self-care part one

This is the second post that is part of a series I started on Balance.  You can read my last post here.

Self-care is not a term I had heard before last year.  It was mentioned in one of the wonderful workshops that Heather Bruggeman puts on a couple times each year.

Self-care refers to the actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development. – Wikipedia

Well, that sounds important, doesn’t it?  Of course, me being me, I didn’t find it important until a little over a year ago.  I am not sure how it happened, but I decided to put myself on the back burner, and instead tried to take care of everyone else around me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I still do that, but differently now.

Last month I took a new online workshop with Heather, called Hibernate.  It was a wonderful workshop.  Winter is a difficult time for me.  The lack of sun, and the incredibly cold temperatures, really take their toll on me.  Hibernate is exactly what I want to do.  Of course, that isn’t completely realistic considering I have two littles and a husband to care for, but the idea of it sounded wonderful.

It was worth it.  This workshop allowed me to think a little bit deeper about life.  It allowed me to question what the “important” things are to me.  How do I want to treat myself?  Do I want to stuff myself in a corner until I am completely depleted and no longer able to help anyone at all, or do I want to be positive, and feel as though I am making a difference, and still full of life?  Even if I still really just want to get into my warm bed, because it is just that – warm.

What are some things that I am doing to concentrate a bit more on self-care?  Well, first off I reinstated quiet time in our home.  So far it is working – although I definitely don’t think quiet should be in the title.  But, they are playing upstairs, in their bedroom, for a set amount of time each day, where I can be someplace else, and not be concerned with what they are doing (for the most part).  

Typically, if I have down time, I am trying to accomplish one.more.thing.  But, I decided that this mama could use a little quiet time as well, and I have been using the time to work on some knitting; something that gives me a lot of joy, and also calms me down.  I changed my bedtime routine a bit, so that I do a lot more of my daily Bible reading in the evening instead, as well as a few other things, it gives me a little more time to journal in the morning, and I don’t feel as flustered because I have fewer things to do. 

It is a learning process though, self-care.  I would say that it is easy for me to put myself on the back burner, or to go go go until I am completely burnt out.  I am finally realizing that is not an option, and I need to take better care of myself, so that I can take better care of my kids.  I don’t want my kids to see me frazzled all the time (some of the time is ok!), instead I want them to see someone who enjoys creativity, and is constantly striving to learn new things.  If I am burnt out, what they see is someone who is stressed, someone who doesn’t want to be bothered, and someone who hides in the bathroom pretending to do laundry.  Taking a step back and realizing that those things were happening in my life made me reevaluate what I was doing to get to that point, and how I could change it.

Do you practice self-care?  Are there mini-retreats built into your life for you to decompress and take time for yourself?  How did you accomplish it with littles?

knitting and reading

I thought for sure that I would have my cowl done this week, but alas, I do not.  I blame it on a fun (and much warmer!) weekend with my husband and kiddos.  I guess I can't really blame them then...Now we are back to the wonderful polar vortex, so I will be sitting down and finishing this as fast as possible as I need to wear now!

I am trying to look through other projects that I might want to do.  I do not have a lot of time to dedicate to knitting, unfortunately, so I typically go for the smaller kids knits.  I was thinking that I might make Jack and Emma both spring sweaters.  I made one for Emma last year.  I seem to say that I will knit both of my children sweaters, but Emma ends up being the only one that gets a finished sweater.  I think that this year I will have to start on Jack's first.

Reading...well sometimes I question myself on doing this whole literature based approach to homeschooling.  But, I realize then that I love reading, and I love reading to my kids.  I think what I love most about reading to my kids is that they will sit and listen.  I know that won't always be the case, so I should enjoy it now.  And I do.  However, when I looked at my dining room table tonight with all the books we were using this week, I kind of laughed at it all.

As far as personal reading goes, I finished the Frontier House book, which was really interesting.  I really liked the letters from actual homesteaders, and the personal stories.  I am currently reading Eat, Pray, Love.  I have seen the movie, but never read the book - not something I do often.  I have heard mixed reviews on the book, but I really enjoyed the movie, so I figured I might as well try it out.  So far so good.  I am only about 50 pages in, so it could go downhill fast, I'm not sure.

