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Eyes

It’s interesting thinking about our eyes. I remember when I was younger, my husband would talk about how his eyesight was getting worse. I used to laugh … I am not laughing now! I have noticed that just in the last year my ability to see things close up is getting worse. I can still see quite far into the distance just like always, but I have to hold things away from my face to see them clearly. But eyesight can be very interesting and can differ from one person to the next. We see the world in a specific way, based upon years of acquiring information. We then interpret that information that is brought in by our eyes so that we can see and understand the world around us.

As I have been watching the world around me the last few years, I feel like I sometimes see things a little differently than other people do, in fact recently I feel like I see things much differently. Definitely different than the outspoken people I see on the news outlets and social media platforms. But I really don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that my eyesight seems to be worsening. I think that it’s how I process the information my eyes are bringing into my mind, how I view the world around me, and the study that I do on my own to understand.

So, what do I see? I see lost souls. People searching for something, but they don’t know what it is and consequently they don’t know where to find it. It seems like people are looking for a place where they fit. I see people who have lost hope in humanity, lost hope in freedom, lost hope in good overcoming evil, and even though they just want to find a place where they fit, in a lot of ways they have decided that taking care of self is more important than taking care of the whole, more important than family, community or country, more important than religion and moral values. Very few people want to sit down and find common ground, sit down and find solutions to problems that benefit the whole rather than just one segment of society or just the individual.

So, what do we do? I don’t know as I have a perfect answer, but I do think that the first step is to realize that the information coming in through our eyes and processing through our minds, may not be as it has been made to appear. We don’t understand everything that goes on behind the scenes of any organization or group, but we should learn so we can make an informed decision. Maybe they are right up our alley and exactly what we are looking for, maybe we will find ourselves in deeper than we thought, with something that isn’t even close to what we thought we were getting into in the beginning.

We need to return to God. He has established basic moral laws that should govern the way we treat other people and how we live our lives. The things we take into our eyes, process through our minds, will eventually make it to our hearts. But our hearts can influence what our minds take in, and how we view the world around us. When we base our lives on good moral principles, established by God our hearts are in the right place to begin with, and we will have eyes that see more clearly, a mind that can distinguish between truth and error more readily, and eyes that can see the world around us as it truly is.

There is good all around us. But with the way the world is going, there isn’t a lot of good being advertised any more. But as I have looked at all the scary things going on in the world, I also see many people who are trying, people who are helping, people who still have hope in humanity, people who are willing to change the world, even if that change happens one person at a time. We all want to fit in somewhere. May I suggest that we start by fitting into a different kind of group, the kind that is quietly going about doing good, changing the world immediately around them. If we each got to know one new person this week or helped one person, even if it was a family member, if we were kind or smiled at someone just this week, and willingly helped without any fanfare or media coverage, just simply to help, imagine the impact week to week that it could have on the whole world! It wouldn’t take long to make the world, and our own personal lives, a better place. As we choose to fit in in this way we will be drawn to good organizations, good groups who are also trying to make this world a better place. We will maintain good personal values that will influence those groups for the better, and we will continue to change the world in bigger and better ways.

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Gardening

Well, while this doesn’t have anything to do with art, this is what has taken up a huge chunk of my time this past week, consequently, art has been on the back burner. However, just as the art is very relaxing for me, so too is gardening, at least most of the time. I am not a green thumb gardener, actually just the opposite. I seem to have a black thumb when it comes to flowers and nonessential grown items, and only slightly less of a black thumb when it comes to edibles in our garden. But over the years I have at least reached the point of being able to grow food. We don’t grow all the food we eat, but we do enjoy having fresh veggies throughout the summer and having some of what we grow that can last through the winter.

I love the quote above, because I thought I had made a lot of mistakes over our many years of gardening. But I have learned so much through those mistakes, so I really do think it is more of the experimenting. We have had 3 different garden spots on our property over the years. The first was 3 raised beds about 20 feet long and 2 feet wide. This was very early in our marriage, so we didn’t need a lot to sustain us through the summer. We would grow some potatoes, different kinds of greens, carrots and peas. Occasionally cabbage and broccoli, but definitely not enough of either for more than a couple of meals. This spot was in the trees, consequently it did not get a lot of direct sunlight, and while it did grow, I didn’t realize how much of a difference the sunlight would make until our third garden spot. Our second garden spot was in some stepped landscaping that we created in the hill of our backyard. This area did not get enough sunlight either as it was facing north, and we didn’t ever get very good quantities out of the beds. Because they were stepped, they were very difficult to till, consequently I ended up turning them over by hand. They were 60 feet long by 3 feet wide, and that was a huge chore that took almost a week just to get the soil ready for planting. I didn’t want to do that forever!

