Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baby Opossum! Awwww

Hello baby 'possum! Oh my gawd, it's the cutest baby animal in the whole whole world - this little one belongs on Cute Overload's website. I considered keeping him forever, carrying it on my shoulder for the rest of my life (or in my pocket)...but I gave into putting him back in his wild natural habitat. He looks like a little bandit with sharp teeth and has a rat's tail, his fur was soooooo soft and pretty and his ears where like two beautiful sculptures on his head. He actually started "playin' possum" in the picture below, just rolling around limp like he was already dead - although his tummy was still pumping up and down with life. :) Then he came alive and perked up his wittle perfect ears... and did ya know opossums almost never ever have rabies.

ooooooooh, I wuve him forevwa.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Whether or not Barbara Kingsolver meant for her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to be a work of environmental, spiritual, and financial art all at once I am not sure - but this books delves into so many realms normally left purposely isolated by corporations and she ties them together perfectly. It's like unwinding the mystery of how our food really gets to the grocery, how to grow your own instead, and how to save tons of money while eating organic - a revelation which totally left me re-thinking the way I eat. And that is quite a big deal since I have celiac sprue, which leaves my food choices limited to special brands, particular foods, and the feeling I am a slave to grocery chain in order to literally survive. The challenge she and her family set out to meet was simply eating all local & home grown food for one whole year straight - which put the fear of starvation in them before embarking and left them with full tummies of the greatest food they ever tasted by the end. Farm life is not glamorized (although her description of a chicken slaughter was certainly more at poetic ease then what I experienced) - she does however convey the heavenly awesomeness of the miracle of life (without being religious in any way whatsoever & with the touch of a beautiful writer). The main game of the book is concentrated on the Appalachian mountain region she is from but she also travels on vacation up north & to Italy...mmmm Italy. What she has to share (and accidentally teaches us) applies to anywhere you live - it's not a how to book on gardening but an informative memoir of her food experience. What becomes undeniably apparent throughout the book is that our environmental probs are greatly tied to our shipping & growing of food the conventional 'cross the globe way. Changing our diet to include a few local meals a week or maybe just going solely local makes a huge positive environmental impact, something I am going to learn to incorporate into my medical diet.
In Summary: This book pretty well rocked - it was as laid back a read as the slow food movement being described. :)

HAuNtEd HoUSe In Big Sandy Mush

Remember the Bearingstein Bears story book called The Spooky Old Tree? Do they dare go to the spooky old tree, YES THEY DARE! This is how I approached the neighborhood "haunted house" down the road from where I am living- with careful curiosity... equipped with only a camera and some superstitious wackadoo ideas about how to protect myself from a ghost gone wild. I didn't have a ghostbusters style ectoplasm container or a giant all in one suit for protection, but I figured my good positive energy & a little voodoo talk would do the trick. I approached this window first because it was obviously busted open by someone worse curious (and more destructive) then me. You can see my reflection in the window, that's not a transparent inhabitant of the house. Most of the house curtains are tattered badly, except in all the best places to look in - maybe the ghost is shredding the ones in the top windows, cause why do old scary houses always have curtains that look like Freddy Kruger & Edward Scissorhands had a party in there!
Inside the window wasn't much to see, but more to smell - and it was not freakin' good. It smelled of molded, astringent, roach spray, yuck-o-ness... kinda like an old wet farm shed full of scary chems from the 70's.The house (I am told) was home to a well off slave owner back in the days before equal rights & compassion to all races - the house is very much in the plantation style having a very large porch made of slats of wood on the floor and ceiling, wide columns, and an equally large balcony. It also looked as though it was boasting three large chimneys.
For some reason most the pictures I took of this house have all kinds of beams and balls of light in them too. Could be the lighting, or could be one of the creepy ghosts from these two stories...
Story One: A guy (let's call him Frankie), is driving down the haunted house road and gets a flat tire in front the scariest house on the street. Frankie doesn't change his own tires and had to call AAA for some help. But while Frankie is waiting for AAA to get there- in the dark of the night he hears an old woman yelling angry curse words at him from the empty house... the entire time he's waiting for AAA to come. Frankie was scared shitless.
Story Two: Some neighborhood boys went to the house to sleep in there, but in the middle of the night apparently the ghost got pissed at them, threw their stuff around and stole one boy's clothes - they all ran screaming for a few miles back to their comfy unhaunted homes, one little boy had to run naked.
In the picture above there was the little tattered rag blowing off the branch of the tree in the sunlight, and for some reason it was like the creepy icing on the creepy cake for me... something about the house was like a dried up desert with all the aliveness sucked out of it. Yet vibrant green grass, dandelions, azaleas and other plants were growing all around it - the house itself was like an untouched, historical time warp that stopped where ever it had ended, decaying and staying manicured all at once.I hoped to catch some ghosts in the windows, but didn't get anything that frightening to share. Maybe if I go at night with a flashlight. Do I dare, YES I DO!
PS- please please share your own haunted stories, cause I love them!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Caught A Bird

In my house... and I let it go outside!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Waterfall On Willow Creek Rd.

