Welcome to my Universe!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye to 2009...

I started off the year with good intentions, and with only one resolution…to learn to love myself unconditionally. This year was one of the twist-iest, turn-iest, up-and-down roller coaster years ever. Plans at the beginning of the year (which now seems like it was 5 years ago) didn’t pan out; our close-knit group of friends has drifted apart, and my best friend, the glue, is in the fight of her life for her health (cancer). Serious marital issues, then business issues (which lead to the closing of my little dream coffee shop), then a move that I still sometimes can’t really believe happened…and now, at the end of the year, things are slowing down again, I’m in a new place (at the beach!), new plans are on the horizon, and I once again have hope for the coming year. Through it all, I think I was true to my resolution. I went vegan for the first time this past summer, even though it wasn’t yet permanent. I met my first raw foodies in February and fell in love with green smoothies. Although self-loathing has periodically reared its ugly head, I think I handled the adversity well this year, and now love myself much more than I did before.

I am ending this year at my job (I work 7 pm to 7 am). Tonight most people are celebrating with food, drink, and being around friends, but I will sip my lemonade and hunker down for the work that needs to be done. It is probably fitting that I will start 2010 at work…because there is a lot of work to be done in the coming year. It is good and rewarding work, but work nonetheless. 2010 will be a year of transformation.

That being said, I was glad to be coming to work tonight, thinking that it would be a good place to not think about all the food and partying I’m missing tonight. However, my coworker just informed me that she brought sparkling grape juice and hot crab dip for us to enjoy at midnight. (Us being her and I, since we are the only two on the unit). I have to admit, I immediately thought about ditching this whole Master Cleanse thing for some crab dip. I have kept quiet about the Cleanse, not telling anyone but my husband and those selected online communities where I am blogging about it. I am on day 6…so close! But this hot, gooey crab dip that my coworker brought FOR ME to enjoy is going to be the biggest, nastiest temptation yet.

Speaking of the Master Cleanse…yesterday, day 5, was the easiest day I have had so far. No stomach discomfort, no intense cravings (just brief passing ones), and feeling good and energetic. I even came to work last night with a good attitude about my job that I haven’t had in a while.

I’m glad to see 2009 go, though. 2010 holds so much promise and potential. My husband has started drinking green smoothies! We are working on two websites. We are finding each other again. My finances are finally straightening out after the café debacle. We live at the beach! And I am finally on the right track to whip my health into shape. I’m excited, and happy. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wasn't prepared for the intense cravings...

I just had a temper tantrum of sorts, which is very unlike me. My poor husband has been trying to not eat around me for two days, and he thought he would make himself some scrambled eggs w/ onion, spinach, and tomato while I was locked in my room with the laptop. Smelling it really set me off! Basically, I want to eat, even though I know it will not be good for me to do so, just like years ago when I was trying to quit smoking. Only, I think these intense cravings are HARDER than the smoking ones (not really sure, it’s been so long I don’t really remember). I'm going back and forth between abdominal discomfort and nausea, to wanting to eat everything I've been allowing myself to eat all these years. It's just like drug detox!

I’m having such conflicting feelings right now. I don’t know if I can do this, BUT if I don’t do this, if I fail, then I SUCK. I told my husband that. He asked me, “Would you really think you suck?” And I said YES! If I can’t complete this, after all my resolve to do it, with all the reasons why I SHOULD, then I am a total loser. I need to do this so I can believe in myself. That there is a hell of a revelation. Clearly, I have a lot of work still to do on loving myself.

Day three and four of the Master Cleanse.

I didn’t write yesterday because I just didn’t feel like it. I was grumpy yesterday (day 3), slept late and woke up kind of pissed off (at whom?) that I couldn’t eat. It was a day off and I was home alone most of the day, so I took it easy. I did some work online, did a little yoga, and that was pretty much it. I skipped the salt water flush yesterday because the day before I feel like I retained it and I was worried about the sodium. Oh, yeah, and I had diarrhea like 20 times yesterday, even without the flush. I read something online last night that said the salt water flush was an outdated idea, and might cause water retention if not mixed exactly right because it would be digested instead of expelled, so today I skipped it again. I did drink the Kleri-tea morning and night though. Today I slept late again, but not as late as yesterday, and woke up feeling pretty good besides having a crappy tasted in my mouth. I drank a large glass of water, no lemonade, and my husband and I went out shopping at the thrift stores for a few hours. We tried to take the dog to the beach, but the wind chill must have been 25 degrees, and the cold wind chased us off the beach within 5 minutes. All this time, I felt great, just a slight bit of soreness in my hamstrings from the yoga the day before. On the way home, I started getting hungry and every time we passed a restaurant I was naming all the food that would taste SO good. Major cravings kicking in again, this time for warm comfort food…pasta, potatoes, meat, veggies, salt. I got home and made my lemonade and downed a quart of it fairly quickly. About 30 minutes later the pain began. All evening, I’ve been having intense intestinal cramping and….I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty nasty stuff, but in short, I think I will do the salt water flush again tomorrow. My intestines seem to be trying to get rid of something, and they are having to work extra hard to do it. Needless to say, I’m not hungry anymore, I’m pretty nauseated, actually. I had a moment today of asking, “Why am I doing this to myself?”, which I knew would come. I have to remember I’m doing it FOR myself, not TO myself, and because I need to prove something to myself, AND because I’ve been struggling with my health choices on and off for years. Yes, it’s extreme, but the Master Cleanse is the kick start that I need. I’ve been too long with my actions not matching up with my values. It’s time to start walking my talk, and actually taking responsibility for my health instead of just talking about it.

Your health is like anything else, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. I’ve known and preached this for years, while not exactly living it. It would be so easy to stick my head back in the sand, order that pizza, and when I start having health problems, pop a pill to make it better. That is what the majority of Americans do, and that is why we have the health care crisis in this country that we have right now. I’m not that person on the inside, but my actions have not always reflected my beliefs. It’s time for that to change.

You know what? When this is over, I'm SO going to enjoy some raw chili, raw "pasta", and raw avocado soup.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day Two of the Master Cleanse.

