Category Archives: budget

Dormancy

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No winter-like simulation now, it is the real deal.  The winter weather seems to be sticking around for more than a few days.  Icy, sleety, and snowy last week, and again this week dipping into the teens overnight and staying below or close to freezing during the day.  Due to budget constraints our winter vacation week was decidedly best to stay in our home state of Missouri this year.  No expensive sandy beaches to sunbathe on.  Making the most of our budget and what our state has to offer during this winter season, Dean and I chose to visit our state’s Ozark Mountains.  Most of our vacation budget is for a lovely lodge in the woods, the journey there only a 5-hour drive from home.  Home-cooked meals prepared in a well-stocked kitchenette, and an occasional meal out satisfy us both.  Every night a vignette of soft lights dot the mountain sides from the valley we are nestled in.

Dean and I venture out on half-day trips for a couple of days, visiting small towns and cousins.  We went target shooting at an outdoor range one afternoon.  We meander into northern Arkansas part of the week.  Naked hardwood trees, pines, and cedars clothe the mountains along with icicled cliffs and crags much like glittered ornaments.  Flowing valley streams, swooping birds of prey, and cattle feeding in the fields are the only movement around.  Dormancy is what we experience, and what we need. Oxford’s online dictionary defines dormancy … “the state in which a plant is alive but not actively growing” and with this sentence example “dormancy allows woody plants to survive these unfavorable conditions”.  

The quiet, unassuming beauty of the woods in dormancy stills my busy body, mind, and soul.  Very present moment several times each day, a retreat without structure.  Just being, breathing in and out, and audibly awake.  It is not necessary to block out the static and noise of my job, the house, and almost no obligations as I am far enough away from these occupations.  Words come in and out on occasion, Dean and I relating this quiet vacation week to our retirement years.  Some words make a page in my journal, and others are just thoughts in dormancy for a later writing in favorable conditions and more life lived.

This year I am ending the summer season of my wellness career.  The autumn season of my career follows, short and sweet like Missouri’s autumns with the winter season close behind.  The dormant season always emerges into a glorious spring song.  A book of collected letters, Letters To A Young Poet, poet Rainer Maria Rilke urges the young budding poet, Franz Xavier Kappus to look inward and know what motivates his own writing.  Rilke encourages the development of a rich inner life which is the process of creative art. “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.  In today’s words, live today, be present moment.  Some answers come eventually.

 

To Eat Intelligently Is An Art

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“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld, French author wrote.  This author lived an exquisite lifestyle in his French chateau in the 1600’s. And the one and only saucy “The French Chef” herself, Julia Child was an American chef who brought the French cuisine to the everyday American in the mid to late 1900’s.  This “mindful, purposeful eating” is an art almost lost, but has been resurrected once again with the farm-to-table restaurants and crafted foods and spirits in today’s food culture.  The term “slow food” was coined in Europe in the 1980’s, and has come to the United States full swing.

Locavorism is encouraged. Niche farmers, gardeners, and chefs bring fresh meats, fruit, vegetables, and herbs to their plates and that of their community.  The Bent Pig and Hannahway Farms in Farmington and Chef Jack MacMurray at Chandler Hill Vineyards in Defiance are such people.  Farmer’s markets will open this month with their early crops.  An American diner such as Ethyl’s in O’Fallon, Missouri has their crafted meats, slowly smoked which fills the neighborhood with a mouth-watering aroma.  After work one evening this week I devoured their pork sandwich served with a heaping dollop of coleslaw between the bun and sweet, smoky BBQ pork, Carolina-style.  I slowly savored every bite.  Local does not always mean the best as my stop at a small cafe for a warm bite before my doctor’s appointment yesterday morning reminded me of that.  A “Popeye omelet” described on the menu said bits of bacon with spinach and Swiss cheese. But mine had chunks of bacon fat that resembled the Swiss cheese.  Gross!  I could not finish it!  The smell of bacon turned my stomach tonight when I came home to my daughter preparing a “brinner ” menu for her family.  See how long it takes me to get over the bacon phobia.  I usually love the leaner slices!  Tonight I created an overnight french toast using leftovers:  day old raisin bread bargain bought at a local bakery soaked in an egg-milk mixture laced with some of my home brew vanilla extract, and then topped with leftover reduced-fat cream cheese spread and fresh blueberry sauce.  Tell you how it turned out on my next post.

