Friday, December 28, 2012

Favorite Apps

This Christmas I was the happy/blessed/lucky recipient of a new iPad Mini.

I'm pretty excited.  Occupying my mind for the last few days is how exactly to help this awesome device reach it's potential.  I want it to help and serve me, but I want to be careful to ensure it does not take over and become the "master" and me the "servant."   

Andrew has an iPad 1, so I have some idea of what apps I like and what apps I think I'll use the most.  Here are my initial thoughts about what apps I think I'll use the most. These are all free unless otherwise stated.
Gmail--I like this better than the mail app that comes with the iPad.

Awesome Note--true to its name.  It can do so much.  It's $5, and it's totally worth it.  It can organize your lists of any kind in any way you can imagine.  It syncs with your google calendar, google docs, and youc an share things on email.  You can keep your journal in it, file pictures for a travel journal, etc etc.  That doesn't begin to cover it.  One list I'm excited to make is an "Abe Quotes" and "Ben Quotes."  I can type in their quote, and take a picture of them right when they say it, and I always have all their funny quotes, filed chronologically, with a picture!
I'm used to this LDS Scriptures app, but I heard the  Gospel Library app is getting better, and that it syncs with your account so you have your markings, etc stored online.  Any thoughts?  
Mormon Chanel is really great. Conference archives, Mormon Messages, interviews and other programs that inspire and uplift.
Instagram-I'm still figuring this out.  I don't want/need another social network, but it seems like a great way to share photos between close family.  For those of you late on the bandwagon (like me), with Instagram you can take a picture and quickly edit it to make it look old (and as though you meant to take a grainy picture).

NPR--'nuff said
TuneIn Radio--This app lets you listen to radio from all over the world.  It's a great way to keep up on my languages while doing dishes!
TED--another great dishes app.  Lectures on lots of fascinating subjects.
iBooks--Seems like the best ebooks app.
Deseret Book--It comes with a bunch of free good books ("Jesus the Christ," "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith," etc.)
Audiobooks--This app offers tons of free audiobooks, again from the public domain! You can download them so you don't need to be connected to wi-fi to listen. We had a good time listening to "The Invisible Man" on a recent road trip.
Barefoot Atlas--My favorite kid's app. It let's you explore places all over the world and learn about people, cultures, etc. This one costs $5.
PuppetPals HD--Another good one for kids, where they can make little "plays."
BYUTV--Some good programs (we do a lot of dishes); the speeches are great, but we also like the "Turning Point" program.
Free Books--Tons of free books from the public domain.
Pandora--Anyone have a great Pandora station to recommend?
Okay, that's what I've got.  What are your favorite apps?  How do you make the best use of your iPad/iPhone/tablet?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lovely Christmas

It's been such a lovely lovely day.

We put some jingle bells on the outside doorknob of the boys' room so they couldn't get out before we did this morning. Around 7:30, we went into their room to find Sammy dressed and waiting, and Daniel just waking up. We had a Christmas morning prayer and eagerly went to the living room for some fun.

Happily, we managed to avoid the sugary-ness associated with Christmas morning. Stockings were stocked with little mandarins, organic popcorn (made the night before by popcorn master Keenan), two cookies, a couple little toys, and a ticket for a day at California Adventure next week.  We opened presents one at a time, playing and talking all the while. I got a new slow cooker (mine went AWOL over a year ago), some Naturoli soap nuts, which I've been dying to try, and a stack of great new books to read. They're already occupying key reading areas: bathroom, bedroom, nursing station...

After a breakfast of sprouted wheat waffles and warmed raw apple cider, it was time for a showdown.

Sammy was in heaven with his new cap gun (no caps supplied), bolo tie, and leather boots from a genuine cowboy store. He wore his old ones until the soles fell off. He actually helped pay for these new ones with birthday money he's saved up in a jar.

When asked what his favorite present was, Daniel replied without heistation that it was the big bouncy green die from his stocking (held in right hand below). He didn't let go of it the whole day, not even for his nap.

The boys spent a good deal of time in their new play place (which they unknowingly helped build, thinking it was just another garden box... hee hee).

The much loved Sophie La Girafe for James.

I took a long, hot, salty bath (mid-day!) and enjoyed the first chapter of a new book. I've followed this author's blog for some time and am so glad to finally have her book. (I know, I know, my stomach's been churning over those cowboy boots... I'll just have to make sure he works those feet muscles!)

