Are You Eating Ethically?

In these days of vegan diets for ethical reasons we need to also look at the impact of eating ancient grains such as quinoa on the indigenous cultures that have traditionally grown them.

It is all well and good that people are choosing their diets for ethical reasons. That is one of the very reasons that I want to raise and grow my own food for my family. We are definitely not vegans here but there are still things that we look at to make our process more sustainable and healthy for the animals and plants that we raise. Here is where we differ from those who have to purchase their foods rather than grow them, do you really know where your food is coming from?

Most quinoa is grown in South America, specifically a little country called Bolivia that many people don’t even know where it is on a map. The amount of quinoa that is consumed in this country has dropped.  As export of this wholesome ancient grain increases the indigenous people’s consumption decreases. They can no longer afford to buy what is a staple food source. 

Then we run into the industrialization of this food product. There is now destruction of land to produce more quinoa. Haven’t those of us on the sustainable train been fighting against monocropping for years now? The destruction of the land costs biodiversity and healthy soil. Monocropping is destroying the genetic diversity of this ancient food source of the Bolivian people. It is affecting the very lives of the indigenous people.

As so often happens, western (caucasian/European) culture is appropriating someone else’s culture without thought to the long term effects. This is just one example of how you choose to eat affects other cultures. This is just one crop of many that are becoming globalized, mechanized, and industrialized. This is just one example of how corporate greed and brainwashing turns people with good intentions into the colonizers. 

The next time you go to buy that bag of ancient grains check out the company selling it to you. Are they using sustainable practices? Are their farmers getting their fair share of the profits? Are the farmers able to put their own native crop on the table to feed their family?

Suggestions on How to Create New Habits.

Contemplating life changes.

There are a lot of “experts” and “gurus” out there who are willing to sell you a way to create a new you. Really there is nothing wrong with you. Maybe you need to change some habits. Get rid of old ones that are holding you back from reaching your full potential. Add some new habits that will make your life more fulfilling. But remember there is nothing wrong with you.

It is very simple really. 

  • It takes about a month to create new muscle memory. Treat that beautiful gray matter of yours like a muscle.
  • Start with one small thing you want to change.
  • Map out the steps you need to take and set a date. 
    • Make a list.
    • Set a short term goal.
    • Keep your steps simple.
    • Write down the benefits you will get from the change
    • Use the scientific method to make a plan.
      • No failures, just different outcomes.
      • Science experiments are fun.
  • Set up reminders and self affirmations to cheer yourself on.
  • You are going to fall off the wagon so to speak. It’s ok don’t be hard on yourself. You didn’t learn to ride a bicycle in one day, you fell you got up and did it again. 
  • Find someone to do it with you or at least someone to be your cheerleader. A buddy is great for accountability but that cheerleader over there will keep you honest as well.
  • Interrupt negative thoughts before they discourage you.
    • Some ways to get rid of negative thoughts are to:
      • Set aside time to think about them and then let them go. Follow with a positive affirmation.
      • Write them down and then throw them away
      • Reframe your situation to move away from what is triggering the negative thoughts.
      • Start your morning with meditation that helps you to feel positive energy.
Image from Carnegie Hall Facebook Page.

On average it  takes 30 days to remove an old habit and replace it with a new one. That does not mean that you will be successful on your first try but you will be closer than you were. I don’t know where he got it from but my maternal grandfather used to “The only way to get to Carnegie Hall was to practice, practice, practice.” For those of you who don’t know, Carnegie Hall is a concert hall in NYC, only the best of the best are ever offered an opportunity to perform there. 

Glazed Carrots

Nothing complicated for this candy like vegetable side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs carrots sliced ½ inch thick
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Place carrots in a large pan and add 2 cups of water. 
  2. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  3. Drain any excess water.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, except for parsley to the pan and stir to coat the carrots.
  5. Cook for 5 minutes on medium high heat. Stirring occasionally until a syrup like sauce has formed. 
  6. Top with parsley and serve.

 

Health, Sick, and Well Care Explained

How to get the help you need to lead a healthier life.

Everyone is familiar with the term health care. We all use it daily to refer to occupations, health insurance, hospitals, nursing, clinics, etc. Do you really know what it means? Maybe you have heard of sick care or even well care but do you know how these things are related and different?

