Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Menu planning Monday - Disaster redeemed!

What was going to be my First official Menu Planning Monday post today turned into disaster relief and recovery day instead. Somebody, not to be named publicly, unplugged the freezer (for what reason, I never determined) probably a week ago. How I discovered it in time to save the many items of frozen meat and tons of berries still, was amazing. I pulled out a bag of blueberries and sat them on the counter and then decided to get another bag. Digging deeper this time I discovered that the top layer in my chest freezer was completely thawed, although still very cold. Poking my finger in just about everything else I could I discovered that nearly everything was thawed to a point of being soft, but still cold!

I let out a yelp! Oh no, how can this be? All the meat that I planned for the next month was completely thawed and had to be pulled out and cooked ahead of time and re frozen. Well, I guess that takes care of my menu planning after all. We will have chicken soup, meat loaf, hamburger paddies, and spaghetti and meat balls for the next several weeks. The berries will now be frozen for the third time as this is now the second time this mysterious plug has popped out of the receptacle. (The first time it was my fault. You see our vacuum is the problem in that it blows the circuit about 5 -6 times per vacuuming session. We sometimes have removed the fridge or freezer plug in order to stop the shorting out and all too easily forget to plug it back in again. )
Whether this was the problem this time or not, I do not know, but some how we have got the get this freezer thawing habit under control! Instead of the disastrous day we could have had it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Both boys jumped into the kitchen and we all cooked and fried and packaged up our cooked meals for the next few weeks.

Hmm, that was nice. I wonder how I can get this to occur again WITHOUT the freezer thaw catastrophe. I like have company in the kitchen and my boys learned a few cooking tips as well!

Next week - another try at a Menu Planning Monday post, Lord willing!!

Last and final assessment!

Today is the last day of my three month goal assessment. The first day was a wonderful encouragement as much has been accomplished. This last section is down at the bottom for a reason- it is not as high a priority so as much of my time was spent in the first category and not much with the last.

Business-I want to open up a few more areas of product sourcing for our online book sales,
I have purchased some materials from a few different sources and so far have done reasonably well with them. I would prefer to say that they all were whopping success stories but I realize I did not get them from a far back enough source so that a week or two after being listed the market was flooded and prices plummeted from $30 - 50.00 down to $5 - 7 dramatically. Basically we broke even and that is bottom line acceptable. Some books are still in inventory and are maintaining value but are longer selling items and so I am still assessing the success of those items.

...and perhaps adding a website to market them as well (not sure) Not in the plans yet and not likely soon either.

Personal Growth-I plan on learning to type. (gasp she can't type?) Nope, I'm the fastest look at your keyboard typist around but it isn't as good as seeing at all your mistakes happening as you make them, so I plan to attack this weak area.
Nothing formal happening here, just practicing doing it right which takes longer and I soon give up and go back to my usual, faster but much more inefficient method. In the summer, I plan on taking more time to improve in this area.

I plan on organizing the files on my computer so I can find things when I need them most. I have started and have not gotten back to this area of dire need. This will be a priority in the next quarter.

Most of all I want to focus on relationships this year; relationships with my two sons, who are still in our home. Time is short and I want to instill a deeper relationship and foster deeper trust. For my husband I want to enter into prayer on his behalf for his job and a few other important issues and to not let discouragements get me down.
I have been seeing success in this area and will continue to be working hard, mostly in prayer. My husbands job continues to be a severe drain emotionally and physically. We really need an answer to prayer on his behalf becuase leaving his job at this point would mean that we would have to go back to Canada almost immediately forfeiting our green card applications. That would be such a disapointment after waiting almost 9 years already and it seems like we have never been closer.

Tomorrow I will be posting my menu plans. Yippee, I am getting better and recovering from a few years in burn out. Recovery can take a long time but it is worth it once you refocus and start seeing some improvement again.

Have a great day.