I don't know what my next book will be.  I have heard a lot of people talk about A Thomas Jefferson Education lately, and it sounds really interesting.  I really like to read any and all books about homeschooling and the different philosophies people have.  I like a little bit of everything.

What are you reading this week?  Do you have any projects you are working on?

Linking up with Tami, Ginny, and Nicole

little things go a long way

This post is sponsored by P&G. Save on NEW Gain Flings and Tide Pods at Target. Text CLEAN to Target (827438) for mobile coupons*.

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Last year I started saying yes to my kids more.  Yes to messes, yes to jumping in the mud, yes to *helping* me bake or cook.  It was one very small thing, but it has gone a long way.  The kids are able to get messy.  They know that I am not going to get upset if, say, while painting, they manage to paint every inch of themselves, but totally miss the paper.  It gives them a little bit of freedom, and lets their creative juices run free.

Of course, that little thing of saying yes, well, it tends to make a considerable mess.  Dealing with the mess is never a fun prospect.

Right before Thanksgiving last year I changed laundry detergent.  It seems like such a small thing, but in actuality it made a huge difference in my day to day life.  See above about the messes!  We are an all cloth family, which means a little bit more laundry than normal.  While it isn’t my favorite task in the world (if you like doing laundry, please leave a comment!), it must be done, and it must be done well.

Enter Tide Pods.  Wow.  What an amazing little tool for making laundry easier.  You wouldn’t think it would be a big deal, changing to these little pods, but I must tell you it has revolutionized my laundry days.  It is incredibly easy to throw a tide pod into the bottom of the drum, fill up the washing machine and go.  There is no measuring, no overflowing of soapy water, just plain old ease.

I love that this little tiny pod offers such a big punch and goes such a long way.  Tide Pods have detergent, brightener and stain remover all in one.  Yes, that means I am no longer pre-treating all of the kids clothes.  That in and of itself is a huge time saver!

Anything that saves time for me these days is a huge bonus.  I realize as I get older that time is the most valuable commodity.  When I have more time, I am able to spend it with the people I love, my children, family.  And that is truly what is most important.  Having that time makes baking chocolate chip cookies after lunch a little bit easier!

Where can you find these wonderful little Tide Pods?  Target of course.  There is one-stop shopping at its finest.  We have a little routine of going out to breakfast on Saturday mornings, and then going to Target to walk around and get whatever we need to.  It is a fun little tradition for us.  Little things really do go a long way!

Tell me, what little things in your life go a long way?

As a part of the DailyBuzz program I received a stipend and product samples for this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.

sour cream pound cake featuring Hood Sour Cream!

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Hood. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

It has been an extremely long, and cold, winter here.  With the Polar Vortex once again bearing down on us, I decided some comfort food was in our future.  When it is cold, I love to bake.  OK, so I really love to bake all the time, but especially when it is cold.  Actually, when it is cold, comfort food, all comfort food, becomes the staple around here. 

In my family we have one amazing pound cake recipe.  My mother made it for us when we were growing up, and now I make it for my family.  It includes one key ingredient – Hood Sour Cream.  Even though it is pound cake, it doesn’t seem incredibly heavy to me, and my family can devour it very quickly.  I recently made some and topped it with strawberries because we needed that fresh taste of early summer.


1 cup butter
2 ½ cups of sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 325
Cream butter and sugar well
Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one
Add sour cream and vanilla, mix until combined
Add flour and baking soda, mix until combined
Makes 3 8x4 pans or 2 9x5 pans and some cupcakes

This is a recipe that we typically enjoy around Christmas.  However, the past couple of years I realized that this makes an amazing birthday cake recipe, topped with some swiss buttercream frosting.  If that isn’t comfort food, I don’t know what is!

Hood Sour Cream is not limited to sweets in our home.  We always have it in our fridge.  My son frequently wants to dip raw veggies in it.  I also use it to make a delicious garlic dip for the kids and their veggies, or roasted chicken, or bacon cheese fries.  We use it to make homemade ranch dressing for salads.  And probably more than anything else, we use it with all the Mexican food we eat.  There are so many days that we have burritos, tacos, or plain old nachos with salsa and sour cream.  All delicious!

