Grain free

So recently, I challenged myself to go sugar free again because it helped so much with my allergies last year when I gave up sugar for Lent. I didn’t do nearly as well this time around (as in I still ate something sweet almost every day). I did still benefit from the drastic cut back (No allergy medicine needed this month: just one of the good things) and I learned to give myself grace.

 I am still trying to keep it out of my diet.

While I was researching, I found a 30 Day Challenge that recommended taking out sugar and foods that act like sugar, as in grains. I have been looking into cutting out wheat/grains for a good long time, well over a year. But it seems so drastic! It seems so impossible! I read Paleo and Primal cookbooks and blogs. I know people who have seen AMAZING benefits from dropping grains from their diets. I completely understand why people do it, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to actually do it.

I’ve been grinding our own flour and while I have yet to do it, I’ve been meaning to soak our grains and flour.

Grains have bad stuff in them. Stuff that actually is antinutrients.  Soaking helps attenuate those bad aspects and make grain more digestible. It’s a place to start. 

One of my hangups has been that both Paleo and Primal, while good nutritionally, come at it from an evolutionary model, in that our apelike ancestors were hunters and gatherers not farmers. I come at it from a Truth perspective, wherein the second generation of people were farmers. Now, that is after the Fall, so perhaps God didn’t intend to have us eat grain primarily.

I found a really interesting article today about the Bible and going grain free at Wellness Mama. That is a perspective I hadn’t seen before.

Another one of my hangups has been the WORK. I know, I know…anything worth having is worth working for.Other families do it. I know I could do it; it’s a whole new way of thinking.

Perhaps I’d better start by being more consistent with cutting out sugar and soaking the grains we do eat first.

Anyway, I’m thinking about it…

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In my imagination, I would have a well stocked larder like this:

But in my reality a day of canning went like this: After getting the baby down for his morning nap at 9 a.m., I went out to pick apples. With muchĂ­simo help from my 7 and 3 year olds who think they can operate the apple picker I haul a five gallon bucket inside. Now, my original goal was to can 56 quarts of applesauce, because then we could have a quart a week, and since my mother-in-law’s canner holds 7 quarts, I wanted to do multiples of 7. I figured a five gallon bucket of apples would fill 7 quarts. I also figured that I would be done peeling coring and slicing since I have a handy dandy machine by the time Denton got up from his nap.

Can I just say? Sometimes I’m wrong. Very. Very. Wrong.
By lunchtime I had 3 and a half quarts full of applesauce; even with the apple peeler-corer-slicer doing the peeling, coring, and slicing and my Vitamix doing the pureeing. I’d used up all my apples and thankfully Kevin offered to pick me more.
Finally, by the time Denton was down for his afternoon nap, I had filled all the jars.
My mother-in-law had showed me how to use the pressure canner when we canned tomatoes together and it seemed very straight forward. It’s an awesome canner that she got for a wedding present in 1962. (Wedding presents have changed somewhat in the ensuing 40 years, haven’t they?)
She graciously had made sure the rubber ring was at it’s full width by boiling it so had given it to me not installed in the canner. Trouble was, I didn’t know where to install it. Even more troublesome, I thought I did.
After messing with the fool thing for 45 minutes, and reading the instruction booklet eleventy-seven times, I called Kevin to see if he could help me. That would be a big negative. Although his mom put up gazillions of quarts of produce every year his whole growing up life, he had never helped her. Suddenly, I noticed a small illustration that seemed to show the rubber ring going in the lid, not on the pot and voila, we could make the canner close and seal.
I happily canned my applesauce. Or so I thought.
When I took my lovely quarts out of the pressure canner around 5:15 p.m. the little button on the top of the jar lid still went up and down! They hadn’t sealed! ALL THAT WORK and I still hadn’t done it right!!
I called my mother-in-law who by now was off work and on her way home to see if she could stop over to see what I had done wrong this time. I was very near meltdown stagetears when she kindly informed me that it sometimes can take up to 24 hours for them to seal; they don’t just seal right away.
“OH.” I said, sheepishly.
And sure enough, I now have 7 quarts of applesauce canned in sparkling jars.
I had 1/2 a quart left over that the children devoured for dinner. Which is all they are going to get, ever, because after all that work, NOBODY is going to be eating that applesauce.
Today I canned seven quarts of green beans, without much fuss or ado. It was much simpler because I had already snapped most of them (the children helped one day and I had a friend over who helped another day) and they were waiting in the freezer.
I think there is a learning curve with this, but I do think I am really going to enjoy providing home grown produce for my family all throughout the year with the beauty that is canning.
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Square Foot Gardening (SFG)

So you may remember I have been in the past a gardening fail...

