Category Archives: Hippie Food & Health

Stop Calling Me An Idiot! (And Other Things Regarding the Vaccination Debate)

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When it comes to the vaccination debate I don’t usually “go there” because I feel like the reality is, we are ALL trying to be informed and make the best decisions for our families in a world full of mis-information brought to us by people more interested in power and money than the health of the general public.

That said, this morning a friend posted this article that struck a chord with me.

There has been A LOT of back and forth over the whole vaccine thing lately. It always catches my eye and I’ve spent far more time than I probably should have reading the thoughts and opinions of everyone and their brother who cares to share. Maybe I just couldn’t resist the urge to throw my two cents in. Welcome to my corner of the blogosphere.

My child is not “officially” allergic to immunizations. He just doesn’t handle them well. As in, he stops breathing. So… yeah. We don’t do that anymore.

My son after being vaccinated.

My son after being vaccinated.

For this choice we’ve been called “idiots” and worse by the strongly pro-vaccine folks and been viewed with suspicion by everyone from school administrators to ER doctors. It has been said that we are “blindly following the advice of celebrities,” or, “trying to be hip.” Not the case. We actually stopped immunizing on a doctor’s advice after a year of dealing with very serious respiratory issues. Magically, when we stopped the shots our child’s life-threatening “asthma” went away. He hasn’t had a single whistle in his chest in the 2 1/2 years since then.

My son without any shots.

My son without any shots.

The article I’m referring to made a lot of claims. It said things like, “measles is just a rash,” and, “only people in 3rd world countries die from measles and it’s because of the dehydration.” It also made claims about the rates of autism, as it is linked to brain encephalitis and more.

I couldn’t take those claims at surface value from some random internet guy so I did two things:

First I read an article entitled, “This Is What Measles Really Looks Like.” Turns out it looks like a rash. A nasty rash, to be sure but, yeah. It’s a rash, just like the first guy said. This article also listed statistics and numbers. For instance, it explained that the measles vaccine has been around, basically eradicating measles,  since 1963. So, during the big outbreak in the late 1980s/early 1990s they found that…

wait…

what?

I thought it was entirely the fault of Jenny McCarthy and the idiot celebrity followers of the past 10 years that people are getting measles in 2015?

Hmmm…

OK, well, I don’t have any further information on that so I’ll just leave it be for now and move on.

When numbers were collected in the 1990s, (not sure why we’re working with generation-old numbers) statistics showed that about 8% of measles patients got diarrhea which COULD lead to dehydration. 7% got ear infections which COULD lead to deafness.

Uh huh.

OK.

Let’s think about that. There are about 73 million children in America.

During the last BIG measles outbreak approximately 55,000 children got measles. I’m not great at math, so I could be wrong, but I’m calculating that to be well under 1% of the kids in the nation.

Of that overwhelming number of children, 8 out of every 100 got diarrhea. 7 out of every 100 got an ear infection. That percentage did not die from dehydration or go deaf. They got diarrhea and/or ear infections.

My children and I have all had multiple bouts of diarrhea and ear infections over the years. It’s not fun but, so far, we are neither dead nor deaf because, like the author of the original article said, we live in the “first world.”

Do you know who DOESN’T live in the first world? The children in some of the saddest pictures in the article, “What Does Measles Really Look Like.” Look closely at the captions.

While we’re putting numbers in perspective, the recent, horrible, scary, big, overwhelming outbreak of measles involved about 45 people. This is approximately the same number of kids in my daughter’s band class. So, out of all the people in America, your odds of being affected by this outbreak of measles are about the same as your odds of ending up playing trombone in a grange building in farmland, MI. Yes, I realize there are holes in the comparison. Just making a point about the numbers. This is not something that is raging like wildfire through the countryside.

I needed to see something written by a source generally considered credible. (For those who would argue, I beg of you: let’s save that can of worms for another day. I’ve already got my hip-waders on, here.) I went to the CDC website and looked up the risks of the MMR vaccine.

Do you know what they are?

They are pretty much the same as the risks from getting measles. In some cases, the numbers are slightly different but… really… if you’re going on differences that slight… well… maybe you should bet this week’s whole paycheck on the Powerball jackpot. There’s a CHANCE you could win, you know.

As a little side note: While reading the CDC info I noticed that, among those who should NOT get the MMR shot, is anyone who has recently received any other vaccine. Yet, the vaccination schedule lists SEVEN other shots, many of them for multiple viruses, that should be given at about the same age as the MMR. That’s a bit confusing!

What does all this mean?

I can tell you what it means for me and my family.

It means that with or without shots it is VERY unlikely that the average healthy child would DIE from measles (or most of the other diseases that we immunize against). Of course, like any good mom, I don’t want my kids to suffer. I think anyone who takes even a moment to look at the world around us can see that vaccines have been, as a whole, a good thing. I don’t know a single child in an iron lung and I’m immensely glad for that. As the mother of a child who really can’t get vaccinated I am thankful that vaccines have lowered the chances of his exposure to serious disease.

I get it. I am not against all vaccinations.

BUT… when it is said that those who choose not to vaccinate are being selfish or that they are uninformed, following celebrities, or reading de-bunked data… well, that’s simply not true. In fact, most parents I know who choose not to vaccinate have done FAR more research than those who just blindly go along with the schedule. Those who don’t vaccinate generally understand that vaccines do not provide life-long immunity, nor are they 100% effective or 100% safe. They know that some of these viruses are beginning to mutate and that there are legitimate, well-respected researchers who are expressing genuine concern about that issue. They understand that EVERY drug has side effects and we should always weigh the risk of the side effect against the benefit of the drug.

As for calling anyone an “idiot” (or worse): it is not OK in your child’s classroom and it’s not OK in this discussion. For goodness sake! You want to present yourself as a well-informed, critically-thinking adult and the best you can come up with is name calling? Do better. BE better. There is no place for name calling in honest discussion and there is no chance for growth and learning unless we are able to honestly discuss the facts.

The facts:

Fact: Disease sucks. All disease. We all want all disease to be eradicated.

Fact: Modern medicine is helpful and science continues to improve. That’s why doctors no longer bleed their patients to cure them of anemia and most of us are happy when EMTs show up with a truckload of fancy equipment if our hearts begin to fail.

Fact: Modern medicine does not have all the answers and continues to evolve. That’s why my grandparents were urged to eat trans-fats to lower their chance of heart disease, yet my doctor now gives different advice.

Fact: Screaming, shouting, angry, inflamed confrontation rarely (if ever) accomplishes anything positive.

Fact: The next time you meet someone who feels differently than you on a topic you are passionate about, it would be wise to listen to WHY they feel differently. Maybe it won’t change your stance one teeny iota of a bit, but there’s a good chance that your kindness and respect will help make the world a better place.

