Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Are the leaves turning color where you live? Have they begun to fall? Will you have to rake when it's all said and done? Is that a chore you love or loathe? It seems like the leaves began to turn overnight and they are falling fast! I hate that fall seems to go by so quickly. It's one of my favorite seasons! We have no large trees near our house so we don't have to rake - thankfully! Raking is not a favorite activity although I don't loathe it.

2. When did you last shake like a leaf? A few months ago I had a car pull out in front of me as I was driving. The adrenaline rush hit hard and fast. 

3. After 20 seasons with the NY Yankees, Derek Jeter played his last official game Sunday afternoon. Jeter has been described even by opponents as a 'class act', both on and off the field. The NFL is back in action this month too, with several players in that sport also making headlines. What are your thoughts on athletes as role models? I think there are much better role models out there for people. However, given the spotlight most athletes are in, I think it's just par for the course. 

Should a professional athlete be expected to act as role model or is that going beyond their job description? I'm not a huge fan of any professional athlete. I think they are overpaid and too many people make them out to be above the rest of the citizenship. They are just good at playing a game. So while I think it is above and beyond, I think it just goes hand and hand. (I wonder how many more cliches I can use...)

What responsibility do the organizations these athletes work for have when it comes to dealing with off the field behavior? I think they need to hold them to a higher standard given how many people do look up to them. I also think they need to hold them fully responsible for their actions - no matter what.

4. What season of the year is toughest for you in terms of your health? Why? Winter. The cold weather begins to wear on me after a few months. Although, I'd much rather be cold than hot. I don't like having to get bundled up to go outside though. That's one reason I love fall so much, I can just wear a long-sleeved T-shirt, slip on shoes, jeans, and call it good. Now that I live in a house with a lot of light in the winter months - thanks to lots of windows - it's not as hard as it used to be on my mental health. I used to have SAD - seasonal affective disorder.

5. The top six healthy food trends of 2014 according to Eating Well are-

clean eating (more veg, less meat, less sodium, limit alcohol and processed foods)
trash fish (you know those fish that get caught in fishermen nets and are thrown back? It seems chefs are finding creative ways to make them more appetizing)
cauliflower (this year's IT vegetable)
kaniwa (essentially baby quinoa, so like quinoa only smaller)
fermentation (think pickling except with twists on flavor we're not accustomed to)
community supported food (farms operating with community support/membership).

Okay-so how many of the hot healthy food trends for 2014 have you experienced, encountered, enjoyed? Any you've tried and said ewwww? Any on the list you'd like to try before year's end? I've been loosely following the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan. So I do a lot of clean eating although I occasionally eat something not very clean. Although, their plan doesn't call one to eat more veggies or limit meat. It's really all about how one fuels their body. They teach how to eat low carb and healthy fats - but in separate meals - and how to combine them to help burn fuel efficiently. It's not complicated once you get the hang of it but there is a learning curve. I don't drink alcohol so that's not an issue for me. 

I have tried cauliflower. In particular, I attempted cauliflower pizza where you grind up the steamed cauliflower in a blender, drain very well, and then mix with mozzarella cheese, egg, and spices to form a crust. I didn't get enough water out of mine so it was a bit too moist, but not bad. I'd still like to try it again. 

I've also had quinoa but not kaniwa. I would assume it would taste similar. I want to start using this more often (quinoa) as it's so healthy for you.

I'm not a big fan of anything fermented so that is not top on my list of things to try. 

I'm also not a member of a CSA. There aren't many such things where I live in Maine anyway. Most people have their own farms or small gardens. 

6. In seven words or less, bid September adieu. Fleeting. 

7. What's something on your October calendar that makes you happy just thinking about it? Outlander Day. I've been a fan of Diana Gabaldon's book series for years. I own all but the last book, which just came out in June, both in paperback and Kindle. I'm currently re-reading them for, oh, the sixth or so time so I can fully enjoy the newest one. 

In August, the cable network Starz began airing a new TV show, called Outlander, based on Diana's books. I've loved every second of it. In my opinion, they have done a great job bringing the characters to life. 

I have a number of friends who are fans of the books as well, but do not have cable television. Starz opted to air only eight episodes (the last in that series was last Saturday). In April they will air the next eight episodes of Season 1. So next Saturday, I'm hosting an "Outlander Day" where any of my friends who haven't seen it or even those who have, will come for a marathon viewing of all eight episodes. Let me know if you'd like to join us!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I bought this canvas print last month while on a shopping trip with family. It was my last purchase of the day and my absolute favorite! I just put it up on the wall on Sunday afternoon. I keep stopping to just look at it because I love it so much. It's huge too - about three feet by two feet. It will only hang in this spot until we put in a garage though. After that it will have to find a new wall to hang on as there will be a big window where it's hanging now. 

