Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I have been trying to get caught up on organizing the photos from the last few years. I finally completed Ravenna's baby book in November and wanted to tackle the photos from 2008-present as my next project. I got 2009 completed and got a great deal on a photo book from Shutterfly. I have to say that going digital saved me a great deal of time. With 2010, though, I am stuck. I cannot fathom why looking at the pictures from the summer of 2010, the summer I was last pregnant, leaves me with so much pain. I find myself looking at myself in those pictures and wondering "Do I look pregnant? What about me was different?" Then I see how much my daughter has grown since that time and I think "I am wasting her childhood...what am I doing?"

With our foster baby leaving in a few weeks I find myself feeling quite hopeless. We had hoped to adopt him; we hoped that he was the answer. My daughter is going through a developmental rough patch and I am plagued by thoughts of "What if...?" It is hard not to blame myself for our misfortunes regarding our family size. I often think that it is my fault my daughter is having such a rough time. If only I had been able to give her a sibling sooner, or if we hadn't chosen this very stressful route of foster care in order to grow our family. "What if I had just kept trying to get/stay pregnant?"

I am in desperate need of some peace; the questions are driving me insane.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Knitting A Sock

Making the Heel Flap While Knitting in the Sunlight

Three weeks before Christmas the conversation went something like this:
Me: I am going to knit [unspecified person] socks for their birthday.
Father-in-law: Great. Sounds like a great gift.
Me: Would you be interested in some knitted socks, too?
FIL: I don't know. I have never had knitted socks before.
One Week Later:
Me: I finally got my sock yarn and needles in the mail so I am going to start on making the socks for [unspecified person] right away.
FIL: Am I getting socks for Christmas?
Me: Ummmm...I wasn't planning on it.
FIL: But you said you were making me socks for Christmas.
Me: Wait! What?! I was planning on making you socks for your birthday!
FIL: Why would I want wool socks in June
The second conversation occurred five days ago and until yesterday I had been feverishly knitting a men's size large sock in the hopes of completing them in time. I love my father-in-law and he is notoriously hard to gift to so for once he wants something that I can make and I was determined to do it. Now, you must understand that this was my first sock knitting experience with tiny gauge yarn and needles (it is like knitting with toothpicks) and my father-in-law has big feet. I was making great progress until I dropped a stitch right after turning the heel. I tried to correct it but to no avail. The project began to unravel, very literally, right before my eyes and I had to "frog" it i.e. pull out all the knitting that I had spend 10 tedious hours on.

At that moment I had an epiphany: I was close to tears of frustration for all the time I had already spent only having to start all over despite it all. Four days of a semi-neglected home and family all in the name of a knitted sock. Had I not made the mistake I would have been able to complete the pair before Christmas and been able to happily gift them, but it was seriously stressing me out and taking the joy out of the knitting. I love to knit and I love the challenge of a new project but it was like the "sock that stole Christmas" since my presence was missing from my family.

This year I have had such a strong desire to simplify. Perhaps it is having a foster child and the busyness that brings, or maybe it is a consequence of reading Simplicity Parenting, but I did nearly all my Christmas shopping in November, said "No" to party invitations, and did the very minimum of holiday decorating choosing instead to try to concentrate on spending time with my family. The sock project kind of killed the simplicity bubble.

Right now Ravenna is singing a song that she created whose lyrics primarily consist of "Can I watch the little Merlaid?" She certainly is creative in her requests but I am going to have to say "no", not just because she has watched "The Little Mermaid" a least a dozen times since she got it but because it is time that I got off the computer and spent some time with her. That is what family is all about, right?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

If You REALLY Loved Me...

Look At This! It is gorgeous!

You would buy me some of this tea! I recently discovered Teavana, A Heaven of Tea at our local mall and boy am I in trouble! This tea is so delicious but pricey. Andrew and I like drinking either herbal tisanes or Rooibos daily during the winter so unfortunately we can't afford to drink Teavana teas all that much. But, oh, seriously...nothing compares to a freshly brewed cup of fresh loose leaf tea. There is seriously no comparison to the tea bags you buy in the store. Right now I am in love with the dessert teas like the Cocoa Praline Tart you see above but I am also enjoying the herbal Citrus Lavender Sage.
I use the IKEA RIKLIG teapot to brew my teas. I have found that in order to get it to brew correctly you need to have at least 24 oz. or 3 cups of water in there. According to Teavana, a 2 oz. bag of tea is between 20-30 tsp. Each serving of tea for the Cocoa Praline Tart is 1 1/2 tsp so you would get between 13-20 servings of tea in each 2 oz. bag.  It truly is delicious, though, and totally worth the premium price. So, who loves me?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Things To Do Before I am 30

This is how I look to a 3-year old.
My senior year of high school I took a class entitled "Agriculture Business." At the time I wanted to go to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and get a Agribusiness Degree and go work for some big time monster Ag corporation like Monsanto, gags. In any case the class covered my Economics graduation requirement. I can't remember most of my assignments there except for a competition I went to (and WON!) about agricultural cooperatives but one silly assignment stuck in my brain: we were required to make a poster illustrating what we wanted to accomplish by the time we were 30. I wish I had kept that but alas, I am not a pack-rat. I can remember most of what was on it, though, and with the big 3-0 only year-and-a-half away lets review:
  • Graduate High School, check
  • Graduate College with a Bachelors Degree, check
  • Get a high paying power job
  • Find a Hottie and get him to marry me, double check!
  • Own my own home, yup
  • Travel to Foreign lands
  • Speak a Foreign language
I can't remember having anything on there about having kids but I was pretty sure that I never wanted to have them when I was 17 and the second eldest of 5 children. So looking at that list one might say that it is pretty shallow. Yup. Many of the things also didn't hold up to reality: I only held one job out of college and it was neither high paying or powerful (I will forever call it my "soul sucking" job), I haven't traveled and I stopped learning French after 4 years because I married a German speaker. But hey, I still have a year and a half so let's see what I can accomplish!

In June Andrew and I will be chaperoning a bunch of teenage German language students to, you guessed it, Germany. Aha! Travel!!! Ding ding ding! But I also need to speak German in order to go on the trip. I have around 7 months to get to about a German 3 level. I started learning at the end of October and finished German 1 with a 94% on my final the third week of November. I sped through that puppy but it was exhausting and now I am struggling with serious Deutsch burnout. I am allowing myself two months, until the end of January, to do German 2 and the deadline for German 3 is June 1. If I can get that all done I will have completed nearly all of my shallow high school goals! Woot!

It got me wondering though, how many of us remember what our dreams were when we were 17? I find mine pretty practical considering my age but also most definitely influenced by the TV shows and movies of my teen years. The things that I listed showed what my 17-year old self  believed the pathway to success to be: Education-->Awesome Job --> Money --> Travel, House, and a man to love me. While education is still important to me, having a high paying power job certainly is not. With time and experience I certainly still value certain things on that list but for different reasons. Like traveling for its own sake, rather than to say that I had traveled; Speaking a foreign language to broaden my horizons and work my brain rather than just to put it on a resume. And how about having kids? Being a good wife and mother have taken top priority on my life's list of "To Do's." I think my 17 year-old self would have scoffed at the notion of domestic happiness being my chief desire, and yet, ten years later, it is.