Stop Calling Me An Idiot! (And Other Things Regarding the Vaccination Debate)

Here are the links I looked at and referred to throughout this article if you’d like to check any of them out for yourself:

https://leviquackenboss.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/dear-mom-who-thinks-i-need-to-vaccinate-my-kids-against-measles/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/virginiahughes/what-measles-outbreak-actually-looks-like#.nb24nRyln

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/should-not-vacc.htm#mmr

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/MMR/

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Winter “Life Hacks”

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Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.comAs a Michigander, born and raised, I’ve learned a thing or two about winter. Lenawee County is no Fargo, ND or anything but in an average winter our temps hover in the mid twenties during the day and we’ll get about 3 feet of snow before the spring thaw, which any gardener will tell you is just before Mother’s Day.

Then there are years like last year. The average temperature last winter was slightly below, “OMG, Hell itself must be frozen solid by now,” Hell is a city in Michigan, by the way. True story. Google it. Our snowfall was extraordinary too. We were careful to constantly dress our toddler in bright colors just in case he fell in. At one point we had to dig the car out. I don’t mean we had to clear the driveway behind the car. We actually, literally had to assess the lumps in the snow, determine where the car was, swim across the snow to get to it, and dig it out.

And now the Farmer’s almanac is saying this year will be similar. Hmmm… guess we’ll find out.

On top of the "mountain" the snow plow created.

On top of the “mountain” the snow plow created.

Did I ever tell you I lived in Arizona for eight years? True story. I came back to Michigan, in part, because I was homesick for seasonal weather. I just thought I’d share that glimpse into my insanity.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up and ask you if you have any of your own.  If so, by all means, please leave them in the comments!

#1 – Improvise an ice scraper.

If you have a lovely modern vehicle with a satellite radio and a sound system custom designed to make the best use of your MP3 player, I salute you. You probably also have a remote starter and a defrosting system that is actually warm enough to melt frost.

 If you, like me, are driving a 15 year old van that can barely muster up enough warm air to blow the fog off the windshield when it’s 50 degrees and raining then you, like me, may still be able to enjoy the Madonna: The Immaculate Collection cassette you bought (explicitly disobeying your parents’ forbidding of such music) in 1991. Cassette cases make perfect frost scrapers! CD cases and credit cards will do as well, in a pinch, but they just don’t fit in your hand like a good old tape box. See? There’s a silver lining to every cloud!

#2 – Dress warm!

If you keep a heating pad by your bed to soothe those winter time aches and pains turn it on and lay it on top of your clean clothes in the morning before you put them on. When you get dressed they’ll be fabulously toasty!

#3 – Stop the draft.

Doors that have a drafty gap at the bottom can be sealed up easily for pennies using a piece of foam pipe insulation, cut open along one side.

#4 – Invest in some litter.

Keep a large bag of cheap, non-clumping kitty litter in your trunk all winter long. The extra weight will be useful on slippery roads and if you get stuck in the snow or ice sprinkling a generous amount of the litter around your tires may be enough to give you the traction to get back on the road.  Your car’s floor mats will also serve as traction in desperate times, but driving on them with snow/ice/mud/salt/yuck covered tires really isn’t good for them so try the kitty litter first.  Make sure it’s not the clumping stuff, which may react weirdly to the wet environment.

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com#5 – Rescue your dry skin.

I get extraordinarily dry skin in winter. Places like the space in between my fingers and the corners of my mouth will actually crack and bleed. Believe me when I tell you I have tried just about every “extra moisturizing” product on the market over the years. Then I started breastfeeding and found the best product in the universe for people with this issue – lanolin. Not lotion WITH lanolin. Pure lanolin: the kind they sell as nipple cream in the baby department.  On hands and feet, slathering it on and covering your skin in loose fitting cotton socks or gloves…. ahhhh…. a bit of bliss, I tell you!

#6 – Make the most of your baking.

Cook in the oven frequently. Leave it open to cool when you are done. The heat from the oven will help warm the house.

#7 – Light ’em up!

Likewise you can add heat and improve the ambiance by burning candles. Of course, keep an eye on them and make sure they’re in safe places, but you’d be surprised how much heat a few tiny candles can generate in a small room!

#8 – Save water.

While we’re on the subject of heating tricks, consider plugging the bathtub drain while you shower and leaving the fan off and the door open. Humid air is more conducive to heat than dry air so your whole house will benefit from the steam and the hot water in the tub will continue to release heat and steam for some time after you are done.  Putting a pie tin with a bit of water in it on your heat vent will increase the humidity in the air as well.

#9 – The right shoes for the occasion.

For staying warm outdoors, choose shoes with rubber soles over other types. Rubber is a fabulous insulator!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com

#10 – Double up your mittens.

If you just can’t get your hands warm, try a pair of those really cheap stretchy gloves from the dollar store under a pair of bulky mittens. The combination of tight fitting and loose fitting will more than double the warmth factor. In cold weather, layers are priceless.

#11 – Let the sun shine!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.comIf it’s not the cold, but the dark that gets you down open the blinds and face the sunlight as early as possible each morning.  If you wake up in the dark and you’re under fluorescent lights by the time day breaks your body gets very confused and stressed.  Even just standing in a sunny window for a few minutes each morning can help reduce winter time blues.

#12 – Quick dry.

If your shoes get really wet, stuff them with those super-absorbent micro-fiber towels they sell in the automotive department. They will suck the moisture right out of the fabric of your shoes, leaving them only the tiniest bit damp. Don’t forget and leave them in there, though, or you’ll end up with a wet, stinky, moldy mess. Ew.  30 minutes or so should be more than sufficient.

#13 – Have a lot of sex.

Hey, any survivalist will tell you that skin-to-skin is the fastest way to warm a cold person. And, it’s dark by 5pm. And you’re not safe out driving around on those slippery roads so… you know… let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Winter Life Hacks | LazyHippieMama.com

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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f you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the Top Mommy Blog banner. Thanks!

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial

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I’ve had a few people approach me over the past week or so, inquiring about the idea of balance.

“How do you manage working outside the home, inside the home, volunteering AND homeschooling?!”

These folks have seen the pictures I’ve shared online and on the blog of our family enjoying life to the fullest and, really, honestly… no “Fakebooking”….  we do have a ton of fun. We laugh far more often than we cry, to be sure!

But the truth is, it isn’t always easy. Balance is difficult when you have 26 hours worth of “to-do” in every given 24 hour period. I know that other homeschool moms (well… moms of all sorts!) have exactly the same dilemma so I thought I would lay out an easy step-by-step tutorial of how to organize your day, using a day of my own life for an example.  Of course, you will need to make a few adjustments according to the needs of your own family.

