How to Become Better Acquainted with Your Hope and Faith

How to Become Better Acquainted with Your Hope and Faith

Have you ever felt yourself struggling to uphold what you believe to be pure and true? Do you find yourself drowning in heartache and sorrow because you have lost the light of your hope and faith? No worries—your heart and soul can be full and light again. You can restore and become better acquainted with your hope and faith, but you have to want it. You have to believe that there is good in you and in the world, then invite that goodness into your heart.

Take Time Out to Meditate and Reflect

When you have a bad day, you probably lie in bed for hours, reflecting on all of the negatives. However, if you meditate on the positives and reflect on the good aspects, then you can go to sleep with a lighter, brighter outlook on tomorrow. Hope and faith effects every element of your life. When you believe that tomorrow will be great, you can move towards positive, uplifting perspective for your future.

Be Thankful for Your Blessings

Do you have a roof over your head? Family and friends to love you and care for? Good things to eat and nourish you? These are blessings and you should be thankful for every good thing you have. Sure, you might not have everything you want, but you certainly have some of the things you need, like love, compassion, nourishment, and a warm, dry place to lay your head and dream at night.

Read Your Bible and Other Inspirational Texts

Hope and faith moves beyond you. God and the goodness of the world are your guiding lights, so embrace the hope and faith that comes from the Bible and other inspirational texts. Find quotes that make you feel lighter and better about yourself. Highlight passages that speak to your spirit. Re-read these often.

 If it helps, invest in a few sessions of verbal behavior therapy to learn how to better communicate your feelings through love, positivity, and hope.

Be Creative in Your Expressions

Creativity and the ability to express yourself are blessings. Draw hope and faith from your writings, artworks, and other creative expressions. Pour your feelings, dreams, and woes into your creative flow, then express them with a crafty medium, like paints, drawings, poetry, and stories. Getting your negatives out on paper will help you achieve a happier, hopeful perspective.

When you feel that you have lost your hope and faith, it can be easy to belittle those that have turned their negatives into positives. Instead of feeling jealously and resentment towards these people, invite their wisdom and good spirits into your life. Draw hope, faith, and inspiration from them through friendship, and keep an open mind to their life lessons.

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The New Motto...

Today I will eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

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The Chicken Chick's Guide to Backyard Chickens

Having been obsessed with chickens for most of my life, I anxiously awaited the arrival of the The Chicken Chick's Guide to Backyard Chickens. The book did not disappoint.  It is loaded with great advice and lots of chicken pictures.

The pictures show chickens "in action" and are labeled with the chicken breed. These are details I appreciate. The book has many tips on housing, care, feeding, and emergency situations. Most of the information is good advice, but I did find a lot of it to be heavily edited to CYA (cover your ass.) It's very unfortunate that we have such a litigious society, and I couldn't help but be annoyed by Kathy's suggestions to trust the big chemical/agricultural companies when it comes to feeding/treating your chickens.

I suppose she has many sponsors among those companies and also wants to provide information to the lowest common denominator. It's not safe for a new chicken owner to make their own feed mixes based on random internet information or their own "intuition." In that regard, it's probably best to follow the conventional wisdom. But suggesting that big ag knows best on what to feed anybody is like saying fortified cereal (extruded grains full of chemicals...very similar to pet food kibble or chicken pellets) is the very best scientifically formulated food for humans. It's hogwash.

On the other hand, she is shown in the books doing her own veterinary work - cutting off bumble foot, bathing dirty butts, etc.

Over the years, I have enjoyed Kathy's website and find her chicken knowledge to very helpful and often unique. The book is a condensed/sanitized version of her blog. It's a very useful reference guide and a great conversation starter.

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Can you really improve poor sandy soil with Comfrey

Before we purchased our farm, I read almost every book on permaculture designs and soil improvement techniques. That knowledge would come in handy when it came time to improve our poor sandy soil.

The farm had been continuously cropped for 136 years. There is no topsoil - just sand. Many, many feet of sand. Like a beach. We started out planting trees and even though we mulched and had a rainy spring, the ground was still dry and hard. The trees suffered.

Fortunately, I came across a woman selling perennial plants and when I went to check out her plants, I spied a rare type of comfrey. It had blue flowers and grew well in our climate, so I bought a few plants from her. Then I planted them - and they wilted and flopped on the ground.

Checking in with Dr. Google, I learned that comfrey is one of a few plants that grows easily from root pieces. Meaning - every chunk of root should grow a new plant. So those floppy plants should regenerate from the roots below the surface.

