Friday, October 24, 2014

What goes into the farmers market stall?

I am trying to have a master plan for the farmers market idea. I don't want to overcomplicate the issue as its not going to be a full time endeavor this year so although I want to have some kind of a plan-its not going to be a full blown business plan. What I want to do is try to explore the demographics by offering a few items in limited quantity.

For example:
10 wallets
10 change pouches
10 mason jar cozies
10 bars of soap
10 cuticle creams

I am thinking about also adding paleo style treats or at least gluten free ones-for example, chocolate bark or chocolate covered pretzels but I do believe that if I did this I'd have to use a commercial kitchen which is an overhead I need to explore.

And though I don't have anything pickled or any jams on hand that I want to sell, I certainly can buy some produce and offer a few items-jams and vinegar based pickles can be made at home in Wisconsin.

Having decided on the products, my next venture will be to source supplies. I have a lot of fabric on hand but will likely need things like zippers and interfacing. I will need tins for the creams. I have yarns  to make the cozies.
Once the lists are made then I need to figure out the cost per item. And of course the dreaded profit markup considering labor.
That is the bigger turn off for me-do I want to make 2 dollars profit per item? Is that good enough? Can I make more? Do I pay myself 10 dollars an hour? 15? Will I operate at a loss? Enquiring minds want to know!
Until the maths are done- there are not answers.

My Amish friend Mary has tried to encourage me to get some things made for the markets for a while now . I might go visit her today because I have another idea that I want to test out on her-I hope she will be happy to help me with it. I don't want to jinx it though so I am not going to talk about it yet. If it goes well I will feel very very happy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trading for wild game meat and learning to cook it

We live in an area full of avid hunters who don't mind trading their bounty with others. Most of these hunters are not only skilled, but skilled enough to have surplus on hand-they hunt for the pleasure it gives them. I don't actually understand this concept though I am beginning to.

We on the other hand can shoot but can't bring ourselves to hunt anything. What we have are two things-eggs and llama and alpaca fleece. We therefore are able to trade our surplus for wild game.

We traded a dozen eggs for duck breast medalions recently and we traded half of our llamas fleece for venison from the upcoming hunting season.
Wild duck is not at all fatty or rich like its restaurant counterpart which is presumably farmed.  The person we traded with had cut the breast into medallions. He discards the rest, stating that its the only part of the duck worth eating.

With wild game, its wise to soak the meat in milk for an hour or more prior to cooking. This gets rid of that somewhat undesirable gamey taste that some meats can have. For example, venison can taste like liver without this step-which is fine but if you want liver then eat liver!

This step also helps to tenderize the meat a little.
The ducks breast was then spiced with allspice, pepper, garlic and onion powder, a little bit of maple syrup and some balsamic vinegar. I was instructed by the hunter to cook it like liver in a frying pan and so I did.
It was sauteed in butter and olive oil infused with garlic.
A nice simple meal, served with a cranberry pear chutney , roasted green beans and brocolli and some oven fried potato (I am still eating starches but not from grains).
Duck can be subject to the same issues as chicken so getting it to cook beyond medium well without it drying out is a trick. I left it at medium-its something that I think that people need to decide on their own if cooking it. I am not sure how strict this rule is-assuming that it isn't.

If you are lucky enough to get ahold of wild game meats then the one source I suggest reading is  Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

The verdict for this dish was "delicious" five stars. I have hated duck and turned it down in the past because it was always much too rich for me but I had eaten it in restaurants-as I said-likely farm raised. This is a wonderful meat and I hope to be trading for more in the near future.

Have you had duck? Do you enjoy it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Knitting Cotton-take 2

……. or three or four-I lost count of how many times I've started to knit with this Lustrado cotton and frogged the project because its gauge does not transfer to that same gauge as a fingering wool, even though it is fingering weight.
But this time, I think I have it by gosh!

I am knitting a modern interpretation of a vintage pattern from this book:
The patterns in this book have been rewritten for modern non corsetted bodies-which means most go up to s bust size 40.  I think that I will be knitting a couple of patterns from here over time-it was worth the investment for that reason.

The sweater in question is a 1940's sportswear styled jacket which is the reason I bought the book. I saw the photo on ravelry and fell madly in love with it and while I was tempted to buy the same color yarn (because I love it), I realized that I absolutley need to use this pink yarn because its become a bane in my life when it should be a pleasure. I felt guilty for wasting the money on it. (the turqoise yarn in the photo is a wool that happened to be there when I shot this picture).