STEP ONE: Give yourself a helping hand by planning the night before.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Before bed, make a list of all the things you need to do the next day. I find that each day includes tasks that I really need to work on in peace and solitude and tasks that I can do while my children are up and about.  Plan on doing the “quiet tasks” early, before the kids wake up.  Calculate how much time you’ll need.

Accept that you won’t get that much time. Compromise with yourself and set the alarm fro 4:00 am.

Laugh at the idea of getting up at 4:00 am. Change the alarm clock to 4:45, acknowledging that you will hit “snooze” at least once.

Be sure, in planning, to jot down notes about starting the day with a great breakfast. Nothing will set you off on the right path like a nice hot plate of organic bacon and farm-fresh eggs with a green smoothie made from home-grown kale!

STEP TWO: Go to sleep.

Image from justIn.com

Image from justIn.com

Now that you have your schedule all worked out you can sleep soundly without giving a single solitary thought to the 400 tasks looming over your head. Be sure to fall asleep as fast as possible because your alarm is going to ring in… like… 5 hours. But don’t think about that or you’ll keep yourself up all night. Really, just don’t think about it all. Easy enough, right? Shut your brain off and go straight to sleep.

STEP THREE: Rise and shine!

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Start by ignoring the alarm. I mean, it’s 4:45 am. What kind of insanity is that?! The sun isn’t even going to START to rise for 3 more hours for the love of God. Turn the alarm off.

Burst out of bed like your butt is on fire at 6:45, realizing with horror that you’re already 2 hours behind schedule and the youngest child has been awake and roaming around the house unsupervised for an unspecified amount of time.

STEP FOUR: Don’t forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

For the love of God why did you think, yesterday, that you would have time for bacon and eggs this morning? Toss a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter on the counter and yell at the kids to eat something.

*TIP – you probably planned on showering but, since you’re already behind, you’re going to have to skip that.  Use a baby wipe to tidy up the stinkiest spots and grab a hat. It’s fall. Call it “cool weather fashion.”

STEP FIVE: Check in on social media.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Be sure to write a post about how crazy your morning is.

STEP SIX: Get the family dressed and ready to face the day.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

What?! You just spent AN HOUR on Facebook?

How did that happen? Oh, crap. Quick! Get the kids dressed! Wake up the husband! Feed the animals! Collect the eggs! Choose 5 things off your “to-do” list to move to tomorrow. You know you’re not going to have time today, right? Surely tomorrow you’ll get off to a better start and you’ll be able to get those things done then.

STEP SEVEN: Be prompt.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Work starts at 9:00am. Or 9:15… ish.

STEP EIGHT: Take care of the errands.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippieMama.com

Work is done at 1pm. Co-op doesn’t start until 2 and it’s 30 minutes away. That means you should TOTALLY have enough time to grab a few staples that are running low.

Yes, the 93 year old woman in front of you has 42 cases of Ensure and a lifetime supply of Banquet Frozen Dinners in her cart and she is standing in the “12 items or less lane.”  But she’s old. She’s paid her dues. It’s going to be OK.

And, yes, the 15 year old cashier is talking to her co-worker about next weekend’s party which is causing her to take a LONG pause between scanning each of those frozen dinners. We were all young once.

And…. OH, MY GOODNESS! SERIOUSLY?! SHE IS JUST NOW PULLING OUT HER 46 COUPONS AND READING THROUGH THE FINE PRINT ON EACH ONE TO SEE WHICH SHE CAN USE.

Try to stay calm. You can use this opportunity to catch up on important world news. I hear Kate is having morning sickness and Kim’s butt got 2 inches bigger since last month’s photo. These are crucial world events. It’s good to stay informed.

STEP NINE: Be prompt (part 2)

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

You should now be arriving at the co-op class. It’s exactly 2pm. Er… well… 2:08… ish.

STEP TEN: Re-evaluate.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

OK. One kid is at co-op and one is sleeping in the back seat. Take a moment to decide how best to approach the next part of the day. Look at your list. Is there anything on there that is really, truly, seriously VITAL?

Tip: Keep in mind, here, that “vital” means “critical to life.”  Making sure you pick up insulin is pretty vital. Unfolded laundry? Not going to kill anyone. Therefore folding laundry doesn’t really need to be done at all. It’s not that you didn’t accomplish it. It’s more like… you’re become ever more efficient!

Cross off everything that isn’t an issue of life and death.

Look at that! You’re already 90% done with your list and it’s not even 3pm! Buy yourself a pumpkin spice latte. You deserve a reward!

STEP ELEVEN: Take time to play.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Life is too short to be so busy! Toss the list. Go to the park. Don’t just watch. Swing from the monkey bars with your kids. (Hey! Turns out you DID fit a work out in today!)

STEP TWELVE: Order pizza.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

There will be no 4-course dinner tonight, but there will be happy people with full tummies.

STEP THIRTEEN: Bathe the children.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Since “bathe the children” is one of the items that has, for 3 days now, been moved from a previous “to-do” list onto the current one it probably really should be done.

STEP FOURTEEN: Read stories.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Silly voices and wild, illustrative hand motions are strongly encouraged. Though not, perhaps with the pictured book.

STEP FIFTEEN: Tuck everyone in.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

STEP SIXTEEN: Tie up the loose ends.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

OK, so the day didn’t exactly go as planned but you kept the kids alive AND they are clean. Well done! Go you!  And, since you had pizza, there are only a handful of dishes. No worries about that. It’s not so late just take a moment to….

wait….

listen…

STEP SEVENTEEN: Clean up pee 

XViKGtN

The toddler just peed all over the bed so fresh PJs and sheets will be required. They are probably in the clean laundry pile. See? Aren’t you glad you didn’t waste time folding them?

STEP EIGHTEEN: Tuck everyone in.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

STEP NINETEEN: Tie up loose ends.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

The pee pee stuff really is fairly stinky. Just drop it in the washer and… aw, crap! The stuff from last night is still in there and all musty? Ok. No worries. Just run those one more time while you knock out those dishes.  Once the dishes are done, you can switch the laundry over and start the new…

wait…

now what are they doing up there?

STEP TWENTY: Get in touch with your inner theologian.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

It is extraordinary the deep and thoughtful questions young children think of late at night.  Of course, they couldn’t POSSIBLY be able to sleep until they have reasonable answers to things like, “why does God let bad things happen?”

STEP TWENTY-ONE: Tuck everyone in.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

STEP TWENTY-TWO: Tie up loose ends.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Since the children so graciously helped the time pass you can now switch the laundry. Just forget the dishes. Tomorrow is a new day.

Now is a good time to start working on “STEP ONE” for tomorrow.  Using pretty paper and a fun, glitter-colored pen may…

Wait…

Are they SERIOUSLY out of bed again?