Walking through the woods, I came across a stand of the pink flowered comfrey. I dug out 3 plants and cut the roots into 58 pieces. These were planted all around our farm. Since our soil is so dry, I planted them along the forest edges (as they were originally found) and near our wetlands - so they could suck up the nutrients from that fertile area.

Why did I do all of this? Well - Comfrey is a hardy plant that put out a lot of vegetative growth. It can have deep roots that will draw up micronutrients from below the surface. In many climates, it can be cut 3-4 times per season and used as a fresh mulch to add nutrients to soils - or can be made into a compost tea.

Hopefully, a great percentage of those 58 roots will create plants. I will cut them down once they are nice and tall and use those leaves to mulch around our trees and garden plants. They will break down, providing nutrients and organic material. If they multiply, that's even more free mulch! But will it work?

Time will tell!!! We may see sprouts coming up from the roots this summer yet. I just planted them on 6/17/17 - (yes, you can even plant the roots in the summer and they are supposed to survive!)

As they pop up, I will update this article and keep it updated as I use the comfrey leaves to improve our sandy soil. We have a large garden space, so it is going to take a lot of leaves - and a lot of years, but it should be self sustaining in the long run. Fingers crossed!

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The Grandparent Pattern

Are we operating under free will? That is, of our own accord? I can say with absolute certainty that I spent a large portion of my life operating below the conscious level. I let my body control my action and it did some amazing things. And some horrible things. For the past 8 years, I have felt much more in control of my actions ( emotions, feelings, life path.)

Now, as I am leaving my fourth decade of life, I find myself very insistent on building our research farm and spending the rest of my days in the scientific pursuit of edible endeavors. Why am I drawn to this? Is it what I really want or is it programmed into my body to want this?

It may be both, and I um unsettled with this answer. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a scientist. I enjoyed roaming the earth, interacting with plants and animals, and freedom above all. Those are the cores of my being. But they were also escapes.

At this age, am I still attempting to escape? Or am I beyond trying to escape from my own life? Is it simpler still? Could it be that as I enter this age and my children quickly become adults, I am programmed to consider grandparenthood?

My own history with grandparents left much to be desired, but there were glimmers of beauty.

I thought of my paternal grandfather today as I greedily gobbled up every ground cherry in my garden. As a child, I wandered his garden frequently, not always sure what was growing or not interested in the contents (raw vegetables....)

But he showed me the ground cherries one summer and let me taste one. It was amazing. It came in it's own alien wrapper and tasted great. They were everywhere. He said I could eat as many as I wanted. I ate them all.

I was never allowed in the garden again.

Visiting my paternal grandparents mostly sucked. We went every year at Christmas and once or twice to help with chores.The adults were always complaining, children were not allowed to speak (or run!) and they were always smoking. Aunts and uncles were inevitably there as well, and also smoking....and complaining. It was gross, so I spent most of my time outdoors. At the time of my youth, my grandparents had a few hundred acres of land - much of it swamp and forest. I journeyed to the edges of it all.

When I was really young, my grandfather let me collect eggs from his chickens. And he took me fishing a few times. It was he that taught me to fish with nothing but a stick and a hook - a method I would use on my own in far flung creeks on to bring home fish that my mom refused to cook (instead, she buried them around young trees.) It was also my grandfather that taught me how to cook an egg. Not out of love or interest, but out of disgust that I didn't know how "at my age."

He grew mushrooms under the boards in his house and tomatoes in water in the back room. He had a dog he abused and a bird that never stopped yelling. He was drafted in WWII and spent his service fixing fighter planes. His oldest son ran away at 16 because of his abuse and was drafted into vietnam. He came back to the US but never came to see his parents again. When his next son was drafted, he said ENOUGH and shot off his trigger finger.

Alas, two more sons would join the armed forces. One uncle to the navy and my father, the marines. Together, they had 12 babies, 10 survived. My grandfathers family had 12 children, his father's had 18!! - all surviving. My grandmother was part native american. They survived the depression. They were mostly self sufficient. They refused to talk about any of it. Maybe because I was a child and not allowed to speak unless spoken to, or maybe because the past is painful. Or maybe they just hated me. Either way, I asked them and they told me this -

In regards to the depression - "We were poor before, we were poor during, and we were poor after. Nothing changed."

In regards to the war - "Why the hell would you want to talk about that?"

And those two statements summarize nearrly half of all the conversations I had with my grandparents.

With my mothers parents, it was even less. I remember visiting them twice. One, the green pants incident. The other, the sock monkey excitement.

