Sunday, January 31, 2010

Drawing In The Snow

The snow storm here in western North Carolina didn't turn out so bad this time, although the pipes froze for the 2nd time and busted, we still have power, phone, internet... and the cold just doesnt seem as frigid as it once did. The sun shining on the snow however was SO bright it was burning my eyes and I had to put on some sunglasses to even be able to look around without teetering on the border of snow blindness with burnt retinas.
I considered making a snow sculpture but decided to draw... (drawing in snow is a good lesson in impermanent art...). And even though I am a trained artist who could draw something awesome, instead I did these cause everyone knows that everyone else loves simple drawings of a naked lady, butterfly, love, a bunny and sunshine! So enjoy...
Feel free to put in requests, before the snow melts.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Macrobiotic & Gluten Free Carrot Spaghetti Sauce

Holy Carrots! These are some organic carrots that grew in the garden here, aren't they girthy? I decided to make one of my favorite macrobiotic recipes with these big boys, a delicious carrot spaghetti sauce that uses NO tomatoes and gives this traditional (american-ized) Italian dish a sweet yummy twist! This carrot sauce can be used on anything you would use regular spaghetti sauce on- like noodles, lasagna, or gluten free pizza crust!

You will need:
  • a bunch of carrots
  • one small beet (to turn the sauce red!)
  • red onion
  • herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, sage etc..)
  • celery
  • shittake mushrooms (optional!)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt or ume paste

When I made this dish yesterday I didn't have all the ingredients on hand to get a picture of (no beets to turn it red and no mushrooms for extra flav'ah) , but it still came out delicious as always! Here is what you do:::
  • Chop up the carrots, celery, and beet to simmer down till soft (30 mins or so)
  • Put in a blender or smash up the carrots with a fork
  • Add in herbs, salt and mushrooms to the carrrot sauce and cook in a pot another 10 mins
  • In a separate pan saute the chopped onion (with some herbs) till soft (7 mins)
  • Add onions to the blended carrot sauce and serve over noodles!
Voila! A tomato free spaghetti sauce that tastes better then the 'real' thing eva' did!

Oh S(no)w, Not Again!

We are at the very beginning of the 3rd big snow storm/freeze this year! Since this is predicted to be much bigger then the one that knocked out all power and contact with civilization for a week I thought I would try to jinx the storm by saying my possible internet goodbye's now...
or is that like, way too dramatic? ;)

According the news "North Carolina is gonna get smacked!"
Gawd and baby jeezus help me cause in less then an hour an inch has fallen and we have about 48 hours more to go of "heavy snow"....
but then again, it's like a scary roller coaster - it's just not really as frightening the 2nd and 3rd time around.



Thursday, January 28, 2010

DIY: Little (Gourd) Birdhouse In My Soul

YAY! My organic gourds I grew last summer are finally drying out! At first I thought it might be a total fail project cause they were molding so much (part of the natural drying process) and I didn't have enough vinegar on hand to wipe them down. I decided to wing it nature style 100% and stuck them outside to dry on their own - rain, snow and sun. While a few got a lil' soggy when the snow melted - a bunch are nearly bone dry so I went ahead and started to play around with turning them into cute birdhouses!
First thing I had to do was learn to punch a hole into the side carefully without damaging the gourd... of course I just went ahead and used my voodoo magic powers to blow a freakin' hole right into the thing, so powerful a blast it blew all the seeds and scum right out without me having to get a single finger dirty.
Just kidding.

Actually I used a relatively sharp knife to stick into the center of the hole I wanted to make and then slowly twisted in in full circles.
After twisting it in enough circles to create a hole large enough to get some leverage I used the knife to widen and smooth the edges of the hole.
Once the hole was about the right size, I shook out any extra seeds or goop left on the inside. The super dry ones only had dry seeds falling out - but a few of my iffy ones I was trying to save had some moist gunk... it kinda stunk but i put my fingers in anyway and pulled it out. (Like halloween pumpkin carving but smells different).
I ended up doing about 5 birdhouses and two bowl shaped containers so far - but before I decide whether I want to decorate them(wood burning tool? natural paints?), I want to let them dry out some more by the wood stove during this next cold snowy week. I also want to do two bat houses with the others still needing to dry. :) Bats eat mosquitoes!
Oh, I really love them, bunchie bunches alot. XoXo

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My First Ride On The Electric Bike!