So go back to my original quote “to eat intelligently is an art”… it means to eat within a set budget as well as “lean, clean, and green”.  It takes some planning and improvisation.  My health goal this year was to lose at least 20 lbs.  Patronizing those farmer’s markets, growing my own veggies and herbs, and eating more plant foods will help me achieve that goal.  Based on this week’s visit to the doctor’s, I have lost.  As long as I do not eat too many slices of that french toast, and keep to veggie omelets, I will do accomplish my goal tastefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blooming Budgets And Budgeting Blooms

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Red ZinniaEarlier this year I accomplished a major feat, paying off my debts accumulated from years ago before my divorce. Now my household budget is blooming, looking brighter everyday. I am determined to stay in the black with my green habit. Red blooms only, no budget in the red! Did you follow all those colors and what I am saying? It means I am gardening on a budget, small budget at that. With three grown children getting married this year outside of our town, cuts are made before the flowers bloom. Dean and I need to budget our time and funds with our growing adventures. We chose to not go to the farmers’ markets. We can concentrate on the redesign of Deanna Greens And Garden Art rather than the market. We will continue to grow organically. Dean and I’s health matters too much, so no short-cuts there. The founder of Missouri’s organic Mueller Farm, where our friends at EarthDance are housed has a sign displayed which says, “Health begins in the soil.” BTW: EarthDance has a class they are offering at a nominal fee called “Health Begins In The Soil” for St. Louis locals in May. Checkout their web page: http://www.earthdancefarms.org. Dean and I may see you there as we could use a refresher course. More vegetables and herbs than perennials will grow in our newly constructed raised beds made with 1 part good quality compost, 1 part good quality organic soil, and 1 part sand for proper drainage. The rich soil and the non-treated lumber to make the raised beds are our most expensive investment in 2014. Our hardy red geraniums will continue to bloom in big pots this growing season as they have all winter under our plant lights in our semi-heated garage. Sunny zinnia and marigold blooms will welcome parishioners and guests at the church once again this spring and summer. In about 2 weeks our gourd seedlings will go into the ground underneath recycled metal arches situated near the greenhouse, trusting we will be frost-free by then. If we have a bumper crop of gourds, we may venture to a farmer’s market or two this autumn. Gardeners and weekend farmers, how do you cut cost with your green adventures?

A Half Plate Of Veggies

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The Plate Method
A half plate of veggies, a quarter plate of protein, and the last quarter plate are the carbs at lunch and dinner every day should not be an issue. It can be if the time and food budget is tight. So what is a person to do if the doctor or dietician advises this? So, I am that person and I have begun watching my carbs and protein counts and having that 1/2 plate of veggies at every lunch and every dinner. BTW ~ Everyone’s plate should look like the illustrated. ~ And my 2 snacks a day need to be a carb with a protein every time. My recent blood work shows I am no longer in the pre-diabetes category, but diabetes category. I have 3 months to take off some weight and have my glucose levels below that 100 threshold or I am placed on oral meds. I have to be a good girl for my sake, take care of myself! So my creative juices begin to flow and a practical plan begins. I am a wellness coordinator, look after employee wellness programs at my full-time job. I will be a wellness guru when it is all over. Singer Dale Watson says, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you always got.” So here are the 5 major changes I have made …
First, I have had my ah-ha moment, reality check, whatever you want to call it. I am a diabetic! If I keep on this same road I have been on, I will be diabetic the rest of my life. Who wants that? Not me! I started back to Weight Watchers before the holidays and have that support group. Though Weight Watchers is a great weight management program, the Points Plus system treats fruits equally with vegetables. Fruit has a high sugar content, so I need to treat it as a carbohydrate with the diabetic exchange program. Now that the half plate of veggies illustration is stuck in my head, that visual is what I live by today and everyday the rest of my life.
Theodore Roosevelt Quote2nd change, I am daily using a booklet my doctor gave me as well as go online to http://www.calorieking.com for my carb counts. Those winter time pick-me ups like hot cocoa, chai latte, or a pumpkin muffie brought me over the threshold from pre-diabetic to diabetic, I am sure. One hot chocolate from your friendly neighborhood Panera Bread or Quik Trip is over 50 grams of carbs, more than I am to have at one meal setting! I have to “weigh” the immediate gratification to the overall outcome. Believe me, the sweet hot drink is not worth it!
3rd change, herbal tea is my everyday fall to beverage when water is not satisfying my thirst. Soda, diet or sugar-loaded are not good for anyone. Beer and wine are reserved for special occasions like the cocoa and latte. This week Stash coconut mango oolong tea is awesome hot or iced. There are so many other teas to try, of course unsweetened. Many have medicinal purposes as well.
4th change, the dollars I am saving each week from no hot or cold beverage runs I apply to my gardening habit, with this year’s focus on more vegetables and herbs. If I can freeze or dehydrate a supply of vegetables and herbs for the next winter, I will be that much more ahead budget wise. I will literally reap what I sow.
I have upped the ante from my 10-minute 4-3-2-1 fitness routine I started in January as my New Year’s resolution. So the 5th change is if I do not get a 30-minute walk in during the day or gardening is not part of my weekday evening, I will exercise with a swim at the Center of Clayton indoor pool or a DVD exercise tape at home before the day is over. I cannot afford any more excuses for lack of exercise.
I will share recipes for my half plate of veggies in the What A Dish page on this blog. Please share yours!