For dinner (which Keenan prepared!), we killed the fatted calf:

  • Grass-fed (soy free) duck from this farm, prepared à la Julia Child. Amazing. I can't wait for the stock and rendered lard. :)
  • Whipped sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus spears sautéed in butter with lemon pepper
  • Fermented ginger carrots
  • Raw chocolate ice cream and a simple Bûche de Noël for dessert

We talked with family on and off throughout the day, but mostly I just wandered around the house, relishing my time with Keenan and the boys, and feeling the spirit of the day. I was glad for such a happy day because I had a hard time finding the spirit of the season as Christmas steadily approached. We were out of town for a few weeks early on, so getting ready for Christmas was coupled with prolonged trip recovery. I finished James's new diaper inserts and wipes just last night (I knew if I didn't give myself a Christmas deadline for that one, it would keep not getting done).

As we prepped dessert, we let the boys watch some of the Church's recent bible videos, which invited more dialogue about Jesus Christ as we ended the day. Christmas left me ever grateful for my Savior and strengthened in my desires to sacrifice my weaknesses at his feet.

 Merry Christmas, friends. Sleep in heavenly peace.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Yet Another Update on Dessicated Liver

I began taking dessicated liver when I was pregnant with baby number 2. (Oh man, is he just the cutest giggly little man ever!) The results were amazing! I felt energized in a way that I hadn't for quite sometime, and if I missed a day I could feel my energy level waning.

At about month number 7 of my pregnancy, I was again feeling sluggish. I attributed this to being so late in my pregnancy -- it happens. You get tired when you are so suddenly, you know, 30 lbs. larger than you normally are. One day as I was talking to my midwife about the supplements I was taking she mentioned that it might be a good time for me to go off the liver pills. Being the proponent that I am for liver, I was bowled over at the suggestion. But here is her wisdom behind the suggestion: Many maladies in our body can be healed by ingesting that part of the body; eyes for eyes, livers for livers, kidneys for kidneys, glands for glands (i.e. adrenal gland), ligaments etc. When ingesting glands, known in natural health as glandulars, one must be careful to not take the substance for too long, or the body, after repairing their damaged whatever it was, will register too much of the organ and begin to tear away what it had been repairing.

I had been taking the liver for about 5 months, my midwife told me that glandulars usually are not ingested for over 3 months. Liver is not technically a glandular, she hypothesized, though, that it could have the same affect on the body. Oops!! Don't worry, my liver is still in great shape -- the body heals very quickly when proper measures are taken. I stopped taking the liver capsules and felt immediate improvement. (Life lesson? Too much of a good thing?)

On the up and up, I have been able to resume EATING liver, and have been feeling great postpartum. I still recommend it at least once a month, if not twice a month... and slip it into your relatives meals during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Easy Stocking Garland

Last year, I was inspired by this post at one of my favorite blogs, and thought maybe I could try my hand at a stocking garland.  I'm sure it took me much more time than it would a more experienced crafter, but I had fun spending time at the sewing machine figuring it out!

I'm sorry I don't have step-by-step photos, but here's a rough rundown:

1.  Find some fabric scraps (I found a few at home and bought a few more since I don't have oodles of scraps lying around).

2.  Draw a little stocking shape on a piece of cardboard and cut it out.

3.  Cut your fabric around the cardboard stocking, and pin them right sides together.  A few of my scraps had hems already, so I made those the tops of the stockings.

This one is my favorite.

4.  Sew around the edges and flip them inside out.

5.  Sew a piece of twine into a loop in one corner of your stocking.

6.  Tie some bells at increments around a length of twine and hang a stocking on each bell.

This could be a fun advent calendar if you made more (and smaller) stockings.  It was rewarding to feel successful at making something festive to brighten up my home during the holidays.

