Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year 2018, where did 2017 go? Food changes on the horizon.

Amazing Fall Sky on Forsythia Hill
The first part of 2017 was a big blur. My father passed away in May from Alzheimer's and the lovely Spring flowers were hardly noticed, for the exception of the daily drive through neighborhoods to see my father in the Nursing Home during his last days.

I've been wanting to write about our family experience with this disease but have been unable to relive this devastating experience. My hope is to one day to write in order to help someone else that is in this hopeless situation.

It certainly makes one want to never get this disease and do everything possible to change the course. Drug after new drug tests fail and little snippets of potential causes are periodically proposed, but no concrete evidence has been found. A few weeks ago they claimed to think sleep disturbances contributed to Alzheimer's. My father never had a bad day of sleep in his life. Just yesterday I heard someone say they believe some people diagnosed with ALZ really have Mad Cow disease. Well that's a distinct possibility as my father did consume a lot of meat. Obesity and sugar consumption certainly fit the bill too.

Jethro is still protecting the ladies on our mini farm.
With each passing year I try to improve my diet and tread less on the environment by making life changes. Beginning in 2018 my husband and I have decided to consume less dairy products by removing the cheese blocks, sour cream, and yogurt from our grocery list. If you have not yet watched What the Health, a movie that could be called "the life changing movie of 2017", I recommend it. I'm still not convinced that eggs that I raise in my backyard are the root of all evil but it got my attention. I do believe that factory farm meat and eggs, and fish farms ARE the root of all evil and terribly unhealthy not to mention a cruel existence for so many animals. The premise of the movie is that in the United States we have a health care system focused on disease control by pill not prevention. While watching, just remember that claims to find the solution to perfect health are often called "a fad".

Strangest photo of 2017 - Gus and Cesar spotted together!
Sure, every day some new revelation is discovered; Eggs were in, then were out, now are in. Diet fads come and go. One constant seems to be that the major U.S. diseases; Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer, Autoimmune Disease, and Alzheimer's are either inflamed by meat and dairy or occur because of diets rich in it. Diabetes is epidemic in this country. I want to live a life with the least amount of suffering and if I can make gradual changes to my diet to improve my health and potentially stave off these issues then I'm all in. Personally I believe GMO's are our enemy as is high fructose corn syrup and barley malt. Simple to avoid as they don't add any value to the taste. Common sense tells you that any product - food or cosmetic - should have the least amount of ingredients and be made of things you recognize!

Beach trip with Jenn to Southern Shores
Over the years I've set several goals and it's helped me stick to them by making a public pledge in my blog. I still only purchase recycled toilet paper and paper towels, always bring a fabric bag when shopping, don't eat chicken or turkey, eat my own chicken eggs or organic when out of season and don't drink cow's milk. I'm actually excited to remove 3 more dairy products! I'm still guilty of an occasional weak moment concerning hamburger or pork but it has evolved to be a desperation moment when I'm tired or craving Barbeque (I just bought my first 2 cans of Jackfruit to turn into BBQ, hoping that does the trick)! I'm stuck as far as coffee creamer as I have yet to find a dairy substitute that tastes GOOD. Fish are so polluted or fed GMO meal so that too has nearly been scrapped from my list. I really hate labels such as vegetarian or vegan as it can come across as boastful and is also too restrictive in my journey. My father's death certainly brought home the thought, "you only live once". Life is too short to be so anal about it that it becomes a chore. The more great tasting plant based options that are developed, the easier it is to make the change! 

A drone fly over when Forsythia was in full bloom!
Even if the claim that meat and dairy are a detriment to your health is false, no one can dispute the cruelty to animals in factory farms and the unnatural conditions forced upon them My philosophy is that if each of us would cut back on the meat they consume and make the effort to eat local farm raised meat then the planet would be a better place. I can not imagine living next door to a factory farm being subjected to the noise, pollution, stench, and the horribly sad animals that are imprisoned there for life. It's simple, the less we support, the less suffering.

A crowd of Angels marching to the gates with my Father
On the day before my Dad's passing, I looked at my phone and noticed this strange photo that was on it (that I never shot). A friend said that purple signifies death in many cultures and that the white dots were spirits. It gave me a little peace to know he might be leaving us with angels all around!

Our much improved newly painted shed
I did manage to make it to the beach and it was so lovely. We did get one out of 2 sheds painted and I love the new look. We're going to paint the house and other big shed this color. We also redid the bathroom downstairs which was also a major accomplishment! Anthony is installing a hot water insinkerator that I picked up at the Habitat Store for $30.00 on this last day of the year! I hope he is finished in 2017 and that it actually works!

