Almost Country Giveaway Time Again!

Good grief, where has September gone??!!! 

I realize I have been seriously MIA this month, which is mostly due to my spare time being filled with planting a fall garden, making 4 batches of red pickles (with hubby's help, of course), tending to a runty guinea keet (who is thriving now), and lots of other chores related to living on 27 acres...

We're beginning to get some pumpkins, Baby Pam variety to be exact, which are the best to make pumpkin pies with.  I can't wait to make our first pie!  I planted carrots, fall radish, and spinach last weekend.  Would still like to get some lettuce planted.

Just a reminder... October 1st marks the beginning of a new country giveaway, and I think you're going to like the wonderful and unique handmade item I have for you.

So remember to stop back here on Saturday to find out what it is and enter for your chance to win!

Food Shopping Rules To Live By

Springboarding off yesterday's post, here are what I consider to be the top 5 rules to live by when shopping for food at your local grocer....

  1. Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients - and don't be fooled by some snacks that boast only 2 or 3 ingredients.  If the label says "Tostitos", then guess what - it's still processed food!
  2. If your teen (or you) can't pronounce an ingredient name, don't buy the product. 
  3. Shop the edges of the grocery store - stay out of the middle aisles.
  4. Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
  5. Avoid foods with some form of sugar listed as one of the first 3 ingredients.
These are just my personal favorites that I've pulled from Michael Pollan's book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, which is a small pocket sized book (so you could easily tote it around with you while you shop, if you wanted to.)  Pollan lists 59 more rules in his book, all notable and arguably potential top 5 material in their own right.

For example, It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

I like that one.

How about...  It's not food if it's called by the same name in every language (Big Mac, Cheetos, Pringles).

And I really like this one.... Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.

At the end of his book, Pollard reminds us: Break the rules once in awhile.  Then again, he reiterates, Treat treats as treats.

Much of this advice you may have heard before, some might be new.  All of it is pure logic and common sense.  If we are to become a healthier people, then we need to pay more attention to our diet, plain and simple. 

I've lapsed back into my bad ways more than once, but I think this time I'm more committed than I've ever been to stay away from fast food and processed food. I know from past experience how much better I feel - I seem to have more energy and more motivation when I'm eating right.

I'm giving both of Pollard's books 5 stars. 

In Defense of Food is an engrossing read from start to finish, and Food Rules will aid you in selecting the right foods as you start a new and exciting journey in your health.

Defining Food

Midge, our Ameraucana, laid her first blue eggs!

So, if you were going to define the word "food", how would you think it is defined in the dictionary, and how would you personally define this word?

The official definition of food is: any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy,  promote growth, etc.

What is your definition of food?

Now, another question:  do you think that most of the food in the supermarket today is truly FOOD?

Sadly, most of the food in the common supermarket today is a product of science, not a product of nature. That fact alone should make us take pause, and reflect - is what we buy to nourish our bodies GOOD for us, or is it leading us down a potential path to ill health and chronic disease?

I think it makes sense to remember, the food industry is just that -- an INDUSTRY.  It behooves all of us to realize that the major food manufacturers are in this to make money, and lots of it.

Let's face it: processed food is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it ain't going away anytime soon.

My biggest awakening to date has been reading Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.

And my biggest AHA moment while reading this book, (which, by the way, I read over the last 3 days), was the following historic moment when everything changed for the worse in the food industry...

In 1968, a committee was formed in Washington with a mandate to eliminate malnutrition and its work led to the establishment of several important food assistance programs.  This committee, the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, which was chaired by South Dakota Senator George McGovern, held hearings in 1978 on the alarming increase in chronic disease linked to diet - including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

This committee learned that while rates of coronary heart disease had soared in post-WWII America, certain other cultures that consumed traditional diets based mostly on plants had very low rates of chronic disease.  It was also observed that when Americans consumed less dairy and meat during the war years due to rationing, the rate of heart disease had temporarily plummeted.

So in 1977 the committee issued a straightforward set of dietary guidelines recommending that Americans eat less red meat and dairy products.

Now, do you see where this is leading?

A firestorm of criticism erupted, coming chiefly from the red meat and dairy industries.  Senator McGovern, who had a lot of cattle ranchers among his South Dakota constituents, was forced to beat a hasty retreat.  The recommendations were quickly rewritten and plain talk about actual food was replaced by "choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated fat intake."

This was a momentous turning point in our nation's food conversation.  Never again would an actual food be demonized.  Instead, from this point forward, the governmental institutions realized that they could only speak of nutrients, not of food, or the food industry in question would raise arms.

Have you noticed that you only hear about polyphenols, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, omega 3's or 6's, carbohydrates, protein.... the list goes on.  You don't hear about actual food products.

At any rate, I am highly recommending this book.  It's not a diet book.  It's a book about the state of our Western food diet, and how it is slowly killing us, its eaters.  It's a recommendation to get back to our roots, our culture, our traditions and eat food the way it was supposed to be eaten.

Here's another interesting parallel:  the pharmaceuticals and healthcare industry are both more than happy to help out with all the chronic diseases that our diet is causing.  I wonder why.  You don't think it has anything at all to do with MONEY?!