Life is wonderful. Life is harder than I ever thought it would be. Life is better than I ever imagined.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Retracing One Year

It is now just over one year since I went on my grain-free, soy-free, sugar-free, starch-free, preservative-free, processed-free etc. diet in a quest for healing. To recap my year, I started with a very strict diet/supplement regimen and did that for about seven months before switching to the GAPS diet and have been much happier since. When I found Bee's Candida Control diet it sounded like the perfect solution for me, and it may have been at the time, but then she started to change things, becoming more inflexible and wandering into the uncharted territory of what I have since learned is Scientology. The over-reliance on supplements (I was spending $170/month on supplements) and the seemingly random diet altering decisions made by Bee propelled me in the direction of the GAPS diet. GAPS is actually based on science and is a healing program involving certain steps vs. Bee's diet which consists of very strict food restriction based on someones (She never explained how she came to this) ratio of fats/protein/carbs. I did heal on Bee's diet but I also think I went through unnecessary suffering and deprivation as my body struggled with the toxin overload. While the GAPS diet does have supplements (mainly strong probiotics) it isn't necessary to take them if you can't afford it. Food probiotics such as fermented veggies, yogurt, kefir etc. can also give you the same benefits. At this time the only supplements I am taking are Magnesium Citrate, Zing Piccolinate and fermented cod liver oil and my cost is down to less than $35/month.

The GAPS diet has been less challenging in many ways but I have still had my setbacks. In March when I switched to GAPS I decided to add dairy and added it much too quickly which gave me an itchy eczema/detox rash around my eyes and it wasn't until I did the GAPS Introduction diet, removing all dairy, in early September that the bumps went away and I saw very serious improvements in my digestion. The GAPS diet is supposed to take around two years of healing but the second year is supposed to be the best as far as seeing results goes. I am hoping that by June I will have been able to have slowly added dairy again to the point that I can eat cheese. At this point I am only eating ghee with small amounts of butter every so often. Coconut yogurt (homemade) has become a food staple and as soon as I can get a culture I am going to add coconut kefir.

So, how about my symptoms? This last summer was very stressful for me with being a foster parent and I think I suffered some setbacks because of that. In June I think I even had a hysterical pregnancy but that was probably not related to the diet at all so much as the frustrations of having a newborn in my home being raised by a 14 year-old. One thing that has bugged me was that my cycles have been a bit off since June varying between 28 and my usual 33 days with the flow being much heavier. I have also been having really intense PMS symptoms, the most irritating of which is extremely tender breasts for a week or more each cycle. Ugh. BUT the yeastie-beastie's have mostly gone. I get a flare every so often but it goes away in a few days. It seems that my body is switching to detoxing through the skin which I have read is a good sign because the skin is the body's largest detox organ. Once I stop detoxing through my skin so much it should be a sign that my endocrine/lymphatic systems are up to par. 

One of the anecdotal natural healing signs is called "Retracing." This means that your body will "retrace" injuries/illnesses that you have had in an effort to heal itself. For example: If you had a major episode of illness years ago you will have the ilness again sometime during your healing, albeit less severely. I am not sure how much credence I can give to this theory but I was wondering about it this morning. Last week I was horribly sick for over a week with Bronchitis/Sinusitis, which is much longer than I am normally sick, and it really kicked my butt. I had a thought this morning that I could be retracing an episode seven years ago when I had my very first combined Bronchitis/Sinusitis which held me captive for two months and left me with damaged lungs and sinus' prone to infection. Now every time I get a cold I often get both and end up quite miserable. It would be nice if that was a healing episode because if it was it most likely won't happen again (so the theory goes) unless I let my health go. By the way, I treated the infection with raw apple cider vinegar; 2 tbsp. in 6 oz. of water as often as I could stand it. It worked quite well.

So that has been my year. It hasn't been very exciting or fun but I am glad that I am doing something to try to get my health where it needs to be so that I can conceive and carry another pregnancy. It is nice that I feel much better most of the time and as an added bonus, the food is seriously so good.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Post Title

When I started this blog I certainly had high expectations. I really wanted to be able to share who I was and all my thoughts and the crazy/fun stuff that I do but then I go to write it down and it just seems silly. Nearly every week I sit down to write a post, get a paragraph or two down, read it over and then delete it. So I think I might end up deleting this blog. This seems to be the way of my life right now starting with getting rid of Netflix, then Facebook and now blogging. I think I might just be casually climbing my way out of the interwebs.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Farming in September

The Monster Carrot! 1 Pound!

September was wet and nasty. We had massive flooding in our area but luckily, being that we live on a hill, we were spared. Unfortunately the wet weather has made my strawberries go to rot inviting a fruit fly infestation. I would have much higher yields and BEAUTIFUL large berries if it weren't for these horrible beasts who eat the ripe berries from the inside out. I can't find anything on the interwebs about how to get rid of them.

Meat: 4; We have decided to be done with the bird business; we didn't have the time anymore to dedicate to caring for them. We sold the other 5 birds to friends of ours who are happily enjoying their new pets.
Eggs: 70; Equivalent to just over 1 dozen large chicken eggs.
Produce: Food prices courtesy of a food co-op in New York State.
  • Cucumber: 2 lb. 1oz.@ 2.49/lb= $5.13
  • Chard: 2 lb. 5 oz. @ 3.74/lb =$8.65
  • Radish: 2 oz. @ 2.31/lb= .29
  • Paste Tomato: 18 lb. 6 oz.@ 1.02/lb= $18.74
  • Strawberries: 3 lb. 9 oz. @ 4.70/lb= $16.74
  • Green Beans: 1 lb. @1.44/lb= $1.44
  • Sweet Pepper: 1 lb. @2.28/lb= $2.28
  • Sungold Tomato: 13 oz.@1.51/lb= $1.23
  • Principe Borghese Tomato: 7 lb. 5 oz. @1.51/lb= $11.04
  • Spaghetti Squash: 15 lb. 7 oz. @1.07/lb= $16.52
  • Brussels Sprouts: 5 oz. @ 2.13/lb= .67
  • Carrots: 2 lb.@1.61/lb= $3.22
  • Kale: 13 oz.@3.74/lb= $3.04
  • Kohlrabi: 8 oz. @1.00/lb (local farmers market price) = .50
Grand Total: $89.49

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saving Seeds

Pepper Seeds in the "Sink or Swim" Test of Doom!
We are at the growing season's end here in Pennsylvania. In a few weeks we will be hit with the first frost (but when is truly the mystery). What you see here is my attempt to save some pepper seeds for next year. Saving pepper seeds is kind of a shot in the dark, though. Peppers are open-pollinated BUT they have been known to cross-pollinate with other peppers growing nearby, so I really have no idea if this will work. How does one save seeds, you ask? Well, that is different depending on what kind of seeds you are saving. I think just about everyone has saved pumpkin seeds so I don't really want to go into saving gourd seeds except to say that some varieties cross-pollinate with each other so you have to be careful which seeds you save (or grow in your garden if you want to save seeds from your squash). If squash is the in the same family, they will probably cross-pollinate. I guess I should also say that you should only save seeds from non-hybrid, non-GMO plants. You never know what you are going to get with hybrid seeds of the 2nd generation (maybe monsters!).

Peas and beans are the easiest to save. I call it the "lazy gardener" method. Basically you just forget to pick the pods until they get HUGE then you let them dry being sure to remove them before the first frost (and letting them dry out indoors) until the seed pods are tan and papery. Then you remove the seeds from the pods and let dry in a well-ventilated area for a few more weeks. Taadaa! Some people test their seeds to see if they will germinate at this point, but I don't.

Tomatoes are the really fun ones; you need to ferment them. I truly love lacto-fermentation so fermenting the seeds wasn't too odd for me. Basically you remove the seeds from the fruit and put them with their pulp into a container. If you don't have a ton of seeds, add a bit of filtered water to cover then put a paper towel or other breathable cloth (I use a coffee filter) over your container and let it go. Stir once a day for 2-3+ days and you should seed a white film/fungus form on the top of the liquid. This fungus eats the pulp making it easier to separate the seeds AND as a bonus, it kills any diseases that may be harboring on them. Once you have a nice growth of fungus you want to gently spoon it off and then rinse your seeds. At this point it is a good idea to do the "sink or swim" test. Put your seeds in a glass and cover with water. Viable seeds will sink, non-viable seeds aka "duds" will float. Spoon off the floaters and pour your seeds into a fine mesh sieve shaking out as much water as possible then let dry on a paper plate or other breathable surface.

