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Archive for July, 2012

I have been rather wrapped up in life lately. Torn between having too much to write about and not knowing where to begin. So where should I begin?

Last week we went out into the garden and pulled some really great crops. This is our first time gardening and we are all enjoying it. We purposefully planted crops that we wouldn’t normally eat alongside the veggies we do enjoy, just to expand our pallets. I was a die hard picky eater as a child and I am determined not to have picky kids. Just try everything! It’s my new motto and has always been theirs.

My son who is eight has embraced all kinds of food from a very early age. He’s the kid, who at three tried- and LIKED- calamari. He liked it even after we joked he was eating Squidward. He loves shrimp and every fruit that has ever been introduced. At the first sign of veggies in the garden he asked if he could pick them and eat them! I even caught him stealing pea pods and munching.

My daughter is a different story. It could be her age- she’s five now- but she isn’t as adventurous with her food. She likes the typical kid things. She is her mother’s daughter, it seems.

Healthy home grown veggies after cleaning and awaiting our taste test

So together we all made a pact. Whatever we grew we would all try. And that’s exactly what we did this weekend. We brought in three cucumbers, three yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, a gypsy pepper and one jalapeno. We had a smaller harvest on the fourth of July with two gypsy peppers and two jalapenos, but those went to my dad instead. So this is our big haul and it was experimentation time.

We all like cucumbers, so that one was a no-brainer. None of us had ever tried squash before and I am not a pepper person. I don’t even like the smell of peppers. Here we were, in the kitchen chopping everything into bite size pieces to enjoy our home grown bounty.

Everything was a big hit. We all learned something that day, I think. My daughter learned that you don’t have to like things, but you have to try them to know for sure. She ended up snacking on the squash and cucumber for some time. My son, well, he liked everything, even the jalapeno which is a big deal since he isn’t a fan of spicy things at all. I learned that I still don’t love cherry tomatoes, that peppers aren’t terrible and that squash is kinda delicious. My husband, he learned that we grow a mean jalapeno! We could feel the heat on our tongues almost an hour after our taste test and that was AFTER we removed the ribs and seeds from the little guy.

We are all slowly coming around and learning to appreciate the foods we eat. Since then, we have given a squash and cucumber to our neighbors who were thrilled with how gigantic the crops were! There was a real pride in sharing our food with their family, too.

As I write this the sky is threatening to rain, which is great considering how hot and dry it has been around here. We are just a few days our from having another even larger haul from the garden.

We really couldn’t be more excited!

Lauryn

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I have always subscribed to a very basic standard when it comes to applying Feng Shui techniques in my home. It always seems like such a giant undertaking when you’re first introduced to this Eastern concept, but if you focus on a few, almost common sense, concepts it gets much easier. It takes a bit of understanding before embarking on any sort of application, but even the most basic concepts can easily be understood once you break it all down.

 

First, and this gets beaten into my skull constantly with many of my various studies, is that you have to accept that everything is composed of energy and everything emanates this energy. It’s called by different names depending on what you are studying, the Chinese know it as chi, or qi literally translated “life force energy”. In Japanese it’s ki and in India it’s called Prana. Everything is energy and energy is everything. This is the most basic concept of Feng Shui.

 

Once you allow the above to become your mantra you can begin to assess your surroundings. You need to use your mind a little here and try to visualize your house as a place where energy swirls all around you. Energy from non living things like furniture, energy from those around you and energy from things like plants and animals.

 

You begin to see things take on new meanings, like a leaky drain suddenly becomes a metaphor for wastefulness in your everyday life. A garbage can that is on display in the kitchen becomes an analogy for an unhealthy diet. So too do pictures of decrepit buildings or photos of when you were not happy in your life start to emanate negative energy into your surroundings.

 

 

So where does one begin?

 

The first thing I did was decide that the clutter around my house, though minimal, was blocking a natural and beneficial flow of energy. I cleaned out cupboards, under beds, straightened drawers and inside pantries and closets. Almost immediately I felt this rush of ‘clean, fresh’ non stagnant current surge through my home.

 

Adding color is another great way to soothe tumultuous energy or rejuvenate a dull area. Although there are obvious correspondences between certain colors and those things we wish to attract or emotions we want to harness or strengthen. For example red is for passion or green to bring financial security. But for me, I have always followed my heart when it comes to color. If it makes you feel awake, aware, inspired, creative, loved or any other positive emotion employ it!!! Feng Shui is about bringing to life that which you desire, and the law of attraction states that what we believe we are, we become!

 

I also aspire to surround myself with nature and natural elements. Water, greenery and flowers bring a vital and recharging energy to any room in which they are placed. Plants especially, because they utilize the carbon dioxide in the air that we exhale and return oxygen to the environment through cellular respiration keep the atmosphere clean and renewed. Water too is great in fountain form as it collects animated energy and recirculates it throughout the room/house in an endless circuit.

 

Anchoring is another technique that uses objects to reroute and calm exuberant energies or to stimulate stagnant areas like barren corners. Stairs and hallways are like slingshots for energy, they propel the essences down them. To stave off this occurrence it is suggested you place an object at the end of the hallway or stairs or use a crystal to divert the energetic forces. In dark solitary corners or areas where energy can get trapped place a plant or a light. This will keep the energy from becoming stagnant in this space.