Day Two of the Master Cleanse is about halfway over. Of course, I worked night shift last night and slept until 2 pm today, so I’m only about 8 hours into my day. Last night was really hard at work, getting through a really boring night with no food. I fell asleep quickly this morning and slept fine, and felt great when I got up.

I took the dog and my camera to the beach this afternoon and had a nice walk. It was a gorgeous day, although a bit cold. In fact, I was quite bundled up on the beach, in thermal underwear, boots, a thick shirt, hoodie, and winter jacket on top, hat, and scarf, and I noticed the other people on the beach had less clothes on that I did. I even saw a couple of young boys digging in the sand wearing jeans and t-shirts, and no shoes. (They reminded me of Seth and Drew, who are away with their dads this week. That was one factor that influenced me to go ahead and do the cleanse this week while they were gone, but I miss them terribly.)

When I got home, I watched my Christmas gift from Michael, Dr. Wayne Dyer's movie, The Shift. It was very inspiring and brought me to tears a couple of times. It also motivated me to go ahead and order something that’s been on my Amazon wish list for a while, a copy of the Tao te Ching.

While watching the movie, I was bundled in: fluffy foot-warming socks and new slippers that I got from my mom for Christmas, the same thermal underwear and a pair of scrub pants on top, the same long sleeve warm shirt with the same hoodie on top, and I was wrapped in my new zebra-print Snuggie, another Christmas gift. I was FREEZING. I didn’t get warm until I decided to run a hot bath in my Jacuzzi tub. I got it as hot as I could stand it, lit a candle, turned off the lights, and soaked in the tub in a semi-meditative state for at least an hour, intermittently running the jets, but mostly not. The heat, the darkness, the dead silence in my house, and the movie I just watched, all had me in a state of pure relaxation, and I let my thoughts drift. It was really nice.

So, today has been a good day physically and mentally, but just in the past hour, a major craving has kicked in. I want BREAD. The Ezekiel bread in the freezer, toasted, with peanut butter, to be exact. I am a little hungry, but I know that this is a craving because a carrot or green salad doesn’t seem as appealing. So, I wait for my supportive spouse to get home from work, and in the meantime, I will look for some encouragement online. I know that this is temporary, and the “addiction” to comfort foods such as bread and peanut butter is one of the things I’m hoping to get rid of by doing the Master Cleanse. It is good that I can feel the craving, recognize it for what it is, and reach for the lemonade instead.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day One of the Master Cleanse.

Starting the Master Cleanse. I slept until 2-ish this afternoon since I worked until 7 am this morning. I drank my Kleri-Tea this morning before I went to bed, and when I got up, I went to the grocery store to buy lemons. Food Lion didn’t have organic lemons, but I had read in the Peter Glickman Master Cleanse book last night that you didn’t have to use organic lemons if you weren’t going to juice the whole lemon or use any of the rind. My juicer is a plain little old-fashioned manual citrus juicer. I bought a dozen large lemons at .89 each. When I got home, I went ahead and drank my quart of salt water. Man, was that difficult! I am using Celtic Grey sea salt, and bottled spring water. I thought that I was going to be able to get it down easily by thinking of it as soup, but it was VERY salty. It was JUST like sea water. It took a lot of pacing and nose-holding and general psyching myself out to get it down. Then I went ahead and made a quart of lemonade. I washed my lemons before cutting them in half. It only took 1 ½ lemons to get the 4 oz. I needed for a quart of lemonade. I used a little less than the 4 oz. of maple syrup (grade B organic) that was called for, and I used ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper. My concoction is I the refrigerator chilling as I type this.

More later. It has been 45 minutes since I drank the salt water, and nature is calling.

Later: It’s 7 pm now, and I’m at work. I had a bit of a nagging headache soon after drinking the salt water, but I’m on my fourth cup now of lemonade and it seems to be subsiding. The after-effects of the salt water weren't bad at all, Iwent to the bathroom three times, and it was all over 1 1/2 hours after I drank the salt water. I’m sort of hungry, and I’m having a hard time getting the lemonade down fast enough to curb my appetite, because the cayenne is really hot. The cayenne I bought is 90,000 Hu (heat units), and the typical spice cabinet variety is a mere 5,000 Hu. I used ¼ teaspoon to the quart of lemonade I made. The “recipe” called for 1/10 teaspoon per cup, and I thought that I would start light…but it seems I will have to go lighter next time. Also, the maple syrup (which I usually love) tastes weird with the lemons. Another thing I’m sure I will quickly get used to. All in all, the lemonade isn’t unpleasant, and it’s certainly a lot easier to swallow than the salt water flush was.

Since it’s the day after Christmas, there is a ton of junk food lying around here at work. It seems gross to me, really. However, before I left home, the Ezekiel bread and peanut butter was looking really good. Nothing too hard to deal with though, which is what I suspect is going to be the theme throughout this cleanse. I am looking forward to a huge mental and spiritual shift later in the week, but for now I will just get used to telling the difference between hunger and cravings.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I feel like crap. I was going to start the Master Cleanse on January 1 (not because of the new year thing, but because that’s the next time I have four days off in a row. However, I feel like I am in a health crisis of sorts, and I am anxious to get started. I have not eaten as badly as I have in holidays past, but I am older and heavier and at the edge of all sorts of health issues creeping up. I can feel them there, waiting. Last night’s food and drink left me feeling heavy, bloated, and full of excess “crap”. I thought about starting the cleanse today, but realized that I had nowhere to get lemons today, since everything is closed. I am working tonight, but tomorrow…tomorrow morning when I get up, I will go to Harris Teeter and buy up all of their organic lemons.

I feel the need for a major “house cleaning”. This is not just a physical thing for me. It’s very spiritual as well. Today, I woke up, a spiritual being living in this body and this life that I created. Whatever got me to this point does not matter. I chose EVERYTHING, and I have the rest of my life ahead of me. I will take what I have been given (which is actually what I created), and I will do the best I can with it from this day forward. As of right now, I am in possession of a fairly healthy but overweight 40 year old body. I am in possession of a sharp mind. I have love. I will clean up what needs cleaning up, and I will live my values. I will be a shining example of human potential, and I will help anyone who asks for it to do the same. This is what I want for the next 60 years of my life.

