Friday, November 30, 2012

DIY Advent Calendar

I've always wanted to make my own advent calendar, but never had or taken the time.  Finally this year, I looked up this list of diy advent calendars, and made what looked like the easiest one!  It was really fast.  This is what it was supposed to look like:
Mine didn't turn out quite that cute, but it was really fast :)
Instead of painting the numbers on, I used some stickers I already had.
I also put an activity and a scripture on the back.  The scriptures I mainly took from this list.
There are lots of great activity lists you can find online.  I looked through a bunch, and made my own to match our schedule.
1-Sat—String popcorn or Cranberries for tree
2-Sun—Temple Lights & Concert
3-Mon—Make Nativity
4-Tues—Make Snowflakes
5-Wed—Send Christmas Cards
6-Thurs—Take cookies to local fire station
7-Fri—Watch a Christmas movie
8-Sat—Make treats for neighbors
9-Sun—Deliver treats
10-Mon—Drive around and see the Christmas Lights
11-Tues—Make Christmas Tree ornaments
12-Wed—Sing Christmas Songs
13-Thurs—Play a Christmas game
14-Fri—Watch Nutcracker
15-Sat—Doorbell Ditch w/treats
16-Sun—Picnic next to the tree
17-Mon—Look at pictures of Christmas past
18-Tues—Collect coins to put in Salvation Army Buckets
19-Wed—Dance to Christmas songs
20-Thurs—Downtown Christmas
21-Fri—No Lights*—Wrap presents
22-Sat –-No Lights—Make bird seed ornaments
23-Sun—No Lights—Sing at Rest Home
24-Mon—No Lights—Dinner for the Holy Family & Feed the birds
25-Tues—Merry Christmas!

*We're going to try to limit our use of lights and electricity in the evenings on the last few days leading up to Christmas.  In my experience, candles do much to calm people down and create a special and even sacred atmosphere that regular lighting can't duplicate.  I'm also hoping it helps us to get to bed early these nights!

One thing I liked about this advent calendar, was that it was so quick and easy, I didn't feel like I was necessarily committing to a lifetime of doing these same traditions.  We'll see how it goes, and if we want to use this again next year, or come up with something different.

Are we starting too many traditions this year?  We're also going to try the Christmas Book Advent this year.  We'll be mostly using library books.

Did you make an advent calendar that you loved?  What activities would you add to your list?  What other Christmas traditions do you love?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Fred and me at 39 weeks. Love those cell phone shots!
This is the story of Fred's birth. I am copying this from a little journal I am keeping for him, so it is written to him.

The night before you were born I did a very silly thing. Your dad and I were watching a show, (Downton Abbey, in case you're interested), and decided to watch one more episode. The episode was entitled "Christmas at Downton", and so I thought it would be a regular Christmas special, about 20 minutes long... It turned out to be almost an hour and a half long, and we didn't get into bed until after 1 am.

I took the risk of staying up that late because I had been having timable contractions for about a month, and you hadn't decided to come. So I had declared to myself that I wouldn't anticipate it anymore, I would pretend we were going to be bosom buddies forever!

I fell asleep quickly, but slept very fitfully. I kept semi-waking, feeling uncomfortable. I assumed in my drowsy brain that I needed to use the bathroom, but I kept slipping into sleep again. Finally I got up. It took only a few minutes before I realized why I'd been so uncomfortable: I was having some very motivating contractions. I sat there through a few powerful ones trying to decide if I was hallucinating. I think I was there for half an hour before I decided to come out and wake up your father.

I realized at that time it had only been and hour and a half since we gotten to bed. I felt so alive and energetic, though. I woke your dad, and we laid in bed and smooched for a while. We were thrilled we would be meeting you soon.

Pretty soon the contractions were a little too uncomfortable to be lying down, so we got up and called Richelle.

Katy, Richelle's assistant, got here first. Richelle and Sharla, Richelle's other assistant, arrived a little later. I just need to express how much I love these women. They each did specific small things that really stand out as making this journey so lovely to look back on. They are wonderful!

