To Tea & Tomato

This morning there is nothing more welcome then the joy of my tea. I read an article about the healing additives of tea; the power of healing comes not only from the herb- but the experience as well.

“Tea isn’t a casual drink; it requires the careful choice of the best leaves, the patience to wait for water to come to the right temperature, the knowledge of how long to steep, and the time to let the wisps of steam warm your face as you savor every sip.” –Text by Holly Lebowitz Rossiand Lilit Marcus

I’ve taken on some reading material lately that I found very interesting about herbalism and the power of holistic healing. http://www.naturalhealthschool.com/ If you’d like to do some reading as well. But it is all quite interesting the power of herb, vitamins and minerals. My mother and father both suffer from arthritic conditions; I want so badly to persuade them to take on a healthier, herb-enriched diet and practices daily. But the catch is that I must be learned to provide an influential argument. You wouldn’t take lessons on becoming a duck from a penguin would you? So today I enjoy my tea, it’s steam leaving my cheeks warm and my eyes low (though I’m convinced they are avoiding the glare of fluorescent lighting beaming above). Today I choose a Chai Malsala blend by Organic India… oh and in my favorite thrift store find- the right teacup always brings more joy to the tea!

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Another joy of Wednesday- the brilliant dark pink colors of our 2.65 lb.  Polish Heirloom!! How tasty this was in our vegetarian chili! The wonderful beefsteak-like cuts that come from a beauty like this…

With only one thought on my mind (4 hours until I get to run for the door and forget about this place until 8 am tomorrow…) I find solace among mantras. Thoughts and quotes, the beauty in words. And though I’m stuck listening to the click-clacking of keyboards, ringing of phones and complaints of clients- when I reach for power on my computer (fortune cookies these days are a joke, but I found a gem) I’m simply reminded to…


To Love Unconditionally

I have no other words today then to preach the love I have for my Kittens with Mittens. My fats, my Mr. Kitty. A neighbor recently lost their dog- but they have yet to put forth true undying effort to save this little pup (who is lost in the woods after being hit by a car). It makes me sick to think of abandoning my little man. I could never- I would lose anything for that little shit! It is just quite baffling to think of ever leaving him. Today this is all I can think about, I am his person and he is my mooshoo. Everyone has loved unconditionally whether pet, daughter, son, mother father or all- the feeling you get when something is taken away; sickening. Today I make a vow to always stand beside my little man, for better or worse- because, it’s what I signed up for when I scooped him up from under a car at sketchy gas-n-go. My love, my life: cheers to Mr. Kitty (aka Fatts).

 

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

-Anatole France

To Love The Autumn Air

As Autumn is approaching… actually Saturday the 22nd is officially the first day of Autumn, I am thrilled, glorified, ecstatic, pleased, humbled, anxious, hopeful- everything good under the stars- Autumn takes me there. I’m not sure if it’s the crisp air as it hits my cheeks in the morning, when I know it’s just cold enough to need a thicker sweater, but I’ll lose it by noon-time. Maybe it’s the sound of the wind and the leaves falling. If I weren’t stuck in the suburbia life- oh the joy that would consume me to the brim! I’ve found ways to enjoy this Autumn, though stuck un-with nature, I will prevail.

A pair of these

The sound of these

The taste of this

The joy of these

The warmth of these

The joy of this day

Some produce from here

A stroll through here

And lastly the comforts of scarves, flannel, boots and mittens. A hot cup of cider in your hand starring out through the leaves, the temperature sitting around 58, it is most definitely all I need to relax.

The colors relax me the most. How splendid is it that we can recreate the colors brought out by nature herself. I can put leaf-yellow, red, orange or purple on my own walls. I love simplicity, but thank God for paint departments.

Today I’m enjoying all of this. Most exciting moment- there are so many more leaves to turn from green.

To Make No Sense: Just Write.