We finally moved the garden down to a sunny spot in our backyard and increased the size, because our family size had increased over the years as well. There are no nearby trees, and the garden gets around 16 hours of sunlight every day. This has been the most productive garden spot we have had. It started out as just a raw piece of land that still had topsoil on it. Each year as my husband tills the garden, the rest of us follow along picking up rocks. It has taken a number of years, but each year there are less and less rocks, and the garden soil looks better and better. Over the years we have learned a lot about amending the soil. Last year we learned a lot about lime, how little lime there is in Alaska’s soil, and how much we needed to add to get our plants to grow well. This year we weren’t able to find the kind of manure we usually use on our garden, in fact there was no sterilized steer manure to be found anywhere in our valley. Consequently, we will be relying more heavily on a commercial fertilizer. We shall see how that works out. I have decided that with the scarcity of soil amending products, that I really should start a compost station at our home. I have never tried this, so it will be another opportunity to learn a new skill. I’ll keep you updated if I get that going.

We grow a variety of vegetables in our garden. The majority of our garden is planted in potatoes. Probably 80% of the area is potatoes. We usually grow a white potato as well as Yukon Gold potatoes. Both of these have been great producers. We have tried a variety of different kinds of potatoes over the years. I really like a purple potato that we had good success with, but my kids had a hard time getting past the color and apparently the taste. To me they tasted just like the white potatoes, but my kids said there was a difference in flavor. Consequently, we keep going back to those 2 great growers, the white and Yukon. The other 20% of our garden has a much bigger variety in it. We grow peas, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, leafy lettuces of different kinds, beets, onions, and carrots. The beets I haven’t had huge success with over the years, so I haven’t planted them in a few years, but I decided to try again this year. We shall see how that goes.

I recently did a YouTube tour of my garden, as well as talked a bit about what we have done over the years to grow a better garden. You can see my Garden Tour here.

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Pulled Pork

Yesterday I completed a YouTube video tutorial about using a large pork roast, often called a picnic pork roast. You can view the tutorial here called Pulled Pork. These pieces of meat are usually about 6-10 pounds, have a large bone in the middle, and are really fatty. But they make some of the best pulled pork, but they can be used in so many different ways. So today I thought I would write down the instructions for those who would like to print them, as well as offer several suggestions for use of the pork.

You will need a large picnic pork roast, a roasting pan, or pan big enough for the pork as well as juice accumulation. You will also need a dry rub for pork, you will need approximately 1/2 cup. I most often scour the internet for a dry rub recipe, as I can customize that recipe to my family’s tastes. In this video I decided to try a purchased rub, which work well. At any rate, I will not include any kind of rub recipe here. If you don’t want to use a rub, I would recommend using a salt and pepper “rub” just to season the meat.

Instructions – Remove the roast from the packaging. Rinse the roast and then pat it dry with paper towels. Place in the roasting pan of your choice and then rub the roast with your chosen seasonings. Cover with the lid of the pan or cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in a 250-degree oven (yes, 250, that’s not a typo). Cook for approximately 8-12 hours. This will depend greatly on the size of the roast, however. The one I did in the YouTube video I only cooked for 6 1/2 hours, and it was done, so check it once in a while, you want it to be tender and easily shred able. If cooking it overnight, it is usually done 8 hours later, even if it’s a bit smaller like the one I did it will be fine. Once you feel like it’s done, pull it out of the oven and let it sit in the pan to cool off. I usually let mine sit for several hours, this way it is cooled off enough to handle. The one on the YouTube video sat for 3 hours and the center was still almost too hot to pull apart. Shred and then either continue to the next step or package for use later.