Being at this phenomenal waterfall (yesterday) about 1/2 mile down the road from my house conjured up some primal instincts to just run with the wolves, drop all modern life, be a nomad (not a regular hippy but more like a tribal earth dwelling chick) , and eat dandelions and wild game to survive. Basically I felt a woosh of Pocahontas-ness envelope my soul. It's not the first time I felt like that, usually when it's Spring, Summer and Fall it overcomes me - cause Winter sends me inside a warm cozy house faster then you can say Not.A.Ho Tribe. My question is, do you think it would strengthen ones health to live in the wild or weaken it? That's the on going struggle of my inner 'cowgirl and indian'...

Bird's Nest Under A Bridge

Yesterday I went down the road to play at a creek that runs under a bridge. A magical spot that had thick groves of native plants (lilies & elderberries), raccoon footprints in the mud, a smooth rock waterfall, a wittle crawfish, and da' cutest perfect bird's nest nestled neatly in the steal bars above my head. Look closely in the picture above and you can see the nest looking like a pile of bleck on the silver painted metal that holds the bridge together.Close up the nest was made of moss and mud on the outside, and snuggley twigs & weeds on the inside - making it look like a warm insulated place to be born. I didn't really expect there to be eggs in there since I didn't see a mama bird - I happily got on my nature comrade's shoulders so I could take a close up picture...Check it out, 5 whole little eggs all wrapped in super adorableness! I plan on going back to see if they hatch and what kind of bird these are from. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

PVC Free Solar Shower

I have been longing for a solar shower for quite a while now, and am so excited to tell ya'll about how the one I just got works, because I totally love it! It was purchased from REI (the camping supply store)- I ordered the biggest one which holds 5 gallons of water equaling almost 10 minutes of steamy hot shower time. For a nice warm shower anywhere you ever could go, you only have to spend about $31 which includes all the shipping & handling costs too! That's a freakin' cheap one time hot water bill! ;)The solar shower comes with only a water bag, tube, and shower head - there's no difficult assembly and the concept is so simple it's silly. The sun heats the bag for a few hours and makes hot water- which is why it was very important to me to get a PVC free plastic that would not leech into the water.
The bag can be filled anywhere there is water - a tub, sink or cold creek.
Then laid flat in the sun to heat up - on a cool day it really does take 3 hours- on a hot day this baby will scald ya' alot quicker. The directions bragged that the water could end up getting over 100 degrees and I believe it! You turn the shower nozzle to release the lovely steaming H2O and use the water pressure from hanging the bag up to let the shower begin. You can use a solar shower anywhere you hang the bag - in your bathroom, on the back porch, from a tree in the woods... through any conditions which will provide some sun for a few hours. I highly recommend it for saving money on hot water bills, making camping easier, when disasters happen or just for some summer time fun. :)XoXo

Upcycling A Polo Dress into a Summer Dress

This once cute polo dress from AA was no longer doing it for me - a little out of style (at least to me after a few years of wearing it), what I really wanted was a plain little summer dress for the hot days a' comin'... I laid the polo dress out flat - you can also use a big men's polo shirt to make this dress too! I cut off the collar evenly across, and then cut off the sleeves. For a shorter dress and to retrieve extra fabric I cut a strip off the bottom for a waist tie & straps.
I sewed the sides back together, then added the fabric strips from the old hem of the dress for sturdy shoulder ties.
Lastly I sewed on a waistband to tie in the back, by simply stitching up the left and right side seams leaving it loose in the middle and loose at the ties. This was a really quick, easy, and no fuss project that gave me a great little dress to lounge around the house, yard or go to a yeehaw dance in. :) Check it out, super KEY-UTE...


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Survival Bow and Arrow (DIY Free Fun!)

I learned how to make a quick survival bow and arrow the last two days which has been way too much fun! My freshman year in catholic highschool (St. Mary's Dominican in New Orleans) we actually had archery classes and I excelled far better in that then anything else that came the rest of the four years. You only need a few supplies to make a free bow and arrow to play with, which include: string, sticks, duct tape or feathers, and a knife.
My arrow was made from an apple tree branch which is not fully dried out yet - the lighter the better when choosing a stick for your arrow cause mine is still too heavy. Carve a little point on the front on the stick with a knife, tie some feathers on the back (i used a little pine sap under the chicken feathers to help them stick better), and make a notch at the back end for leverage when you pull the arrow back on the bow string. If ya don't have feathers, try making a faux feather part out of duct tape.My bow is made of three simple sycamore branches, tied in five places evenly spaced. Then a bow string is tied at the top and bottom, very tightly, giving the bow a little bend (this makes it snap back real good for a better shoot). Your bow branches need to be able to bend some without braking - kinda like the way bridges are built to bend in the wind... so test the branches out first before tieing them all together.
My bow rocked, but my arrow needs time to dry out and get lighter - as you can see in the pic above it's weight would make it flop downward. But HELLS YEAH, I tried some other arrows (made of bamboo and strong dried weeds) on my bow and this thing was awesomely correct!
Shoot and retrieve for good free fun, until eventually you will make a DIY bullseye...which is what I want to do next! If your neighbors are close by you might need a specific target to keep from accidentally impaling people, pets, windows etc... I suppose this is my face of success above - an MTV elfish roar. Primal, dirty, and fashionable. XOXO

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is This Where Leslie @ The Oko Box Stays?