Do you have a favorite recipe using Hood Sour Cream?  I am always looking for new recipes, so please share below!

seeking balance

bal·ance – an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady; offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another.

This year I chose balance as my “word of the year.”  It seemed to be the one word that was jumping out at me constantly.  How can I achieve balance in my life?

I am a child of God, a wife and mother, a blogger, a friend, a daughter, sister.  Now, on the count of three, throw all of those things up in the air, and hope for the best.  That is how it has been for me for several years.  Dealing with the urgent emergencies, and trying to prioritize everything.  It becomes daunting after a while.  How do we keep all of those balls up in the air without dropping one or more?

Life has gotten so entirely complicated.  There are so many choices to make every single day.  You have to actively pursue balance daily in order to achieve it, or to feel like you are going in the right direction.

We’re each given freedom to choose our decisions, and that responsibility is the very definition of living with intention, after all: making daily choices so that your life lines up with your passions and values. It should all make sense in your head. ~Tsh Oxenreider Notes From a Blue Bike

Intention; this has become a buzz word in the past several years.  Or maybe it is something that I have been concentrating on so much the past couple of years; it is the only thing I see.  You know, like when you buy a car, and then you seem to see that car everywhere you go?  Intention goes right along with balance.  You need to make the choices to balance your life, you need to make the choices to live intentionally, and that is going to look different for every person.

I have decided to do a bit of a series on balance, and what that means for me and my family.  It obviously will not be a road map for your life.  Your choices and desires, and family, are all different than mine, but I hope that it helps you to question what your priorities are, and perhaps help you get on the path that you want to be on.

I know that this is just another part of my journey.  Do I have all the answers?  Absolutely not!  I know that I won’t turn around tomorrow and have balance in my life, even though I hope and pray for that daily.  I know that I have to actively seek out that balance, and not let the circumstances of life direct my path.  Writing is a release for me, it helps me to center my thoughts and process the ideas that I have, and you get to join in by reading all the craziness!

Do you have any tips for balance?  What are some of the important choices you are making to align your family life with your beliefs?

knitting and reading

After I finished the kids' cowls a couple weeks ago I was convinced that it was time to knit myself something.  Of course, when I usually decide to knit something for myself I hit a wall and have no clue what to knit.  That is what happened this time as well, so I decided to cast on for another cowl.  It might end up being for me, or it could end up being a present, we will see.  It has been exceptionally perhaps another cowl to wear around the house would be a good idea!

As far as reading goes, I just finished up Keystone, which is book 2 in the Cornerstone series.  It is a pretty good fantasy series so far.  I think there are two more books, and I will get those as soon as I find some more amazon gift cards hiding somewhere :-)

The other book I am currently reading is Frontier House.  This is the companion book to the much loved (by me!) reality show Frontier House, from PBS way back in 2001.  It gives a lot more behind the scenes information on how they set up the location, what clothes each person was given, the food that they consumed.  It also includes several essays from actual pioneers and the struggles that they went through on their way to the "promised land."  I love history, and this is a fun book to read because I have watched the series so many times.  You can find the series on youtube here.  They have all of the full episodes. 

I am looking forward to what everyone else is working on and reading this week as well!

Linking up with Nicole, Tami, and Ginny

some thoughts about this winter

What a winter we have had!  The snow storms and frigid temperatures seem to be alternating each other quite well.  Well enough that we don’t regularly try to venture past our front doorway to the outside unless we really need to.

This winter has been really tough.  The cold temperatures have been brutal.  I know, I live in Maine, I should expect this type of weather.  For some reason I feel like past winters haven’t been nearly as bad.  I keep thinking back to that winter we had a few years ago where it was warm in February, and downright hot in March (I planted my peas the first weekend in March that year – unheard of for my zone).

Then I thought I should look back at what last winter held for us at this point, after we just received another huge snowstorm, our third this week.  And this is what I found. 