I was also tempted to dye it but I am afraid of losing the sheen that this particular yarn has. I will learn to live with it by wearing it with black.

The entire body of this pattern all the way to collar is knit in one go in back and forth knitting. The sleeves are then knit separately. This is not a circular knit and so is slow going for me but its also not a winter wear sweater so I am not in a hurry to finish it. I have other things to knit in the meantime but wanted to make headway on this project.

I am being careful to not take too much on but the other knits are small projects. I am thinking that I might pull together some things for the indoor winter farmers markets. I am not sure if they allow an all craft booth or not but will be calling them today to find out.
There are craft fairs that are coming up but I don't believe that I can get that much together by then. If all else fails I will try the spring/Mothers Day craft fairs and of course-etsy:)

Right at this point in time, life seems really good to me. The weather is holding its own outside-its sunny and a bit chilly. Everybody is well. I feel energetic.
How are you? What projects are you working on? Tell me about the last time you bought a yarn that you thought you would love but found out it just didn't fit into your actual world for some reason or other?

Monday, October 20, 2014

A change in lifestyle?

I am a  little bit shy about revealing what I have been doing-I have been so anti this one thing for so long but I realized that perhaps I hadn't given it much of a chance. I also was under the impression from some of the adherants that I have come across online that it was about over consuming meats-photos of huge servings of protein on beds of green turned me off. Yes. I am talking Paleo but I am actually talking a level up too.
There. I said it. I have given up on the mostly vegetarian grain based diet that I have eaten most of my life. Why? Because although I was getting lots vegetables which I feel were crucial to me when I was doing chemo-I have failed to thrive for about a  year now. When I say this, I mean that I have not been in pain remission for that long. That is not normal for me.

I had tried to go gluten free a few months ago and while I did feel better initially, I crashed pretty quickly too. I couldn't understand why exactly but in carefully looking back, I had actually replaced wheat with a few off the shelf gluten free products so after mulling this through a bit, I decided to be mostly grain free to see what is going on.
Before I visited a chiropractor for a clicking jaw three weeks ago, I had come across newer research regarding pain and that led me to the nervous system. The idea is that pain is not always due to damaged tissue. Observations are that a person can have heavily damaged tissue but no pain. I have  alot of reading to do on this. My chiropractor mentioned something similar and though he didn't talk to me about dietary particulars he mentioned that the nervous system needs specific nourishment to soothe it.
I then began to look further in the B12 issues I have had and to fish oils which improved some of my problems (the anxiety ones) but not my body.
I got the book, The Paleo Blueprint by Mark Sisson and am reading through it slowly.  And I have been exploring something a great deal more targeted for people with nervous system conditions-The Wahl Protocal.  I will read her work next.

Dr. Terry Wahl actually has multiple sclerosis but has been able to regain her health using a particular set of rules which are paleo based. I relate to her because she was a long time vegetarian and had to deal with facing some hard realities. She has a good video on Ted Talks that is worth seeking out.

Two weeks ago, I began the experiment-I removed grains and dairy. I added dietary  fats and I added lots of greens and more sulphur foods (the Wahl method). Its not that easy for me to eat that much food but I am working my way up to that much food.

I am beginning to feel better! I say that cautiously because of my gluten free experience. I hope though that is a more permanent solution for me. I believe that its Mark Sisson who says that a person can feel 80 percent better with the right way of eating? I would say that I am about 20 percent better so far. I expect a gradual improvement because I had been feeling malnourished and probably was-I expect its going to take a while to get back to my own optimal health.
The thing is-I am walking with less pain-that is actually a priceless experience. This allows me to excercise more often. Excercise has always been the key to my well being. I have always been more active-from martial arts to dance and walking. I see a light at the end of the tunnel!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Other peoples gardens-Garden Art

This garden is in the sleepy small town where my daughters boyfriend grew up in upper Wisconsin. The town is very normal by most standards-a suburb more than anything with a dead mainstreet and  paper mill.
My daughter came across this place on a bike ride one day and took us to see it when we picked her up over summer.
I think the flowers are cosmos and this mosaic of child suits the location.