My contractions were about 4 or 5 minutes apart, and were easy enough to integrate at first. It was a real change being able to have conversation during labor. (My water broke first with George's, and so it was quite intense from the start really.) I was able to joke and laugh, it was really nice.

I spent that time walking around the kitchen, pausing here and there to hold a chair during a contraction. Little by little my energy began to fade, and it became a little harder for me to be around the people who were present to give support. I retreated to the bathroom, turned on the fan to drown out any noise, and leaned over the sink. Sometimes I held onto the towel rack.

I had gotten into a rhythm of swaying my hips from side to side, and that released some of the intensity of the contractions. And I even found myself dozing off as I leaned over the sink. After some time I ventured out, but the buzz of conversation was too much for me on some mental level. I walked into a bedroom nearby and found a bar in the closet that was just the right height for me to hang from. It was so relieving! So for a while I went back and forth from leaning over the sink in the bathroom, to hanging in the closet of the room next to it.

After having so little sleep, my energy was waning, and it was becoming harder to integrate the contractions. I began to pray for more strength. And soon I was praying more earnestly that the time to push would come.

My midwife and I had discussed before hand that I did not want to be told how and when to push. I believe so strongly that the body knows instinctively when this should happen -- a woman does not need to be told, save in very rare circumstances, when she should push. It is so empowering and much easier on the body to allow the body to take control at that point.

After saying those prayers, I strayed out of the bathroom into the kitchen. Your dad walked in and just smiled at me. I love him so much! We kissed during a few contractions, which was so nice and grounding. I cried a little as I told him it was getting a little difficult. The contractions were so strong at this point. He told me that Richelle had mentioned she could check my dilation, and if it was alright, break that bag of waters you were in. It could help speed things up. I felt instinctively that was the answer to my prayers that I would be able to push soon.

I came into the front room, where everything was set up, and Richelle asked me to lean over our yoga ball as she made her assessment. I was dilated 7cm, and our bag of waters was sagging through my cervix, (I intentionally call it 'our bag of waters', since it was part of both he and me). I'm not sure how it works, but Richelle told us that can slow dilation. I'm so grateful for a loving God who heard my prayers, and for a midwife who was the conduit through which he was able to answer.

Richelle ruptured the bag of waters, and the contractions came on strong. I have heard, and truly believe, that having a grateful heart makes labor and birth a nicer and faster experience. So I stood holding Richelle's hand on one side, and your dad's hand on the other, swaying and chanting all of the things I was grateful for.

Richelle sang you a nice song at one point. "Come baby. Come.", were the words. It was so soothing to me.

I am much more comfortable standing in labor, but something came over me to kneel. I knelt leaning over the yoga ball, and asked if we could say a prayer. Your father offered a lovely and short prayer for me, for strength, and again that I would be able to push soon. I was so tired by this point.

Directly after that prayer I recognized changes in the contraction -- slowly I realized my body was preparing to push.

I didn't say say anything to alert anyone it was happening. I remember thinking to myself that Richelle would know, because she is so good at reading a laboring mother's energy. And she did. She quietly knelt near me, and had your dad come to where he could catch you.

It had only been a half hour from the time Richelle had ruptured the waters, to the time you came. It was so nice, and actually felt good to allow my body to just push with each contraction. I didn't really even have to bear down, as they say, my body was just doing this amazing thing!

I could feel you making your way down slowly. I was praying, and praying the whole time. (God is really with a laboring woman.) Your dad proudly announced that you had lots of hair -- we now had two babies born with so much hair, you and your brother George. It was so good to hear about you as you were emerging!

Then your head was out, but you had such broad shoulders, you didn't rotate so the rest of you could slide out. I needed to stand. That moment is so intense, I thought that I couldn't. Katy and Sharla came to each arm and helped me stand, and move my legs to give you more room. And then again, they helped me to kneel. And with a mighty push, and some great warrior noises, you were born! Your father caught you, and told me that we had another son.