Knowing and understanding how best to care for yourself and prevent problems or even to mitigate current health problems requires an understanding of terminology. It also requires an understanding of various bodily processes. Education is a key element in making good decisions for your body.

Health Care

Health care by definition  is “an organized provision of medical care to individuals or a community.”  (Oxford Dictionary) Translation it is western medicine based care with a medical focus not a whole person approach. You have all been there for yourself or for your family. Now please understand I am not against this but there is more to staying well than just clinical care, we will get to that in a bit. You go to your primary care and they refer you to a specialist who refers for imaging, blood work, etc. You feel like a number and that for each and every issue you have to see someone else. This is great especially for emergency care and very specific problems. But you don’t feel like a whole person, just a collection of parts. You also do not feel like you understand what is going on.

Sick Care

That is pretty self explanatory. It is the care you need and receive when faced with a medical emergency or acute and chronic illness. You are sick and require treatment. It seems like this would fall under health care and it does but there is more to it. If your emergency leads to a chronic illness or disability the majority of your care will be centered around treatments, sick care. But what about when that issue isn’t actively causing issues, well you are encouraged and have a tendency to avoid health care until the next emergency or flare. Now you are a collection of illnesses and you still aren’t a whole person.

Well Care

Lead a well balanced, active life.

I have been tossing this one around in a a few posts lately. So here is my definition not the one put forth by Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance companies. Well care is a whole person approach to caring for yourself. I love simple things, don’t you? Well care requires more than just a bunch of specialists who never talk to each other. It is a more holistic approach to making a person feel healthy and able to function daily to their full potential regardless of health status. It is a team approach really. I am not discounting the need for specialized care for certain disease processes but a well care approach that supports the patient/client will have a better outcome. 

A well care coach looks at not just the individual parts, problems, and processes of the human body, they look at how everything works together from body systems, to mental and emotional state, nutrition, socioeconomic, and family dynamics. Well care coaches tend to be pretty nosy. We ask a lot of personal questions to gage where our clients are in their journey. Every part of the whole person and how they live affects their overall well being. 

Why am I becoming a well care coach?

I have been in health care for over 20 years in one way or another. Predominantly as a certified nursing assistant and most of the last 4 years as an RN. We won’t even get into what I experienced as the family member and the patient. Suffice to say our healthcare system sucks. Largely due to the lack of health education patients receive and the medical model approach. Nursing is a holistic approach and really part of what got me thinking.

There is no reason to treat people with chronic illness as if they will never have a healthy moment again in their lives. I also see that a lack of education on how to take care of ourselves and our family leads to crisis. Many times hospitalizations can be reduced if people know how to properly care for themselves. I see in the ever growing population of sick people that if those of us in health care spent more time educating our patients and yes even ourselves on well care we would not be such a sick nation.  

Let me help you navigate a well care journey. My well care coaching business is Enchanted Well Care Coaching.

Cream of Soup

No fuss just the recipe. I think food tells its own story. Just ignore my ancient stained stove.

Basic Cream of Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in flour, whisking constantly 1 minute. 
  • Whisk in broth and milk; bring to a boil over medium-high. 
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. 
  • Use immediately, or cool completely and store in sealed containers or jars in refrigerator up to a week. 

Variations:

  • Cream of Celery: Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery to onion and garlic. Stir in 1 tablespoon finely chopped celery leaves along with salt and pepper. Proceed with step 1, and follow recipe as directed.
  • Cream of Mushroom: Sauté 1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high. Proceed with step 1, and follow recipe as directed.
  • Cream of chicken: brown and dice your chicken in the pan and set aside. Then proceed with step 1.

I Am a Quitter

I quit waiting for people to come.

Yep, I have quit a number of things lately. I have quit smoking. I have quit waiting; waiting on other people, waiting for the right time, waiting for things to just happen. I have quit belittling myself and self deprecating. I have quit wondering; wondering why me, wondering when things will get better, wondering if I am good enough. 

Now that I have quit so many things you might be curious as to what I am doing with all my free time. I have begun to move forward. I am making myself healthier. I am continuing my education to become a better herbalist. I am going to move forward in the fall of 2021 to get my BSN. I am going to write more and offer my services as a well care consultant/coach. There it is again. I really need to tell you all about well care.

