Sweet, Sweet Sheep and Potato.

A good farmer friend to the north of us sent me this video.  Yep, farmer friend to the north.  I would have a farmer wanna be friend from Canada.  Our dreams were laid down on many a table  whilst biking through Vermont years ago and I am happy to report that he and his beautiful Catherine and we people are realizing our dreams together. I cant wait to travel to the northern land above us to see their farm soon.

He is a gentle soul so it does not surprise me that he sent me this video and when I watched it, it made me yearn for a gentler world.  It made me smile just as he thought it would.   And I am forever grateful that my animals teach me daily something new about relationships.  Enjoy.  And thank you, Farmer Doug,  for thinking of me as usual.

Please click on link below for video.

Sheep teaches young bull to butt heads.

The SWEET POTATO.

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I don’t think I saw sweet potatoes on our dinner table growing up.  It was thrown in sometimes on Thanksgiving by someone.  But, if my memory serves me correctly, I don’t think my mother has ever bought a sweet potato.  Has yours?  But in her defense, I don’t think I have ever bought rhubarb.  Nor has she really.  Whate’er.

We have tons of hamburger and I have been trying to think of good recipes.  I have hit upon a scrumptuous dish that involves sweet potatoes.  It was such a hit that I scrambled for more sweet potato dishes and hit on another winner.  Sweet potatoes are so great and sweet.  And so nutritious.  We need them in our lives more often.

This first recipe is so sweet and yummy.  The hamburger tasted like sloppy joe mixture.   It calls for many middle eastern spices.  I am convinced that a sloppy joe could be made with the following spices and the typical junk left out.  i.e.  ketchup, brown sugar, etc.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Pops and I were blown away by the flavors of these two recipes.  I hope you are too.

PAKISTANI KIMA

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  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground beef (or venison, buffalo, etc) (I get from US Wellness meats)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can or jar of diced tomatoes (organic, no BPA), drained or 2 medium fresh tomatoes
  • ¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or more to taste
  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and garlic powder (or more to taste)
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet and add diced onion. Cook three minutes or until starting to become translucent.
  2. Add ground meat and cook until well browned. While cooking, add curry powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and garlic salt.
  3. Once meat is browned, add the diced tomatoes (drain off liquid first!), peeled and diced sweet potatoes, green beans and any additional spices if needed.
  4. Cover pan and simmer 20+ minutes or until sweet potatoes have softened. Check after ten minutes and add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth if needed.
  5. Serve warm and enjoy!

Thanks to http://www.wellnessmama.com for that recipe.  Really great flavors.

SWEET POTATO AND CABBAGE BAKE

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12 oz. bacon.  Everything is good when bacon is involved.

1 large onion

1 head of cabbage

2 large sweet potatoes.

salt and pepper

2 cups of homemade chicken broth. or store bought.  I do think homemade sent this recipe from yummy to  exceptional.

Sautee bacon and onions.   Chop cabbage and cut potatoes into small pieces.  Put all ingredients into 9 x 12 baking dish and bake til done.  about an hour.  Maybe more.

I hope you do enjoy the recipes.  They are real food.  No sugar,  but extremely sweet and satisfying.

Have a good rest of your week.

God bless,

Karen

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Organic Hoosier Apple? And Thomas Merton?

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

The beauty queen of the Shieling.

Oxymoron?  I have been told there is no such thing as an organic Indiana apple.  We began out orchard from scratch 6 years ago.  This year was the first time blossoms presented themselves.  We decided to let the trees do their thing.  No sprays.  No powders.  No nothin’.  Just a dose of wishing and a little prayer.   Well.  Well.  Well.  Here we have an apple.  A most gorgeous one.

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Not a bad size either, if I do say so.    I will admit that this is by far the most beauteeful one of the bunch.  But the bunch tastes pretty wonderful.   We plan to cull them next year to hope for larger apples.

We have picked 4 five gallon buckets full.  Not bad for the first season.  And you are wondering….are they diseased?  Is there such thing as an organic Hoosier apple?  They are not diseased.  Nothing too terrible got to them.  They have this black splotchy stuff on them.   I have read that the black splotchy stuff is harmless and it washes them apples up nice and pretty.  Just like the store makes them.   I bet there are children (and adults) that think apples grow in the back room of the grocers.

Organic apples in Hoosierland do indeed exist.

End of apple story.  Have you heard of Thomas Merton?

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He was a Trappist Monk priest who lived as a hermit for many years at The Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky.  Wikipedia describes him as a poet, a social activist, and a student of comparative religion.   He was all those things but much more.   He is known for studying and embracing many other religions in an effort to bridge social/religious gaps between other religions and his, Catholicism.  An ambassador of sorts.