Follow along tomorrow as I give you a short, short list of food rules that you can carry with you to the supermarket.

Oh and one more thing.  If you're really interested in getting off the Western food diet bandwagon, here's a really fun website to check out, about a family who did just that for 100 days, and how it radically changed their lifestyle for the better.

I know I'm ready to make the jump.  I'm already avoiding the center aisles in the grocery store.

I bought my first Asian pear last night, and ate it for lunch today.  It was good, but my husband said they tasted wayyyyy better when he had them in Japan.   :-)

On a Photographic Bent

I've been absent for the last week due to a number of reasons.  Trying to get caught up around the house is only one reason.

Another reason: One of the things I've wanted to do for a LONG time is work with my photos in Photoshop Elements.  I have always had problems with my brand-spanking-new version 6 for the Mac not working right - it would crash whenever I tried to open a photo file.  This even after numerous phone calls with Adobe tech support.

Since my Mac's hard drive crashed a year and a half ago and had to be replaced, I got to thinking earlier this week -- hmmmm, wonder if I reload PS Elements 6, will it work now that there's a "new" hard drive?  Maybe it was something related to my old hard drive.

Lo and behold, yes, it worked!  For about 3 files.... then the old problem started to resurface - crashing when I tried to open a file.

I did some additional internet research and wondered -- should I scrap my PS Elements 4 that was still on my computer?  There was no "uninstall" feature that far back.  The advice I kept finding was to just trash the application folder for PS Elements 4.

So I did.
And now my version 6 works.  Really.  
Do you know how exciting that is for me??

There is absolutely NOTHING more frustrating than not being able to use brand new software you've just purchased for your computer.  For several years.

Now that it works I've decided to upgrade to version 9 (I know, how funny is that?!), which is for Macs and PCs alike.  Finally, Adobe has combined the two platforms into one version.  Wasn't that incredibly smart of them?! (yes, that's sarcasm - they should have done that a long time ago!)

Two of my flower photos with added textures-
what do you think??

My ultimate goal is to finally
open my own Etsy store. 

It's close to becoming a reality.

How many of you are familiar with Etsy?  

Have you ever bought anything from a crafter on Etsy?

I've been browsing through the stores of fellow photographers on Etsy lately.  Let me tell you -- there are some awesome,  inspirational photographers there!

Take a peek at my profile on Etsy and see who I've favorited so far.  Wait until you see the gorgeous note cards and prints by several photographers who inspire me.

And here's a hint:  My October country giveaway is going to feature an item from a fellow blogger who just happens to have an Etsy store.  She makes something gorgeous, that you will love to have.  It's a secret -- shhhh!

And no, it's not related to photography!  :-)

Stay tuned....

Lehman's Country Giveaway Winners

I put mind over matter, and decided to announce the winners after all.  I did say I would announce them on Thursday -

The winners of a $25 gift certificate are...
Sherri Irving and Frank Etheridge
Congrats to both of you!

Please use the Email the Author link at the bottom of this post to send me your addresses, so I can get the $25 gift certificates sent out to you.

Thanks to everyone for entering the contest.  Don't forget to tune in early October for the next country giveaway!!

I am so sorry

I have spent most of my evening holding my two little runty keets.  One of them just died in my hands.

At this time I just can't do the Lehman's drawing, but I promise I will draw the winners by the weekend.

I know it's pretty silly.  It's just a bird.  But I think the tears are for more than just a bird.

I apologize,  I truly do.

This Is Killin' Me

I can't draw the winners for the Lehman's country giveaway until late this afternoon.

My work schedule was abruptly changed yesterday afternoon, so instead of working my usual 2nd shift at the hospital today, I need to be there E.A.R.L.Y. this morning for a meeting. 

So it's killin' me on 2 counts...

I'm anxious to find out who the winners of the giveaway are (as you are too, I'm sure!!!)

And I am so NOT a morning person anymore.


Nap Time + Lehman's Country Giveaway

What is it with animals?  They keep us up at night, and then they have their nap time during the day while we put eye drops in our red-rimmed eyes and get ready for work....

As you can see, the keets are napping.  It's what they do best when they're little.  Except last night.  The two runts kept me up, peeping at the top of their little lungs.  Worried mama (me) kept checking on them, holding them while they fell asleep. 

Not good for my sleep time....  so now I'm over-fatigued today after working all 3 days this weekend at the turnpike, which was busy with travelers heading home yesterday!

Here's a reminder: you only have until tomorrow to enter the Lehman's country giveaway and win one of two $25 gift certificates!! 

Read my original post here, with the rules to enter.  

Comments do not qualify as entries - you must reply to the email you receive announcing a new post on my blog.  In order to do that, you need to subscribe to my blog (see box at top of right sidebar).

It's free, and easy, to subscribe!!
And you can unsubscribe at any time.

But remember, there will be 10 more months of country giveaways here, so you might want to hang around for awhile.  :-)

All In A Day - and The Lehman's Country Giveaway!

It's been a busy Sunday already... cleaned out the keets' Rubbermaid tote AND cleaned the chicken coop. Cleaning the coop is always quite the chore.