Goal assessment- continuation

I am continuing on my assessment of my New Years goals to see where I am and if I need to refocus and make some improvements. Yesterday's assessment was real fun because I was surprised to be so far ahead of my goals and that is always encouraging. However today we may be seeing some weak links and that is OK too as long as a reassessment and refocus is done. I am never afraid on aiming high. It is a good motivator and helps me to focus on the next goal as soon as the first is completed. Here we go.

Spiritual growth- I will be including in my reading journal for spiritual growth a book by Hannah Whitehall, The secrets to a Happy Christian. I found this book a little hard to get into, even though it came highly recommended. Instead, I found a book that I have read and practice with my sons called, How to Study the Bible for Yourself It contains some study forms but mostly I liked the different suggested reading schedule. I really don't like the usual, Read the Bible in a Year plan, even though I have done it several times. For me it tends to put Bible reading and study on a "get it done and shut the book" level. Instead I prefer reading through the Bible at whatever pace it ends up happening to be, which allows time for rabbit trails in topical and word studies. "How to study" gives a different reading schedule that will typically take one through the bible in three years. Again, time is not the important factor to me as much as it being a daily habit. One thing that I have started implementing is the habit if reading (quiet time) before you eat breakfast. For my boys, this habit came with a few protests but it is now starting to be a good habit. So, I feel this is a mission accomplished.

I have a prayer goals of certain issues that I need direction on, I will plow on till I receive his will on these issues. I want to reimplemented a daily quiet time focusing in the Lord and his direction in my life.
Here again I feel like for the most part we are on track but since I have been blogging in the morning now instead of in the evening, trying to get to bed on time, I am having to fit three important daily habits into two slots. ( daily quiet time, exercise and blogging which I consider ministry and business.) I haven't been able to balance this out well yet, so I will consider this still on trial. New goals are to work on this and find a better solution so my daily quiet time is protected and not made as a choice between three good things in a two slot spot!

I still want to do a comparative study on David,-an example of the spirit controlled life and the life of Saul, that of the flesh. I am still looking for a good book to lead us in that direction. Anyone know of a good study that compares David and Saul or the flesh and the spirit??

Home Education- I plan on reading 1 book per week of history or classics, etc.
My intention was to read 1 book on my own (silently as opposed to read aloud) per week but so far this has not occurred. Perhaps I need to refocus on something a little more realistic. I hate to say it but perhaps 1 per month is more doable! Sigh.

Parenting- To be more proactive with my children's character training. I have such precious time left and so much more I feel I need to cover and work in them. I will be rereading, Keeping Their Hearts by the Maxwells
I haven't started rereading keeping their hearts but still intend to. It really is a good book. As to character, training this is always a long term plan, especially at my sons age, (teen years) Perhaps I need more prayer for specific direction and then courage and direction to tackle those specifics.

Physical- I do regularly exercise but in the last few months,,,.... OK almost a year good habits have gone the way of the fire engine approach. Do what is urgent first. So again be proactive in my intent. And maybe tighten up a little and loose 5 lbs! (That would be great) I will be continuing with Jane Fonda's complete work outs and walking daily with my sons, I hope.
SO far there has been an improvement but still not consistent as the weather is still not pleasant enough to go out every day, which means I exercise alone in the morning with Jane Fonda. She and I are good friends- mostly. Five pounds are not accomplished either but I think three of four is for sure. (I do not consider the actual weight a sign of failure or success In weight loss since muscle is built though exercise and weighs more than fat. I prefer to measure my clothing size and lower scales as a better measurement of my success. In that light, there has been moderate success, not great- not bad.

So there you have it the good the bad and the undisciplined. Today, I can see some important areas to improve on and the need to set some more concrete and doable goals for the next three months. Obviously, I enjoy homemaking so much that these goals are way ahead and the rest lagging a little. That's OK. That is what these assessments are for. I need to think a little and then may post a few improvements in those areas.

A few more areas to tackle tomorrow and we are done. Have a great day!

Goal Setting-3 month update

For some of you that have followed the progress of my blog these last few months, you will remember that on January I was determined to get organized and focus. A three month milestone has passed and I think it is always good thing to go back and check goals and see how things are coming along. I was surprised to see that I have already accomplished quite few of the backlog annoyances that had been haunting me for so long.

