December 4(for) Green Acres Challenge



These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.

DECEMBER CHALLENGE: HANDMADE GIFT

This monthly challenge has come full circle.  It was this month last year that I had the idea to start posting monthly challenges that would encourage others to live a more conscientious life.  The December challenge was to not purchase any wrapping of any type.  It was intended to recycle and get creative with what you already had on had.  The December 2011 archives are full of ideas on how to achieve this if you want to go for it again this year.  I intend to. 

I am sad to report that this will be the final monthly 4(for) green acres challenge post.  I will post a challenge from time to time, but not a consistent basis.  As my blog took on several identities this year, I have been weaving through the threads searching for one that suits me best.  While it is still evolving, you'll start to see that the things that don't suit are going to slowly disappear or pop up elsewhere.  

So without further delay... the final challenge.

This year the word community has been jumping out at me around every corner.  Searching for mine, wondering where I fit in, and finally learning the vast lesson about my ignorance in believing that I could possibly live this life alone.  With that being said I want to dedicate this last challenge to community, whomever that may be for you.  

It goes without saying that we are all too plugged in sometimes. Your challenge is to unplug, slow down, and dedicate some creative time to making a gift for someone in your community.  And by community it can be someone in your family, your best friend, your CSA farmer.  The person is of your choosing.  The medium is your choosing as well.  It can be a baked good, a piece of art, or something hand sewn.  

By making a gift for someone in your circle it represents what living a 4(for) green acres life is all about.  Your investment into another person is building progress.  Others almost always pay it forward in some way.  

Happy crafting, baking, sewing...  Leave me a comment and let me know what you plan to make.  I love hearing your ideas.  

November 4(for) Green Acres Challenge


These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.

NOVEMBER CHALLENGE: GIVE BACK || VOLUNTEER

This entire month is dedicated to gratitude and Thanksgiving. Especially in light of recent events on the east coast, it is more important than ever to be thankful for what we have and give back what we can. Cultivating an community of thanksgiving brings living a 4(for) green acres life full circle. We cannot live on this earth without the love and support of those around us. Family and strangers alike.

This month's challenge has to come from your heart. Find a need in your community, or venture out beyond your boundaries to offer help. Think about adopting a family for the holiday season or volunteer your time at food pantry. During the holidays they get swamped with food for needy families. Consider adopting an elderly person in your neighborhood and spend time with them. Start a community garden by developing an organization team now to start in the spring. There are many ideas that come to mind, but it comes down to what feels right for you and your family.

Have fun with it and post back here what you have planned. It's fun to share with others and it's great to share ideas.

Lotus Wei Energy Mists

{photos via Lotus Wei}


































The challenge for 4(for) green acres this month is about improving your health.  While part of improvement means preventative medicine, an even bigger part is taking care of what you have in the first place.  It starts with your mind.  You are what you think.  

Recently I've been introduced to the science of flower essences.  Katie Hess, a flower alchemist from Lotus Wei, has studied the interconnectedness between the earth and humans.  Again showing the positive influence and healing powers nature can have on us.  What she discovered is that as we as humans spend more and more time away from nature, stress and tension have started to build in our lives, which is problematic on the health of our systems.  Her goal has always been to help others find personal growth and she found flower essences to be the medium to do so.  A true 4(for) green acres approach.

Thea used the Lotus Wei energy mists during our class at Squam.  At first I was skeptical because I always feel good at Squam so determining if they had any effect would be impossible.  After Squam, I read through the great information on the Lotus Wei website, and I decided to purchase the mini mists collection to test it at home in my everyday environment.  To be authentic here, I have to tell you the reason I feel I need this type of science.  I am not easy to live with.  I have a tendency to sway from one end of the mood spectrum to the other and not all that often in between.  I pretty much drive myself internally and do a good job forgetting to show affection to those I love.  I do believe that nature balances me and I'm willing to try any form of it.

If you're like me, you're wondering how flower essential oils can change you.  I found that question in her Q&A section and here is what Katie has to say.    

