Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Seattle 1/2 was a blast!




Is it possible to smile for 13.1 miles? Yes, it is! A few years ago, I thought about running the Whidbey Island 1/2 marathon. At the last minute, I pulled out. My calf was giving me fits and the thought of walking or trying to jog 13 miles seems too big an obstacle. Funny how your perspective can change. After walking the 60 mile 3 day walk, 13 miles is just a stroll in the park. Talk about a 360 in thought.
.
Not only was I able to complete the 1/2 marathon, I ran at least half and smiled all the way. Since I only entered the night before, my running preparation was pretty meager, I hadn't even been on many long walks. What prepared me for going 13 miles was a new perspective plus the excitement of a new discovery.
.
On race day 17,000 people laced up their shoes. I didn't run for time or for any other reason but just to have fun. And fun I had. I stopped to take pictures, I visited with fellow runners, I waited 15 minutes outside a port a potty, I walked, jogged and smiled. I believe, if you are having fun, whatever you are doing is a whole lot easier.
.
Will I do it again? You bet!! Plus, the post run care was amazing. Hot chicken and rice soup, chiropractic care, acupuncture, protein drinks, a finishers metal, fun, fun, fun!!
.
Wishing you all happy walking, running and smiling!
Denise Frakes
Blue Sky Services
Where the sun always shines!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Seattle 1/2 marathon surprise entry

After a series of events, Sunday I will be walking/running the Seattle 1/2 marathon. I decided today to go ahead and enter. With only one day of official training, there wont be much running. After the 60 mile walk, I feel pretty good about walking the 13.1 miles.
.
Apparently, there will be 14 thousand other runner-walkers doing the 1/2 and full marathon. 14 thousand- this will be very interesting. I'm not sure I'm that excited about going through the tunnel-I'll probably jog that part.
.
Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving.

Denise

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A hidden find in Tacoma- hawthorn tea room


There is something warm and special about small and local businesses. I might be biased but still there is a distinct feeling about walking into a business and being greeted by the founder and owner. Each little business was created by someone. First they had a vision, a passion and hopefully some skill then they took a leap of faith and took the plunge.
.
This plunge is not just about opening a store front or putting an add in a paper" open for business" This plunge is a life change. Your business becomes part of your life. It is an outward expression of yourself. Maybe that is why small personally created businesses feel special- they are.
.
Yesterday, I had lunch with a new friend. I looked on line and found a little place called
"hawthorn tea room". It was wonderful. The co-owner Laurie, greeted us and helped in our selection of tea. There were 50 to choose from! The little tea shop is right on 30th in old town Tacoma. This is one of my first tea room visits. I thought it might be stuffy, far from that. Their tea room was warm and welcoming. The food and tea were yummy. This little place is what got me thinking of how good it is to be able to walk in a door and say hi, what's for lunch?
.
If you are looking for a new dining spot, wanting to support a small/ local business or just want a great cup of tea this is a hidden treasure. http://www.thehawthorntearoom.com/ 253-238-9021
.
Hope you enjoy,
Denise
Blue Sky Services
Stone and tile Care
Preventative maintenance

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Breathing 35 pounds of air a day!!!!

"On average you breathe about 24,000 times per day, moving about 10,000 gallons (or 35 pounds) of air in and out of your lungs. This is roughly equivalent to six time the weight of your daily food intake."
Bastyr University
Quote from Change your breath change your life
Upcoming class handout

Wow, that is a whole lot of breathing. Who knew?? I have always thought breath was most essential to our health because of where it falls as a priority of life. You can go about a month with no food, a few days with no water but how long can you go without breathing? See what I mean?

Recently, when I did the Susan G Komen, 60 mile walk, breathing was essential to my stamina, health and strength. Whenever, I want to relax I do deep breathing. In Kundalini yoga, my instructor teaches breathing techniques all the time. Of course, breathing is free, maybe that is why so much more time is focused on food or drinks. I don't know, but I think breathing is a fun study.

Bastyr University is having a continuing education class on November 20 from 9-5. It is open to the general public and the cost is $85.00/ person. I guess this isn't' free but probably worth attending, I'm currently considering it. If you are interested check out their web site at: www.bastyr.edu

Happy breathing,
Denise
Blue Sky Services

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A micro road trip

Back walking today. This morning I woke to a down pour of rain. I was going for a 10 mile walk no matter the weather. A friend and I met to go for a walking road trip.
.
I love road trips. Adventures in traveling. During my training for the 60 mile walk I discovered the micro road trip. Where my road trip consists mainly of a road and my feet. Car is optional. Today, I used it to get to my friends house. It is not the road trip, but only transportation to my road trip.
.
Walking 10 miles takes around 2.5 hours, plus an hour for side trips and bathroom stops. Today my road trip was filled with drop dead beautiful autumn colors, an impromptu shopping spree, a delicious lunch and in the last mile, sheets of rain. Lots of chatting, laughing, looking and reminders to keep good posture. I found a pair of sunglasses.
.
When budgets and time are tight, look for the micro road trip. Getting into shape, exploring the sound and finding adventures in your own back yard. Love it!

Happy travels,
Denise

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Smiling at what comes your way

Tonight I went out for a run. My left leg tied up and I ended up walking. Sally-my flop eared smiler-walked right along with me. I guess I would have preferred running but some days you get what you get. My Aunt Velma is great about making the most of whatever life brings her. I remember her mom, my great grandma Biddle, sitting at our kitchen table shucking peas. She was just happy. I don't know if she loved peas as much as she found a way to love whatever she was doing.

I can take a lesson from my wise family. I couldn't run today, but the night was absolutely beautiful. I realize I'm incredibly lucky to be able to walk and to live in a place where I am safe and free to do just that. Maybe tomorrow I will be back running. If so then great, if not well I hope I have the wisdom to enjoy whatever the run or walk brings.

