I have been delighting in the early summer exploding color all over my back yard! For the first time I managed to plant my annuals early this year, over a month ago. Remembering the beautiful fuchsia baskets my mom used to have when I was growing up and the humming birds that used to visit them; I decided to give them a try this year. I chose a couple baskets until I decide if we are compatible.
I was rewarded this morning with a scan out my kitchen window to see the delicate humming bird hovering over my fuchsia buds which are ready to bust open any day! Then it flew over to the clothes line for a rest under the patio between the basket and where I stood behind the window. After half a minute it took to the air and flew straight for me and stopped short hovering a few inches from the glass that separated us. I think it might have said something like, “You planted it and I came, so open up those buds, please”! : )
We are seeing a few new bird species visiting our bird bath and seed house this year along with our regular visitors. It’s fascinating to observe wildlife when they are around on a regular basis to learn their habits. Love the “couples” that seem to stop by together for morning and early evening baths. Later in the summer we will begin to see them introducing their growing off- spring to our little oasis we offer them.
Along with the birds we also have regular squirrels running their path through our yard. They are quite cute and amusing, until their wildlife ways infringe upon the taming of the garden! Several years ago we had the bright idea of putting out peanuts for them. It seemed a kind thing for us to do. Then I noticed that holes were appearing in my carefully weeded and tended garden as well as the potted plants. Yep, they were burying our offerings as their own personal stash. In lieu of losing the plants they disturbed in their efforts we decided to forgo the peanut smorgasbord. Even at that we discovered they were bringing nuts gathered from yonder yards to stash in ours.
For the last couple seasons I have been sort of trying to keep them away from the more tender plants by planting larger stones around them to discourage digging around them. That helped a little but not enough. I added more hanging baskets for a place to plant seed starters which they are unable to get to. It helped that part anyway. Then I got serious and checked for solutions online. The best one I came up with that is a for sure is placing chicken wire cut to fit around the plants and there is no more problems with their digging bothering my plants. I have left some free space for their use and balance has been restored.
Rearrange the Energy
I think I have always been sensitive to “energy” in relation to the boundaries of my personal body space and an underlying instinct as to how it affects my subconscious need for balance. In later years it has become more apparent. Reading about it has validated it for me. Most common for me is when you are standing in front of someone and instinctively feel they are too close, where you feel compelled to take a step back. Some might refer to it as your “personal aura space.”
Another situation is when you enter a room and look for a place to end up; some areas will feel more comfortable than others with relation to energy flow. For a simplified example, the middle of a room will feel more “congested” or “busier” energy wise, like the air is swirling but you can’t see it. As opposed to somewhere along the outer edge of the room where it is “calmer” and more comfortable. Sometimes it’s an unconscious feeling where deep inside you are affected either positively or adversely and you might not know why. (Feng Shui utilizes positive energy flow as its conceptual base for organizing the setup of a room with furniture and accessories).
These are just a couple examples of more situations varying in degrees of subtleness.Clutter in and around your living space can also contribute to negative energy in your environment. You know that corner or kitchen table, chair, breakfast bar, closet, cupboard, drawer, etc., where something gets dropped there with an intent to come back to it sometime later? Then a few other things land there and days pass as we walk past it time and time again. Many times when passing by such clutter there seems to be an instant glaze of the eye that beholds it and the mind allows a blank spot just for that moment.
My experience with this in relationship to the healthy energy I prefer to flow around me is that those small clutter areas are there and its presence does lower the positive with negative. It’s a tricky underhanded nag on your subconscious. There you are, approaching “dark area” innocently with a pleasant sunny spring in your step and you walk past unaware and suddenly “bam”. (Those dog whistles come to mind that no one else can hear.)
A tendril of the “negative” has permeated a pore in the temple and oozed into the mind to immediately emit a small patch of black inky fog where the light and positive once helped propel the pleasant sunny spring in your step just an instant before. There will probably be a thought, as quick as a blink, thru your mind about cleaning or organizing that up, splattered with a nice sprinkle of guilt for not getting to it before. As quick as it came the thought is gone and suddenly you’re not feeling quite as light as you had when you were only aware of where you were heading before this welcomed glitch!