So far I can check off in the homemaking area.

I plan on continuing to serve healthy meals to my family. That takes planning. Books to use are Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocratsand Cooking Free.

I scrapped Cooking Free for now in favor of a few more beginning raw books and have added The Raw 50: 10 Amazing Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, Snacks, and Drinks for Your Raw Food Lifestyle and Eating in the Raw: A Beginner's Guide to Getting Slimmer, Feeling Healthier, and Looking Younger the Raw-Food Wayalong with a few others.

I have purchased The Raw Gourmet 3-DVD Setand plan on viewing them soon (and selling them again on Amazon-they were a little pricey)

I will try again at meal planning. What seemed so overwhelming to me is now starting to come into focus. Burn out from a few years ago nearly left me paralyzed with dread everytime I had to face the kitchen. I had so many issues to deal with that I think I just crashed and burned.

The first was my daughters minor health crisis when she was 16, and a radical change in her diet, then shortly after my own sensitives discovered that needed healing. Then my husband changed his diet to more of a low carb menu and then my youngest decided he did not like a whole lot of foods. There was just about nothing at all that I could make for all of us and for about 6 months made two and sometimes three separate meals to accommodate everyone's requirements.

I know, I know, a sure way to crash and burn and I did.

Now I’ feel like I am coming out of the fog and into the sunshine again. I am even starting to make up my weekly menu plans I advance and posting them on Organizing junkie. From a lady who whipped up a months menu plans in a half hour for years to a 5:00 pm dreaded dinner hour hangover and washout, I see the start of a return. Being proactive really helps and I’m getting there again. Yeah.

I plan on Reading the following books.Home-Makingby J R Miller
Check. It is an excellent Book! Highly recommended!

and re reading Don Aslat's books on housekeeping. Not done yet but I have made major accomplishments in the order of the home area. To start the year out I went through almost every closet, drawer and room organizing and de cluttering. Now weekly I am still collecting not needed items and have been donating them to Goodwill or Value Village. They see me coming!

I am a messy, and my husband is a neatie. There are times when I feel like the two shall never meet. Furthermore, I have raised 4 messies!

Disclaimer, artsy people can tend to be messies, and I would not want to squash any of my children's creativity. It just needs to be tempered a little with some discipline and respect for those that are neaties in the family-Dad!

I am requiring that our house is completely clean and chores done when we start our school day and cleaned up again at 5:00 pm. So far so good with a minor infraction now and then!

My goal is 1/3 - 1/2 raw, mostly vegetables, sprouts and salads, and an increase of cultured foods, such as daily- Raw yogurt, kefir, sour cream and cream cheese.
So far, I am centering on about 60% + raw with my children trailing behind. My husband really cannot consider any changes right now so I work out one meal that is a compromise for all of us and that is my cooked meal of the day-dinner. Mostly breakfast and lunch for the boys and I are completely raw. I love it and feel great!

I have purchased my Excalibur dehydrator with some eBay money I made last December, and am running it quite steady. I made flax crax (cracker like bread) yesterday- I have found my lack of bread problem solved!

You can do so much still with the round cheaper dehydrators but I thought I'd move up a step and see if I like it. I love it!

I also need to find a source of clean raw milk that is NOT $10.00 a gallon (which is what it is in our local Health Food store)
See what I discovered at my local HFS- ½ price milk the day before expiry! (for raw milk, this is no problem- it will only sour anyway, which is the start of sour cream, cream cheese and whey. Either way fresh or ready to sour in a few days, I'll take it for 1/2 price!

I also plan on including some cultured vegetables.
See my post-the sauerkraut is good but the pineapple chutney needs some taste acquisition.

I want to use my microwave less.
Accomplished! I use it almost never. It is built in so I cannot dispose of it completely!