Wishing you the freedom to enjoy whatever the day brings,
Denise

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The 3-day event and pictures





















































Wow! That was an amazing journey. My whole summer has been about training, preparing, fund raising and "the walk". This weeked we finally did it and it was incredible. Thankfully, we were able to walk all 60 miles, camp in little pink tents at night and finish the weekend healthy, strong and happy. We got two tiny blisters - which are pretty much healed already and a bit of fatigue but overall we are incredibly lucky.

There is so much to tell, but for me it was about supporting my great friend. One year ago she was having her breast cancer surgery. This year she walked 60 miles and past the very hospital that surgery took place. She was always my inspiration. Along the way we meant so many incredible women and men. The volunteers who took care of us were angles!!! The supporters along the way were a gift. The whole journey was one I will never forget, one that touched my heart in a million places. But mostly I was in awe of my friend with her inner strenght and determination to do this walk. She walked in memory of her friend she lost to breast cancer one year ago.
Over 6 million dollars were raised to be used for research and community programs to help find a cure for breast cancer.
For all your prayers, words of encouragement, donations, and support I send you my thanks from the very bottom of my healthy and happy feet!!!
Denise


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The eve of the 60 mile walk


1 day before the walk, but who is counting? I am!! At the moment, it is pouring rain outside and I have a cold, not a great start!
.
My incredibly supportive and kind husband came home today with a rain coat- guaranteed for all weather!! If that isn't love, then I don't know what is.
.
Today, the walk may seem a bit dreary for me as I down lots of garlic, eat oranges and look out the window at one drenched street. No matter the start, there is an incredible amount of support for me. I can't tell you how this is going to go, I have never walked 60 miles in three days while sleeping in little pink tents. Nor have I done it with a cold in the rain. I am a rookie. I can tell you I feel surrounded by good wishes and kind thoughts.
.
For me, this journey has been about the support of my good friend who went through cancer this past year. I'm a little freaked out about the walk, imagine how she felt when she was diagnosed with cancer. She found a way to get through the fear, the treatments, the pain and the ongoing side effects. If she can walk this walk with a giant oven mitt on her arm to help her lymph drainage, I can muster enough strength to walk this walk with her.
.
This weekend there will be about 3000 people walking 60 miles, from Redmond to Everett and back to Seattle. Please keep us in your heart and prayers.
Thanks a million,
Denise

Monday, September 20, 2010

Relax it is only a little walk...


It is Monday morning and only 4 days until the start of the Susan G Komen 60 mile walk. Guessing the weather is like guessing how many hairs are on my cat. As we get ready and pack for the upcoming 60 mile walk, the weather is a major factor. So far in the last week it has called for clouds, sun, and rain. This weekend the forecast for the 3 day was rain, rain, rain. This morning it is looking like partly cloudy and sun! If I have a say in the matter, I pick partly cloudy and sun. I like walking in the rain, but 60 miles and then camping at night-in the rain???? I hope those little pink tents are waterproof!!
.
As the event gets closer I'm starting to feel a few butterflies. My sister has a theory: It is only when you feel butterflies in your stomach does it mean you are doing something big enough to have an impact on your life. Her theory is comforting.
.
Maybe if I put the walk into an different perspective it wont seem so daunting. In 4 days, I get to stroll around the NW on the first days of autumn, with a good friend. Along the trail there will be lots of kind strangers, all dressed in pink, who will feed, water and care for us. At night, we get to camp under the stars, surrounded by a few thousand friends and probably just as many port a potties!
Ok, that did make it seem like a fun outing!
Denise

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The sidewalk to no-where


Is it really only two weeks until the big walk?
Monday, I was out walking 12 miles. Normally, that would be a big thing, but lately it is kind of normal. Life is crazy!
.
I was strolling down a 4 foot wide sidewalk when I looked up to see this fence. End of the road. Not really, I took a picture, crossed the road and kept going. Who runs a large sidewalk into a dead end on a major road? There is always the unexpected and unexplored on these walks- love it.
.
It's easy for me to get caught up in my own training that I forget why I'm doing this. It is for the awareness and prevention of breast cancer. Long after the initial diagnosis, chemo, radiation is over there are still so many hurdles to go over, or like this fence, around.
.
This is a tough disease and one we hope to avoid, prevent and cure!
.
Thanks for all your support and happy walking,
Denise
Blue Sky Services

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Invictus


19 days and counting.....
Yesterday, my 8 mile walk felt more like 21 miles. It is easier to walk with someone than to walk alone. Don't get me wrong, I love my solitary walks and runs. Being quite gives me time to reflect, to think and just be. But when you are pressing yourself, past your comfort zone, having a companion makes the trip easier. If you are pressing yourself for a cause greater than yourself, that also helps.
.
Last night we watched the movie Invictus. If you haven't seen it, I'll give you a quick summary. It is based on the true story of South Africa, Nelson Mandela and their rugby team winning the world cup. To me it was the story of how a group of men were able to do more for a cause than they ever could have ever done for themselves.
.
Of course, I realize my walking 60 miles isn't exactly as big of an event as uniting of a country but still, for me, pretty big.
.
Invictus is a poem Nelson Mandela used to motivate and inspire himself while in prison. I have copy of the poem from the book : one hundred and one famous poems. Out of this book, my grandpa, Aunt Velma and mom have memorize poems. My mom gave me my own copy years ago. If you are interested here is the poem Invictus.
.
Invictus
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
.
In matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
.
William Ernest Henley
( born August 23, 1849; died July 11, 1903)
.
If you get a chance, watch the movie it was a series of amazing events. Hope you enjoy,
Denise

