St. Louis Canyon

January 18, 2012

st. louis canyon, starved rock state park ~ near utica, illinois

happy wednesday!

what a great winter it’s been for being outdoors.

i took this photo just a couple of weeks ago. it was hard to believe it was janurary; the weather was so warm that day. today, we woke up to a temperature of 10 degrees. brrrrrrr

i can tell that the days are getting longer little by little, which is very encouraging to me this time of year.




Gold Medal!

January 15, 2012

alejandro ~ 10 meter dribble

happy sunday!

it’s been a fun weekend. lot’s of kid stuff going on around here.

alejandro competed in his 2nd special olympics competition yesterday and came away with a gold medal in basketball skills!

good job bubba!



richard, tresspassing - abandoned cabin - winter 2010-11


we finally did get snow. yesterday. since it’s been so warm and dry  this winter, i kind of like the snow pelting me in the face. it made me feel alive.

recently, richard  requested that i make a pot of vegetable soup. i started to do just that, well my standard version, and then thought of being a little more creative and try making a root vegetable soup; partially inspired by a few parsnips i happen to have.  i  love  parsnips and carrots together. also, i happened to find several shiitake mushrooms growing (or actually drying) on richard’s mushroom logs. the parsnips should be coming out of my fall garden, but the seeds didn’t germinate……

as it turns out, i came up with a hearty vegan soup. lets call it ‘root vegetable with mushroom’ soup

olive oil for sauteing

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 or 2 parsnips, chopped

1 large potato, chopped

shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup soy milk

saute onion in olive oil for a couple of minutes and add garlic, mushrooms, and other root veggies. cook a few more minutes. add rosemary and thyme. add vegetable broth and simmer vegetables until tender. add soy milk and heat through. if it’s not ‘soupy’ enough add some water.

great with homemade yeast or corn bread!

you could use a variety of root veggies in this recipe. use what you have on hand and experiment. also you could use coconut milk  and curry seasoning instead of soy milk, thyme, and rosemary.  there’s no way you can mess up such a simple soup :).


on anti-consummerism :

consider buying what you need second hand. second hand charity stores are a great way to find what you need and also help others.



Less is More

January 11, 2012

winter light, christmas day 2011

happy wednesday!

so far we have received no snow this winter in north central illinois. in fact the last couple of days have been spring-like!  spending time outdoors yesterday, i remember thinking ‘this is how i feel in the spring’ you know what i mean? spring fever? the last 2 nights, richard and i have taken moonlight hikes. last night, we ventured a little ways into the nature reserve; it was easy to see the path under the moon’s silvery light. thanks mr.moon!

i wonder what it would be like to be able to see at night like a nocturnal creature?



here is a list of items i’ve been living without for a while now:


cell phone

my blog!

i really don’t miss tv, but i tend to get too isolated without some sort of news source. right now my main source of news is public radio and our local newspaper.

i do not miss my cell phone at all. it was too intrusive. not just intrusive for me, i’m sure i’ve been intrusive to others too.

what i have missed is my blog.  also, i lost touch with photography. it’s a new and unusual change for me to me not to want to get out with the camera. i’m hoping to take more photos of people. as for nature, there is a huge opportunity here for some very scenic photos. it will be a big moment for me is when i get my first eagle photo.



living with less plastic:

ok, i know that sometimes a plastic bag comes in handy. instead of buying those horrible zip lock bags packaged in a paper box (recyclable), try reusing plastic bags that other food items have come in. there are produce bags in a variety of different sizes; all the way from 5 or 10 lb. potato bag down to a radish bag. bread bags are great! i’ve managed to collect a nice assortment of bags that can be used multiple times. just wash them out in some soapy water and dry or hang to dry.

look around your kitchen and see what items can be reused or repurposed.

better yet, leave a comment about how you recycle or repurpose or  (best of all) do without.

good luck!




Black Walnuts

January 9, 2012

richard cracking black walnuts, janurary 2012                                                           


long time, no post.

slowly but surely i’m updating the blog.

to briefly mention what i’ve been doing for the last (almost) year, here’s a summary:

in may 2011, i resigned my position(s) at blue river valley school corp. and then moved 300 miles (a little bit north but mostly west with alejandro in tow) to illinois. now i’m living with richard in his giant farm house. i like to call it the hulking mansion. more about that later.

it’s really been a fresh start for me in that i purged most of my belongings. what i ended up bring with me was what we could fit in the back of richard’s full size pick-up truck and we also made a couple of trips with our compact cars. even for someone who has been working for a while on simplifying and downsizing, it’s quite challenging.  even so,  i’ve managed to get rid of even more stuff.  it’s important to know how to responsibly  discard your things. it’s a lofty goal, but i would one day like to not have to put anything into the landfill.

i’ve made some advances in vegan cooking and baking.

i’ve been struggling to maintain a daily practice of yoga and meditation. in one of our adventurous outings richard and i joined a meditation group. i have learned that this area is a magnet for spiritual practice from the world over.

i have moved to a very scenic area complete with wintering bald eagles. this has been helpful with keeping a camera in my hands. wonderful hiking trails.

a couple of things i would like to write about in future posts:

living in self-imposed poverty.

what it’s like when you drop out of the practice of consumerism.



film (mostly foreign).


making things.

simple lifestyle.

it’s a frequent sight around here to see richard cracking black walnuts. he also cracks them on his lunch break at work. richard is so industrious! it was a good year for walnuts; we processed a ton of them. i remember many  pleasant late summer and fall evenings spent husking the walnuts on the patio. it’s a very labor intensive process from harvest to walnut butter. one of the best things i’ve ever eaten is our homemade walnut butter and  (also homemade) blackberry jam on a piece of toast.

i’ve updated my blogroll. take a look if you like that kind of thing.

comments please!

thanks for reading. best wishes to you in 2012.