Oh yeah baby.

I finally got the tires pumped, there was no snow, no rain, and the temperature being all the way up to 40 degrees I figured it was time to learn how to operate my new electric bike named "peewee". If I had to describe my first experience with peewee in one word it would be "hilarity" , if I had to do it in two words it would be "holy shit!" and three words "somebody help me...!!!"

So after my neighbor kindly filled the tires with some air blowing machine he happens to have in the back of his truck for his tools, we all took turns riding up and down the muddy road. I let everyone else go first since I am a big scared-y cat like that, and I rather watch everyone else make mistakes first. :)
Getting on the bike and starting the throttle was a bit like your stereotypical teenager learning to drive... stop... start... brake...start....slide...stop.... start. All jerky and wack.
When I took it to the end of the gravel road and onto the paved main road the freaking chain on the bike started falling off- after someone else (i won't name names) had kept switching the gears too fast. Bort *ehem* helped me put the chain back on about 10 times when my mailman pulled up to the mailbox! I happen to love my mailman and we are good friends, so he rolled down the window to see what kind of trouble I was brewing.
Then he said this "You know, I think yer' tire is on backwards! Look at yer' front tire, it's turned around the wrong way..."
Well.... shit. it is. ha. To which my only reply was "this is why I don't belong on the road!" I proceeded to turn the darn tire around for the millionth time. (This was the second time I had been told this, and thought I had fixed it the first time. See the pink arrow pointing to my turned around wheel as I unknowingly cruise around in the pic above.) Duh.

A few more times of the chain falling off (and a minor fit of cursing the bike wishing for a donkey), and I finally got the hang of the bike's uphill movement. Although slightly jerky and shocking - when you pedal the bike it forces the electric motor to kick in - which surprised the hell out of me and suddenly I was cruising like a born to ride harley davidson biker... but smaller, less hardcore, and less graceful. And not in enough leather to look "cool". (Remember when Pee Wee Herman went to the biker bar looking for his lost bike, and knocked over their rows of motorcycles? That's more my style.)
Once I was going good on the bike, I could not stop myself - and just kept moving along up the mountain even though I could feel the air upward dropping to colder temps, my hands already freezing under my gloves and in the back of my mind thinking downhill might be a bit f-ed up since I noticed the brakes were... um... sensitive to touch. But hey- the chain stopped falling off and I WAS FREEEEEEEE!!!! Freedom!!!!!!
Till I got to a squished up mailbox, pulled over and realized the battery gage is like really fishy when going uphill. In fact it acted JUST like a tank of car gas - when going uphill it said it was almost empty, when going flat or downhill it said it was full! Since there's no gas in peewee, I don't have a clue how to understand what he's communicating... I mean, is electricity sloshing around to the back of the battery? lol
I decided to turn around and cruise back home.
I wanted to poke my own eyes out on the way. The brakes were SooooosooOOOOoooOOOOOooooooooo sensitive that even the indication of touching them brought the bike to a slamming halt which resembled an insane 10 year old driving a car, jerking to go and stop so much I figured I would vomit by the time I got to the bottom of the valley again. It was single handedly one of the most horrid annoying terrible no good very bad rides back ever - and I still had so much fun!!! The icy wind was blowing straight through all 5 layers of wool and cotton clothing, my fingers were numb, I was going down hill at either death defying speeds causing me to scream and grit teeth or the speed of a slug holding the breaks down almost falling off the bike from lack of inertia.
So... in conclusion. I think peewee is something I have to get the hang of, AFTER somebody helps me fix those control freak brake pads. And maybe it's way less spazzy to ride on a warmer day.
(It's not me, it's the bike... i swear.)
ding ding!

I Heart YOU (wink wink)

Love, Your Secret Admirer


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Learning To Use An Ax Part 2 (The bungee cord idea!)