Peppers are similar to tomatoes except I don't ferment them. I read that some people do but, meh. The "sink or swim test" as demonstrated in the picture above is really necessary for peppers and is a good idea for pretty much any seed before you dry it unless...

You dry it directly on the plant! With herbs in the umbellifer family (dill, cilantro etc.) I let the plants go to seed, dry out and then I cut off the whole plant and dry it indoors and collect the seeds after a few weeks. This is also a super lazy method but it works for me. 

Those are pretty much all the seeds that I have successfully saved. I tried lettuce seeds one year but those suckers are tiny. I have never had my kale or chard go to seed but when they do I will be ready for them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Farming in August

This is what happens when you ignore your green onions.
 August came and went in a blur of frenzied activity. In the garden the tomatoes started producing in abundance which meant evenings spent preserving that harvest. I fear the coming of winter like the apocalypse and with that same determined self-preservation I will not waste a single tomato. Today I ended up giving some away because, let's face it, 48 pints of diced tomatoes, two quarts dried, and 10 quarter pints of paste is enough. Well, maybe not enough paste. Speaking of paste...
Oh! Squeezo! How I love thee! Best Thrift Store Find EVER!
 Praise the Squeezo food mill! This puppy made making paste uber easy. I used it tonight to get the skins off of steamed sugar pumpkins. In a few weeks it will make canning 48 quarts of apple sauce a relative cinch. Yes, it is a God-send, but a pain to clean the screens.
An August Day's haul: Chard, Kale, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Strawberries, & Zinnia.
I have also been busy blanching greens, freezing berries, making jam and fruit leather and just plain tearing-up the kitchen, homesteading style. Now for the talleys:

Meat: 2; Let this be a lesson to you all: Sometimes a female is actually a male. A poor, picked on, male. We did him a favor. Another female was the favorite and in quail circles that really isn't a good thing.
Eggs: 147 or the equivalent of 2.5 dozen large chicken eggs. I have actually been baking with these as an added deterrent to not eat sweets.
Produce: Once again, I am getting my prices from an organic food co-op in New York state.
  • Strawberries: 1 lb. 4 oz@ 4.86/lb= $6.08
  • Brussels sprouts: 6 oz
  • Paste-type tomatoes: 23 lbs. 3 oz @ 1.02/lb=  $23.65
  • Principe Borghese Tomato: 6 lb. 7 oz.@1.51/lb= $9.72
  • Mortgage lifter tomato: 1 lb. 9oz. @ 2.50/lb= $3.91
  • Cucumber: 4 lbs. 11oz. @1.50/lb= $7.03
  • Sweet Pepper: 1 lb. 12 oz. @ 2.02/lb= $3.53
  • Bunching onion: 1 lb. @ 1.93/bunch(1/4lb)= $7.72
  • Kohlrabi: 3 oz. @2.86/lb= .54
  • Green Beans: 2 lb @ 1.80/lb= $3.60
  • Chard: 3 lbs @ 1.67/bunch(1/2 lb)= $10.02
  • Kale: 2 lb. 10 oz@ 1.77/bunch (1/2lb)= $9.29
  • Celery: 7 oz@ 1.27/head= $1.27
Estimated value of August produce harvest: $90.27!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Farming in July

Yeah, yeah, I know July is LONG gone but just for the record...

I spent a lot of time in the month of July trying to make my meat surplus shelf stable because my freezer was very literally overflowing. This is what a five pound bag of pig fat looks like, cubed and ready to be rendered (I did about 5 of these):

And this is what my kitchen looked like during the render-fest:
The crock pots were going 24/7 to render the fat; there are multiple methods to rendering but I found that doing it in crock pots was the easiest. In the jars you can see the finished product, still hot from rendering after being strained from what you see on the stove, which are "cracklins". What you can't see are my counters and floors covered in fat drippings. Kinda slippery. After rendering most, but not all of the fat in my freezer I got 3 jars of tallow and maybe 8 jars of lard? A years supply, yes indeed.

 In addition to the fat rendering I have been making and pressure canning bone broths to store up for all those cold winter soup-based dinners. NEVER THROW OUT YOUR BONES!!! Soon I will experiment with making pemmican from some beef that I dried. Wahoo! Experimental food!

Meat: 7; We culled our flock down to 11 birds and split them into two breeding groups.
Eggs: 187 equivalent of 3 dozen large chicken eggs.
Produce: The gardening lesson of the month was that used coffee grounds make great fertilizer and are often free! Also, Brussels sprouts are best tasting when they have had a frost making them a great fall weather crop. We planted ours in spring and noticed in June that they were already forming sprouts. If we let those sprouts grow to full size they would be tough and inedible. Not to be dismayed I read that by picking the sprouts when they are the size of marbles they would still be tender and the stalk would continue to grow more sprouts. It works and they certainly are delicious! When we get closer to the first frost we will stop harvesting these at marble size and let them grow to full size.
  • Beets: 11 oz.@ 1.40/lb= .96
  • Snow Peas: 9 oz. @ 3.40/lb=  $1.91
  • Green beans: 2 lbs. 5 oz. @1.80/lb= $4.16
  • Carrots: 1 1b. @1.20/lb= $1.20
  • Chard: 4 lbs. @3.34/lb= $13.36
  • Kohlrabi: 1 lb. 7 oz. @2.86/lb=  $4.11
  • Cucumbers: 7 lb.@ 3.76!!!/lb= $26.32 Wouldn't you know that I grew a rare and sought after cucumber variety called 'crystal apple?' The regular cukes were going for 1.50/lb =$10.50
  • Principe Borghese tomatoes: 1 lb. 6 oz. @ 2.13/lb= $2.93 This is a lovely cherry-type drying tomato
  • Strawberries: 4 lb. @4.55/lb= $18.20
  • Brussels sprouts: 4 oz.  Couldn't get a price on this because they aren't yet in season
  • Kale: 10 oz. @ 1.77/lb= $1.11
  • Peppers: 3 oz. @ 2.00/lb= .38
Estimated value of July Produce Harvest: $58.82 and that is without the inflated crystal apple cukes!

Bartering: This month I bartered my canning services for green beans from my mother-in-law and canned 20 pints in my new-to-me pressure canner. I was able to keep 11 pints. My friend also let me pick my favorite "sungold" cherry tomatoes from her garden for a split of the proceeds. I now have a quart of delicious dried sungolds. They taste like candy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Farming in June

Look who is eating my dill: A Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

This is a little late but life is finally settling into a nice "routine" in our family. Sharing about my mini-farming is more for my record but I still hope you are amazed at I am how much so little space can provide.

Meat: 2 birds off to the freezer (we need at least 6 to make a meal).
Eggs: 130 from six hens; equivalent to two dozen large chicken eggs. We are finding that everyone loves these hard boiled. They are the perfect snack size!
Produce: Production finally started taking off in June. I used both Rodale's and a Farm Co-op in New York for the prices which seem closer to what we pay for organics here. FYI: A bunch of greens usually weighs about half a pound.