We didn't have our own stockings where we were living last year, 
so I used the garland stockings for some little stocking stuffers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Road Trip Tricks

  Living in the DC area, we live within driving distance of some pretty awesome cities, so we go on road trips a lot.  Our kids are just good travelers, but there are also some tricks that I've learned.  (Flying not driving?)
  • Eat healthy snacks
    • Don't use trips as an excuse to eat a lot of junk food.  It just makes everyone feel sick and grumpy.  Because there is (at least for us) a tendency to want to just snack the whole time, bring lots and lots of carrot and celery sticks, and even peppers, green beans and baby cucumbers if your kids will snack on those, as well as sliced apples (to make them more snackable), oranges, other fruit, raw nuts, dried fruit, and a few crackers or pretzels.  Plan on one fun treat as a reward for good behavior :).  Stopping for ice cream is much more fun than eating candy for hours.  Here's another good list of healthy snacks.
  • Don't stop at restaurants, stop at playgrounds!
    • There are playgrounds in every city.  Don't look for fast food, plug "park" into your gps and see what you come up with.  Then run around, with the kids!  
  • Because you will need real meals if you're driving long enough, pack real food.  We like to either use something we've made beforehand, or get a delicious pre-fab meal from Trader Joe's, and either warm it up on the way (those big gas stations always have microwaves), or warm it before you go and keep it warm on the way.  
  • Sit by the baby
  • Limit the technology.
    • Just like with junk food, you can over do it with technology on a road trip, and it can make everyone feel sick and grumpy.  Save it for the end of the day when it's dark, and keep it to one movie/turn on the _____.
  • Load up on tons of new library books before you go.
  • Bring books on tape.  
    • If your kids are young, there are most likely picture books on tape at your library that your kids can bring and follow along.  Try out the Mercy Watson series; it's a lot of fun.
  • Give presents
    • Although a 1$ toy goes against most of what I believe when it comes to children's toys, I realized that it's a great investment for a car trip.  Go to the thrift store, or the $1 area in Target.  You'll find all kinds of things!  A little bag of gummy lizards will go a long way on a road trip.  And because it was $1, it's disposable!  The investment was in a happy trip, not the toy.  
All this was just $5 at the thrift store!
  • If you're worried about the mess from drawing utensils, get a doodle pad (keep your eyes out at the thrift store).
  • Sing lots of songs
  • Bring plenty of fun music.
  • Play car games with your kids, like "I spy," "20 Questions" (minus the 20 question limit) or the license plate game if they're old enough.  There are lots of online lists too.
  • Be creative and have fun!
What are your road trip tips?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Brian Kershisnik's "Nativity"

Brian Kershisnik's Nativity

My sister sent me this video of Brian Kershisnik (my favorite modern painter) talking informally to a group of children. I thought it was really wonderful and insightful. I appreciated the new perspective on this oft recited story, and I hope you can get something out of it too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Body Butter and Ginger Bread

Body Butter 

I moved from a semi-tropical climate to a very dry climate early this year. I never wear any moisturizer on my lips, but I considered it when I first moved and my lips were chapped for a whole month... Then I remembered I had snatched the following recipe from KIWI magazine. I've now tried it, and I use it daily in this harsh winter dryness! I use it all over my face, elbows, and it's heavenly everywhere else. The recipe was created by Todra Payne, and many thanks to her!


1/4 cup gently melted cocoa butter (I used a double boiler method)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1tablespoon sweet almond oil
1 tablespoon wheatgerm oil

Stir above ingredients together, allow to harden before using.

Helpful hints:

Sweet almond oil, and wheatgerm oil are highly susceptible to oxidation, (free radicals = not something you want on your skin). I would recommend melting the cocoa butter slowly enough that it doesn't really get hot. That way when you add the other oils, you won't be damaging them on a molecular level.

Store in a cool place where it won't be exposed to a lot of light, not necessarily in the fridge, though. It will be hard so you'll want to use your fingernails, or anything else that will scrape some up so it can melt in your hand for application. It can be considered a nuisance, but it will save you from those free radicals -- remember, anything that is on you skin will enter your body.

Ginger Bread

This is the best ginger bread I've ever eaten. While not good for cookie cutting projects, it makes marvelous muffins, and ginger bread loafs. If you like a nice slightly crunchy, slightly chewy cookie that is nearly flat, by all means, makes some drop cookies :)

Pardon the cereal... remnants of my husband's slowly changing breakfast habits.

2 1/2 cups sprouted grain flour (I used half wheat, half kamut)
1/3-1/2 cup rapadura
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used cultured sour cream, because I didn't have buttermilk handy. Sour cream offered AMAZING results!)
3/4 cup butter, or butter/coconut mixture
1/2 cup black strap molasses

Mix all ingredients until batter forms. Bake at 350, check at 20 minutes for muffins, 10-15 for cookies, and 30-45 for loafs. Tastes great by itself -- tastes heavenly with cultured butter!