 

I am a big fan of night lights. This and plants have become my answer to every tough aspect I have encountered and to date it has worked wonders. Mix the two by placing a night light behind a plant or for my favorite effect place some small white strands of Christmas lights throughout the plant for an almost ethereal sparkle.

 

During the day I adore candles, they make me feel mystical even in the mundane. And remember, it’s all about attitude!!

 

Again, these are the few techniques I have easily executed around my home. They are the most basic and for me, the ones that make the most sense.

 

Lauryn

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Whew. Is it Friday already? This week has been a whirlwind and I feel terrible for not having written anything since the last Friday Fun blog. What a strange feeling to not have written anything for seven days. Finding the time to actually sit down and compose something significant, profound or informative was just not happening. I did get done what I set out to do this week and so much more, so I suppose that’s a good thing. Life is about the little victories. I set up a Facebook account for this blog which can be found here so anyone can easily stay updated and I post over there more than I do here. I have a love of all things social media (except Twitter, I’ve never actually tried that site. I feel like I am too old, lol).  I try to share relevant information on the Suburban Hippie wall as well as graphics and other links that bring a smile to my face and speak to me. We all need a little of that from tome to time– reminders of how special life is, especially when I, like a lot of people, get down about things going on here in the states and around the world. So I try to share something positive for every thing I post that is troubling. I’ve always been an activist and an empath which makes it difficult to enjoy the little things now and then, so the reminders help me remember there is good in the world and there are things I can be doing everyday to celebrate life instead of being a cynical pessimist (which I have mastered over the years).

Today’s blog, I am happy to say, wrote itself. It’s Friday the 13th after all and what better time to share some common superstitions and their elusive origins? I have always been superstitious. I mean, irrationally superstitious. When I was pregnant with both of my children, I refused to read or watch anything about birth defects and other problems like that. Here I am, one of those people who likes to be completely educated about everything I undertake and I could not bring myself to come close to any of that. I told you, irrational.

Here are the 13 (how’s that for synchronization?) most common superstitions and a little background on how they all got started.

The Number 13

The number 13 has such a bad rep, which is sad for me, since I was born on this cursed date. There are no 13th floors marked on elevators, even though we all know that the 14th is still the 13th. You aren’t supposed to invite 13 guests to dinner. 13 even has it’s own phobia: Triskaidekaphobia.

The initial reason for the abject fear of 13 comes from the Bible and the story of the Last Supper. In it, Jesus sits down to a meal with the 12 Apostles, making the total diners 13. We all know that meal ended poorly for two of the guests and thus poor 13 was forever cursed.

(There is another theory that the story actually dates back to the Nordic gods where a similar story is told about 12 gods being invited to dinner and Loki crashed. This caused a fight that left Baldur, the favorite son of Odin, dead. Interesting.)

The most infamous evil of 13 comes when the calendar aligns to cause a Friday the 13th. Fridays have been notoriously bad luck days biblically. Not only was Christ crucified on a Friday, but it was the same day Adam and Eve got the boot from Eden and the flood that killed everyone but Noah happened on a Friday as well. So think on that the next time you say “T.G.I.F.”.

Black Cats

Though cats have been adored for ages by many ancient peoples including the Egyptians, Sumerians and Aunt Mildred, having a black cat cross your path is supposed to come with horrible consequences. Dun, dun dun….

The thinking behind this started during the witch hunts. Witches were thought to be able to communicate with certain animals and make them do their bidding. The cat was the chief among those “familiars”. A black cat was thought to be the worst as it was said to contain the soul of Satan himself. Therefore seeing a black cat meant that the devil was watching you. I can personally assure you the devil isn’t in any of my cats, despite myself being a witch. Although, there are times I am adequately convinced my fur babies are possessed.

Umbrellas Indoors

While some of these superstitions could be considered a little crazy, some are actually quite practical. Really, one should never open an umbrella indoors. Not because of bad luck, but because it could seriously hurt someone.

There is a thought that this is actually where the superstition came from. The introduction was the mechanical umbrella happened in the Victorian Era of England. The first versions of it were made with stiff steel poles that, when opened indoors, could cause major injuries like cuts and possible eye loss. (I would call that pretty unlucky.)

While that might be the case, the myth goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians who also had umbrellas, though back then they were parasols, made for blocking the sun instead of the rain. If you were to open one indoors, where there was no sun, it was considered an offense against the sun god Ra who would curse you for it.

Broken Mirrors

While we all know that broken mirrors are a pain to clean up, it’s the threat of the 7 years bad luck that keeps most of us from carelessly knocking them over.

Some people believe that the reason breaking a mirror causes all those years of bad luck comes from an age when mirrors were considered luxury items and the cost of replacing a broken one would be equal to 7 years of a peasants salary. The superstition actually extends back quite a bit further to the Romans.

In Roman times there was a special form of doctor that was part physician and part mystic. They would use mirrors to divine the health of their patients. (Kind of like an ancient xray.) The doctor would fill a mirrored plate and glass with water and look at the reflection of the patient. If for some reason the reflection looked distorted the patient would be deemed ill. If, however, the mirror were to crack during the procedure, it would mean that they would be very sick for 7 years, the time the Romans believed it took for the human body to be completely renewed.

