November Means Working Together (Pro-Bono)

sandhill cranes in the distance

Here it is November and we still have sandhill cranes. If you look closely in this zoomed-to-the-max iPhone shot, you see two of them enhancing the otherwise desolate cornfield. They caught my attention a few mornings ago as they gaggled away in response to another pair far in the distance. This weekend we’re supposed to get several inches of snow so these snowbirds will likely say to heck with this and take off for warmer temps.

Aren’t the migratory habits of birds amazing?

For example, for several months in autumn the sandhills gather in wetlands before heading south. These are called staging areas and here in Wisconsin there are several where thousands of cranes assemble at a time. I like to imagine this is a time of preparation and joining together of forces for the arduous journey ahead.

You probably knew migrating birds fly in the V-Formation, officially known as the echelon formation. They do this for its aerodynamic advantage, obviously. But did you know birds take turns flying the front helm of this V, a very strenuous task? And did you know the mortality rate for birds is six times higher during the migration season? Given this, isn’t it interesting that even though survival favors the selfish—those that promote their own well-being before that of others—the God-given nature of birds is to selflessly share the responsibility?

This author makes a good point when he says, “If migrating birds work together, the flock has a greater chance of having all of its feathered brethren make the long trip to their destination.”

Working together. For the good of all.

With this caring concept in mind and because November is the month of giving, let me announce it’s my season for pro-bono applications. Each year Adunate accepts two pro-bono projects for greatly reduced or no cost. These are projects I strongly support and believe will positively impact God’s creation, his people, or his ministry.

My interests include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Architecture
  • Arts
  • Children
  • Faith
  • History
  • Humanity
  • Natural Food & Living
  • Nature & Animals
  • Preservation & Sustainability

If your organization needs creative assistance in the upcoming year, click here for an application. Then, to guarantee your project’s success, be sure to click here!

Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2015. I will let applicants know of my decision in January.

Wednesday Webs: Changing Seasons


Believe it or not, I’m still canning garden produce. This tasty Giardiniera has been fermenting for a few weeks and is now ready to be sealed in jars. It will be my last batch and as I pack away the kettles, I’ll say adiós and gracias for a bountiful year!

So, winter, bring it on! I’m ready and waiting!

Dinner on the Farm!

Soil Sisters ad in Edible Madison Magazine, by Adunate Word & Design

Earlier this year I was honored to design promotional pieces for Soil Sisters, an event celebrating Wisconsin family farms and rural life. Well, here it is August and this past weekend was the big occasion. It was divine!

Dinner on the Farm, Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WISoil Sisters filled the weekend with five fun components from farm tours to hands-on workshops. My husband and I went to the Dinner on the Farm at Inn Serendipity, a B&B and 5-acre organic farm. You see a lot of these farm-to-table meals happening lately and I’d been wanting to try one. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a warm, old-fashioned gathering of people and food…

Dinner on the Farm, Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WI

…with tours of the farm and games for the kids…

Moo Grass Band  at Dinner on the Farm, Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WI…and fun-loving bluegrass music by the Moo Grass Band.

Solar-heated straw bale greenhouse at Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WI

Our fascinating hosts, John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist, describe their Inn Serendipity as an “incubator for land stewardship, ecologically-based design and living.” The inn is fully powered by renewable energy and what once was a grainery barn has now been renovated into this solar-heated straw bale greenhouse. John and Lisa use this building to germinate seedlings, dry garlic and store the many books they’ve authored.

Dinner on the Farm, Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WI

Monica Walch, left, talking with John and Lisa, coordinated the dinner. Monica founded her Dinner on the Farm business on the ideal of connecting “people back to the land and to the farmers and artisans who are making our communities a better place to live.”

I love this. We simply must support entrepreneurs dedicated to producing good, sustainable food!

Underground Food at Dinner on the Farm, Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WI

Speaking of dedicated entrepreneurs, look at the work and equipment that goes into preparing such a meal. Our chefs for the day were the Underground Food Collective, of Madison, often featured on public television’s Wisconsin Foodie.

