Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prep Work

Stephanie's Food Journal

Bowl of Cheerios with skim milk
An orange

Handful of M & M's
Two pickles so I can empty the jar and get it out of the fridge

Two bites of macaroni and cheese
The kid's sandwich crusts
An apple
Cucumber Salad

Half a brownie
Four saltine crackers

Arugula salad with lemon vinegarette
Grilled chicken

Snack the spoon
Glass of milk
Handful of pistachios
Hard, stale licorice I found in the bottom of the pantry


It ain't pretty. But 80% of the time, this is how I eat. I have my shining nutritional moments...I usually start things out with a decent breakfast and prepare a healthy dinner but it's all the in between grab and go that's making me feel fat and sluggish.  Plus, processed and fast foods have a negative environmental impact and my cravings for sugar and high fructose corn syrup are contributing to that. I have been reading a lot, and  I mean A LOT about the role that nutrition plays in our health. Good food, real food, can fix just about anything.

But try as I might, I just can't seem to convince my body and mind that it doesn't need the crap it's constantly begging me to ingest. I get cranky...I get flat out bitchy....if I can't get my sugar fix fast enough. I get a headache. I get nauseous. And I cave, digging for anything (hence the stale licorice) that will soothe the sugar monster lurking within. It's disappointing and disheartening and I'm setting a terrible example for my kids.

I was blog hopping and came across an article at Keeper of the Home about a real food cleanse. Cleanses have always appealed to me but I was turned off by the fact that many of them require expensive pills, powders and supplements to participate in them. But this was different. This was real food cleanse. For three days you eat nothing but fruits and vegetables. And in those three days of wholesome natural goodness, your body will detox and reset, and hopefully, allow you to slay the sugar monster and get back on the right track. It sounded perfect and just challenging enough to be effective. I downloaded the eBook and filled out my cleansing plan, provided in the last pages of the manuscript.

And that's where I stand. Prep work. My menu is planned and my grocery list is being made. I am shocked at the amount of produce that I will be consuming. I'm nervous too. The cravings for sweets and processed foods will be strong but I can do it. It's the caffeine withdrawal that makes me nervous. Caffeine headaches are the WORST. And I'm just jumping off, going cold turkey. It's terrifying.

I start on Friday. My hubby has been warned is ready for my oncoming crankiness and is expecting me to take lots of naps. I've booked myself a massage on Saturday to further encourage the toxic sludge that I created with bad food choices out of my body. Come Monday I'm hoping to feel lighter, stronger and more in control. Anyone want to join in?? Any helpful suggestions you might want to pass along?


Monday, April 25, 2011

Ten Things

I am convinced that by focusing on the random little bits of happiness in our lives, we are able to pull ourselves up and face the world a little more bravely and a little more kindly. So today, here are ten little things that are making me happy....right now.

1. Green tea capsules. I just got them from naturopath today and they give me a nice little buzz. Plus I'm fighting free radicals like a mo 'fo.

2. My grocery store roses in a mason jar.

3. Mason jars in general. They are so handy!

4. A gargantuan egg that I'm pretty sure will be a double yolker.

5. Teeny, fuzzy barely blushing apricots.

6. Split stitch and back stitch. And hopefully this week....french knots.

7. My kids being kind to each other when they think no one else is watching.

8.Rose castile soap. I wash my clothes with it. I wash me with it. It smells SO good.

9. A coupon for Goldfish crackers. There are NEVER coupons for Goldfish crackers.

10. Completed enrollment forms for my natural wellness course.

What's making you happy today?


Friday, April 22, 2011

The Winner Is....And Happy Earth Day!

Congratulations to Hermann8er!

Your Pampered Chef bamboo spatulas will soon be arriving. Please message me with your address so we can make sure you receive them!

