Sunday, October 30, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
5 lbs Apples (I've used Nittany and Winesap with great results, but I think any flavorful apple will do)
1 to 1 1/2 cup honey or brown sugar or sugar substitute
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of Allspice and Ginger (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Quarter the apples and put them in a slow cooker on low. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and then stir it into the apples. Leave to cook over night or all day, stirring occasionally as convenient. When it's soupy and fragrant to your satisfaction, take it out and put the mixture in a blender or food processor in batches. Serve immediately with fresh bread and enjoy!!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I have been thinking a lot about spirituality in the past week, this may start out a little disjointed, but there will be cohesion by the end. Bear with me, here we go!
In Doctrine and Covenants 29:34-35 God states, "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.”
Everything we do has an impact on our ability to feel the Spirit. I believe this from head to foot.
I have witnessed recently an ever growing number of people I know fall away from their belief in God, our Savior, and the gospel as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I can’t help but stop and wonder if that could ever happen to me, my husband, or my child (someday children). The answer is, of course it could happen. What am I doing to make sure it doesn’t happen?
I learned long ago, (well, it seems long ago to me…), that the real key to spiritual power in my life is reading the scriptures daily, and praying. I’m sure, reading that scripture above, you may be thinking, “Scripture study? Of course that is a spiritual principle!” Sometimes those are the ones in my life that fall by the wayside the most. And as a wise friend recently said to me, it is sometimes hard to do the things you know you should when you haven't connected with God regularly. It is possible to just skim when reading the scriptures. Or to read something just to get that part of the day out of the way. I’ve found myself doing both of these.
There are so many ways in which we are spiritually undermined from day to day, and our personal spirituality has an impact on every other aspect of our lives. Our children, siblings, neighbors, parents, and on and on, see this reflected in who we are. I suppose that last sentence may sound a little scary, it is not meant to be that way at all. It is a lovely and revitalizing truth that we are the makers of our lives. We choose which way we will turn, to or from the Lord. It is a daily decision.
I heard a woman speak one time about how she knew that if she woke up a little early she knew she would be able to have a very spiritual scripture study, but as things were she preferred to read during the day so that her children could see her do it. I feel so strongly that this is a correct principle. Our families need to know how we feel about the scriptures. This starts with me keeping the proper mental attitude towards reading them, though. There are days that I push my reading to a back burner in favor of doing something else. Sometimes it is even necessary. But I have found that somewhere in the day there will be a moment when the Spirit whispers to me that I could read something then, even something short, and be spiritually strengthened for that day. I hope I will remember to take advantage of those moments, remembering it is not just for me, but for my family’s sake as well.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
|Wiggle worm Daniel|
- Unbleached prefolds and unbleached cloth wipes. I see that this company now sells organic. I'd definitely go for that!
- Snappis to hold them in place. You can still get pins (but why would you???)
- Wonderful Thirsties diaper covers
The Changing Routine
|See diapers, sprayer, wipes, cream, pail, snappis, and covers.|
2. Remove soiled prefold and place with dirty wipe in diaper container (mine was sold as a pet food container).
3. Leave cover in place for reuse. I generally use my covers for several diapers in a row before they get smelly. If the diaper is very wet, I hang the cover in its place on the corner of the changing table to air out (you could put a strip of velcro on your table to hang them on). Occasionally, a cover will get a bit messy. Just toss it in the container with the diaper. It is so nice not to have to wash the cover with every use!
4. Put a new prefold in place and, if desired, lather baby's bum with heavenly diaper cream. (This homemade cream is the best thing I've ever tried -- dream come true.)
- Cold rinse with the baking soda that's already in there. This is a good way to do an initial cleaning without setting stains.
- Hot rinse with some detergent added.
- By this time, they're quite clean, and I fill the rest of the washer with other laundry (lights or darks), and do a full load, with detergent added.
- Isn't it gross to wash them out? The diaper sprayer makes this part a breeze! Do it right away and it's no problem; takes less than a minute. Nice side note: if your baby is still 100% breastfed, you can skip this. It just dissolves in the washing machine. :)
- Do they smell? Before, yes. After, no. I have never had diapers come out smelly.
- What about stains? If I don't spray a messy diaper right away, a stain can linger (not a smell). If it bothers you, squeeze a little lemon juice on it and leave it in the sun. You'll be good to go.
- What about diaper rashes? Before switching to cloth, I heard cloth diaper advocates talk about how babies get less diaper rashes in cloth than disposables (less chemicals and processing). I did not find this to be true. It's when we wait too long between changes that we start to see sore bottoms. I haven't used any inserts (though I have yards of bamboo flannel waiting to be tried), so since my prefolds don't wick away moisture, we have to stay on top of the changes!