  • Strawberries: 6lb. @ 3.53/lb = $21.19
  • Lettuce: 1 1/2 lb. @ $5/lb =$7.50
  • Bok Choi: 7 oz. @ $2.06 = $.90
  • Kohlrabi: 1 lb. @ $2.86/lb. = $2.86
  • Snow Peas: 1 lb. 5 oz. @ $4.40/lb. = $5.80
  • Chard: 3 lbs. @ 1.67/bunch = $10.02
  • Daikon Radish: 11 oz. @ 1.27/lb = $.87
  • Kale: 9 oz. @ 1.87/bunch = $2.10
  • Green Beans: 8 oz. @ $2.23/lb =$1.12  
Estimated value of June Harvest: $52.36

One of the best things about growing a garden (and buying everything else in bulk) is that I don't have to go to the grocery store or farmers market as often. Going out into the garden everyday to gather my small harvest adds up to a lot. Every day I would pick strawberries we might eat a few and then freeze the rest. Over a months time I had frozen enough to make a dozen half-pints of jam.While you can't do that with everything, often I can gather enough in 3-4 days to make a family sized side dish.

As far as bartering has gone, I exchanged 3 days of milking my friend's cow for one month of free milk. Pretty sweet deal, eh?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I am reading this book right now and totally fascinated by the art of preparing good meat. "Art?" you say? Yes! When you get really high quality meat from animals that live their lives as they naturally should on pasture the meat is fundamentally different than the stuff you buy in the grocery store. Not only are the animals raised differently but their meat goes through a very different process of cutting, hanging, aging and packaging than you get with meat from your local chain store.

This year I purchased half a hog and a half a steer (which steer I then divided with a friend) from Meadow Run Farm. Last year we bought our quarter from a different farmer and the meat was fine but we didn't feel like we got a good deal. Enter: Offal. Offal is just about everything edible other than the "meat" you are used to buying. By requesting the offal and choosing to eat it we save money because we pay by the hanging weight (weight of the hanging animal before cutting). Also, it seems far more respectful to the animal and less wasteful if we make use of as much of its body as possible.

I wasn't prepared by just how much extra stuff I would be getting. Not only did I get the organs, tongues, tails etc. of the pig and steer but I also got the fat for rendering into lard and tallow and the bones for stock. Learning to prepare organ meats can be challenging but that is why I am reading the above mentioned cookbook.

Now for the nitty gritty details: Our side of pork had a hanging weight of 100 lbs. and cost $325. Of actual cuts we received 15 lbs. of ground pork, tongue, liver, heart, kidneys, about 20 lbs. of fat, lots of bones, 1 tenderloin, 12 lbs. of pork chops, 1 rack of baby back ribs, 4 shoulder roasts, 1 shank roast, 10 lbs of pork belly (bacon), 3 ham roasts, 3 ham steaks and 2 packages of spare ribs. The roasts are all between 3-4 lbs. each.

Our quarter of beef, after being divided with our friend had a hanging weight of 115 lbs. and cost $392. Out of that we got 24 lbs of ground beef, 9 lbs of hamburger patties, 3 chip steaks, 3 lbs. short ribs, 2 flat iron steaks, 1 petite tender, 8 soup bones, 2 chuck roasts, 1 sirloin tip roast, 7 New York Strip Steaks, 4 Filet Mignon steaks, 8 Delmonico steaks, 4 mock tender steaks, 1 Tri Tip roast, 2 sirloin steaks, 2 London Broil, 1 brisket, 2 eye roasts and 1 skirt steak plus probably 30 lbs. of bones and fat. We haven't yet received our offal and ox tail but we will be getting it next week.

Fun stuff! This should last us until next summer but anticipate that we may need to buy more ground beef. It truly is a pleasure buying directly from the farmer and having so much choice in what we get for our dollar. I highly recommend going onto to Local Harvest and searching for farmers in your area. Being able to know where the majority of the food we consume comes from is such a blessing. Even with the high price tag, the assurance that what I am feeding my family is of the highest quality keeps me coming back for more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Holy Cow! 9 Months!

Just a little update because I have some fabulous news and you probably won't even believe me. The GAPS diet is steadily moving forward. I am ever so slowly healing and learning the rhythms of how my body heals. Bodies are weird. When I started GAPS I developed a new symptom: tiny little painful pustules around my eyes accompanied by eczema. I had never had either of these before so I felt like my diet was a lost cause. Thanks to the Interwebs I discovered that for some reason or another (detox?) the pustules commonly appear with the addition of dairy to the diet after a long hiatus. Aha! Eventually they just go away but in the meantime I am treating them with a healthy dose of topical coconut oil.

And now for the fabulousness: I healed a cavity! You heard me right! In December I had a cavity that my dentist wanted to fill right away because it was pretty bad. It was way back on one of my last molars in between the teeth where food has a tendency to get caught. Well, aside from the fact that I didn't like the guy in the first place, I strongly believed that my dietary changes would allow my teeth to heal themselves and refused the filling despite dire warnings against my choice and guess what? The cavity is gone! Hurray!

I am starting to feel like this diet is going to be something I stick with for the long haul. The more time I spend eating this way, the easier it gets. All the food prep can be daunting and having a teenage foster daughter who refused to eat anything not heavily processed made things even harder but now that she is gone my time in the kitchen feels easy peasy.  I still can't eat most fruits without a bad reaction, but berries don't seem to bother me at all. I also recently added dairy kefir and raw honey and I am okay with them in small doses.

Healing is wonderful! Today I learned that my mom was just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and my first thought was "I will not follow suit." With all the healing that I have felt so far on this diet, I really believe that I won't. Right now I am feeling so grateful that I have had all these health problems at such a young age when change doesn't seem insurmountable and infertility is a HUGE motivator. I never thought I would say that I am grateful for my various maladies but with this diet and the healing I am experiencing the future seems so much brighter! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pain and the Atonement

"It will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior's promised relief that He knows, from experience, how to heal and help us...And faith in that power will give us the patience as we pray and work and wait for help. He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation, but He chose to learn by His own personal experience."
-Henry B. Eyring, quoted by Kent F. Richards, Ensign, May 2011, 16
I did find this thought comforting today as I pondered upon the pain of waiting and not knowing. I do feel better that Christ understands the conflicting emotions I feel as I struggle with waiting for more children while my foster daughter joyfully becomes a mother. With my limited perspective, I feel that the lessons I learn as a foster parent will help me when and if Andrew and I are able to have more biological children. When people ask us why we made this choice, to parent other people's children, most of the time I want to say "I have no idea" because I truly do not, but the rightness of this choice is daily confirmed by the whisperings of the Spirit. I am so grateful for that and for the sweetness of new life.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Moments With A Foster Mom: Triage

I cannot describe how heart-wrenching this whole process is for so many reasons. Tonight I felt the need to share some of my experience in Labor and Delivery triage over the last few days.

My empty womb very tangibly ached as I sat waiting, hour after hour, in triage. Soon to be mom's paced the halls hoping that this endless walking would get them to the magical #4 that would allow them to be admitted. Excitement is everywhere but also some disappointment: Being sent home for false labor, an over-booked induction schedule, and then, towards the end, a young woman comes in weeping with a conspicuously flat belly and I instinctively understood. I overheard the nurses:

Nurse A: "What is wrong with her?" 
Nurse B: "She says she is having a miscarriage (shrugs)"
Nurse A: "Well, where should we put her?"
Nurse B: "I honestly don't care where you put her."

At that point the exchange ended and I went on my way. My charge was being admitted due to leaking amniotic fluid and I needed to get back to my family. As I walked away I felt like a coward; I wanted so much to embrace that poor woman because I knew what that look of total anguish was. I flashed back to my own experience and the strongest memory was the sensation of being very cold. I remember being both physically cold but I also feeling a sense of coldness from the medical support staff  (maybe because of the discomfort of death?) when all I really wanted was to be embraced. While the nurse's words were spoken out of this woman's hearing, nobody deserves to be treated like that especially at a time of such great loss. Miscarriage is still birth; even if it also means death.