And of course, today is Earth Day. Because Earth Day coincides with Easter this year, our normal "earth love" activites have been taken over by Easter egg hunts and picnics with friends. However, since I feel that Earth Day should really be celebrated every day, there's no guilt here. We will be outside, enjoying the day with our friends. And when all the eggs have been found, and the bunny has hopped home, we will carefully recycle our candy wrappings and compost leftover chocolate rabbits with great care. We will relax in the shade of our newly planted apricot tree and soak up the bliss that is afternoon sun and call it a day. A very good day...

Happy Earth Day!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back to School and a Bit of Ranting

Since delving into the natural health/traditional foods/holistic wellness thing, I've read about some very interesting ways that supposedly boost health and immunity. Suggestions like drinking your morning pee for vitality ( and ingesting a legless spider to fix a fever, its no wonder "doctorless" health care has a bad name. Recommendations like these are NOT part of holistic healing yet when I mention to people that lavender can fix a headache or that their child's allergy symptoms can be alleviated with stinging nettles, they look at me like I'm some devil woman witch doctor who just asked them to swallow a limbless arachnid.Oh no. They say. We'll just go to the doctor.
I was the same way.Though I didn't rush my kids to the pediatrician for every little thing, I found myself there more often than I'd like. When I did choose to take them, I would wait FOREVER in the office and leave with instructions for rest and a prescription. Usually, I wouldn't even fill the prescription and with time and care, my kids were back to normal in a few more days. I began to ask myself why. Why was I wasting my time?  Wasting my money. If all an MD could do was pretty much what I'd already been doing at home, than why go through the process?

I am NOT knocking traditional medicine. When my then 19 month old's little chest was shallow and heaving, an xray showed double pneumonia. Oxygen and steroids got him breathing again. When my father's bladder infection turned out to be cancer, surgical intervention saved his life. I am forever appreciative and grateful that these interventions are available to help patients survive maladies that they might not otherwise endure. But in an overburdened health care system, it makes so much sense to learn how to treat ourselves and more importantly, how to stay well in the first place. Western medicine is great for "fixing" but not so great for maintenence.

So do I take my family to the doctor? Of course I do. But 90% of the time, whatever is ailing us can be treated at home, by me.  My general "rule" is if they aren't improving in five days time, I will began to consider calling in professional assistance, usually in the form of our family naturopath. I'm still learning of course, but I'm pretty confident in my abilities to treat fevers, coughs, colds, stomach distress, headaches and administer general first aid.  However, to further my knowledge on the subject I'm headed back to school....sort of. As a belated birthday gift, my husband has paid the tuition and enrolled me in a natural wellness course through the Vintage Remedies School of Natural Health. The course is for home use and covers the essentials of herbalism, aromatherapy, nutrition, natural health philosophy, natural preparations and prevention with an emphasis on practical, effective techniques.

I am BEYOND excited. The textbooks should be here sometime next week. It so empowering to know that I can care for my family on a whole different level. Plus, I'm a huge nerd and look forward to homework and testing :)

Don't forget to enter my giveaway! The winner will be announced Friday, April 22nd!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Lentil Love and Another Giveaway!

I've been working on overhauling my diet for about a month now. I'm a loooooong way from where I want to be, but I am making progress. I'm eating a lot less meat and a lot more vegetables. In fact, I'm averaging about three completely meatless days a week! Cutting back on sugar, well....I'd rather not talk about that right now. I still enjoy meat but not basing a meal around it has helped up my veggie intake and has forced me to be more creative in the kitchen. I've tried several new foods including tofu (NO THANKS), artichokes (a little too much prep work for my taste) and lentils.

Love lentils. Love. I can't believe I waited 28 years to eat them. Most likely because every time I encountered this wonderful little legume it was curried and you all know how I feel about curry. Lentils are meaty, smooth, earthy and wonderfully easy. I've had them as patties, in salads and mixed with roasted veggies. But this recipe has been mine, and my family's favorite way to eat them. It's nothing fancy but is super satisfying, wholesome, and quick to prepare. I am quickly realizing that traditional foods like lentils can be your medicine. Food, real food, can remedy just about anything.