And then, to steal a phrase from another mother's story, I was joy. It was so beautiful. You cried, which surprised me, because my first babe had been so quiet when he was born. But it was so wonderful to hear you as we met face to face.

Your face was blue, even for a newborn, from our experience of you having such broad shoulders. So I called you my little blue man.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Birth of Evelyn Bea

This is the story of my third child, Evelyn Bea.  You can also read about Benjamin James (my perspective, or Andrew's perspective) and Abraham Craig.  I have been blessed to have three beautiful, natural births.
Evelyn was “due” September 21.  That day, my mother came to visit (and save the day).  I cleaned aggressively for her arrival and in hopes that it would kick in my labor.  It didn’t.  Neither did many other attempts at trying food myths, long walks, meditation and generally staying busy.  However, that week we had lots of fun running around DC and MD.  It was difficult to not be overly-anxious about the birth of my soon-to-be-new-best friend!
At my 40+ week appointment, my midwife started talking about natural induction methods, and how I should call and schedule an ultrasound to be sure that my fluid levels were okay, etc.  It was discouraging.  I didn’t want to force my baby out, I wanted her to choose to come out all on her own (and I wanted her to choose to come out soon!).  The days passed, and Monday loomed near, when I was supposed to have scheduled my ultrasound appointment as well as my appointment with my midwife where they were going to take more aggressive steps to bring my baby.  I still felt like I wanted my baby to come out on her own, but I decided to take castor oil on Sunday if she had not come by then.
On Saturday I went for a long walk.  I invited everyone to come with me, but everyone else was busy, so I had the (unheard of) chance to take a walk by myself.   I was dropped off near a trailhead.  As soon as I was dropped off, I crossed the street and found myself face to face—closer than I had ever been to two dear: a buck and a doe.  The buck ran away, but the doe (who was just twice my arm’s length away) stood looking at me for a long time.  It was a sacred moment, and I wondered if perhaps she was a messenger for me.  As I walked away, I turned back and took a picture on my (very poor) camera phone.
I saw no one for the first part of my walk.  I was able to pray out loud, and then talk out loud to my baby girl whom I longed so much to see.  As I walked and talked, any anxiety I had melted away.  It was a perfectly beautiful crisp Indian summer day.  I told my sweet Evelyn Bea what a beautiful day it was, and that I had so many things to show her.  I had the sense that one of the reasons I was naming her “Evelyn Bea” was because the women for whom she was to be named—Andrew’s Grandmother, Evelyn Marshall, my great-grandmother Beatrice Evans and me, Ariel Beatrice—all had (and have) great love for nature, and have spent much time alone in the mountains.  I believe it is something my own Evelyn Bea will take great comfort in.  I walked and walked and walked, becoming more peaceful, energized and happy with each step.
The only "natural induction" technique that worked.
I was then picked up by my husband and little boys, and we had a busy few hours: going to a service project, then to a little play, the park, then home.  Again, in order to keep up the pace and bring my little baby, I mowed the lawn, then showered and got ready for a church meeting (the Relief Society General Broadcast).  Refreshments were first, and I struggled to stay social and pleasant while we waited for the conference to begin.  My legs and body were starting to really feel tired from all the exercise and being on my feet all day.
During the conference, I was able to concentrate on what was said, but I also kept track of my “waves” (contractions) on the side of my notes.  They were consistently seven minutes apart (this was at about 8:00 p.m.).   I didn’t think I was in labor, because I typically experienced consistent waves when sitting for extended periods. I came home and felt exhausted.  I wanted to go straight to bed, but against my better judgment I stayed up an hour or two and talked to Andrew and my mom.  I told them about the waves, and we all hoped it was finally happening, but still couldn’t be sure.  I did hypothesize that if I were in labor, we could have the baby by the early morning. That was a happy thought.  I finally put myself to bed around 11:00 or 11:30 but couldn’t sleep through my waves.  I was concerned because of how quickly they had become uncomfortable. Andrew gave me a powerful priesthood blessing with promises that would shortly be fulfilled. I then told him to sleep, as he would need his strength.

