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The D-Day Anniversary

The D-Day Anniversary

June 6th marks the anniversary of D-Day, when in 1944, World War II Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France.

The 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach.

More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, which was also code-named Operation Neptune. The number of casualties that have been cited for many years are approximately 2,700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6,603 Americans, although those numbers are estimated to be higher. The greatest number of casualties occurred on Omaha beach.

The movie “Saving Private Ryan,” among others, shows a very realistic account of the horror these Soldiers endured upon landing on that beach. It’s difficult to watch.

We will always honor their heroism and sacrifice, which allowed approximately 130,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard trek across Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler’s troops. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.

Where Did The Term D-Day Come From?
Many people think the “D” stands for designated day, decision day, doomsday, or even death day.  But none of these are what it actually stands for: the “D” is simply derived from the word “Day.” “D-Day” means the day on which an important military operation begins.

For military planners, the days before and after a D-Day were indicated using plus and minus signs: D-4 meant four days before the event, while D+7 meant seven days after a D-Day.

The term “D-Day” has been used for many different operations, but it is now generally only used to refer to the Allied landings in Normandy.

Listen to General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s D-Day radio message here:

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In The Spotlight: For the Love of Food and Yoga

In The Spotlight: For the Love of Food and Yoga

Living a smarter, healthier life is the Farmers’ Almanac way, so when I came across For the Love of Food and Yoga: A Celebration of Mindful Eating and Being, I just had to share it with all of you!

The book, and related website Live Yum was created by yoga teacher Liz Price-Kellogg and yoga student Kristen Taylor to explore “how the inner awareness we develop on our yoga mats fuels our bodies, minds and overall states of well-being, which subsequently impacts our lifestyles and food experiences.”  The book won’t be released until September, but in the meantime, Liz and Kristen were happy to share a recipe and a heart center-opening yoga pose with us, from the Live Yum blog:

Oh My Goodness Green Beans
Om, which is written as “aum” in Sanskrit, is a sound or mantra that connects us to universal consciousness. This green bean recipe is simple to prepare, is a great use of vegetables from the spring season, and is full of flavor!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. fresh green beans (trimmed and rinsed)
1/3 cup pecans
¾ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons (heaping) orange juice with pulp
3 medium garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1/3 cup red onion (finely chopped)
1 jalapeño pepper (deseeded and de-ribbed and finely chopped)
½ cup fresh basil (chopped)
½ cup dill (chopped)
Himalayan salt, coarsely ground (to taste)
Pepper, coarsely ground (to taste)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Blanch trimmed and rinsed green beans for one minute. Immediately drain and put beans in ice bath or in a bowl in the refrigerator.

Toast pecans in cast iron skillet over low-medium heat until golden brown and fragrant. Sprinkle with salt while toasting to taste.

Combine remaining ingredients (aside from feta) to make dressing. Combine cool green beans and dressing. Let the flavors marry for at least 30 minutes.

Top with feta and toasted pecans before serving. Serve at room temperature.

Exalted Warrior Pose10388639_451547674995991_8555285282243591062_n
The expanded awareness and openness we develop from our mats are two of the most rewarding benefits we reap from our yoga practices. Asanas, or postures, that help us to open the heart center, the anahata chakra, enhance our daily lives by helping us to develop and be open to trust, forgiveness, love, patience, our emotions, our social identity, our abilities to relate to others, and more.

Exalted Warrior Pose helps us to open our quadriceps, strengthen the arms and neck, increase agility and strength, boost our self-esteem, and be present.

To stay in touch with the ladies at Live Yum, follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or sign up for their email list. Namaste!

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A Bee Keeper Shares Secrets From The Hive: Swarming

Amy Grisak and her husband, Grant, live in Montana with their boys, and often share stories with us about their adventures as beekeepers. Did you know that seeing a swarm of bees is a perfectly natural occurrence? Read on… 

A Swarm of Bees?
A swarm of honey bees is enough to send shivers down the spine of many people, but there’s no need to panic. These traveling bees are simply finding a new home.

An indication of too many bees in a hive. Potential swarm. Grisak

An indication of too many bees in a hive. The potential for a swarm is probable.