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He has written many really good books.  Look his work up if you haven’t already.

Thomas can be considered a “cool dude”.  He is by far not the stereotype priest or monk.  And has had much controversy surrounding his life because of his unconventionalism.  Life before monkhood took him places that made him very uncomfortable.  Same places I (and probably you too) have been.   He did not feel a part much of the time and felt out-of-place in this world.  Check.  Check.  Been there.  Alone in his thoughts often.  Check.  When he encountered life that included God, he began to feel more himself.  Though rebellion in a sense remained with him.

His writings have taught me about contemplative prayer and embracing solitude.  Contemplative prayer is a state, not too unlike meditation, that  you enter into with God and just be.  In His Presence.  I am with you, God.  Wholly.  I am sitting with You.   Opening a door to let your relationship grow on God’s terms and not yours.  By staying silent, we are inviting God to do the talking and not us.   It is a powerful form of prayer.  It is,  by and large,  the type of prayer that has so greatly enriched my relationship with Him. How can I hear Him if I am doing all the talking.  I really want to know what He has for me.  What He has to say to me.  And if I face the truth, what I have to say in any matter doesn’t work or matter or interest me.  Really.

He spent years in communication with other religious leaders and finally was able to participate in an interfaith conference between Catholic and non-Christian leaders in Bangkok in 1968.  He spoke at the conference, went back to his hotel to rest up and was electrocuted stepping out of  the shower and died at the age of 53.  Controversial even in death.    There are numerous books written by him that are wonderful, inspiring, and educational as well as an autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, which is also a great read.

Apples and Thomas Merton are both food for the soul.

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

• Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”

God bless,

Karen

 

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Cod Liver Oil All That Its Cracked Up To Be?

First, before I tell the cod liver tale, I want to share my new breakfast concoction that is total yummo.  Total healthy.  Plus a secret ingredient that makes it all worthwhile.

Karen’s Yogurt Supreme

Ready?

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Fresh Blueberries

A couple of tablespoons of flax

A couple of tablespoons of Chia seed

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Full Fat (always.  If the fat is from a good source, it is terrific for us.) Organic PLAIN yogurt.

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A couple of tablespoons of pumpkin seeds. Preferably soaked and dried.

A couple of tablespoons of sunflower seeds.  Preferably soaked and dried.

About 8 drops of Stevia sweetener.

And now for the secret ingredient…..

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The darkest chocolate you can find.  Less sugar.  Less processed.

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A teaspoon (or more) of grated dark chocolate.  Ooooh myyyy goodnessss.  This breakfast is good.  And thoroughly healthy.  Every last drop.

Cod Liver Oil

I was reading an article about a gal who had extreme inflammation in her mouth.  Her dentist had her on antibiotics over the course of a year and did not help her.  Someone told her to take 1 1/2 t. cod liver in the morning and at night.   Also, she was told to do “oil pulling” which is where you put gobs of oil in your mouth and “chew” it for like 15 minutes and spit it out.  I have done this before and it is not pleasant, and made me gag.  I do believe it has medicinal qualities but the buck has to stop somewhere and that is where it stops for me.

5 months ago I went into my dentist for a cleaning and told them that it sorta hurt to bite down on popcorn.  Nothing else, just popcorn.  Next thing I knew I was in the chair getting a filling and a crown right next to each other.  I don’t know what they did in that process but I left the dentist not being able to chew on my right side at all.  So, I was no longer sad about not being able to chew popcorn.  I was sad about not being able to chew anything.   I kept going back to Mr. Dentist and they ended up crowning my new filling.  I now have two little crowns side by side.  Kingy and Queeny.  Fast forward 5 months… I still cannot chew on the right side.

When I read this gal’s story, I thought, I can at least try stepping up my cod liver intake from 1/4 teaspoon a day to 1 1/2 t.  and see what happens.  What happened?  I can chew on my right side.

Moral of this story?  Cod liver oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory.  It healed my king and queen.

It is filled with Omega 3.

You’ve heard of Omega 6 and Omega 3.  They are both wonderful for us….HOWEVER…… and I say that really loud……  We get Omega 6 from lots of foods.  All the oils especially, which whether we know it or not,  we eat so much of.   Nuts, seeds, butter…..all good stuff right?   Not good if you are not balancing it with Omega 3’s.  It is necessary to keep those balanced in our bodies or we open up huge opportunities for chronic inflammation and what not.

Omega 3 foods?   Flax.  Beef.   Fish.  Walnuts.  Tofu.  Things we do not eat a ton of.  Unless you’re like me, who is racing against the clock to see if I can eat 900 lbs. of beef before it goes bad in our fridge.