The harvest moon, under which Evelyn was born
I went into our library and turned on some mindless movies.  I watched a little Fantasia, Dick Van Dyke Show, and finally settled on the Mormon Radio YouTube channel.  I realized that I wasn’t comfortable before because I hadn’t found the best position.  I was able to go through many strong waves kneeling down on my couch leaning over the side.  The waves felt like they were getting stronger and stronger, and lasting longer and longer, but they weren’t getting any closer together.  From about 12:00 to 3:00 a.m. they were five minutes apart, but by 3:00 they were about a minute and a half long.  I woke Andrew up to collect our (large) bag of food and things we thought we might need at about 2:00 a.m.
I definitely waited way too long to go to the birthcenter.  In my previous labors, I always left the house when the waves were about four minutes apart, which provided plenty of time.  Well, this time my waves were never four minutes apart.  They went from fives minutes to two to three minutes, and I started to feel a lot of pressure, and almost the urge to “bear down.” This all before our fifty-minute drive to the center!
Love at first sight
We got in the car, and Andrew sped as fast as he safely could from the DC area to the center in Annapolis.  I was definitely in transition the whole time.  I couldn’t stay seated; I again kneeled, bent over between the front seats and vocalized deep and low.  I felt good.  Andrew reminded me later that I declared, “I love having babies!” in between the powerful waves. I felt like I was really able to listen to my body and respond to what I needed.  I even pushed a little bit.  I wasn’t that worried that Evelyn would be born in the car, however, because apparently I have extremely strong water bags.  With both my previous births, the midwives have broken the water after long labors, and the babies were born right after (the first was born in 20 minutes, and the second was born in six minutes). 
Three Generations
I was grateful to be strong enough to walk into the birth center and we arrived just after the midwife who was scurrying around in preparation for the birth.   I sat down on the toilet, and asked Andrew to have the midwife fill the Jacuzzi (no time to fill the big tub!), and ask if she could break my water as soon as possible.  This was the most frustrating part of the labor.  I was in transition, and pushing, yet knowing that my pushing probably wouldn’t produce a baby until the bag of water was broken.  The midwife checked me and I was at 9.5. Andrew hesitantly asked the midwife if I needed an IV for my earlier diagnosis of Group B Strep--she said there was no time. The twenty-minute wait for the midwife felt like an eternity, but she finally came in with the little crochet-type hook to break the bag.  I was beginning to worry that Evelyn would come out in the bag!  (I’ve heard of that happening, and it doesn’t sound like anything I ever want to do.)  She broke the bag while I was in the tub, and she left to put the hook away.  I turned back over to a kneeling position, and gave one good push, and pushed out her head.  It didn’t matter to me who was there to help or not, I was bringing this baby!  Andrew noticed her head, and yelled “baby!”  In a moment of strange clarity, as I took another breath and pushed out her body, I heard from the next room, “Did he just say, ‘Baby’? What does he mean?”  Her body was basically out, so I told Andrew, “Take her!”  As he took her, the midwife rushed in and helped hold her out of the water so I could turn around and hold my new baby!  Little Evelyn Bea was born under the harvest moon at 4:45 a.m. on September 30, 2012.
Greeting the New Day
My first impression was just how beautiful she was.  She had lots of dark hair, and a perfectly round, beautiful face.  I noticed her dimple, and “princess curl” right away.  She cried a beautiful, clear cry for three minutes.  She didn’t sound frustrated or angry; it was simply a declaration of dislike for the birth experience.  
100% More Hair than our boys
Three minutes after birth she started to root (look for food).  I didn’t think she’d be ready to nurse yet, but I let her try.  To my surprise, she latched right on, and didn’t let go for three hours!  As she nursed I was helped to the bed. If we got disconnected at all, she’d cry.  After three beautiful, peaceful hours of snuggling and nursing in bed with Andrew snoozing by our side, she awoke with the soft morning light and quietly observed this new world I had told her so much about.  
I would love to hear the birth stories of James Reesor and Frederick Marshall! Let's continue the dialogue around positive, natural birth stories!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

