Friday, June 21, 2013

Time off from technology....kind of.

Okay, I was going to join Crunchy Betty in her three days of no technology, only I was going to make it a week.  Then she posted this.  Then I started thinking about how many ways I use technology in my life right now.  I don't mean television.  My only access to TV is Netflix.  I watch in the evening after the kids go to bed, or while sewing.  I watch movies with the kids during the day.  I use DVD's to exercise, those I don't want to give up, I am on a roll!  There is also that app on my phone with which I monitor my caloric intake and my output.  There is also this yoga app I use.  Plus, I don't listen to music without an iPod anymore, and a week without music is just unthinkable. 

Are you getting the picture?  When it came down to it though the one thing I don't see myself giving up for a week....MY HEART RATE MONITOR!  I was horrified by the thought.  Panic began to ensue as I tried to figure out how to determine whether or not I was in zone 2 for a minimum of 30 minutes.  What would I do!?

After I could breathe again, I decided to compromise.  I will use my healthy apps, they are HELPFUL!  I will use my heart rate monitor, it is my motivator.  It gives me goals that I feel compelled to reach.  I will still watch a movie with the girls, but I don't have to watch my shows, and we can limit it to one a day.  We will read books.  If I have my way we will read LOTS of books, or at least I will.  Which reminds me of that one piece of technology required to do some of this, my KINDLE!

It is finally occurring to me that I am getting older and I am really not all up on everything.  You know the music scene, the latest tech.  This isn't just because I am older it is because of how we have decided to live.  We don't listen to the radio (I do podcasts), we don't watch television unless it is on Netflix and commercial free.  I live in a child safe world.  A world where my child is not ignorant of advertising, but is not bombarded by it, and hopefully does not feel she has to live up to some strange beauty ideal.

So this next week, I won't be on the computer.  I won't play games on my phone, and I will be thoughtful before using technology that tunes me out from the world.  I will be conscious of my family, myself, and my world.  I will be in the moment and try to live and fully feel each moment coming back to this world refreshed and likely appreciative of its convenience in ways I am currently not. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fibromyalgia Sucks

Seriously, everytime I feel like I am normal again I have a bad few days, sometimes more than a few days.  I don't know what I am doing wrong to make my body feel this way, but this is my rant for the day. 

When I feel good I can exercise and move with the kids.  I can get up and be a productive human being.  When I don't feel good I want to crawl in a hole and hide.  I don't know really what to do anymore.  I know that at some point I will need to work again.  However, I don't know how to work and take time off for me.  I don't know of a job that is sooooo flexible that if I have a bad morning I get to stay in bed.  I don't know of a job that I am trained for that doesn't drain me after a year or two to the point where it takes me 6 months or more to become functional on all levels again.  Why am I  like this? 

Do I stop placing such a high value on productivity so that I don't feel bad all the time?  Should I relax my already relaxed standards regarding the cleanliness of my house?  I wouldn't know how to stop being a mom the way I am so that currently pushes me to the limit sometimes.  Some days being a mom is all I am capable of.  What does that leave for the husband? 

I know women who are worse off than I am, and I know some who suffer more.  However, when I feel like this it is all consuming, and thinking of them only makes me feel more guilty for feeling bad for me.  This is some weird thing I have because I am a woman in our society, or I have old religion guilt still or something, I don't know.  I am in too much pain to be philosophical about it.  I guess my saying should be maybe tomorrow, instead of it is what it is. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Graham Crackers-Attempt 1

 I have been wanting and slowly trying to make the things we buy a lot.  One thing is cinnamon graham crackers.  Little l and I could eat a box every few days if I let us.  As it is, we are lucky to make a box last a week. 

So I tried Alton Brown's recipe.  It was gross.  Of course that is my opinion, and I had a certain taste expectation going in, but that is how I felt.  Too much molasses. 
I need to practice my rolling skills, but now that I know how easy it is, I may be more willing to try again.  We will see how quickly I try though, because that box of 365 organic cinnamon graham crackers is calling to me. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vegetable Risotto

Some of the things I have managed to keep alive are my herbs.  While my oregano was decimated by bugs, and my cilantro went crazy the others are thriving, even the basil.  So the other night when making vegetable risotto I gathered some yumminess.  Thyme, parsley, and mint, and it was delightful, light and gone quickly!