Ya'll might recall when I was learning better ways to split wood with an ax called a "go devil"? Well, the poor "go devil" is now R.I.P like most things with a plastic handle end up these days (it's cracked at the base) - and we have now moved onto old school wooden handle ax which I like bunches better. But hec, that isn't what this post is about... it's about how we tried out the awesome bungee cord idea by one of my most favorite readers 'Gratuitous'! (Hi, Gratu! Yeah, I am talking about ya...)
I did give a few swings on this bungee cord wrapped humongous black walnut log, which happen to be sitting in thick mud puddle... when I swung down the ax hitting the log that cold puddle squirted me right in the mouth and eye!! lol
So... moving right along.... Here is how this trick works:
  • We tied a bungee cord around the log (see bad ass video Gratuitous found here!)
  • Push it closer to the middle or bottom to prevent breaking the cord itself
  • Go ahead and swing as per normal, except now you wont have to keep standing the pieces back up cause the bungee will be holding them all together!
Pretty sweet idea, cause it worked!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wanna See Something Terrifying...???

Ok, here is the deal...
Ya'll know how I get seizures triggered by driving? Well, on top of that I get really nauseated car sick too - which makes living in the mountains kinda nutty, but I love it here as long as I don't have to move up and down the roads too much, or really almost ever. I recently had an offer to interview for a "job" over seeing a beautiful magical campground in Hot Springs, NC that sits on 38 acres, with a big fishing creek and giant waterfall, hiking trails and funky campers on the warm weekends. I would be able to live there with free room and board in exchange for the duties of checking people in, taking reservations, taking people's gear to a "gear deck" for them to then hike to their campsites from. I can even have a donkey there to help me out!!!
But here is the catch.
I have to go meet the owner in order to seal the deal, you know the whole shake a man's hand in order to confirm you are the right woman for this awesome task.

LOOK AT THIS MAP below.... cause that is the insane curvy puke road i would have to go on to get there for this nominal handshake moment...
really look closely, the road isn't thick, that is the road switch backing into itself like a zig zag stitch on a sewing machine....

View Larger Map

And I am so scared to do it, it makes my eyes water, like maybe i am going to cry to even think about it. Knowing 2 or 3 miles is torture, 32 miles seems like an eternity. Of what I dont even know, but it's usually not good. Spiral into personal hell?

Sometimes when I think about not being able to drive, in relation to great opportunities such as this perfect nature related job, all I can think is "What a rip!" Hot Springs! Help!


Oh, Deer! And Hidden Turkey Too...

Deer! Yesterday afternoon me and Bort followed some sounds which I thought had been ducks by the pond. We both slowly, quietly step by step made our way towards the pond in hopes to see some wild ducks, but when we got there we saw nothing at all but water. We decided to keep going up through the orchard into the woods to see if it had been wild turkeys instead...
when we got to the edge of a stream and looked up there were three beautiful deer grazing on the mountain WITH a group of about 5 wild turkeys! All together. Which as I took pictures and moved in closer, it dawned on me that we were also now a part of this moment where deer, turkeys and humans were sharing the same space in nature - where nothing much was going to take place that was dangerous to any of us. My mind stood still and raced back in time to wonder if mankind and deer ever used to sit in the same forest casually, before things were hunted to near extinction for sport... before the animals became utterly terrified that all we ever would do were bad things to them. I imagined there was a time when we humans were more likely not to kill them, and they were more likely to trust in that. When the scales tipped, evolution taught them to run from us. Certainly the deer were not running from the turkey. ;)
In these pictures with the pink stars, I have put the pink star mark above each deer standing in the woods frozen... they are extremely difficult to spot unless they are moving and flip up their tail to show the white in warning to other deer nearby that there is serious danger.
You can't see the turkeys in the pictures, but what was really awesome was the turkeys were taking cues from the deer about safety - walking when they walked, relaxing when they relaxed and freezing when a deer walked then suddenly froze to check out the humans.
After what seemed like 10 minutes or more, the deer began moving along the trail together - but not usually walking at the same time. One would go...pause...another would go...pause... and so on, till they were out of sight. When I heard some yipping and howling right then, I though "oh shit, now the coyotes are coming for the turkeys!" and began moving swiftly away. It turned out to just be a neighbor's dog though howling alone at his house. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Animal Tracking: Can You Guess Who Done It?