HOLY CRAP! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET THEIR LITTLE BUTTS IN BED RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME GOD THERE WILL BE SWIFT AND TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES!

STEP TWENTY-THREE: Just go to bed.

How I Make Each Day A Success: A 23 Step Tutorial | LazyHippeMama.com

Seriously. Sleep. And rest well knowing that no parent in the world had a perfect day but if you loved and laughed and lived life you did very well. Some day the house will be tidy. Or not. Who cares? Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re doing just fine.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

Top Mommy Blog

If you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the banner, above. Thanks!

That’s A Wrap On Summer 2014

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That's a Wrap On  Summer | LazyHippieMama.com

According to the calendar, summer 2014 is a wrap and, indeed this summer’s garden is just about done. Here’s some of what we learned and experienced this year, a few notes on the autumn crops, and a really great product I had a chance to try.

We bought Kale seeds from Mary’s Organic Seed Company.  The kale grew up quickly and it’s been going strong all season long. We’ve picked at it several times a week and you can never tell. If anything, it’s only gotten bigger since the weather turned cool.

That's a wrap on summer | LazyHippieMama.com

We also got an heirloom sweet corn variety from them. It was a total bust. The plants were beautiful but we didn’t get a single decent ear of corn. I can’t put all the blame on the seeds or the variety of corn we chose. Since this is our first season in this house we didn’t realize how far the shade from our big walnut tree would reach and the corn ended up with very little sunlight. Also, I’m told that the tannins from the walnuts themselves change the chemistry of the soil which could have contributed to the problem.  Next year we’ll do things differently in that corner of the garden.

Our heirloom popcorn from Tietz Family Farms grew fairly well. It’s not quite totally dried yet, so we won’t harvest for another week or two.

This summer’s weather was a little weird. We had long periods of dryness followed by torrential rainfall that would leave the ground soggy for days. The temperatures stayed very mild, often getting downright chilly in the evenings.  Apparently these circumstances create an issue known as “blossom end rot” in tomatoes.  At one point I was certain we weren’t going to get any tomatoes at all. They hung, green, on the vine for weeks and those that turned were only turning because they were rotting.  Then, right around labor day, we got some rain and the temperatures hit 90 and, literally over-night, the whole garden ripened.  Since we’d planted about twice as many tomatoes as we really needed we ended up with a great haul. If we hadn’t had any issues we would have never been able to keep up with the harvest and processing.

We had four varieties of large tomatoes as well as some “Sweet 100” cherry tomatoes.  Four of our plants were beefsteak tomatoes from a local nursery and they put out the prettiest, roundest, reddest, most “meaty” tomatoes I’ve ever seen. We didn’t lose a single fruit on those plants to blossom end rot!

That's A Wrap On Summer | LazyHippieMama.com

I looked up how to clone tomato plants and I’m going to try over-wintering some cuttings. I’d love to grow more of those next summer!

That's a wrap on summer | LazyHippieMama.com

Spaghetti squash grew like mad. 3 or 4 plants on 2 little hills put out well over 100 pounds of squash!

Seeds from Burpee Organic yielded a monster of a zucchini plant.  It was so big that people were commenting on having noticed it from the road as they were driving by.  Note that our garden is behind a barn, 50 yards or so off the road.  It was a BIG plant.  It was prolific in the way that only summer squash seems to be and then it started to wilt and die… but no… wait… it sent out “runners,” which are now putting out a whole second crop. I didn’t even know zucchini could do that!

That's a wrap on summer | LazyHippieMama.com

And the zucchini just keeps coming…

We lost our cucumbers to greedy chickens. The strawberries were really too young to be impressive, though the occasional bright red berry all summer long was a joy to find! Our pumpkin patch consisted of one vine that never had a single pumpkin. Squirrels ate every single hazelnut.

Look at all those shells. I bet they were delicious. *sigh* I hope the squirrels enjoyed them.

Look at all those shells. I bet they were delicious. *sigh* I hope the squirrels enjoyed them.

 

Oh, well. Win some, lose some.

All in all it was a great first year on this property. We harvested well over 500 pounds of fruits and veggies with the fall stuff still trickling in! Not bad considering the late start and total disorganization surrounding the planting of the garden that was pretty good.

ON PRESERVING:

We pickled and canned using a hot water bath this year and that works out fine. I did burn out a bit at the end and sadly ended up letting more tomatoes than I wanted to go bad. I’m not beating myself up too much. It was an overwhelming few months for a number of reasons and I was working on a stove that only has 2 (sometimes 3, if the stars align) working burners.

We froze as much as we could fit in the freezer and hung peppers and carrot tops to dry them.

Most winter squash will store very well, kept in any cool, dry place. Dry is important. We lost a large amount of our squash to mold when it got damp in the barn. Disappointing, but lesson learned.

If we really are going to be serious about being as self-sufficient as possible we really need a pressure canner, a deep freeze and a dehydrator. Four burners would be lovely as well. But, you know… we’ll get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.

Any sponsors out there who want to send me free appliances? Just thought I’d put it out there.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Next year I’ll plant fewer tomatoes and a greater variety of other veggies. By then we’ll have our raised beds ready to go so we’ll have that space plus we plan to enlarge the main garden a bit.

I’m hoping my little tomato clones will flourish over the winter. I’ll also save seeds from the spaghetti squash and zucchini plants that did so well. We’re also going to try to make some good cuttings from our concord grape vines. The vines we had did beautifully but we’ll be out of juice before the snow flies and I never did make any jam.  We really love grape juice. The kids were guzzling it up just about as fast as I could pick the grapes. OK – maybe not just the kids.

I’ll definitely plant sweet corn again but I’ll try a different variety and plant it away from the walnut tree.

 THE PROMISED COOL PRODUCT:

Kidecals wrote and asked if I would try out their labels and, if I liked them, share them with you.

kidecals-logo

I loved them!

I ordered these adorable little customized Christmas labels and they came just a few days later. They are super sturdy and the picture doesn’t do the bright colors and clear quality justice. They feel more like plastic than paper. This means they are water proof and also that they will peel off without leaving a messy, ugly residue on your jars.

Canning labels | LazyHippieMama.com

They had several styles of labels for canning but also labels for just about every other conceivable use, some very cool wall decals, key board stickers and more.

I’ll definitely be ordering from them again! I hope you take a minute to check out their website. You’re going to love it!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Using Up The Cherry Tomatoes

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Using Up The Cherry Tomatoes | LazyHippieMama.comLast year we had several cherry tomato plants and so many of them ended up being wasted. I made gallons of pico de gallo/salsa (You can see my favorite recipe here) and topped everything we ate with cherry tomatoes for weeks. I added them to sauces and even tried juicing them but, when it was all said and done I just had more than I knew what to do with.