The recipe is from Fresh Meals.  I modified a bit to make it non-dairy

8 Cups of Vegetable Broth
1 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons soy free Earth Balance
Onion to taste (I don't use as much as the recipe)
Garlic to taste
2 cups of arborio rice
1 cup of frozen peas
1 small bunch of asparagus, sliced into small pieces
1 cup of sugar snap peas, sliced into small pieces
1 medium red bell pepper
1 bunch of spinach sliced into ribbons
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme (mine is lemon thyme)
1 Tablespoon fresh Mint, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped Italian Parsley

warm your broth in another pan and have it on low until used up.
In a large skillet heat the oil and butter.  Add onion and garlic, cook until onion is transparent.  Add the rice stirring until it is coated with oil and butter, cook for five minutes.  Beginning adding the broth one cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed, then adding more.  Add the peas, asparagus, snap peas, and red pepper.  Continue adding broth and stirring.  Once all broth is absorbed add the herbs, remove from heat and stir.  Eat and enjoy! 

Big L did not like this, little l was less than impressed, but my loving husband and I were quite content! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

my meager harvest

 This year, I am learning lessons about gardening.  Number 1, it is not as easy as it looks.  Number 2, skeletonizers really suck the life at of you (and your plant).  Number 3, watering MUST be automated, otherwise it feels like all you do, and when you miss one measly little time things DIE.  Number 4, I learn, and I will be better next year. 
So soon, I will begin planning for next year, beginning with an irrigation system that I can modify and adjust for different water needs.  For now, this is my black bean harvest.  The mint is what I harvested before the plant began dying (for real, that is how bad I was, I killed MINT).  I may be able to save a little bit like I did last time, we will see. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Another big motivator in my desire to lose weight was the HOPE (nay, the absolute faith) that my breast size would decrease.  Seriously, having big heavy boobs is about as exciting as being nauseated all the time.

My weight loss doctor told me, "Women pay big money to have those."  Implying that I should be happy.  Well, I am not happy.  My neck, shoulder, upper back and chest muscles hurt all the time.  Sometimes the pain is so severe that I want to cry.  Sometimes the only way to relax them is to lay down and hope that little l doesn't get in to anything she shouldn't get in to.

I thought that buying new bras fitted properly would help, but so far (almost a week in to wearing them) I am still in pain.  I am giving it another week, then I am going to my doctor.  I hate surgery and would not normally want to have surgery, but this just sucks.  I feel good, I want to exercise, and yet when I do it can make the pain worse, even with a sports bra on that reduces movement to a minimum.  As the lovely woman at Dillard's who helped me find bras that fit told me, some women just have a lot of breast tissue.  I think that genetics and breast feeding have led me to a point where I am probably just stuck with what I have.  The fat content is low in other words.

If the bras are not making a huge difference by the end of another week, I am going to the doctor to talk breast reduction.  (note, if I state something more than once I am more likely to do it) I have mixed feelings about this though.  While I think I would feel free being smaller, what if I miss them?  I have been a C or larger since high school.  On the other hand, running would be nice, and it is currently painful.  I would also get to wear those cute tops that I don't normally fit in.  I think the positives outweigh the negatives, but what if I am forgetting something?

This was not a challenge I foresaw, I honestly thought they would shrink just like the rest of me.  Oh well, on to the next challenge, onward and upward. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Yucky summer feet

I have had calloused feet for as long as I can remember.  I remember as a kid my feet would sometimes be black from walking around without shoes during the summer, and no matter how hard I scrubbed it never all went away.

I still have that problem with my feet.  I also have a problem wearing anything but sandals to work in the garden, so that lovely black dirt works its way into the crack of my feet where it just doesn't want to come out.  Talk about being grounded!!!

Anyways, last winter I actually had my feet to a point where they were dry and hard in spots, but not cracked.  They looked like feet.  Fast forward to now and they are cracked, dry and sometimes painful.

I needed something moisturizing to put on these footsies.  So off to my books I went, this time using Natural Beauty for All Seasons by Janice Cox.

She has a recipe for Summer foot creme that is AWESOME!

I used apricot oil instead of almond, and used a little extra instead of evening primrose oil.  Instead of oil of geranium I used Tangerine oil.  All that with the glycerin and coconut oil make it smell DIVINE!  It also keeps my feet moisturized throughout the day.  I may even use it as an all over lotion I love it so much.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Exercise with little ones

I am soliciting advice.  Little l is not really willing to stay out of trouble while I exercise.  For a couple weeks I was able to get up before her to exercise, but as summer takes over she is waking up at 5 instead of 6:30.  Taking away my precious exercise time.  I try to tell her to let me exercise, to get her involved, but she prefers Yoga Kids, and that does nothing for my heart rate!

My loving husband likes to leave for work early, or sleep in while I exercise, so he is no help.  Every once in awhile I can convince him to let me shower before he leaves.  I can't afford a gym, and I am not really comfortable with gym day cares.  Which leaves me early morning (before 5), in the evening after he gets home, we eat and I clean up, or during nap time.  Yesterday nap time worked, but I am not sure Big L is going to be open to doing that every day.  Personally I have a hard time working out late in the evening, because then I can't get to sleep.