Hat on the Bed

There are so many different things to do with hats indoors, from removing them as a sign of respect, to where to place them. It is a common thought that if a person places their hat on the bed, something horrible will happen to them.

This comes from the fact that the bed looks like a coffin and when a person or solider died, their clothes and armor were placed on the lid as a sign of respect. Another thought is that a priest will always wear their hat indoors except for when they have to change into their vestments to perform final rites on the dead.

Either way, it’s only good manners to place your hat anywhere but the bed anyway.

Walking Under Ladders

Even though it’s always tempting, everyone knows that walking under a ladder is cause for some very very bad luck. The origin of this practical myth comes from a few different sources depending on who you are to believe.

When a ladder is placed against a wall it forms a triangle, one of the holiest symbols to the Egyptians. (As can be seen by their pyramids.) The thought was that if one walked underneath a ladder they break the symbol and anger the gods. This concept was taken later by the Christians, but instead of the triangle, they called it the Holy Trinity. The consequences where the same though.

People believed this so strongly, that prisoners were forced to walk underneath the ladder that led to the gallows. This scared them more than the actual hanging itself.

In the end it’s another superstition that just makes common sense, but it’s probably just easier to scare someone rather than risk having a hammer fall on their head.

Knock on Wood

What do you do if you say something out loud that you want to come true? You knock on wood. It’s strange, but of all the superstitions on this list, this is the one that is still most commonly done reflexively. (The most would probably have to be God Bless You when someone sneezes.)

The reason that people knock on wood comes from the pagan belief that good spirits lived in the trees. In order to get something that you want, you were to whisper the wish into the tree and knock two times to ensure the spirit was awake to take on the wish.

On the flip side, some people believed that you knock on wood to ward off bad spirits that would make the wish not come true.

Something Old, Something New

This wedding chant became a popular mantra and symbol of good luck in a marriage in the 1500’s. The full verse goes:

“Something old, something new
Something burrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.”

The old is to keep connected with the brides past and her family. The new means optimism for the life after marriage. The burrowed thing usually comes from a friend who is in a good marriage as a charm for good luck. The reason for blue was that in Roman times, blue was the color of love which the Christians turned into meaning fidelity. (Most bridal gowns were blue up until the late 19th century.) Finally, the sixpence in the shoe was another good luck charm, this one from the Scots who believe that a coin in the shoe guarantees money

Itchy Palms

This superstition states that if the right hand itches, money coming in, but if the left hand itches money coming out. Or you’re having an allergic reaction to medication, and I don’t know why the South paw gets the raw deal but this sounds a bit funny to me.

Again the origin for this one is unknown, but the earliest recording of it comes from Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, Brutus says, “Let me tell you Cassius, you yourself are much condemned to have an itching palm.” Sick burn Brutus.

Spilling Salt

Spilling salt may have been more of a manners issue than a bad luck issue…and then the it just became habit. Long ago salt was an expensive commodity, and one that had many useful purposes. Wasting salt was frowned upon, and so it is suggested that people just started saying it was bad luck so that people would be careful with it. Although, starting a rumor that to undo the bad luck is to waste more salt doesn’t make sense to me…but I’m not from long ago.

So now you have this “throw salt over your shoulder” to undo the bad luck…but not just any shoulder you have to throw it over your left shoulder. Why left? You throw it over the left shoulder because in some Christian beliefs the Devil hangs about over the left side of the body, looking for an opportunity to invade. Spilling salt, seen as an invitation for the Devil to do his deeds, because it’s such an abomination to be clumsy. The Devil needs to be put back in his place so you take the salt and throw it over the left shoulder (where he’s been hanging out) and it puts it right in his face! So, basically you invite the guy to come in and when he gets to the door your throw something in his face and tell him to go away, no wonder he’s so angry all the time. Another thought as to why spilling salt is bad is linked to the last supper. In Da Vinci’s painting Judas is seen spilling the salt, so if you spill the salt you might as well just go turn in your best friend so they can be executed.

Wishing on a Star

The planet Venus is named for the Roman goddess of love and is always the brightest point in the sky. The Romans built temples to Venus, and since it was the first “star” that could be seen in the sky for much of the year, and always the brightest whether seen in the morning or the evening, it was an easy way to remember it as a prayer point. What is the number one thing that people prayed to Venus for? Love, of course. The prayer evolved into a wish as people forgot the Goddess of Love and her origins, and the wish expanded into realms well outside the beginning point. Like so many other traditions and habits engrained in people that have found their way into modern times, wishing upon a star evolved from an ancient pagan religion. Simple as that.

Lucky Charms

A Horseshoe is considered lucky because, according to legend, the Devil can only move in a circle so when he sees a horseshoe, the gap in the middle confuses him and he turns back and won’t bother you. If this is true, the Devil is not as clever as he is publicized to be and maybe we should all rethink giving him so much credit.

The Rabbit’s Foot is considered lucky for a more historical reason. However, it wouldn’t be a superstition unless it was silly…so in certain stories the donor rabbit can’t just be any rabbit it must possess certain attributes, or have been killed in a particular place, or killed by a particular method, or by a person possessing particular attributes (e.g. by a cross-eyed man).