I am also spending more time getting this farmstead into shape the way I want it. Again, no more waiting for the right time or right anything. Now is the time to get it right. So we will be building another barn and moving the goats. The ducks and chickens have made a mess of the current paddock. I might just move the chickens too and let the ducks have their pond and a building all to themselves. Well ducks and other fowl such as guineas, who knows. I do know that the goats and chickens need higher, drier ground. 

Mapping my future.

I have had way more time to move forward. I look back only for lessons not to dwell on things that I cannot change.

Garden House Plans

Learn how I am going to revolutionize year round growing both sustainably and effectively.

What I wish it could look like.

Garden House

I don’t want my garden house to be confused with a traditional greenhouse. It is totally not my intention to create something traditional but something unique. The garden house will allow me to grow produce year round, have a sacred space to escape to, and allow me to work to build my well care center and apothecary. 750 square feet of peace and beauty. My new personal definition of a garden house is a small building that contains a garden and work space that is sustainable and earth friendly.

Design

The foundation of the building will be 25’x30’, hence 750 square feet. The location will have to be excavated a little bit to allow for more even ground. The next step will be to frame the house. The base of the walls and the window and door frames will be made from wood. The roof structure will be a combination of wood and pvc pipe. Windows will be glass and window screen as will the door. Early on in development it will look like a greenhouse but as time goes by it will look more like a cottage on the edge of the woods.

Front of the garden house.

The exterior will be surrounded by perennial garden beds for those edibles that require cold stratification in order to grow. To the rear there will be at least one honey beehive that will have an entrance to the inside of the garden house as well as the world at large. Decor of wind chimes, hanging baskets, bird bath, etc. will be included in each garden bed. This is not going to be a small undertaking.

The interior will have two 10×10 rooms to the back of the building. One will be a sitting room/meditation space. A calming, peaceful place to meet with clients to consult with them regarding their well care. Well care you ask? That is another conversation entirely. The sitting room will also be used as an officeThe other room will be a work room with a potting bench, space for drying/curing herbs and spices, creating tinctures, oils, lotions, etc. The space between the two rooms will house tools, worm compost bins, and other maintenance/service machinery and equipment. The will be praying mantis houses for raising these beneficial insects and butterfly houses as well. Hatch, raise, and release for the butterflies to help with dwindling population. 

Side view of garden house.

The flooring will be done with a garden fabric base, a layer of sand and pea sized gravel topped with paving stones to make a smooth surface that also allows for water drainage. A smooth surface is important so that people with mobility issues can still come and enjoy. The two rooms will be screened off to give a feeling of privacy. Other structures will include 2’x3’x1.5’ raised beds, as well as vertical growing boxes. All style growing beds will be set on risers to eliminate as much bending and twisting as possible. Again, this is to make it possible for people with mobility issues to enjoy the benefits of gardening. 

Water and power needs will be via sustainable methods. Having paid attention to the weather patterns of the last two or three years we seem to get quite a bit of rain, usually at the most inopportune times. So there will be a water catchment system developed, along with a filtration system so that I do not need to tap into our well. I will also be using a very basic solar set up to bring power to the garden house.

Interior layout

The Purpose

The purpose or the combined mission and vision of the garden house is more complicated than just growing food and herbs for my family. I want it to be my office, work space, clinic, apothecary, and education center for my family and my community. I do foresee some expansions in years to come as our society changes and more people are in need of services currently not readily available. 

I will be raising funds for this venture through several different methods. One is simply from current employment. Another is through sales of Herbal Academy goods and services. The sale of Cinderite organic soil amendment. And Paypal donations. 

That is it for today folks.

Moving Forward

It has been a rough year.  September 6, 2020 will be the one year anniversary of my heart overhaul. My friend Jane welcomed me to the zipper club. My cousin Amanda spent 2 days in the hospital with me.  There have been too many other hospitalizations to count. All related to vascular issues and diabetic foot ulcers (blisters that decided not to heal).

All of that and trying to work, then pandemic, furlough from work, looking for a new position within the company, etc. has lead me to re-evaluate my entire life. I am trying to be the healthier, better me. OK, not much I can do about the temper and a few other flaws. I am learning to embrace my flaws and love them as part of me.