Our new little Powder Room
I'm hoping for 2018 that I can get back into the garden and celebrate SPRING, my favorite season. Happy New Year and take a stand to change your life to better your health and the planet. I would love for you to leave a comment if you plan to do just that!

~Rebecca

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Small Bathroom Redo DIY Bathroom Makeover transformation to cute Powder Room


Bathroom destruction feels GOOD.
When we purchased our house 8 years ago, we inherited a pinstriped masculine bathroom. It was located in the basement and was rarely used. Because of the tight space, we even used it less.

I'm quite thrifty when it comes to home remodeling and this bathroom was no exception. I ended up breaking even on the deal. The major expense was the pedestal sink that I purchased at the local Habitat Restore. As luck would have it, a chrome faucet was attached. It was missing one piece and the store manager thought he could dig me up one - and he did! Fortunately, the faucet works perfectly (an unknown at the time of purchase).

Hand peeling wall paper with steam iron and hot wet rags.
It was a tough decision to go with a pedestal sink, given I would forgo cabinet storage space. Once I began pulling out what was currently stashed under the sink, I decided most items could go elsewhere or fit in the medicine cabinet. A pedestal should only be considered if you are not using it as a main bathroom. We chose to transform this small lightly used room into a Powder Room.

Many words come to mind, I'll let u use your imagination.
We installed a retro medicine cabinet over the 1970's sink when we first moved in and it never matched the inherited faux walnut pressboard cabinet and plastic marble sink combo. This unit was the least liked element of the entire house, on the top of my "must go" list. Perfect for someone else, I sold this beauty for $80.00.

Large print plastic beehive faux tiles do not work.
We also had to completely replace the back of the toilet hardware and install a new seal. I'm glad my husband is handy! A plumber is never cheap. I picked up the laminate flooring off Freecycle 5 years ago, so happy to finally see it set in place.

My retro plant stand with mementos.
I sell vintage so was determined to decorate with something in my stash. I discovered two cool trophies my parents were awarded in tournaments from back in the day - a tall brass ping pong trophy of my Dad's and a golf trophy of my Mom's. Dad passed away this year and he would crush anyone that challenged him to ping pong so it was the perfect found item. I did splurge on the shabby blue round plant stand that I picked up at a Roanoke antique store for $22.00. I was not sure it would fit in the tiny space until I decided to go Pedestal.

The Powder Room / Coffee Shop
Anthony and I went through my big closet that holds many framed prints and the last one that we tried worked! I was thrilled to finally find the perfect place for our old Coffee Shop sign! Now we serve coffee in the Powder Room M-F 8-6 and Sat 9-9 (HA).

Given my bad experiences with wallpaper, I did get lazy and mandated that we only peel off 2 of the 4 walls. It works as you don't see it unless you step inside to sit and sip (HA HA).

Now we are motivated to redo the upstairs hallway bathroom, it will require more work as we want to rip out a tub and replace with a tiled shower. I'm afraid we have a few more pressing home projects next in line so this will have to wait until next year.

-Rebecca 


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville Annual 2017 Butterfly Count in Albemarle County Virginia

Butterfly Counters (hat and binoculars required gear)
While Charlottesville made national news due to violence in our lovely historic downtown, I was out participating in the annual North American Butterfly Count for Albemarle County.

You can't help but have a favorite, the Northern Pearly Eye.
Two teams of mainly Virginia Master Naturalists headed out at 10 am to count butterflies. One group was dispatched to Crozet and the other to Kemper Park (the nature trail that traverses up to Monticello). Temperatures were more moderate today, only 90 degrees compared to 97 last year! Getting overheated is to be expected. The day began with fog and light sprinkles of rain but the sun came out and so did the butterflies!

This year our butterfly count was held just north of Kemper Park at the adjacent property, Secluded Farm. It's a lightly hiked area that features big swaths of open meadows and forest land.

The official numbers have not been tabulated but our butterfly sightings were fairly light. The most commonly spotted butterflies were the little Silvery Checkerspot, Skippers, and the black Spicebush Swallowtail.

Spicebush Swallowtail on Thistle flower
It was remarked that the annual count is a favorite event for many of us. Immersed in nature, seeing a variety of native plants, insects, magnificently huge trees, and of course butterflies. There is always something in nature that is totally new. I discovered several plants and shrubs that I had never seen. A Master Naturalist snapped a Spice Bush limb and we all smelled it's lovely scent. Who knew! There were also plenty of unusual Dragonflies lighted on twigs.


Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly

I have to wonder why people can't find something meaningful to do with their time other than spew hate. What a waste of a perfectly beautiful day in Virginia. I'm so fortunate to live in a normally peaceful town that welcomes diversity and has respect for all creatures great and small.

~ Rebecca
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