It also can’t just be any foot, it has to be the left hind foot of a rabbit, and not any left hind foot of a rabbit will do; the rabbit must have been shot or otherwise captured in a cemetery, further more, not just any left hind foot of a rabbit shot in a cemetery will do, it has to be during a full moon, or a new moon. It has to be Friday, preferably a rainy Friday, or Friday the 13th. Some say that the rabbit should be shot with a silver bullet, while others say that the foot must be cut off while the rabbit is still alive. You’ve gotta work for this lucky charm.

The idea that a rabbit’s foot is lucky comes from the pre-Celtic tradition of hunter clans rite of passage for their young members. These young males were first introduced to hunting by hunting rabbits. If they were successful, one of the hind feet of the rabbit was presented to them in a ceremony which would welcome them to manhood within the clan. How masculine, instead of a ten point buck to mount on your wall, you get a bunny foot.

God Bless You

This superstitious has so many possible origins, it’s the “choose your own adventure” version of superstitions. Here are you choices:

1. In 590 AD Gregory I became Pope and the bubonic plague was reaching Rome, sneezing was thought to be the one of the early symptoms. So Gregory I ordered unending prayer and parades of chanters through the streets, so perhaps it was just a timing thing. You sneeze and prayer chanters came by saying “God Bless You” on a loop, it was the hip thing to do at the time.

2. Some people think your heart stops beating and the phrase “bless you” is meant to ensure that it will start again, as a form of encouragement as it were.

3. Or maybe it’s because your soul can be thrown from your body when you sneeze, it can open your body to be attacked by the Devil (he’s such a jerk), or that it was your bodies way of throwing out the Devil or evil spirits (that guy just won’t take a hint!). So, saying “bless you” or “God bless you” puts up a shield so the Devil can’t get back in.

4. It could just be a phrase that was said because people didn’t really understand what sneezing was and they weren’t sure how to respond. It was the “lol” of the times.

5. Sneezing is a sign that God would answer your prayers, or an omen of good fortune or good luck. In this instance saying ‘bless you’ is a way of saying “way to go!”

So there you have it. The origins of the 13 most common superstitions. Enjoy this superstitious Friday the 13th and remember to take it all with a grain of salt– so long as you don’t spill it, that is.

Lauryn

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I remember, as a child, my parents always picked up a Farmer’s Almanac and kept it in the magazine rack in the bathroom beside the JCPenny catalog and several issues of Better Homes and Gardens. I loved thumbing through the pages, reading the articles and predictions for the up coming year. I was so fascinated with its tips and information. Why have I never picked on up as an adult? I’ll have to work on that. In the mean time we can all save a tree or two by looking here for the Old Farmer’s Almanac online.

The tips and gardening stuff evade me, but the old wive’s tales and lore concerning weather always stuck. Maybe it was because my mom would say, “red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s take warning,” if the sky was giving any sort of hints away as to what She had in store for us. This little saying has yet to let me down and I even share it with my children- reminding them that we don’t need meteorologists and their fancy-schmancy super-ultra-mega dopplers. Everything we need to know about the weather is all around us. The sway of the trees, the direction of the leaves, the shapes of the clouds, the smell in the air- it’s all right there and more accurate than the weatherman.

My love of these sayings continues on and I have collected over the years a giant collection from all over the world. And here, I would like to share them all with you. Enjoy it, then turn off the computer and go outside to see what nature is telling you.

Weather Lore

Some well known and some not so well known sayings about weather patterns.

“A summer fog for fair,

A winter fog for rain.

A fact most everywhere,

In valley or on plain.”

 

“The moon and the weather may change together,

But a change of the moon, will not change the weather.”

 

“When the dew is on the grass,

Rain will never come to pass.

When grass is dry at morning light,

Look for rain before the night.”

 

“When leaves show their undersides, be very sure that rain betides.”

 

“If a cat washes her face o’er her ear,

‘tis a sign the weather will be fine and clear.”

 

“If a circle forms ‘round the moon,

‘Twill rain soon.”

 

“The farther the sight, the nearer the rain.”

“Rain long foretold, long last,

Short notice, soon will pass.”

 

“Catchy drawer and sticky door,

Coming rain will pour and pour.”

 

“The winds of the daytime wrestle and fight,

Longer and stronger than those of the night.”

 

“Sun sets Friday clear as bell,

Rain on Monday sure as hell.”

 

“No weather’s ill if the wind be still.”

 

“The more cloud types present, the greater the chance of rain or snow. ”

 

“If bees stay at home, rain will soon come,

If they flay away, fine will be the day.”

 

“The sudden storm lasts not three hours

The sharper the blast, the sooner ’tis past.”

 

“A ring around the sun or moon, means rain or snow coming soon.”

“Trace in the sky the painter’s brush,

The winds around you soon will rush.”

 

“Rainbow in the morning, Shepherds take warning.

Rainbow at night, Shepherd’s delight.”

 

“When clouds look like black smoke,

A wise man will put on his cloak.”

 

“When leaves turn their back ‘tis a sign it’s going to rain.”

 

“Evening red and morning gray

Helps the traveler on his way.

