Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our Family Farm!

Ok, so it's not quite a farm yet, but we (Becca and I) are expanding our garden!  Lawn, in my opinion is a HUGE waste of space, so In the autumn of 2009, I planned to clear 10.5 by 36.5 feet of lawn in our backyard, by cutting open black trash bags, laying them out on the lawn and covering them with soil, to keep the bags from flying away. I didn’t want to use any chemicals to kill the grass, as I was afraid the chemicals would linger and have a negative affect on my garden.  Using the black trash bags was the best I could come up with at the time and though it worked, I did create a lot of garbage from all the trash bags….dang.
Come the spring of 2010, I removed the bags, leaving the soil on top of the dead grass, rented a Rota tiller, tilled the dead grass and soil together, and vuala!  Healthy land ready to sow seeds!

I planted many of my favorites, starting with sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes!  All together, I had 4 types of tomatoes, banana peppers, jalapeƱos, two types of carrots, lettuce, spinach, red and green bell peppers, onions and a few things I hadn’t attempted growing before, asparagus, potatoes, and broccoli.  I also grew herbs, such as basil, oregano, cilantro, thyme and lemon thyme.  Some veggies did better than others, but all together it was a very good harvest!   I couldn't find my pictures from last years harvest, so here's a picture of Pele' loungin' in the 2010 spring flowers!

This year Becca and I, instead of clearing more lawn, will be building two raised bed gardens (pictures to come upon us actually building them).  They will be located in the center of our backyard, behind the deck, where our plants will receive the most sunlight! 
As it is still March and we live in Cleveland Ohio (and we got 2 inches of snow today), it is still far too early to plant our early season veggies outside.  Leafy green veggies, (lettuce and spinach) and onions can be planted in April, as they can withstand frost.  For the time being, Becca and I have started our own indoor garden!  Here’s what we’ve sowed thus far: broccoli, lavender, oregano, sweet basil, cilantro, fernleaf dill, thyme, spearmint, mesclun (lettuce), baby’s leaf hybrid spinach, bloomsdale spinach and swiss chard.  

Our seed starter/mini greenhouse was worth every penny!  It only cost us $20(ish) and is reusable for years to come!  Here are some photo’s our beautiful seedlings!  
(week one, the first to sprout!)

(our mini indoor greenhouse) 

Are you gardening this season?  What are you doing to ensure a healthy harvest?  Please share your ideas and suggestions!

Peace and Love,


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

mental attitude

First, please let me say that i'm writing this, as I slipped (not literally) and fell into a funk today.  Amidst my already bad attitude, I was getting even more upset, because I was having such negative thoughts about myself and the world around me.  I took a moment to breathe and decided today I need  to, more than ever, practice what I preach/read.

Have you ever woken up in the morning and stubbed your toe on the side of your bed?  Then started  grumbling and complaining about your toe hurting and moaning about what a lousy start to the day it's been?  What happens after that, is only a product of our mental attitude!!

Every second of the day we have a choice to make.  Grumble and complain about our sore toe, or shake it off and refocus our thoughts and our energy.  In one of my favorite books called "The Secret" written by Rhonda Byrne, she parallels the human mind with a radio antenna and receiver.  A radio antenna emits radio waves out into the universe and when a receiver is tuned into the right channel, it receives those radio waves (I know I know, thank you captain obvious).  The human mind does the same thing with the universe.  

Our mind emits energy into the universe and the universe responds to that energy, giving back what we put out there, thus receiving what we put out into the universe.  So, when we stub our toe and exude all kinds of negative energy, the universe thinks that is what we want and gives it right back to us.  If we continue moaning and groaning, we're only going to attract more negative things.  If you don't refocus your thoughts and energy, who knows, maybe after you stub your toe, you'll burn your toast for breakfast, get stuck in a traffic jam and be late for work (and hungry) etc....  The "secret" is that we (as humans) have the capacity to change the dial on our own radio (per se). The challenge is actually turning that dial, or changing our own thought process, or mental attitude, to attract positive things in our life.  This is the foundation of the book "The Secret" and it's called the "Law of Attraction."