However, this year I may have turned the corner. I discovered Square Foot Gardening. My uncle gave me his book, and I fell in love. It’s a little different from simply raised beds and it’s working really well for me.
Words to the wise though: Even if your husband is sure that the manure behind the bed is completely composted because nothing is growing in it, you would be wise to check it first before you combine it with your Mel’s Mix.
Chances are it is full of weed seed and has not been heated enough to be fully composted, which thereby completely defeats the purpose of mixing it with vermiculite and peat moss to have ideal soil, because you’ll STILL have to weed!
But you’ll be able to keep up with it, and due to the beauty of the grid, you’ll know you’re not pulling up your baby plants.
Also? Broccoli looks nothing like red root pig weed. Don’t bother carefully weeding around it because then your dad will say, “What’s that weed you’re so carefully tending there?” And you’ll say, “Isn’t that broccoli?” And he’ll have to say, “Sorry sweetie, that looks nothing like broccoli.”

Besides, that broccoli was from old seed and was never going to grow; which brings me to tip number three.

Don’t use seeds from 2006. Or 2004. Especially if they’ve been stored in the garage. Even if you think there might be a chance they’ll sprout, and you may as well since you have them on hand, you’re really just wasting your time.
Keep these little tips in mind, and you may just grow something and it won’t be so overgrown with weeds that you can’t even find what you planted. You’ll be able to make Texas Caviar with cilantro from your very own garden and rosemary potatoes fresh from the yard!
You’ll be so proud of yourself you may just forgive yourself for tending to a pigweed for a whole month and not even knowing it.
early June
early July!

I think we’ve made progress

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Sound bites

**I have been off sugar two and a half weeks and it has been amazing. AH-Maaaaaz-inG!

God is totally in this because no way would I have been able to turn down molten chocolate brownies over at a friend’s house under my own power.
I can’t really say what health benefits I’m experiencing, as nothing seems to have changed much. I did notice that I was at someone’s house for three hours who has two cats without so much as a sniffle! Usually, I can tell if someone has a cat, no matter how ‘clean’ their place seems within five minutes because of the itchiness that always starts in my throat and then all the other aggravating allergy symptoms that soon follow. Plus it’s beginning to green up around here, and still no allergy symptoms.
**We made some delightful hot chocolate floats today: whisk together 2 teaspoons stevia, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, pinch of salt, then slowly add 3 cups raw milk, heat on medium, then add1 ounce sugarless (no artificial sugar either) dark chocolate chunked. I topped everyone else’s with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, but mine was mmmmmm…delectable.
Another benefit about this sugar free business is that I didn’t crave more and more like I used to.
**My Sonlight catalog came!!
**I’ve been reading poetry to the kids from the amazing The Golden Books Family Treasure of Poetry. I’ve always liked to write poetry, but I never relished reading other people’s. I may have to change my assessment of that since I’m really enjoying our voyage into this book. I also discovered it’s impossible for me to read poetry in my head.
**I finished a book in nearly one sitting. It was that good. Unplanned. You really should read it too.
**Today’s smoothie: honey, frozen blueberries, spirulina, wheat grass, raw milk and a banana. Perfection in a glass and a perfect purple to boot!
I don’t have a Vitamix (ridiculously expensive~!) so you have to make sure you get the wheat grass nice and chopped up fine with only one other thing before you add too much liquid. I found this out because I ended up drinking, well, grass.
**We’re visiting a friend’s church today. It’s family integrated, so this will be interesting…but awesome I’m sure.
**I’m so thankful for my kiddles. I’m reminded of this because of a heart breaking situation.
A dear mentor’s daughter needs your prayers. She was 8 1/2 months pregnant, slipped and fell at home. After an emergency Cesarean, baby Margot was stillborn. Now the young mother (of also a two year old) is in kidney failure.
God is a God of miracles.
** I’m working on a schedule. Right now I have more activities than hours in the day, but God will work it out. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before because Managers of Their Homes is a fabulous book, and even though I haven’t implemented the whole system, I have benefited greatly from just the bits.
We’ve also implemented Blanket Time for Cadrian during school. We do a lot of read alouds and he gets restless and into trouble a LOT. Did I mention a lot? And it usually involved water.
So for blanket time, he sits on a blanket. 🙂 With one toy at a time. In the middle of the living room floor. When he starts getting restless, I trade out his toy for something else. It is working out wonderfully! He will last nearly an hour without being a disruption and he still gets to be a involved with us. Brilliant.
Many thanks to my friend Meagan to told me how she institutes that!
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We go to an evangelical church that doesn’t really have much focus on “church tradition”. I’ve never really celebrated Lent in my life, or Ash Wednesday (which, at 2:30 in the afternoon, I found out this was.) I have been considering quitting sugar anyway, so maybe this would be the time to do it.