Evening gray and morning red

Brings down rain upon his head.”

 

“Evening red and morning gray,

Two sure signs of one fine day.”

 

“Evening red and weather fine.

Morning red, of rain’s a sign.”

 

“An evening gray and a morning red

Will send the shepherd wet to bed.”

 

“The higher the clouds, the finer the weather.”

 

“When clouds appear like rocks and towers,

The earth will be washed by frequent showers.”

 

“I know ladies by the score

Whose hair foretells the storm;

Long before it begins to pour

Their curls take a drooping form.”

 

“When chairs squeak

It’s about rain they speak.”

 

“If salt is sticky and gains in weight,

It will rain before too late.”

 

“Pale moon rains; Red moon blows.

White moon neither rains or snows.”

 

“If smoke hovers low near the ground it is likely to rain.”

 

“When sounds travel far and wide,

A stormy day will betide.”

 

“Cold is the night

When the stars shine bright.”

 

“Mares’ tails and mackerel scales

Make lofty ships carry low sails.”

 

“When the wind is out of the east,

‘Tis neither good for man nor beast.”

 

“When the wind is in the north. The skillful fisher goes not forth;

When the wind is in the cast, ‘Tis good for neither man nor beast;

When the wind is in the south, It blows the flies in the fish’s mouth;

But when the wind is in the west, There it is the very best.”

 

“Fish bite least

With wind in the east.”

 

“When the wind backs; and the weather glass falls

Prepare yourself for gales and squalls.”

 

“When the glass falls low,

Prepare for a blow;

When it rises high.

Let all your kites fly.”

 

“When the ditch and pond affect the nose,

Look out for rain and stormy blows.”

 

“A coming storm your shooting corns presage,

And aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage.”

 

“If your corns all ache and itch,

The weather fair will make a switch.”

 

“If birds fly low

Expect rain and a blow.”

 

“If the rooster crows on going to bed,

You may rise with a watery head.”

 

“Trout jump high

When a rain is nigh.”

 

“If clouds move against the wind, rain will follow.”

 

“Cats and dogs eat grass before a rain.”

 

“A wind in the south

has rain in her mouth.”

 

“Onion skins very thin

Mild winter coming in;

Onion skins thick and tough

Coming winter cold and rough.”

 

“A swarm of bees in May

Is worth a load of hay.”

 

”If March comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion; if it comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.”

 

“Plant your beans when the moon is light,

You will find that this is right;

Plant potatoes when the moon is dark,

And to this line you’ll always hark;

But if you vary from this rule,

You will find you are a fool;

Follow this rule to the end.

And you’ll have lots of dough to spend.”

 

“When oak is out before the ash,

‘Twill be a summer of wet and splash.

But if the ash before the oak,

‘Twill be a summer of fire and smoke.”

 

“When the swallow’s nest is high, summer is dry

When the swallow’s nest is low, you can safely reap and sow.”

 

“A cow with its tail to the West makes the weather best,

A cow with its tail to the East makes the weather least”

 

“Those who bathe in May, will soon be under clay,

Those who bathe in June bathe a bit to soon.”

 

“The louder the frog, the more the rain.”

 

“The first snow comes six weeks after the last thunderstorm in September.”

 

“If February brings drifts of snow

There will be good summer crops to hoe.”

 

“When sheep gather in a huddle,

tomorrow we will have a puddle.”

 

“Expect the weather to be fair

When crows fly is pairs”

 

“If woolly worms are dark, the coming winter wilt be severe.”

 

“When ladybugs swarm,

Expect a day that’s warm.”

 

“When chickens scratch together,

There’s sure to be foul weather.”

 

“If the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, there will be six more weeks of winter.”

 

“When pigs carry sticks,

The clouds will play tricks;

When they lie in the mud,

No fears of a flood.”

 

“When cattle lie down during a light rain, it will pass soon.”

 

“When walls in cold weather begin to show dampness, the weather will change.”

 

“If the sparrow makes a lot of noise, rain will follow.”

 

“The moon and the weather

May change together;

But change of the moon

Does not change the weather”

 

“If the moon lies on her back, She sucks the wet into her lap.”

 

“Tipped moon wet: cupped moon dry.”

 

More very olde wives tales and sayings concerning the weather.

 

“You time fifteen seconds while you count how many times a cricket chirps. Then you add thirty-nine to it. This is called “A poor man’s thermometer.”

 

“When pine cones close, bad weather is coming.”

 

“Flowers of the morning glory and scarlet pimpernel open when it’s sunny, and close when rain is due.”

 

“The first frost in autumn will be exactly six months after the first thunderstorm of spring.”

 

“As many days old as is the moon on the first snow, there will be that many snowfalls by crop planting time.”

 

“A warm Christmas, a cold Easter.”

 

“If a squirrel’s tail is very bushy or they are collecting big stores of nuts in autumn, then a severe winter should be expected.”

 

I hope my friends in the US are staying cool today with all the record highs and excessive heat warnings!

Lauryn

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I love lists. In fact, here’s a list of why I love lists.

  1. They are simple to read.
  2. Organization, organization, organization.
  3. Who doesn’t love an at-a-glance reference?
  4. They are handy and small enough to stick where it counts; purses for grocery lists for example.
  5. When our brains fail us, lists are our trusty sidekick.