Understanding how much keeping the clutter and piles under control can contribute to the health of the living space which can then create desire to make it so. It’s pretty easy to stay on top of it once there is a willful intention to keep up on it. Focusing on one area at a time can help take away the forest for the tree’s syndrome. Creating, and altering to suit your needs, the healthy positive energy in the place you live should be a pleasure in layers. Living in the moment with the willful intention of creating peace, calm and comfort in our private sanctuary; utilizing our own creativity while changing the aesthetics of our living space where it doesn’t feel “comfortable” and pleasing to our eyes.
Perhaps it might be a chair that would you have had the choice you would never have allowed it into your space. Maybe it’s a picture that has hung on your wall forever and you never look at it anymore unless it’s to take a swipe at the dust on it. At the very least you could swap walls with another wall ornament and bring the pleasure it brought you in the first place back to your conscious mind. Get rid of them; donate, sell, or give away. (I am learning about “carbon footprints” and environmental impacts. In the past ignorance of the times, we would have taken a trip to the local dump with no guilt involved what-so-ever.)
For catch all areas, first is to figure out if this area can be kept clear or not. If not, then perhaps utilizing some sort of attractive container (not expensive per se) might help keep it under control and at the same time contribute to aesthetics which will create the positive energy we are trying to raise up!
We have an L shaped breakfast bar in our kitchen. In the very corner of the L, I had offered this area up to my husband, when we first moved in, to put his important smaller objects and paperwork for immediate attention. For years that small space was a silent niggle on the back of my brain. It was a space where my eyes glazed over whenever I glanced that way. It became an eyesore to me but to him it was “his space” and I had given it to him. : )
One morning while enjoying my oatmeal and blueberries, my eyes locked onto that corner and I fully realize how much I really disliked that area and was ready to deal with it immediately. I envisioned something to allow it all to be contained but still accessible and tidy for his convenience. It would have to look good for our style as well.
Inspired to make this happen I quickly added it to my mental list to watch out for this “special container” just for my needs and headed out to tackle my list of errands for that day. I saw plastic Rubbermaid drawer type things, lovely baskets, etc. Now I knew what I didn’t want.
My last stop was Fred Meyer. (If I can’t find it at Target, Freddy’s is next!) I had enough time left for a leisure stroll thru housewares. After leaving the shower curtain aisle, I figured I was out of luck thinking housewares were finished. Never one to leave possibilities unturned when it comes to shopping, I poked my head around the next corner and discovered an aisle filled with import looking things with promise of treasure beckoning me forward.
Right in the middle I discovered the coolest 2 drawer cabinet that was about 10 in high x 12 in wide that was made of wood with an old distressed finish. A ray of light descended from the warehouse ceiling and flooded the space of the only cabinet left on the shelf! I had to have it. To top the whole find off; it was on sale for $10 off that week. This bargain warrior woman raised her fists in a triumphant gesture of self-satisfaction! (Well, that’s how I felt on the inside anyway.)
When I got home I easily put everything in it hubby had, in his small corner space, with room for a bit more. I politely told him that if he needed more space, it might be a good idea to transplant something to his office to make room for more. (O.K., that doesn’t happen often but he is open to help in that department. : )) It fits into the room so well and all negative has been replaced with pleasure and balance.
Between closets, cupboards, open areas and everything in between; tackling the whole picture can be daunting. The trick, like so many other issues, is to do baby steps. One pile, one drawer, one closet, one entryway at a time. A few minutes at a time at least, until it’s done. Make it a contribution to your soul self, your home and your well-being as a whole. Allow yourself enjoyment of the process by living in the moment and achieving a goal, with self-satisfaction as the prize.
Busie old foole, unruly Sunne,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes, and through curtaines call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
Late schoole boyes, and sowre prentices,
Goe tell Court-huntsmen, that the King will ride,
Call countrey ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knowes, nor clyme,
Nor houres, dayes, moneths, which are the rags of time.