I have been working really hard to change my thinking about what I perceive as negative situations.  Instead, I am choosing to look on the bright side – even though this winter has been brutal.  The sun is definitely warmer.  And because of that, the kids are able to get outside a bit more.  I am happy that they are able to be outside digging snow forts, and helping their dad make a mini luge to try with their sleds.

Spring is coming, I know that it is, and I am looking forward to when I can get outside and start digging in the dirt again.  In the meantime, I better think about starting all those seeds – especially the tomatoes!

How is the winter treating you?  Are you starting seeds yet?  Has it been an abnormally brutal winter in your area?

Linking up at the Homestead Barn Hop

Sunday Quotes

A lot of people like snow.  I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.
~Carl Reiner

a day in the life

I decided after reading the series over at SimpleHomeschool that I would join in the fun and document a “day in the life.”  We are still newbie homeschoolers, my babes are 5 & 3, but I still thought it would be fun to see where the time goes in the day.  Our days seem to move past so quickly, and I don’t know where most of the time goes!  So, without further ado, a day in the life of a homeschooling mama to two littles!

5:30 – I am up.  Definitely not as early as I would like to be, and this is going to have to change as soon as our hellomornings group starts meeting again on February 24th.  I need more me time in the morning!

As an aside, registration will be opening on Monday for the new hellomornings challenge.  If you ever wished that you could get through the morning without being crazy with the kids, this would be a huge help, at least it was for me.  You can go here to find out more information.

In the mornings I typically get up, get my coffee, get my journal and devotional and sit for quiet time.  It is really a wonderful way to start my day.  Not rushing around; which is what happens if the kids follow me downstairs in the morning because I didn’t get up early.  I now do most of my Bible reading at night, so it seems like I have a lot more time in the morning for my journal, or just enjoying my coffee – which is a blessing.

This is also the time I try to check my e-mail and plan my day.  I like to have an idea of where we are going throughout the day, instead of just flying by the seat of my pants.  I look over books that we are using for school, and try to get my head a little less foggy so I am ready for my babes, who seem to have an enormous amount of energy as soon as their eyes open in the morning.

6:30 – Everyone is up now.  This isn’t typical though.  Emma is usually my early riser, getting up around 6 (or earlier some days – mainly when she hasn’t gone to bed early enough), while Jack has been sleeping until 8:30 (but typically he gets up around 7), I think he must be going through a growth spurt.  Emma has to eat immediately when she wakes up, Jack wants to wait a while to eat, but this morning they are both starving.  This becomes a pattern throughout the day!

7:30 – Matt is out the door, and I am trying to get the food and water out to the chickens.  I should do this as soon as the sun comes up, but didn’t manage it this morning, and I am ok with that because it is 2 below zero outside, a little too chilly for me to go bounding out to the chicken coop without at least a pot of coffee consumed!  Although, all that cold would probably snap me out of my fog.

Emma and Jack are making birthday cards for Matt up in the play room, and this gives me a chance to get the dishes all done and a load of laundry in the washer.

This past weekend I went through the kids play room and cleaned it out.  I threw away a bunch of broken stuff, I had them decide some things they wanted to give away, and I packed up some things that we don’t regularly use.  I found that yesterday the kids wanted to just stay in the clean playroom and play most of the day yesterday, which isn’t always the case.

8:30 – School starts.  We have been starting our day with CosmicKids Yoga videos on youtube.  The kids really love it.  It gets some of their energy out and they have fun with it.  During this time I am setting up the books at the dining room table.  We did have an entire school room set up upstairs, and it was nice, but I decided I needed to get their toys out of their bedroom and into another room (preferably not the living room).  Now, having the school room also be the play/craft room was not going to work, so now we are using the dining room table and couch again, and it is working out nicely.  I also start preparing the kids a snack – an apple and some carrot sticks with a lemon garlic dip that I make and the kids like.

9:00 – Put the snack out for the kids.  They sit down and I read a story from our Story of the World book.  We are in the first volume, Ancient history.  The kids really enjoy the stories, Emma especially.  After their snack is finished I sit with them and read part of Usborne’s Then& Now book.  It is a cute little book that the kids enjoy looking at. 

