And a word on split pea soup. Oh the joys of split pea soup! It is fast (esp if you have a pressure cooker), costs pennies, and is oh so good!
Unless, of course, you have the flu. Poor Alex says he will never eat it again.
My blog is starting to look like a 12 year olds blog where they dedicate whole posts to their pets and how cool they are. LOL! I promise... more mature things soon. ;)
These days happen.
BUT... thankfully there is chocolate and good tea on hand to get me through the day. And when that doesn't work, web surfing always will.
The cutest designs I have seen in a while.
Wonderful wall designs! They even have a free iron-on's that you can print out of the cute little sheep they feature in their products.
Chrissie at Flip flops and Applesauce had a great idea the other day on how to make balloon balls, and then she did this fun game with them with her girls.
There was also Muffin Tin Monday. We have participated for the last few weeks and it has become a quick family tradition. I love that Michelle posts each of the mamas who participate and have made some really fun new blog discoveries through her Monday posts. The rest of her blog, Her Cup Overfloweth, is a great read as well and there have been so many great ideas posted that I find myself spending a lot of time in her archives.
Valerie over at the Frugal Family Fun Blog has some wonderful ideas and I am really enjoying trying some of them out. I am particularly fond of her $5 Fridays. Every week she has a new idea that costs less than $5 and is guaranteed to keep your children occupied for at least an hour of your weekend. :)
And last of all, my personal links of what we have been up to. We have taken a little break from the furious house hunting. It was needed for my sanity. Lately we have really been into projects: We made fake sushi, my daughter designed and made a fairy house with her girlfriends, and we took a wonderful (and educational) trip to the grocery store. It's raining again today, but we have had some great weather and aside from the headache and toothaches of today, we are all doing really great. :)
That is all I have time for today. Toothache Logan is ready for a snuggle and a book. :)
So yesterday I made a point of making a menu. I have some special things planned for this week so I had to do my shopping a little early, but in the end, it worked out great!
Hope you all are having a wonderful Monday!
The kids are so thrilled to have their own pets. I think these kitties will be treasured babies.
Right around Alex's age, I brought a kitten home from church camp. My mom wasn't too thrilled about it, but since my other cat had disappeared, she agreed to let me keep him. I had Julian for the next 16 years. He passed four years ago and it still tugs at my heartstrings when I think of him as a young kitten, and me dressing him in doll clothes and carrying him around in the pocket of my hoodie. I think that these memories of taking care of something dear will stick with my kids for the rest of their lives.
I keep finding perfect houses, in less than perfect yards... and perfect yards, with houses that we would have to put thousands into to make them work for us.
I feel like I am sending out seeds to the universe... hoping one takes hold.
And here is Little Bo. She is the tiniest kitten I have ever seen. She maybe weighs as much as a fast food taco. They have only been here for 4 hours... but already they are a part of the family. With a story behind their names and everything. (That is a thing with me... some day I will run down the list and tell you how I name our cats. ;) )
When I was 9 months old, I decided (on my own) that I wanted to eat nothing but mashed carrots and sweet potatoes. My mom says she could occasionally push some oatmeal with molasses down me, but for the most part, I ate mashed sweet potatoes and carrots breakfast, lunch and dinner. About 3 weeks later, she noticed that I was a little bit yellow around my lips and nose. Then, she noticed it in my fingertips and eyelids. She was alarmed of course, because discoloration of that kind is a sure warning sign for Jaundice. So, she took me to the Dr. and after careful and close examination the Dr asked her, point blank, "What the hell are you feeding this kid?" When she explained my new found love of sweet potatoes and carrots it all came clear. I wasn't turning yellow... I was turning ORANGE.
Soy is just the same. If your diet consists of a large range of things, but you happen to have tofu 3 nights a week for dinner... this most likely will not effect your boys development. In fact, I will go so far as to say that it will be healthier than the hormone fed chicken or beef you could be giving him instead. On the other hand, if he has a big glass of soy milk in the morning, soy milk in his cereal, chickenless nuggets with french fries fried in soybean oil for lunch, and Boca burger on a white bread bun for dinner... well, yes. Your child may have a problem. You may flood his system with soy and it may start to effect his development. No one was made to eat one plant that much.
In our society, you can get anything you want... anything... made from corn or soy. In fact, your entire diet could be based on corn and soy and unless you are paying attention, you wouldn't even know it! Most fast food eaters do not understand that nearly everything they are eating is corn. Every bit of it. The corn fed beef and chicken, the french fries cooked in corn oil and made with modified corn starch to hold them together, the high fructose corn syrup that makes up more than three quarters of their 36 oz soft drink. All of it. Corn.
Our bodies were not meant to eat anything this way.
But back to soy. It is important to not demonise a food for the way people use it. Soy beans are legumes. They are a wonderful source of amino acids that make up proteins just as the average pinto bean or black bean is. Eaten with rice, they make a complex protein that is usually very important for the vegan or vegetarian diet. It isn't a food to ignore or avoid unless it has been tampered with beyond recognition by humans.