Swarming is a completely natural phenomenon that most often occurs in the spring. After surviving the winter by maintaining a viable cluster of bees feeding off of their honey reserves, activity in the hive picks up as soon as the days grow longer and warmer. Before long, the queen will lay up to 2,000 eggs per day, which take a mere 3 weeks to form into adult bees. By early to mid-spring there are tens of thousands of new bees, making the hive a bit cramped.

When the bees feel the hive is too crowded (or is less desirable, depending on any number of circumstances), they create larger cells in the brood chamber (the beehive nest) where they will feed the larvae a special substance called royal jelly to produce a new queen.

This is when it can become tricky for a beekeeper. Unless you keep a keen eye on a very robust hive, recognizing possible signs of swarming, such as bees spilling out of the entrance or the presence of queen cells, you can wake up one day to find half of your hive has flown the coop. Yet, even when you are watchful, the bees don’t let always you know what they have on their agenda.

I experienced my first swarm two decades ago. I thought something was amiss because the bees’ buzzing seemed extraordinarily loud. Imagine my surprise when I saw a group of them clustered on a small lodgepole pine tree. Thankfully, this was an easy retrieval, as I only had to snip the tree below the cluster and shake them into a new hive body (wearing protective gear, of course!).

Others aren’t so lucky. A couple of summers ago, a woman who lives near the alfalfa fields where we have some of our bees, called to let me know the bees were behaving very oddly. My husband Grant went out to investigate only to find half the hive gone, and bees robbing the hundreds of pounds of stores. Our strongest hive took off, and took most of their honey with them. Despite looking in cottonwoods and any place bees might like, he never could find them.

Swarm of bees in a tree. Grisak

A swarm of bees in a tree.

Honey bees are precious these days, which is why it’s important to try to save a colony if you see one swarming, or if you have one in a spot where you don’t want it. During a swarm, bees will typically cluster onto a tree or branch for a short amount of time, this might be a few minutes or a couple of days, so the “scout” bees can find a new place. The good news is honey bees are relatively docile when they’re swarming because they are carrying honey, and don’t have a hive to defend. This doesn’t mean you can poke them with a stick, but it’s a nice time to stand back and observe them (always use caution).

The best way to help out the honey bees is to call a beekeeper in your area to capture the swarm. You can find one by searching for local beekeeping organizations, or contact your local Extension office, as many offer beekeeping classes and might have the information of who keeps bees in your town. Another resource is Honeyo.com, which lists beekeeping associations by state. Contacting any of these organizations is a good step in finding a beekeeper who is more than happy to rescue a colony. Typically, a beekeeper will not charge for a removal, unless there is an additional cost for equipment rental, as the bees are valuable enough.

How the bees are captured completely depends on where they’re located. I was fortunate early on because we were surrounded by tiny lodgepole pines, making it easy to handle. But when the cluster of bees is higher in the branches, it might require a ladder or a cherry picker to reach them to either shake the bees into the box, or snip off the branch to bring down and shake.

Sometimes, the bees end up in odd places. One time, Grant captured a swarm that nestled itself within the wheel well of a parked vehicle. With a hive tool, he gently scooped the bees from the wheel well onto a frame, being particularly careful to gather the queen who is protected by the workers in the middle of the cluster, and then slid the frame into an empty hive body.

A feral hive in the eaves of a barn. Grisak

A feral hive in the eaves of a barn.

In another instance, there was a feral hive established in the soffit of a barn, which was converted to a guest house. When bees are within a structure, it’s far more challenging. You can’t simply seal them up or kill them since the smell of tens of thousands of rotting bees and larvae would be terrible. Thankfully, the owners wanted these bees saved, so Grant went up in a cherry picker and removed enough of the soffit to reach the hive. He carefully sliced off the honeycomb and placed it in an empty hive body. It was a textbook removal, and those bees made up one of the best hives we had.

Swarming bees might look intimidating, but they’re not. You can help them by keeping an eye on them, especially if they leave their initial cluster area, and call a beekeeper who will give them a safe new home.

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10 Creative Ways To Recycle Old Newspapers

10 Creative Ways To Recycle Old Newspapers

Those of us who read the newspaper know that a Sunday news habit can quickly turn into a gigantic stack of newsprint. And, despite our best intentions, that stack never quite makes it to the recycling center. If you’re looking for creative ideas to shrink that collection of newspapers, here are 10 ways you can put them to use around the home and garden.