Cod liver oil is a great way to supplement so you can stay balanced.   I am reaching a point in my vitamin supplement journey that if I had to give up all but one of my supplements, I would keep the cod liver oil.

Let me just say that in my research on cod liver oil…I have found most oil has been processed with heat and has synthetic vitamins added back in.  NOT GOOD. Might as well not take it.    It keeps  coming back to the same brand.  It is the best on the market.  It is the bomb.

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It is the real deal.

I may have said before, that I am bankin’ on donuts galore in heaven.  Succulent cookies falling from the sky.  Ice cream fed to me from my chaise lounge down by the river.   I get my “version” of those things every so often but not as often as I would like.  Until then, I fill in the holes with cod liver oil.  I ain’t complainin’.

God bless,

Karen

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Liberalism. Conservatism. Liberation.

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For as many people there are out there, I am fairly certain that there are that many definitions for liberalism and conservatism.  Just as I am sure faith has as many definitions.     I don’t think about either one often.  I know what my value and belief system is and I think that is all I need to know.

Last weekend , we were out with friends for dinner.  And a great one it was.  The other Mrs. and I were talking deeply profound matters while the Mr.’s were talking about…hmmm….. I don’t know.   She asked me if  I thought I was a conservative Catholic.   I said yes.   She disagreed.  She thought I must be liberal because I am not  judgmental  of the people who have another value or belief system than I.  Then,  I began wondering what the heck.    We interrupted the probably not so deeply profound conversation of the men and I asked Pops if he thought I was liberal or conservative,  thinking I may be off base and don’t know what I am.  Like I said, I don’t think about it often.  He said that I am most definitely conservative.  That’s what I thought.  You got it.  I am blond alright.

I do not share my political views often since it would often come across as me vs. you.  Or me good, you bad.  Or me smart, you not.  In today’s atmosphere,  I do not mean to participate in division tactics.   I will not begin here either.  But it seems to me that we,  as a culture,  are more interested in judging each other rather than respecting our differences in our values and beliefs.

I have been all gobbly gooked since this conversation.   I pose a few questions out into the thin air.

Am I wrong if I value something that you don’t?  Or vice versa?  Should I be chastised?

Is it my job to judge your values and beliefs? Or your job to judge mine?

Am I NOT doing my job if I  don’t make a judgement?

Is it even important to form an opinion on every livin’ thing?  Maybe let one slip by unnoticed.

Does judging cause separation?  Division?

Because I feel strongly about something and I don’t talk about it,  does it mean I really don’t feel strongly?

If I don’t speak out my values, am I considered tolerant of anything?

Is it enough to live out my values and beliefs?  Does that speak louder than loud words?

 Is judging each other too big a job for any one of us?

It is all very curious to me.  I believe you think one way and I think another,  but what now?  Nothing now.  That’s it.

Enough on liberalism and conservatism.

Liberation.

We have lived in this house 2 years.  The builder put a door hitch on the inside of the closet.  Because of the door hitch, I have not been able to open my underwear drawer more than three or four inches for two years.

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No kidding.  Who knows what is in that drawer?  if I can’t reach it in the narrow opening, it doesn’t get reached.

UNTIL TODAY….

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I took off the hitch.  Excuse me, I should be saying latch.  I took off the latch.  Or hitch.  My underwears drawer is open.  After two years.    I have been LIBERATED.

That is LIBERATION, baby.  That IS liberation.  Yeah.  That is li……………..

God bless,

Karen

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Jesus Christ is Risen Today….

…..at our farm.

Some of you may know that Pops and I have felt that along with this here farm came a responsibility to glorify God.  We felt it when we bought the property and have taken it very seriously.  We want to share this property with others, that they may also come and be in nature and use the land for renewal, refreshment and relaxation.  Our idea is to provide others with a place to retreat whether it be a formal, facilitated retreat, a meeting place for the good of others, or simply a place for families and friends to gather to renew their spirit with each other.

Phase I  was to get us here and up and running.  We have done that.  Phase II  is under way and thankfully is a whole lot less back-breaking….. but emotionally?  The most exciting.  When we bought the property we chose (or I think rather, He chose) a spot for our outdoor chapel.  A place where one can go and pray.  Lay down their sorrows.  Lift up their thanks.  And praise His Holy Name.  The chapel will consist of a crucifix and a stone wall that you can belly up to and pray.

We began last year by making a clay model of the corpus and cut wood from our beloved front yard trees that died.

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I took the model up to Indianapolis this Spring to have it cast in bronze at a foundry who work with artists.  Was a totally cool place.   Almost made me want to change mediums.

This week we put it all together and to the chapel area it went.   The thought of having a place to worship on our property tickles me to no end.  Maybe I can take my cot up there and have a sleep over.