(From a brain’s sidenote…) I have yet to encounter a literal oxymoron, one I watch with my own eyes. I watched a GFS Truck(Gordon Food Services aka… processed, unhealthy, chemically induced food services) pulling out of a Rehab center near my house. They also house elderly, sick and patients going through the final stages of dependency and physical rehab. How on earth can the justify receiving food from GFS?!  How are our bodies supposed to heal if they’re just being pumped full of more chemicals, more disease and absolutely  nothing that will provide nourishment, nutrients and strength. Through this pathetic display of “care,” I think I see an outlet. I will provide these centers with healthy food, with knowledge and provide the means to obtain a healthy food system. Keeping my eyes out for new ways to market, I think this could be a wonderful possibility. Though I’d have to confront them myself question what they’re feeding their “patients” and challenge them to make a change. Healthy foods are the first step to any body’s’ healing.  Besides food, besides physical health, and safe food mumbo-jumbo: How can I improve my mental health?

I’ve still got this desire to run, as fast as I possibly can, away from everything. Here I feel relationships fighting and scratching to come up on a clean, healthy surface. Here I feel my feet slipping out from underneath me as I try to stay positive in a workplace full of dullness and routine. Here I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’m squinting to see in blackness. Here I want so badly to be free but I’m bound by what I can’t see past: anger, frustration, sadness, urgency, anxiety; I feel like a ball of wires so jumbled even the quickest Rubik’s Cube master would struggle to undo. How do I fix, work on, heal, look away, look up- from all this?

So a quick (I find worthless) search on “improving your mental health.” It returns to me this list of what “healthy” people feel like. And of course, what I do not feel like.

“People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment. -Not quite.
  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun. –Does it count if I laugh, have fun and live without the whole zest part?
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity. -Eh, working on it?
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.This just worries me.
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.I suppose I’ve always been able to do this.
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.Define “balance?”
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.Can I use the latter… eh, working on it?
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.”Sure… none of that matters to me, I function with or without it, it does not define me.

I suppose at the end of the day, today, I feel like this: I am not happy fully content with the person I am right now…. So, where do I start?

Physical Health. I’ll start there. What if I challenge myself to walk just 2 miles a day, 2 miles- it’s nothing! I will start today, I’m making a vow, to my future-self. Physical health is the first important step of lifting your mood and improving your brain function. Create a to-do-list…

  • Put in my daily 2 miles
  • Groceries (grain, coffee, milk, eggs, butter, yeast, chocolate chips, flour, cream cheese, chips- healthy chips)
  • Make bagels (Favorite recipe below…)
  • Wednesday- Farmer’s Market! In dire need of produce. Walk to this, it’s just about 2 miles, round trip.

Bagel Recipe

 

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more, I know I did)
3 ½ cups (500g) of bread flour or high gluten flour(will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Optional Toppings:
Caraway seeds, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. (Everyone in my house prefers plain bagels, but I have no preference, so I just went with the plain, so no one could complain.)

Preparation:
1. In ½ cup of the warm water, pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.

3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add anywhere from a couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup of water. You want to result in a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.

4. On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.

5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

6. Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces (I used a scale to be extra precise, but it’s not necessary). Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms (as pictured below). Repeat with 7 other dough rounds

7. Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

8. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC / Gas Mark 7.

9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York Style bagel with this option)

10. If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” (listed above) to top the bagels and if you’re risky like me, make a combination of the toppings to top the bagels with, but before hand, you will need to use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before putting the bagels into the oven.

11. Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet.

12. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

13. Cool on a wire rack

Best Bagel Recipe I’ve found as of yet, here’s her blog too: http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe/

I want to make a vow to my future-self to CALM DOWN. I’ve got to breath and for Pete’s sake, STOP ANALYZING and causing unnecessary anxiety. Analyzing does nothing, I’m not a shrink, therapist or anything few and far between, I am myself and I’m not going to fix my problems by picking them apart like roadkill. TAKE WALKS not only to clear my head but to get my brain moving as well. BAKE MORE it’s good for me and it’s something I really enjoy. Turn off the damn TV: TV’s don’t want you to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Turn it off and listen to music instead. Last I need to promise myself that I’ll focus on just One Day at a Time: I sound anxious and eager when I try to take on yesterday, today, tomorrow and the upcoming weekend.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes,

but when you look back everything is different.”