And so, here is a list of all the uses for lowly ol’ lemon juice– another of my favorite things. Double whammy.

“Lemon juice is the strongest food acid in our kitchens, strong enough to make life unbearable for most bacteria,” says Robert Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh.

Use Lemon Juice to:

  • Reduce blemishes. Mix the juice of one medium lemon with one tablespoon of honey and apply to clean face. Rinse. Your skin will be glowing and future blemishes are greatly reduced.
  • Make buttermilk. Mix one cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice for a buttermilk substitute that works great!
  • Sanitize your dishwasher and remove mineral deposits and odors, remove all dishes. Place ¼ cup of lemon juice in the soap dispenser and run through the normal cycle. Your dishwasher will be clean and smell wonderful!
  • Freshen a stinky garbage disposal, slice a medium sized lemon into the disposal and turn on the disposal with running water until the lemon is gone.
  • Clean grout around tiles, apply lemon juice and water with a toothbrush and scrub.
  • Clean copper pots, cover the surface of a half lemon with salt and scrub. Rinse and buff with a soft cloth for a beautiful shine.
  • Clean silver, clean with lemon juice and buff with a soft cloth.
  • Cleans the tarnish off brass.
  • Freshen the air, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into the vacuum cleaner bag before vacuuming.
  • Clean glass shower doors, apply lemon juice with a sponge. Dry with newspapers for a sparkling shine.
  • Remove the smell of garlic or onions from your hands, rub with a lemon slice and rinse.
  • Brighten whites that can’t be bleached, just pour a quarter of a cup of lemon juice into the washing machine.
  •  Dab small scrapes and scratches with some lemon juice to disinfect the wound. It will also take the itch out of poison ivy.
  • Remove fruit or rust on colored clothing, mix a paste of cream of tartar and lemon juice. After checking the fabric for colorfastness, apply the mixture and let it set for 15-30 minutes. When stain is lifted, launder as usual.
  • Clean counter tops and remove stains (including laminate and stone counter tops), apply salt to the cut side of a lemon and scrub. Rinse and dry.
  • Freshen the microwave, place a few lemon slices covered with water in a small bowl and microwave on high for one minute.
  • Clean and disinfect cutting boards, wash with lemon juice and dry in the sun.
  • Freshen the air, place a teaspoon of cinnamon over lemon slices and cover with water. Simmer in a saucepan for 15 minutes on medium heat.
  • Make your own furniture polish that is much better for the wood than what you can buy, prepare enough for a single preparation (make fresh each time you use it.) Mix the juice of one lemon, one teaspoon olive oil and a teaspoon of water. Apply a thin coat to furniture and buff to a deep shine.
  • Remove ink from fabric, apply lemon juice liberally while the ink is still wet. Then wash the garment on the normal cycle with regular detergent in cold water.
  • Cure dandruff, apply one tablespoon of lemon juice to your hair. Shampoo, then rinse with water. Rinse again with a mixture of two tablespoons of lemon juice and two cups of water. Repeat every other day until dandruff disappears.
  • Write with invisible ink, use a cotton swab as a pen to write in lemon juice on a piece of white paper. Once it dries, hold the paper near a hot light bulb (don’t touch!). The writing will turn brown. Now we can fulfill our dreams of being spies.
  • Eliminate blackheads, rub lemon juice over blackheads before going to bed. Wait until morning to wash off the juice with cool water. Repeat for several nights until you see a big improvement in the skin.
  • Create blonde highlights, rinse your hair with one-quarter cup lemon juice with three-quarters of a cup water.
  • Remove fruit and berry stains on your hands, rinse hands with lemon juice.
  • Whiten, brighten, and strengthen fingernails, soak fingernails in lemon juice for ten minutes, then brush with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and warm water. Rinse well.
  • Stop bleeding and disinfect minor wounds, pour lemon juice on a cut or apply with a cotton ball.
  • Relieve poison ivy, apply lemon juice over the affected areas to soothe itching and alleviate the rash.
  • Eliminate odors in your humidifier, pour three or four teaspoons of lemon juice into the water.
  • Relieve rough hands or sore feet apply lemon juice, rinse, then massage with olive oil.

So now when life hands you lemons you can get your clean on!

Lauryn

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Ahhh, summer..

“Mom, I’m bored.”

Oh right, summer… Trying to find some creative, educational and in most cases free ways to entertain the little ones? Me too. That’s why I love this list. These are my collection of ideas from all over the place and some of my own experiences too! I keep printouts of ideas for things to do for those days when I have mommy brain and things are a little… Foggy. We all have those days. Don’t judge.

1.  Library-check out books that have IDEAS – give reason for further hands on study (activity).  Reserve books through your online service at your local library that have items of interest for your childs age group, how to make paper airplanes, science experiments, craft projects, etc. even as we are learning about different artists we are practicing our learning by completing art projects…get creative with the books you can get…

2. Library-STORY TIME – something about a different setting breaks up the routine for the kids, gives them something to look forward to.