[Thy beames, so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou thinke?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Looke, and to morrow late, tell mee,
Whether both the’India’s of spice and Myne
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with mee.
Aske for those Kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.
She’is all States, and all Princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes doe but play us; compar’d to this,
All honor’s mimique; All wealth alchimie.]
Thou sunne art halfe as happy’as wee,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age askes ease, and since thy duties bee
To warme the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art every where;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy spheare.
I first experienced hatha yoga about 31 years ago. I took a course at my local college and continued practicing well into my first pregnancy. I am not athletic at all (alright, I was a bowler!) and I loved it. I know I reaped many benefits from it for the time I did it. Then, after baby came along, life happened, another baby then a car accident in 1986 messed me up royally for a good 15 years and left me feeling certain degrees of fragility after that.
I came back to yoga over a year ago. I know now that had I realized at the time of my physical damage due to the accident, yoga would have shaved years off my suffering not to mention helped me in so many other ways I have experienced in my advancing middle age. No bother though, because I am appreciating the benefits today!
I entered into it carefully with respect to my weakened back and neck. I poured over many video’s to find routines that would not send me back to short of traction. I really should have sought out another class but stubbornness for personal reasons ruled that one out. My physical problems over the years have allowed me a heightened consciousness of any activity that might threaten my condition. (I would highly recommend anyone else does just that, to learn the poses under the watchful eye of a trained yoga practitioner! If done wrong, you can really hurt yourself.) I entered yoga practice carefully and with conscious respect to what my body was telling me with each pose I tried. In the beginning I added another pose one at a time so I could feel how I felt the next morning.
I am now structurally stronger, feeling more graceful and toned as well as finding myself more enabled to drop these pesky pounds. I have added Pilates for a more intense workout. I have more energy and my insomnia problems are all but gone. I am more aware of my body as I move through my days in that my posture awareness in standing, sitting and moving about has become a conscious effort to maintain in my shoulders, stomach tightness and lower back.
I incorporate meditation into my workouts and the result is a calmness afterwards that I carry with me all the time and can call up at any time, when stress creeps in, by simply breathing deep and slow with a clearing of the mind that refreshes. Or, if time and place allows, by doing one or two poses to take me back to calmness. Five minutes can work wonders on the mind, body and soul.
My first choice of videos was “Healing Yoga: For Aches and Pains”. This program uses yoga to address and correct chronic injuries and illness. It is gentle yoga designed for all fitness levels helping to increase the range of motion to one’s spine and joints while promoting flexibility and fluid body movement. It was a wonderful place for me to start.
My second choice of videos was “Just My Size: Yoga with Megan Garcia”. She is a plus-size model with a “real” body and presents an easy-to-follow, viewer friendly approach no matter what body size they carry. It’s also a great starting point for beginning yoga practitioners. I started out slow and carefully. I felt positive results almost immediately. She also has a book called “MegaYoga by Megan Garcia” that I found helpful for more in depth instruction.
The third video I recommend is a dvd called “Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies”. Don’t let the “dummies” part put you off! It’s great for beginners and I found the instructor pleasant and real. Also there are extra instructions helpful for first timers.
I used other sources but these three were the most helpful in starting out. After weeks of regular practice and feeling a need to add a more intense workout, I added “Crunch: Super SlimDown” which is a combination of Pilates and yoga. Rather than doing individual poses of yoga, this offers a flow of poses for a more intense workout. I find for myself, when I am finished, it’s the perfect time to go into meditation.
The most important thing to know about yoga is it is not about knocking yourself out as much as going into each pose with body awareness and grace. Yoga combines body, mind and spirit. Slow even breathing, in and out thru the nose, at all times during the workout. If you feel pain at all at any time then you either stop or back off of intensity of that pose. I suggested yoga to a friend once who was very athletic. She tried it on her own and reported back to me that she was very sore the next day. She thought she had done a good workout. The problem was she had approached it as she had any other activity she had done in the past as in “no pain no gain”. When I explained to her about clearing the mind when doing the poses and becoming aware of what each and every muscle is doing and how it feels as well as how far to go she realized that her approach to yoga was wrong. Remember, yoga is as much a spiritual effort as a physical one; they intertwine when done with intent in the moment. The goal is not to do and look just like the yoga instructor. It is to learn the pose correctly and work at your own level and pace.