If you are cooking this to make pulled pork for a party, you could now transfer to a pot or crock pot, pour barbeque sauce on, and heat through to make the sandwich filling. I usually use a store-bought barbeque sauce, I really like Sweet Baby Ray’s, but you could make your own as well. If you package the meat, it works great in a lot of different recipes. Some of the things we use it for are quesadillas – just the cheese and meat with some salsa for dipping when it’s cooked, my kids also like sour cream to dip them in. Fajitas – onions, peppers, all sautéed together, tortillas to put them in, and whatever toppings your family likes, we like cheese, lettuce and salsa. Sandwich fillings – I did a YouTube tutorial a few weeks ago for a chicken salad filling, this pork would also work great as a substitute for the chicken. Red Beans and Rice – this would be a great substitute for the sausage in Red Beans and rice depending on how you seasoned the meat in the beginning. There are so many possibilities once it is cooked and packaged. If you have a recipe you want to try it with, make sure you package it accordingly, so you have the right amount for the recipe. I was able to get 4 packages of meat, approximately 1 1/2 pounds per package, but this will greatly depend upon the size of roast.

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Labels

Image result for labels are for jars not people quotes

I have thought a lot over the years about labels that we as people give ourselves. I have talked extensively to my kids about not labeling themselves, or at least keeping the most important label, the most important one. Recently I was listening to a young adult broadcast that my Church did in which the prophet for my Church talked about labeling as well. This brought to mind all the years of pondering on this subject that I have done, so I thought I would share my thought about it here. You can also watch or listen to the broadcast here.

We put labels on so many things, just as the quote above – we label jars. We also label streets, businesses, schools, countries, etc. All of these labels are necessary and help us find locations or things we are looking for. Can you imagine buying cans of food with no labels on them! That would be an interesting treasure hunt at dinner time. You would either end up with a really great meal, or a complete disaster.

As humans however, we tend to also label ourselves and others. I am not saying that we shouldn’t, I believe there is one label that we all should maintain as our first and most important label. But other labels don’t really describe any one person fully. However, there are labels that are necessary. Doctor for instance is a label that helps describe a person who we can go to when we are ailing. Those labels even have sub labels. We wouldn’t go see a foot doctor to help relieve ear pain. But the person who is labeled doctor isn’t just a doctor. I know several doctors who are spouses, parents, grandparents, runners, hikers, members of the military, Church goers, service oriented, and participates in community activities and support events and activities in a variety of fields.

In this broadcast (link above), I gained a new about labels. President Nelson commented on how restrictive labels are. That was a new angle of perspective for me. I have always told my kids don’t label yourself with one exception, but I never really discussed why. When we label ourselves or are labeled by others a certain perception is automatically formed. Each one of us has a personal perception of various words used as labels. If I were to say Democrat or Republican, classifying an individual, each one of us would immediately classify that person in our mind, without ever even getting to know that person. In some instances, we would be drawn to that person, wanting to get to know them better. In other instances, we would be instantly on guard, watching that person’s every move, looking for some justification for our feelings toward them, for our judgement.

This world likes to place labels on everything, especially people. We judge people based on those labels, and we have become a nation, a world, divided based upon labels. Because with those labels comes animosity toward others, it doesn’t have to create animosity, but that seems to be the direction a lot of labels end up taking us. The judgements we make create emotions that may or may not be valid. And those emotions, often anger or hate with many of the more common labels today, tend to propel us forward to do things we might not otherwise do. But there is a solution!

The only label, and the most universal label that exists is Child of God. What if we saw others as children of God, just like ourselves? What would change about our behavior towards them? What if we saw every person we met as someone important to God, including ourselves? Would that change how we treat them? Would we be more inclined to listen first rather than judge? What if every human life held the same value and had the same opportunity to contribute? I am not saying that you shouldn’t listen to your gut in sketchy situations. Everyone is a child of God, but some people are not out to talk and be kind. But the vast majority of people out there just want to be seen, listened to, and valued. Whether we agree on every subject or not we can always find common ground if we look for it. That common ground starts with the biggest label we should all carry – Child of God.

I have thought a long time about labeling, and I try hard not to label, but I know that as I hear certain words or phrases associated with people I tend to judge based upon that label. So, this week I will be paying attention to the emotions that certain labeling words creates in me. I want to stop judging people based upon labels and try harder to listen and get to know the real person rather than the label.

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Markets

I am really excited about the beginning of summer and the opportunity to participate in farmers markets and bazaars outdoors.  I enjoy indoor events in the winter as well, but I really like the outdoor ones, especially when the weather is beautiful.  Today I thought I would share some tips for setting up at an outdoor market.