The power of the mind is incredible!  I'm currently reading a book called "The Sermon on the Mount" by Emmet Fox.  I'm not a religious man, but I am very spiritual and have a very close relationship with God.  I do believe in Jesus, but I feel his teachings have been largely skewed by greedy men and the hierarchy of the church (please take this with a grain of salt, as it is only my own opinion).  For those of you who don't know, the "sermon on the mount" (the actual sermon, not the book) was one of Jesus' last speeches, that basically summarized all of his teachings.  In this book --->---->---->---->------>------>
Fox writes about "Scientific Christianity" and "Scientific Prayer."  The basis of Scientific Prayer, is the power of our mind and our thoughts.  What you focus your thoughts and energy on, is in turn, what you will receive.  Sound familiar?  Fox says "The Golden Rule in Scientific Christianity is: Think about others as you would wish them to think about you."  The "golden rule" at my elementary school was "do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."  The picture below is of my second grade class.  This was the last time my best friend Daniel and I were ever in the same class together.  I'm sure it wasn't because we goofed around all the time.....

Are you beginning to see a common theme here?  This is not a new or novel idea, but it is MOST powerful.  What we devote our thoughts and energy to, essentially defines what the universe will provide for us.

In light of my negative vibes today, I consciously changed my mental attitude.  Easier said than done, I know, but i've found that focusing on the  things that I love, helped me stand up again, and brush the negative dust off me.  What did I do?  I started with singing.  I LOVE TO SING!  Jason Mraz said it best "when you sing you pray twice!"  The song I sang first was written by one of my favorite artists, Xavier Rudd.  The song is called "From Sky to Ground."  Here's a live version, as live music is more fun!  Singing gave me the courage and motivation to write this post!  What am I going to do next?  Something else I love!  I'm going to put my hands in some soil and plant new plants so I can continue to nurture life outside of my own.  Rebecca and I bought two new Blueberry saplings that will stay warm in our home and be well taken care of, until the ground is warm enough to plant them outside.  
Now that i'm smiling, i'm going to leave you with one more 
Xavier Rudd song, called "Time to Smile"!!!

What do you do when feeling down-and-out?  How do you transform your negative vibes into something positive?

Peace and Blessings,

Brandon E. Kocher

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

gett'n sauced :~)

Howdy folks!

I am happy to have been so inspired by Rebecca's capacity to efficiently blog about life and FOOD, that I am now writing my first food blog!  YEEHAAW!

I've been making sauce since I lived on Mayberry over 3-4 years ago.  It is my favorite "family meal."  Sauce is easy to make for large quantities of family and friends.

Lets talk about sauce!

Start with crushing and and chopping the garlic.
Then finely chop a delicious onion.
Put both onions and garlic into the large pot, that you will be simmering your sauce in, and saute' them til your heart is content.

Then add (my favorite to use) the "Traditional" Prego sauce...aka very bland, but nice and thick.  Why do I choose a very bland sauce?  So I can spice it myself of course!  We'll talk about spices in a moment.  Now, lets talk about all the delicious veggies to include in your sauce.

You can choose any/all of your favorite veggies, or use whatever you have leftover in the refrigerator.  I generally slice all the veggies into nice bite-sized pieces. Here is what Becca and I used:
Green Pepper
  Red Pepper

Fresh red tomatos diced for texture 

Carrots, mushrooms and brocoli.  Sorry, no pictures of these veggies, but here is a fun one (cause cooking is fun!)

Once all of your fresh veggies have been chopped, sliced and diced, ad them to your sauce and let simmer for a good 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

While the sauce is simmering, you can jazz it up with your favorite spices!  I generally use basil, oregano, thyme, salt/pepper and, as Becca and I enjoy spicy foods, red pepper flakes.  AND, the one "lucky" bay leaf!  Whomever gets the lucky bay leaf in their meal, will be just that....LUCKY!

Generally I try and let the sauce sit (in the fridge is fine) for a day, so all the flavors can mary together,  but i've also had it for dinner that night!  Tis good no matter what!

I love making this sauce, as it can be used for many things.  The most obvious is pasta!

It also makes a quick and delicious pizza!  All you need is dough (you can ask Becca how to make dough) and your favorite cheese!  

I also really enjoy using the sauce for dipping my tortilla chips in (chips and salsa is generally my "go to" snack....sorry no picture).

Thanks so much for your interest in my special sauce!  Remember, be creative with it and HAVE FUN!