9:30 – I put on a Scholastic Kids video – So you want to be President, it is on Netflix.  The kids settle in for that, and I make my breakfast/snack/lunch.  It is almost always a salad, unless I have leftovers that look appealing.  Most people think salad is only a lunch or after meal, but it fills me up and I feel better about eating that in the morning.  Today’s salad consists of lettuce, cucumber, onion and chia seeds – clearly I need to get some more veggies at the store…

10:00 – Emma starts math.  We are starting a new book today, and I am not quite sure she is ready for it, but she blows me out of the water with her understanding it easily.  Jack decides he wants nothing to do with school and instead finds the tv remote and turns on Mater’s Tales on Netflix.  Clearly I need to hide the remotes.  I had only planned to do math for about 15 minutes this morning, but Emma ends up doing math for an hour.

11:00 – At this time she is ready for a break and wants to go upstairs to play.  Jack wants to be wherever I am, which right now is downstairs.  He quickly loses interest though when he realizes Emma is having a fun loud game of make believe upstairs, and rushes up after her.  It is really cute to see how well they play together it isn’t always the case, but most of the time they play well together.  I go upstairs to see what they are going to want for lunch.  Jack wants eggs with ketchup (our chickens seem to be laying regularly again, yay!), and Emma wants oatmeal with strawberries.  I don’t always ask them what they want for lunch, I mainly want them to eat something, and find that making an afternoon meal they want is a good way of accomplishing that.

While the kids are playing, I put a new load of laundry in, and start folding.  Man, this is exciting stuff!

12:00 – The kids come down and are ready to eat lunch.  While they are eating, I spend time reading from the books we are currently going through – Little House in the Big Woods, The Indian in the Cupboard, Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics, and our current library book stash.

1:00 – It is time for quiet time.  I started this little gem back up a couple weeks ago, and it seems to be working out well.  The kids will stay in their bedroom and listen to an audio book for an hour and a half, while jumping on their bed and yelling, but at least they are staying in the bedroom!  It gives me a chance to sit down and regroup for the afternoon.  I should be using this time to exercise, but I am reading a really good book right now – The Discovery of Witches – and I can’t seem to put it down.  Plus, I borrowed it from the library as an e-book, and they tend to magically disappear from my nexus right before I finish them, so I am determined to get through this one before it goes away!

2:30 – Everyone is up from quiet time, and now they get their “treat” of the day, which is 30 minutes of playing Super Mario Brothers.  I didn’t think that I would get my kids involved with video games so young, but alas, things never seem to turn out the way I plan, so there it is!  They like to watch their dad plow through the levels and get to the end.

3:00 – The kids go back to playing in their play room, and I go back to the kitchen, my favorite place.  I had planned to make chicken, however, when I went to take the chicken out of the fridge, I noticed that the package was already open, so into the trash it went.  The problem with cooking from scratch is that you need to kind of have a plan for the day, otherwise you are scrambling when it comes time for dinner.  I called the husband, and he suggested tuna noodle casserole.  Tuna noodle casserole it is!  I like to make mine pretty much like homemade mac & cheese, just adding tuna and peas.  Overall, relatively easy meal, although making the cheese sauce does take a bit of time.  I listen to the Inspired to Action podcast with Crystal Paine online while I am making dinner.  It was a really good podcast!  I recommend it!

4:30 – The kids come down and are ready to eat.  So we sit down to eat dinner.  After dinner we play for a bit and wait for daddy to get home.

6:00 – Daddy is home late after running some errands for me, and is eating really fast tonight.  Then we all play until…

6:30 – Now we start our bedtime routine.  PJ’s, brush/floss teeth, stories.  We tuck them in around 7:15.

7:30 – The house is freezing – we are totally over winter.  I curl up with my book, and Matt watches some TV.  Overall a very good day, and I am ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Monday seems to be a big laundry day for me, hence all the folding of clothes and changing laundry over today.  But, other days my time is filled with baking with the kids, and knitting.  It is a pretty relaxing atmosphere though.  We obviously have some incredibly insane days; this one just seemed to work out really well!

I would love to see what a day in your life looks like!