I plan more and cut down on our grocery budget … Still in the works-

I'll be doing more sprouting....
My favorite sprout is now buckwheat for buckwheat granola. I continue to sprout clover, sunflower seeds, almonds (germinating only so far) and just about any seed in sight. I have returned to my first love in the remembrance of my first stumbling success at alfalfa sprouts- some 25 years ago!

and making some delicious salad dressings. Doing well. - still need some regular written down versions of the my favorites dressings.

I also plan on getting my recipes organized- in one spot and findable when needed. Mission accomplished.

I plan on improving on getting dinner on the table at a more reasonable hour, 6:30pm if possible. Almost consistently accomplished! We now eat no matter what time my husband gets home because it is usually quite inconsistent.

I will be using Don Aslat's clutter free living. Haven’t read again yet. Not sure I have the time. I feel like I have made such huge strides forward that I may not make this a priority next quarter.
Well that ‘s enough for now. It looks like I am going to have to set some new goals in the homemaking arena. I will post in a day or two the headway that I have made in the spiritual area, parenting, physical, and business and personal growth arenas. Until tomorrow- happy homemaking. I think I'm on a roll!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Part 4 Naglene Bottles - Warning

My husband uses one at work.

We have several at home.

They are everyday items in most of our homes that we have all used for years.

They are now declared unsafe! What now? Nalgene Bottles. Apparently, they have been pulled from the shelves due to worries of the hormone-mimicking chemical bisphenol A (BPA). These very common water containers have led a major Canadian retailer to remove Nalgene, along with other polycarbonate plastic containers, from store shelves in early December. ('07)

"There is little dispute that the chemical can disrupt the hormonal system, but scientists disagree on whether the low doses found in food and beverage
containers can cause harm. The FDA and the plastics industry have argued that BPA-based products do not pose a health risk.

However, an expert panel of researchers recently reported that the potential for BPA to affect human health is a concern, and more research is needed. Many Americans currently have higher levels of BPA than those found to cause harm in lab animals. "

Yahoo News December 23, 2007

Dr Mercola says;

Although the colorful, durable, and lightweight Nalgene water bottles have been the choice of outdoor enthusiasts for years, scientific evidence has shown the plastic used to make these bottles may pose serious health hazards.

Made from lexan polycarbonate resin (marketed through Nalgene Outdoor Products), lexan was believed to be the ideal material for water bottles. It's extremely durable and doesn't allow odors or flavors to cling to distort the taste of
whatever you store in it. It was also thought that lexan did not leach BPA -- a
notion that has since been shown to be incorrect.

How Plastic Toxins May Damage Your Health Suspicions were raised on all polycarbonate plastics after researchers found birth defects and developmental abnormalities that caused miscarriages in mice. In the last ten years, some 700 studies have been published about BPA -- most of them indicating serious health hazards, at least in animals. The most troubling problem with BPA is that it mimics the female hormone estrogen.

The human body is extremely sensitive to sex hormones, and minuscule amounts can induce profound changes. Therefore, scientists are afraid even low levels of BPA could have a negative impact on human health. There is evidence (among mice and rats) that even low doses of BPA can cause: Hyperactivity, Early puberty, Increased fat formation, Abnormal sexual behavior, Disrupted reproductive cycles, and structural damage to the brain.

Despite all these findings, the U.S. health and environmental regulators keep insisting there is no evidence of harm to human health after 50 years of use. But wait? Looking at this short list above, don't some of these health problems sound remarkably familiar? Are these not some of the wide spread health issues you're surrounded by, which have increased dramatically in that time?

"The plastics industry finds ways to create misleading information about the safety -- or lack thereof -- of their products. The greed of the people who head up major corporations can, indeed, have a negative impact on your health.

I have hesitated posting all this on my blog due to the sensational nature of toxins in our food, water, and now water containers and just about everywhere else you turn. However, I think we do need to be aware, not paranoid, but aware that there are potential hazards in our world that were just not there 50 - 100 years ago. Today's world is not the same as when I grew up. You used to be able to survive much easier with common sense and logic.