- Can you use cloth at night? Definitely. I know lots of people who do cloth at night. I've done it many times myself (and even then, my diapers don't leak). But again, my baby is more prone to get a rash if he's sitting in urine all night (I bet those inserts would do the trick!). Right now I mainly use Nature Babycare or Earth's Best or 365 or Seventh Generation disposables (at least go for chlorine free). I don't change diapers at night, so I need something that will hold through without aggravating that soft skin.
- I heard that the environmental benefit to using cloth is debatable (consider the hot water use, the energy, the detergents...). I have thought about this, which is why I make the extra effort to hang-dry and use natural detergents. Also, it's easy to live in ignorance of just what it takes to make disposable diapers. Here's a post detailing what goes into the making of a disposable diaper. The author cites a study which showed that in general, when compared to cloth, disposables create "2.3 times as much water waste, use 3.5 times as much energy, use 8.3 times the non-regenerable raw materials, use 90 times the renewable raw materials and 4 to 30 times as much land for growing raw materials." She also discusses the overburdened landfills and the health hazards of human waste in landfills. She may be extreme in her position (??), but it's definitely food for thought.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
A couple of weeks ago Nonie wrote a wonderful, highly-detailed post on toxins that we ought to avoid. One of her readers made a very thoughtful comment on the post, which I felt merits a response. The reader wrote, "I'm not sure how I feel about this. There are so many toxins all around us that are known and probably unknown to us that I wonder what the point is in trying to avoid them all. Obviously I wouldn't want to purposefully expose my family to them, but I also don't want to be paranoid. Lead and Mercury are easy enough to avoid, but the plastic and other chemicals are EVERYWHERE!"
I think this reader shares the feeling of many of us when encountering such information (especially a lot at once!) --- it's overwhelming. I felt the same way when reading the huge list of toxins, which we're all aware of but prefer to ignore. I have also felt this way as I have learned more about nutrition and realized how far I have to go to perfect my family's diet. Above all, I have felt this way since becoming pregnant in the face of the mounds of information/advice/warnings out there for pregnant mothers --- nutrition, exercise, labor preparation, labor itself... so much information!
The trick is not to do anything cold turkey. Decide what your priorities are, and work on them item by item --- week by week or year by year. Cam and I, for instance, decided to edge away from using plastics by drinking from stainless steel water bottles instead of Nalgenes, and by not heating or freezing plastic storage containers. But I still carry my sandwich to work every day in a plastic bag. We eat organic produce and grass-fed beef almost exclusively at home, but still eat out about once a week and clean our plates at restaurants that I know don't completely share our food values. We don't make our own bread or pasta or even grow a garden yet, but plan to implement those things as our life allows for them.
I feel good about the changes we have made, and little by little I know we'll get there. The trick is always to be chipping away at the improvements that we have decided are important for us. We shouldn't be paranoid; we shouldn't allow ourselves to become overwhelmed. We are blessed to have so much good information on hand; and more blessed to have brains and hearts to discern what is most expedient for our lives and for our families.
(p.s. Posted by Meredith)
Friday, October 21, 2011
Gift giving is such an opportunity to express love and create something wonderful. However, at the most basic level, gift giving amounts to nothing more than, "I'm expected to give a gift to _____ in ____ price range."
I try to be sensitive about needless "stuff collecting" for myself as well as for people I'm gifting to. I really like DIY gifts, and think they're probably the best, but sometimes I don't have ideas for what homemade gift someone would want.
- Remember to pay attention. We (thankfully) have a few months before Christmas. If someone makes a comment about what they'd really like to have, write it down!
- Is there something I can give that would help support her/him in a hobby or creative pursuit?
- What does this person need?
- What is this person's love language? (Hint: The way they express love to you is probably the way they like to receive love.)
- Words of Affirmation--This is my husband's love language. Considering this helped me think of his Valentine's Day gift this last year. I cut out 365 colorful strips of paper, and wrote something I loved about him on every piece and rolled it into a tight scroll, so he could read one a day for the rest of the year.
- Quality Time--A special outing or date with this person would help them feel loved. A good Christmas gift might be something that you can use together. I think that this is my love language, so I love it when my husband takes me on a date, or buys me something that we can use together, like camping gear. It seems like doing a project that took a lot of time might also fit into this category, even though the the time wasn't spent with them, it was spent for them. I'm not sure about that, though.
- Receiving Gifts- My dad loves to give gifts and gives them often, so I believe this is his love language. Give him a well-thought out, quality piece of gear, and he'd really be feelin' the love.