I can go 46 days without sugar, can’t I?
Says the girl who yesterday ate a few lemon bars, a couple of Girl Scout cookies and who knows how much else sugar hidden in dressing and bread.
I don’t plan on fighting the uphill battle of all the hidden sugars right now (and there are more than you think), but if I can cut out at least the overt sweets, I know I’ll be better off. I’ve been reading this amazing book that has really opened my eyes to what slaves of sugar we have become in this country.
The “experts” will tell you that to lose weight, and be healthy you need to eat fewer calories and exercise more, which seems to make sense. But your body is not a checking account. It doesn’t really work like that.
No one is going to sit down and eat 2 1/2 pounds of sugar beets–natural sugar, but we have no problem sitting down and consuming the few ounces of table sugar those beets can be refined into.
I’m going to move into a more whole foods type of diet, and I’ll be dragging my family along with me. They can go to Grandma’s for their sugar fix!
As for me, I’m going to celebrate Lent by looking forward to my Lord’s resurrection and toward the coming spring without being in my generally glazed over sugar coma.
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Raw Milk!

But first a few bits of randomness:

Every time I think the phrase “raw milk” I hear Gollum saying “rrrrraw and Wrrrrrrrrigggling”.
It’s getting a lot harder to be at the keyboard with Denton my lap–Mr. Grabby Hands is no longer content to just watch.
I’m sad the snow is melting. I like that it’s 40Âș and I can go without a coat, but I had the mud puddle the farm and gravel roads turn into…Let’s hope it’s not this way until it’s officially spring. But it probably will be…
Denton got his first tooth in and his amber necklace did seem to help him not be so fussy during the teething process.
So, on to the topic at hand, Raw Milk.
This is milk that has not had to succumb to the government’s requirements of pasteurization, homogenization, and processing. Most people think it was in our best interest that laws were passed in this regard, but really it’s only the dairy industry who benefits, because then they can crowd more cattle into smaller places and not concern themselves so much with cleanliness and care for the animal.
I feel bad for the individual dairy farmers–they work even harder than grain and beef farmers, and make less money. The profit margin is almost nil for these families.
In Iowa, raw milk is illegal to sell. Luckily, I live right next to Illinois, where it is legal to purchase from the farmer. The closest one I found is about a 45 minute drive away, but the trip took all morning. I’m not sure how sustainable it will be to to this every other week, but I’m hoping to join a co-op, where one person in the co-op makes the trip for all the members.
The owner of the farm was awesome! He talked to me for as long as I wanted (until I had to turn my attention to the rascals), answering questions about all his industries–they also have alpacas, sheep, goats, horses, chickens, bees and a miniature horse. He gave us a bit of homemade butter balm for Cadrian’s chapped cheeks. He held Denton while I carried out our jars of milk to the van. I spoke with his wife on the phone and she was equally as wonderful.
I’m excited about the prospect of being able to give my family the milk God created. I’m excited about being able to experiment with making butter and cheese with real milk. I’m excited to buy my whipping cream already included in the milk. I’m excited to try clabber and buttermilk. I’m excited to provide my family with some of the most amazing, yet simple, food known to man–Raw Milk.
If you would like more information on the benefits, safety and all around wonderfullness that is raw milk, this link would be good place to start. Or maybe this one. They’re both really interesting and chock full of wholesome goodness.
Kind of like Raw Milk.
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So I even passed up a bite-sized Snickers…