I have pictures that verify the green pants (meaning....I wore green corduroy pants on that visit - I was maybe 3 or 4) and a photo of me visiting them as a baby. The sock monkey event happened when I was 8. So I saw them at least 3 times. My father had always forbid us from seeing my mother's family. Why? Because he was a controlling asshole.

But as an 8 year old, I saw their world in a very interesting light. Both of my maternal grandparents died in their 50s. My grandfather died when I was 5, and the green pants incident was the last time I saw him. He had an oxygen tank and tubes in his face. He had emphysema. He looked like he was 90 something.

When I was 8, my mother disobeyed my father's orders not to visit her mother and we went at Christmas time. We brought her presents. I don't know what we brought her but it took her years to open the gifts, and she folded and saved the paper.

We sat in her one room house and I was in awe. She had one light bulb that was connected to a string that went outdoors. She was  proud of it. I think it was new. There was no running water. My mother showed us the basin in the kitchen that was their bathtub. This was the 90s and my grandparents lived off the grid their entire life. No solar. No electricity (save for the new lightbulb that was now in my grandmother's room). No running water. Nothing. How did they survive?

The house was small. More like a shed. It had wood floors - bare wood and you could tell that it probably used to be dirt. There was a bunkbed type bed where the children used to sleep above their parents bed and an attic of sorts that held the older children. Wow!

She opened her gifts and was embarrassed. She had not planned for us to come. She did not have gifts for us. Not then, not ever. So she hastily went to the box in her room and pulled out a sock monkey. She gave it to my sister. She must have pulled out something for all of us but the sock monkey stole the show. It was the grossest thing we had ever seen. It wasn't dirty or anything like that. It was just so weird. We grew up in the country and very rarely (well...probably never at this point went to stores.) The sock monkey was something we had never seen before or even imagined.

We were never to speak of going to her house. The next year she died.

My mother was distraught - having lost both parents at the age of 30, but she was also apathetic. They were not very good to her - and a big part of the reason she found herself pregnant (trying to escape) at 15 and now stuck in the situation she was in.

For some reason she allowed my sister to see the crime photos at the age of 7, but would not allow me to see them at 9. I was morbidly curious about them and dug through all her things for years in the attempt to find them. My grandmother was decapitated. I never saw the photos, but I did look for the stitches at the funeral. They had sewn her head back on.

Not long after she died, the fighting began. As I would come to realize in later life, people fight over your stuff when you die. It's disgusting. It makes you look at people in the worst light. My parents did not fight over any of their parents things (not my moms parents or dad's). They just let the other kids have whatever they wanted and stayed out of it. I suppose that was honorable.

But we did visit the farm. This time with no grandparents. It seemed so small but I know that it entailed acres of land.

I spent almost the entire time digging for treasures. My mother had once shown me two old coins she found them while digging around the old silo as a little girl. That was all I needed to know.... (For the record, I found nothing.)

I did also poke around the outhouse (wow!) and stand on the fence over looking the dairy barn where I imagined my mom flying off the cow that bucked her off and resulted in her getting a stick in her eye. I also examined the trash heap. That was also amazing. So many metal appliances, parts, machines....all thrown into the ground as if that would take them away...

My other "grandparent" memories involve them not being at any of my school events or "grandparent days." I remember having to share a grandparent in 4th grade because I was the only kid without one. They might have came at the end of camp once. Or they promised to come and didn't show. I can't remember.

I called my grandfather once as a child because I was babysitting my siblings and a crazed man was trying to get into our door. He called the police.

He did attend my graduation party, but probably didn't talk to me. And I called him up once as an adult to invite myself to dinner. I wanted to introduce him to my fiance (it seems appropriate) and he criticized me for being a salesperson when my brother was a doctor. It should be noted that my older brother was the first person in our entire family tree to finish college. I was second.

My dad's mom died instantly of mitral valve prolapse when I was about 13. I touched her skin at the funeral and was admonished for my disrespectful behavior by my aunts. My grandfather eventually succumbed to alzheimers, the longest living of them all, in his 80s.

All my childhood, I felt estranged from my grandparents. As if they didn't exist or didn't care. I knew that it was wrong. I was determined that things would be different for my children, but they weren't.

My dad was pretty much never trustworthy, and my mom ran away just a few weeks after my second child was born. She was not all there when my son was young (and watched him maybe twice.) She had other things on her mind. Boyfriends, it turns out.

She ran off and it was 11 years before I talked to her again. I met up with her to discuss my dad. He had been a disaster all my life but became exponentially worse after she left. A problem she knew she was leaving for us to deal with.