- Acts of Service--Coupons to do all the yucky jobs, or preparing a special meal might do the trick.
- Physical Touch--With a spouse this is easier than with someone else--but can work with children too.
- Bibs that tie in the back (my babies pull the velcro ones right off)
- Lotion or pampering products for a new mama
- For a kiddie birthday party, consider having your child make the gift, or help making the gift for a friend. My son decorated a plain white hat with fabric paint for his friend's birthday last year.
- Picnic Set for newly weds
- Personalized stationery
- Homemade preserves (or anything edible I think makes a great gift)
- What have been some of your favorite gifts to give or receive?
- Do you have some websites or books that have good gift ideas?
- Any good DIY ideas?
- What's your love language and how does that translate to gift giving?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Alright, so that title is a little juvenile. Remember how "fat" is a word bad in our society? I protest. I love fat. I LOVE fat! (If I could have underlined that 'love' I would have.) And I believe that however secretly it may be, we all love fat. You can't really deny it. What tastes better than a fresh piece of homemade bread slathered with butter? Or how about ice cream? A baked potato?
The truth of the matter is we all are programmed to love the stuff.
When I was in college I was under the impression that cutting fat out of my diet was the thing to do. I decided to get serious about exercise and eating healthy. I worked so hard! After about three years of this I looked great, but I just didn't feel well. I would eat, and then literally half an hour later I would get shaky as though I had been fasting. After visiting with a doctor about this, and having some blood tests, I was told that I had Dysmetabolic Syndrome X, aka insulin resistance. I was put on medication, which made me feel awful, but I tried to buckle down and work harder to eat right. For me this meant a continued hardcore lowfat, low sugar diet. Basically your typical diabetic diet. At the end of that semester I had gained 30 lbs, and was so fatigued it was difficult to walk up more than one set of stairs at a time without getting winded. I was devastated.
In time I got off the medication I'd been on, and I began a more moderate approach to healthful living. My last blood test was a few years ago declared me 100% "cured" from any insulin problems. It was a miracle in two ways: I'd prayed and fasted and my blood sugar numbers dramatically changed suddenly. And also because I was put on a path to find a higher road for healthful eating than before.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that my sources, (other than my own experiences), are Nourishing Traditions, and Eat Fat, Lose Fat both by writer/researchers Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. This can only really be a brief overview. To get the whole blessed truth go to your local library and check these books out! Or buy them. They dive into the science of fats and why, chemically speaking, some are not just good for your body, but essential, while others are devastating. You won't regret reading these.
I mentioned last time I posted that Nourishing Traditions was one of the best things to happen in my nutritional life. The main reason for that is it broke through my life long conditioning against eating fat. Don't get me wrong, not all fats are good for you. However, you might be surprised at the fats that are on the list for healthy eating.
After reading this book I began again to incorporate fat into my diet, and not just as a guilty pleasure. Can I just tell you how much better I feel? It has been revolutionary!
Reasons to eat healthy fats:
- Eating fats helps your body to feel fuller longer.
- Did you know that if you are eating a food that is high on the glycemic index adding fat will lower it’s number? Take milk for example. Milk is full of the natural sugar lactose. Drinking low fat, or fat free milk will cause a spike in a person’s blood sugar, whereas drinking full fat milk does not. The fat results in a longer assimilation time for the sugar.
- As mentioned before, our bodies are programmed to want fat because they are needed for energy, carrying out vital functions in our organs, and for the assimilation of certain vitamins and minerals. Because of this, when we cut fat out of or diets we tend to feel strong, sometimes uncontrollable, cravings. Eating healthy fat eliminates this struggle.
- Saturated. Yes, it's true! All of those lovely dreams about butter and steak, and that delicate crunchy chicken skin... delicious and oh so good for you! Saturated fat is found primarily in animal fats, (i.e. butter, milk, yoghurt, and cheese), and tropical fats such as palm oil and coconut oil. These fats are called stable fats, and because of their chemical make up they stay solid at room temperatures. These are great fats for cooking.
- Monounsaturated. You find these as the main elements of olive oil, a large variety of nuts, sesame oil, and avocados. These fats, liquid at room temperature, solid when refrigerated, are also considered stable and good for cooking. They are healthy, healthy, though should be used with some moderation as they tend to accumulate into fats store around our waists.