It is hard to find my place in this confusing world of foster parenting. Who am I anyway? Just some infertile lady who decided to take charge of this pregnant teen two weeks before her due date. Why did God want me to be a part of this when it reminds me so much of the pain of my own loss and empty womb?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Farming in May

Hurray for Strawberries! The harvest this year has been wonderful! Here are out totals for May:

Meat: 0; we have two birds ready to go but we are waiting for our foster daughter to have her baby before we send them to "freezer camp." In other words, we don't want to traumatize the girl.

Our first two hatchlings

Eggs: 161 or the equivalent of 32 large chicken eggs.  I also sold two of my laying hens for $7.50 each.
Produce:  If you want to see the value of the organic produce you grow it is fun to check out Rodale's Organic Price Report which is updated often. I am using my current farmers market prices as well as the farmers markets in Philadelphia, all prices are for organic.
  • Stawberries: 4lbs. 5 oz. @$4.59/lb.=$19.79 (and this is all in 4 days from 18 everbearing plants not including the 14 that I just planted that won't fruit until July).
  • French Breakfast Radishes: 1 lb. 3 oz. @$3.76/lb.=$4.47
  • Baby Bok Choi: 2.2 oz. @$2.25/lb.= .31, paltry? yes but they bolted
  • Leaf lettuce and spinach: 1lb. 6oz. @Organic sells for $5/lb. at my local farmers market = $6.88
  • Green onion: 1 (didn't even bother pricing this)
  • Swiss Chard: 2.7 oz. @ $2.17/lb. = .37
Estimated value of harvest: $31.82

I was also able to harvest 5 gallons of worm castings. I am not sure the value on it but I traded a bag and two dozen hard boiled and peeled quail eggs to a friend for two gallons of raw milk. I love being able to trade things that I produce for things that I need. I really wish that I had more to trade!

A dozen chicks at a week and a half old, already feathering out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day and I don't have a good track record. It all began with the years of infertility. In those days it just felt like good sense to stay at home and not go to church. Then POOF! I had a baby and all should have been fixed, but strangely there still lingered a sense of weirdness about the day. This year royally sucked. I basically wept the entire day. To put it simply, I thought I was pregnant; I am not. I found out on Mother's Day. Real fun. Add in a HUGE dose of hormones. Then, of course, my daughter treated me like a pariah and would have nothing to do with me; did I mention I was hormonal? Then speakers and teachers all around decided to focus on those of us who due to circumstances outside of our control, don't really relish the day. Yup...

Thankfully, Heavenly Father sent me a comforting angel in the guise of a woman I hardly knew. She hugged me, told me she loved me and that she would pray for me and best of all, that she would do it without needing to know what was wrong. I cannot describe the relief I felt. So many people asked me what was wrong (I have one of those awful "cry faces" that cannot be hidden) but nobody did was this woman did. I am so grateful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Farming in April

 Garden in a box! Blueberries, currants and hazelnuts.

Two little quail eggs

April was a busy month for these mini-farmers. We put in a new garden bed and after reading Gaia's Garden decided to improve the backyard based on some of the principles of permaculture: more perennials! We have eggs going into the incubator tomorrow which means that around the 21st of May (my birthday!) we will be expecting chicks. Our six hen's so kindly gave us 120 eggs which amounts to the equivalent of two dozen large chicken eggs. Not bad for our first month.

I can't wait to get my hot weather plants out of my house and into my garden! This year we are planting 34+ varieties of vegetables and herbs, mostly from seed. Every time we go to a hardware store (or anywhere there is a seed display, for that matter) I often walk away with at least one more seed packet. It has become a problem! I don't even want to think about how much money I have spent on seeds this year. Saturday my organic gardening meet-up group is having a seedling swap so I may get to add even more varieties to my tiny patch. Every time I go out to my garden I wonder: "Where can I fit more in?"

In the garden I have french breakfast radishes, baby spinach and lettuce ready to harvest plus dill, thyme, oregano, mint, dill and lovage to use as needed. I really want some parsley. I am planning on keeping track of all I harvest out of our tiny plot because I want to measure how much a very small yard can actually produce. Can it feed our family? I certainly hope so!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Is It Supposed to Feel Like This? Month 6

I feel really great! Well, most days are good and that is a serious improvement! This last month has been tricky trying to adjust to being on GAPS/SCD instead of Bee's diet. I went a bit crazy at first jumping into all the things that I hadn't been allowed before like yogurt, cheese, berries, honey and nuts. Too much, too fast. Now I have slowed down and am working on phase 3/4 of the GAPS Introduction Diet. I keep getting stalled on the dairy and nut flours but I have found that I can tolerate soured raw cream very well and the introduction pancakes. The key is going slowly, adding a little bit more every 2-3 days and paying attention to what my body is telling me.  Healing the gut takes a lot of time and energy on the part of the body and I have to keep reminding myself of that when I get impatient to add another food that I miss.

Adding fermented veggies to every meal makes a HUGE difference and I love them.. I am loving daikon pickles and kimchi especially. As far as fruit goes I am only eating cooked berries at this point because they are easier to digest and don't seem to give me any negative reactions. The only thing I will never add to my version of the GAPS diet is the juicing (because of the candida) and the probiotic BIO-KULT (because it is expensive).

I continue to do weekly enemas which are very helpful along with dry skin brushing. What it comes down to is that I feel really great. I am getting so much done! Every day I am so grateful and full of awe when I think "Oh! So this is how everyone else can do so much!" I feel like every minute of my day is filled to the brim and I am happy. I am no longer looking for excuses not to do things because I feel so tired and achy. Every day is different, and I still get bad days, but they are getting fewer and farther between. Food heals!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Microfarming etc.

This last week has been a busy one for us. Spring (is it really spring?) this week meant tomato and pepper seedlings being coddled, a composter to build, MORE seeds to plant, birds to be ahem "processed", eggs to be collected, cages to be cleaned...Oh, did I forget to mention that we got birds? Introducing our Japanese Coturnix!

The birds are taking a bit getting used to but they are sweet and so fun to watch! I am loving this new way of living but I have no idea under what Eco-friendly term it fits under: Suburban sustainability? Micro farming? Urban Homesteading? In any case, our family is loving being able to produce more of our own food. This year is still a learning and growing year so I am not sure about how much we will produce but we have big dreams! Just this last week we put in more everbearing strawberry plants and we have blueberry, currant and American hazelnut bushes on their way. The front bed is just sprouting some radishes, spinach, bok choi, and swiss chard and I am hoping and praying for peas to come up any day now in the back. And we can't forget our friends the worms and bacteria: the worms are working hard turning our kitchen scraps into fertilizer and the bacteria are turning our veggies into probiotic food powerhouses. Life, living, is just so good!

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Natural Bodycare Routines

For Mara,

Aside from not eating grains, this is how I keep my skin looking nice: honey and baking soda mixed together 50/50. I keep it in a 1 cup covered Pyrex container in my shower because otherwise it is pretty sticky. I have learned to check the cup before I jump in the shower just in case I need to add more. The honey is very moisturizing and makes a great all over body wash!

Ingredients: Saponified Olive Oil, Water, Sodium Chloride
Soap: I haven't gotten around to making my own soap yet but I do use Kiss My Face Olive Oil bar soap which I enjoy. I can buy it at my local grocery store and it is less than $2/bar which is saying something for the natural body care product community. The three simple ingredients will amaze you!

How I wash my hair: I wash my hair about once a week with Avalon Organics Lavender shampoo the rest of the time just with water. I do not use conditioner because I have no need. For a while I did "no-poo" and washed with baking soda and conditioned with apple-cider vinegar but right now I like that I can wash it without trying to remember to fill the baking soda container. I haven't bought shampoo for nearly two years; I am still using the same bottle.