5 Tips for Staying Healthy in the Winter

Everyone seems to be sick right now!  The germs are everywhere!  I thought it might be a good time to re-publish my post on our 5 Tips for beating winter illnesses.  I would love to hear how you cope with being sick in the winter!  Here is what my family does:

Bragg Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):  We take this at the first sign of a cold, although the more research I do, the more I am thinking we should be taking it everyday regardless of whether we feel sick or not.  Apple Cider Vinegar has some amazing health properties.  It is high in Potassium which is important for blood pressure, heart, liver and kidneys, and also it is an electrolyte in the body that helps with regulating fluid levels.  ACV helps in balancing the pH levels in your body.  I never really thought about my body being too acidic before, but eating a diet much the same as the Standard American Diet (SAD) will cause your pH level to be too acidic.  And an acidic body is a breeding ground for illnesses.  ACV also helps to remove toxins from your body.  To take ACV mix 2 tsp of vinegar in 8 oz of water - add honey to taste.  Or if you are like me, just pour yourself a little ACV shooter!

Raw Honey:  There are so many benefits to raw honey, especially if you can get it from your neighborhood.  Raw honey helps to sooth sore throats, and is one of the "medicines" my kids request the most when they don't feel well.  Perhaps the sweet factor is part of it!  If you are able to find a raw honey that is very local to you, and you also suffer from allergies, this will sometimes help lessen the pain during allergy season.  The reason being that you are ingesting some of the pollen that you are allergic too, which in turn helps you build up your immunity to that pollen.  Please remember to not give honey to a child under the age of 1.

Raw Garlic:  Oh the wonders of garlic.  Garlic is good for the heart, and helps to boost the immune system by enhancing immune cell activity.  It also can be used as antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial agents.  This is why, besides eating it, we also use garlic oil for earaches.  Many ear infections will go away on their own if we allow them the time, but the pain associated with an ear infection, or even a severe head cold, is sometimes too much to handle.  So we put a couple drops of garlic oil in each ear when there is pain.  It has worked well for us.  Some ideas for incorporating raw garlic into your diet (if you can't stomach eating a raw clove - which most people cannot do!), hummus or white bean dip for raw veggies, fresh tomatoes and crushed garlic over pasta, in salad dressing (with ACV!), and guacamole (my personal favorite).  Using it in cooking is also beneficial, but when chopping garlic wait 15 minutes after chopping before putting it on to cook.  This allows a chemical reaction to take place which produces allicin and this compound is what exhibits anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

Tea:  As soon as anyone is sick in my house, we seem to always start drinking tea.  Now, I have written before how much I love coffee...I mean, I really love coffee!  However, when I am sick, I have no taste for it, and instead turn to tea.  Interestingly enough, I never seem to get a caffeine headache when I have these periods of no coffee and being sick.  Now, I don't have a whole lot of information to share on wonderful homemade teas from herbs I have grown myself - although I do hope to get there some day!  Instead, I stick with what I know.  One of my favorite teas is Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat.  It soothes my throat better than anything I know.  We also will make ginger tea from freshly grated ginger for upset stomachs, and chamomile tea at bedtime.  Also, any type of decaf tea with a little honey goes a long way to getting my kids to stay hydrated when they are sick.

Rest:  Seems like an obvious one, doesn't it?  Unfortunately, I think in our society, even when we are sick, we are expected to go, go, go.  You are expected to be at work, you are expected to continue with your obligations, having a cold shouldn't stop you.  But, if we take a little bit of time to be still, sit, read, de-stress; whatever is ailing you will most likely leave that much sooner.  Now, I understand as a mama it is next to impossible to be able to sit and rest, but when we are all sick, it is ok to not get the laundry folded as soon as it is done drying, and it is ok to not mop your floor and instead opt for a movie with your kids.  Rest is definitely something we shouldn't give up, just because we have x, y, or z on our agenda.

These are some of the ways that we try to get healthy when we are sick.  And in fact, these are things we try to do when we are well too!  Having a body that is healthy and working is so important.  While I can't imagine never having another cold, I like to know that I am lessening the time with that cold, and potentially staving off something that is worse.