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Helper

Helper

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We packed our tools into our gator when through and turned around to see this stunning sight.

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The light at the base of the tree BLEW our mind.  Thank you, God, for accepting our invitation.  Pops and I were dumbstruck.

Phase III is a cabin for da people.  God will provide when He thinks we are ready to handle it.  My heart has been feeling a tickly sensation in the past few weeks.  I wonder if it means we are ready.  Or maybe He was readying me for today’s miracle.

God bless,

Karen

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Augie Doggie Bloggie

Auggie. The new kid on the block.

Augie. The new kid on the block.

We picked up Augie wandering the streets of our nearby village a week ago today on our way to church.   The people of the village said he showed up about a week before and had been wandering since.  Our county is known for dumping dogs.  Can you imagine?   The poor thing had ticks all over him and was very scared.   The village people said  we were the only people that he would come up to.  He picked us, I guess.   He has been introduced to all the Shieling village “people”.  And he checks out fine.  Although, I am missing a cat as we speak.  ??

Today,  we walked the property to get him more comfortable with the lay of the land.

Augie met the fishies.

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Fishie

Virginia tried to teach him how to swim.

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We have not been able to enjoy the lake as of recent.  We have had white-faced hornets taking up residency on the dock.  A few days ago, our good ol’ Mr. Shady showed up all decked out to give those old hornets a taste of their own medicine.    He came donned in a bullet proof vest and what not. Of course.   It comforts us to have Mr. Shady come around once a week to kill hornets,  step on mice, moles and voles, among many other household chores.  Is stepping on mice, moles and voles one of your household chores?

Mr. Shady

Mr. Shady

I am happy to report the dock is free and clear.  Whew.

We discovered living cities of beings contained in large basketball sized bubbles in the lake.   Augie was quite impressed by the lake visit.

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Augie and I were amazed at how nicely the cow pasture has adjusted to becoming a shooting range for golf balls.

Golf ball hitting range

Golf ball hitting range

And we ended our tour by checking on our young apple trees that are fruiting for the first time this year.   We are giving organic a go.  They may not look like the big shiny apples in the store, but they taste every bit as delicious.  I am relieved because I am not spraying them.  Did you know apples are top on the list of “Dirty” produce?  Meaning they are highly contaminated by chemicals if not organic.   Although, I  just learned a frightening factoid about organic apples and pears.  Some farms use antibiotics on their “organic” fruit.  More reason to buy as local as you can.  If you can, try buying them from your back yard.

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Enjoy the following list of the Dirty Dozen produce.  Try to buy organic when purchasing the following foods:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries (sometimes sprayed up to fifty times in its short little tiny life)
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The 12 LEAST contaminated are:

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

It was a glorious day on the farm.  Augie is happy to be here and we are happy to have him.  I  would just like him to tell me where my precious black cat disappeared to .

God bless,

Karen

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The Face of Life Changes

It does sometimes, doesn’t it?

As I try to step back into routine, somehow I have found that my routine has changed. It  doesn’t seem like routine to me.

Yet.

After all, isn’t routine what we settle into once an adjustment occurs.   What do we call that time in the interim?

Ah.  Maybe transition?  Whate’er.   Life is different right now.

Back in March, I got a big art commission that is demanding a huge chunk of my day.  So, I am looking for about 5 extra hours each day.  Do you know where those hours are?  Did you swipe them from me?   Many things have been tossed aside so that I could meet the first deadline of this project.  I finished it yesterday.  So my old routine returned today.  But will be gone tomorrow when the second part begins.

Marian University (Indianapolis) is building a Nursing/Osteopathic Healing Center School.  They chose me and five other artists to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the building.  I much obliged.  I designed 5 images that I felt best depicted their value missions of the University.   They are: prayer, stewardship, forgiveness, justice and peace, and dignity of the individual.   The project is for me to take my 1 sq. ft. paintings and create mosaics that are 6′ x 6′.

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Pack it up time for installation.

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Combine the crate that we built to transport and the mosaic, we figured the thing weighed at least 300 lbs.  It was cumbersome and SCARY.

Delivery.

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A lot of resting  goin’ on here and there.  We were frightened  to continue on with opening it and getting the thing up on the wall.

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But we soldiered onward.

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And there it sits.

Now I only have 4 more to complete.

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The thought of doing 4 more of these things and transporting them up the highway is daunting.  But, God willing, it will get done.  Please pray.

I am grateful for this job.  It feels good to be needed and/or wanted, doesn’t it?

I look forward to  the transition of my day to become routine so that I can resume fun things like blogging, walking in the woods,  buying food for my family,  taking showers, brushing my teeth……..saying hello to God.  All that fun, necessary stuff.

Food for the soul.  And family.

God bless,

Karen

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