This year we agreed not to plant so many.

But then…

I had a few plants that I’d started from seed and I figured only half of them would take root and produce. But, nope. Every one of those little guys held on and grew. And then someone dropped off more. “We didn’t want to waste them and we have too many.” They said.

I couldn’t throw them away. They were just too beautiful. Into the garden they went.

And now I have cherry tomatoes. Mountains and piles and heaps of cherry tomatoes.

I learned that cherry tomatoes, more so than their larger cousins, freeze quite well and can be used for soups and stews all winter.

I filled my freezer and didn’t make a dent.

My sister told me I should try Ina Garten’s Provencal Cherry Tomato Gratin.  I did and I loved it. It’s just the right combination of soft and crunchy, sweet and savory. It took 5 minutes to throw together from this simplest possible ingredients (not including cooking time) and it was a huge hit.

But I still had more. A LOT more.

Then I discovered tomato jam.

 

Image from Food in Jars. Click the photo to see the original recipe!

Image from Food in Jars. Click the photo to see the original recipe!

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock all of these years because I’d never tried nor heard of such a thing before. I stumbled across this recipe and resisted at first. I love grape jam and strawberry jam… but tomato?!  Then I read a comment that, “It goes beautifully on turkey burgers but eat it on soft stinky cheese with crackers and it will change your life.”

I LOVE SOFT STINKY CHEESE ON CRACKERS!

So I made some tomato jam. And it’s FABULOUS! And so pretty in those sweet little Mason jars. And it’s actually quite easy to make. No peeling and seeding and such. I just put my tomatoes in my slap-chopper and tossed them in the pot to simmer. And it takes 5 pounds of cherry tomatoes to make 2-5 pints of jam, depending on how big they are, how much sugar they contain and other factors. I got 3 1/2 pints from my first attempt.

I’ve got approximately 47 relatives who are getting tomato jam for Christmas this year and I’m not going to have any guilty, “I left them in the garden to rot” feelings. Everybody wins!

Do you have other recipes you love to make with cherry tomatoes?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

Breastfeeding is Awesome! (Usually)

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My one and only super controversial, highly scandalous breastfeeding photo.

My one and only super controversial, highly scandalous breastfeeding photo.

August 1-7, 2014 is world breastfeeding week. We don’t often think of things on such a big scale but, if you look at the World Breastfeeding Week website you begin to realize that breastfeeding is so much more than one woman choosing to provide food for one child.

Breastfeeding is taking a step toward eliminating world hunger.

Perhaps finances had nothing to do with your own personal decisions regarding breastfeeding but there are millions (billions?) of women in the world for whom infant formula is difficult or impossible to pay for.  The “normalizing” of breastfeeding in America and around the world helps prevent these women from being marginalized in some way.  When it is no bigger deal for a woman to nurse her hungry baby or pump breast milk at home, at work, or in other public venues as it is for her to give him a bottle, then we will have removed one major obstacle that stands in the way of breastfeeding success for many new moms. That is removing one major obstacle that may be standing in the way of many babies getting the very best possible nutrition!

Breastfeeding is good for the planet.

Bottle feeding creates waste. Formula cans and scoops, the foil seals that cover them, bottles, nipples, and special brushes for keeping everything clean are all items likely to end up in a landfill.  They are often made of plastics which are made from fossil fuels. Formula, whether soy or dairy based, requires a great many resources to create, from both an agricultural and manufacturing standpoint. It has to be shipped to the stores which is more fuel. Breast milk? The moment a baby is born (more or less) it’s just… there. No waste. No byproducts. A perfect system of manufacture and delivery from mom to baby.

Breastfeeding creates a healthier society.

Both moms and babies reap various health benefits from nursing. It’s not just the nutritional aspect. Everything from postpartum bleeding to breast cancer to the infant’s chance of catching a cold is reduced when a mother chooses to nurse, even for a very short amount of time.

One happy, healthy, chunky little breastfed boy.

One happy, healthy, chunky little breastfed boy.

Breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult and no woman should feel shamed if she chooses otherwise!

Whoa… did I trip you up there?  Read that again, please.

NO woman should feel shamed if she chooses not to breastfeed!

Breastfeeding was a great experience for me. The issues I dealt with were relatively minor and easy to overcome. I had a very supportive spouse and doctor. I had plenty of milk (perhaps a bit too much) and time to nurse my children.

Things don’t work out that way for everyone. I can’t imagine nursing multiples! Even discounting everything else the time involved would be astonishing.

Some women have to work outside the home. Even if their employer is supportive of their need to pump breast milk, pumping is not the same as nursing. It may affect their supply or the baby might not accept the bottle, or refuse the nipple after having had the bottle.

I could go on and on with a hundred different scenarios, but my point is that I truly believe with a powerful passion, that breastfeeding is best for mother and child and for society and should be supported and promoted in every way possible.

I also believe very deeply that we, as a society, need to keep in mind that every woman and every family is unique and what is good and right for one may not even be a viable option for another. In our zeal to mainstream an excellent thing we must not become so extremist that we demonize a healthy and valid “second option.”

Support nursing mothers! Support bottle feeding mothers, too! Because we moms are all working hard to do what’s best for our families and, frankly, we’re all exhausted and need a little help now and then.

I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences regarding breastfeeding!

Breastfeeding is Awesome! (Usually) | LazyHippieMama.com

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There’s No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know

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There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comGMOs have become big business – not only for those marketing them, but for those businesses catering to the people who wish to avoid them.  This has resulted in a lot of confusing labels, controversy and mis-information. Hopefully this post will help clear up a few things.

You may ask why you should even care about this. Well, it’s up to you to decide if it’s important or not. I recently wrote about why I care.

The term “GMO” stands for “Genetically Modified Organism.” This refers to “an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering.” (dictionary.com) GMOs were first marketed in the mid 1990’s. Before that there was no such thing as a GMO food.

Now, keep in mind that most (perhaps all?) modern food has been “genetically altered” in that it is different from its ancient, wild ancestors. Farmers have been cross breeding and hybridizing for as long as they’ve been farming. Because of that, the watermelon you eat is probably very different from the watermelon your great grandparents ate but it is NOT GMO. It is hybrid.

You will hear people say that due to pollination, air pollution, or the intervention of the Alien Overlords (OK. I made that last one up. But people get a little extremist at times) there is no such thing as organic food any more. Well… that’s a can of worms for another day. Let’s keep it simple for now.

Here’s a few of the facts and fictions about GMOs that you need to know to understand what you are buying.