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Act of Discovery


25 days and counting down.....
This past Sunday we took the ferry to Anderson Island and walked 17 miles. The Friday prior, we walked 10. I figured the beginning of this week I would be less than peppy.
.
Yesterday, I mowed the lawn. Dallas reminded me my walk was going to be 3 days of solid walking, I might consider doing something physical on Monday. So I mowed the lawn. Within the first few steps I noticed something incredible... my legs felt fresh!!!!!!!
.
My upper body was a little tired but my legs felt great! This walk is more than just 60 miles, it is an act of discovery. Prior to walking this weekend I was diligent about being hydrated: water, ginger water, fruit, green drink and electrolytes. I've noticed when I'm fully hydrated my muscles don't hurt or ache. I'm definitely getting in better shape but I was amazed how healthy I felt yesterday. Today-still feeling good.
.
The walk on Anderson was beautiful, lots of fir trees, madrona trees and long hilly roads. Walking this far is not boring but relaxing - like a very slow road trip. It took us 6 hours to walk 17 miles. That is a good road trip.
.
Thanks for all your support!
Denise

Friday, August 27, 2010

Somewhere between crazy and amazing


29 day countdown to the 3-day

I have to be honest, I sway between thinking this walk is a gift and it being a act of crazy. Most likely it will be both. One of my concerns is not having trained enough, as I started the walk late into the year. Luckily, I walk or run most everyday, but I in no way have been covering this kind of mileage. In fact, I had gotten into the rut of taking Sally and Reggie-our dogs- for little-speedy walks. Reggie is 17 and can only go about .5 miles. Sally could go all day, but I had been only taking her for about 1-3 mile walks. This is not exactly training for a 60 mile walk.

When I visit with people- friends, family and customers- I get a mixed opinions: nuts, amazing, crazy, kind, insane, tough. I understand all the above and I think most of these opinions at least once throughout my day.
.
Yesterday, I was at a job. There was a window washer doing his job and we got to talking. He, his wife and son will be going to Scotland to hike 80 miles in 4 days!! Not only did my walk seem smaller in comparison it seemed infinitely more doable after taking with this ultra-walker. Our walk is only 60 miles with incredible support along the way. He will be out in the middle of no where and they are their own support. This is one fit family!
.
I asked for walking and training tips this is what he advised: develop a very strong core of muscles; great shoes/ not brand new shoes; using different shoe inserts than the ones that comes with the shoes; and finally lots of training prior to the event.
.
Great tips and I guess there is a lot of crazy and amazing going around.
Thanks for all your support-
Denise

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

30 days before the big walk


I was visiting with my mom yesterday and she gave me some info that was news to me. Both of my great-grandmothers had breast cancer. My great-grandma Stella died from it. This all happened when I was young and un-aware.
Now that I'm older, I guess I'm still probably
un-aware. But the fact remains, this is a dangerous and deadly disease.
.
Journal- today is 30 days before the big walk
My hat is off the the thousands of women and men who have walked before me. This is a big deal. It is kind of like the iron man of walking. We will almost be walking 3 marathons in a row while camping in little pink tents!!!!! (I know, I can't seem to shake my wonder of the 1500 little pink tents.)
.
A friend of mine will be walking this Friday in Colorado. She did all her training and fund raising without a team. That is both amazing and tough. These walks are scheduled all over the US, with thousands and thousands of walkers at each event. Good Luck this Friday!!!!
.
There are probably thousands of reasons we are all walking. I'm walking to support a friend who had cancer this spring, she is walking in memory of a lost friend to breast cancer last fall, some walk just to feel like an athlete instead of a cancer patient, others walk because a family became ill. I can't even imagine all the reasons but over this summer thousands and thousands of people will take this challenge in hopes to do some good in the face of something so dreadful.
.
For all who help us in this journey-thank you. (even if your think we are crazy-thank you!)
Denise

Monday, August 23, 2010

Little pink tents


Journal:
Did I mention, during this walk we will not only be walking 60 miles in three days but at night we will be camping and sleeping in little pink tents?!!!!!! Over the last couple of weeks I have rotated which part of this walk gives me the most butterflies. Raising $2,300 in 6 weeks, walking 60 miles or camping in little pink tents with 3000 other women. Somehow catching up on my rest while camping doesn't sound that rejuvenating.
.
A couple of weeks ago, when my friend and I did the training camp on Whidbey we also camped. Over 3 days, we walking 38 miles and camped in a little green tent. On Saturday night, it down poured. We were a sad little pair... tired from 21 miles and sitting in a little wet tent, in the dark. Come to think of it, that wasn't as unsettling to me as showering at the campgrounds. I'm not fond of being cold. Somehow walking 21 miles and then getting your shower kit to go to a cold and maybe not so clean shower may be the worst part of camping.
.
This walk is not for the faint of heart!!!!! But I guess surviving cancer makes you pretty darn tough. On the happy side, I am discovering a like for pink and an humbling discovery of the generosity of others.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Good intentions and a little bit of garlic


While contemplating my zillion miles of training for the 60 mile walk, I created a most yummy lunch. Here is my recipe.

7 second garlic and fresh kale

Kale
Edamame
Garlic
Walnuts
Raisins
Olive oil
salt

The ingredient amounts depend on how many are eating. I cooked enough for one, but should have made enough for 3.

Cut up some fresh, out of the garden, kale. Put it in a medium hot pan with a bit of water to steam. Add frozen or fresh edamame and a dash of salt, cook until tender.

While the kale and edamame are on one steaming, start another little pan and add a glop of olive oil. Put 2 cloves of garlic in the microwave for 7 seconds. Take out smash, peel and mince. (the 7 second cooking of garlic is a tip my mom gave me in AZ this summer. Takes the bite out of garlic- tip of the year) Toss in the pan with olive oil the: garlic, raisins and walnuts. Add a dash of salt. Saute until tender. Add the garlic, walnuts and raisins to the kale and edamame and serve.

A girl can not walk only on good intentions, sometimes you need good fuel and a little garlic.
Hope you enjoy.

Denise
Thanks for your support

Friday, August 20, 2010

The kindness of strangers...

A picture of tonight's walk

Walking Journal...
I'm beginning to realize how kind women are. Wednesday night, Dallas and I were out to dinner celebrating his b-day. I got to visiting with the restaurant owner, who runs marathons, about my upcoming 3-day 60 mile walk. Keep in mind, we were at a restaurant where you always visit with other restaurant goers. Anyway, there was a lady next to me who had walked the 3-day several years ago. She asked me to send my fund-raising info so she could donate to my walk.