What do  you do when you are sick?  Do you have any tips on staying healthy in the first place?

Disclaimer: I am not a Doctor, or even a medical professional.  I am sharing what works for my family and not trying to give medical advice.  You should check with your own Doctor and make your own decisions for what is right for your family!

Sunday Quotes

The February Sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within. 
~William C. Bryant

conflicting food philosophies

Food.  What a mighty topic that is.  There are so many “right” ways to eat out there it is enough to make your head spin.  I have come to realize that I have many different food philosophies, and they all seem just right but then I stop to think about them more, and I’m not sure I can follow just one.  I know that I want to eat a local and seasonal diet – this while I eat my salad for lunch…in February.

It all started back with the recalls of spinach.  I knew at that point that I had to eat a local diet.  And I did, sort of.  I made sure that we found a CSA share, and we drove out to the farm to pick it up every week.  And I loved that CSA.  I loved having all of the fresh vegetables around all the time.  I loved that our farmers would deliver us eggs throughout the winter, right to my door!  It was awesome.

Then I started to question my intake of dairy.  I wanted to eat cheese all the time.  I mean, there are few people I know that do not love cheese.  Surprisingly, my daughter is one of those people.  She has never liked cheese, and I doubt ever will.  I decided to try reducing my intake of dairy (ok, it really was just cheese, I don’t drink milk), and to my surprise many of the issues that I have been dealing with for years and years went away.

Well, that sent me down another rabbit hole.  There were documentaries involved of course, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead; Crazy, Sexy, Cancer; Forks Over Knives; and Hungry for Change.  These all seemed to stress a mainly plant based diet.

Now, we had already cut our meat consumption way down.  I watched Food, Inc. first, and that pretty much put me off of all commercially raised meat.  And unfortunately, organic, grass fed meat is not all that cheap.  After hearing so much about how meat can cause your body to be acidic, and how germs and illnesses thrive in an acidic environment, I realized that I wanted to eat a plant based diet. 

Let’s get back to that whole local/seasonal eating plan though.  Eating a plant based diet, in Maine, in the winter, is pretty much impossible.  I am sure that there are some creative people that could make it work, and we probably could as well if we had unlimited funds (and a much larger garden), but that is not the case.  I realized that we needed to eat some meat in the winter.

I thought about how our ancestors must have lived.  My family has been in New England for many generations, and although it may be hard to think about, we didn’t always have a supermarket to go to.  There was a time when what you preserved during the summer, or hunted in the fall, got you through the winter.  So while I think it would be amazing to be a raw food vegan, I don’t think it is going to work for the rest of my family.

But what do I do about these conflicting philosophies?  Obviously it would be next to impossible to have green juice in the winter – although I am sure it can be done since kale can grow quite a while into the winter, and apples are available in my area all winter long – but I can still make healthy vegetable based soups with lots of squash or pumpkin, and potatoes are always available here.  Then it hit me, the 80/20 rule.

I was reminded of the 80/20 rule in Tsh Oxenreider’s new book – Notes From a Blue Bike.  In it she talks about slow food, but also reminds us that we don’t have to take it to such an extreme.  If you can eat a certain way 80% of the time, you should be able to give yourself leeway on the other 20%.  That is what I am trying to do now.  Knowing that I want to eat a certain way, but realizing I need to give myself a bit of grace.  I forget to be thankful sometimes about how many choices we actually have with regards to food.  I don’t have to rely solely on what I put up for the winter (which is a good thing, because I am running out of most things now, and it is only February 7th!).  At the same time I have to follow what my body craves, and if it is a salad in February, so be it. 

Do you have conflicting food philosophies?  Are you trying to eat one way, and seem to constantly slip up?  What tips do you have for eating a healthy, well-balanced diet?

knitting and reading

I was completely surprised with myself this past week.  I knit up the kids cowls in two days.  Jack’s really only took me an hour.  It was by far the best project I have done in a while!  And, the kids were excited about them!  Emma hasn’t taken hers off since I made it for her, and that makes me happy considering these are also the kids that seem to think it is summer all year ‘round and there is no need to wear warm clothes, even if it is -10 degrees outside.