While at work tonight, I plan to finish reading my Master Cleanse book, and tomorrow…Day 1.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Raw Aspirations.

I’m on the second of a stretch of three night shifts. I’m an RN in labor and delivery at a small community hospital. In the past 15 years of being a nurse, my weight has slowly crept up to nearly 200 pounds, and I feel that night shift has not helped matters any. Sometimes the nights are very slow in a small hospital, and nurses tend to gossip and eat when they’re bored. I have dieted on and off my whole life, but for the past three or four years I have been on a different path…less “dieting”, more balance, better nutrition, and spiritual development. For the past two years I have been an on-again-off-again vegetarian, then vegan, then back to carnivore, then back to vegetarian, and so on….but almost a year ago I met Bethany Hagensen and her mom, Jody, at an unschooling conference, and attended their workshop on Raw Foods. I immediately started incorporating more raw foods into my diet when I got home from that trip, and quickly became a fan of green smoothies. I would go mostly raw for a few days at a time sometimes, but I always fell back into the Standard American Diet (SAD) and my food addictions. It’s been a struggle, however I have continued with the green smoothies nearly every day, and I think it has made a difference in how I’ve felt. I am now ready to take it to the next level and go raw. With my history of “slipping”, I know better than to try and make such a huge, permanent change right here at the holidays, so I plan to start with the Master Cleanse on January 2nd (because I have three days off starting that day). My goal is to do it for 10 days, then go on a high raw diet after that, permanently. I won’t even delude myself into thinking I can sustain a 100% raw diet long-term, but I am aiming for >75%.

I’ve been strictly vegetarian for the past three days (almost vegan, but I put a little shredded cheese on my salad tonight). I would say I’ve been 50% raw during that time too, having a quart of green smoothie and a large salad every day, with only a small amount of cooked food. Today I had a baked sweet potato, and one piece of Ezekiel bread (sprouted grain bread). At work tonight however, I found some pita chips in my locker and some hummus I had left in the fridge, and I have been knoshing on them for the past hour. I am beginning to suspect that wheat may be a problem area for me. These chips are like crack, I can’t get enough! I have known for a long time that I am addicted to carbs, but now I think the wheat thing may be more of a problem than the sugar thing.

I have about 24 oz. of green smoothie in the fridge that I brought with me, so hopefully that will hold me through the night. I think I’ll try tomorrow with no wheat and see how I feel.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Breakfast and lunch.


Green smoothies make me feel great!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

This morning's sunrise.

I grabbed this video after I got off work this morning. The sunrise was breathtaking, but I didn't have time to go home and get my good camera, so I captured it with my cheap Vado, which was in the car. It was 100 times more beautiful in person. The video didn't catch the details and colors in the clouds.

I am 2/3 of the way through the work week (2 of 3 12-hour night shifts), and so far it's been a nice, slow week. We've had one mom and baby couplet on the whole unit for the past two nights, which has given me plenty of time to research my interest-of-the-week online. This week it's the raw food lifestyle. I dabbled with it earlier this year, during my vegan stint. For the past two days I have eaten about 80% raw, mostly green smoothies and fresh fruits and veggies. I like the way I feel when I eat this way, but as someone who loves good food (last week my interest was learning to bake all varieties of bread in my own kitchen), I'm not sure that pure raw is sustainable long-term for me. However, I stumbled across information on the Master Cleanse, and I think I'm going to do it after Christmas. I plan on journaling through the 10 day cleanse here, so stay tuned.

2009 has been a challenging year, and the challenges had nothing to do with my turning 40. I have heard that there is usually much pain just before a period of great spiritual and/or personal growth, and I am excited about what 2010 may have in store for me. 2009 has been a bad blogging year, and I intend to do better in the coming months at chronicling this time in my life. My 11-year-old son told me just a couple of weeks ago, "Mom, you should write a book about your life." When I asked him why, he said because he wants to read it when he grows up. If nothing else, at least he may gain some interesting insight by reading this blog, and another private diary that I've been keeping online for the past 7 years.

I'm rambling now. I'm coming to the end of my work night, and I just wanted to come here and break my blogging stalemate. I'll end this with a promise to write more soon, and a couple of pictures from the past month. We have been living on the Outer Banks for three months now, and I've taken a ton of photographs. Another thing I intend to do in 2010 is enjoy this time "living at the beach".




Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dreamy evening.

It's 2 am on a Friday evening in October, and I am sitting on my front porch in a tank top and shorts. I am wearing no shoes. There is a warm breeze blowing off the ocean and the only sounds are the leaves rustling on the trees and a faint chorus of crickets.

I just got back from a walk on the beach. The half-moon hung over the calm ocean, casting a glow that took my breath away. I stood in the edge of the surf and let the small waves wash over my feet. The tide was low, so I would walk closer to the water when the waves would recede, and in an instant I would be standing knee-deep again. The water was warm, and I was tempted to take off my clothes and go for a dip. The sky was perfectly clear, and Orion stood out over the ocean, to the south of the moon, reminding me that autumn is here even though the weather is so mild.

I live here. I LIVE here. I am lonely sometimes and feel cut off from the world a bit (I hear they call it island fever), but the beach is always there, any time of day or night, welcoming me to come for a walk. I walked two miles today with Ruby, which is a workout in itself because she is 60 pounds of muscle, and she likes to chase crabs.

The boys are both gone for the weekend, and I miss them. I am on call tonight, otherwise I would probably enjoy a glass of wine. I worked last night, and slept all day because the house was so quiet without Seth and Drew here. It's now 2:10 am, and I think I'll go back to the beach.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jockey's Ridge looks like Tattooine.

My boys are obsessed with Star Wars. When I first showed them where our new house was, and showed them that there was access to Jockey's Ridge State Park right at the end of our street, they starting planning their light saber battles.

They are also very interested in YouTube right now, and today they begged me to take a video of their battle and post it for them. Forgive the quality, the video is taken with my point and shoot camera.

This area is known as "North Ridge Park", but is really just a trail through Jockey's Ridge to the sound. The trailhead is at the end of our street.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life in pictures.

A corner of the garden...swiss chard, zucchini, petunias, marigolds, carrots...



Okra...