For those that haven’t tried flower remedy elixirs before can you explain how they work?
Flower remedy elixirs are an aqueous solution that when taken internally or applied on the body, works through the acupuncture meridian system. The science behind it is called sympathetic resonance: when you have two tuning forks of the same key and strike one of them, the other tuning fork starts to buzz even though it’s not touching the vibrating one. This is because the invisible sound waves expand out, causing the second fork to vibrate in resonance. 
The same happens with flowers. They are emanating waves that cannot be seen with the naked eye, but that strike a chord within us and as we re-balance our bodies and minds we experience more clarity, happiness, and peacefulness. When people find this hard to believe, I ask them how a cell phone works. We don’t question a cell phone, because we hear the voice on the other end. The waves emanate from the phone and send information through space. So we see this on many levels in technology. The difference is that what the flowers and plants has profound health benefits.
I get it, and I've been using them for about 4 weeks, with a small lapse, and I have to tell you that, YES, I do feel better.  Maybe it's a placebo, maybe it's just my willingness to be open to trying to something new, but I am not as emotionally strung out, and that makes it worth it for me.

Jump over to her website and pick a flower on the main the page.  It will point you in the direction of which essence you might be most in need of.  I think I'm going to need a gallon of inner peace!

++++++++++++

I was not paid or given any product in exchange for the post.  This is truly my opinion of the product I purchased for myself.

October 4(for) Green Acres Challenge


These monthly challenges are your opportunity to cultivate your own acres. They are designed to challenge your creativity, test your will power, and pull your awareness to the footstep you are leaving behind.

By participating in these challenges and sharing them with others you are spreading the message. Over time, those around us will be making better choices as well. The goal is not to change how you live your life, but rather think about the implications of those choices and tweek them for the best outcome.

OCTOBER CHALLENGE: IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH

There is more to living a 4(for) green acres life than taking care of the earth.  Taking care of your body is just as vital.  While growing your own food to feed your body is important, so is general prevention.  With processed food taking over the markets and carcinogens in everything you come into contact with, stopping to filter and clean out some of the junk becomes necessary.

This month's challenge is centered around health.  That includes getting a routine physical with blood work, mammograms, prostate checks, etc.  It means taking the time to cleanse your intestinal track and get rid of the toxins that are harbored there.  Understand your body and know it, so if there is an issue you can be intuitively aware.

So, stop what you're doing right now and make an appointment with a physician.  It starts there.  It starts with the blood.  Later this month I'll be talking about various alternative medicine practices that I've been exploring lately.

Guest Post: UpCountry Living's Experiment with Canning

Hello lovlies.  Today Jenna from UpCountry Living is sharing with us her first dabble into the world of food preservation.  She has taken the September 4(for) green acres challenge and is sharing her  experience.  Her perspective is interesting because I think many of us feel the same and come up with the same resistance.  The excuses as to why we can't or shouldn't do something are just that; excuses.  It's a good read and she notes a valuable lesson she learned at the end.  I hope you enjoy.    







Before September 19, 2012: I’ve never canned in my life.

On September 19, 2012: I’m canned today. I made Sunshine Salsa.

Probably after September 19, 2012: Canning? No problem.







I became interested in canning earlier this spring. My boyfriend and I had decided to plant our first garden in raised beds in our backyard in the late spring and early weeks of summer. I hoped that I’d have more vegetables than I knew what to do with and I was really excited about preserving my own produce.

Sure enough, the garden did well. Some things didn’t, but Mr. UpCountry and I enjoyed a bounty of green beans, carrots, beets and tomatoes. We ate most of the green beans (green beans with every meal!), gave away a lot of the beets and carrots (beyond what we needed) to friends and family and I held onto the tomatoes to experiment with canning for the first time.

And then I held them longer than I should have. I held them until they started getting mushy. I left them on the windowsill above my sink and the sun soaked into them and decay shot from the gate like it was all a race.

Why did I let them rot? Why didn’t I preserve them through canning when they were at their most fresh and ripe?

Because of Resistance. Good ole Resistance usually does a number on me. Thankfully, I’m slowly learning to outsmart it (but only after it’s caused me to procrastinate for a decent amount of time).