3. Local Park – go early, pack a lunch, enjoy the outside before its too hot.

4. Take a field trip.

5.  Visit a fire department.

6.  Play in the water – but aside from the everyday play in the sprinkler, kiddie pool – make games with the water – use the water with paint brushes and paint the fence (it dries clear, lol)…put coloring in the water and stretch paper across a fence – fill water guns with this colored water and then they are really painting with water colors.

7. build a fort- go to nearby woods, gather sticks, broken branches, etc. build a fort, or house this will provide days worth of enjoyment both in the gathering/building/playing inside.

8. Take a nature walk. Google parks with trails in your area and explore a new place every time you leave.

9.  Take an  “Alphabet tour”- this one makes running errands fun. You can also do shapes and colors for younger kiddos

10.  Check out kids free days at your museums.

11. Make homemade icecream (if you don’t keep heavy cream on hand you will have to buy it, but hey its still pretty cheap entertainment/enjoyment).  Make popcicles, smoothies, ice cream sundaes.

12. Go on a scavenger hunt.

13.  Host a neighborhood carnival (we’re talking bean bag toss, use the water gun to shoot the ducky, egg on the spoon, those kind of games)  – each neighbor hosts a game/activity and gives out a snack/drink – makes for a very fun day.

14.  Go to an outdoor concert (most towns/cities have a website where you can see what/when and which ones are free.)

15.  Check your movie theater for free summer movies (usually morning showings).

16.  Go to the beach.

17.  Check out your local hardware store – they offer free kids club building projects.

18.  Cook with your kids let them plan it, be apart of the shopping, table setting – don’t forget dessert!

19.  Host a cooking party – invite some friends (your kids aren’t the only ones home and wanting something to do) – have each mom bring a few ingredients and spend the day making cookies, treats, etc. (maybe you know someone who could use some extra love and attention – make a whole meal with these friends, let the kids make cards, and go make someones day brighter and happier).

20.  Make a nature scrapbook- include pictures, leaf rubbings and dried flowers.

21.  Go fly a kite.

22.  Do a sewing project together.  Make a picnic or story time blanket.

23.  Make sock puppets – put on a puppet shows.

24.  Go outside for reading time.

25. Make and blow bubbles

26.  Hide all the army men, mini animals, etc. in the sand pit – have a excavation. Read a book about archeologists before hand).

27.  Play dress up.

28.  Have a tea party.

29.  Make an obstacle course out of your back yard and have races.

30. Play hopscotch.

31. Go fishing.

32. Go on a bike ride.

33. Camp in your back yard.

34.Melt and create with crayons (you know you have an entire box of broken ones anyway).

35. Visit a local state park.

36. Go bowling. A lot of the alleys offer students 2 free games over the summer.

37. Plant a garden using seeds from your vegetables/fruits.

38. Tour local historic sites.

39. Identify constellations or just star gaze.

40. Teach the kids to knit or make friendship bracelets.

41. Check with a local farm – offer to help feed the animals.

42. Set up a lemonade stand.

43. Set up Hotwheels races in the driveway.

44. Have a LEGO building contest.

45. Make a doll. Corn dollies (made from corn husks were a favorite of children in times past).

46. Hunt for animal tracks.

47. Have a dress up party.

48. Learn bird calls.

49. Use magazines to make mosaics.

50. Check your craft stores for make and take craft projects.

51. Tour a factory.

52. Make musical instruments and become a ‘home band’ sensation! (think – pie pan tambourine, paper towel holder rain stick, string and cereal box guitar).

53. Make tye die shirts.

54. Take a picnic to dad/mom/grandma/ etc… give them a nice break from their work day.

55. Make a tent in the living room. This is great for rainy days.

56. Go to an Arboretum.

57. Make a bird feeder with pine cones & peanut butter and bird seed.

58. Paint with fruit and veggies and anything else you will let them paint with – think q-tips, old toothbrush, sponges, leaves…. etc.

59. Play charades.

60. Have a “BORED” game day – pull out all those dusty games and let each child pick a game – if its nice outside – take em out on your picnic blanket.

61. Walk your neighbors dog.

62.blow up Diet Coke with Mentos.

63. Make silhouettes.

64. Take a drive to a small town and wander around the square. This is a favorite in our family.

65. Learn origami.

66. Make a compass.

67. Gather friends and have a “clean” the park day – celebrate your good deed with a picnic and play time.

68. Sculpt with homemade salt clay.

69. Collect Seashells.

70. Play “I Spy” as you walk around your neighborhood.

71. Go to a farmers market.

72. Find a stream and look for crayfish. Warning- you will all get wet!

73. Check your newspaper for local summer festivals.

74. Make applesauce.

75. Go to a pond and feed the ducks. Don’t forget the bread and popcorn.

76. Make taffy.

77. Make a checker board and your own checkers.

78. Make your own board games.

79. Make a milk carton boat and head to a pond.

80. Have a Christmas in July party and ask all the guests to bring donations for your local food pantry.

81. Participate in a free activity at Bass Pro Shop. Sadly we don’t have one of these stores nearby *tear*.

82. Have a major league team in your area? Call about free kids tickets this summer.

83. Take a trip to tour your state capitol, local courthouse, etc.

84. Gather, paint, make pet rocks.

85. Plan a theme day, think wild west or groovy ’60s.

86. Volunteer at a local charity/Habitat for Humanity.

87. Have a pajama day, enjoy movies and popcorn another rainy day must.

88. Color.

89. Make a wind chime.

90. Write your own poems. We love Haiku.

91. Host a donation day. Dig through your stuff and have friends and neighbors do the same and take items to a local charity. Kids really love the idea of helping those with less.