My father has been arrested more times for public disturbance, suicide attempts and that genre than I can even remember. He as been in and out of at least 8 mental hospitals. At least 8. He was homeless off and on and lived with me and my family each time he worked to get his life back on track. But he just couldn't get there and was eventually institutionalized at the ripe old age of 58. His story is sad, tragic, and disgusting. I am forever warped by the experience.'s safe to say that my children got some version of "estranged from grandparents" just as I did. I tried hard to break that pattern but it was not my pattern to break.

In case you are wondering, their other grandparents live across the country and see them once or twice a year. It's usually a big event with lots of kids and it doesn't afford much bonding. As they are now older, though the grandparents my try, they have to compete with screens, friends, and teenage moodiness.

But this brings me to the very long conclusion of all this. Am I driven to have a farm where my grandchildren can come and feed chickens, eat all my fruits, and collect honey with me in order to break the pattern? Is this my main motivation. I can consciously say that I think it's a good idea, but am I driven by a subconscious need to make it right? If my subconscious is fueling this desire, is it even my own? Does it matter?

In any event, it feels right for me to put down roots. Roots for my family to start a new legacy - a new generation of parents/grandparents that stay with their families and care for their children. All the while, I can feed my internal passions of discovery and exploration (passions that eerily mimic those of my mushroom growing grandfather and possibly my "unkown" off-grid grandparents.)

Something to ponder.

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Working Various Jobs Taught me Many Lessons - and that's why I choose to work

One of the greatest things about growing up was all the different things I have learned. I enjoyed working various jobs and learning the systems behind how things were made, transported, sold, and distributed. It has been a great pleasure. That's one of the toughest parts of dedicating your life to raising the next generation - stay at home parenting. Though it is rewarding it in it's own right - and has a broad reaching effect, it is not as personally impactful or interesting. I miss the constant education of interacting with the working world.

All things operate in systems. Remarkable, efficient, and planned systems. Think about it the next time you are stopped at a stop light. How amazing is it that the other cars around you (people you have never talked to) are coordinating their actions with you, without communication, in order to ensure efficient and safe traffic procession. Amazing! Someone thought it all out, then taught the system to drivers. The system is enforced, managed, and maintained. And all are better for it. It is this way in all things.

My background is in the health/medical world. I have enjoyed various stints in retail where I actively observed the shopping (and thus eating) habits of a wide range of people. I have worked in the hospital and pharmacy environments and was made privy not only to the vast array of medications ingested daily, but also the amount of waste and  medical package testing that occurs in those areas. People in our country are perpetually ill. Many people profit from this illness and many people suffer because of it. Which do you want to be?

I have been part of the distribution, sale, and marketing of medications. I am forever in awe and disgust at the practice.  People are very quick to take the next greatest thing without regard to why they may be sick in the first place. This practice carries over into all aspects of life - be it finance, love, or health. Always jumping to the quickest, easiest answer without stopping to think about the consequences or the long term goals.

What are your goals? Do you wish to be rich and famous? Do you wish to be healthy and happy? Can you be happy? What is holding you back?  Are you working to get at the root of what you are, what you need, and what is ailing you instead of trying to "get rich quick" or "instantly slim down with a pill? These are important questions to ponder.

Why is the doctor recommending this to me? What am I able to do to improve my own health? Will I be stuck on this medicine for life and will it cause long term problems? Why do I do the things I do? Is it out of habit or out of joy for the activity?

I have pondered these very questions and have decided to be forever learning. I will continue to study human behavior and am always a student of medical innovation. I hope to reenter the workforce and begin to expand my knowledge again soon. Wish me luck and I wish it to you as well.

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Make the Most Out of Your Backyard Space

Make the Most Out of Your Backyard Space

Backyards come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some are large and spacious while others are small and cozy. It doesn’t matter what type of yard you have. You can still create a space that you and your family and friends can enjoy throughout the year. All you need to do is focus on a few specific areas. Once you transform these spots, you’ll have a backyard you will completely fall in love with.

The Deck

A patio or deck should be viewed as the entry way into the backyard. It needs to be inviting. Place seating here where you can relax, but keep it open to the rest of the yard. Patios naturally spill into the grass, but you need stairs to access the yard from a deck. If you are not sure how to build stairs for a deck, look for help from professionals like those at Renovation Experts.