{Review} When Calls the Heart - Second Chances DVD

When Calls the Heart: Second Chances is a follow up to the last video - The Dance. This is once again a feature length film of the episodes in the television show of the same name. 

It seemingly takes up where The Dance ended. Elizabeth and Jack are trying to figure out if they can repair their strained relationship. The secondary story lines follow, teacher, Elizabeth as she tries to help an older student in her classroom who is struggling to learn to read. His father, a worker in the mine, just wants him to begin work there where reading won't matter. Elizabeth also is told by the town folks that she is responsible for creating a Founders Day play that the school children will need to perform and it's only a week away. We also see Abigail's (played by Lori Loughlin) struggle to open a bakery in town. The one miner who survived the explosion that took many men also returns in this movie. 

Once again I was drawn into the story. I think I really need to find these books and read them. I enjoy watching and I'm thrilled that it is family friendly. I have no worries on if my boys wander in while I am watching. Michael Landon, Jr. is the director and he always seems to produce quality family movies and television shows. 

You can view a trailer of the second movie below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Swan Island Field Trip

Last week we went on a field trip to Swan Island located off the shoreline in Richmond on the Kennebec River. We were actually suppose to take this trip in May but were unable to secure a boat to take our homeschooling group across. Then we were rained out - twice. We ended up going on an absolutely gorgeous fall afternoon. We were the only people on the island.

We attended a class on Maine State Symbols taught by a biologist with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. These are the same educators that do classes at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. This was a fantastic class and one we hadn't done before.

Our educator started out by giving a history of the island first. Swan Island was originally named Swango by the Abenaki due to the large amount of eagles that nested on the island. Swango is the Abenaki word for eagle. Thousands of eagles have nested on Swan Island over the last 500 years. There is still a nesting pair there today.

A ship captain built the first home on the southern tip of the island. The Abenaki were not happy about this at all and eventually attacked the homestead. They killed the animals, burned the buildings, and kidnapped some of the people living there (the captain's grown daughter, her husband, and their children). They brought them to Quebec where they were sold into slavery.

Then we went through all the state symbols. It was pretty interesting. Some I knew, but many I did not. Our educator had a visual for each. The class was briefly interrupted by a Great Blue Heron strolling across the lawn outside.

Learning about the state flag and motto
Official state "flower" - white pine cone
State bird - Chickadee 
State fish - landlocked salmon  
State insect - honeybee

After the class was done (it was about 90 minutes), we had free run of the island for the next few hours. We ate our lunch and then began to explore. There were some great hiking paths. There were once 27 houses and 100 people who lived on the island. Some of the houses still stand (five to be exact) and IF&W is working to restore them and maintain the ones still there. 

When the Great Depression hit, many people left the island to find work. Their houses fell into disrepair and fell down. Many, however, burned their houses when they left as they didn't want anyone else to use them. 

One of the buildings on the island

My sister joined us on this trip. Our three boys.
It wasn't cold enough to warrant my nephew's hat, but he wore it all the same. 

The path we opted to take took us along the river. It went through the woods and was pretty peaceful. Of the roughly 50 homeschoolers on this trip, we were only a very few who went this route. Our end point was the island's cemetery. 

Once we arrived here, we still had time for a longer walk so we headed down a dirt road. There was a wildlife viewing station at the end. Many opted to go there instead of the route we took, but it was over a mile away so we didn't have time to do that walk with two toddlers in tow. Although, Mr. T spent most of our walk like this:

This was a huge meadow that is maintained as a meadow. Otherwise it would quickly become overgrown with trees. The photo doesn't do it justice. It was wonderful. I'm sure with all the leaves that have now turned color, it's even more beautiful.

You can only access Swan Island by boat. There are no bridges connecting it to the mainland. You can kayak or canoe to it on your own or get there via boats through IF&W. You can also camp on the island. I didn't take any photos but they have shelters on the island with a sleeping platform, fire pit, and picnic table as well as plenty of space for tents. 

This truck took us from the boat launch to the education area. 
All of us were packed into the back as they only wanted to make one trip. This was the highlight of the day for most of the kids. 

My middle son photobombing.

This was a really fun day. We all learned something - I was furiously taking notes on the history of the island on my phone. We had never visited Swan Island before. I have to say it was one of my favorites so far this year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. It's fall. Y'all. My favorite season of the year! What's something you love to do this time of year that makes you feel it's officially fall? And unrelated to that, do you ever say-'y'all'? I make a lot of pumpkin bread this time of year. That usually goes through the Christmas season though so not just fall. I also love to go for walks this time of year. The weather is cool. No bugs. Beautiful scenery. So nice. 