Yesterday, I sent her the info and today she donated $60 to my walk!!!!! She also responded to my e-mail with support and suggestions to help me reach my $2,300.00 dues.

Her kindness is incredible and I'm starting to see how women are truly supporting each other in this walk for the cure. Tonight, I feel humbled at Cindy's donation and very lucky to be able to participate in something so big! Thank you Cindy!!

Happy walking to all, may you have health and happiness
Denise

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dont panic when running up a hill


This is Oscar and he looks like I feel today. Not so much the chunky part but the wiped out part. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Lots of traveling, walking 38 miles- over 3 days, committing to raising $2,300.00, plus I gave a talk to the NWIDS last Tuesday night.
.
Today I'm just a little tired. Nothing a good night sleep and a day in the office to catch up wont fix but still when you are tired the path ahead of you seems a little more daunting than when you are rested.
.
Here is my philosophy: When you are running up a hill, do not decide how far you are going to run. When the run is a struggle, your perspective will be too near sighted. Today, I'm running up hill. I will not panic about my fund raising efforts or my ability to walk 60 miles while camping at night. Instead, I'm going to write about my feeling and share the experience of a this walk for a cure. Later today, I'm going to go eat dinner with Dallas and some great friends.
.
I can always panic tomorrow, but today I'll just put one foot in front of the other and get to bed early!!
.
Wishing you all a good nights sleep!
Denise

Monday, August 16, 2010

1 in 8

Thought of the day:

One in eight is the statistic for a women's chance of getting breast cancer. I don't doubt that statistic, as I have been visiting with others about the Susan G. Komen's 60 mile 3 day walk. I have been blown away by how many families have been affected by breast cancer: mothers, sisters, fathers, neighbors, aunts, friends and wives. It's not just women either!

Journal:

Today, I went for another walk. I think I walked about 6 or 7 miles. That is a far cry from the 60 miles I'll be walking with my friend come Sept 24-25-26. 60 miles- talk about crazy!!! I've been a runner most of my life but recently more of a 2 mile stroller with our dogs. My comfort zone has been dramatically altered, but this change isn't a fraction of the change that happens in the life of someone diagnosed with breast cancer.

As I walk, I'm feeling stronger. When I started walking in the end of June, my feet hurt more walking 5 miles than they did walking 21 miles. Still, 60 miles seems a little crazy!

Wishing you health and happiness,
Denise

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do not be afraid!


" You must bring freedom, relaxation, knowledge and imagination to the thing and above all, do not be afraid; a failure is no disgrace and may very often be more instructive than a success.... The sense of failure is, in any case, always sharper in the the mind of the practitioner than in those of the guests."
Richard Olney Simple French Food
The Mindful Cook pg 93
.
This quote just leaped off the page as I read a bit and eat lunch; one of my new creations straight out of our garden. Don't you just love the thought of cooking with freedom to do as you feel, to be completely relaxed, a touch of knowledge is probably good and with full imagination all the while doing it fearlessly!!
.
This past week, I got a chance to visit my mom and grandparents in AZ. While there my grandparents give my mom and I full freedom to explore and play in the kitchen. My grandparents are amazing and brave. As I write this, my grandma is having her 96th birthday today. My grandpa will turn 97 next month. How many people, no matter what there age, will give playful and creative cooks full freedom in their kitchen? The list is very short. Talk about fearless!
.
One of our dinner creations had a main dish of brats and sauerkraut. I know this is not all that unique but just wait, it gets better. The only brats I've ever seen cooked was in beer first and then browned on a BBQ or skillet. This is where not being afraid of failure comes in... I bought a can in the beer section called Tilt. How was I suppose to know it is not beer? The label said contains malt, had 8% alcohol and it was right next to Coors-which I know is beer. I wanted to get a single can so 5 cans didn't just sit around until my next visit. Hense, I bought one can of Tilt.
.
I opened the can, dinner was to be served in 35 minutes. The liquid that poured out was this fluorescent green, lime tasting stuff, obviously not beer. I tasted it - you kind of have to in this situation. First thing that happened was 10 minutes of hysterical laughter from me and my mom. I dropped the brats in the bright liquid and smiled, why not? From there it got messy, I proceeded to boil green tilt stuff all over my grandma's stove - repeatedly. I kept going until it was done, took it off, sliced it and browned it on the stove, added the sauerkraut to the pan and and exactly 6:00pm give or take a minute it was servied. And it was great/kind of green but great- who knew!!
.
Proceed without fear but with imagination, freedom, knowledge and be relaxed while you go. You may make a mess, scare your family and cause a few eyebrows to rise but you will be free to live and your memories will be crystal clear- or in this case bright green.
.
Wishing you fearless cooking,
Denise

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lasagna bed experiments get an A+


This morning's newspaper had an article from Mike Stanly the project manager at our cities community garden. It is good to talk to or at least hear from other gardeners. A couple topics caught my attention. First, was the effect the cool and damp spring has had on our local gardens. Lots and lots of slugs are not just part of my garden but more of a wet spring thing. Slow to grow pepper and tomatoes are normal and his first experiment with lasagna gardens is so far a great success.

What does this mean to my own garden? Well since you asked, my tomatoes are growing great, with big stems, healthy foliage and new baby tomatoes. They do not look yellow or spindly but robust. I attribute their vigor to planting my tomatoes in my lasagna gardens. I can't remember if I told you but I built two more beds this spring. In one day, I built the beds and planted my tomatoes. Apparently, if you are highly motivated and creative, building these beds is a snap!

Anyway, I was excited to hear it was more likely the cool and damp spring and not my lasagna beds that brought in the slugs in such abundance. However, my lasagna beds have given me huge and beautiful purple potato plants, great big red beets and yummy onions.

