Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever. Man, do I have a full-blown case of it. For some reason I thought I would avoid it this year, but, no. Here it is mid-February and I am starting to feel that overwhelming need to get outside, see green grass and blue sky and feel the sun on my skin. I'm feeling that heaviness that can weigh you down this time of year. I keep hearing a little voice in my head repeating "A body in motion stays in motion...don't sit down...if you do, you'll be there til April!" I get outside everyday, of course, there are animals to take care of, but it's cold and dark and gloomy so much of the time.
That pale, barely there, light in the sky? That would be the sun. OK, it is still very's just this Cabin Fever making me negative! ;)

 Everyday is a winding road. Well, actually, here it's more of a straight, hilly one.

We love to play in the snow, but -12 is a little cold to be out here for long.

I do like the way the silence seems so loud in the snow.

 How many days is it til May when this will be full of green grass and cows?

I've been knitting when it's just too cold to stay out any longer. I've noticed I'm gravitating toward yellow yarns!

I guess the fact that I'm still enamored with the beauty out here means my case of Cabin Fever must not be terminal. And that Basil from a couple posts back? It's coming up nice and green. I might go stare at it for awhile before bed, then maybe dream of Spring!

How about you, are you sooooo ready for Spring?

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

10 Things I Learned From Dad

Hi there! I hope you're enjoying your weekend so far! We still have crazy cold weather and are getting a bit of cabin fever, but we do get to have a little celebration this weekend as it is my Dad's 81st birthday. Now, I know I may be a little biased, but I really do believe he is a truly amazing person and I have learned so much from him. I could make an awfully long list, but for the sake of this post, here are the....

Top 10 Things I Learned From Dad

1. That everybody has a story. And they may never tell it to you. Dad is man of very few words, and will never tell anyone the wonderful things he's done. For example (and this is just one of many), I recently found an envelope with his old Army discharge papers in it. I was reading through some of that paperwork and found that there was a letter that had been sent to his superior from a woman who had been in a car wreck. To make long story somewhat shorter, she, her daughter, and her mother were hit by a drunk driver and left for dead. Dad (who would've been about 20) and his Army buddy were on the highway too and saw what happened. Dad took care of the women and girl, wrapped them in blankets, worked to slow their bleeding, deal with their injuries, and comfort them while his friend drove ahead to get help. Once more help had arrived, Dad and his friend went in search of the drunk driver who had hit them and found him at the nearest bar, where they held him until the police arrived. The women and girl all survived and, after months in the hospital, they located Dad's superior to ask that he order Dad to take the money they were sending to have his clothing cleaned because one of the woman remembered that the man who helped them had been covered in their blood, and to give Dad their letter of thanks, as they believed they had lived because of his care. And he never said a word about it in all these years. You just never know what someone's story might be.

2. All the skills a country kid needs to know. How to garden, ride a horse, fish, shoot, hunt, and butcher.

3. That kids are the very best thing. His biological children, his foster children, all of our friends, the kids who just showed up at our door because they had nowhere to go (yep, actually happened), the "kids" he met when they were 20 or 30 but they're still "the kids' to him.

4. That if you have a bumper crop of carrots and get sick and tired of scrubbing them all in the kitchen sink, you can just throw them in the washing machine. True story.

5. Think for yourself. Do what you know is right in your heart. It doesn't matter what everybody else is doing or what they think of you.

6. That "everybody does the best they can with what they've got". That being said, I have heard a few folks (mostly politicians) called "crooked son of a (word not appropriate for my blog)". I'm not sure if he really believes they're doing their best.

7. That optimism is a beautiful thing. He has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and was drafted for Korea, and through everything he never felt anything but optimism about the future.

8. Don't borrow money. Or lend it. If you want to help someone out, just give it as a gift.

9. Laugh. A lot. So hard you can't talk. 

10. The Good Lord will take care of everything.

Of course, there are still a few things I'm trying to figure out.

1. If meals of primarily animal fats, bacon, beef, eggs and salt might actually keep you healthy. Seems to have worked well for him!

2.  How someone can say maybe 15 words a week and still somehow say it all. 

3. How long is "From hell to breakfast"? (Does anybody else use this figure of speech??)

4. How I could be so Blessed to have this man for my Dad.

So there it is, my little birthday tribute to the greatest cowboy I've had the honor to know.
Happy Birthday Dad!

What did you learn from your Dad, or what are your children learning from their Dad?

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Basil Facts and Folklore

The forecast this morning is telling us we're expecting snow, but we're watching for green to come up in the pots we've planted inside!  It's too early to start our garden seeds in our area, but we've started some herbs for potted plants. The first thing we planted was Basil, which is one of my favorite herbs, so I thought we'd talk about that a little today.

Basil does great as a potted plant, though you can put it outdoors also as long as you are at least zone 6. It will  adapt to most soils , but prefers a rich, moist soil. It will do best in full sun and likes the heat. It will grown up to 2 feet tall and about 18 inches in width, but if you're using the leaves you'll prune it long before it ever gets that big! And I really think you'll want to use those leaves. (Although if you don't, plant Basil anyway just for the amazing scent!) You can use them fresh, chop and freeze them, dry them, or make pesto. You can also keep leaves in a glass jar covered in olive oil and refrigerated. If you do dry your Basil, keep in mind it will lose some color and flavor over time. The dried version will keep best sealed in a  glass container and kept in a cool dark place for no more than six months. Basil will flower in mid summer, but prune away the flowers to maintain the best flavor in the leaves. If you are doing some companion planting, Basil is best planted near tomatoes and peppers and should be planted away from other members of the Mint family. There are many different kinds of Basil you can try. Besides Sweet Basil, Lemon, and Cinnamon Basil are two others I like

Because it's part of the mint family, it has many of the same medicinal properties as other other members of that family, such as a being used as a digestive aid and headache remedy. 
(I feel like I should put a disclaimer here. I'm not a doctor. If you have health issues, don't just eat your Basil plant. Talk to your doctor.) ;)

I always think it's interesting to read background and folklore about plants, so in case you do too, here's a little extra fun stuff about Basil:

There is some question as to where the name came from. It may have come from the Greek work basilikon or basileus meaning "royal" or "king", and showing the culture's great respect for the plant. Or, the name might have come  basilick, which is a legendary reptile who could kill you with a glance or breath! Personally, I'm going with the first one! 

Basil is a symbol of love in Italy and according to tradition, if a woman puts a pot of Basil on the balcony outside her bedroom, it means she is ready to receive her suitor. Once, many years ago, I had a pot of Basil on my balcony of my bedroom in my apartment in the city. If it attracted the "suitor" I had at that point in my life, then ..well...I recommend just keeping it in the kitchen window!

Romany gypsies had a "spell" using Basil as well. It was said that if you place a glass of water in the moonlight, sprinkle in a little basil, a pinch of Fennel seed, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Thyme, leave it to steep overnight, strain it into a clear glass jar, and then dab it on the clothing 
of the man or woman you love, they will be bewitched. (Another disclaimer, if you throw a glass of Basil-y water on someone, don't blame me if they are...less than bewitched.)

So now, I'm obsessively checking for any little green sprouts....

Nothing yet!

What's your favorite herb?

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