  1. Seed Tape – When it comes to planting quick and easy flowerbeds or perfect rows of lettuce, seed tape is essential. Make your own by cutting newspapers into 1-inch wide strips. Then mix 1/4 cup of flour with just enough water to make a sticky paste. Use a toothpick to dab the paste onto your newspaper strips, place the seeds on the drops of paste, and let your seed tape dry before planting.
  2. Pots for Seedlings – For gardeners, one of the best ways to get rid of newspapers is to turn them into seedling pots. Newspaper seed pots save you money on peat pots and plant starting kits, and they’re fully biodegradable, which means that when the time comes, you can simply plant the seedlings – pots and all – without worrying about root damage. If you’d like to make seedling pots, HGTV.com has an excellent tutorial right here.
  3. Weed Barrier – Cut down on time spent weeding vegetable gardens and flowerbeds by spreading two or three layers of newsprint over the bare ground. To keep your gardens organic and toxin-free, avoid using glossy newspaper inserts or sections with colored ink. Once you’ve laid out the newspapers, use straw, mulch or grass clippings to hold the papers down and hide them from sight.
  4. Eliminate Odors – Newspaper is just as effective at eliminating odors as baking soda, and unlike baking soda, you can use newspaper everywhere. Place crumpled newspaper in stinky shoes or musty luggage, lay a sheet or two out in the refrigerator or put balls of newspaper in plastic food containers to get rid of bad smells.
  5. As a Liner for Hard to Clean Areas – Newspapers don’t just clean up messes – they prevent them, too. Make cleaning easier by using newspapers in the following ways:
    • Instead of scrubbing at grease, grime and dust, line the tops of your kitchen cabinets with newspapers. When spring cleaning rolls around, simply replace the dirty newspapers with fresh ones. 
    • Place newspapers in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawers to catch spills, leaks and excess moisture. 
    • Make garbage can cleanup easy by putting several layers of newspaper in the bottoms of your bins to catch leaks.
  6. Cleaning Windows – Paper towels streak windows and cloth leaves lint behind, but newspapers have neither of these drawbacks. For sparkling clean windows, crumple a sheet of newspaper and use it with a water and vinegar solution or your favorite glass cleaner.
  7. Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags – This recycling method is an old one, but a good one. Use the comics section – especially the colorful Sunday comics – to make adorable wrapping paper. If you’re looking for a unique twist on the newspaper giftwrap idea, try making elegant newsprint gift bags.
  8. Paper Mache – If you enjoy arts and crafts, then paper mache is the perfect way to recycle your old newspapers. You can make anything from bowls to sculptures and piñatas. Best of all, paper mache is a kid-friendly craft, which means you can let the little ones in on the fun, too.
  9. Make Coasters – One of the most unusual ways to recycle your newspapers is to turn them into drink coasters. This simple tutorial shows you how to make coiled newsprint coasters in both square and round shapes. If you’re feeling particularly creative, use colored newsprint to create interesting designs.
  10. Donate Them – If you’ve tried each of these ideas and you still have some newspapers left, let someone else put them to use. Veterinary offices and animal shelters often use newspapers to line animal cages. Thrift stores use them to wrap breakable items. Ask around among local business owners, and you’re certain to find more than a few who will be happy that stack of papers off your hands.

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The Event That Put Lewiston, Maine On The Map

The Event That Put Lewiston, Maine On The Map

I’d like to think that Lewiston, Maine is known for many great things. After all, it is home to the Farmers’ Almanac. But, if you are sports-minded, May 25, 1965 goes down in history as the most memorable heavyweight boxing match of all time.

A rather young, cocky, and over- confident boxer named Cassius Clay had upset champion Sonny Liston in Miami in February, 1964. A rematch was planned to be held at the Garden in Boston the following year.

But at the 11th and a half hour (only 18 days before), the fight had to be moved. Maine boxing Promoter Sam Michaels jumped at the opportunity and brought the event to Lewiston, to a rather dated-looking hockey arena that seated about 4,000 hardcore fans. Tickets ranged from $20 – $100.   There were only 2 hotels in the area to accommodate the fighters. So, Clay (later Ali) trained at the Poland Spring Inn, and Liston set up house at the Holiday Inn. It was the talk of the town and the country. My gosh – celebrities were everywhere!

So on May 25, 1965, the famous rematch was taking place in our hockey arena. The thinking was that Liston’s earlier loss was a fluke in Miami and this would be a battle to the end.