Last night for dinner we pulled our first beets. Not only were they the most beautiful beets I have ever grown, the lasagna soil was incredible rich, dark, moist and so tender. It's hard to believe just a few months ago it was a bunch of shredded paper, chopped leaves, grass clippings, chopped straw, peat moss compost, kitchen scraps, etc...

With the hot weather finally here, I'm curious to see what the beds do with a little heat to match up with their incredible soil. Thanks also to a fellow gardener and lasagna bed experimenter for a few words of confirmation in the local gardening climate.
The lasagna bed shown above is my first built. The potatoes are on the far end. My tomatoes are in two other beds in my back yard. By the way, did I mention this bed is built on a bed of rocks. There is only about 1/2 -1 inch of top soil the rest if a solid layer of rocks. Not a bad garden if I do say so myself. If I had to rate the fun and success of lasagna gardening so far it would get an A+. As an added bonus I have only had to pull about 5 weeds out of this bed all year. My normal beds have tons more weeds!!
Happy gardening,
Denise

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lettuce fresh out of my garden has more protein

Does my red leaf lettuce have more protein than store bought lettuce? There is a high probability that it does.

Yesterday, I cut fresh lettuce for our dinner. I've learned to put the lettuce in a bowl of water, let it sit, while the sand and soil sink to the bottom. You can imagine my surprise when I looked into the bowl to find two slugs climbing out. Kind of cute really, they were all stretched out with their little horns finding a way out of the water. I should have taken a picture. If I have lettuce again today I'll take one. No doubt the little devils will join me-again. (If this blog comes with a picture, you will know what happened.)

The sand had pretty much fallen to the bottom, but really do you think I could let sleeping dogs lie, drain and serve my fresh, organic, home grown lettuce? Yuck! I carefully inspected the whole bowl cleaning each leaf with extreme awareness. If I had not gone to such extremes we would have eaten two more slugs!!!

Have I or one of my family members ever eaten a slug? Probably. Hence, my lettuce has a higher protein content than most store bought lettuce. The books make organic gardening seem so romantic. In truth, gardening is not for the faint of heart. You must press on even in the presence of slimy, crawling and buzzing.

This year, I am growing broccoli for the first time since I was a kid. I have delayed in growing broccoli because I clearly remember finding and picking little green worms out of our home grown crop. Last year, my mom grew her broccoli next to cabbage and swears all the little green worms went to the cabbage. I'm growing both. This morning, I noticed I have a little head of broccoli. I will tread ever so carefully from here. I don't want too much protein with my veggies.

Wishing you health and not too much protein,
Denise

Monday, May 31, 2010

200 B.C. same old same old....

"One thing is sure: the earth is more cultivated and developed now than ever before; there is more farming but fewer forests, swamps are drying up and cities are springing up on an unprecedented scale. We have become a burden to our planet. Resources are becoming scarce and soon nature will not longer be able to satisfy our needs."
Quintus Septimus Tertullianus
200 B.C.

This quote comes out of the last chapter in Peter Pringle's Food Inc. A book giving both sides of genetically modified food. Kind of interesting when you look at the date. When we only see what is in our own vision it is hard to comprehend anything else. I always wonder what do I believe that is real and what do I believe that is not?

Wishing you more questions than answers,
Denise

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do the farmers market experiment


Last night for dinner we had fresh asparagus. I can't believe I'm saying this but the asparagus was melt in your mouth heavenly! As a kid growing up in Colorado, we would go pick wild asparagus from the lake bank over by my grandpa's house. I hated asparagus- loved picking it- hated eating it. It's amazing what your taste buds do as you get older. Thinking asparagus is heavenly would have been like thinking going to the dentist was a treat. Things sure have changed!
.
Last night's asparagus came from our local farmers market. May is a month to celebrate the return of our farmers markets and farmers. The local honey, fresh baked bread, beautiful bouquets of flowers, fresh picked in the morning veggies: pea vines, mustard greens, tender baby broccoli, red leaf lettuce, mustard greens, baby garlic, onions, asparagus . So much local abundance waiting to come home for dinner.
.
This summer I invite you to do a little experiment. Spend some time at a normal grocery store or discount store. Just listen, smell, look and notice- what do you see and how do you feel? What are your fellow shoppers doing? Now go directly to your local farmers market and conduct the same research. I think you will be amazed at the differences.
.
When I did this experiment, I spent a morning at the farmers market as a volunteer, afterwords I had to stop by a discount store and pick up something. My senses were shocked. Inside the store I found shinny floors, clanking carts, florescent lights, advertisements and folks looking a bit sad and lost. In contrast, the morning at the farmers market, I had been surrounded by flowers, popcorn popping, families strolling and laughing, sunshine, fresh air, fresh food, local growers visiting with customers and lots of contented, happy looking faces.
.
It was truly an ah ha moment. This spring, summer and fall go shopping and support our local markets. You will be helping local farmers and in return you will get a slice of life. If you are not sure when or where to find these markets not to worry, I found this little web site with all the details. It will also give you the local harvest schedule. http://www.pugetsoundfresh.org/.
.
I can't say as a kid this asparagus would have been better than the wild we cut, learning to love fresh asparagus just takes time, but I'm sure I would have enjoyed shopping at the farmers market more than the grocery store.
.
Happy fresh and local shopping,
Denise

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The fresh documentary


This morning I'm preparing for this afternoon's documentary party. The movie we'll see is called "The Fresh Movie". It's about sustainable agriculture. As you probably know by now, I come from an agricultural background. My degree is even agriculturally bases- Agricultural Business. Both grandparents were dairy farmers, we raised beef cattle, my Aunt Velma still has some dry land wheat. I guess you could say agriculture is in my blood and long before I even knew what organic was I was organic.

This morning I was visiting with my dad about composting, my upcoming movie and his organic background. He was explaining how his parents farmed organically. They practiced crop rotation: barely, alfalfa and then corn. They used the manure from their cows for fertilizer. Close by were huge flocks of black birds they relied on as their pesticide. My dad and grandma were the herbicide-at the end of a hoe! This was normal life not some new discovery.