For me, Thanksgiving is the warmest time of the year, surpassing even Christmas by its lack of consumerism. It's so much more than a feast. It's a unique time to express gratitude for our blessings. A welcome reminder to "live in thanksgiving daily" (Alma 34:38).

The Lord has blessed me abundantly. Myriad little things aside, I am grateful for my family, for my knowledge of the gospel, for motherhood, for my friends, for my health, for my heritage, for freedom, for our means, for access to good food, for my love affair with great music, and can I say, for my red hair? (Never understood Anne Shirley's laments.) I could go on and on.

My children are my greatest treasures. 

One of my husband's spiritual gifts is a grateful heart. He feels it genuinely and deeply, expresses it often, and expects our boys to learn to do the same. Here are some things we have done to instill this chief virtue in our children:
  • We try to be examples by saying thank you often, both to each other and to them. 
  • We coach them in thanking Heavenly Father specifically during prayer. 
  • We try to speak gratefully of good deeds done by others. 
  • We give gentle reminders if the boys forget to thank, but more and more, they don't forget. 
  • We've recently started a tradition of each saying one thing we're grateful for before family prayer. It's a great way to bring peace to the evening.

Thanksgiving is a fun time to count our numberless blessings. Last year, Sammy and I started taping blessings on the living room wall during home preschool we do with a friend, and continued to add ideas throughout the month.


This year, we made a turkey with a blessing on every tail feather. Instead of asking, "What are you grateful for?" I asked, "What has Heavenly Father given you to make your life good?"

As I have made efforts to become more grateful over the years, I have noticed heavenly results. Gratitude is unifying. It is healing. It is humbling and strengthening. It enhances one's quality of life. Not to mention...

"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more" (D&C 78:19).

What are you exceedingly grateful for?
How do you teach gratitude to your children?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Raw Milk Affair

I love milk. Oh how I love milk! ...This is starting to sound like a Dr. Suess book --100 Good Parent Points to whomever can tell me which one I'm referring to. So everyday I drink a glass of milk. (Here's a hint as to which Suessian book it comes from: I wear yellow drink milk socks when I drink my milk.)


Onward we go! I grew up on a little family farm in rural Idaho. We had a Jersey cow, (which we milked by hand), as many as two steers, a pig or so, dogs, chickens, rabbits, cats, and fish. We even tried having goats at one point (that didn't really work out for us... They're pretty sneaky).

Oh, and we had a garden that was a full 1/5 of an acre.

My Dad is sort of a revolutionary. He has always believed in foods, and plants that heal and sustain. And though he never spoke to me about it when I was a child, he believed in the healthful properties of raw (unpasteurized) milk. So much so that before we were able to have our own cow, we would buy milk, pre-pasteurization, from a dairyman neighbor. I only remember getting sick a handful of times as a child.

Now as adults, my husband and I buy raw milk for our family. I am asked questions, and told "facts" about this whenever people find out. I thought I'd collect some of my ideas and share them here, answering a few of the questions and "facts" I've heard along the way.

"Aren't you afraid your family will get sick from drinking raw milk?"

I'm not afraid my family will get sick from drinking raw milk. In fact, I am more worried about my family getting sick from pasteurized milk. Since switching to raw milk we are far healthier than before. This may be graphic for some, and I'm sorry, but I feel that it illustrates my point well. My oldest son is 22 months old, and has only had diarrhea once in his little life.