A moment for GMO's. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. They are flooding our food chains right now. To the GMO corn to feed the cattle (that, FYI, are not supposed to eat corn in the first place) to the GMO soybean oil to fry our potato chips and french fries in. I wish that I could say that they genetically modify these foods to make them more nutritious... to make them better for you... but they don't. They modify these foods to make them resistant to poison. So they can pour copious amounts of whatever poison they want on the fields in which our food is grown, killing everything else living and leave perfectly 'healthy' soy and corn plants behind. Scary? You bet! If this is something you would like to avoid, here is a handy shopping list to help you. *Shopping list*
When you are buying your soy foods, these three questions will help you determine if it is safe or not:
- Does it have label saying "no GMO's" or "Organic" (which by Federal law can not have GMO's)?
- Are you eating many other foods with your soy products that are not made from soy?
- Is it a food that is unique to soy, like miso or tofu? (Just a tip, soy beans do not have mammary glands).
If the answers are 'yes', 'yes', and 'yes', then honestly, you are probably fine to feed this to your family without fear or side effects.
Pealed and sliced.
I have had this song stuck in my head for weeks. (It is from Putt Putt Saves the Zoo for those of you who just can't place it.) We love our zoo. And lately, we have been there a lot. We have a membership, so can go for free when ever we want to, and man! With these beautiful days we have had in the last two weeks, getting out to see the animals at the zoo has been a wonderful adventure for our whole family. Yesterday we took our Muffin Tin Monday to the zoo, which was GREAT! All the animals are out, and I got some AMAZING pictures!
The kids are loving it. The first time we went to houses that were in Puyallup... which is about 20 miles from here and then farther out in county. So we stopped and got them ice cream because they were starting to melt down, and it has become kind of a tradition. I haven't gotten them full sized cones since that first day though. I discovered the joy of the snack sized ice cream cones from Drumstick. At one point I had qualms about buying a Nestle product, but if those ever were about to stop me from buying something, it isn't when we have four more houses to see and are 30 minutes from home with 3 bored to death kids in my van (and an even bigger conviction against fast food).
Doesn't that look like crazy amounts of fun??? You can order them off Amazon.com.
As for the houses... we have seen some CRAZY stuff... one had a moat. Seriously, a triangle space of water that was at least 10 ft deep that had no seeable purpose or reason behind it attached to their house between the house and the back yard. Maybe they kept fish large enough for eating? Maybe they were just nuts... but whatever it was, it was a toddler death trap, so we veto'd that house really quick. Another (the one we put a bid on, actually) was so messed up I was shocked walking through. It was a BEAUTIFUL house... beautiful... nice garden space, decent yard size, amazing area... totally the type of house we would buy but usually fell outside of our price range. When we went in there, we found out why it was in our price range now. They had left stuff in the house, the house was filthy, and there were odd things glued to the walls. Like, Styrofoam balls painted with silver glitter paint. Glued to the wall. Odd... And then there was the puke. Yes. It looked like a little girl had gotten sick all over her shoes while they were moving and they had just left it there. How do I know it was a little girl who therew up on her shoes? The shoes were there too... covered in vomit that was 3 months old. *shudder* So gross! So the first thing we did was figure out how much it would be to re-carpet the ENTIRE house, and put a bid in on the house, sans the carpet pricing. If it goes through, great... if not, it wasn't meant to be... but wow. It was a stunning house someone had mistreated so badly. I would be happy to bring some good energy into that space.
Our house is out there. Whether it is this one or not is yet to be seen, but I know our house is out there.
Remember this post? We still owe on them, but we haven't used a credit card at all in three months. It is a habit now to not even think of using them or even think of getting them for good deals. There are some days that it made harder, but there was no way we ever went without what we needed. We haven't put a whole lot of extra on to debt due to this housing situation (we have paid over $2000 in gas bills since we moved here already), but my hopes are high that after we get a house, we will be able to really start ticking off that debt.
I have spent more time in the last three weeks on Google Maps and Google Earth than I can even tell you. Basically, my house buying strategy is this:
#1: Find house that looks good on Windermere Real Estate website.
#2: Put it into Google Earth to see where the sun lies on the property so I know if I can garden in that space or not.
#3: Put the address into Google Maps to see if I can pull up a 'street view'. If I can, look around the neighborhood via the internet.
#4: Put the address into Google Maps directions so I can add it to our next outings and we can drive by and look at the house.
It sounds like a good system doesn't it? But so far, we have looked at about 25 houses this way and I am starting to feel really overwhelmed. That is a LOT of driving and a lot of area covered and I haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg yet. I just want something to jump out at me. Like when Don and I got together... when I knew... I just KNEW and we have been that way ever since. No wavering in that faith that we were meant to be put here together for this lifetime. I want that kind of security. That kind of surety. Do you get that with a house?
The only person in the house that I could justify getting a new water bottle for is Alex. His had a tragic demise after he thought that he would put it in the freezer with water in it to allow the kinks and dents to be pushed out. I told him the possibilities, like the bottom popping out and it not being able to sit right, or the top breaking... but I wasn't even prepared for the strength of frozen water:
Yes my friends, that is a HUGE rip in a stainless steal bottle. Craziness huh?