My aunt Velma has had a compost bin out back much of her life. At our house we raised our own cattle, had a huge garden and one summer had 40 chickens- but that is a story all in itself. We fed our kitchen scraps to the cows. I remember watching Princess S and Mable wallering a corn cob in their mouths and then spitting our the cob when it was stripped of corn.

This afternoon, a few of my friends and I will gather in my living room to watch and then discuss this movie. A movie like this is most defiantly a thought and discussion provoking movie. I don't really like watching something like this by myself. Too many thoughts get in my head. It's great to have time and friends to mull over the movie while eating fresh strawberries, homemade scones and real whipped cream.

I hope both the food and movie are good I haven't previewed my new scone recipe or the movie.

Wishing all a happy May,
Denise

If you can't learn with your friends who can you learn with??

Monday, April 26, 2010

Purple potatoes break ground in Lasagna garden


It is working!!! I have potatoes, carrots and beets all coming up in my lasagna garden. It was touch and go for a couple of weeks as it took about 2 weeks for the plants to break soil. It probably had more to do with our temperatures than my lasagna garden. My other non-lasagna garden bed with carrots took just as long to sprout. Dallas-my husband-doesn't think I'm the most patient of gardeners. I keep looking and looking-waiting and waiting.
I planted both purple and red potatoes. The plate in the picture features both purple potatoes and mung beans a picture of my lunch last fall. The purple potatoes are coming up with deep purple leaves. Both types of potatoes just came from my grocery store I let sprout in my pantry.
Next to plant, will be my Aunt Velma's corn from Holyoke, lemon cucumbers, more carrots, squash, and of course tomatoes and peppers. It is looking like our garden experiments are so far so good.
When I get a chance I'll catch you up on my worm bin fertilizer- I have a productive herd of worms!!
Wishing you a garden of abundance.
Denise

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Scientific Fridays 91.7

A new find has found its way into my car. I stumbled across it about 2 months ago. Nothing you buy or can go see but something to listen to.

Flipping though radio stations about 2 months ago, I stumbled on Scientific Fridays. I was hooked. It is by far my favorite radio day. If I'm lucky enough to be driving around on Friday's it is not a chore but secret hooky time.

The best part is, no one even knows how much fun I'm having... well I guess you do now... but before I came clean, it was just my little secret Friday bonus.

Yesterday, the topics were;
Scientists chase tornadoes to solve mysteries
TV Weathercasters skeptical of climate science
Pulling power from the plains

I caught part of "Pulling power from the plains". It was mainly about capturing wind power, with a panel of experts from multiple fields- very interesting.

I know not everyone loves science, but science is more than just laboratories and people in white coats. Science is everywhere and includes everything. With that base you can imagine the wide variety of topics and guests.

Next Friday it you are lucky enough to find yourself out tooling around tune into 91.7 and see for yourself. I like the station most days, but Fridays are by far my favorite... You can also check out the program line up at kuow2.org.

Happy learning,
Denise

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's only good when it looks bad



Papaya's didn't used to be one of my favorite fruits. I bought pretty papaya's. I'm not sure what made me eat an ugly papaya, maybe I just waited until I thought it was almost spoiled. What ever the cause now I know: don't buy pretty papayas. Once they are all dented, yellow, and generally looking pretty rough- then that's when they are just getting good.

I buy my papaya's at H-Mart. They have a good selection of different papaya's and usually there are several that look horrible. I hate to wait. I used to by the pretty ones, I didn't like papaya's much. Now I buy the ugly ones. Apparently beauty is only skin deep. Or in this case ...ugly is only skin deep.
Now mind you, I am no papaya expertm, but I know what I like and I like my papaya's ugly!
Happy Spring Travels,
Denise




Sunshine and dirty windows


A strange occurrence happened this morning, as I was making breakfast and packing lunch, sunshine flooded our kitchen. The first thing I noticed was the dog prints on our back glass sliding door. Looking around, I thought, our kitchen isn't usually this sunny even when the sun is shining and then it hit me. It's spring. The sun comes in at a different angle in the spring and summer months. Our whole kitchen is filled with sunshine.

All this sunshine makes me want to clean my windows and go run the dogs! Funny how I noticed my dirty windows before I noticed the sunshine!!!!

Happy spring,
Denise

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring planting is like an all you can eat buffet!


This afternoon it is raining cats and dogs. I was thinking about doing some more planting but instead I'm planning and dreaming. Laying out my seeds and lists of what I want to plant, I discover I probably need more garden if I want to get all this into the ground.
My Aunt Velma gave me some seeds from 9" red corn plants her friend in Holyoke Colorado grew. I found some quinoa-bright rainbow seed which grows 4-6 feet tall. I have 2 purple potatoes and 2 red potatoes I want to cut up and plant. Five color Silverbeet Swiss Card is going everywhere I can find, if for no other reason than it is beautiful.
My list goes something like this: beets, carrots, lemon cucumbers, yellow crook necks, kohlrabi, red leaf lettuce, butternut squash, chives, flat leaf parsley, dill, basil, cilantro, red bush beans, pak choi, watermelon radish and if I can still find room maybe some sunflower seeds. Of course, I almost forgot tomatoes and peppers which I will buy plants later this spring. My peas and some lettuce are already growing.
Is it just me or is spring planting like going to an all you can eat buffet??? My eyes are bigger than my stomach and my seeds are more than my garden and probably available time.
Still, this year I'm doing more than just growing my summer food, I'm experimenting with lasagna gardens, worm composting, heirloom seeds and eating locally as much as possible - all on a budget! Whew, this is going to be some garden.
Did I mention my flowers, I'll plant lots and lots of marigolds, apparently they make good companion flowers. Zinnias and snap dragons will get planted, mainly because they remind me of my family and our gardens growing up.
It's a good thing it's raining outside, a little planing might just be good for the garden!
Happy planting this spring!
Denise

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lasagna garden done- filled with worms


First day of spring, it was in the low 60s, Saturday and the perfect day to finish off my lasagna garden bed before planting. Yesterday, I finished my layering. So far, setting up has been a little more work than expected, but this might be because I'm a rooky. A seasoned lasagna gardener might have had this done in 1/2 the time.
While I was digging up my composted leaves and straw, I found more worms than I think I've ever seen. I don't even have this many in my worm bin. There were hundreds and hundreds of worms. I even took a picture of one because they were sooooo big. Did you know big worms move slower than little worms?