92. “Play” school.

93. Make paper dolls.

94. Travel around the world. Have English scones for breakfast, Chinese Stir Fry for lunch, Italian for dinner. Make a craft to go with each country, get a library book with photos of these places.

95. Get a penpal. For little ones who are not yet writing, drawing pictures works just fine.

96. Play in the rain and stomp in puddles.

97. Catch fireflies.

98. Make sun tea. Have children decide what else to add, strawberries, lime, raspberries, etc.

99. Make a sandcastle. If you don’t have a sand box, gather up all sorts of containers and some water jugs and head over to your local park – spend the day building a great sand castle together.

100.  Dig for worms.

Most importantly remember the simplicity of childhood is found in the quality of the time spent together. Enjoy each moment, create an environment of joy and excitement, learning and fun and I am certain this summer will be one we all remember for a very long time. even better, a whole lot less, “I’m bored,” and a whole lot more, “that was awesome!!”

High five mama, you are awesome!

Lauryn

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I will be the first to admit that my lifestyle is less than easy. In a world filled with chemicals and convenience, I strive for a more natural approach. An organic or, as much as I loathe the commercialism of the word “green” lifestyle, is supposed to be the simpler path. However, it isn’t always the case when industries and corporations are pushing their products down your throat day in and day out.

Mushu and Milo

That’s why when we found out we had fleas, literally five of them at the time we made the discovery, I went into full blown research mode. As a veterinary technician (well, alright, I’m on sabbatical until my children are grown) I was aware of the plethora of flea medications, topical and oral out there. But, I conceded, these violated my very lifestyle, my natural philosophy. What was I to do? I couldn’t bear the thought of slathering toxic pesticides on my beloved four legged family members, nor could I stomach the idea of allowing them to ingest said pesticides. I was at a quagmire, destined to either battle fleas for the remaining days of my pet’s lives or find a solution that was both nontoxic and natural.

I read everything, as I often do when faced with a challenge. I found solutions ranging from feeding the animals garlic to recommendations for ‘all natural products’. I also found, as I had suspected I would, a giant amount of disinformation put out by pharmaceutical companies that slam the holistic approaches and tout the efficacy of their toxic counterparts. All too often I read people’s opinions that belittled and condemned the naturopathic alternatives.

Armed with information I set out to rid myself and my furry loved ones of their parasitic roommates. The first thing I tried was a solution of sweet almond oil, a common carrier oil used in aromatherapy and massage and lavender essential oil. I coated the kittens with the mixture and let it sit for about 15 minutes. I then washed it off with a mild shampoo, however, much to my chagrin the fleas had not all perished in the oil bath and some continued to scurry in and through my pet’s fur.

With this knowledge and a feeling of disappointment I went back to my reading. However it was the advice from a friend that would rid us of the segmented bloodsuckers. After spending no more that $3.00 at the local pharmacy, I returned home with a spray bottle and a large container of Isopropyl Alcohol or common rubbing alcohol.

Although the animals were none too thrilled with the application process, a spray bottle filled with the alcohol, it did yield almost immediate results. I began spraying at the neck and worked my way back preventing the tiny hitchhikers from hiding in my pet’s ears. I covered my fuzzy beloveds with the isopropyl and watched the fleas come to the surface of their fur and die instantly. It was gratifying. *Insert maniacal laughter*.

After each pet was adequately sprayed I gave them each a bath with gentle shampoo to remove any and all flea dirt and dead carcasses from the animal’s fur. Between the isopropyl and the gentle bathing the animals coats are shiny and parasite free, with no harm from poisonous ingredients and pesticides. Sure it took a little more time and effort, but that is the sacrifice we make to live a healthier and more naturally harmonious lifestyle. And the temptation of convenience can never bring that sort of peace of mind.

 

Precautions:

If your furry friend has a flea bite allergy or the skin is red and raw DO NOT use the isopropyl alcohol. You can wash the pet with Dawn Dish Soap and treat the skin irritation with coconut oil. Dawn dries out the skin so always use coconut oil after a harsh bath like that.

 

If you know you have fleas in the house or if you are the cautious type there are some natural alternatives to eliminating the infestation.

 

Rosemary Essential Oil

Fill a spray bottle with vinegar or water and add 30 drops of rosemary essential oil. Use this mix to spray bedding, soft furniture, carpet and baseboards.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is basically ground-up algae, but it has an array of benefits and is specifically known for killing parasites internally. You should be sure that you purchase a food-grade version of DE or it could cause breathing problems and other serious side effects for both your dog and you. You can sprinkle a bit on her food or you can sprinkle it on her coat. DE has very sharp microscopic edges, which essentially lacerate any bugs that come in contact with it. You can also sprinkle this on your carpet, let it sit for at least 24 hours and then vacuum it up.

 

Happy, healthy animals make for a joyous home,
Lauryn

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