“GMOs must be labeled.” – FICTION

Vermont recently passed a law about GMO labeling. Otherwise, there are no laws governing labels for GMO foods. This means consumers who aren’t well informed can be swindled from both sides of the aisle.  GMOs can be in anything and no one has to tell you. On the other hand, marketers can slap a “no GMO” label on something and charge you more when the reality is there is no such thing as a GMO variety of that product.

A great example of this is popcorn.  Pretty much all corn used for human or animal consumption in the USA is GMO unless it is specifically labeled as “heirloom” or “organic.”  HOWEVER, there are no strains of GMO popcorn being sold in this country. Most likely there is very little difference in the expensive “No GMO” brand and the cheaper store brand right next to it.

“Any pre-packaged food is GMO.” – FACT (sort of)

For all practical purposes you can assume that any corn, soy, canola, and sugar (not including cane sugar) in the US is GMO. You will be extremely hard-pressed to find any kind of processed food, be it a loaf of bread, a TV dinner or a bottle of salad dressing, that doesn’t contain at least one of those products in some form.

There are exceptions. There are a a handful of companies that are not necessarily “Certified Organic” but that do not use GMO products. Most (though not all) of these products have a “Non GMO Project” certification.  Your best bet is to know the facts and read labels very carefully.

“Nothing in the produce department is GMO.” – FICTION

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comPapaya, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash and sweet corn are all likely to be GMO unless specifically labeled otherwise. There is also a modified red-fleshed pineapple from Del Monte that is legal for sale in the US, though I’ve never seen it in any of the stores in my area.

Some items, however, are commonly “accused” of being GMO when they are not.

Biotech companies are pushing to develop GMO oranges in response to a disease that is destroying orange crops but they do not have an approved product as of the publication of this post.

There are also no GMO tomatoes, potatoes, melons or apples being sold in American grocery stores at this time.

“There is no such thing as GMO meat.” – FACT (technically)

This is a true statement in that the animals being sent to market have not been genetically modified. However, the VAST majority of commercially raised animals are fed GMO corn or soy. Many processed meats, like ham and sausage, are processed with GMO enzymes. So… I guess it’s up to you to do the math on that and make your choices accordingly.

It is my understanding that Certified Organic meat, eggs and dairy must come from animals fed non GMO feed. If I’m wrong I hope someone will point it out to me.

“Cheese is GMO.” – FACT

Most hard cheeses (cheddar, parmesan, etc.) are made with enzymes that are modified. This includes kosher cheese, unless it specifically states otherwise.

“Wheat is GMO.” -FALSE (but bread usually is)

There is no GMO wheat currently approved for sale in the US. Not long ago there was a massive controversy when a wheat field was found to be contaminated with GMO pollen but that seems to have been a one-time event. The wheat used in most modern products is hybridized and processed so as to be practically a different food all-together from wheat 100 years ago, but it is not GMO.

However, most products on the grocer’s shelves, including whole grain bread, IS GMO because they contain corn, soy, sugar or some combination of those.

“All Certified Organic foods are non GMO.” – FACT

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.com

I have heard people argue that manufacturers may use a tiny portion of modified ingredients and still use the “Certified Organic” label but I have never seen any reputable evidence that that is the case. If you would like more details on the various wording of organic labels (“Made with organic ingredients,” “100% organic,” etc) this is an excellent guide.

“Organic and Non GMO are the same thing.” – FICTION

Certified Organic foods are grown without any sort of synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. There are other environmental and production standards that farmers must meet as well, to achieve their certification. They must be inspected, fill out a small library worth of paperwork and pay to be legally Certified Organic.

Something can be Non GMO and completely soaked in chemicals. In fact, the Non GMO version of some foods is MORE chemical laden than the “conventional” version! GMO crops are designed to be resistant to disease and pests so farmers need to spray them less often.

“It’s all garbage, so there’s no point in trying to figure it out.” – FICTION!

There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn And Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.comDon’t get discouraged or overwhelmed!  There is A LOT of information out there but a little diligence on your part will go a long way. It IS possible to understand food labels. It IS possible to GREATLY reduce the number of harmful ingredients in your food. It IS possible to eat whole, healthy, natural foods regardless of where you live.  You may have to put a little effort into it, and you may come up against some critics, but… hey… who wants to be a sheeple anyway?!

Keep reading. Keep researching. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook! Find out for yourself from a reputable source. Most of all, don’t reach a point where you are afraid of your food! You know that a carrot, in any form, from any source, is healthier than a PopTart. No one has to tell you that. Trust your instincts and beware of slick marketing and you’ll be just fine.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

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There's No Such Thing As GMO Popcorn and Other Things You Should Know | LazyHippieMama.com

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them

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The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comMy family avoids eating GMOs.  I can’t say we NEVER eat them. We had GMO corn taco shells this week and cookies from a local bakery that almost certainly uses conventional ingredients. A recent trip to a nearby burger joint was what our family refers to as a “crap fest.” It was delicious! Healthy? Well… uh… it was delicious. As a rule, though, we go for food that is as close to all-natural as we can get it, even though that means our grocery budget is higher than average and we have to make cuts in other areas to pay for our food.

I’ve been working on this post for quite a while now, trying to put together the reasons we make the choice to eat a GMO-free (more or less) diet.  This morning, Wanda from Minnesota Farm Living posted this link on her Facebook page and it was just the motivation I needed to tie all this together and post it.

Wanda and I are on opposite sides of the GMO debate but I have immense respect for her. She runs a farm that is clean and humane. She goes out of her way to know the latest research on how to keep her animals healthy and, therefore, provide healthy meat to the public. Also, she has been endlessly patient with me as, for nearly a year now, I have been occasionally pestering her with questions about why so many farmers make the choices they do when it comes to bio-tech if it’s “SO OBVIOUS” to Joe Public that bio-tech is evil.  She helps me see that my viewpoint isn’t always the only one and that, as a consumer but not a producer, I don’t always understand the bigger picture.

The article she posted today, entitled, “How Scare Tactics on GMO Foods Hurt Everybody,” was an interesting read and I agree with a lot of what they said.  The author, Prof. Pamela Ronald, was speaking specifically in reaction to a new bill that has been passed in Vermont, requiring the labeling of GMO foods.

Let’s start with the common ground.

Prof. Ronald says, “…farmers’ use of GMO crops has reduced by a factor of 10 the amount of insecticides sprayed on corn over the last 15 years… decreased carbon dioxide emissions…”

I live in a rural area and I have asked dozens of farmers why they buy GMO seed. Universally they say it reduces the amount of pesticide they have to use and the amount of gas they would use applying it to their field. Additionally, fossil fuels are burned in tilling fields and GMO crops require less (sometimes no) tilling.  I would add that several of them go a step further and say that using GMO seed has decreased their topsoil erosion as well. So, in these ways, GMO crops are a big benefit to the environment.