When beginning yoga and looking for a good dvd, look for one that has modifications in it. They will show the instructor and also one or two others doing the same poses only modified for different levels of ability. (I have found some good ones thru my county library system.) I have found it good practice to view the whole dvd before doing them. A quiet place to practice with a good yoga mat is important. Check your stray thoughts outside the room and focus on listening to your body as you begin to work on the poses. Enjoy the feeling of awareness as individual muscles respond to them and blood flows thru your whole body.
After sitting at my keyboard and typing this, I am feeling a bit tight in my shoulders and neck. I think I will go do some yoga now! I hope you will consider this brilliant activity and wish you well on your journey.
By Hilary Meyer, Associate Food Editor, EatingWell Magazine
Now that spring has sprung, I’m loading up on more fresh veggies, and that has me thinking about the best way to store them to keep them at their freshest. I only go to the grocery store once a week, which means I have to keep my produce stored properly to avoid ending up with a giant pile of bad veggies ready for the compost pile at the end of the week.
And as it turns out, the refrigerator is not the go-to storage unit for all your produce. Below are 5 types of produce you shouldn’t keep in your fridge.
Tomatoes: OK, a tomato is technically a fruit, but taste-wise, it’s closer to a vegetable. If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, then you know that they love the heat and hate the cold. Turns out even after they’re plucked from the vine, they still hold their aversion to cold. The fridge is not the ideal place to store tomatoes. Store them there and your perfect tomatoes turn into a mealy disappointment. They’ll still be good for cooking, but not the best for eating fresh. Instead store them on your counter (not in direct sunlight) and enjoy them when they’re ripe.
Basil: Tomatoes and basil go well together on your plate and it turns out they have similar needs in the storage department too. Like tomatoes, basil loves the heat, so extended periods of time in a cold environment like a refrigerator causes it to wilt prematurely. Basil will do best if it’s stored on your counter and treated as you would fresh cut-flowers. A fresh bunch of basil can be stored for in a cup of water (change it every day or two) away from direct sunlight. Covering it loosely with a plastic bag will help keep it moist (but make sure the bag has an opening to allow for some fresh air to seep in).
Potatoes: Potatoes like cool, not cold temperatures. They do best at around 45 degrees F, which is about 10 degrees warmer than the average refrigerator. Most of us don’t have a root cellar (a cool, dark place to store root vegetables like potatoes), so keeping them in a paper bag in a coolish spot (like a pantry) is best. Why paper? It’s more breathable than plastic so potatoes won’t succumb to rot as easily. And why not the fridge? Storing potatoes at cold temperatures converts their starch to sugar more quickly, which can affect the flavor, texture and the way they cook.
Onions: Onions don’t come out of the ground with that protective papery skin. To develop and keep that dry outer layer, they need to be “cured” and kept in a dry environment like a pantry, which is not as damp as the refrigerator. Also, lack of air circulation will cause onions to spoil, as will storing them near potatoes, which give off moisture and gas that can cause onions to spoil quickly. Store onions in a cool, dry, dark, well-ventilated place. (Light can cause the onions to become bitter.) Scallions and chives, however, have a higher water content, bruise more easily and have a shorter shelf life, so store these alliums in the fridge.
Avocados: Avocados don’t start to ripen until after they’re picked from the tree. If you’re buying a rock-hard avocado, don’t store it in your refrigerator, as it slows the ripening process. On the other hand, if you have a perfectly ripe avocado that you’re not ready to use, storing it in the refrigerator may work to your advantage by prolonging your window of opportunity to use it before it becomes overripe. So the bottom line on storing avocados is store hard, unripe avocados on your counter and store ripe avocados in your refrigerator if you’re not going to eat them right away.
EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.