There are two types of gardens you can create. Vegetable gardens are a very useful type of garden. They supply you with fresh foods while still offering greenery in the backyard. Flower gardens add beauty to any space. Use either kind to add interest to your backyard. Larger spaces are ideal for utilizing both varieties of gardening. Place flowers around the house and deck for a pop of color, and put the vegetable patch further out.

The Lawn

Think about how you want to use this part of the backyard. Do you enjoy reading? Set up a lounge chair and table under a nice shade tree. Do you have children? Be sure to add in a swing set or sand box. Older kids like outdoor games such as corntoss and ladder ball. If you have pets, consider a fence that will keep them safe.

Once you have put a little time and effort into the deck, gardens, and the lawn itself, you can start enjoying the time spent in this area much more than you ever have before. These tips will work just as well on a small, quaint backyard as they will on a large spacious property. As long as the result is a space you and your family can enjoy, you will have successfully created your own suburban retreat.
I always approach the internet with an air of skepticism. Don't You?
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Ozeri INSTAVAC Nesting Food Storage Container Set .

Ozeri INSTAVAC Nesting Food Storage Container Set

Instant vacuum freshness without pumps, motors or confusing parts; Simply press down on the lid and air is forced out via the one-way valve.

Patented valve removes excess air to reduce naturally occurring bacteria; It also releases pressure to prevent spills and splatters in microwaves.

Wave pattern on bottom of each container keeps cut fruit and vegetables elevated from water and juices.

Handy date dial allows you to record when food was first stored and monitor days kept in the refrigerator.

BPA-free, stain-resistant, shatter-proof and as transparent as glass; Freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe; Satisfaction guaranteed.

Order Today -

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Orange Screw - Review of its use on our farm

Last fall we bought a 40 acres and set to work  rebuilding it into a research farm. We spent a lot of time cleaning it up - removing old debris and digging up metal. We planted over 100 trees. It was for this reason, I planned to use the Orange screw.
We have sandy soil, and I was certain our trees would blow over in the wind (heck - the trees were planted as a windbreak!!)  Amazingly, they didn't and they didn't need staking.

Then we went through a series of canopy adventures where I was certain I would use the screws. I forgot about them during the process and decided to use the stakes that came in the canopy kits.  Our canopy(s!!!) pulled out of the ground and smashed themselves into mangled hunks of metal and torn tarp. Yes, this happened more than once and we finally decided to build a more stable structure.

You can read about these misadventures at our farm blog (in case you are interested in really stressful hardwork.)
Why must we always
 learn the hard way?

But what about the screws? I received them months ago and really thought I would have had a chance to try them by now!

In fact, I've staked endless gopher traps, tarps, and random projects since receiving the screws. I should have used the orange screws in most of these cases, but didn't because that this point I had decided to save them for the orchard.

I was saving them for the apple trees. Dwarf apple trees are notorious for leaning, breaking, and falling over. Especially in soft soil. But a bunch of well drama and time constraints meant the orchard did not get planted this year (and won't be) so I moved on!

And finally - we used the orange screws to hold down our shooting bench.

The shooting bench exits at the farm, therefore it is in constant barrage by the wind tunnel that is our land. The orange screws are definitely overkill in this situation, but I was determined to use them before deciding to "save them" again.

Here's what I learned: They are sturdy. Most of my metal stakes are bent at this point (and that's from going into "beach" sand  y'all.) My metal stakes are also rusty- which is annoying.

These guys are tough to put in the ground - hence the plastic "tube" that comes with them. They go in strong and stay in strong. You can't just pull them out. Even in sand. I have to retwist them out. That makes these awesome. They are a super thick plastic - that makes them durable. They are also fat. This is good for stand alone situations but not as versatile when you have to put them through an eyelet or loop.

The short answer - I like them. I WILL buy another couple sets of these WHEN the apples are planted. And I will use them to stake trees. They have amazing potential for that use!

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Groupon Keeps Evolving and Adding more Deals - EVEN at Walmart!

Remember when Groupon was the new kid on the block - offering all sorts of great local deals? Well - they're still doing that, but they've upped the ante and now offer coupons to local retailers.

Lately, Walmart has been our go-to store for almost everything. Between building a farm, raising a family, and work commitments, it's just easier to go to one store.

But how much better is it when you can save money doing it!!??

All you have to do is click through Groupon to get to their coupon section - Here is the page for Walmart.

Then you select the coupons you want, print them out, and save money. Easy!

They have coupons for all sorts of online and brick and mortar stores. For Walmart's coupons, you can use them online or in the store. I just printed off 5 coupons for things I was already going to buy. Pretty awesome!

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