A Quick Trip to Tuskegee Institute

I’m writing from the Kellogg Conference Center at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This morning, Uzuri, Little Lotus, and I found we had received scholarships to an organic farming conference held at Tuskegee Institute, complete with hotel room reservations, so we quickly packed and drove for several hours stopping at fruit stands along the way. The conference actually began today, but we’ll attend a day of organic farming classes tomorrow.

I love being here. There is a bust of the founder Booker T. Washington in the Lobby and lots of cultural and historical art decorating the walls. It feels profound to walk on ground that Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver stood on. I am humbled.

Things at the farm are going beautifully. We’ve finally finished weeding the hoop house, and we’re beginning to harvest zucchini and sweet peas. Uzuri and Little Lotus harvested two big drinking cups full of sweet peas to eat during our ride to Tuskegee. They were delicious. After eating sweet peas fresh from the garden, we are all baffled by the thought of cooking them. They are so tender and flavorful when fresh and raw.

Our happy household has decreased by two. The lovely Rasta couple moved last week. Beginning an organic farm from scratch is an adventurous idea, but the reality is a lot of work. It’s not easy, but it can be a wonderful growth inspiring experience.

In love, joy, and peace,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

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Weeding and More Weeding in an Alabama Garden

I am rising earlier each morning and establishing a routine. Because we’re closer to the equator than we were before, 8 o’clock in the morning feels like noon, so waking earlier comes naturally. This morning I rose, made a pot or yerba mate, did my morning yoga asana, and headed to the hoop house in the garden to weed.

Uzuri working in the hoop house

Most of our work this week has been weeding. I know we’re making progress, though, because the children in the neighborhood say the inside of the hoop house doesn’t look like a forest any more.

Yesterday Yawah, her daughter Uzuri, Little Lotus, and myself headed to the hoop house together for a day of work. We all wore straw hats and smiles. I got to use a hoe for the first time, and, I swear, my arms are going to be well-defined by the time our garden starts to produce. We got so hot while we worked that we drenched ourselves in water and worked some more. We got dirty and muddy and worked some more. I loved it. By the end of our work day about 15 people from the neighborhood had joined us in the garden. Some helped work, some just had conversations, one little lady played piano, and lots of children ran around playing. It was amazing,

Our garden fresh lunch

Today we made a delicious pate from sunflower seeds and wrapped it in romaine leaves fresh from the garden. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

In love, beauty, and light,
Asante George
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

A Teary Beginning to a Wonderful Adventure

Little Lotus and I are in a small town in Arkansas. We’ve stopped here on the way to our friend’s land in Alabama. The adventure we have prepared for over the last several months has begun!! We envisioned our project, plotted the steps it would take to get here, worked really hard, and here we are at the beginning of what we call our ecoadventure. Amazing and exciting, right? Not exactly. As the last steps of our preparation became a reality, we realized that embarking on this new beginning meant saying goodbye to people and a place we had come to love. We left Oklahoma in tears that left me wondering whether I had made a very wrong decision. After about fifty miles passed under our adventure-mobile tires, we were both able to catch sight of our dream again. The vision of our plan came back to us in small glimpses at first, and before long we were both smiling again.

We are excited, once again, about our road trip with our cat Max (who travels on a leash) and about our plans to build an eco-house, but we’ll never forget the folks we love that we hope to see again very soon.

In love, adventure, and bliss,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

The Gifted Greenhouse

The world outside my window is covered in a snowy white blanket, and the wind is whipping. A stormy day is a perfect opportunity to sleep in, reflect, and write.

Collecting materials for our recycled lean-to greenhouse has been very successful. As I stated in my last post, we had most of the wood for our greenhouse frame in our yard already. After watching an informative video called ‘How To Build A Greenhouse From Recycled Materials’ I was inspired to call the commercial greenhouses in my area to ask if they had large pieces of plastic sheeting that where no longer suitable for a large commercial greenhouse, but would work for a small lean-to structure. The first place I called didn’t have any materials for me, but they offered wonderful advice on maintaining a greenhouse. Calvert’s Plant Interiors was the second place I called. The manager was out when I called, so I left a message explaining my project and the reason for my call. The owner, Mr. Bob Calvert, returned my call the next day. After a lively game of phone tag, Bob told me that Calvert’s may have materials to donate to my project. Mr. Calvert called me back on Friday to let me know I could pick up my plastic sheeting on Monday.

Bob explained that the rolls of plastic sheeting used at Calvert’s are 100 feet long, this is about 20 feet longer than their greenhouses. They were willing to donate a roll with the remaining 20 feet of sheeting on it to my recycled greenhouse project. When my five-year old assistant and I arrived on Monday to pick up the gifted plastic sheeting Bob Calvert helped me load it into the trunk of my car. He even smudged his suit in the process.

