential to good health, those who have not experienced gardening have a part of themselves waiting to be unearthed. So don’t be afraid, find your block of soil and grow some of your own food, gain that experience that only gardening can give! My garden changes every year as I rotate my crops every season, it has been so long now a part of my year that now it is essentially an extension of who I am. A part of me that has been lost since last fall, a part of me that is bursting to come forth just like all the new life I see around me, I must become one with the earth again!

For the past six years I have been homesteading in rural southern Virginia. The experience has been brought out the best and the worst in me. I always begin with dreams of  grandeur and then I settle for what I have the time to do. The planning and work that go into having a sustainable organic garden are both mentally enriching and character building, I would not trade them for the world!

I begin the process by taking a stroll in the garden, sizing it up for all the work that needs to be done to get it ready for planting. At this point my garden beds seem to me like a blank canvas waiting for me to plan and layout my masterpiece. By now I am tired of visiting my seed and garden tool catalogs and I can hardly wait to begin digging in the soil. I make a mad dash around the yard to scrounge up all the aged compost, aged leaf mold, worm castings, goat manure and any other organic materials I can find. My mission is to get the soil at its peak before sowing my precious seeds. The beds need about a week or two to settle after you add all this organic material in them, add them, mulch well to cover that precious soil and wait to punch holes through the mulch where your little babies will live. This ensures a weed free experience, well almost weed free, you have to be always keeping those weeds in check because they have a way of getting through organic mulch in areas that are not mulched thickly enough.

It is about this time of year that gardeners feel totally in control of the gardening experience as the garden beds have been easily weeded and the garden is very manageable. Just wait until mid-June, if you haven’t had a great strategy to get rid of the weeds, then the weeds have probably won the battle at this point. This year I am very excited at the prospect of the fruits and vegetables that live side by side in my edible paradise. Broccoli, kale, lettuce and collard greens look like they should be ready to harvest anytime soon, the garlic are looking healthy in a bed their own, got to wait until late June till July to harvest garlic though. I have been harvesting asparagus for two weeks now, the strawberry plants are mulched with black plastic and have an effective irrigation system which allows them to get watered right where they need to at the roots, because of this need strategy we have never seen such beautiful plants and they are loaded with flowers. Blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry plants look like they are very promising also, so looks like I will be canning some great jellies come June, can’t wait!

Gardening in southern Virginia has been full of both its challenges, and pleasant surprises from the very first year I begun in the summer of 2006. Utilizing raised beds is a must when you have to work with red clay, I must say thanks to my husband, all that double digging has built his stamina and created a permanent area, my wonderful raised beds which I tenderly call “Don’t you dare, step in here!” areas of the garden. Stepping in the garden soil compacts it and disrupts the soil ability to breathe, so create clear paths that a wheel barrow can pass through on either sides of your beds.
Some years have been very wet while others were very dry, so you have to learn how to deal with all the issues that may develop with these climate changes. You have to become an expert on every vegetable you plant, because they all have different soil and water needs to grow them with their peak nutritional value in mind. Plants are like people, they are each unique! So check to make sure that you plant vegetables, fruits and herbs with companions which have the same nutritional needs.

In an organic garden companion planting is the most effective technique for raising diverse and healthy vegetables. I have found that growing a diverse array of vegetables, herbs and flowers, always makes me come out a winner. We must learn from the woods and forests around us, such a variety of plants coexist here side by side, and the mulch of leaves and twigs are always protecting that precious top soil! I also mulch heavily around each plant with shredded leaves and grass clippings on a layer of newspaper about four pages thick. Never leave your soil exposed is a very important rule, I don’t know about you, but where I live weeds sprout on a daily basis.

Every year I can the extra vegetables from my garden. Canning is most definitely the best use of your time as a gardener, because after all the hard work you have done, you will actually put money in your bank account with every jar of gourmet tomato sauce or dilled green beans. I always tell my friends you will never want stored bought apple sauce again after you taste a can of home-made canned apple sauce. The flavor possibilities are endless, two-years ago I composed a recipe for curried salsa which is absolutely delightful and a can of it comes in handy when I am looking for a delicious snack. You will be delighted at what a great winter kitchen pantry you can create out of some industry through your summer canning experience.

Today I planted my potatoes, it was a fun family excursion to the garden, everyone works together for a great family time of exercise and fun. I want to encourage you to take up that garden hoe and shovel and begin a garden bed that will grow you some nutritious, delicious food this year. I think this year may prove to be my most exciting year yet, so much work to do and so little time! Happy gardening!

Dragon Fruit Adventure

Ready for a surreal taste experience!

My sister sent me this fruit in the mail as a surprise present for my tasting pleasure. It is called Dragon Fruit. She bought it at her local Asian market. It was sensational, very sweet and smooth. The first discoverers of dragon fruit saw its scale like leaves and fiery colors and associated it with the dragon egg. It is also known as Pitaya or Pitahaya. This fruit originates from the dragon fruit cactus plant, which appears like vines. It is native to Central America and is now extensively grown in Vietnam and Malaysia.  It has a high nutritional value with great health benefits. It has been known to help in weight loss, diabetes and the antioxidants help fight cancer. Be adventurous and try one next time you see one at your local Asian market. You may be pleasantly surprised at the taste! 🙂