She also states this:

“The bill is a contradictory hodgepodge of requirements and exemptions. It doesn’t require labeling for cheese made with genetically engineered enzymes, or red grapefruit developed through radiation mutagenesis. It doesn’t require labeling for animals that have been fed GMO crops, or for crops sprayed with carcinogenic compounds. The law doesn’t require crops sprayed with the organic pesticide Bt to be labeled, but crops genetically engineered to produce Bt must be labeled, and so must certain types of hybrids (including triticale, which can be found in most natural-food stores).”

To which I reply, with a sigh, “Yup. That’s government for you.”

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comNo doubt some law maker was trying to please the organic foodies (who are often backed with surprising amounts of money and clout) and the National Board Of Name Your Favorite Food (who, no doubt gave them money and clout) at the same time and they ended up with some kind of weird compromise that singles out a handful of items while creating special tax breaks for others. Sadly, I’ve come to realize that’s just how government works these days in far too many cases.

There is this statement: “So the law… won’t give consumers access to food that’s… less “corporate.”

True. Organics and natural food is some seriously big business in America these days. Pretty much every major food manufacturer has a branch or “child company” that sells organic products. In fact, the cost of organic certification is so prohibitive that there are very few small farms that can afford it.  If you want to avoid doing business with Corporate America you need to grow your own food or buy from a neighbor who does.

She concludes with this:

“So let’s label food, but let’s do it right. Instead of adding a general label about the process with which a plant variety was developed, let’s use labels that provide details about how the crop was grown and what is actually in the food. Let’s apply these labels to all foods, so consumers can make comparisons and draw their own conclusions about the risks and benefits of each seed or farming practice. Let’s create a national sustainable agriculture standard that is science-based and that has as its goal the health and well-being of consumers, farm workers, and the environment.”

Yes, yes and yes! I couldn’t possibly agree more! What a lovely idea! Let’s do it!

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.com

In the meantime…

Did you notice that the quotes, above, have a lot of pieces taken out? Those are the parts that are, for me, not common ground.

Right off the bat she says that there is not “a single credible report” that raises issues about the health consequences of GMOs.

If you click over to the first post I ever wrote on this topic you will find links to several reports from all over the world that raise concerns over everything from decreasing fertility rates to Leaky Gut Syndrome.  Some of them come from more credible sources than others but it is important to remember in any hot topic debate that one side can almost always find some reason to discredit the other.

For instance, I could try to discredit Prof. Ronald by mentioning that she makes her living by producing and promoting GMO products so it is in her personal best interest to put the best possible face on bio-tech. Is she knowledgeable? No doubt she knows so much more than I do about all of this it’s laughable. Is she unbiased? Not a chance. Does that mean she lacks credibility? I guess that’s up to you to decide.

She points out that these products have been widely consumed for 30 years now with no ill effects.

She could be right. Presumably, if you’re reading this, you’re still alive and well enough to read. I wonder though… We are told there is an obesity epidemic. Severe food allergies are more common than ever. Children have higher rates of respiratory illness than ever before. Adults are suffering from chronic pain and illness at younger ages and more severely than previous generations. Mental illness is on the rise. Autism is on the rise. We are not a society that has been experiencing improved health in the past generation.

Is that because of GMOs?

I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

It certainly seems prudent, though, to consider that ONE of the MAJOR changes in the world in the last generation has been the introduction of genetically modified food.

She hails GMOs for reducing food costs and insists that labeling will increase them.

Uhm… has she been grocery shopping lately?! In what world is food getting cheaper?!

She argues that GMOs enhance biological diversity.

I would argue that buying ONE type of seed from ONE company does the exact opposite. Further, there are side-effects of Round-up Ready Seed. One example that comes to mind is the reduction of milkweed growing in soy bean fields. Great news for soy bean farmers. Bad news for the pollinators who live primarily off of milkweed. If the pollinators die off a massive portion of the food on this planet goes with them. That is not a good thing for biological diversity!

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.comMy favorite argument from the pro-GMO side is one that is made in every conversation I have ever had on this topic.  “Everything we eat has been genetically modified in some manner.”

That’s true. If you looked at food from 1,000 years ago it would barely be recognizable to you. We have domesticated and cross-bred and hybridized everything. We’ve been doing it for as long as we, as a species, have been intentionally growing our own food.

Here’s the difference, IMHO.  Keep in mind, I am not a scientist. I never claimed to be. If you come back at me with a line about aminopeptides or some such thing I won’t understand a word you are saying. I’m just drawing on a decent under-graduate education and a LOT of reading on this topic.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have a black cow who is an awesome milk producer and a white steer who is totally tolerant to the coldest conceivable temperatures. You might decide to play Cupid in the pasture and see if you can’t come up with a spotted baby cow who grows up to be one extremely hardy milk-making beast.  Congratulations! You just manipulated the gene pool.

Now, let’s say your black cow almost drowns one day because she fell into the river that runs through your pasture. You decide to take one of her ovum, extract the DNA, splice it with the DNA of a fish and create a cow-fish that is a great milk producer and has the ability to breath through gills.

The Evidence May Show That GMOs Are Safe But I Still Avoid Them | LazyHippieMama.com

That’s the difference (in ridiculous, over-simplified terms) between the genetic manipulation that has been going on for centuries and Genetically Modified Organisms.

Is the milk from the cow-fish healthy? Maybe.

Do scientists in the year 2014 have a strong enough handle on the workings of DNA and the effects of food on overall health to guarantee that cow-fish make healthy milk?  Hmmm… well, have they definitively answered what role DNA plays in cancer? Mental illness? Diabetes? Can they “fix” autism or down syndrome? Can they even, with 100% accuracy that never fails, trace the genetic lineage of humans?  They’re getting there. The amount of knowledge and the understanding of practical application increases every day, but the science of genetics is not perfectly well developed yet.

Add to that the track record of foods that were once deemed not only acceptable but hailed as better than anything from nature – they range from cocaine to saccharine to trans-fats. “All doctors agree this is safe,” they said.  “There is no evidence that it’s harmful,” they said. But now we know better.

Pile on a healthy dose of Big Biotech being in bed with the lawmakers, the pharmaceutical companies and everyone else who stands to make a dollar.

Toss in a dash of truly bizarre controversy surrounding scientists formerly hailed as THE experts in the field (thinking of Dr. Don Huber, specifically).

And, just for good measure, throw in a pinch of, “The hippie in me just can’t trust a company like Monsanto,” (I never claimed to not have a few biases of my own!),

and now you have the reason why I still avoid GMOs, even though the evidence may show that they are safe.