How I clean my teeth: I was getting sick of paying for sensitive teeth toothpaste and still having sensitive teeth. I recently read that it is actually the toothpaste that causes recession and sensitivity, not brushing too hard as I had always thought (and been told). Technically you don't even need toothpaste to get your teeth clean, but you can also boost your whitening power by using a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. I just mix it in the cap and brush away. My teeth are less sensitive and this is WAY cheaper. Oh yeah, and I floss but that is just floss which I don't believe you can get any more natural than that.

How I moisturize: Extra-virgin coconut oil is AMAZING! I use it to moisturize as well as a sunscreen and after sun lotion. Hint, it also makes a great lubricant.

How I style my hair: This is one where I haven't stumbled upon a good solution. I use a styling wax, Redken Rewind to be precise, but it is super expensive and I don't like how chemically it is. I just found this lovely tutorial on how to make your own pomade. I don't love that it uses petroleum jelly but maybe I could use Shea butter instead? Hmmm...It also looks like you can use jojoba or olive oil instead. I think I will need to experiment!

I have heard that if you get a blemish you could put tea tree oil diluted with olive oil on it, but I can't recommend it because I have never tried it myself. If you have any questions or tips, please send them my way!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


"When we would talk about our future in private, I would ask Mark if he really thought we had a chance. Of course we had a chance, he'd say, and anyway, it didn't matter if this venture failed. In his view, we were already a success, because we were doing something hard and it was something that mattered to us. You don't measure things like that with words like success or failure, he said. Satisfaction comes from trying hard things and then going on to the next hard thing, regardless of the outcome. What mattered was whether or not you were moving in a direction you thought was right. This sounded extremely fishy to me."
-Kristin Kimball in The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love

I love reading memoirs and recently have been delving into the agricultural. In addition to The Dirty Life I have been absolutely inspired by Novella Carpenter's Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. While the journeys of these two women couldn't be more different given the comparative size of their farms, they both show that it is possible to raise food for your family (or 100 families!) despite your comparative lack of experience; you don't need to be born a farmer to become a farmer. All you need to do is research, plan and DO. If you start small, you will be amazed at how much food you can grow for your family.

Here is a video of Novella's farm in Oakland, California. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making Some Changes

My last post about my 5 months on the diet was dire. I was feeling awful and wanted to give up. It turned out that my gallbladder was about to pass a bunch of gallstones, so I know why I was feeling so bad. While it was really uncomfortable and even painful at times, it was such a relief to know that my gallbladder was just detoxing. When things got really tough I did some coffee enemas and they made a big difference. I also only wanted to eat hard boiled eggs and drink bone broth, so I went with that. I am a big believer in following the body's cravings, except when it relates to sugar and high carbohydrate foods (then the body is saying it needs instant energy and there are better ways to feed it).

While I was going through that ordeal I decided that I needed to move in a different direction and have been drawn to the GAPS/SCD diets which are similar but much less strict. As far as GAPS goes, I find its system, especially its intro diet incredibly confusing, plus they advocate a very expensive probiotic that I doubt the efficacy of. On the other hand, I found that with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet probiotics are not necessary but probiotic foods are highly encouraged and that is more the direction that I want to go. On a SCD website I found an introduction diet specifically for sufferers of candida and I believe that is how I want to go, though I won't follow this exactly because I do not want to include juices or anti-fungals. It is in three stages and it is simple for me to follow. I am going to work on increasing my intake of fermented vegetables and also probably start culturing yogurt soon, making sure that I get a serving of fermented foods with every meal.

Here are the changes:
  • Adding 1 oz. hard cheese a week ETA: It appears that I cannot tolerate cheese yet 3/23
  • Adding 1 cup. cooked berries every other day
  • Slowly add in small amounts of plain 24-hour fermented yogurt every day starting with one spoonful
  • Decrease coconut oil to no more than 2 tbsp/day to help with the detox symptoms
  • Occasional almond flour or almond butter
  • Maybe some lentils?
  • Maybe some raw honey? ETA: Honey is a no-no 3/24
I will continue with a modified Bee's diet with these small additions until my symptoms improve enough to move on. I may need to remove aspects of these changes depending on my reactions to them and it is a good idea not to eat ALL the news foods at the same time. Ideally they should be spread out 3-5 days or as much as a week. SLOW introduction is key to knowing what I should and should not eat. I also want to limit the amount of supplements I am taking. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giving Up?

I have now been on the Candida control diet for 5 months, or nearly that. I hate it. In the past when I got sick I would call it whatever it was: flu, food poisoning, cold, just dead tired; now I have to call everything a "healing reaction." Yeah, ok. Sunday night I began to feel one of these "healing reactions" coming on and was then up all night throwing up. Last week I felt good a total of ONE day out of seven. The last month has been majorly sucky. Is this all detox? I felt much better a few months ago and really, not a whole lot has changed in what I am eating or the way I am doing things except perhaps that I am not "cheating" so much.

How long did I say I was going to do this? Eight months? Isn't GAPS an easier path? Every night I pray that this diet will work and that all of this "healing" will get a whole lot easier. I think I might end up crazy and bedridden by the end of eight months if it continues downhill as it has been. I need some help from someone who has been there/done that with a healing diet.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Primal TV Dinner

3 hard boiled eggs, sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, supplements and Electrolyte drink. Top Brussels Sprouts with vast quantities of melted Kerrygold butter and devour while watching a BBC period drama.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Poverty Does

Today Ravenna and I went to Roots Market with the BFF and after buying produce and checking out the critters we wandered over to the flea market in search of treasures. Christie was in search of a candy dish (which she found for $1!) and I was just keeping my eye out for Depression glass, Delft and useful junk. Just as we were about to leave I spotted some cool stuff at a table I had passed by earlier. The man sitting at the table was quite eccentric, had incredibly LONG nose hair and a generally disheveled appearance. No matter, it wasn't unusual.

I spotted a blue and white serving platter and while I debated over buying it (the price wasn't bad I just didn't need it) I had one ear open to the conversations this man was having with other customers. I became startled to observe that this man was actually begging people to buy his wares. Then I started to look around. It didn't take a rocket scientist to notice that something was up. The seller appeared to be living out of his van. He said that he used to be a Social Studies teacher and was down on his luck. He needed some sales. Some people might call me a sucker but I don't believe that there was any dishonesty going on.

My heart broke to see this lonely, eccentric human being begging for me to buy a $10 platter that was certainly worth much more. I bought it even though I didn't need it. After leaving I felt so grateful for my comfortable life and the blessings of being surrounded by wonderful friends and family. What did he have? I really don't know but in my experience with flea market sellers they might bring down the price of an item but they never beg.

What could I do for this man? Could I have done more than just bought the platter? All these thoughts fill my mind now. What more could I have done?

Sunday, March 6, 2011


 This Isn't My Lemon-Curd

What's a girl to do when the lemon curd curdles? Whip out the stick blender of course! Dessert saved.

Stevia Sweetened Lemon-Curd -I eat this like a pudding while it is still warm. Delicious!
3 Egg yolks, beaten slightly
1/8 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp liquid stevia
1/4 stick of butter (4 tbsp) OR half extra-virgin coconut oil and butter

I don't really have a good method for this. Sometimes it turns out, sometimes it doesn't. I usually combine the first 3 ingredients and then when the curd begins to form I take it off the heat and add the butter and stir it in like crazy. Tonight it didn't work so I emulsified it, mayonnaise style and it turned out silky and lovely. Here is a really interesting article that says it is fool-proof and because it uses whole eggs and not just egg yolks I might just have to modify my method. The author says to cream the fats and sugars (or in my case stevia) together and then add the eggs one at a time, as if you were making a cake. Lastly add the lemon juice. Pour the mixture into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and cook over low heat stirring constantly until it thickens nicely. The full recipe can be found here


Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Talk To Me...