This project, and this experience specifically, have reminded me of the many reasons to support local businesses. In a nutshell, local businesses are more likely to support you. According to Local First Chicago locally owned businesses put 70% more money back into the local economy. Non-profit organizations receive 350% more support from locally owned businesses than they do from large chains or non-locally owned businesses. Business owners who live where they work are more likely to give to community groups and organizations, or in my case, a small greenhouse project. Anyone who visits Calvert’s, with their elegant yet shabby chic vibe, can attest to the fact that locally owned businesses give an area character, and help maintain what makes a neighborhood distinct. Big-box stores can’t do that!

Wishing you creative adventures and profound abundance,

Adventurer Extraordinaire Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

Planning a Recycled Lean-to Greenhouse

I’m so excited about our current project! We’re building a lean-to greenhouse in our backyard. This in and of itself is a wonderful project, but what makes it extra special to me is that we’re making it out of found and repurposed materials.

After watching lots and lots of youtube video on other people’s projects (thank you!), I have an idea of where to begin with ours. Yesterday I looked around our yard for materials we can use for our greenhouse, and to my surprise we had almost everything we need to build a frame laying in our yard. We had several large posts, several 2x4s that I salvaged from a curbside, 2 old tires, and an old pallet that I collected from a restaurant. While looking in our yard, I spied a piece of plastic sheeting in our neighbor’s yard that looked like it wasn’t being used. My neighbor was happy to give the sheeting to me, plus I got to meet a new neighbor and have a wonderful conversation about composting and gardening.

Today Little Lotus and I will go on a treasure hunt for more old tires. The tires will become the foundation for the outer wall of our greenhouse after being filled with compacted dirt. I’m so excited, our greenhouse will be a wonderful place to begin seedlings for our garden.

Wishing you love, joy, and delicious healthy food,

Raw Chef Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

The Upside of a Failed Modem

What began as a failed modem became a wonderful break from the computer that I didn’t know I needed. It has been a wonderful and productive few weeks. For example, I’ve partnered with The Health Food Center (one of our local health food stores) to offer my Raw Brazil Nut Tacos in their deli every Tuesday starting in March. I also began counseling with a really wonderful woman. I’m so excited about this. Like most of us, I have “stuff” that blocks my joy at times, and I’m ready to work these things out and step fully into my bliss.

This week we placed our first order for Azure Standard. Azure Standard is a company that ships high quality food to food buying coops at a discount. A good friend of mine suggested that we order food from them, and we’ve finally placed an order. We’ll go the drop point on Monday with all the other families who’ve places orders and help unload the truck and pick up our pounds and pounds of organic nuts, grains, and dates…yum.

Today I’m on a mission. I want to find barrels with which to build a simply water catchment system. I also want to find plastic sheeting to reuse as a cover for a greenhouse. I want to make the greenhouse out of found materials, and I believe I’ve collected enough pallets for the frame. Now I need to find a cover. I’m so excited about this idea and about gardening in our yard. Perhaps we’ll create a little urban homestead. I’ve always wanted to do that, and there’s no better time to begin than now!

Love Love Love to you,

Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

Vanilla Bean the Adventure Mobile

Vanilla Bean's trunkLast minute tasks are taking a bit longer to complete than I anticipated, but we are steadily preparing for our journey. My goal is to travel very light with 4 sets of clothes for each of us, our sleeping bags, art products, and several small crates in the back of the trunk containing carefully selected things like: water, art supplies, and food.

The back seatMy little one has her very own container that sits next to her containing books, food, workbooks and art supplies. I wrote a list of things I’d like to take including details on where to put them in the car, and in the end we are leaving behind about 1/3 of the things I’d planned to take. One of the things we are likely to leave home is our kitten Max. To my five-year old daughter’s delight, we planned to travel with Max the kitten. His travel carrier is ready to be buckled in to the seatbelt and a crate of his supplies has been packed. But in the last few weeks Max has grown from ‘Max the Cute and Cuddly Kitten’ to ‘Max the Ferocious Attack Kitten’. Is it pitiful to admit that I’m afraid of a kitten? Well, pitiful or not I am skittish around Max’s sharp kitten teeth and needle claws.  He hides behind corners practicing his hunting skills on any unsuspecting legs that are unlucky enough to walk by, and he gnaws on our limbs while we are sleeping. Needless to say, Max is not the kitten to travel with at the moment. The good news is he’s likely to grow out of this painful stage of his developement. The bad news is breaking it to my five-year old that kitty must stay home due to bad behavior.

Vanilla BeanWe’ve polished up our 98 Toyota Camry over the last couple of weeks. She’s had an oil change, tire rotation, replaced radio fuse, car wash, and interior shampoo. She looks great! We’ve dubbed her Vanilla Bean the Adventure Mobile (even though she’s white and vanilla beans are actually brown). Just a couple of days should see us on the road!

Abalone Sunrise Earrings

Last week I added my handcrafted jewlery to the products on my website. I love designing jewlery, and gorgeous adornemt blends nicely with my theme of self-care and wellness. I began designing jewelry at age 13; it’s nice to revisit this passion.

Happy trails to you,

Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

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