The bees really love the mint, which is taking over the flower bed and flowering like crazy.




I don't know what's growing faster...the boy or the 'maters.



Or the sunflower.



Cherry tomatoes..



And a happy dog face...(4-month-old Ruby)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm a sucker for a cute face.

We're in the midst of several days of warm spring rain, so I look forward to soon having some pictures to post of new seedlings in the garden. I have broccoli and cabbage transplants out there, in additional to several squares of seeded veggies. I think I saw a little bit of green in the kale patch today.

I had a bit of trouble in the beginning keeping the stray cats from next door (a vacant house) from digging in the garden and using it as their litter box. It didn't take but a couple of days before I was fed up, and I bought a Spray Away motion-activated sprinkler to keep them out. It doesn't always go off when it's supposed to, but all-in-all, the cats seem to be slightly afraid of the garden now.

So...

I've had serious puppy-lust for quite some time now, but I denied myself (and my kids, who don't have a whole lot of fun with our 14-year-old Toy Manchester Terrier, Rocky) the pleasure in the name of "sensibility". However today, on an innocent trip to Walmart for bagged spinach, there was a little girl by the entrance with a "FREE PUPPIES" sign. Upon inspection, I was faced with the cutest little black lab-mix puppy faces, and I couldn't resist. They had been sitting in the 80-ish degree heat in the parking lot all day, five of the little chubby dears in a dark blue Rubbermaid bin. They were tired and thirsty and forlorn-looking, so I rescued one.

She doesn't have a name yet. I think we are all in love with her.

Friday, March 20, 2009

So, what does your garden grow?

When we moved into this house a year ago, there was absolutely nothing but weeds growing in the flower bed beside the house. I dug it up and planted some flowers and herbs. It looked pretty decent until the weeds took over again...right now it doesn't look much different than it did before I touched it. However, for the first time EVER, I finally got some rosemary to survive through the winter. It thrived last summer and grew to at least 10x its original size. Surprising, my thyme and oregano also survived. I also have some peppermint in the herb garden, which is not even in the same place as I put it last year. I'm hoping it will do what mint does, and take over that spot before the weeds do.


I also have an abundant crop of dandelion growing all over the yard. I know, I know, dandelions are weeds, right? Well, actually, the scientific name for dandelion is Taraxacum Officinale, which means "the official remedy for disorders".



Dandelion greens are full of vitamins, and when picked young in the spring, they are delicious. I have been using a few dandelion leaves each day in my green smoothies. I also hear that you can make wine from dandelion flowers. Hmmmm...sounds like a fun project for later in the season.

I've been gardening with earthboxes for the past few years, but they just don't fit my needs any longer. They are sitting in the back yard by the fence, out of the way, still full of last year's soil. I decided to take the covers off a few of them and stick in some spinach seeds to see what happened. A couple of days later, mysterious holes were dug into the surface of the soil. I do believe that squirrels find spinach seeds tasty.




Ok, back to the square foot garden.

Even though the NEW Square Foot Gardening book suggest wide wooden strips, or even vinyl slats from old blinds, as the dividers for the grid, I decided to keep it simple. I used jute twine and upholstery tacks to keep them in place. I like the rustic look of the jute, and I don't mind having to replace it next year. It took me 30 mins max to put all the twine in place for the grids.

I also found a lightweight metal trellis on clearance at Wal-Mart for $19, so I installed it on the north end of one of the beds for peas to climb on. I used jute as a guy wire to give it a little more stability.






Up next...planting in the square foot garden!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Worms!

Even though this is gardening-related, it deserves a post of its' own.

While I was on my second trip to Lowe's yesterday, the mail lady delivered The Second Coolest Package Ever.



Red Wigglers!

In researching my interest in starting a compost bin, I came across some information on vermicomposting. I had heard about it before, and even know some homeschoolers that do it, but I always thought it was complicated. On reading more about it, I discovered how simple it can be!

We eat alot of fruits and veggies in my house (hence my desire for a backyard garden), so I have lots of food for worms. Not to mention...hello, I own a coffee shop! Coffee grounds are like ice cream to worms!

Red Wigglers are the most commonly used composting worms, and they can eat half their body weight every day! Worms are vegans, so you can feed them just about anything that came from a plant. No animal products, cheeses, dairy, or oils for the worms, though.

I ordered my worms online ($28 for about a pound), and starting collecting food for them. In the week that it took to get the worms, we collecting a large bowl full of orange and apple peels, potato peels, leftover pizza crust, egg shells (the only animal product that is ok for the worms, as it gives them calcium), leftover pasta (without sauce), banana peels, etc.




So, for the "worm house", I took a Rubbermaind bin that I had (I actually had several, which is how I got the extra lid. This is important, because you will need something underneath the bin to catch the "worm tea") and with my handy drill and a 1/8 inch bit, drilled several holes all over the bin. Under the bottom so the excess moisture can drain, and on the lid and sides for ventilation. It's important that the holes aren't too big so your worms don't escape. Since the holes are so small, I must have drilled at least 100 of them.



Next, Seth and I tore newspaper into strips and added them to the bin. (Worms love newsprint! No glossy paper, please.) We dampened the newspaper, because worms need moisture...not soaking wet though, because worms can't swim!


A couple of handfuls of soil from the garden (the grit helps the worms' digestion), the food we have saved, and then the worms!



I later read that orange peels are too acidic and worms can't take but a little at a time, so I picked out the majority of the orange peels. I got some coffee grounds and filters from the coffee shop and added a few of that too. The food is underneath the bedding, to control fruit flies and any odor. We are keeping them in the family room right next to the back door, because worms are kind of delicate and need temperatures to be between 55 and 85 degrees. It's still getting down to the 30s and 40s at night here in eastern NC.




The worms are quiet, they don't smell, and they don't need to be let out at night...which is more than I can say for my dog and cats! I am looking forward to having some beautiful worm compost for my garden in a few months!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vermicu-what?

I searched every home improvement and hardware store for a 20 mile radius, and no one had any vermiculite. My understanding is, vermiculite (which is added to Mel's Mix for the purpose of holding water in the soil), is made from a mined mineral, and so is not "sustainable". Therefore, lots of places don't carry it. (Even though I've read conflicting arguments on the whole sustainability issue). Home Depot in Rocky Mount had Perlite, but from what I've read it's a poor substitute, so I didn't get any.