– C.S. Lewis

To Define Who You Are

Happy Almost Friday-day… Which leaves me sitting in a cubicle trying to either stay awake or looking forward to my next trip to the vending machine (what a drag these are my daily highlights). Where are my fields to culture, my fruit to sew, my land to stand on- pitchfork in hand I’ll command my earth chunk- With you I shall create! With you I shall grow! With you I shall feed! The timeline for evolving into myself seems light-years away…

A seemingly simple task at hand. Define yourself. Not in 3 words, not using specific words, it’s open. You can use as many words as you want. What does your definition entail? At one point in my life the only definition I had for myself was through another person. I defined  myself as that person. I had no single identity nor did I understand the importance of defining yourself.

Think about it, again, seems simple. I challenge you to sit down and truly think or write out what defines you, what turns your thoughts into actions, what makes you tick. Where does your motivation come from? What drives you to be better? What is it, What is it?!

Personally I have been fortunate enough to move on from a place in my life that was dark, drab and unwelcoming in every definition of the word. I had no identity, I had allowed someone to take that away from me. I couldn’t even hold them responsible, I had no one to blame but myself. What point does a person need to hit before they turn away? Rock bottom, that’s where. I am blessed to have struggled with my identity. It forced me to define myself- now when I say define myself, this is a gradual conclusion not some outlandish, sun-on-my-sweet-cheeks epiphany, “I KNOW WHO I AM NOW.” No.

It’s taken years of work, but I have a relatively steady grasp on reality and who I am-  a feat.`The motivation to move forward in life has also fueled a motivation to dig deeper within myself. My mind is screaming I WANT TO MOVE MOUNTAINS. Keep in mind, friend, you are only one person… I tell myself this with frustration.  Part of what I want to define myself as is a teacher. More importantly for my family, they need to know how I feel about my passions- and why they’re important. That’s just it: I want to save everybody. (Whether or not they need saving) Pump the brakes child, you’ve got to start somewhere.

So begins my dream, I need to start some kind of outreach mission. We joked at dinner last night that everyone should have to serve two years in a restaurant & two years on a farm. For any of you who have worked in either of those fields: if that happened? That would move mountains. If there were I could do to show people the importance and power our food can provide for us, the importance of farmers and knowing where your food comes from and how it’s grown. If I could share with the world why it makes sense to live in houses made from recycled tires and plastered pop cans, if they knew that you don’t need 180 acres to provide nourishment for your family. If they knew why it was sensible to pee in a hole rather than waste nearly 3 gallons every time you flush a toilet and cook meals using earths long forgotten FLAME. I could go on, but I’m getting antsy and typing louder to get my point across is not effective (and it’s providing me with lovely stares as people walk past my cubicle.

PS…http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/sq3.html Fun website to estimate how much water you’re wasting =]

So Let’s Recap:

  • Grow your own food
  • Pee in a hole
  • Shower in the well
  • Cook in a fire
  • Sleep with the earth

To Where My Feet Have Wandered

Call it an infatuation, call it an obsession.

Call it what you will but I can’t stop myself from my feet.

Every trip I take, every time my cameras handy,

I point it down and snap a pic,

whether grass or water or sandy.

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course, 
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH! 
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! 

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself 
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek, 
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, 
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

 

Dr. Seuss

To Heal And To Herb…

I’m not specialist, guru or know-it-all. But I do know this- why would I prune my body with pills, creams, serums or bs remedies when I’ve got the ground.  There are over 10,000 different kinds of herbs being produced across the world. I would pay someone to try and convince me healing with them is impossible. (I might pay you, because I feel bad you’re so brainwashed, but I know I’ll come out on top when I’m healthy and you’re dealing with “a few” side effects.

Now doesn’t that hold a little bit of irony! Our modern medicines have got us so brainwashed we often forget what the problem was because we’re so busy dealing with a new problem. This has got to stop.