I'm lucky my grandpa used to take me digging for worms when when we would go fishing. If it weren't for my mom always smiling when she saw worms in her garden or my grandpa taking me fishing, I might have been a little freaked out. Luckily, I come from a strong worm loving family. If I was finding snakes in my garden- this might have been a whole different conversation!!!!
wishing you a happy spring and healthy garden.
Densie

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Healthy Families - Healthy Lawns - Healthy Homes

Spring has sprung! Flowers are starting to bloom, trees are budding out and my lawn need mowed. I love spring, it makes me want to go back outside and dig in the dirt.
This is also the season to add extra TLC to your lawn so it is lush and healthy. Before you go buy the normal weed and feed for your lawn consider this...

Where do the herbicides go that don't get absorbed into your weeds?
They get tracked into your home or wash down into the sound waters.
They get on your pets feet and then are licked off.
They go to bed with your kids.
They end up in the air with your dust.

Pesticides and herbicides should be used like you spot clean clothes. Only if needed and only on the spot needed. You wouldn't clean your whole load of laundry with a spotter.

This year consider going natural with your yard care. Here are some resources to get you started.

Natural yard Care: www.ecy.wa.gov/beyondwaste/compost.html
WSU Master Gardener information http://mastergardener.wsu.edu/gardening.html
Integrated Pest Management: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/upest or http://pep.wsu.edu/hortsense/
Noxious weed control: www.kingcounty.gov/weeds
Pesticide safety and regulations: www.agr.wa.gov/pestfert/pesticides
Building healthy soil and erosion control: http://www.buildingsoil.org/

Resource: Department of Ecology State of Washington:
Natural Yard Care
5 steps to make your piece the planet a healthier place to live

If you have any questions you are always welcome to contact me: info@dfbluesky.com

Wishing you a healthy and happy spring
Denise

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The great lasagna garden experiement of 2010



This is the beginning of my lasagna bed. I wrote a little about this last fall, but in case you missed my earlier blog let me give you a reminder.

Lasagna gardening was introduced to me be a former neighbor, dear friend and excellent gardener. She thought I would enjoy lasagna gardening.

Lasagna gardening is kind of like sheet composting, where you lay organics out, layer by layer and let mother nature do the work of breaking them down. You use compostable material you find around your home and neighborhood such as grass clippings, fruit, veggies, egg shells, coffee grounds, leaves, straw, compost, wood ashes. You can also use local compostables such as manure, hay, straw, sawdust, seaweed/kelp. The author of the book Lasagna Gardening also relys on peat moss between each layer of compostable material.

I found this form of gardening fascinating for several reasons. You don't have to pull up any sod, as you lay newspaper or cardboard over and smother the grass and weeds. You can rebuild soil that seems unable to grow a good garden. You use your own resources instead of buying new or throwing away organic material. Supposedly, you don't need to do much weeding, you don't have to till the ground each year and you don't have to water as much.

Sounds almost too good to be true doesn't it? After many years of pondering this type of gardening, I'm going to do my first lasagna experiment this spring. Last year, I experimented with water and sweet potatoes. This year it is lasagna gardening.

The site I chose is going to be a great test. There is perhaps 1 inch of top soil here, below the little layer of top soil is a lovely bed of rocks. Of course, I wouldn't normally choose this soil for a rich garden but if lasagna gardening will work here it will work any where. On the good side of this site, it is close to water, I can easily see it and enjoy my gardening process from my office window and maybe most importantly it has the most sunlight in the summer.
As you can see in the above picture I have been assembling organics since last fall, borrowing grass clipping and leaves from my neighbor. My friend Tina grabbed a bale of straw from a Autumn display. As of today my lasagna bed is about 4 inches full of compost, straw, grass clippings, and one layer of peat moss I had left over in my garden shed. I need to build this bed up to about 18-24 inches- I have a long way to go.....
I'll keep you posted of this experiment as I play through the process. If you are interested the book I'm working out of, it is called Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. Hope you join me in playing in the dirt this year.
Happy composting,
Denise

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Micro vs Macro Economics

I got an e-mail from my world traveling sister tonight. She is down in the Cook Islands on a boat sailing around delivering supplies to the islands. Her adventures always surprise and amaze me. We are sisters, in some ways we are so similar, in other ways I just watch and marvel. Sometimes I wonder, where in the world did she come from?

It's good to have a sister like mine, she shows me what is possible. Could I keep up with her adventurous spirit? Am I as brave? I don't know, I guess there is no way of knowing unless I was in her shoes.

She travels the world, I play around with daily life. Each is an adventure. I think it is not only what you do but how you do it. She has wild adventures- which she does so well. I have little normal days which I practice mindfully cherishing. Her life is kind of like Macro economics, mine is like Micro economics. Whether you are traveling the high seas, or joyfully creating dinner, your life an created by how you live each day.

Wishing you a happy and healthy day,
Denise

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Raw Chocolate Mousse


I don't think I have ever met a girl who didn't like chocolate. I know of a couple guys but no girls. Before doing my talk at Marlene's Market a couple of weeks ago, one of the employees gave me a recipe for a raw chocolate mousse. It is made with avacados- of all things.
Yesterday, I was visiting with one of our customers and described this recipe. She is having a dinner party and thought it sounded fun. I probably should try it first but since it is chocolate, can you really go wrong? Have fun!!
Raw Chocolate Mousse
1/4 cup agave nectar
4-8 dates
Combine in a food processor
Add:
1 1/2 avocado's
1/4 cup plus 2T Chocolate.