Because of where we live and how quickly my toddler can get too hot going to the park and running around with them is out for the summer.  I am sure I will come up with something, but if anyone has a suggestion or something fun they do inside please share!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Weight Loss-Becoming Me Again-Before and After Pics

I freely admit that when I was younger I did not eat in the most healthy manner.  I have a sweet tooth and an iron stomach, oh and a great pancreas that allowed INSANE amounts of sugar consumption.  Don't get me wrong, I also loved carbohydrates, breads, pastries, cereal, etc.  Get the picture?  I would eat lots of fruit, but not as many vegetables, and certainly not enough protein.

When I was 18 and out of my parents house I made the full switch to being a vegetarian, but I did not do it right.  All this despite knowing how to do it right.  I was more interested in buying things than food.  Quite the opposite of now, where I spend a lot to feed my family in a healthy way.  However, I was contradictory, I would also have moments when I was obsessed with eating healthy, and making those right choices.  It would never last, the freedom to buy and eat all of the junk food/junk cereal I wanted was too much.  I do not have an off button, remember, iron stomach.  I could eat a whole box of Lucky Charms; you know, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Bodies change as we get older though, and that, along with the birth control pill are what changed my body for the worst, or was it for the better?  I gained weight quickly, it was compounded when I had children.  My body does not like pregnancy, in fact, I think that my auto-immune disorders cause my body to freak out.  Gain 70-80 pounds, hormones out of control.  It takes about two years for everything to level out and weight loss, serious weight loss to be possible.  I know that is considered normal, but I am around women who seem to recover a lot faster!

I lost 75.6 pounds and almost 10 inches off my waist.  I should still be trying to lose 15-20 more, but I just can't be on that diet anymore.  I needed more than a three week break.  My doctor says that even with a reduced calorie diet it is unlikely I will lose weight without being on her diet.  I am sure she knows what she is talking about, but I hope to prove her wrong, at least a little bit!  The big problem for me on that diet was all the meat.  I just couldn't eat meat every day anymore.  It was grossing me out.  Plus it is EXPENSIVE!

 These are my before diet pictures.  To be honest I did not really see myself as this fat.  I was pretty good at not analyzing myself in the mirror and just kind of ignoring how I felt.  I learned to ignore how hard it was to do things I used to do easily; you know, like washing my back, painting my toe nails, etc. 

And these are my after pictures.

I am not a fan of having my picture taken

Before I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I used to work out a lot.  I love that feeling after working out.  The surge of energy coupled with the sheer muscle exhaustion.  I like to exercise, it is just really hard to find the time!!  However, to lose weight or maintain what I am at, I will have to keep up with some sort of exercise regimen.  I also used to love to hike or ride my bike.  Over time I lost the ability to do this.  It was so much work to get my body to move in that way.  I don't know if diet was making it worse, but I am hoping that the medication I am on, and my healthier diet will make it easier for me to keep up with the activities I want to do.  More on that in another post though, this one is getting long.

The point of this post is I finally look like I felt inside.  Make sense?  I always pictured and felt like I should be that fit person who is not skinny, but thin enough and able to workout.  It wasn't true for many years, and for many reasons, but I am hoping that I will be able to keep my body the way my mind sees me.  The exciting thing is that (once it is not hot enough to melt me) I am looking forward to riding bikes with my family, getting Big L to let go of training wheels, and sticking little l on my bike so we can ride together.  There are so many things I can do now that were just too painful to do before.  There are also emotional aspects to my weight gain, and loss that I will talk about in another post.  For now though I am content to be improving myself.  Life is good. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Apricot Vanilla Bean Jam

After my strawberry jam success I though I would try apricot, which is one of my favorite jams for English Muffins.  Sometimes, I am not the best cook though, as you will see by a later picture, so this is going to be a bit more like a fruit spread than a jam. 

 I only made a third of a batch because the apricots were not on sale, and I could only find so many that were fresh.  It smelled lovely though!  This was my first time working with vanilla bean pods.  The smell was grand.  I am going to have to see if I can grow vanilla beans though because they are expensive in the store!  At this point in the recipe we were doing great, we had to use lemon juice instead of white wine because our house is just not really a great place to find wine. 
 It was when I removed the fruit to boil down the syrup that things went a little crazy!  I got distracted and didn't make it back into the kitchen fast did NOT smell good.  So I ditched that pan and let it start soaking, put the apricots and the little bit of syrup I had left back in the pan and cooked it a bit more.  Then spooned it into the jars, and water bathed them.  I was expecting twice as much but these two little jars are a good start.  I will have to keep an eye out for fresh apricots and try again! 