Humorous? Of course. True? Unfortunately, yes. I spent my morning being poked and prodded by the dentist. I’m watching Fresh Prince and starring into flower & butterfly covered light fixtures.  Now, in all honesty  go to a Dental Spa, I’m outfitted with a heated neck wrap, eye cover and the whole time my mouth is being mutilated- I get an arm/hand massage. Why am I complaining? There’s got to be alternatives. What can I use to cut my Dental visits from twice a year to once every two years? In fact, what can I do to cut my Doctor’s visits to once every few years? I know for a fact my ancestors didn’t have ibuprofen, muscle relaxers or technology to scrap decay off their teeth… I also know for a fact: They survived just fine!!!

So begins my path to find healing through herbs.

http://www.herbsguide.net/index.html This is my “herbs for dummies” Savior. I’ve found simple answers in this site that have helped immensely. Truth is I believe in Aromatherapy, Homeopathy & a Holistic approach to healing. I’m going to make my “I’ve got issues, everyone see them- List” and create with them herb-a-licious healings.

(Mind you, this is not easy! As I’m writing this I’m realizing, most of this can be prevented with diet and super foods!! Everyone has problems though, lets heal with nature first.)

Asthma? “Yerba Santa is used in bronchial and laryngeal troubles, chronic pulmonary affections, haemorrhoids and chronic catarrh of the bladder. Its leaves are often smoked in asthma.”

Menstrual Cramps? Ginger, Angelica, The essential oil of cinnamon is a potent antibacterial, anti-fungal, and uterine stimulant.  **In a 2009 study, women who took 250 mg capsules of ginger four times a day for three days from the start of their menstrual period experienced a level of pain relief equal to that of study members who treated their menstrual cramps with ibuprofen.** (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/premenstrualsyndromepms/a/cramps_herbs.htm)

Chronic Lower Back PainDevil’s claw (from a grapple plant) is used externally to treat swollen, arthritic joints and effective in treating lower back pain. A plaster made form cayenne has also been known as a placebo for medicines.

Migraines? Willowbark, feverfew & butterbur (Though take precaution with Buterbur!)! Willow bark contains salicin, a chemical similar to active ingredients in aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). The herb has been used for centuries to treat headaches, fever and pain, Feverfew may reduce headaches as well as symptoms associated with migraine attacks such as nausea and vomiting. Butterbur may reduce inflammation of blood vessels and other tissues associated with migraines. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/93767-herbs-migraine-headaches/#ixzz26AvkazSt

Sore Gums/TeethMyrrh gum. This is known for its ability to heal gum infections and promote the health of your gums. White oak bark. This extract is especially useful for calming swollen tissues in the mouth and treating gum infections. Tea tree oil. In one study, a group that used a tea tree oil tooth gel experienced reduced gingivitis and bleeding compared with the placebo group. Goldenseal. May help reduce gum disease symptoms and improve gum health. Calendula. This is very effective for reducing gum pain and inflammation. Calendula also has antiseptic properties that reduce pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. Make an herbal tooth powder!
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/032311_tooth_powders_gums.html#ixzz26Awi0qBC

Muscle Soreness/Joint StiffnessThe indigenous people of North America used the roots, stalks and fruits of native plants to relieve muscle soreness, including calamus and cayenne. Herbal traditions around the world have used the oil of the flax seed to relieve muscle soreness as well as constipation and respiratory problems, such as coughing, sore throats or even emphysema.
Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/532573-herbs-muscle-soreness/#ixzz26Axat254

Allergies? Stinging Nettle, Horseradish, Chamomile, Fever-few & Garlic! Check out the article explaining what each can do for your body during the allergen seasons. http://suite101.com/article/top-5-herbs-for-seasonal-allergy-treatment-a220386

Enough of the funnies though, I do take this all seriously. I want to absorb this information and obtain as much remedy information as I can, it’s so important to me, and to be able to pass on to my family. If we can steer away from medicinal malarkey and towards the earth, why don’t why?? Simple lack of accessibility, conveniencey and knowledge. I might not be able to educate many, but I can educate mine: To heal and to herb.