If you haven't ever tried agave, it is kind of like honey but has more of a carmel taste. At Marlene's Market, in the bakery section, they have raw chocolate- it is in a gold bag. This is what was used by my friend at Marlene's. She said the avocado gives it a rich creamy texture. Yum.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Take a unexpected vacation

There are days when you have to stop and take a little mini vacation. This is a vacation of the spirit. You can't plan this, it's not expensive and you most likely just stay home. It is a little unexpected block of time where you say " enough, I'm on vacation" and then proceed to take one. It can be for as little as for 15 minutes or as long as 3 days anything longer turns into an actual vacation. Which is also Ok but not the same thing,

This time of year the ground is still asleep, trees are still without leaves, grass dormant. The outside knows the importance of rest but as a society we value a good day of tasks completed.

If you find yourself wandering from room to room, fighting with yourself about your to do list and generally feeling overwhelmed, under appreciated, over booked, exhausted, then for heavens sake take a vacation day. If you can't take the whole day then take 3 hours, take 1 hour, take 2 days. Take back your own sanity and give your life a chance to breath and your smile to effortlessly return.

I think there is great value in free time, in taking a break from the have to's of life. Freedom is what we fight for in this country. Freedom is also what we should enjoy. When we were in high school we called this playing hooky. Go play hooky, if being on vacation is to formal. But most of all just relax and smell the roses.

Wishing you a most enjoyable hooky-vacation day,
Denise

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Go outside and get the stink blown off"

"Go outside and get the stink blown off" These are words my mom must have said to me on a weekly base when I was growing up. I don't know what led to her saying. Was I getting grumpy, acting up, was I bored, pale, snippy, tired, edgy??? I have no idea- well that's not entirely true. Her words sound off in my head even now when I'm a bit out of sorts or feeling caged up.

Going up in Colorado, even in the winter, I still had outside chores. I was suppose to water the cattle. In the winter, this also meant, chipping ice out of the tank, so there was room for fresh water. It meant being extra careful not to run the tank over. After it was filled, I needed to stretch out the hose and carefully lift it up over my head. From one end to the other end until all the water had run out. Do you know how much trouble it is to thaw a hose in the middle of winter??? Do you know how unhappy your family memebers are with you if you freeze a hose?

I now live in the city, I don't have cows I need to water. I walk my dogs most everyday but it isn't quite the same as accomplishing a chore. This afternoon it was sunny and all I wanted to do was go outside and clean out my rock/herb garden bed outside my living room window.

This whole day I had been plaged with a heavy feeling of dispair. I took a little break and my mom's advice and went outside. I pulled weeds, cut off perenials and moved around little rocks. It wasn't a big job but I paused from my day and put my hands in rich winter soil. Smelling the sage leaves as I raked, I looked at the dark soil, saw little worms. This pause was a little bit of heaven. Taking me less than 1 hour I went outside and "got the stink blown off" and in the midst of my mothers advice my day was so much sweeter.

Wishing you a good trip outside,
Denise

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't wait for an earthquake to shake you present

"The 7.0 magnitude quake that struck Tuesday is most powerful to hit the Caribbean nation in 200 years" Headline from on online newspaper Voice of America 1-13-10.

You can plan, schedule, dream and work and yet when a 7.0 magnitude earth quake hits your day, your life is forever changed. No matter what we planned or scheduled life is bigger than our to do lists.

Learning to appreciate and cherish the gifts of each day: the morning chat over breakfast, the rowdy afternoon watching football with your husband, the Saturday morning cleaning your house, the phone call with your dad, the walk in the rain with your dogs. Everyday is a gift.

Pause today- stop and just look around. Don't look at what you haven't done or need to do but stop and be present. Look around and see what you have been given. The gift of this day.

Be mindful, enjoy your days and cherish your relationships.

Wishing you a happy and healthy home,
Denise

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wildly sane with mung beans and purple potatoes

Today, during my lunch break, I made myself mung beans and purple potatoes. It was colorful, surprisingly yummy and most likely very nutritious.

This evening my aunt and uncle called, we visited about food, holidays and celebrating. My aunt Darlean told me "you only live once you know, have as much fun as you can". She celebrates most holidays. Why not? Why not try purple potatoes and celebrate Epiphany day?

I think one of the dangers of living is forgetting to live. No matter what the time of year it is, there is always something interesting to discover. It might be a new exotic food, a holiday from another country and time, or a discovery of a new love- like writing. Try experimenting with life and see what a year of exploration brings.

It is the beginning of a new year. Why not put away our old patters and try some new ones on for size. Of course, there will be flops, surprises and goofs but who cares?

There is an old saying:
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results."

This year be wildly sane!
Denise

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Whistle while you work

Yesterday, I was working in the office for an extended period of time. I was focused on my tasks at hand and stressing a bit about an upcoming class I'm teaching. At the end of the day I was tired. I took a deep breath- it felt like I hadn't breathed in months. My energy was low and I might have been a touch grumpy- only a touch.

And then I remembered to smile. I learned this from Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink. In his book Malcolm talks about how your mood mirrors your physical body. If I frown I will probably develop a mood that goes with a frown. But if I smile my mood will also follow suit. So I smiled. I took a deep breath and relaxed. It took a few minutes but I was determined to shed the low tired energy of office work.

By the end of the night I was happy, full of energy and relaxed. I learned a very valuable lesson, one I might add I've learned before, I just forget. I seems, I'm a determined but slow learner. Anyway, I relearned this: during my work no matter what it is... I want to pause and smile, to notice how I feel and relax. Smile if for no other reason than to help me lighten up. This may come as a shock to you but I am much more enjoyable to be around when I'm relaxed and happy vs stressed and tired.

Whistle while you work -a classic and timeless piece of advice. Residue free also means free of stress and worry.