For Emma’s, it is just a simple basket weave pattern, k5, p5 for 5 rounds, and then p5, k5 for 5 rounds.  I am not sure how many stitches I started with.  It ended up being perfect for her to wrap around her neck twice.  She loves the pink sparkles, and so do I!  Even though I wanted to get a  wool that wasn’t as bright for her, she pressed me for sparkly pink.  I think she must have known deep down that I would need that bright color to knit with during all the cold dark winter weather we have been having.

Jack’s cowl is just a basic garter stitch.  I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of a pattern would be good for a boy’s cowl.  Most of the cowl patterns that I see are so lacy and pretty, decidedly not for a rough a tumble three year old boy.  I was happy with how it came out, although it definitely is not stretchy enough to fit him next year.  It also doubles as an ear warmer/head band type thing, which I am sure will be nice when it is a little warmer outside, but still chilly enough to want your ears covered.

I can’t lie, I was expecting these two cowls to take me quite a bit longer, I mean, all of my knits usually take forever.  But, with the start of our quiet time practice again, I have a bit more time to sit and knit if I choose to.  And that is what I have been choosing to do!  Now, I am not sure what to knit.  I will have to look at some patterns to see if there is something new that I can work on.  I have some spring/summer birthdays coming up, and probably should think about that as far as my knitting projects go…or maybe I will take a step out and knit something for myself!

As far as reading goes, I just finished a book called Cornerstone.  It is a young adult novel about a teenager who doesn’t realize her family is part of some great community of people that take care of all the life on earth.  I can’t write much about it without giving huge plot points away, but it is a good read, and I am ready to move on to the next book in the series.  I also think I am going to get the Colorado Kid by Stephen King and read that, since I have to wait until next fall before Haven starts up again.  I have heard mixed reviews, but still think it will be worth reading.  It isn’t long.

What are you working on this week?

Linking up with Tami, NicoleGinny, mommy club

2014 Garden Planning - Part two

Well, January is gone.  I’m not sorry about it.  However, I am sorry that I didn’t do as much garden planning as I wanted to.  I haven’t even ordered my seeds yet!  Of course, that will be happening this week.

In my Garden Planning – Part One post, I talked about dreaming.  It always starts with a dream for me.  Garden planning should be more based in reality, but it is hard not to start dreaming when those seed catalogs come in.

The next step in my garden planning is to figure out what did well last year.  What were the plants that did poorly?  Were there plants that did exceptionally well and we wished that we had more of them?  It is also a time to be honest with yourself, do you really have the space you think you do? 

Last year we had a really good year for lettuce.  It was the first time I had ever planted lettuce, and every day the kids would love to go outside and pick their salad for lunch.  I only did one planting of lettuce, and it served us well for the time that it was growing, but then when the last three heads were eaten by a woodchuck, I knew that I should have planted more.  I tried putting seeds in the ground at that point, but I think it must have been too hot for them to grow, or I weeded the seedlings out!

This year, my plan is to do what all of the farmers at the market told me to do, plant lettuce every two weeks.  I am pretty sure that it even says that on the seed packet itself…I probably should pay more attention to that!

My winter squash plants did really well, as did my pie pumpkins.  However, they take up A LOT of space.  I planted just two pie pumpkin plants, and they just continued to crawl away from the compost pile.  I think the edge of one was a good 16 feet away from where I planted it.  Luckily it didn’t take over any of the other garden beds, but I am not sure that will work this year, I might need to find a new spot for them, or not plant them.

I want to plant more green beans this year.  I would like to be able to preserve some by making dilly beans and then freezing the rest.  I also want to make sure that I plant peas in April.  We missed our planting time last year, I’m not sure why, and the kids were really upset not to have the fresh peas, which are apparently the only peas that they like to eat.

Now I really need to put together my seed order!

Have you ordered your seeds yet?

Linking up at the Homestead Barn Hop

Sunday Quotes

I find it almost comforting to count calories, because it makes me conscious of what I am eating.  But on Super Bowl Sunday, I thought, 'Surrender to it.  It's nacho time.'  Then I ate nothing but Doritos all day.
~Kristen Bell