I’ve been looking into not eating sugar. Or at least less of it. I know I’m an addict.

Plus I’ve been reading a lot into the science behind weight gain–it’s showing more and more that the “DIET AND EXERCISE” mantra we’ve been hearing over and over for our entire lives is really not accurate. It’s more carbs and sugar that make your body gain weight.

More later from the experts and researchers–back to me now.

I read this awesome list of ideas on how to cut out sugar in your life–I’m not ready to go cold turkey and give it up completely, even for a week or a month. But I do think I can not eat sugar every other day. Because then I can tell myself, “Well, I can eat that(Oreo, Snickers, cookie, homemade chocolate lollipop) tomorrow.”

So today, I have been doing really well at not eating any sweets. We’ll see how it goes the day after tomorrow…
The book Good Calories, Bad Calories was reviewed in our latest Samaritan Ministries newsletter. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole book, but the research is solid. That along with Nourishing Traditions and a slew of other information has convinced me we need to make some serious changes in our diet.
**Note**The above Good Calories, Bad Calories link has great and thorough information on the book, but I do not in any way agree with the blog author’s philosophy on God.
And while I’m disclaiming, I completely disagree with the book author’s philosophy on capital ‘E’ Evolution **
We generally eat healthfully and homemade and homegrown, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I’ll keep you posted on our journey. I’d love to hear your stories too.
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I don’t care

if his favorite meal is steak with a side of meat, and a potato, fried of course.

I still made soufflés for dinner tonight. They were awesome if I say so myself.
His response: “It’s not my favorite.”
(Kevin code for ‘puh-leeeeez don’t make this ever ever again’)
I bet he won’t like the salmon cuditĂ©s either.
Maybe it’s just food with accents he doesn’t care for…
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Birthday Party 2010

I had so much fun planning this party. I thought the girls could be fairy princesses and the boys could be Peter Pan. I learned a lot more about geometry making these hats than I ever did in school.

Most of the party goers.
My man and little Pan.
We set up the yard into several play and activity stations. Aunt Barb helped keep things flowing at the Fairy House Painting station.

Amelia and other moms helped at the Fairy Floats station. I wasn’t sure that our homemade bubble solutions were going to work, but leaving them over night was the key. They turned out great and this very well could have been deemed most popular station.

Of course, all the backyard games were a big hit as well:


the homemade teeter-totter

the tire swing

and of course, hooping.

We had a Make a Flower Friend station…

Uncle Corydon was in charge of the Face Painting station. He did a superb job.

We grilled out burgers and hot dogs and had all the trimmings, accompanied by way too many flies–one of those farm drawbacks.

We had cakes–I made the white ones and the all the icing, (I still have icing leftover should you want to come over for a spoonful :-)) Amelia made the chocolate, and my dad made strawbaby, chocolate AND vanilla ice cream.

The white cakes were really not white cakes–thanks to Whisk Kid’s blog and my friend Wendy tipping me off to it.
These were so fun and easy to make; I felt like Willy Wonka the whole evening. Plus I think I should be getting bragging rights because, technically, I made TWELVE cakes that night.
And, they were delicious. I’m confident, if given the chance, I could have eaten an entire one, over the course of a few days, all by myself.

Special thanks to my brother’s girlfriend Kate for being my roving photographer. I was able to enjoy the party so much more since I wasn’t always thinking about “getting the shot”.

I think some of these pictures were also my sister’s, so thanks to her too! And many many thanks to all our family and friends who came and helped so graciously and made our party the super fun time it was!

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