Two trips to Lowe's (about 700 lbs each in the back of my Jeep Cherokee), and I had my soil ingredients. What I ended up with for each bed was: 2 large bales of sphagnum peat (about 8 cu ft each when not compacted), 2 cu ft of generic "organic compost", 2 cu feet of cow manure compost, 1 cu ft of mushroom compost, 2 cu ft of "soil conditioner", which looked a bit like pine bark compost, and 4 cu ft of a potting mix for vegetables. I picked this potting mix because it happened to contain some vermiculite. This gave me about 27 cu ft for each 4x8 bed. The beds are 10 inches deep, and the mix filled them to about 2 inches from the top.



I made the first trip to Lowe's alone...loading the heavy bags onto the rolling cart thing, dragging it to the checkout, loading them into the Jeep, then unloading them at home. For the second trip, I dragged my man-labor with me...



I poured the bags straight into the bed, mixing them the best I could as I went along. Every once and a while I would stop and spray the water hose on the whole thing. When we were done, we had a couple of good-looking raised beds.




Tomorrow, the grids...
(Mel Bartholomew says that if you don't have grids, it's not Square Foot Gardening!)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring fever, and raised beds.

The kids and I went to the library yesterday, and I got three books to feed my latest obsession. Night and day, I am thinking about getting my hands dirty and planting a beautiful, abundant vegetable garden. I picked up a book on gardening in 20 minutes a day, one on companion planting, and for the first time ever, my library actually had the specific book I went in there looking for! Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew. I've already devoured that one, and am 1/4 of the way through the companion planting book.

Not only have I been reading about gardening...last night I went to Lowes and bought MORE seeds, and three 2x10x16 feet long pieces of lumber. I had them cut into four 8 foot and four 4 foot lengths. Today the corners that I ordered from Gardener's Supply Company arrived in the mail, and I was finally able to take the first step toward building my raised beds. My husband and two youngest boys pitched in, and within a half an hour we had two 4x8 raised beds (unfilled) in the yard.





I put flattened cardboard boxes underneath them, then covered that with newspaper.

This will help kill the grass and weeds, and by the time my plants' roots grow that deep, the cardboard and newspaper will have begun to deteriorate. Eventually it will be compost.









Tomorrow I will be out hunting for the ingredient's for "Mel's Mix" (the soil that will fill my beds), which is 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 blended compost. According to "Square Foot Gardening", this is the perfect soil mix, and I won't ever have to cultivate my soil again! I tell you, this book definitely lives up to the hype, if for no other reason than it has gotten me more excited about gardening than I've ever been before!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What happened to spring?

I am a little dismayed at the return of the cold, rainy North Carolina winter-like weather. I am waiting on some corner brackets to come in the mail from Gardeners.com so I can build two raised beds in the yard. I have such an itch to get my hands dirty this year! I have been gardening in Earthboxes for the past five years or so, but last year it became clear that they were no longer big enough for my gardening dreams. This year will be my first venture into raised-bed gardening, or square foot gardening, as gardening legend Mel Bartholomew coined it. I will be posting pictures of each step as I go through the process of building, filling, and then planting my gardening beds! I'm so excited!

Another thing I'm excited about is....well, I'm not going to tell you yet. Let me just say that I am awaiting the second coolest thing I've ever received in the mail! The #1 coolest thing ever was of course...



My bees! I remember the postmaster calling me on the phone, "Um, Jennifer......we have some BEES up here for you. You're going to have to come pick them up." Apparently my mail carrier didn't want them in her vehicle! It was a thrill to pick up this humming, vibrating, writhing box of bees from the post office.

I didn't bring my bees with me when I moved to town a couple of years ago...but I'm about to get something else that will be much less offensive to the neighbors. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The message is there if you are ready to hear it.

I've been fighting a nasty cold for the past two days, and when I woke up this morning I wasn't ready to get out of bed. I really wished I had my laptop in the bedroom, but decided that it was too cold to get out of bed and retrieve it from the office. I remembered that I had a book in my bedside table drawer, so I reached over and picked up "Ask and It Is Given" by Esther and Jerry Hicks. The book had been there for months, maybe even a year, and I had only read the first chapter. Although I have some Abraham-Hicks audiobooks that I have also listened to periodically, the message just never really clicked with me. I have preferred other books on the Law of Attraction over the Abraham-Hicks ones.

I picked up the book and turned straight to chapter 2, entitled "We Are Keeping Our Promise to You--We Are Reminding You of Who You Are". My interest was piqued, and I imagined that "they" were speaking directly to me. (If you've never read any Abraham material, "they" is Abraham, which is supposed to be Source Energy, as channeled by Esther Hicks).

They say, "We write this book to reawaken within you your memory of the power and inevitable success that pulses through the core of that which you really are. We write this book to assist you in returning you to your place of optimism, positive expectation, and expanding joy; and to remind you that there is nothing that you cannot be, do, or have. We write this book because we promised you we would. And now, as you hold this book in your hands, you are completing a promise you made as well."

I closed my eyes for a few minutes and focused on my breathing, feeling Source Energy flow through me. I focused on the idea that "they" (Abraham, Source Energy, whatever you choose to call it) is me, and I am them. I really do believe that I chose this life before I was born into it, and everything that has happened thus far have been part of the path that I chose. The broken hearts, the love lost, the addictions, the struggle... I cannot and will not regret one bit of it because it has brought me to this place.

Now, in the 40th year of my life, I feel that I am awakening to my purpose. I am choosing joy now, I am remembering why I am here. Every day, however fleetingly, I feel inspired to follow my heart on this, and to help other people understand what I know from my years of seeking. I know that I am ready now for the second half of my life to be joyous, fulfilling, and productive.

This reminds me of a Daily Quote I got in my email the other day, also from Abraham-Hicks. (I highly recommend you subscribe...it's free and very uplifting!) The quote was:

"Every single person on the planet and every single Consciousness in the Universe has the same experience of being here and having a desire to be there. In other words, it is the promise of this eternal Universe… You’re always, always, always going to be on your way to something more—always. And when you relax and accept that, and stop beating up on yourself for not being someplace that you’re not, and instead, start embracing where you are while you keep your eye on where you’re going—now life becomes really, really, really fun."

