Friday, January 28, 2011

Baby it's cold outside!

And a husky just can't handle the cold.... right?  Hello?
Lazy, lazy dog
She's so spoiled  :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

30/30 Hooping, Week 1 Wrap Up

I've been doing amazingly well at this challenge so far!  I'm keeping a little journal of my progress and the amount of time that I'm spending hooping.  Here's what I've got for the first week:

Day 1, Saturday 1/8/11
  Hooped with Megan and Lazer Friday night into Saturday morning, focusing mostly on isolation's and vertical waist hooping, for 2 1/2 hours.  Did sporadic hooping Saturday afternoon adding up to 35 minutes.

Day 2, Sunday 1/9/11
  So very sore from the Friday night/Saturday morning session that I had to again break it down into 5 minute intervals.  Just barely made it to 30 minutes!

Day 3, Monday 1/10/11
  Hooped 40 minutes solid, mixing it up.  Tried the one leg hooping... definitely need to practice that a lot more!  Got me a little scrape on the leg from it  :)  Jami played Telepath's 30 Minute Mix for me.  I think it may be the best song to do a 30 minute hoop jam to!

Day 4, Tuesday 1/11/11
  Focused solely on my arms for a solid 30 minutes.  Getting better at isolations! My muscles are starting to handle the cat eye, but it's going to take a hell of a lot of practice to get good at them.

Day 5, Wednesday 1/12/11
  Hooped for about 40 minutes, only waist hooping the "wrong way" (meaning the hoop is going counter-clockwise instead of my natural clockwise.  I am the only hooper that I personally know who spins it this direction!)  I remember now how hard it was to keep the hoop up and going in the beginning!!  I think I'm going to have a shiny new bruise on the ole hip bone.

Day 6, Thursday 1/13/11
  Free styled for somewhere around 1 hour and 45 minutes!!  It's definitely getting easier to hoop for such a long time, but I am taking short 1-2 minute breaks when I need liquids or the potty  :)  Left hip does have a nice bruise from yesterday.  I feel like a newbie again!  LOL!

Day 7, Friday 1/14/11
  *I waited too long to write this day down and now I don't remember exactly what all I did!*
Hooped for 30 minutes.  Did a lot of hip hooping the "wrong way" and free styled.

Total: 460 minutes baby! Of course that does included the 2 1/2 hours from late Friday into the wee hours of Saturday :-P  but I'm counting those too dad gum it!

About three months ago I weighed in at 132 lbs.  With only sporadic hooping, I went down to 120 before starting this challenge.  Keep in mind that I just barely hit the 5' mark so I'm not scrawny by any means!  I haven't weighed myself since (I don't own a scale ;-) ), nor have I measured any inches, but I can definitely tell that my body is already toning up and, really, that's all that matters!

  I did keep up with this challenge all the way up to the 3rd week of it!  After that third week rolled around, though, life kicked in with a glorious bang!  Our afternoons and weekends were filled with preperations for an event we were hosting in one of our back fields on February 12th, Love Fest!  I had no idea how much work goes into something like that.  We ended up with two DJ's, two acoustic sets, and 5 bands playing!!  So, although I wasn't able to get in a full 30 minutes of hooping everyday, my hoop didn't got without at least getting picked up for 5 or so minutes for a little stress relief    :)   I did learn that 30 minutes of hooping every day is not quite as feasable as I had thought it would be and to not beat myself up when I go for a few days without even looking at a hoop!  It was fun and I will probably try it again when Winter rolls around, but I need to take it one day at a time first!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Social Thursday

Instead of trying to find a specific song to share today, I'm just gonna give you a new artist to explore for yourself!

We first heard of Toubab Krewe this past November at the Bear Creek Music Festival.  They blew our socks off!  Their sound is something I've never heard before.  It is amazing!  Even cooler is that their record label is National Geographic Records.  I didn't know there was such a thing!

Check 'em out.  They're on tour right now, too!