- Polyunsaturated. This is the group we ought to be on the look out for. These fats are highly unstable, and will remain a liquid even when refrigerated. Because they are unstable they are susceptible to rancidity to a much higher extent then other fats. (Rancidity= bodily poison, aka free radicals that cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other insulin issues, and mood disorders such as depression.) These fats are super cheap to come by which makes them a favorite with most food companies. These fats should be strictly avoided whenever possible. They are derived from safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, canola, and cottonseed. The exception: omega fatty acids are also in this category, and are essential for our bodies as our bodies cannot make these themselves. Because they are unstable, flax oil (one of the most widely talked about sources), should never be cooked with. Healthy sources of omega-3 include flax seeds, fish, eggs, etc.
- Trans Fat. I don't really have time to go into the chemical make up of trans fats, what I can tell you in the limited space that I have is that trans fats take up space in our cellular makeup so making so that our bodies don't function on that most basic level. Trans fats and saturated fats used to be lumped into the same category, and so many of the bad effects of trans fats were blamed on saturated fats. So sad!
- Cholesterol. This is a substance all over in nature that can not be over looked. It is considered a physical offender, which is funny because our own bodies make it in abundance. Cholesterol is one of the building pieces for our cells, it is what gives our cells their sturdiness. It is found in very high percentage in mother's milk because of it's importance as a human growth factor. Cholesterol is also used in our bodies as an important part of the mass messaging system that are our hormones. Sources include the ever-lovable egg, and other animal products, milk, meat etc.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
- Fish high on the food chain.
- Fat from animals whose diets were supplemented with fish meal, fish oil, and waste animal fats
- Breast milk
- All of the above, as well as...
- Fabric, such as children's pajamas, which steadily release the compound into the air
- Computer and TVs
- Foam for furniture, upholstery, rugs, draperies, and car interiors
- Household dust, which "accounts for 80% of total daily PBDE exposure for toddlers."
- Buy meat from grass-fed animals
- Buy wild salmon (not farmed!)
- Avoid fish high on the food chain
- Breastfeed. "Although breast-fed babies test higher for PCBs than babies exposed only in utero, as a group they consistently perform better than formula-fed babies. Indeed, duration of nursing is positively related to health, memory, and language -- in other words, the longer kids nurse, the better of they are. Researchers surmise that this is because breast milk is actually formulated to protect our babies against harmful chemicals."
- Vacuum floors and upholstery regularly with a vacuum (with HEPA filter)
- Wipe dusty surfaces with a wet cloth and mop floors regularly
- Buy children's PJs not labeled as flame-resistant. An alternative is snug-fitting jammies, which allow less air to circulate between the fabric and skin, lessening the chance that it will catch fire.
- Choose furniture, electronics, cars, and carpets not treated with flame retardants. There are lists of PBDE-free companies at www.thegreenguide.com.
- Contact manufacturers and let them know you will not buy their products until they stop using PBDEs.
- Diesel trucks, buses, and cars (especially SUVs)
- Inefficient home heating systems and home fireplaces (indoor and outdoor)
- All motorized vehicles
- Power plants
- Fossil fuels and wood combustion (even backyard BBQs)
- Cigarette smoke
- "Formed when raw ingredients from tailpipes, smokestacks, gas stations, paint, refineries, and chemical plants come into contact with heat and sunlight" (i.e. filling up your car on a hot, sunny day can contribute to the layer of smog)
- Cut down on driving your car.
- Do not idle your car.
- Keep your car in good running order and drive a low-emission car if possible.
- Replace lightbulbs with energy-saving bulbs
- Make your indoor environment lung healthy: no smoking, clean regularly to reduce dust/insect droppings, fix leaks/moisture issues that might cause mold, reduce usage of woodstoves/fireplaces.
- Limit outside time on high-ozone days.
- Keep outdoor activities as far as possible from heavily trafficked roads.
- Look for warning signs of undiagnosed asthma (prolonged, regular bouts of coughing, shortness of breath when playing sports/exercising)
- Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma and allergies than formula-fed babies
- If your child has asthma, have his particular allergens identified by a specialist and take measures to avoid them
- If your child rides the bus to school, help regulate school buses:
- Ask administrators/school board what obstacles need to be cleared to prohibit the idling of school buses (and other vehicles) outside your child's school.
- Designate the newest/cleanest buses to the longest routes and field trips.
- Do not allow buses to closely follow each other. Stagger departure times.
- Keep buses maintained
- Work with community leaders. Be willing to help bring about the changes you seek!
- 4 and 5-year-olds: pesticide-exposed children "repeatedly scored lower in the tests designed to measure stamina, gross and fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, thirty-minute memory, and the ability to draw a person."