In other words...we will always have unfulfilled desires. It's human nature. We are never supposed to be fully satisfied, because if we were, we would stop evolving. Instead of thinking from a place of lack, we should be excited about the things that we want that we don't have yet, because we know they are coming. If we can find joy where we are now, while we still look forward to the things we don't have yet with excitement, we have learned a very valuable lesson. If we are constantly feeling sorry for ourselves because we don't have our desires, then we will NEVER be happy because we will always, always want more than we have.

We must choose to be happy NOW!

Right now, I am sitting at my desk, looking out the window at today's clear blue sky, watching the leafless trees sway in the breeze, and hearing my two young boys laughing and playing in the next room. I am grateful that I am not spending today at a soul-sucking job, and my children are not being brainwashed and oppressed in a classroom full of other bored, oppressed children. I am grateful for my health, my loving husband, and my friends. This is a wonderful life that I have chosen, and I am excited for my future.

Thank you for reading! Make a list of the things you are grateful for today!

Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Free yoga!

I attended a local yoga class last week. I had been wanting to go for a long time, but probably procrastinated for fear of being an "outsider". Anyway, my friend Alice couldn't go with me as we had planned, so I went alone.

There were only four other students in the class, all older than me. It was so laid-back and relaxed, I immediately felt welcome and comfortable. The class was alot of fun, and I resolved to myself to start doing 20 minutes of yoga each day on my own.

Well, I didn't follow through with my daily yoga practice, but today an online friend turned me onto YogaDownload.com. They offer free 20 minute yoga classes (with or without optional pdf pose guide) that you can download to your computer or MP3 player! I just downloaded four classes and am planning on doing one before I go to bed. Maybe it will help me to fight off this nasty cold!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Square Root Day, fellow math nerds!

From Wikipedia:

Square root day is a humorous holiday celebrated on dates where the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits in the current year. For example, the last square root day was March 3, 2009 (3/3/09), and the next square root day will be April 4, 2016 (4/4/16). The final square root day of the century will occur on September 9, 2081. Square root days fall upon the same nine dates each century.

Bill Rogen, a Redwood City, California high school teacher, first created the day for 9/9/81. Bill is the official public relations person and sends news releases to world media outlets. In addition, his mother has got in on the act and set up a MySpace page for people to share how they were celebrating the day.

One suggested way of celebrating the holiday is by eating square radishes, or other root vegetables cut into shapes with square cross sections (thus creating a “square root”).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Designing my life

I am reading Bob Doyle’s “Wealth Beyond Reason”, and have gotten to the part where I am supposed to write down what I want. The text instructs the reader to write down exactly, in detail, what he or she wants. The purpose of doing so is to get “into a vibration that is in resonance with HAVING those things that you are writing down”…so, instead of writing, “I want a new car”, we are instructed to write “I have a new car”. Then we are to go a step further. We are to express emotion in our words, thus shifting the vibration from wanting the car to being that we already have the car. (The car just being an example, of course).

So, first I brainstormed and wrote down 12 things that I want. Then, I went back and imagined myself already having those things, and felt the feelings that would be associated with having those things. I wrote details and emotions, and I have to admit, writing the list and imagining having the things felt really, really good.

Here’s my list: (incomplete and scattered, as is the nature of brainstorming)

1. I feel so free. I wake up each day rejuvenated and excited for the day ahead. I know that each day is mine to do what I want and go where I want to go, with no obligations. The things that I must do that are planned or scheduled are things that bring me joy and make me feel like I am contributing something wonderful to the world. Each day is an adventure, and my children are growing into wonderful people who will know that there are no limitations to what they can do, have, and be in their lives. I feel that I am living my life to its fullest potential.

2. I feel light, energetic, and strong. I feel ageless, and I love my body.

3. Whenever I step into my new, beautiful class-A motorhome, I am happy knowing that we have a comfortable home on wheels in which to explore this vast continent of ours. We love to get into our RV and drive without a set plan or destination, stopping along the way to see all sorts of interesting things and places.

4. I love old houses. Old houses have souls. I love to take old houses that are sad and neglected, and bring them back to their original splendor. It makes the houses happy, and gives them a whole new life. People love restored houses and will pay top dollar for them too, which is another way that I can improve the world we live in while making a very nice income.

5. My family and I love to travel the world. Soon, we are going to tour Europe for a whole summer. We also have made plans to visit Egypt, take an African safari, take extended vacations in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. We are also planning on spending a summer in Asia. We love the ocean, and take many luxury cruises. I feel so free and happy when visiting new places. It is wonderful to meet new people from all over the world.

6. The older I get, the more I want to learn. I get excited when I think of all the things that I’ve yet to learn. Each new thing that I learn makes me feel more enriched and complete. I have learned to speak Spanish and French. I have learned to play the guitar and the piano, and also have taken voice lessons. It makes me so happy to sit with my family and friends and play music and sing together. Music is so good for the soul. I have learned advance web design and have many successful websites now that bring me a passive income. I finally learned many advanced photography techniques, and now I can take pictures like a professional. I love to take pictures of the different places that I travel and post them on my travel blog. I feel that my mind keeps expanding with each new thing I learn.

7. I constantly amaze myself with how creative I am. In addition to my photography, I am a prolific blogger, and I have many regular readers who find my writing entertaining and refreshing. I am working on my third book, and I find the words come easily when I sit down to write. I feel so blessed to be a gifted writer. I am even starting to write some songs. I have found that I am good at promoting our town, and the community hub that we have created is a huge success. People have said that it’s like no other place they have ever been.

8. I have a 100 acre farm here in eastern NC, and when I feel like a quick trip back to nature, this is where I go. I feel so capable when I can catch my own dinner in the river there. We have chickens, which are free-range, and we sell organic eggs to many people and businesses in the county. We also have goats, and make the best organic goat cheese. We grow many organic fruits and vegetables in the summer, and also have a large beekeeping operation. The farm is self-sustaining, paying its own expenses and payroll for our farm employees by selling it’s organic eggs, produce, honey, and cheese to people for many miles around. We have established quite a reputation for ourselves, and even give tours of our farm to school children from the area. We have a hayride which is very popular. I have wonderful, dependable employees that run the farm for me, so I never have to worry about things when I’m away, which is most of the time.