And I am a full blooded Yankee. Occasionally a y'all comes out, but rarely and I'm sure anyone from the south would look at me very strangely if they heard me!

2. When did you last have a falling out with someone? Has it been resolved? I honestly can't remember. 

3. A song you love with the word 'fall' in it's title? Heaven Fall Down by Phil Wickham

4. What's something you've recently let 'fall by the wayside?' Protecting my time. I'm horribly over scheduled this fall so I'm working on that at the moment. 

5. When did you last attend an event, read a book, watch a movie, try a new recipe, or visit a shop-town-tourist attraction that fell short of your expectations? In what way? That is an interesting question. I try very hard to not have high expectations for most things. I find that helps me be pleasantly surprised more often than not. 

6. Describe a time you said or thought, 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Pretty much every time I look at my boys. In fact, just today while on a field trip, my sister and I were talking and she commented that my middle son is a lot like me as he heads through puberty. Sadly, she was very correct. Quick to be offended and upset. Thankfully he's also very quick to forgive and forget. I love that about boys.

7. Was today better than yesterday? Why or why not? Yes. I had more sleep last night. I've started getting up early in the morning twice a week (working on three times a week) so that I can go to the 5:30 classes at the local gym. Due to some evening commitments I can't make my usual Zumba workouts at night. However, I'm still finding it hard to shut things down at night and head to bed at a reasonable hour. Yesterday I was up at 4:45 to go to the gym and had a very busy day of shuttling kids from one activity to another. I also had our small group Bible study last night which meant I didn't get home until almost 9pm. Add to that some things I needed to get down before bed and I wasn't ready for sleep until almost 11. I had hoped to get up this morning to go to the gym, but opted instead to reset my alarm for 7am. Those extra two hours helped immensely. 

8. Insert your own random thought here. In the last few weeks I've realized my schedule is just crazy busy this fall. I participate in online Bible studies hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Our new one kicked off on Monday and it talks about giving our "best yes" - making sure we give God our best time each and every day. I like these studies because you can do that at home at your own pace. I'm praying that I get a lot out of this study and find a way to free up some more time in my life!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Upta Camp

Circa 2009

My hubby's family owns a camp way up in the boonies of Maine. I'm not exaggerating on that point at all. It is roughly a four hour trip for us now way down here in Central Maine to get all the way up to near the top of Moosehead Lake (the largest lake in Maine by-the-way). One drives about 30 minutes on dirt logging roads to get to the "parking area." It's then a half mile walk in to the camp - pictured above. 

Until recent years, one had to not only walk in but haul in all necessary gear, food, and water. This is definitely primiative camp. The photo I took above was from the last time I went to camp with my family so it's obviously been a few years since I've been. We now have a 4-wheeler and trailer so we can load all our gear in to that and haul it down the trail. The walk isn't all that bad, it was hauling the extra 20-30 pounds of gear that was highly annoying.

The camp has also had a face lift of sorts. The porch on the front is now all screened in. I just simply didn't think to take a photo of it while we were there last weekend. Some of the appliances have been updated (all run on gas), the building has been insulated, and the sleeping loft redone slightly. I guess a lot can change if one only visits every five years. 

Since this visit was shorter than we've done in the past due to outside obligations (namely karate class), we spent half a day on Saturday at a gravel pit not far from camp to do some shooting. Everyone had a turn. 

We have a single shot .22 rifle for our kids to start learning on. Hubby holds the ammo (and you can see how close he stands) until they are a bit older. 


Each boy is holding a .22 and plinking away at skeet targets laid out on the hillside. Hubby & I even had a turn. It was fun!

Getting instruction on the .308 rifle

Our middle son took Hunter Safety last fall and he is eager to go deer hunting this fall. This was his chance to practice shooting a larger gun. He loved it and can't wait now for hunting season to start!

Practicing from a sitting position (safer and more stable)

Then we pulled out the skeet thrower and the 12 gauge shotgun. Our middle kiddo loved shooting it and did an amazing job at hitting those skeet! In fact, he shot so much he was pretty sore in his shoulder area. That gun has a kick!

I even tried it and quit after just a few shots. Ouch! Our middle kiddo though had the hang of it and was having too much fun to stop.

Proof our oldest took a turn shooting (.22 rifle)

We finished the day shooting handguns. I needed the practice. I ended the day shooting this watermelon. So fun!