A specific creature has created the holes you see in the tree trunk above. See all the shavings on the ground underneath it?
Can you guess which species it is that does this !?!

Here's some hints:
  • It's rarely seen
  • It's bigger than your head
  • It's not a unicorn sharpening it's horn
Ya'll try to guess what it is, and I will tell you the answer in a few days!!!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Moss In The Woods (I Love it!)

Rememba' how I was talking about loving moss the other day? I decided to go out and get some close up pictures for ya'll of the crazy variety of moss we have here. Some are fuzzy, some look like tiny ferns, some burst like micro firecrackers, and all create waves of soft carpeted green perfect for a unicorn to sleep on. :)
This pic above is a common moss growing on tree limbs which are constantly moist, below are the kind that look like itty bitty fern leaves- possibly my favorite.
But then I walked over to one big rock....
and on this rock was every kind of moss, succulent and tiny plant you could eva' think of - a rock which seemed to be a planet of it's own - an eco system growing on a larger eco system (and so on as big as the universe!)
You can see on the big rock lots of shapes and textures of the moss all collide and co-inhabit, making patches of slight color variations.
Other micro plants seem to love growing in the moss, cause usually underneath you find the blackest, most moist dirt and earth worms, centipedes and other crawlers.
Explosive! ;)
Sometimes I wish I could take some the moss and make myself a moss garden, but they always seem to die. The balance of elements moss needs to grow is a delicate one meant for nature to provide. Some things have to be enjoyed in their natural state... even though I wish I could take it right into my bedroom.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NWF's Gardening For Wildlife Guide!

These days most people landscape their yard according to whatever is available at their local Home Depot or Lowe's plant department... some people go to their local nursery too but don't realize they are buying all exotic plants which contribute to an imbalance in our ecosystem. Even in an urban area we can cater our gardens to feed, house and promote wildlife by taking some simple steps that just so happen to make your gardens beautiful too! The trick is to buy native plants for your garden and use sustainable food growing practices to reduce damage to the earth - native plants from your region already naturally thrive in the area making it resistant to drought, more hardy, and they tend to not wilt and die as often as store bought exotics (meaning you waste less $$$). Not to mention those exotic will attract exotic bugs - leading an uneducated gardener to grab insecticides to solve the problem, causing a further problem with their soil quality and thus beginning the endless cycle of sick plants being sprayed with chemicals.

Here is the National Wildlife Federation's Guide to Native Gardening (when you get your garden really going good you can have your property certified as a wildlife habitat!!!)

Provide Food for Wildlife

Everyone needs to eat! Planting native forbs, shrubs and trees is the easiest way to provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to survive and thrive. You can also incorporate supplemental feeders and food sources.

Supply Water for Wildlife

Wildlife need clean water sources for many purposes, including drinking, bathing and reproduction. Water sources may include natural features such as ponds, lakes, rivers, springs, oceans and wetlands; or human-made features such as bird baths, puddling areas for butterflies, installed ponds or rain gardens.

Create Cover for Wildlife

Wildlife require places to hide in order to feel safe from people, predators and inclement weather. Use things like native vegetation, shrubs, thickets and brush piles or even dead trees.

Give Wildlife a Place to Raise Their Young

Wildlife need a sheltered place to raise their offspring. Many places for cover can double as locations where wildlife can raise young, from wildflower meadows and bushes where many butterflies and moths lay their eggs, or caves where bats roost and form colonies.

Let Your Garden Go Green

How you maintain your garden or landscape can have an important effect on the health of the soil, air, water and habitat for native wildlife--as well as the human community nearby. Reducing chemical use, composting, mulching and reducing turf grass in your yard are important steps to gardening greener.


Once you have provided these essential elements to make a healthy and sustainable wildlife habitat, join the thousands of wildlife enthusiasts across the country who have earned the distinction of being part of NWF's Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.

***The above guide was written by the NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION***

FYI: I have gotten 2 properties certified and helped get two others certified also by neighbors in Western North Carolina... looking forward to doing another! Super fun and super earthy project for anyone who loves nature. Yay! :)