Lentils with Feta
•2 tbsp olive oil

•1 medium onion, diced
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 cup French Lentils
•3 cups vegetable broth
•1/2 tsp dried thyme (use fresh if you have it)
•salt and pepper to taste
•feta, crumbled ( I used peppercorn goat cheese feta)
•brown rice to serve with
In a pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, cooking until fragrant. Add the lentils and vegetable broth. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the lentils until cooked (about 20 minutes).Serve over brown rice, topped with feta . Don’t skimp on the feta, it makes the meal.
**** help you cook up your very own batch of lentils, how about some fab new kitchen gadgets to work with? My dear friend Danielle is giving one lucky reader a set of bamboo spatulas from Pampered Chef! Bamboo is a renewable alternative to hardwood and it's resistence to expansion and contraction associated with temperature and humidity changes makes it perfect for kitchen utensils.
You know the drill. To enter, you must be a follower. Membership has it's benefits! You may enter once a day until I announce a winner on Friday, April 22nd....Earth Day!

For more great Pampered Chef products, you can visit Danielle's website at Good luck!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Those Days

It's one of those days. You know. Those days. The kind of day when your hair is atrocious and your fat pants feel tight. The kind of day where beds don't get made, the kids eat cake for breakfast and there are toys and crayons on the floor and dress up clothes hanging on the ceiling fan and you have NO motivation to remedy either situation. The kind of day where you feel like an utter and complete failure at the whole mother/wife thing and you want to curl up in that diaster of a closet and cry but you can't because someone keeps zooming matchbox cars at you from under the door. Yeah....

I'm having THAT kind of day. But you know what makes me feel just thismuch better about the whole situation?

Money. Saving money, to be more specific. Because despite the chaos that is my life, I devoted one solid hour to couponing and saved $117 at the grocery store today. Which left me just enough money to get an extra sticky treat for one deserving little boy who was an angel while we shopped. AND...I remembered my resuable bags. Score.

Saving $117 and a sticky donut kiss? Yes. I think I'm on the mend...


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Perhaps the Air Compressor Was a Bad Idea...

No one likes a phone call that begins with the words "So...I kinda shot myself with the nail gun." But those were the very words I heard when my husband called me about an hour ago. I was waiting to pick up K from preschool. He assured me it missed the bone and wasn't bleeding all that much but asked me gently if I could get home in a hurry.

This is what happened:

Right through the ring finger. By the time I arrived home, he had pulled it out himself with a pair of PLIERS (eek!) and washed and disinfected with hydrogen peroxide. I got out my aromatherapy book and had him soak the wound in warm water laced with tea tree lavender, then treated the punctures with the same oil mixture before bandaging. We'll be keeping a close eye for infection, even though hubby thinks it will be fine since it wasn't a "rusty nail" he impaled himself with.

Want another look?

BOOM! Kinda makes your toes curl, doesn't it? I have been wanting to use some of the holistic healing techniques I've been learning about but I was thinking mosquito bites and scraped knees. Puncture wounds caused by an air pressured nail gun was not what I had in mind. Regardless, I did get to break out my oils and since his finger is bandaged and taped to it's neighbor and his whole hand is throbbing, he took the rest of the day off work. Having him home on a Tuesday afteroon is nice.

I'm starting to regret getting him an air compressor for his birthday though. Live and learn...


Monday, April 11, 2011

What's Growing On?

Hiya! Whaddya think of my new blog design? Pretty spiffy, no? Special thanks to Molly at Blessed Little Nest Designs. I love it!

The garden is in and officially on it's way. Along with all our yearly standbys, we're trying new things and are excited to watch them grow. Here's a little walk through...