- 6 and 7-year olds (same children): pesticide-exposed children "on the whole had an inferior sense of balance, difficulty solving easy puzzles, and poor hand-eye coordination. Perhaps related to these low ability levels, they were easily frustrated and had trouble completing tasks."
- Prepubescent girls: pesticide-exposed girls had early breast development, with no mammary tissue in the developing breasts; the pesticide-free girls had some breast development with a normal correlation of fat deposits and mammary tissue. "Dr. Guillette inferred that the girls' abnormal breast development was most likely caused in utero. Mammary gland tissue is first laid down at six to eight weeks and then again at twenty weeks. If pesticides somehow inhibited the proper development of mammary tissue, when these girls... become mothers they will be unable to breastfeed their babies."
- Nonorganic food (accounts for 80% of exposure)
- Drinking water
- Home pesticides for insect and rodent control
- Eat organic food. McDonald cites one study that concluded: "an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against pesticide exposure." The USDA regularly tests samples of organic and nonorganic fresh and processed foods for pesticide residues. The Environmental Working Group used the USDA's results of more than 100,000 pesticide tests on produce between 1992 and 2001 to develop a ranking of contamination by type of produce. Here is what they learned:
- Highest pesticide contamination (buy organic!): apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.
- Lowest pesticide contamination: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, mango, onions, papaya, pineapple, frozen sweet corn, and frozen sweet peas.
- Avoid food imported from other countries, even if it is organic. Though they have to meet the same federal standards as domestic produce, there is a debate as to whether or not the FDA is aggressive enough.
- If you buy baby food, be sure it's organic.
- Use non-chemical methods (integrated pest management, or IPM) for deterring insects and rodents in the home:
- Make your house unappealing to insects/rodents: sponge down spills, eliminate clutter, seal food in containers, don't leave food out overnight, be aware that pet food can also attract bugs/rodents
- Keep home well maintained: repair leaky faucets or pipes, block all holes into home by caulking cracks/crevices, make sure there are no gaps where pipes pass through walls/floors
- Set traps at night when pests are most active (try peanut butter in trap)
- When necessary, use least toxic alternatives
- Be very wary about using chemicals on your lawn and garden where people walk and play. These can also be tracked in to your home and leach into your groundwater.
- I've been concerned about a dangerous new pesticide, methyl iodide, recently approved for use on California's strawberry crop (we supply 90% of the nation's strawberries). The decision is under review, but just in case the regulators fail to be dissuaded, I second McDonald's urge to buy organic strawberries, especially if they're from California.
- Last year I was reading Cure Tooth Decay, a fascinating book by Ramiel Nagel. Regarding pesticides, he wrote: "Pesticides can be deadly, and they do get trapped in the body. These chemicals often cannot just be washed off the food because many pesticides are designed to be systematically present in every cell of the food. Foods that are not organic also contain intentional chemical food additives, many of which have never been carefully tested for safety. A recent study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, documents how pesticides from fruits and vegetables rapidly appear in children's saliva and blood stream after being eaten. It is now a proven fact that the poison sprayed on food will enter your body."
- Though McDonald has explored some of the main toxins threatening children today, this book doesn't scratch the surface. She writes, "...given the pace at which new chemicals enter the marketplace (in the United States about 1,500 new chemicals are unleashed into the environment every year), this book will probably have to be written all over again before today's schoolchildren graduate." I am happy, however, to have more keys and be more alert than I was before.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
- Each project has given me a couple of hours in which I simply sketch, color, and meditate on my pregnancy. I have not taken enough time for such meditation up until now and it has been very relaxing and welcome. Thinking back on coloring time, my mind was engaged in little else than the colors and lines. How rarely do I give it such an opportunity to wind down!
- I did actually learn about the way I view my pregnancy. For one who was not settled about her pregnancy in the beginning at all, and really not through the whole first trimester, I have most happily discovered that I am perfectly at peace now --- and more. I know where I fit into this picture.
- Cam and I were able to learn about each other in the process, and the way we each understand how our life together is changing. I think it gave him the same kind of opportunity for expression and meditation that we so rarely take time for.
Friday, October 14, 2011
- Cooking spray (I used olive oil)
- 2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 medium)
- 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
- 4 cups chopped Swiss chard (about 1 bunch)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Asiago cheese (I used Parmesan)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (I thought I had the nuts but I was out. I just skipped the nuts and the pesto was still great, but I'm sure inferior to what it would have been)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (I used dried)
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil (I used olive oil)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- To prepare the soup, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add leek to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Add potato; cook 10 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in chard, pepper, salt, and beans; cook 3 minutes or until chard wilts. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.
- To prepare the pesto, combine cheese and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with about 2 teaspoons pesto.