Monday, July 30, 2012

The Sun Oven

After Ariel's great emergency prep post, I can't help but share one of my favorite emergency items: 

The Sun Oven.

I call it an emergency item, but in fact, it's almost a daily convenience around here.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
  1. I don't have to turn my kitchen into an oven to cook dinner (my hot, pregnant self assures me that this is #1 right now). This also lowers our AC use.
  2. Great in case of emergency. No electricity? No gas? Go sun oven!
  3. Simple to use (with clear instructions). Once you have one, don't let it sit in your garage! It's easy as pie. In fact, go ahead and bake one in there.
  4. No fossil fuels required, just sunshine. Easy on the environment and the pocketbook.
  5. Preheats very quickly.
  6. Cooks with an even, moist heat (read: very difficult to burn food therein).
  7. Folds nicely. Stores compactly. Not heavy. Easy to clean and maintain.
  8. Made in the USA!
  9. The company is committed to placing their ovens in developing countries all over the world, reducing deforestation, improving health by providing a clean cooking alternative, and running programs to raise standard of living and reduce poverty.
  10. Since I bought mine, they've added a dehydrator rack. Gotta get me one of those.
What have I made with it? Not enough! It's hard to remember exactly, but so far everything's worked, including: bread, rolls, meatloaf, whole chickens, cookies, cake...  You can use it for anything except fried foods (which require hands-on prep). Incidentally, it can be used anytime you have direct sunlight, including winter months. I haven't experimented enough, but I bet you could get a fair amount of heat in there even under an overcast sky. Anyone tried?

I had my eye on the Sun Oven for over a year before my ward did a group buy, making it slightly more affordable. But it is worth every penny. I highly recommend it!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Although oatmeal is usually the healthy choice for breakfast, sometimes it's just hard to switch from cold cereal.  It's so fast, and so yummy!  And on hot days like today, I really don't feel like heating up the kitchen first thing in the morning.  So, for the summer months, we take a break from our breakfast oatmeal, and eat a lot of muesli!
It's really a simple recipe.  Are you ready?



1 part oats
1 part bran flakes or fiber cereal
Anything else!  (Optional)


Mix well, and enjoy with your favorite milk or yogurt!
I added to this recipe raisins, dried apricots, dates, toasted flax seeds, raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raw sunflower seeds, cinnamon, raw sesame seeds.  I'm sure you could add some kind of sweetner, but I've never needed it with all the dried fruit.
In other Marshall Food News, I made my first mussels!  It was really fun.  I have lots of fun memories of my family eating mussels when we lived in Maryland, and I was excited to introduce my own family to the tradition.  I used this recipe, substituting apple juice for the wine. I learned a lot, and thought it was delicious, almost as good as Mom's!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gardening FHE

Between deciding whether to move, moving, reorganizing, hosting visitors, vacationing, playing for the stake musical, and growing a baby, I never planted my garden this year. Fortunately, Southern California is rather forgiving when it comes to planting time. I recall September as the hottest month from years past, so I'm crossing my fingers and planting my summer crop in late July!

Truth be told, it's easier for me to handle the garden on my own, but I want to teach the children to love the earth, so tonight for FHE, we made it a family affair.

We started by singing "The Prophet Said to Plant a Garden" from the Children's Songbook and thought of some reasons why we're planting a garden:
  • To have good food for our family.
  • To have food to preserve.
  • To work with the earth. When we give to the earth, she gives back.
  • To care for living things.
  • To be able to share with others.

We talked about Adam and Eve, what their garden and family life must have been like, and Keenan shared Genesis 3:19. He also shared a paragraph from "Listen to the Prophets," a great talk by President Kimball:
"The spring of the year reminds us, too, of the need to garden so that we can produce some of our own food as well as flowers to beautify our yards and our neighborhoods... Even if the plot of soil you cultivate, plant, and harvest is a small one, it brings human nature closer to nature as was the case in the beginning with our first parents."
We also liked the next part:
"...As a boy I saw how all, young and old, worked and worked hard. We knew that we were taming the Arizona desert. But had I been wiser then, I would have realized that we were taming ourselves, too. Honest toil in subduing sagebrush, taming deserts, channeling rivers, helps to take the wildness out of man's environment but also out of him."
After the little lesson, we went outside and planted a few seeds. 

I bagged my soil and moved my grow boxes to the new house.
This time I have a couple on the back patio.