First, a shelter. Some markets and bazaars you can rent a tent, others you need to have your own. I would highly recommend getting your own tent as it is cheaper in the long run, and then you are completely familiar with exactly what you have as a setup space. You can do a trial run ahead of the market date, and if you want to try new displays and things you can do so any time and know you are working with exactly what you will have when you get there. It is not fun to show up to a market and think you know what you’re getting and that your displays will work, only to find out you were mistaken, and only some of what you have will work. There are many great companies to order from. I ordered my tent off Amazon, and they delivered to my door. The tent I ordered has 3 solid sides, one screened side, and one side that has a door opening. The sides are all Velcro installation and are easy to install and remove. The corners zip shut which I like because it reduces areas for wind and rain to penetrate. I never take the top off so it’s always ready to go.

The weather.  I love being outside, even when it’s rainy.  People love to stop at outdoor markets and wander around, whether they buy anything or not, it’s always fun to see all the different items.  But one type of weather is not so fun and can ruin a market.  Windy weather is the hardest to deal with in my opinion.  Tents are great shelters, but they act like big kites, so you have to be able to secure the tent down with weight of some kind. Hanging displays from the bars of the tent really helps, but buckets filled with gravel or concrete I have found to work better than any other tie down method.  The other problem with wind is keeping your items from blowing away, but that depends a lot on what you’re selling. Make sure you have a plan ahead of time or you may end up chasing your items across the market.

Sunny weather is awesome; however, tents can be extremely hot. They are a lot like a greenhouse. If you have the option to remove side panels, that can add a lot of airflow. The tent that I use has a screen as one of the panels and that works really great to allow for airflow while keeping everything contained inside my tent and rented area. I like having three sides on my tent at markets as that contains my booth and doesn’t confuse customers as to where my items end, and my neighbors starts. It also doesn’t allow for other vendors to infringe into my area. I usually have great neighbors, but once in a while you come across someone who will take their 10 foot by 10 foot area, and anything else they can get. I don’t mind rainy weather either. I had a friend tell me that people who show up on rainy days are there to buy. Not too many people go out of their way to stop if they aren’t interested in buying when the weather isn’t very nice. I have found this to be true.

The type of display units you use will depend on what you’re selling.  Tables are great but remember, they take up a lot of room and you have a limited amount of space.  I used to use a bifold structure like a room screen, however the wind can blow those over as I have unfortunately experienced.  I have found for hanging items that wire grid or peg board works really great.  I have never personally used wire grid as it is expensive, but I have friends who use it exclusively and they really like it. I use peg board and hang it off the top rails of my tent on three sides.  This adds weight to the tent, and they are only secured at the top so they can move as the tent sides move with the wind, but everything stays on the peg boards pretty well. Peg boards are inexpensive and come in a couple of different sizes so you may not need to cut them at all to make them work. I screwed a 2×2 board to the top of the peg board and installed hooks in the 2×2. The hooks are then hooked to S hooks on the rails of my tent. They adjust easily that way so that they are level, and the S hooks allow them a little extra range of movement for the wind.

I have found that keeping the center of my booth clear for customers to walk around in is critical, or vice versa depending on your product, tables in the center with the outside totally open. But plenty of room for movement encourages people to come in rather than pass by because there is already someone inside looking. Keeping as much as possible at eye level is also important. If you have tables those work great, just don’t get them so full of variety that people miss things. If you have things hanging, keep it above about hip level and below the top of your tent bars by about a foot, as shorter people don’t appreciate having to ask for help reaching things and most people don’t want to kneel down in the dirt to see what’s on the bottom. Remember also, that you want to be able to see customers wherever they are in the tent, so keep things in the center low enough to see over and keep small items where you can keep an eye on them. Most people are honest, but once in a while things do disappear.

Lastly, mark everything with the price, or at least make an overall price really visible. If someone has to ask for a price, they often won’t purchase it. Make the prices very easy to read as well. Using neon-colored tags makes the tag very visible, but the writing is harder to read. I have found neutral colors with bold black writing is easy to read, or black background with silver or white boldly printed writing works great too. Handwritten is great as long as your writing is really legible, but if you can print it off in a bold, easy-to-read font, that works great too. Make sure if your item has any specific instruction, for example care or washing instructions, that they are included on the tag as well.

There is so much to making a great market display, these are just a few tips that I have learned over the last few years to get you started. I have learned so much just by doing, so remember these things, and just jump in and get started. As you go along you will learn what works best for you and your product. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll just keep adjusting and learning every time you set up.