I had just turned 14 and my Dad brought my older brother, Gene, to the fight. My mother and I dropped them off and planned to come back long after the battle was over. Sitting in the nosebleed section, they got securely in their seats. Actually, the fight started and my Dad turned to put his coat over the chair when POW!  It was over. The phantom punch had already been unleashed and neither Ray Geiger, Sonny Liston, nor anyone else, ever saw it coming.

When my mother and I got back to our house, the phone rang, and back we went to pick up two of the many stunned fans.

I have repeatedly interrogated my brother about the fight. At first, he said, “yeah, I saw it clearly,” but the years have dimmed his memory a bit. He said he arrived, sat down, heard the bell, and it was over. Did Gene really see it?  We had heard about a man who traveled all the way from Australia to watch the fight. He arrived a few minutes late and missed the whole thing.

So, on this anniversary of the infamous Clay-Liston fight, I salute my community for hosting an event that remains known for the “phantom punch,” which put us on the map, and 50 years later, we are still here.

A photo of Clay (Ali) scowling over a prostrate Liston hangs proudly in our beloved arena.

See the indepth feature published by the Lewiston Sun Journal, complete with photos as well as the audio and television broadcast from the night of the fight here!

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Venus & The Crescent Moon

Venus & The Crescent Moon

Farmers’ Almanac’s Southeast Bureau checked in tonight with this photo of the waxing crescent moon with Venus shining brightly nearby.

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10 Smart Uses For Used Coffee Grounds

10 Smart Uses For Used Coffee Grounds

Before you empty the coffee pot’s grounds into the trash, consider these ten household uses for them!

  1. As an exfoliant. The rough texture of the coffee grounds can be used on your skin as a scrub.
  2. Clean your garbage disposal. Coffee grounds clean and deodorize your garbage disposal. Just put the damp grounds in, run the cold water, and turn the disposal on. Note: do this only on occasion to refresh the disposal. It’s not recommended to run coffee grounds through daily.
  3. Soil aeration and nitrogen boost for houseplants. Adding coffee grounds to your houseplants helps the pH balance (toward acidity) as well as increasing nitrogen and aerating the soil.
  4. Neutralize refrigerator odors. Placing coffee grounds in the refrigerator acts as a natural deodorizer. The only thing you need to watch for is mold, if you use damp grounds. Replace immediately with fresher grounds if it turns into a science experiment.
  5. Sweeping or vacuuming compound around the fireplace or wood stove. Sprinkling damp coffee grounds around the fireplace or wood stove will assist in reducing dust and ashes in your hearth, making them easier to sweep or vacuum up.
  6. Dye easter eggs or paper crafts. Soaking with coffee grounds can be used to give an “antique” sepia appearance to watercolor paper or easter eggs
  7. Blind bake a pie shell. Believe it or not, you can even use coffee grounds as the weight when you blind bake a pie crust. Just be sure to use a large enough piece of parchment paper or foil so the coffee grounds don’t come into actual contact with the pie crust.
  8. Scour pots and pans. The gentle abrasive of coffee grounds can help in the kitchen to remove stubborn caked on food from your pots and pans.
  9. Snail, slug, and cat repellent. In the garden, just mound up a barrier of coffee grounds around the plants which slugs and cats are attracted to. It will help keep them at bay.
  10. Steroids for your carrot crop. Carrots love coffee grounds. They will grow larger and sweeter and the plants will have a greater yield. Just trowel the grounds in around the immature shoots.

Do you have a special way you use those old coffee grounds? Tell us in the comments below!

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Providing Help In Haiti

Providing Help In Haiti

I have had the privilege of visiting Port au Prince, Haiti, six times since the fateful earthquake on January 10, 2010. There have been hundreds of natural disasters since then, including quakes in New Zealand, Chile, and more recently, Nepal. In each case, a few seconds changed lives forever. In Nepal, the latest death toll is 7,500. In Haiti over 225,000 were buried and countless more lost limbs, families, and homes. Whether it is an earthquake, Tsunami or tornadoes, the destruction is never fully appreciated unless you can be on the ground providing assistance.

Fortunately the international community has a way of responding to each and every disaster. Human kindness is what gives me hope amid the constant barrage of “bad nightly news”.