Double D-licious

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Cinnamon Basil
“Dinner is double d-licious”, my husband said yesterday evening. To me just another creation made with leftovers and stables from our mostly empty frig and kitchen cupboards using little time. Dean and I are headed out-of-state in just a couple of days, so we have not stocked up with groceries. Saving time and pennies for the trip north. I made a breakfast dinner. On the menu: fresh organic blueberry pancakes and eggs scrambled with fresh organic basil, diced tavern ham, & shredded Monterey cheese. Tight schedules and tighter budgets dictate the menu some days. What throw-together meals have you created?
The basil is quite pungent now as the weather in the St. Louis area has been well over 90 degrees everyday this past week. Basil grows prolifically in Missouri, our long summers are ideal. I have grown sweet basil, but desire to try growing some other varieties.
Here are some varieties of basil:
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilcum) is the most popular variety which is used in Italian style dishes and salads. It grows to a height of 2-1/2 foot.
Lemon Basil (Ocimum citriodorum) has a mild lemon flavor, and is commonly used with fish. I love it with lemon thyme in my lemon bread recipe. Double d-licous lemon flavor! This variety grows to a height of 1 foot.
Purple Basil (Ocimum basilcum purpurea) is similar to sweet basil, but has purple leaves. It is a tender variety and grows to a height of 2-1/2 foot.
Red Rubin Basil (Ocimum basilcum) is like sweet basil but has very dark colored leaves, a much deeper color than purple basil. It grows to a height of 2-1/2 foot.
Cinnamon Basil (Ocimum basilcum) comes from Mexico, and has a cinnamon flavor. I want to try this for sure! I like cinnamon flavors in my tea, coffee, chocolate, hot cereal, fruits, veggies, and meats. It grows to a height of 1-1/2 foot.
Thai Basil (Ocimum sp.) is very spicy, typically used in Indian cooking. I started experimenting with Thai foods this past couple of years. I will have to try this variety in my recipes. It grows to a height of 3 foot.

Please share the variety of basil you use in your recipes or have grown.

A Raise, But Not The Barn Kind

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Barn Raising
This print I found on Wikipedia depicts an Amish tradition, barn raising. So you think a country girl like me would be blogging about a barn raising, but it is a raise of a different kind I am writing about tonight. My full-time office job as the Employee Wellness Coordinator for St. Louis County, Missouri has become more demanding each year despite the salary freeze organization-wide for 4 years. We finally had a 2.5% raise in January, but I never saw it with the federal tax relief ending in the same month. So I have been making it a matter of prayer and continue my hard work with the county job, my stress-relief greenhouse hobby job, and more recently working at the Old Town Spice Shoppe on the weekends. Ten months ago the talk of reclassifying my position came up during my annual review. My supervisor and I felt I was severely underpaid for what my job responsibilities entail … the budgets I keep, wellness events designed and executed, as well as disability claims and the employee assistance program contract and training hours to oversee for 4,000+ employees. Well, after 10-months of research and several discussions with the executive board on my behalf, the compensation manager called me today with some terrific news. A raise of few thousand more a year than I had previously earned! Hallelujah, my prayers have been answered! I am not a rich lady, and don’t need to be. I just want to be compensated fairly, live comfortable, and save for the future (mine and the future generations). Thank you, God my Father!

White Lace and Orange Zest

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OrangeZest
This weekend hibernation has been good for my tummy and soul. Comfort foods made at a slow pace, slow food is the best. Homemade smoky potato soup last night. White lace (sugar) and orange zest dusted over orangy-oat french toast this morning. (We have to do something with all the milk, bread, and eggs we bought with the earlier weather forecast grocery store stops!) Toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate while warming next to the kitchen fire. My soul has been fed sitting at the windows and watching the birds. My vitamin D quotas should be met with the sunrays and my daily glass of milk.
My eyeballs have been on Deanna Greens And Garden Art paperwork each morning of this 3-day weekend. I compiled receipts and sales sheets, and entered onto spreadsheets for our tax preparer. No financial profit in 2012 year, as we anticipated with the greenhouse move, redesign, and reconstruction. The 2013 budget includes the electric installation. Yes, we will finally have electric in the greenhouse. We found a licensed electrician who will install at 1/5 the price the local electric company quoted us. Electric will be used for lighting and circulation fans. Heating may come, depends on the sales this year. If not this year, maybe in 2014. We will incorporate solar and propane to heat the greenhouse. Did I tell you that we have redesigned our structure to be 650 square-foot of greenhouse and other 650 square-foot to be a screenhouse? The greenhouse side will be used to start seedlings, propagate, and grow our perennials. The screenhouse side will be our vegetables and herbs for personal and market purposes.
Body and soul profit is another thing. Hands in the dirt, heart growing along with the green plants. Character and friendships blooming during this journey.
My body and soul has called me to a walk today. I will exercise my leg and arm muscles while walking Midnight, our dog. It will be a brisk walk, as the snow remains with the cold air. This winter hibernation may be ending this afternoon, only for another impending snow storm tomorrow night.

Velvet Shoes by Elinor Wylie
“Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace …
We shall walk in velvet shoes.
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.”

Big Is Our God!

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Despite a miniscule budget and this season of grieving, by God’s grace I will create vignettes and will remain a perennial optimist (as Word Press blogger, Kate of Believe Anyway calls herself).  Big is our God!  He has big Forgiveness, big Grace, and big Love!  There are no boundaries with His many gifts and blessings!