Pasteurization is a relatively new practice actually. Catherine Shanahan is an MD, who studied genetics, and more particularly, how what we ingest can change how our genes are expressed, whether for good or bad. (You can learn more about that specific area of study by looking up the term, epigenetics.) In her book Deep Nutrition, Dr. Shanahan, gives a detailed history of the advent of the first batch pasteurizing machine that came out in 1907. on P. 157 she states,

"A skilled orator and savvy businessman, [Charles North] visited small towns throughout the country creating publicity and interest in his machines by claiming to have come directly from another small town, just like theirs, where people were dying from drinking unpasteurized milk. Of course his claims were total fiction and doctors were staunchly opposed to pasteurization. The facts were on their side. Unfortunately, North had something better -- fear... The pasteurization industry mushroomed from non-existence to a major political presence."

Really, if you consider the life that most dairy cows live, you would never patronize those "farmers" who keep them. (Hopefully!) Humans have been drinking unpasteurized milk from various animals for a very long time, just not animals who were kept in conditions that many modern milk and beef cows are kept in. Dr. Shanahan again states, p. 156, "The need for pasteurization became a reality when in-city dairies housed diseased cows whose hind quarters ran with rivulets of manure. Tainting milks reputation even further, around the same time dairymen were often infected with diphtheria, spreading the deadly bacteria through the medium of warm, protein rich milk."

"But surely with groups like PETA around, that is not how modern dairies function..."

I'm sure we're all familiar with the feed-lot idea that is America's dairy, and beef cow reality. Let's really look at it for a second, though. Most cows are kept in closely confined pens, with not very much room to move around. They sleep there. They are fed there. They defecate there. Many die there.

That is for the beef cow. The dairy cow is kept inside at all times. They are kept inside because the suction cups of the milking machines aren't taken off of them, poor gals! Again, they eat, sleep, and answer the call of nature all in that confined area. It's all about efficiency, you see.

Because the suction cups never get removed from the cow's udders, these cows have very high infection rates, and that infection, (i.e. germs an puss), and coincidentally the antibiotics the poor cows are on, are in the milk.

Dr. Shanahan put it this way, p. 156, "If the animal is sickly -- as they invariably are when raised in crowded, nightmarish conditions -- its milk should probably not be consumed at all." I could not agree more. We only drink milk we know comes from cows who are treated humanely, (pastured), and thus can produce milk that is what it should be, full of nutrients, including beneficial bacteria.

"Did your family get sick when switching from pasteurized milk to raw?"

We didn't. I haven't actually heard of a case where a family did either. Any of my raw milk drinking friends are welcome to contribute their own experiences here.

"The majority of people walking around are actually lactose and/or casein intolerant. Why not just drink Almond milk (or soy milk, or hemp milk... just insert some milk alternative here)?"

I had never heard this idea before a few years ago, and then all of a sudden, it exploded, and I hear it often. I don't mind people not wanting to drink milk because they don't like it, but this is what my studies have taught me about the above idea.

The main idea that I have heard in connection with the above statement is that drinking cow's milk is a new concept. I've heard from some that adults consuming milk originated in Europe, and from others that it is an American phenomenon.

According to Dr. Shanahan, and Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, drinking milk is historical, though there are certain populations that are more likely to be, we'll call it milk intolerant, as adults. This has to do with the availability of milk, and it's freshness, and would take a very long time to write about. I would be willing to write about it all, but I don't know if you'd want to read it in this blog post that is already quite long?

To be short, all humans are born producing lactase, (an enzyme that digests the lactose in milk), in their intestines. Through the history of man, many cultures have used milk animals, ie. goats, sheep, cows, camels, you name it. I have even read of some areas where horse milk was utilized. Some cultures have not used milk at all, or have used milk products that were fermented which uses the lactose in it's chemical process, rendering them lactose free.

In those areas where milk animals were used, the gene for making lactase, that handy enzyme, will have been switched to stay on throughout childhood and into adulthood. In areas where milk consumption was a rarity, or in climates where they eat their milk products fermented, this will not be the case. Because their genes were told they didn't need it, the offspring of those groups will, at some point before adulthood, stop making lactase.