9. I also own the only health food store in our town, which in addition to the normal health food store fare, sells items from our farm. We have a large room in back where we sometimes have classes on nutrition and cooking. It gives me great joy to offer this to our community, and many people have said that they regained their health after attending some of our programs and classes.

10. As much as I love to travel, I am also very content and happy in my home. My dream home…a fully restored Victorian on the town common. Sitting on my front porch, sipping tea, looking out across the beautiful town common, I feel like I am on a permanent vacation. My home is wonderful for entertaining our many friends, which I love to do on a weekly basis. From our house we can hear the Symphony when it plays on the common each spring. I feel so happy and blessed to live in such a beautiful old home in such a peaceful, happy town.

11. My home away from home is a four bedroom oceanfront house on the Outer Banks of NC. I have loved the ocean since I was a small child. Sitting on the deck of my house listening to the waves and watching the dolphins swim by, I feel most at peace.

12. It makes me happiest of all to see the men that my children are becoming, and knowing that I was and am able to provide them with so much love, adventure, and happiness in their lives. They know that their are no limits to what they can achieve, and I feel that these three loving, intelligent people are my greatest gift to the world.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Manifesting blue feathers.

Or…the Blue Feather Experiment.

After some research, I think the original idea came from Richard Bach’s book “Illusions”.

My good friend Betty was explaining the law of attraction to our other friend and resident skeptic, Brandon.

She told him that he could manifest the things he wanted in his life, and when he expressed his doubt, she told him to start with something small. Something like a blue feather. She told him to take a few moments to imagine this feather, to feel what it was like to have it, to hold it in his hand. She told him to know that it was on its way, as if he had ordered it from a catalog and paid for it.

This conversation took place in my café while I wasn’t there, but my other good friend Alice was. Alice decided to try her own blue feather experiment.

That afternoon, she went home and visualized the feather, and how jubilant she would feel when she found it.

Some time in the next day or two, she took a trip with her family to the mall in Rocky Mount, and on the way there, she told her kids about the blue feather experiment. Alice has four great children, and they are unschoolers. The kids were extremely interested in what Alice had to say about the law of attraction. That same evening, in the food court at the mall, Alice returned to her table to find her children’s eyes shining, as her eldest held out his hand to her. In the palm of his hand was a tiny blue feather.

Alice wrote about this experience in her Myspace blog the next day, and right after reading it, I decided to try my own Blue Feather Experiment.

I sat cross-legged on my bed that afternoon. I remember it well, it was one of those rare warm days in late January, and the sun was filtering through my bamboo blinds onto my bed. I sat in the semi-dark with the narrow sun rays hitting me on the back. I closed my eyes and imagined my blue feather. I imagined how inspired I would feel when I found it. While I was sitting there, Seth walked in. He saw me with my legs crossed Indian-style and my eyes closed, and he asked, “Mom, are you meditating?”

I patted the bed beside me, inviting to come have a seat, and I told him about the Blue Feather experiment. Like Alice’s kids, he was intrigued, and he sat there with me for a few minutes visualizing the blue feather. He crossed his legs and closed his eyes, too. We sat there quietly for a few minutes, then he jumped up, done with meditating and ready to go play Rock Band.

Over the next few days I forgot about the blue feather. I had two very rough weeks. I was stressed out, and as a result was having chest pains and other physical symptoms. They we left for our trip to the Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering in Ohio. A couple of days into the conference, I began to relax and feel better, as I have already written. Once during the week, I thought of the blue feather, and wondered why I hadn’t seen it yet.

On the last night of the conference, there was a Medieval Ball. I sat in the ball room with our friends from Long Island…watching the happy children (and adults) dancing and being carefree. The DJ was playing Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” I was just enjoying the moment, surrounded by love and free spirited people, when I heard Seth exclaim “Mom!”

I turn to see him holding a blue feather. He had found it lying on the floor, right beside me.

I can’t tell you how ecstatic that made me feel!

In the meantime, unknown to me, Betty received this email from Brandon:

“I HAVE TO TELL YOU, I FOUND MY BLUE FEATHER, WELL KINDA. CHECK THIS OUT. I PONDERED OVER THE FEATHER A FEW TIMES, MAYBE 30 SECONDS OR SO EACH TIME. JUST IMAGINING IT, WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE, SEEING IT IN MY HAND, THIS AND THAT. THIS WAS 5 OR 6 DAYS AGO.
I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT IT OFF AND ON, BUT NOTHING MORE.
SO TODAY, MY SON IS WATCHING A CARTOON IN THE DEN. AS I WALK THROUGH, I LOOK AT THE SCREEN AND A BLUE FEATHER IS FLOATING DOWN FROM THE SKY. THE CARTOON CHARACTER PICKS IT UP AND SAYS, “HMMM. A BLUE FEATHER. I THINK I’LL KEEP YOU.” I KINDA CHUCKLED TO MYSELF AND KEPT WALKING.
SO I DIDN’T ACTUALLY GET IT IN MY HAND, AS I IMAGINED, BUT I HOLD A LITTLE MORE STOCK IN THE LAW OF ATTRACTION NOW.
THANKS KIDDO!!
BRANDON”

Just a few days ago, Betty, herself, found her blue feather. It was lying on the sidewalk in front of her building when she arrived to work one windy morning. It couldn’t have been there for more than a few minutes, since the wind was blowing like crazy that day.

Betty blogged about the blue feather here.

Alice blogged about hers here.

The three of us are already talking about getting matching blue feather tattoos.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy VD, and my trip to Ohio.

My husband is out singing karaoke with the gang tonight, as is our custom on the 2nd Saturday of every month...but I am home with a sick baby. Seth has never been sick in his life for more than 12 hours, but he has had a fever, cough, sore throat, and cold symptoms for 3 days. I looked at his throat...his tonsils weren't enlarged and no white spots. I listened to his lungs...clear as a bell. I'm hoping it's the viral crap that's been going around and not strep.