This mother with a child in her arms is sweet.
There was more-just didn't happen to get alot of photos. It feels odd to take pictures of a strangers front yard!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ouch! A life of Pain

I am going to be more forthcoming in sharing my journey through pain here in the coming weeks. I have been gathering information lately that I have to actually read and probably research more before I speak up. I am not a doctor. I am not cured. I am not healing enough to toot a horn. Please understand that I'm just relating my personal experiences and not recommending anything to anybody nor am I pretending that what works for me is an answer for readers. You are responsible for your own health.


My journey in brief:
I began on this road 22 years ago after a  difficult birth with my twins. My liver failed. Though I recovered and we all tried to move forward from that terrible experience,  I never seemed to gain my formerly robust health back. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia nearly a year after the birth of my children.

For many years, I spent time going to specialists-a chiropractor for a bad shoulder, a foot doctor for achy feet, a general practitioner once in a while and an acupuncturist as often as I could afford it since insurance only paid limited amounts for that. I was convinced that the real issues had to do with my liver failure but no doctor would listen to me when I mentioned it.

One time, I went to a fibromyalgia clinic and ran away as soon as possible because they were a very well marketed organization that only wanted to sell patients things-from very expensive massage oils to the Cadillacs of massage chairs. Did they help me? I clarified some things that I had read in the general wellness press and like my G.P. this clinic wanted me on anti-depressants. I tried and couldn't tolerate them as evidenced by sudden onset of migraines which nobody beleived  had to do with the pills.

When I look back up on this chaotic journey, I realize that I took that route because a general practioner wasn't helpful at all so I had thought that by going to specialists instead that  I could fix my body one part at a time. They at least were not mean to me  and found organic reasons for the pain issues.  Fibromyalgia is an invisible disease in that there is no diagnostic testing that points to it so when one finds that a muscle is inflamed or that toe is misaligned or what have you-that is great news! It can be seen and can be fixed!
The most helpful of all was my chiropractor who worked exclusively on soft tissue injuries and malfunctions. I found accupuncture to be helpful for general wellness but I didn't respond to pain myself though research has stated that some people do feel pain relief.

I was  able to put things in remission for long periods at a time through these visits as well as excercise and diet but around 5 years ago,  I noticed that this was becoming a bigger challenge altogether.
As it turned out, I wasn't feeling fibromyalgia alone by then. I had undiagnosed colon cancer. Once I had surgery, chemo and radiation, the pain set in in very untolerable ways. I was on opiates for a year and now I am taking a medication that isn't helping the pain but keeps anxiety in check. I am at an level 8 or so out of 10 every day.

So that is it in a nutshell.
I want to say two things. I don't feel sorry for myself which is not to say that I haven't ever felt badly about all of this-just that I don't let that feeling dominate my life for long.

And the other thing is that I have a lot of hope. I feel in charge of my own health and though its a slow going, I think that I have found some answers recently that make sense to me given my entire history (I had restless leg syndrome at 12 years old. I also have had anxiety issues most of  my life though that was undiagnosed until two years ago)-seems that the issues are becoming clearer to me by the day. This is where people may differ-remember I am only speaking about my own body.

If you are in pain then I implore you to not give up on finding answers. Pain is becoming a very hot topic. Those of us who have suffered with it for awhile can attest to the fact that it seems like the last frontier but things are changing-there is really hope now. Hang in there!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meditations and tips for better sleep and anxiety control

I am getting much better when it comes to sleep than I used to be and I think that alot of that has to do with my health improving a great deal. What that means for me is that I have been taking vitamins, herbs and minerals that help to sooth my nervous system as well as doing much better at a more balanced diet. The other aspect is another post-I am walking away from information overload.

What got me started though was that I began to  use youtube alot when I had cancer. My oncologist and a nurse practitioner wanted me to learn to meditate to help control my anxiety attacks but I didn't have time or money to do so. Instead, I began to listen tomediation music or Om chanting to get me through anxiety attacks and found that they worked very well.

In the daytime, I have been trying to learn more about the topic of anxiety and how meditation and a spiritual practice is condusive to healing more than the mind/spirit but the body too.
This video is lengthy but its a great video that teaches a great deal as well as guided meditations.
Now I know that Deepak Chopra is a "celebrity" but he is also a doctor who has done a great service to humanity by bringing holistic wellness to the masses. I don't care for this associations with Oprah and others because it seems so Hollywood and makes his work seem exclusive when the bulk of it really isn't, yet I can  put my opinion aside and hope that you can too. His videos and writing are invaluable and are high quality, available in many libraries and online.