Hubby put together a new metal nesting box unit for the hens, which will be so much more healthy (translate: not as germy) than the old wooden nesting boxes were.

9 keets so far - 4 pearls, 5 lavenders
Midge, our Ameraucana hen

Foghorn poses - yep, that's his name
We did a walkabout on the property - hubby showed me what he had accomplished with the Bobcat we are renting this weekend.  He started digging out the silt pond yesterday afternoon. 

We did get about a half inch of rain last night, of course.  Because we rented the Bobcat, you know.

The poor dried-up big pond

A mud turtle at the big pond
He decided to remove a nasty bush at our back porch that attracts flies as if it had a dead corpse inside it.  It doesn't (have a dead corpse) but the flies must think so.

Bush be gone!

The Bobcat removeth!

Don't forget to enter the Lehman's country giveaway
for your chance to win one of two $25 gift certificates.  

Click here to read the post with
all the details on how to enter!

Our Second Keet Hatch... and Don't Forget the Lehman's Country Giveaway!

Our first pearl guinea - isn't she just precious?!
We'll just say it's going much better than the last hatch.  Since about 3 a.m., we've had 4 keets hatch out!

And yes, the brooder light is secured by the ginormous nail that hubby pounded into the windowsill last time...

And this time we've got our first pearl keets - so far we've got 2 pearls and 2 lavenders.

First two keets - one pearl, one lavender

There are still 10 eggs in the incubator - I hear chirping behind me right now, need to check... yep, #5 is starting to bust outta his shell!

I've got to go take a nap before work today.  Couldn't sleep once I woke up at 3:15 a.m.  I wonder why.

Don't forget to enter the
Lehman's country giveaway!

Two lucky readers will each win a $25 gift certificate to Lehman's.  Make sure you follow the rules, which are short, simple and easy: 

You need to reply to an email announcing
there's a new post on my blog.  

To be able to do that, just subscribe to my blog, up in the right of my sidebar, being sure to follow through with the email verification that Feedburner requires.

The next time you get an email announcing a new blog post, just hit "reply" and put in the subject line, "Enter me in your Lehman's country giveaway!

Really, that's it.  Here's a link to the original post with the full rules - you still have until September 7th to enter.

Good luck to all, and hope everyone is having a fantabulous Saturday!!

A Long Weekend - And Country Giveaway Continues!

Soooo, I imagine quite a few people have taken today off work.  And probably many are going away for a short weekend vacay.  We're not.

What are your long weekend plans??

We are renting a Bobcat for the weekend, so we can dig our ponds deeper (since they are dry) and do a thousand other chores around our property.  There will be pictures, I promise.....

I am working 4 hours at the hospital today, a shortened day, from 1:30 to 5:30.  But I'm working all three weekend days at the turnpike.  Then back to work Tuesday at the hospital.... I'm becoming used to this 2-job routine I think.

The chickens have started laying eggs!

It almost seems like I actually get more done at home now that I'm working 2 jobs?  Except housecleaning....  yeah, that has gone by the wayside, for sure!

Don't forget to enter the country giveaway.
Rules are here in this post 

Really simple rules - no standing on your head while you tweet my giveaway - no need to tell all your Facebook friends just to get an extra entry. 

Enter once, be entered once, but get TWO chances to win a $25 gift certificate to Lehman's extraordinary country store in Ohio.

Have an extraordinary long and lovely weekend,
and good luck in the Lehman's country giveaway!!

A September Country Giveaway

Ok, I thought long and hard about September's country giveaway, and finally decided that gift certificates to Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio, would be perfect!

For those of you unfamiliar with Lehman's, they are a country store extraordinaire.   Lehman's was founded in 1955 to serve the local Amish and others without electricity.  Since then, they have become known for preserving the past by providing authentic historical products for those trying to live a simpler life.

During my lifetime in Ohio, I drove down to Amish country many, many times, spending time in Sugarcreek and Berlin.  I regret that I never made it to Lehman's 1840's era barn.  My bad!!

At any rate, two lucky readers will receive
a $25 gift certificate to Lehman's!

I was going to give away one $50 gift certificate, but then you know me, I like to spread the love around, so I decided two $25 gift certificates would make for TWO happy people, instead of just one.

Remember the rules to enter are very, very simple.  

If you're already subscribed to my blog and you receive post updates in your email inbox, just hit "reply" to any post you've received, and enter in the subject line:

Enter me in your Lehmans country giveaway!

That's it.  Really, really easy, huh?

If you're not subscribed, you can get subscribed by entering your email address in the box at the top, in the right sidebar which says "Follow Oz Girl by Email".  Make sure you follow through with the email confirmation.

Everyone has until Wednesday, September 7th, midnight PST, to enter.  I know I originally said the giveaway would close on Monday, but I decided to extend it.

I'll choose the winners using  The giveaway is open to family and friends alike, and to U.S. and Canada residents.

So go on and get entered - Lehman's has all kind of fun country items to choose!!

Disclaimer:  Oz Girl is in no way affiliated with Lehman's, in fact, Lehman's has never heard of Oz Girl, and probably never will.  I will disguise myself and use my REAL name to order the gift certificates.