We had a fabulous time in Ohio.

Before I left, I was a basket case. I'd been having chest pain and palpitations for a couple of weeks, and the day before I left, my blood pressure was 150/107 when I checked it at Walmart. I was battling extreme fatigue, anxiety, various aches and pains....I thought I was dying. I looked Michael in the eye and said "I think something is seriously wrong with me". I almost called off the trip because I was afraid that I was going to be alone with my children 700 miles from home and something was going to happen to me.

I'm pretty sure it was all in my head.

I thoroughly enjoyed the drive through western Pennsylvania. There was snow on the ground, and the mountain were stark brown and white against a blue sky. It was cool to be in Punxsutawney on Groundhog's Day, even though most of the fun stuff was over by the time we got there.

On Monday, we arrived in Sandusky. It was bitter cold and there was about two feet of snow on the ground, which I assume is normal for the Lake Erie region. I tried to relax and take it easy. I was exhausted Monday night and Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon I decided to quit chasing my children around the indoor waterpark, instead opting to lounge beside the wave pool with my iPod. I started listening to Louise Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life" on audiobook again, since I had never given it a good listen the first time around. As I listened, I watched all the happy kids in the park...all the unbridled, untamed, laughing, free-spirited unschoolers. I watched parents smiling and hugging and respecting and interacting with their kids. I started to feel better.

By Wednesday, I was a new woman. I went to a raw foods demonstration given by an awesome, unschooled young woman (17) named Bethany Hagensen. I had actually started chatting with her on Facebook the night before, and it was really cool to meet her face to face and talk to her. As she was telling us her story at the demo, she mentioned a book that got her started on her path to healing. It was Louise Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life". It was a cool coincidence.

I felt so good that I let the children stay at the park on Friday until the sun went down. I felt so good that I got in my car that night and drove 700 miles all the way home without stopping, except for gas. I missed my husband and I wanted to pick up my life where I left off.

So, for 10 days now, I have been eating at least 50% raw food everyday. I have been having green smoothies daily, and I have not had any caffeine, and very little sugar. I feel so much better. My blood pressure is still 130/80-ish, but I am confident that it will continue to improve. I have been having signs of prediabetes and an underactive thyroid for months now, and I'm hoping I can fix those things with good nutrition (and the inevitable weight loss that should follow).

I am trying really hard to love and take care of myself.

"All is well in my world".

Friday, February 13, 2009

If you think your town needs a postcard, make one!

I recently created a new postcard for my town, had 500 printed up, and donated a bunch to the Chamber of Commerce.

Here is a story in the local paper!

Greetings from Tarboro

Busy, weird life. I'll try to write before the weekend is over.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Altoona, not just a funny name.

Always just a weird, cartoonish name for a place I’d never been. But now I’m kicked back in a motel room in Altoona, Pennsylvania, while the boys place outside in dirty, week-old snow.

The drive here, from about 30 miles outside of DC all the way to the present point, was breathtakingly beautiful. The Allegheny Mountains and the quaint countryside in western Maryland and central Pennsylvania….just no words. There was a flawless clear blue sky today, which made for some beautiful scenery. The drive was very easy and I feel rejuvenated instead of tired.

A couple of things I noticed…the houses are nicer in the rural areas here. I didn’t see any trailers or ramshackle shacks. (although I am sure there are some, just not as many? or they are hidden). And, there are mostly hardwood trees covering the countryside here, few evergreens. Instead of the splotchy dark green and brown that covers the NC mountains in winter, here the mountainsides are almost completely brown…stark brown against a beautiful blue sky, which splotches of white snow in the shady parts.

I do want to note that I am sitting about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh right now, and the Steelers are playing in the Super Bowl this evening. I have already seen a large percentage of people wearing their Steelers gear.

Hopefully we will get up early enough in the morning to catch some of the Groundhog’s Day festivites in Punxsutawney, seeing as how I took a detour to get closer to Phil, which cost me at least another hour of driving.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This blog needs serious work.

I mean, can it be any more neglected? Time to change that, I hope. Groundhog day is next week, and I’m hoping the furry critter will tell us that spring is nigh.

Wow, what a whirlwind it has been. Owning a coffee shop? Awesome, and infuriating. Energizing, and tiring. It’s a good thing we love the people, or else all the energy we have put into this thing would be such a drain. And me? Well, I’m working TWO jobs now, just to pay the bills. Yeah, 2008 was not the prime time to open an indie coffee shop in a small town. But, many great friendships, among other things (dare I say…Karaoke?) have come from our experience. We are looking forward to something even bigger and better in the future, for us, for this town…and we’ve got some awesome people behind us.

Ok, speaking of Groundhog Day…..Seth, Drew, and I will be attending the Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering in Sandusky, Ohio next week, February 2 through the 6th! We are so excited. We missed Live and Learn in 2008 after attending the three years before that (St. Louis, Albuquerque, and Black Mountain part 1). And I’ve got a new camera, PLUS I’ve dusted off the old camcorder, so stay tuned for lots of pictorial documentation of our trip.

I am prepared (I think?) to see probably the most snow I’ve ever seen in my life. The boys have new snow boots. Snow? What am I thinking? An average temp of 40 degrees F in North Carolina is enough to make me want to hibernate. It’s going to be much colder there, duh! I hope the trunk of my Honda will hold all the clothes I’m going to have to take to keep warm.

Ok, I must go study for ACLS now. I’m taking the class on tomorrow and Friday (a certification I should probably have if I want to do travel nursing), then Saturday I’m packing. Saturday night is Karaoke and the Unusual Shoppe, then Sunday the boys and I are embarking on our winter adventure.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A reminder.

All is well, and you will never get it done. Life is supposed to be fun. No one is taking score of any kind, and if you will stop taking score so much, you will feel a whole lot better — and as you feel a whole lot better, more of the things that you want right now will flow to you. You will never be in a place where all of the things that you are wanting will be satisfied right now, or then you could be complete — and you never can be. This incomplete place that you stand is the best place that you could be. You are right on track, right on schedule. Everything is unfolding perfectly. All is really well. Have fun. Have fun. Have fun!