Nowadays, insidious toxins seem to await at every turn, so I have come to a conclusion several years ago and wish to share it with you as my solution using common sense, to much of the environmental toxins that slap us in the face daily. Here it is,..... drum roll, please.......

Use glass!

I dumped most of my Tupperware, and Rubbermaid several years ago and use plastic only to store use large dry items such as dry pasta. I never- repeat - never heat in plastic containers or plastic wrap and avoid almost completely using the microwave. (another post another day)

The biggest problem I have had in adapting to glass exclusively is the necessity of carrying water with us on day trips. Glass is heavy when full of water and still quite heavy and breakable when empty, and you must remember to refill them every time you leave the house. (Gosh, how inconvenient!)

I haven't got a solution to this dilemma completely so I am still working on it. One way is to encourage everyone to drink lots well in advance when we may be gone for several hours-which increases stops at road side gas stations, by the way. And I am on the look out for glass juice type jars with reusable lids from thrift shops and then just get into the habit of thinking ahead.
In the meantime.

A few other common sense methods of avoiding toxins

1. Use only glass for baby bottles and baby dishes

2. Give your baby fabric toys instead of plastic ones.

3. Store your food in glass storage containers

4. Don't use microwaves

5. Avoid plastic wrap-especially when it touches food directly-

6. If you opt to use plastic kitchenware, at least get rid of the older, scratched-up varieties, avoid putting them in the dishwasher, and don't wash them with harsh detergents, as these things can cause more chemicals to leach into your food

....and a big one to me because it hits home for me personally.

7. Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to your or your children's teeth , ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA.

Who knows if the sealant applied to my children's teeth about 15 years ago was safe or not and whether or not it contributed to my 27 year old sons cancer diagnosed last year. I may never know- but there is no way anyone will apply anything to my children's teeth ever without me doing a safety check first! At the time, I just didn't know enough to ask the right questions and blindly and naively trusted my dentist.

Apparently these are the numbers on the plastic that are the culprits so far.
Be sure to avoid those marked on the bottom with the recycling label No. 7, as these varieties may contain BPA.

Containers marked with the recycling labels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 do not contain BPA (however they may contain other unsavory chemicals that you're best off avoiding by using glass instead).

Part 3 - How to Drink Water.

Now on to How to drink water. This may seem like an unnecessary subject to some but there are a few things that are somewhat important in how you consume water especially if you drink a lot, as you should.

Pure clean water is a diluter and a detoxifier. Consuming a large amount all at once acts like a broom sweeping and cleaning out toxins and softening stools preparing them for passing.

Rule number 1 Drink a high volume of water first thing upon rising
All night long your body has detoxified and gathered all the dust and debris throughout your body and has piled it in neat little piles like a broom would in your kitchen. Water is the final step, the dust pan! Imagine if you swept up all the mess on your kitchen or garage floor and then left it here for others to trample and spread all over again. A flood of water in the morning is a necessity.

I like to rise and drink about 1 full quart of water within a half hour of rising. I often add the juice of one whole lemon and add some liquid stevia to produce a delicious and healthy lemonade. The lemon is astringent and stimulating and taken in volume aids in flooding the intestines with a good clean sweep.

A good morning bath also is good wake up tonic. Many claim they need coffee to wake up. Caffeine does stimulate an adrenaline rush giving the (fake) feeling of energy but it is also the water component that adds to the wake feeling.

Additionally, drinking warm water in the morning has a cleansing effect on the bowels. Your body has no need to warm up the water before it being put to good use. It goes straight to work in the bowel instantly and without the trickle effect that occurs when water(and food ) must be heated before it us utilized by the body.

I used to slightly warm my morning wake up tonic (lemonade) in the microwave but has since stopped using the microwave. (good move) Instead, I now drink my water straight from the reverse osmosis unit on my sink. It refills during the night and is slightly cooler that room temperature upon rising. It is not as effective as warm water, and I could warm it slightly in a kettle, but so far have not bothered. It is good especially in the summer with warmer room temperatures.