I returned to Haiti to help Pastor Nathan and his community at Bethany Baptist Church in Bethany 13. His school and church were leveled by the quake and rebuilding hasn’t been easy. Here are a few observations:

  • Clearly, all the rubble has been replaced with new homes and many stores. Tent cities are few and far between. My guess is that many still fear living in a building and may even prefer a tent to the consequences of another  quake.
  • The airport is improving each year, although it seems odd that a visitor now has to pay $10 cash before entering the airport. I don’t mind the fee if the funds are going to helping Haitians, but my guess is that it lines someone’s pocket.
  • Infrastructure – better but limited. A key few roads have been paved. All the side roads leading to schools and homes are washed out.  Without a system of sewer pipes and water, life is hard and may never change. At our school (middle of the city) there is no plumbing or electricity. Water is carried up from wells, a bathroom is a hole in the ground and the stench is something you get used  to.
  • The Haitians are beautiful people – physically and in spirit. Always smiling and waving, there is a sense of happiness. It may be because their family core is solid. It might also be that not having access to every gadget makes for a more value centered life. For many, there is a unique faith in God.
  • Port au Prince is a massive city – with almost  1 million citizens in a country that tops 10.3 million.  I have only seen one traffic light in that city, and it is the only intersection that gets backed up. It is a hustling and bustling place. People sell food and clothing on tables along the roads. Enterprising young boys wipe down your car when stuck in traffic and there is a degree of begging.

I’ve been touched by Haitians over the years. Their economy is the poorest in the western hemisphere. But I am impressed with all they have endured and how they live life. Thousands of people have come to Haiti since the quake. Tens of thousands have contributed through various  organizations. The world has focused on making this country’s life better. I guess the gift I have received is the admiration I have for the Pastor Nathan of Haiti who continues to make life bearable.

We have to reach out to help others during the worst disasters. But, keep Haiti and Haitians in your prayers. Their corrupt government is only one more obstacle in their growth. But, it is the aid that gets through that makes all the difference. Here are a few photos from my recent trip.

Haiti1

 

Haiti3

Haiti2

Haiti5

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7 (easy) things you can do to ensure your day goes well

7 (easy) things you can do to ensure your day goes well

If you’re like the rest of us, mornings can be a challenge. We hit the snooze button a couple of times only to end up running late, rushing from room to room, shouting at the kids to hurry or they’ll miss the bus, searching for the car keys, and forgetting the lunch that you packed the night before (which is now sitting on the kitchen counter, going bad). All that A.M. chaos can set the tone for how the entire day plays out. Here are some simple things you can do to ensure your day starts off, and stays, on the right foot.

  1. Wake up! Set your alarm ½ hour earlier (and actually get out of bed). It might sound like torture, but let’s face it, that extra half hour in bed is not going to make much difference sleep-wise, and will only get you behind the eight ball. Forget hitting the snooze button and use that time to tackle the rest of the items on this list. It’s amazing how the rest of the day stays calm when the morning starts out that way.
  2. Make your bed. Mom always told you to make your bed, and there’s a good reason: it has a way of setting a positive tone for the day. We’re not sure why, but it does. Perhaps it’s because when your brain observes things neat and orderly, it wants to continue that pattern, and all of your other spaces (desk, car) seem to jump on the orderly bandwagon. Plus, nothing is better than crawling into a made bed at the end of a long, busy day.
  3. Make like a cat and stretch! Have you ever seen what a cat does when it rises from a nap, no matter how short? Stretching helps blood circulate to your muscles and energizes your brain. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, simply take a moment to clasp your hands behind your back and give a good stretch to your shoulders and back, then lean against the wall, as if you’re going to do a push up, and stretch each of your calves. That’s it! Don’t you feel better already?
  4. Hydrate. Drink a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon (or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar) before you even reach for your morning jolt of java. You’ve been idle for 8 hours with no food or water, and your body needs hydration and your metabolism needs a jump start. Water with a bit of acidity is known to be a great detoxifier.
  5. Eat breakfast. See #4. Even if it’s just a banana or a hard boiled egg that you take on the road.
  6. Give thanks. Utter, out loud, at least one thing for which you are grateful.
  7. Smile! Even if you don’t feel like it. Studies have shown that smiling (even the very act of flexing those facial muscles) releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, along with serotonin, which also has feel-good properties.

Now, watch what happens as others perceive you as happy, organized and calm. A whole new world opens up!

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.