Another visit to O'Tooles Organic Herb Farm

Back in the beginning of December, my mother-in-law, best friend and I made another trip to Madison, Fl to visit O'Tooles once again.  The mission for this trip was to see a soap making demonstration with the owner of Magnolia Hill Soap.  She was running a bit late that morning, so we decided to browse the greenhouses.  There are two large greenhouses, one containing mostly herbs and the other veggies.
Browsing the greenhouses
I can't tell you how tempting it is to just pick and eat! Ha!

There were also a few vendors on the grounds (it was open house at the farm), so after browsing the greenhouses we stepped outside to check them out.  It was early morning and they were just beginning to set up, so there were only a handful that we could visit.  One of them was the local Dreaming Cow Creamery from Pavo, Ga.  We spoke with one of the owners, Kyle Wehner, and learned about their sustainable practices on their farm and got to sample their more than delicious yogurt. 

We then stopped over to visit the Golden's who run Golden Acres Ranch in Monticello, Fl.  Bobbie and Fred are a lovely couple and are very happy to share any information they have with you.  They raise goats (you can order their meats) and have a huge lot of mayhaw trees.  We got to sample some of their homemade mayhaw jelly and the absolute best cranberry sauce/jelly in the entire world!  Mayhaws are more of a southern thing, so if you've never hear of them, I would seriously suggest you find yourself some!  To me, it is the best jelly you can get, hands down.

We spent a good bit of time talking with each of these vendors... so much so that we totally missed the soap making demonstration!  We walked up just as she was packing.  We did get to speak with Marge, the owner, for a few minutes, but didn't want to take up too much of her time since she had just gotten through answering those same questions.  I picked up a couple of bars of soap and some calendula salve.  The soaps are amazing and I have been using the salve as a moisturizer. 

Back in the greenhouses, I discovered a method of seed starting that I hadn't even considered yet.
Seed starting tray at O'Tooles Organic Herb Farm
Previously, I have been starting my seeds in a tray with individual cells.  The cells on each are pretty small and it takes a little bit of convincing to get the seedling out without damage.  I imagine just a little scoop in a tray like this will release the little seedlings with no harm and make for easier planting in the ground or larger pots.  If I can ever decide what seeds and which catalog to get them from, I'll be doing my Spring greenhouse seed starting just like this!

This was our last trip to the farm for a little while as she takes a break in January and reopens for the weekends in March.  I'll go back then to get some plants that I only want a couple of and not have to worry with starting difficult seeds!

Are you planning a garden for the Spring?  How about having a small container garden?  You can squeeze in a veggie, herb, or two even in the smallest of places!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Creamed Collards

I just recently, as in about 2 months ago, started eating collard greens.  Growing up my brother was always a huge fan of them, but I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole!  I finally tried them at my grandpa's birthday celebration with a little pepper sauce sprinkled on top (the way my brother fixed his). Yum!  Then came New Years.  This year I wanted to cook our dinner at home, including all the traditional New Year's meal foods.  The only problem was I had never even watched someone cook greens in my entire life!  Off to the web I went and found the perfect recipe on Nourished Kitchen.  Collard greens soaked in heavy cream?!  I almost drooled on the keyboard when I saw the beautiful pictures!  My husband doesn't like greens and I thought that making this recipe may actually get him to try them.  Not only did he, but he had seconds AND I had to cook another round to fill us and our 2 friends up!  Try this, you won't be disappointed!

Picture 026

Creamed Collards
     Slightly changed from the original recipe found at Nourished Kitchen

* 2 Tbsp Butter
* 1/2 yellow onion, diced
* 1 bunch collard greens
* 1 cup heavy cream

Wash collards and remove stems.  Tear or chop the leaves into small sizes.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium to medium/high heat.  Add the onions and cook until slightly caramelized.  Toss the collards into the pan, adding as much as you can at a time, letting that slightly wilt, then repeat until all of the collards have been added.  Cook until the collards are well wilted, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour in the heavy cream and simmer about 6 minutes until the cream is largely reduced.  Serve hot and sprinkle a little salt on top!