Many people in America have quite a conglomeration of genes, (in researching my ancestry I found that I have genes, literally, from all over the globe),  and since using milk animals has been a common practice in many areas of the world through out history, it stands to reason that for many, though not all, adults, the lactase producing gene is still switched on. It is not milk that is wrong, but perhaps it is how we have changed milk that makes it hard for our bodies to digest. Read here for stories from individuals and families whose lives were changed by switching to unpasteurized milk.

If you or someone in your family has a milk allergy, you may be interested in the ideas shared in the film Genetic Roulette.

For more great information on raw milk visit,, and also

P.S. I know my first two links are to the same webpage. I did that on purpose hoping you'd be more likely to read the article if you saw it twice. ;)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lacto-Fermented Ginger Carrots

Fermenting has so many benefits! Incredible probiotic. Enhances digestibility. Promotes healthy gut flora. Increases vitamin content. Great method of preservation. And if you've never tried any, you might be surprised how tasty fermented foods can be!

From Nourishing Traditions (p. 95), this recipe is prefaced: These are the best introduction to lacto-fermented vegetables we know; the taste is delicious; and the sweetness of the carrots neutralizes the acidity that some people find disagreeable when they are first introduced to lacto-fermented vegetables. Ginger carrots go well with rich foods and spicy meats.  So here's to aid in the digestion of Melissa's delicious Spicy Meatloaf from last week.

Ginger Carrots
Makes 1 quart

4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon salt)

In a bowl, mix all ingredients and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices cover the carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

They were a hit at our place tonight!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hot/Cold Packs

We've had a nasty 24 hour flu around here, so I made these Hot/Cold Packs for some people who needed a little warmth and love.  They'd also make great stocking stuffers.
They were super fast and easy to make.  I just cut out some shapes, sewed them together with rice in the middle.  For size reference, I traced a cd for the circle one.  I also sectioned off the long one so it would keep the rice evenly distributed.  These packs are great.  We'll be keeping ours in the freezer for bonks, but they can also be warmed up nicely in the microwave.  They do a pretty good job maintaining their heat/cold.
For a bonus, here's a picture of my patient baby watching me sew.  I'll be posting her birth story soon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Spicy Meatloaf


You know what is so great about eating real food? It is very difficult, (for me at least), to over eat when I stick to what is real and healthy, no matter how delicious it is. You just feel satiated. It's a nice feeling.

This recipe is found in Nourishing Traditions p. 356.

2 lbs ground grass fed beef
OR I do:
1 1/2 lbs grass fed ground beef, and 1/2 lb grass fed ground beef heart (sounds strange, but it is delicious! To be honest it tastes just like ground beef.)
1/2 lb grass fed beef liver
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I add)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried chile red pepper flakes (You really can't even tell it is there, this recipe is mild enough for children.)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups sprouted grain bread crumbs (It is easy to make this gluten free, you can sub in any gluten free bread crumbs, or gluten free cracker crumbs.)
1 cup cream
1 egg
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
4 Tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup (Definitely use non-high fructose corn syrup, or try Nonie's recipe out.)
1 cup water

Instead of taking the time to finely chop the veggis, I just run them through my blender all together. Saute garlic, onion, carrot, and celery in butter/olive oil mixture until soft. Add red pepper flakes (if using), thyme, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, soak bread crumbs in cream, and the liver in enough apple cider vinegar to cover it. (I skipped soaking the liver tonight, and couldn't tell a difference. I have been told from others who have been eating liver longer than I that it reduces the flavor of the liver. Experiment.)

Run liver through blender, then using your hands, mix meats with sauteed vegetables, soaked bread, egg and optional fish sauce. Form mixture into loaf in 9x13 pan, leaving space between edges of the loaf and the pan. Ice with ketchup or tomato paste, if using. Add about 1 cup of water to the pan, in the space between the meat and the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Stay tuned for a discussion on my love affair with raw milk...