By request here are a few pictures of the place I live... from the outside. Beginning with the big overgrown steps leading passed an apple tree & stream, up to the (slippery when wet) deck. There is the air of beauty that comes from age, a little neglect, and some period of love & respect prior to when nature began to take over what man leaves behind. Basically there is a ton of english ivy trying to swallow the house whole and a wide array of trash to be used as new treasure.
The big stone chimney was made with rocks here on the land (so the story goes) and the bedrooms were once a hay loft. The roof is authentically tin, rusted into that pretty shade of red.About half of the basement windows are busted in some way or another - which means animals probably will be making all sorts of homes, nests, and hopefully little babies in there! Ya'll this house rocks - it might be my 2nd favorite place to live ever. :)


Getcha' Self Some Chickens

If ya get some of these above, then you'll have a constant supply of these below. Organic eggs...mmmmmm.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Eatin' Edible Wild Plants

How it ever came to be that humans started killing "weeds" with chemicals and stopped using them for food I have no idea - somehow the veggies that couldn't last in a grocery aisle were pushed aside and forgotten. Some of these edible weeds are so common you'll feel wary of actually picking them to eat because we are so accustomed to mowing, spraying, and digging them up thinking they are a nuisance. Bort (pictured above) showed me how to prepare an outside fire made of dried branches and bamboo to cook on & we combined our edible plant skills to come up with this bitter sweet dish - all for FREE (the economy special)! Really for real, you can make a yummy stir fry for free with the plants in your yard... just make sure you never eat from a lawn that has been sprayed with any chems cause you will get sick, sick, sick.
The following are the foraged ingredients to the simple free weeds stir fry
DANDELION (leaves & young flowers) - "While dandelions are considered as weeds by many gardeners, the plant has several culinary and medicinal uses. Like a nettle, the plant can be cooked and eaten in various forms, such as soup. The young leaves are eaten raw in salads while older leaves are usually cooked. Dandelion blossoms are also used to make dandelion wine. Dandelions are high in vitamin A and also are a source of vitamin C. Ground roasted dandelion root is used as a coffee substitute. Drunk before meals this is believed to stimulate digestive function and therefore prepare the system for food; this is sold in some health food stores, often in a mixture as Dandelion and Burdock. " (See a picture of it HERE.) -wikipedia
CHICKWEED (leaves, stems, flowers) - "Vitamin rich chickweed can be steamed or cooked as an ingredient in soups, but probably the most popular culinary use is simply as an addition to green salads. Harvest the plants when they are lush, green, and full, including the tender stems, buds, and flowers, right along with the leaves, as they’re all edible. Chickweed is reputed to have many medicinal properties and is often recommended as a weight-loss aid and for skin irritations. In addition to using the fresh leaves, it can also be dried for use in making herbal teas." (See a picture of it HERE.) -veggie gardening tips
PLANTAIN (leaves) - "The whole plant may be used. Young leaves in salad or as pot herb, The seeds are high in fiber and can be used in breads, as a grain, etc (may be slightly laxative) and may lower cholesterol. Herb uses range from a poultice/tea wash for wounds, cuts, insect bites, burns, stings, hemorrhoids and conjunctivitis., eczema -heals wounds both internally and externally...diarrhea, kidney and bladder disorders and is said to kill worms in the stomach or bowels." (See a picture of it HERE.) -tribe
BAMBOO SHOOTS (young small shoots fresh out the ground) - "the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of bamboo species Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths." (See a picture of it HERE.) -wikipedia
To make the stir fry cook the bamboo shoots over some medium high heat until they get softer (around 5 minutes or more) and add in your greens & flowers last. You can cook them in either a tiny amount of water or in some olive oil - adding any salt or spices you love sometime in the middle of cooking. :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ring Neck Snake

While diggin' up an old pathway buried under tons of soil & wild plants I found this cute wittle bitty snake. I have no idea what it's official name is but he wasn't even as big as the biggest earth worm I have seen & he wasn't too aggressive either.
He has an orange belly and a yellow ring around his neck, the rest of his smooth scales were black. He's the third snake I have seen in the last week - the first looked like a little Timber Rattler and the second was a common grey water snake... I can't help but like them all. :) I may change my mind though when the Copperheads come out.