So that is my morning routine. But when and how do you drink the rest of the 2 plus quarts of water daily? Again, water is a diluter and detoxifier so water - a large amount - over 6 oz, should not be consumed just before and during meals. The stomach acid that has been replacing itself after breakfast and before lunch now is ready for the next meal, but if you dilute the acid it cannot do it's proper job, slowing down digesting and resulting in higher calorie absorption and weight gain. An added benefit of being properly hydrated is I no longer feel the need to drink during meals.

Rule number 2 Always drink a volume of water (6 oz or more) separate from meals. A half hour before or two hours after a meal is a good rule to remember. If taken before a meal within a half hour the stomach acids have returned to normal and are ready to do their job. Afterward you do not want to halt the whole digestive process but adding a dilutant to the digestive mix so 2 hours after a meal is a good rule of thumb for most meals. If you tend to digest poorly, especially after a heavy evening meal, I would tend to wait longer to consume a large amount of water. Sips are OK.

Rule number 3 Do NOT drink ice cold water or other drinks. Your body is 98.6 degrees because it functions best at that temperature. Drinking ice cold anything shocks the stomach and shuts down all functions until the red alert has subsided and the liquids have been heated for proper consumption. I know many feel that they cannot drink anything not poured over ice, BUT you can if you retrain yourself.

In most cases, most people claiming an inability to drink warm or room temperature liquids are actually saying that it makes them feel sick. They are probably right. There is a warm flush of toxins released into the system immediately upon drinking warm water and the flood, if not done regularly will make them sick. This is a good thing! Get that back load of toxins out. Drink more warm water and it will get easier the more you do it. Before long you will crave a refreshing surge of cleansing warm water!

I now enjoy, even crave my warm lemonade every morning. What a boost. What a flood of vitality when water is absorbed quickly without the delay and shock value of ice. It is OK occasionally to have a cool drink from the fridge as I now prefer to drink my kombucha tea(watch for a future post) or "ice tea" (fridge only) but regularly and repeatedly drinking your liquids on ice has a damaging effect on the stomach.

Rule Number 4 Drink consistently throughout the day.
Now you are confused. After I have said so much about the importance of drinking a lot all at once, I need to clarify.

Drinking a lot of water in only a few times during the day will not completely rehydrate the tissues and organs. Excess water would be excreted quickly if you drank all 2 or 3 quarts at once. Your bladder would warn you and your tissues will not hydrate in time before it is all excreted. Drinking a lot early on in the day is a good jump start - then sip throughout the day keeping rule number 2 in mind.

I use quart jars that I use to keep track of how much I've had in a day. (as in the picture) The first jug is gone within a hour or less. The next jug is consumed before lunch hopefully and the third jug is worked on before dinner or is made up after dinner and before bed. If I have not been diligent after dinner and before bed, as an emergency measure only, I will try to drink the rest or only a glass or two in the evening I don't have to get up during the night. Drink during the daylight hours is best.

This all may seem complicated but routine leads to good habits and habits are the railroad tracks of efficiency. Soon drinking water will become second nature and you not think at all about the specifics.

Okay there you have it. This works for me and is how I am able to consume all the water I need in a day- most of the time. Practice makes perfect and even after years of this practice I still goof up but I just try again and get back to the routine. It really isn't science but it is an art.

Drink water and enjoy vitality of life!

Tomorrow is my last post in this drink water series.
For Part 1 The Great Water Debate click here
For Part 2- How much water to drink click here
Part 4 will be Naglene Water Bottles-Warning! completed tomorrow

Part 2 - How Much Water do I need??

Knowing how much water we need daily sets us up with some goals and sets habits. We often tend to under drink and if you do not have a predetermined amount set as a goal you will undoubtedly underachieve. It never ceases to amaze me, a preacher of the many benefits of water, that I too will under consume of I do not set out the plan and goals for the day.

Let's determine the amount of water we need daily. For the minimum requirements, take your present body weight in pounds and divide it by 2. That is your required amount of daily water intake in ounces.