Recipe was from Canning for a New Generation again.
I used my Weck jars again as well, and was quite happy with how easy it is!  I also love that the lids are glass as well!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

More charm pack skirts

I found a few cute charm packs in clearance and on sale about six months ago.  They have been sitting in my stash looking cute since then.  I have finally been finding time for a little sewing, and since I ran out of thread for the quilt I have been finishing up other projects and finding new things to do with the thread I have.  The girls have both grown quite a bit and big L's other charm skirt seems shorter each time she wears it. 

 It took about an hour and half to make the big one, and an hour for the little one, so these are quick and easy projects that make you feel like you accomplished something.  Big L loves hers despite my boo boos (we were measuring challenged for some reason).
 Little l likes hers as well.  Especially since the pack I found has little owls on a few of the fabrics.  Hoo, hoo.

All in all, I just like these because they are fast, inexpensive, and you can hide certain mistakes.  Big L wanted hers longer this time, so next time I need to remember to get an extra charm pack. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Laundry Detergent Recipe 2

I have previously commented on how I should have just tried what my friend over at Green's Going Green has posted instead of what someone else posted. But I googled when I made my first laundry soap, and forgot she had posted until I was having issues with the soap I had made.   So I tracked down the post she did from February 2011, and went to work.  You can find her original post here:  So Fresh and So Clean, Clean.  I did not use the same brand of soap as she did.  I used Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap.  One 8 oz bar gave me enough to make 2.5 batches of the recipe. 
 Remember when I said I love my new kitchen aid mixer?  Well.....I REALLY LOVE IT.  I finally pulled out the grater yesterday and I had this soap grated into small pieces in no time.  It was grate!  :-)  It did take a little while though, it was a lot of soap!
I mixed in my Borax, Washing Soda and Baking soda, put it in a pickle jar of course and I was ready for use!  Instead of Lavender oil which Big L and I are both a bit bothered by, we decided on sage.  My towels smell and feel very clean after using this.  For fabric softener I have just been adding vinegar to the softener dispenser.  It works wonderfully, and we aren't allergic to it! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Strawberry Jam! YUM!

 It is strawberry season, which is a happy time in our household.  We all love fresh strawberries.  They are a staple to our evening meals.  This year I decided to try my hand at making strawberry jam, which is a favorite among the sandwich eaters among us.  While cleaning out my cupboard the other day I found this book, Canning for a New Generation.  I had completely forgotten about it.  When I first tried canning a few years ago I purchased it.  Unfortunately, I was pregnant at the time and NOTHING in it sounded good.  CRAZY!!!!!  Fortunately, I have recovered from whatever madness that was and I am now trying out some recipes.  Also, while researching safe BPA free jars, I discovered WECK.  These jars are beautiful, and I was anxious to try them out and see how they worked. 
 I bought 6 pounds of strawberries and tripled the Strawberry Jam recipe in the book.  Did I mention we LOVE strawberries?  I only bought so many because the price was right and they were organic.  Dicing them was a bit tiring, but I finally got it done.  I cooked my berries with sugar and lemon juice.  I left out the zest.  I have yet to really truly like zest in anything I make. 
 These are my cooked berries with the syrup drained off. 
 This is the syrup as I cook it down a bit.  Can I just say that the smell from my kitchen this day was glorious?  I was in a good mood, despite being tired of standing in the kitchen just because of the smell. 
 Everything was added back together and cooked a bit more.  I then put the jam in my new jars, added the seal, lid and clamp and put them in the water bath.  These jars sealed so easily and so well, and I didn't have to keep checking on the center.  After one hour, you try to lift off the lid.  It didn't budge, so I knew I had a seal. 
 I let them sit overnight and then labeled.  My only problem that day was depth perception.  I did not fill my jars as much as I should have.  I also had the jars the recipe said I needed, or at least thought I did and had to add another big one in the end.  That big one will be the first opened, because Big L, who has never been a fan of the store bought strawberry jam really loved this stuff, she wants to just eat it out of the jar.  Maybe I will finally get her to eat a sun butter and jam sandwich!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Gardening additions, upside down plants, succulents and squash

I groupon-ed the other day and ordered these upside down planters.  My pepper plants needed to be thinned in the pot they were in, so I moved three into the three hanging planters.  So far they have survived the transplant, now to see how this upside down growing goes. 

 I have a lot of squash growing on my plants.  The zucchini was being a little camera shy, but you may see that there is a double squash growing in there.  Weird.  I also was able to harvest a cucumber but it was eaten before a proper picture could be taken.  IT WAS GOOD!
 I bought some more succulents the other day.  Though the aloe in the chicken soup bowl is actually from a big plant I removed from the garden.  They are all doing quite well, and I have learned to how to grow more from what I have, so hopefully I won't have to buy as many all the time. 
That pretty little cactus in the middle was an impulse buy, but isn't it pretty? 

All of this is working towards my vision of how my patio should be.  We are not there yet, but maybe, just maybe we will be by July 4 when I plan on having a little party.  We will see!