To Parents of Children in Public Schools:

Don't talk to me about how bad your school district is because of the low test scores and tightly stretched budgets. Don't tell me that teachers are overpaid for the poor work that they do. Don't complain to me that your kid's teachers aren't actually "teaching" them because they have to do so much paperwork. If you try to get me to commiserate with you about the poor quality of public education in the United States, TOUGH. I will not join you in your ignorant rantings and instead I might just tell you off. 

A few weeks ago my chiropractor admonished me that since I was in a certain school district I should either home school or private school my daughter. News flash: MY HUSBAND TEACHES IN THAT DISTRICT. By telling me that the school district where my husband teaches is "horrible" and will result in the "poor education" of my daughter you are directly insulting me and the hard work my husband does and you are showing your utter stupidity.Yes, I said stupidity and here is why:

It bugs me to no end when people complain about all the time teachers waste documenting rather than teaching, as if teachers have a choice. Parents are the ones primarily responsible for educating their children and it is because they have abdicated this responsibility that teachers have to document "results." If parents were involved as they should be, there would be no need to know how their kids are stacking up to others because the parents would know intuitively. Too much blame is placed on teachers by parents who willingly give away the right to educate their children to bureaucrats who care of little but test scores and bottom lines.
I wrote that in response to an article posted on facebook that asserted that the reason that teachers don't teach exciting lessons is because they are too busy recording results. Guess why they have to do that? Because parents WANT to see results. Tax payers want results. They want to know that their dollars are making a difference. Test scores show only a small portion of what others find meaningful and in my opinion they mean jack squat. I was an honors students and I still randomly filled in bubbles on the standardized tests we were forced to take every year for days, and days and days. I did it because I was bored and I know I was not alone. What makes you think that children today are any different?
The real teacher of any child is the parent. Plain and simple. If you do not like how your child is being educated, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I have observed that while people enjoy complaining about teachers and school districts on blogs, facebook, grocery stores, in mommy groups and even in chiropractic offices, none of them seems willing to step up and take their child's education fully in their own hands. I knew before I had a child that I was willing to be my daughters teacher if that was what she needed and I stand by that.
I also reject the notion that going to a "bad" school will destroy your child's chance at getting into a good college. I went to a bad school with low test scores in a bad area and had a few stinky teachers, but guess what? I also had great ones, the vast majority actually. When I struggled in math class my mom stepped up and helped me herself. I graduated at the top of my class from high school and college and continue to have a love of learning. I consider my education a success, however I know that the foundation of my education did not occur in a classroom.  My education was fostered at home from a young age and those principles I learned as a child helped me through the under qualified teachers, drugs and violence, and ridiculous time wasting standardized tests of that "bad" school. The key is being fully involved, knowing your child's educational needs and a willingness to do whatever it takes to meet those needs even if it means teaching them primarily on your own.
As the daughter and wife of educators I have seen how hard my mother, husband (and yes, even his coworkers) work. They are passionate about what they teach. They are just as frustrated as you are about not being able to spend time preparing and teaching great lessons because they have to spend such a huge chunk of their time with paperwork, documenting student's "progress" and being trained on how to write lesson plans using complicated charts and buzz words to satisfy the bureaucracy. But parents are what it comes down to. You are your child's first teacher and it should always be that you are their PRIMARY educator. No matter how great the teacher, they will never make up for you, the parent.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Today is my D-Day. Today, had my pregnancy gone as hoped I would have been 40 weeks. Maybe I would have already had a baby right now? Maybe I would be huge and uncomfortable wishing desperately that labor would begin and doing everything that I could possibly imagine to get it to start? Today there are lots of "maybe's" and "what-if's" and still the old "why me, why anyone?" I think it was appropriate that I announced our foster parenting plans on our family blog today and it also helps that today is sunny and warm in the middle of February; a day that makes me think of the coming Spring and life and renewal.

I think today might be a good day to get out and spend a lot of time enjoying the beautiful moments and then tomorrow life will continue as usual, the cold winter weather will resume, and I will look forward to a future which is not what it could have been.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Do You View Yourself?

I have been really quiet lately in the blog world. The slow pace of my life in winter has that effect but the lull also seems to be extending into the realm of the internet usage. For example, I quit a web forum that I had been actively participating in for a few years now, stopped reading so many blogs and making comments and haven't been as active on Facebook. For whatever reason I feel the need to make my interactions count and I have been feeling that my interactions on the internet are mostly shallow. On the flip side I have been writing more thank you notes and trying to encourage others.  I have spent a lot of time knitting and consequently pondering on my life, blessings and struggles.

One of the things I have been learning on this journey of introspection is to stop viewing myself in relation to others. It is a constant struggle for me. Probably the most difficult thing is seeing the families of my friends grow while ours stubbornly remains the same size. The other day my friend asked me if I would be fulfilled with having just Ravenna. At the time I said "yes" but added that of course I would still like to have more children. Later a familiar nagging thought crept into my brain: "But if I don't have any more children I will never be a real mother." This doesn't come from nowhere, people. I have often been told in conversation with mothers of many children (Have you ever said this?): "Oh, you will understand when you have x many kids" which I took as meaning that I could never understand because I don't have as many children. What a way to feel shafted in the kid department! While my days are full and steady with my one darling child, often I feel guilty because I have so much more time than these women with more children but also guilty because my child is missing out and that is my fault.

Here again we come back to me learning not to view myself in relation to others. I will never understand how those women with such and such number of kids feels because I am not them and they are not me.  If I had five children I might be able to have empathy for the shared struggles of another mother who has the same number but I will never understand how her life is. My life is my own and learning that requires constant reminders to myself that what I accomplish and what I do not has nothing to do with anyone else. I am a real mother if I choose to see myself as one, period.

Motherhood is just one aspect of my comparative inadequacy that I have been dwelling on lately but really this applies to anything in my life: Am I a good enough cook? Does my house look tacky? Is my conversation boring to people? Do I not read enough books? Is there enough romance in my relationship? Do I have a strong enough testimony? All of these questions are about some idea of perfection that does not exist. They have to do with how I perceive other people and their talents and abilities. It isn't bad to want to emulate someone and to be better, but what I need is to be comfortable with myself as I am now and build my questions/goals around that: Do I enjoy the food I cook and does it nourish and sustain my family? Does my home fulfill its purpose? Do I do my best to uplift and connect with people in conversation? Am I getting enjoyment and education out of the books I read? Am I doing my best to be a supportive and loving wife? Am I making an effort to build my relationship with God every day?

The internet is a fabulous tool for self-depreciation. One only has to spend some time blog hopping to see where we just aren't "enough" compared to others. Getting an inferiority complex from viewing Mormon Mommy Blogs may just be my problem so take this for what you will; I have found that taking a step away from the internet to gain perspective on how what I was viewing was affecting my perception of myself and others was a great eye opener and well worth the missed status updates. I want my life to bring me, my family and others joy, so that is what I will focus on from now on. I can promise inferior quality photos, general corniness and probably a lot of stuff that will make you roll your eyes. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

3 Months In, RESULTS & A Recipe!

FYI: I talk about poop in this post. If that doesn't disgust you read on...

These past few weeks of the diet were probably the most difficult. Christmas was brutal. I did pretty well staying to the diet but became incredibly constipated and got a kidney stone because I was eating too much protein and not enough fat. I was MISERABLE. Luckily for me, Bee had a plan for those who needed to get back on track. Liquid foods for 9 days and colon cleansing enema's every day. Sound fun? You know, it actually wasn't so bad! Towards the end I was getting really bored with the liquid diet but my digestion improved significantly and the enemas? I heard about the benefits of colon cleansing enemas in April 2010 and even bought an enema bag that sat, unopened until this episode. Oh my goodness, they are awesome! I didn't enjoy doing them but I loved how I felt afterward.