*** I didn’t provide many links to research or further reading in this post because much of what I was drawing on came from what I’ve learned in the past, when doing research for the post, “What I Learned About GMOs From 9 Farmers, A Monsanto Employee and A Whole Bunch of Reading.”  If you want more information I strongly encourage you to head over there and click through to the various links on both sides of the debate. This is not a cut-and-dry issue and there is a great deal to be considered when making the right choices for yourself and your family!***

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort? 

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Composting 101

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Composting 101 | LazyHippieMama.comWhether you’re just looking for a place to throw your lawn trimmings or you want to do a full re-vamp of what you’re putting in the landfill what you need to do is start your own compost pile.

If you are like me when you decide to do something like this you Google it.  What happens then is that you get a long list of articles (like this one – except not nearly as fun and easy to understand) that tell you how to go about creating what you need.  Here’s the thing… when I first decided to build a compost bin the instructions I found on many sites were so complicated I almost gave up.  The bin designs included turners and aerators and solar panels. There were websites for buying specialty worms and insects.

Thankfully, I decided to plunge ahead and, as it turns out, everything is working out just fine.

Here’s the main thing you need to know:  Vegetal matter will rot and break down.

That’s it.  That’s the one key to keep in mind.  Now… can you speed up the process? Make it tidier? Balance the nutrients that you end up with.  Yes. You can do all of that and more.  But you really don’t have to do much of anything to make your biodegradable waste turn into black dirt.

On the other hand, there are a few important things you may want to keep in mind.  Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

Note: If I was going to buy a fancy composter I’d buy one like this.  It makes kitchen scraps into useable dirt in just a few days and it is far prettier than what I built out of pallets. You even get your choice of colors!

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1) Don’t put meat or animal products in your compost pile.

Meat will attract nasty predators and scavengers.  I’m assuming that you’re not looking to draw anything from rats to vultures to coyotes to your yard.  It will also stink a great deal more than vegetal compost.

2) Do put a variety of other things.

Kitchen scraps and yard clippings, dead leaves, small sticks, egg shells, newspaper, cardboard…  the more variety you toss in your bin the richer your mature compost will be.

3) Locate your compost pile in a place where the bugs won’t bother you.

Insects are a valuable part of the composting process and your outdoor compost pile will be crawling with them.  You probably don’t want it right outside your back door where you’re going to get a face full of flies every time you leave the house.

This is my pallet bin. It was quick and easy to build and it gets the job done.

This is my pallet bin. It was quick and easy to build and it gets the job done.

4) Do make sure the air and water can get to your compost.

This is not the project for a sealed, air-tight, water-tight bin. One of the reasons pallets are great for building compost bins is because the slats let the air in.  If you turn your compost with a pitchfork or shovel every so often it will rot faster.  If you don’t it will still rot.

5) Don’t put dog or cat waste in your compost – especially if you’re going to use it in the garden.

Dog and cat poo can potentially contain some very nasty bacteria and parasites, even if your pet is healthy.  Their digestive systems are just very different from ours.  Those organisms can live in your compost pile and make you sick when they come in contact with food or through handling of the compost.

6) Do add rabbit or chicken poo.

Also, toss in the stuff you clean out of your hamster or guinea pig’s cage.  Cow and horse poop are awesome in compost but if you’re already caring for a cow or horse your homesteading skills are likely so far beyond mine you stopped reading several paragraphs ago.  These types of manure will break down quickly, easily and safely.

7) Don’t expect things to go very quickly.

If you want to compost in 24 hours you need to buy the fancy equipment.  If you just want to throw your scraps in a pile you will still get compost. It will take a long time. Potentially years, depending how big your compost bin is.

Composting 101

8) Don’t worry too much about it.

You’re working with kitchen scraps and poop. This is not the project in your life that should be keeping you up at night.  Your compost pile should be a tool that helps create a space for your waste and generates some fertilizer for your garden. Don’t let it be more of a project than it really needs to be!

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Can Your Period Make You Sick?

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Can Your Period Make You Sick? | LazyHippieMama.comI wasn’t going to write anything today because I’m just not feeling very well.  It’s nothing serious. I just have a little springtime cold that’s nagging at me. It makes me feel tired and unmotivated. You know… even more than usual. But then I noticed something and I got curious and did a little research and learned something new so I thought I would share it.

I was looking through the all-purpose-keep-track-of-the-family’s-life calendar that hangs on our wall and I realized that, a few months ago, I got sick with a stomach bug and missed work just a few days after my period started.

It struck me as interesting because I’m fairly certain I’ve been fighting off my current sniffles for a while now. People all around me had colds, including my daughter. I could feel the little tickle in my throat but I felt like my body had it under control. I wasn’t getting sick. I was fighting it off… until my period came. About 2 days in all my defenses fell and I turned into Sneezy Dwarf.

All of this prompted me to think back. I don’t get sick very often but I have several distinct memories along the lines of, “Geez. As if it’s not bad enough that I have a fever of 102, I have to deal with Aunt Flo, too.”

A quick Google search told me I’m not imagining things.  It turns out that a woman’s immune function does drop during her menstrual cycle and for good reason. If she is pregnant, this is the time the egg would be implanting. It’s important that the body doesn’t freak out and reject the egg as some sort of foreign invader so the immune system backs off for a few days.

Science is cool.

But, still. *sniffle,sneeze,cough* being sick sucks.

There are a few things you can do to help yourself. None of it is rocket science. You know how to take care of yourself. Be conscious of the fact that there are certain times when you need to be especially aware of your health.

Taking half a bottle of vitamin C when you start to get sick really isn’t going to do anything for you.  However, making sure that you are eating a nutrient-rich diet all the time will go a long way toward helping your body do the things it needs to do.  This is especially true in the week or so before your period starts.  Eat lots of fruit and veggies during that time!

Don’t go low-fat!  Healthy fats (think avocados, almonds and coconut oil. Not chocolate donuts.) will help your body stay strong. Again, it’s always a good idea to eat well, but make a special point to nourish your system during the days leading up to menstruation.

Do you feel tired and unable to face the world when you’re pre-menstrual? Go with that. Try to give your body enough rest.

Can Your Period Make You Sick? | LazyHippieMama.comIf all fails, try my granny’s famous hot toddy.  There is actually some science behind the ingredients as they are immune boosting and anti-bacterial.  Plus you’ll be too drunk and sleepy to care that you’re sick.  My grandmother was a genius.

One large mug of very strong black tea – as hot as you can stand it.

One (fairly liberal) shot of whiskey

2 TBSP of lemon juice

2 TBSP of honey

Mix it all together. Drink it as fast as you can. Wrap in the warmest blanket you can find (preferably a gloriously soft home-made quilt). Sleep!

Here’s to a healthy spring for all of us!

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!