We're growing FIVE varieties of squash this year. Zucchini, yellow crookneck, spaghetti, acorn and butternut. I thought it might be a bit much, considering my husband doesn't like squash, but he said I'm pretty good in the kitchen and should be able to make it palatable for him. Did he just say I was good in the kitchen? Somebody write that down!


We have TWELVE tomato plants. Twelve. Cherry, black krim, brandywine and some weird pink tomato I though might be neat. Most of them are heirloom romas for canning, sauce making, and seed saving. We lost our first tomato crop to crickets, and the second to frost. This time, we're keeping them!

We have strawberries! We've had plants in the ground for two years and we actually have berries this year. Rejoice!

If you have a brown thumb and are afraid to plant anything try arugula. It sprouts overnight and you have a bed full of deliciously lush salad greens in record time. We also planted red sail lettuce and buttercrunch. We've had greens every night for two weeks. Yum.

We've also graduated from "fruit tree enthusiasts" to a full blown mini orchard. In addition to limes, lemons, oranges, pomegranates, nectarines and pecans, we added a fig tree and two more apricot trees. Our apricot tree performed beautifully last year and I'm excited to have three trees. Dried apricots are my favorite!

This is a dragonfruit. It's spiky and ugly and I have no idea what they taste like. But they perform well in the desert so why not. I'll make jam. You can make jam out of anything, right?

What are you planting this year?


test :)


Sunday, April 10, 2011

28 28 today.

Not much planned. Hanging out in my PJ's...eating cake for lunch. The typical stuff. 28. Wow.

Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Operation Hide the Hen

I have two hens in an air compressor box in my garage. I can hear them in there, clucking softly and wondering what the hell happened.

The city water inspector is on her way to assess some drainage issues stemming from our back fence neighbor. They have a leak which is saturating our soil and killing our trees. We've already lost a plum tree. We don't want to lose the apricot and the fig tree in the same vicinity. But, as a city inspector, she may also be apt to enforce other city codes whilst she is on the the one about not having chickens within the city limits.

Hence the poultry in the garage. I'm planning to tell her (if she asks) that the chicken coop is actually a rabbit hutch for a 4-H experiment gone awry. And I hope those silly hens keep their beaks shut while she's here. The things I do for organic eggs...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One Ugly Skein

Okay. Let me get the good stuff out of the way. The winner of my blog-o-versary giveaway is:

Stephanie from the Knitty Gritty Homestead!
 Congrats Stephanie! You're books will be arriving shortly.


I'm a closet fiber freak. I can't all. I'm a mediocre crocheter. But I still get THREE knitting catalogues, have FIVE books on the subject of wool, and have 14 skeins of yarn that are never used unless the kids convince me to snip off a piece to use a cat toy or a truck pull. It's a sickness really.

The thought of turning mere string into something gorgeous and usable intrigues me. My mother in law is gorgeous knitter. She tried to teach me once using a little analogy about putting birds on the branch but my birds kept plummeting off the branch and meeting their unseemly end. I eventually gave up and poured over her hundreds of knitting magazine, circling and initialing the ones I hope to have in my closet some day (hint hint if your reading this Dawn! )

Although I've given up the idea of knitting for now, I still lust after yarn. And wool.  And spinning wheels. My Grandmother gave me an old spinning wheel that I am BEYOND excited to have...I just have no idea how to use it! How amazing would it be to take wool from your own sheep, card it, dye it, spin it and knit it into something for you or your loved ones. Sarah over at Farmama tells a story of just that as she chronicals the life of a sweater she made for her son. She took part in each step of the process. How beautiful, how rewarding....what a wonderful way to connect with the world!

If I can't knit, I shall spin. Or so I think. A few weekends ago, we hit up new farmer's market in town. The offerings were slim, but there was live music and huge lawn for the kids to run barefoot on. I did come across a local vendor who sold goat cheese, gluten free bread and homespun YARN.  And next to the yarn was drop spindle. "Will you show me?" I asked.