Now I am back on track and beginning to see results! I went to my fabulous doctor for my yearly physical last week it went really well. Everything was where it needed to be, and my blood pressure has finally gone up. Aside from being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which I knew was probably the case, I have a clean bill of health. The best part? My blood test results arrived today and my fasting glucose was perfect! That hasn't happened without medication since my diagnosis of insulin resistance in 2007!

I am so very encouraged by these very tangible signs of improvement. Though I was disheartened to hear that I most certainly have developed Fibromyalgia I am so confident that I can beat it with this diet. There is no cure for Fibromyalgia; and medical treatments (antidepressants and pain medications) have only been mildly successful but both diet and chiropractic have shown great promise in controlling the symptoms and even, (dare I say it?) curing, Fibromyalgia.

And now, a recipe I created during my liquid diet. This is a wonderfully nourishing recipe with nutritious eggs, mineral rich bone broth, B-Vitamins from the Nutritional Yeast and wonderful fats from the butter. This is very easily digested and would be ideal for someone who is sick. Seriously, this is delicious! It is fast and you can make as much or as little as you need. My whole family loved it, even the toddler. Enjoy!

Nourishing Egg Drop Soup
1 egg per cup of chicken broth (preferably a mineral rich bone broth)
1 tbsp. Nutritional Yeast Flakes (NOT Brewers Yeast!) per cup of broth
1 tbsp. butter per cup of broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth, nutritional yeast flakes and butter to a boil. Gently beat the egg just until the white and yolk are combined. When the liquid is at a rolling boil slowly stir in the beaten egg(s), salt and pepper to taste and serve warm. I like to add extra butter or coconut oil at this point 1-2 tbsp.   

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Empty Womb

"Empty But for Love"

When I miscarried last August I wasn't ready to get pregnant right away. A nagging feeling kept telling me that it was a bad idea. Right after the loss I set a tentative date of January 2011 as the time when we would probably be ready to try to conceive again. And yet, here we are in January and there is no baby making going on, nor any in the foreseeable future.

At the moment not being pregnant just sucks. It seems like everyone that I know and love is pregnant (even my favorite blogger recently announced a pregnancy) and it hurts. I doesn't hurt in a jealousy kind of way; more in the way that I felt when I was infertile. It is lonely. That is why I titled this post "The Empty Womb" because that is really the only way to describe the feeling. Having experienced a pregnancy before I sometimes feel "ghost kicks" or muscle twitches/gas bubbles/whatever you want to call them that remind me that at this moment I would be less than a month away from my estimated due date and instantly I am overcome by sadness at my lost experience.

I just found out that one of my best friends is expecting a girl later this year. On Facebook. This is the same woman who told me she was pregnant the first time before she even tested! While I am not sure this is the case, I wonder if she would have told me earlier if I had not miscarried. I hated learning through a website. If I wasn't on Facebook would I have heard about it ever? Maybe next year we would get a Christmas card from them and there would be a baby! Surprise!

While I am still occasionally bitter and sad, I am growing to appreciate my currently empty womb. It has given me an opportunity to work on healing myself that I wouldn't have had if I had been pregnant/nursing. The empty womb has opened doors for us and the journey that Andrew and I have been on in the last few months has been amazing in so many ways. It has been so difficult and yet we know we are now on a path that we would not have otherwise gone to if we had not lost the pregnancy. I might even dare to say that this is a better path...but more on that later.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Controversial Monday: Dr. Oz

Is it just me or is anyone else getting sick to death of hearing this: "But Dr. Oz says..."? Since when did Dr. Oz become THE authority on health? Oh yeah, because Oprah endorsed him. Yes, he is a medical doctor with a PhD but he is also a television personality which makes his advice highly suspect to me. First of all, he has to watch what he says because of sponsors. In order for his television show to keep running he needs both to keep his viewers AND his sponsors happy which, in his case, means endorsing their products. Anyone seen a product with the "Endorsed by Dr. Oz" label lately? Hmmmmm?

Another thing that bothers me about Dr. Oz is what he does to get ratings. I haven't seen his show for quite a while but it seems like more often than not he is fear mongering over such silly things as dinner mints. Just Google "Dr. Oz and fear mongering" and you get tons of hits about people ranting over how he makes rare incidences into "epidemics." Yet another reason I don't like him is his overuse of that word. This is, of course, only my personal view point so if you like his show, good for you.

Personally I like to gather my health and nutrition information from a variety of sources. If those sources agree, back their statements up with well-performed scientific studies and make sense then I embrace them. That, however, takes a lot of time. Why go to all that work when you could just watch Dr. Oz?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Controversial Monday: Nutritional Dogma

Dear Readers,

Today I felt affronted. Today I felt attacked. It was all because of Facebook. I feel that people should be respectful of every one's beliefs despite how damaging (or what I perceive as damaging) they might be. That doesn't mean that I don't feel like I can't throw information out there when I feel like it so long as I am respectful. Unfortunately not everyone feels that way. It makes me not want to be an active part of the Internet because at this moment while I write this post that maybe two people will read, I could be reading a book instead, or knitting or forcing my husband to listen to my nutritional dogma of the importance of fat and cooking ones vegetables! But noooooo, I am too keyed up.

Here is another beef: Moderation. I am so SICK of that word. What is moderation? Is it what a government body decides is moderate? How about a scientist? Blogger? Television show? I guess it all depends on whose definition you trust. Moderation in my estimation as pertains to nutrition has to do with NOT eating things we know to be bad for us except in VERY rare circumstances. By rare I mean a few times a year, not every day or even once a month. But then again, what foods are really bad for us?

So, I am irritated. I am annoyed not because people disagree with me but because they chose to do so by putting me into a box of tyranny that makes any statement that comes out of my mouth tantamount to the dithering of an idiot with a large stick. All I want is to enjoy REAL food and for others to do the same. A propos: I have decided that I will no longer comment on anyone's facebook posting if it has anything to do with food because I am a Real Food Tyrant who believes everyone should be forced to eat saturated fat (gasp!), properly prepared grains (the horror!), and pasture raised meats (No!). Yes, you can just call me by my acronym RFT (pronounced Rufft) and if you eat sugar or uncooked cruciferous vegetables this dithering idiot will beat you with the aforementioned stick on thine head.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Not a whole lot o'bloggin' goin' on...

December went by in a mad frenzy. Still struggling with my diet (I have a hard time getting enough calories) I somehow made it through to complete all my projects and even made cookies for the neighbors, which I had sworn I would NOT do because who, in their right mind, makes delicious Christmas cookies when they can't eat a single one? Oh, it was painful but I was pleased when after all the baking was over I had somehow conquered the urge. Who knew that I was THAT stubborn to be able to resist such delicious temptation?

Christmas in Virginia turned out to be nothing like I expected due to both weather and illness but it was nice to be with family. Ravenna had a fabulous time being with her aunt Rachelle and uncle Josh and has perfected being a "monster." Now I find myself with the itch. Whenever I get something new I survey all that I have and find that I have too much! I am seriously considering having a garage sale in January just for the delicious feeling of getting rid of "stuff."

I have some really fabulous primal recipes to share too. This Cauliflower and Ginger Soup is shockingly easy and fabulously delicious. You won't be able to eat just one serving! I made this on Christmas Eve but I will be making it again ASAP in my lovely new Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven!

How was everyone's Christmas? Any fabulous new recipes?