Dinner on the Farm menu by Underground Food Collective, Madison, WI

Here was their menu.

Buffet by Underground Food Collective, Madison, WI

And here was their magnificent spread. Oh, it was so-o-o-o good!

Giardiniera by Underground Food Collective, Madison, WI

My favorite was this slow-pickled Giardiniera, with its hint of spicy pepper and heaps of flavorful vegetables. I took this picture knowing I’d never remember the name or yummy ingredients.

New Glarus Beer at Dinner on the Farm, Inn Serendipity, Browntown, WI

Top all of this off with a New Glarus Beer and our first dinner on the farm couldn’t have been any better.

Where’s that schedule of events—I want to do this again!

Willa Cultivates Musings of Spring

Spring rototilling with vintage Troy-Bilt

We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it—for a little while. — Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

Lately I’ve been on a Willa Cather kick. I just finished reading O Pioneers! and yesterday as we tilled our garden, this quote came to mind. Oh, I know we hardly compare to the vastness of her Nebraskan plains but as I watched the soil turn under our trusty Troy-Bilt, I contemplated the care we’d given this ground during its season of rest. Or recuperation, as Willa says.

(Willa. Such a pretty name. That’s why I’m into her work…and because she writes about Swedish farmers:-)

Back in November, as I dumped load after load of chicken manure onto the gray, leaden earth (more Willa prose), I remember thinking how even though we don’t garden in winter—literally, that is—we are still working the land. We continue to nurture it and prepare it for another season.

And now, here it’s spring and we’re tilling the garden. Goodness, that came fast!

Jefferson County, Wis., Plat Book 1899

Jefferson County, Wis., Plat Book 1899

Last week we had our neighbor over dinner. He came with a bottle of tasty wine and a Jefferson County Plat Book, dated 1899. Isn’t the typography beautiful? Such ornate craftsmanship even for something so utilitarian as a plat book!

Jefferson County, Wis., Plat Book 1899

We spent several hours scanning its brittle pages. It’s fascinating to note the family names that once owned our neighborhood farms, many of them now listed on gravestones in a cemetery up the road.

We come and go, as Willa says, but the land is always here. I feel very blessed to be the one who loves it now. And I’m sooo excited about the upcoming gardening season!


Dreaming of Fresh Food in Freezing Wisconsin?

seed catalogs and starter trays

Just so you know, that’s not a studio backdrop in this photo. It’s snow outside my window. Actually, this is a rather oxymoronic image in that it doesn’t fully convey the blistering-blue cold we’re braving these days, with temps far below zero and wind chills 20 degrees even further still. But the earthiness of seed catalogs and starter trays makes winter hibernation a warm and tolerable thing. Yep, I’m planning my garden and dreaming of fresh food.

I was motivated into a gardening mood yesterday after talking with new client Jane Hansen, who is coordinator for the Wisconsin Local Food Network (WLFN). WLFN is a collection of people and organizations that work to build sustainable, equitable and resilient food systems throughout the state. To put it simply, in their words, “We help local food businesses (whether a farm, a processor, a distributor, a restaurant, a farmers market, or a grocery store) thrive!”

As Jane and I discussed local food here in Wisconsin, we targeted some of the challenges both producers and consumers face. On days like today, it’s obvious that Wisconsin’s short growing season puts a freezing halt to the availability of fresh and local food. Yet, as Jane says, in the summer we have a wealth of produce—sometimes too much, which results in waste in the fields, in distribution and in the kitchen. These are just a few of the issues WLFN deals with as it helps local food producers connect with consumers.

On January 30-31, the WLFN is hosting its 9th Annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit in Wisconsin Rapids. The event is in conjunction with the Wisconsin Farm to School Summit on January 29. So if you’re interested in a 3-day weekend of food networking, education and a much-needed break from winter, this is the place to go.

In the meantime, I’ll be busy writing a promo piece for the WLFN. For such a worthy and purpose-driven organization; this will be an honor.