First we turned the soil around a few times to be sure our homemade compost was well incorporated. We've been following Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening for the past few years, which we like for a lot of reasons (but that's another post). The better your compost, the better it works.
Everyone got to plant!

We finished the evening with a prayer, thanking Heavenly Father for our garden and asking him to bless our new seeds to sprout.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

You Can Nurse Your Baby


Here are some true nursing stories:

Be Creative
For the last two days Peter would not eat during the daytime.  He was perfectly pleasant all day, but any time I tried to put him to my breast he would arch his back and yell.  At night he ate voraciously.  Was it the heat?  Was it adjusting to being back home after our trip?  Was it the travel itself?  Was it my own lingering cold?  Something I ate?  I didn't know.  I tried all different positions --- cradle hold, football hold, lying down.  All to no avail.  He DID however seem very interested in everything that Cam and I were eating, and wanted to try all of it, even reaching out for it.  Determined that this toothless 5-month old is not ready to be weaned, I continued my futile efforts.  Then I had this strange idea to stand him up on his own two feet, and kneel at a height where he could latch on as he stood.  He latched on immediately and sucked vigorously, only pausing every once in a while to laugh at how silly we were being.  (He's eating like a normal boy today. Whew.)

Rosy-cheeked Peter on his blessing day, by which he had acquired a healthy double chin.
Let Your Baby's Instincts Lead You
When Peter was three weeks old, a member of my Relief Society presidency came over with a birthday gift.  I expressed to her that Peter was having a very difficult time eating.  Our feedings would stretch to be an hour long, because I couldn't keep him drinking for more than a couple short minutes at a time before he cried or fell asleep.  She revealed to me that she is a nurse who has been helping newborn mothers and babies learn to breastfeed for 15 years.  She offered to help, and I gladly accepted.  One thing she noticed right away was that I was swaddling Peter, arms and all, very tightly when I got him ready to feed.  This was because his arms would always get in the way and make my already difficult task much harder.  She taught me that it is an eating instinct all babies have to put their hands up by their faces when they eat (Peter still does this).  I freed his little arms and he had his best feeding in a long time.

Earlier that morning I had broken down in tears, frustrated that Peter just couldn't latch on.  I felt inspired to strip us both down and put him skin to skin on my tummy.  I let go of him to see if he would follow his natural instincts, unguided, to my breast.  Sure enough he wiggled his little body upward until he latched on.  He actually got a really good latch.

This is not Peter.  Source.
Avoid Mastitis, but if you get it, Avoid Antibiotics
Peter was probably 4 weeks old when we were visiting my parents and I suddenly got very very cold.  It was a warm day, but everyone around me looked underdressed to me!  I kept piling blankets around little Peter, while Cam kept assuring me it wasn't really that cold.  My right breast hurt, and felt hard and itchy.  It had what looked like a rash as well.  I soon became very feverish, and we left for home.  Once we got home I could barely walk I was so sick, and felt so terribly cold (though I was really very hot to the touch).  Mastitis.  I called my midwife, Richelle Jolley, who gave me a quick list of instructions.
  • Keep nursing as much as I could from the infected breast.  If Peter had too much trouble extracting the milk, pump it from the breast and bottle-feed it to him.  
  • Every hour take a natural antibiotic supplement, rotating Grapefruit Seed Extract, Colloidal Silver, and Goldenseal.
  • Heat my breast before nursing with a hot compress, and after each feeding apply a compress of either crushed cabbage leaf or grated potato (Melissa grated this for me :)
  • Get to bed as soon as possible, not worrying about the supplements as long as I was asleep.
This all seemed overwhelming to me since I felt I could barely move, but I had a baby who was still eating every 2 hours and needed to be taken care of.  I had no choice but to follow instructions!  Cameron helped me in a huge way.  All I wanted to do was get in a hot bath, I felt so cold, so I counted that as my "hot compress."  That hot bath did wonders for me, and brought my fever down (see Nonie's post on fevers).  By midnight when I got up for Peter's first feeding, my fever was gone.  By 2:00 am, my breast was softening and Peter was able to drink directly from me without needing to pump.

Richelle later told me that Mastitis can be caused by a few things.
  • Mama under too much stress (I had returned to work --- way prematurely --- the week before)
  • Mama wearing tight clothing (I had worn a shirt that day that was a little tight in the bust now that I was a nursing mama)
  • Mama going too long without nursing (We had introduced Peter to a bottle for the first time that morning, and I had gone the longest time ever without feeding him --- 4 hrs)