This is the shadow of my family on an ideal family day. We drove around, looking for our dream house, and then went to the Spring Fair. Don with Logan on his shoulders, baby animals are everywhere to 'ohhh' and 'ahhh' at, Cyan and Alex, both happy and content, and, of course, the shining sun, so rare here in the very grey Pacific NW. A beautiful day... and a beautiful shadow.
Backhoe jammies and rain boots.
Bubbles.Wooden trains and enough sun to play with them outside.
What a beautiful afternoon!
1 cup spelt flour
1 tea sea salt
1 1/2 tea Spike seasoning
2/3 cup of milk or enough to make the batter kind of runny.
Mix it all together in a large bowl.
Wash and spin dry the dandelion flowers.
Dip in the batter, and fry in hot oil (we used coconut oil)
Allow to cool on paper towels, and eat away.
The kids absolutely loved them! They didn't last until dinner. Weeds... who would've thunk?
For the last four months I have been perfecting my menu and shopping techniques. Now I have a menu day, a shopping day, and rarely go anywhere in between. I outlined the whole plan here.
My family has really been into cooking lately. This can be really great... or really not so much. But that is another post entirely...
Storage: The trick for me has always been storage. Eating what you have stored, however, is a acquired habit. It doesn't happen overnight. Nor does storing enough food for the entire season. Each part is a process.
This year we actually ran out of a few things! This last summer, the amount of food that we consume jumped much more than I assumed it would. At the start of the summer with my family (my kids then 16 mos, almost 7 yrs, and almost 12 yrs) I was feeding 2 adults, and 2 children. By the end of the summer I was feeding 3 fully adult sized portions, and 2 fully kid sized portions (because, of course, Logan didn't stay a baby forever). So my storage for this winter was off. It isn't an exact science... but if you calculate it out before you look for produce to buy in August or September, it will be much easier to adjust to what your family personally needs.
On page 10 of the Ball Blue Book it has a chart for planning how much food to grow and/or preserve for your family. It lists how many servings you would have per week, and then times that by 52, and you have how many quarts you need for the year. For example, we can peaches each year. This last year we ate 3 quarts of peaches each week until they were gone. (The year before that it was 1 or 2... that is how much it changed this last summer. Teenagers really throw the food prep for a loop!) So for this next year I am planning to can 70 quarts, or 5 boxes of peaches. I do the same calculation for green beans, blueberries, tomato sauce, beets, snow peas, dried herbs, etc.
The Ball Blue Book only lists the things you preserve by canning, but I have modified the planning to everything I need... freezing, drying, and canning. As the time gets closer, I will have more details about the food preservation, low sugar canning, and other tips for keeping your local harvest beautiful and yummy all through the winter. Basically planning ahead allows us to have variety in the winter months so we are not buying blueberries from Chili, or strawberries from Mexico in January.
Variety and how important it is... or not. The truth is, you don't have to eat a thousand different kinds of foods every day to stay healthy. For thousands of years our bodies were adjusted to eating what was around our local area. Our bodies crave things that are in season. When the sun is out, our bodies naturally want lighter, more sweet foods... and when the winter cold closes in, our bodies turn to heavy meals that usually have quite a bit of protein in them to keep us warm. It is important to keep those seasonal feelings alive in our bodies.
Even a hundred years ago, beef was rarely a summertime meal, and chicken was never found in January. Cows were slaughtered in the late fall to boost the winter months with a high protein source, and chickens were culled in the summer when people found out just how many roosters they had. Egg layers took the months of Dec -Feb off and started up again in March and a huge celebration took place to honor them. Cows had babies in the spring and by April had enough milk to feed the neighborhood, but were never over taxed and so therefore, to keep the cow healthy, no one had tons of milk in the winter when the cows were pregnant. Everything has a season. Even meats, milk, and eggs. A letter to Sally Fallon (the author of Nourishing Traditions) says:
"Traditional diets didn't rely on refrigeration or long distance transport. As advocates of Weston Price's work, we need to pay more attention to the seasonality of food; even milk, meat, and eggs.
Left to her own devices, a dairy cow will breed so that she calves in the spring. This way both she and the calf will have plenty of high quality feed to rebuild and grow with so they both will go into the following winter with plenty of vigor and stored nutrients with which to meet its harsh temperature and poorer quality feed. (Similarly, a hen will not lay eggs in the middle of winter unless subjected to artificial lighting.) Our modern eating habits push a farmer to breed her cows so they'll calve in the fall. When children go back to school, we expect milk for our breakfasts and milk sales go up. This is completely backwards!" ---Read the rest of the letter here.---
I am not saying, by any means, to stop eating chicken just because it is winter... but to be conscience of the natural cycles of the plants and animals from which we get our foods. And the cycles in which we have our cravings as well.
Cyan's is filled with her chocolate bunny, an egg of jelly beans, the Small Backyard Bird Book, Mary Poppins, a homemade charm braclet, and two things of natural nail polish.
The easy finds for the littles,
and the not so easy for the biggers.
It was a wonderful day. :) I hope you all had a beautiful holiday!