I was on a stool in the sun before I knew it. K picked out some magenta roving, naturally dyed with a local cactus flower. She gently held my hands to show me how to hold the spindle, how to stretch the fibers, and finally, how to set it to spinning. Before long I had lumpy, bumpy mess of yarn wrapped around my spindle. I frowned but I was quickly reprimanded. "It takes practice" she said. " No self criticicsm until you've spun at least five skeins." She gave me her card and I pocketed it. I think me and the spindle lady are going to have a history together.

Anyhoo,  I've been spinning whenever I get the chance. The lanolin from the wool leaves my hands soft and it's mindless entertainment. My yarn is ugly. Really ugly. It's coarse and knobby and is a completely inferior product. It's quite difficult to pull your fibers evenly. But it's my yarn. I made it. And come hell or high water, I will use it to make something. It won't be pretty, but it will be mine.

Now all I have to do is learn how to shear a sheep...

Monday, April 4, 2011


I have no fantabulous post today. I've been suffering from unexplained itching and hives for going on five days and am too grumpy to write anything worth reading. I have broke down and made myself a doctor's appointment so hopefully the answers are coming soon.

I just wanted to remind you all that you have ONE MORE DAY to enter my giveaway. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning.

 Do it!! You might win!

Off to scratch...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blooms and Sniffles

My little son is rough and tumble. Actually, that might be an understatement. He's a happy, rambunctious, mud loving, bug eating boy. All boy. He's sturdy and strong, barrel chested, hard headed and utterly lovable. But don't let his manly facade fool you. Brutish he may be, but lurking under all that dirt and unidentified stickiness is a sensitive soul. He cuddles more than his sister ever would and is constantly giving me "smooches" and telling Momma that she looks "bootiful." He's my constant companion and is eager to help. He still seeks my hand when we stroll along together, and asks for songs before bed each night.

Bad to the Bone :)
 His soul isn't all that is sensitive. My son's immune system apparently hasn't gotten the message that it is housed inside a robust little boy. J is being monitored for the development of asthma, has severely dry skin and eczema, and more recently, has developed seasonal allergies. We watch his breathing carefully, use goat milk soap and lotions to keep his skin supple, but this last and newest development caught me off guard. I'm not allergic to anything. Nor is my husband. It took me almost two weeks of  him scratching at his itchy eyes and picking his runny nose before the light bulb went off. Many of my friends were complaining of allergy symptoms while I remained blissfully unaffected. And all that time, I just thought he had a cold that wouldn't quit!

Because symptoms are ongoing and occur daily, I wasn't okay with the idea of OTC medicines. For severe attacks, I might give him some Benadryl or children's Claritin but thus far, his allergies have been mild. I wanted something safe and natural that he could use on a daily basis. My most favorite herbal resource book recommended stinging nettles for allergy relief in children. I found a tincture at my local health food store that was made from nettles and echinacea. Two droppers down the gullet every three to four hours. I was skeptical at first, as we are slowly edging in to the natural health world, but wow! He'd wake up snotty and coughing and within 30 minutes of administering the drops, his nose dried up, the cough dissipated and he was making messes and chasing the cat in no time.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, here are some tips from Mother Earth News to help you find relief!

  • Use a Neti Pot-I know people who SWEAR by these things (my mother included) but the whole thing just weirds me out. Plus it's not very practical with young children. But if you want tor try it, knock yourself out.

  • Nettles- I can personally vouch for this one. It really works for my son.

  • Omega 3's-A German study found that participants who ate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to suffer allergy symptoms than those who didn’t regularly eat these foods. Get out your flaxseeds!!

  • Sublingual Immunotherapy- Say that three times fast! Really, it's just a fancy term for allergy shots. Patients are injected with diluted doses of certain allergens to help build immunity over time.
Oh! And don't forget to enter my blog-o-versary giveaway!! Remember, to enter you must be a follower. Do it. You know you wanna....