I strongly believe in the benefits of eating food grown locally (first) and organically (preferred). I know that the only way for me to eat local tomatoes in January is to can them.

And I have bowls full of them around my kitchen. Ready. Waiting to boil and vacuum themselves into jars. Yearning to feed me in the darkest hours of winter (or so I imagine).

But I failed those first ones. I let them go. My Resistance poked in and held me back in a variety of ways (one of Resistance’s secret weapons = changin’ it up).




























First, I didn’t have the money to buy the canning equipment.
How I beat Resistance: Eventually, I saved up the money and found some pretty cheap canning supplies at KMart. My sister loaned me her lobster pot. That leg of Resistance - knocked out.

Then, I didn’t have enough tomatoes to process a batch.
This particular ploy from Resistance worked for a while. If I continued to give away tomatoes to friends and family or convince myself that they were past their prime, I never had enough tomatoes to process and so I didn’t have to concern myself over it. 
After that, I convinced myself that I needed to watch somebody else do it first because I was likely going to screw it up my first time and I’d either explode glass and hot food all over the kitchen or I wouldn’t process it long enough and kill my loved ones with botulism.

I waited until my local Cooperative Extension office offered a canning class. This class was scheduled two weeks beyond when I probably should have started canning. But I waited. Because it would be so much easier to do it my first time if I acquired some wise mentor to walk me through the process. Right? ...Right?

I attended the canning workshop only to discover that there weren’t any live demonstrations of canning. The presenter did an excellent job of explaining the process, but nothing was hands-on.

I decided that my reading and online research would have to do and that I should get right down to canning.

Then a week went by. I couldn’t get myself to do it.

I was so afraid of something bad happening. Or not getting it right the first time.
























I wrote in the September 19 square of my daily planner: Can something. Just do it.

When I woke up on that fateful morning, I looked at my planner and knew that it had to be done, regardless of my fear and insecurity. Even though Resistance punched me full on in the face that morning, I steeled myself to the task.

And I did it. Mr. UpCountry graciously provided assistance (thank you, darling!). I looked up recipes in my canning book, Put ‘Em Up, and decided that salsa would work just fine for my pounds of yellow tomatoes.

For an extra dose of confidence, I called the local Cooperative Extension office and double-checked that the recipe I’d found followed USDA food safety standards. According to Mrs. Fishman at the CE office, it did. (That was another sneaky form of Resistance right there: worrying about the validity of my recipe. However, this form is actually commonsensical and wise. Food safety should not be taken lightly.)

Mrs. Fishman walked me through the steps and coached me as I repeated them back to her. She assured me that she’d be in her office for the next couple hours if I needed any further assistance. I am so grateful for her warm and friendly instruction.



Adrenaline Rush. Set the water to boil. 

I followed the recipe and ended up with seven half-pint jars of what I’ve decided to call Sunshine Salsa. Because the ‘Put ‘Em Up!’ recipe specified regular tomatoes and not yellow tomatoes, I figured I could go ahead and name the yellow version. 
Sunshine Salsa. My first canning experience. After I buckled down and did it, I realized that it was a manageable process. I could do it.


























My Sunshine Salsa does look a little watery in the jar. This is likely due to my tomatoes being a bit past their prime; they were extremely juicy!
























Also, my salsa had to sit in the jar for a few minutes after being cooked and before being processed in the canner because I didn’t start the water boiling in my canner soon enough. Lesson learned! Next time I’ll start my water boiling in the canner first thing.

I don’t believe that letting them rest before processing did any harm to the food. It could have resulted in my glass cracking or breaking, since it had time to cool down a bit before I bathed them in boiling water.

That didn’t happen. All those scary scenarios I pictured in my head didn’t happen.
























Instead, I put up seven jars of golden Sunshine Salsa and figuratively patted myself on the back.

Every day I learn, more and more, that the best way to do something is to do it. I may not have created a perfect product, but I still made something. I refuse to criticize myself on this.

It’s all about mannin’ up, puttin’ it up, doin’ it up.

And, likely as not, it’ll eat good with chips.


To read more about Jenna and her experiences jump on over to her blog.