The main difference in my recipe is the amount of collards used. One bunch, to me, seemed like plenty for the one cup of heavy cream. Maybe that's just the Southern Girl in me! I also increased the cooking time. This could be because the author from Nourished Kitchen is in the Mountains and I am below sea level. Adjust this recipe to your own taste. I don't think you could really go wrong!

The 30/30 Hoop Challenge

Last week Rayna McInturf, a most awesome hooper, announced a challenge on  Starting on the 8th, you commit to hooping for at leat 30 minutes everyday for 30 days.  This is just the thing I need to motivate me to reach one of my New Year's goals!  One thing that really stuck out to me in Rayna's article was this: "It takes the human brain almost exactly 21 days to develop a new habit and after about a month it should feel harder not to do the activity."

So far I have been doing great with hooping well over 30 minutes solid everyday except Sunday, when I was so sore from the hours of hooping on Saturday that I had to break up the practice to a few minutes at a time!  I've recruited several of my friends, and although we aren't posting to, we'll have our own prize at the end of our personal challenges: a wonderful sense of accomplishment from committing and sticking to something, a more toned body, and the ablility to kick ass on the hoop! 

The 30/30 Challenge doesn't have to be about hooping, though!  Think of something you'd like to do, maybe a New Years Goal you really want to commit to.  Turn it into your own personal challenge! 

Wanee Hoopers
Me and my neice at the Wanee Festival this past Spring, just as my hooping obsession was taking off

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bar stools make me giggle?

My brother is about to finish up his upstairs bar room and I was looking at getting him some bar stools.  I came across these and had a little laugh to myself!  How funny is that?!?

Hoya Carnosa Krinkle Curl

There's not much blooming around the house here lately.  In fact, I can't think of anything other than my orchid that just started blooming!  Oh, I can't wait for Spring!

About a month ago I uploaded some pictures of my Hindu Rope Hoya to photobucket and forgot all about it.  So to help brighten the dreary days of Winter and make us long for warm weather all the more, I'm breaking out those old photos.

On several gardening forums I've read about people having big trouble getting their hoyas to bloom.  To me, the hoya is one of the easiest, low maintince plants to grow.  Maybe they're trying too hard, as mine seem to do best with a little neglect!

Hoyas like bright, indirect light and well drained soil.  I keep mine hanging in a western facing window, with white blinds that usually stay shut.  On occasion, and more so in the winter, I will open the blinds for a few hours to let a little extra light in.  The soil is a fast draining mix, similar to what you would use for an orchid, with a sphagnum moss and light soil mixture.  Hoyas like to be root bound so if you get a new plant you probably won't need to repot it for some time; mine's been in the same pot for 4 years!   I water it about once a week, sometimes less frequently, judging by the weight of the pot and the top of the soil.  It seems mine do best when I let the soil get almost all the way dry and then slowly add water, saturating the soil.  If you live in a dry climate, it's probably a good idea to mist your plant regularly as well.

The plant itself is beautiful, but the main reason I like hoyas so much is the beautiful and yummy smelling blooms!!  They bloom from Spring to mid Fall here, but colder areas will have a slightly shorter growing season.  The blooms can be born on new stem growth, or on older stubs where flowers have previously bloomed.  The following picture an example of the latter.

It only takes a few days for the flowers to open after you see them appear.  The little round buds you see in the above photo will start to take on a glossy, ballooned star shape and begin to spread apart into an umbrella. 
The petals then begin to fold back, showcasing the "inside" of the flower.
The center "star" is glossy, while the outer has a furry look!  This is when you'll be able to really smell them.  To me, they smell just like chocolate, but I've heard some people think they stink!  What?!?  You do have to get close to the bloom to smell their fragrance, though.  As the bloom ages, the smell with get fainter, until you really can't smell it at all.  For me, the blooms usually last around 2 weeks from start to finish.
This evergreen houseplant truly is beautiful and I highly recommend it!  Treated properly, it will bring happiness to you for years!  And, it is super easy to propagate from cuttings and air layering!

Update: Two days after posting this my I noticed a flower bud just starting to form on my hoya.  The entire process of budding, flowering and finally the blooms falling off lasted until February 25!