Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Second Look--August 20, 2014

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Ward especially liked the Fibonocci spirals in the middle of this sunflower.

This wheel bug was about an inch long.

We had a good rain and a whole new group of mushrooms sprung up.

Along with the mushrooms, this bright orange fungus grew this week.

The dark coloration around this squirrels mouth and arm is different from any I've noticed before. I don't know if this is normal or the squirrel got stained trying to remove the hull from a black walnut. :) I'm going to start paying attention to see if I notice this pattern on any other squirrel.

The goldfinch are at their absolute brightest now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happiness and Mindfulness

Seems to me that there is a lot of talk these days about happiness. Whether we're happy or whether we would be happier if we only emphasized the "right" things in our life instead of the "wrong" things. Whether we're happier today than we were in yesteryear. I think one reason* there is so much talk about happiness is the definition different for everyone. Also, happiness is a complex concept and one that's hard to define and measure. But despite these complexities, there are people out there who are trying to understand and define happiness in a scientific way.
One of these people is Matt Killingsworth. He developed a happiness app and is collecting data about people's moods and correlating them with what they are doing. From his various findings, there is one thing that is consistent from the study. People are happier when they are fully engaged in what they are doing instead of letting their mind wander. That was true even if they didn't like what they were doing at the time. Apparently the reason for this is when our mind wanders, it usually goes to negative places and focuses on things we are worried about. And when we're worried, we're usually not happy.

Unfortunately, I'm normal in this way. After learning about Killingsworth's research, I noticed that while I was mowing, I was spending a fair amount of time with my mind wandering to worrisome thoughts. The same thing happened later while I was taking a walk. I knew I was the worrying kind, but I didn't realize how much idle worrying I actually do.

image source
So I wondered if there was anything I could do about this. I concluded that I am going to try to practice more mindfulness. I am going to try to be fully present in whatever I am doing and not have my body busy doing something while my mind wanders off to worry. When I'm mowing, I am going to listen to the sound of the mower and notice the plants I am cutting. When I'm walking, I'm going to notice how long my stride is and how my arms are swinging. And with enough practice, maybe I won't be the typical person anymore. My thoughts will stay in the present instead of in the future worrying. And just maybe, I will finally understand what the Buddist monks have known for a very long time--mindfulness is an important key to happiness.

(Okay, to be truthfully honest, I've gone through this phase before with only minor success. It takes a lot of work to retrain a lifetime of rapid fire, worrisome thoughts. But I'm gonna give it a try.)

*I think another reason there is so much talk about happiness, is that we are dong very well as a whole. We have most of our basic needs met, so we have the luxury to think about things such as whether or not we are happy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thankful Sunday--August 16, 2014

I am thankful Ward is home.

As many of you know, Ward was gone for the last week or so on a backpacking trip in the back country of Yellowstone National Park. While I enjoyed my time alone, I am very happy he's back. Below are a few pictures from his trip where he saw mountains, meadows, waterfalls, geysers, lakes, and bubbling streams.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Food Waste Friday and True Food Confessions-Aug 15, 2014

It's time for Food Waste Friday, when the Frugalgirl encourages us to post pictures from the previous week of wasted food from our household. This accountability hopefully will help us to be more careful with our food and maybe save some money. Also, I am using this public forum to encourage us to eat out less which includes better meal planning. You can follow how we are doing in this endeavor by reading True Food Confessions. Occasionally, if our eating is going okay, I'll talk about some other food topic.

This Week's Food Waste


At least none that I could find with a quick look in the refrigerator. However, the proof will be in the pudding this weekend when the fridge gets a good cleaning.

This Week's True Food Confessions
I had this chopped salad for at least 3 different meals.
Ward has been away for the last week and a half and during that time, I really didn't worry too much about food. When I was hungry, I ate whatever I could find. However, when I thought about it, I realized that I hadn't done any cooking while he was gone--meaning that I didn't turn on the stove, oven, or any other cooking device. And that shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone who reads here regularly, so I don't know why I was kind of surprised when I figured it out. It's not like I gravitate towards cooking on any kind of voluntary basis usually.

So what did I eat? I was lucky that I had several fresh vegetables on hand to use in various ways. I had sandwiches with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, and onions and sometimes cheese. I had mustard and cheese sandwiches with onions. Sometimes I had meat with my lettuce, onions, peppers, and tomato sandwiches. To change things up, other times I had a bowl full of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions with Italian dressing. Other times, I would add cottage cheese to this. I don't know if you're seeing a trend here, but except for my bowl of cereal at breakfast, I had onions at every meal. You see, Ward really doesn't like onions--especially the smell of raw ones. So while we do have onions occasionally, I try not to have them around too much. I took advantage of this time he was away, and ate onions to my heart's content. 

Now that Ward's back, I might turn on the stove again. Maybe.

Until next time....


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Second Look--August 13, 2014

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

This flower is courtesy of the birds. They are randomly popping up in a lot of places.

This is the third kind of hosta that has started to bloom. The others are almost done.

The surprise lilies are right on schedule this year. Not much of surprise, I guess, but very welcome.

It was getting dark when I took a picture of this balloon flower.

The baby wrens have flown from the nest. It was about a month from the time the eggs were laid until they left.

This nest box has housed successful broods of bluebirds and wrens with sparrows fighting and losing for a chance to use it in between. The wren's nest is on top of the bluebirds nest.

I'm seeing more deer recently in my yard. This one was standing guard for two does and two fawns.

This baby bunny was laying very still in the grass. I don't know where the mother was.