I am battling a smoking addiction. Have I cut back, yes way back. I fall off the wagon and get up and back on again. I have been trying to keep up an exercise routine. Don’t ever knock chair exercises, they can kick your ass. Keeping my blood sugar/A1C under control has been a battle but I think the PCP and I have finally come  up with a  plan of action.

There have been some very dark days and days like Tuesday where I want to jump for joy.  It has been a roller coaster. I feel like I have come very far all the way around. I am ready to see what lies ahead while enjoying living in the moment. Well, except those moments when the kids have frustrated me beyond words.

The garden was a bust between surgeries, hospitalizations, kids not sure what to do (they do but I think they were overwhelmed), the weather, and life in general.  So the new plan is to build a garden house. Not just a greenhouse for year round growing but more like an indoor/outdoor house. Raised bed and vertical growing, work area and a sitting area on the inside.  We will raise butterflies for release, praying mantis for insect control, and honeybees. all in the garden house. The outside will have perennial beds, wind chimes, and other items. I want it to look like a little cottage on the edge of the woods.  Eventually I want to see clients here. We will get to the client stuff later on.

Instead of looking at selling anything, I am going to focus on just supplying my family with healthy foods, holistic health, the beauty of growing, raising, and foraging herbs and other foods. The garden house will be a central part of all of these plans. A place to rest, relax, seek peace, and find self healing.

Stay tuned as the journey continues. Watch things grow and change as I continue to try and lead my family to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Honey Soy Baked Chicken Thighs.

A delicious dinner with no left overs! We did enjoy it with riced cauliflower.

No story to go along with the recipe. Well, I will say it is a hit with the family. Oh! And the marinade will work with any cut of chicken. No finished photo. When the food is good it goes fast.

Ingredients

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoons cooking oil vegetable oil or canola oil

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic minced (or 4 large cloves garlic, minced)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar vinegar 

1 teaspoon sesame oil or 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

3/4 teaspoon fresh minced ginger

2 1/2 pounds (1.2 kg) chicken thighs

Salt and pepper to season

Fresh chopped parsley to garnish

Instructions

In a shallow bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, green onions, cooking oil, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil and ginger. Mix well and set aside.

Season with salt and pepper then transfer chicken to the bowl with the marinade. Cover and marinade chicken for at least 30 minutes if time allows.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

Transfer chicken along with the marinade to a baking dish. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, flipping twice while baking to ensure the chicken doesn’t dry out on top.

Broil for 5 minutes at high heat until golden browned and slightly charred on the edges. Chicken should have an internal temp of 165°F (or 70°C).

Garnish with parsley

Serve chicken with pan juices over steamed rice, cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, regular noodles or mashed potatoes.

What No One Tells You About Growing

No one tells you it sucks. No one tells you that it is more work physically and mentally anything else in this world. They don’t tell you how time intensive it is to grow.

Grow what you ask? Anything, plants, animals, tiny humans, and most of all they don’t tell you about growing yourself. Or maybe regrowing yourself. I am not going to claim to be an expert on anything but I might have everything down pat except myself.

I am working or rather reworking myself. The last three years have been total hell from the word go. Watching my dad’s health decline and his final days. Adjusting to life without him. Helping my children do the same. Trying to get my daughter help for mental health issues, her story to tell if she wants to share details. Job changes and health issues. Some really life altering health issues. Life has just given me a lot to consider.

I have been told that I am strong and how most people would have given up already. I really do appreciate the sentiments. Most have not seen the dark parts of this journey. There are still some dark days ahead but they are getting fewer. What it has lead me to is the belief that I am strong enough to be weak and ask for help. It has shown me how precious life can be and how fragile.

The goals for now are to explore the world from a different perspective. Not new really but a better understanding of permaculture as not only a function of healing the earth but of healing myself.

One of the reasons I think that my gardens have struggled is that I have been struggling. As if they have been a mirror image of my inner turmoil. That and clay soil just simply sucks.

The three ethics of permaculture are what I am choosing to live my life by.

1. Earth Care

2. People Care

3. Future Care

Out of those three principles will come the self care that I need. That is the tough part. I am regenerating myself, mentally, spiritua6l, and physically.

Today is a brand new day and it is ok to struggle and to misstep. Just pick yourself up, learn, and forge ahead.

Let’s forge ahead together and make a new beginning today.

Light, Love, and Peace
Tammy~SSM~