So, if you are 150 lbs, divide by 2 = 75 ounces daily is the minimum daily goal. 75 oz divided by quarts is 1 glass over 2 quarts DAILY. If you come up short one day, your next day you will need to make up the short fall and your daily quota in order to rehydrate your organs and tissues again for full efficiency.

A good indicator of sufficient water intake is the color of the urine. It should be light yellow in color. If it is dark or pungent, you need more water. If you take vitamins, especially B, your urine can be darker in color from the excretion of excess nutrients so avoid them for a few days to see the natural color and set a healthy water goal daily.

If you are pregnant or nursing, or are very active add more water. These are the minimum requirements for optimal body function.

Remember it is important to NOT depend on your thirst as a guide initially. If you are thirsty it is usually a sign that already your organs have had to compromise and water is most assuredly been removed from the bowel in order to avoid mild organ failure. Furthermore your thirst is a trigger and if you have ignored your trigger all your life, you loose it. It tends to shut off and water is taken from other areas in order to do the most important functions first.

My son complains that the more water he drinks the more thirsty he feels. This is actually a good sign. His thirst mechanism has starting working again.

- Most of us are made up of between 50 - 80 % water depending on our age. Children tend to be higher in water content and the aged much lower. (Doesn't that tell us something? Drink water might have anti aging benefits?)

- Did you know that a mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short term memory trouble with basic math and difficulty in focusing? 20 % loss means death!

- Water regulates the temperature of the human body, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, cushions joints, protects organs and tissues and removes wastes.

- The body is 80 % water. Dehydration slows down the body metabolism. How much weight would North Americans loose if we just drink enough water??

- One of the major factors in daytime fatigue is dehydration!

- 75 % of the US population are chronically dehydrated

- 37% of the US population mistake thirst for hunger

- Water plays a roll in almost every body function. I heard a story once of how a doctor, being suddenly left without any medicines or supplies actually prescribed just plain water to his patients. He had such remarkable healing results for a multiple of health issues that he went on to write a book and document the astounding results. (When was the last time your doctor prescribed a glass of water.

Our body is designed by God to heal itself. All we need to do is give it the tools that it needs to accomplish what God has created it to do! Water is basic to life and healing.

Tomorrow, I will be posting Part 3 on How to drink water! Drinking water is not a science but there is an art to it!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Part 1 - The Great Water Debate

Lisa, of Bellingham asked a very good question about the kind of water we should be drinking. I thought it was of such importance that it was worthy of a post on its own.

"I noticed that you talk a lot about drinking pure water in your blog...what
type of filtration system do you use, and what can you recommend for families on
a budget?"

The subject of water purity is a hot debate amongst water purists today. Some say distilled is the only way while spring water for others is the healthiest. Others purify and use a combination of methods to assure the best and cleanest water. A brief look at the common water purification systems may help to clarify the options.

Distilled Water

Distilled, is what we all know from our high school science labs. Simply boiling and collecting the steam and condensing that steam back into pure liquid, leaving behind all (supposedly) the impurities, contaminates and minerals. The result is plain, pure H2O.

The advantages are that for the most part the water is complete pure, but the disadvantages are that the water does quickly turn acidic after being exposed to the air. Acidic conditions are what contributes to disease and achieving and maintaining an acid alkaline balance is our ultimate goal in achieving good health. If you drink exclusively distilled water you must be sure that your alkaline food consumption is very good in order to balance the increased acid from distilled water. The soda industry uses distilled water for it's flat taste and that is one of the many reasons that soda is so unhealthy.

I do have a small portable distiller but use it only when we are sick or for short term use. Distilled water can purge and cleanse but some say over a long period of time it may tend to purge and leach minerals from tissues and bones. If you use this option there is a mineral supplement that can add back the vital minerals lost in the purification process and I believe they may tend to alkalize the water as well.

Spring water
Some enthusiasts swear by the mineral content and the benefits of those minerals. If you are near a spring water source, that has been tested and you do not mind carrying the water you need daily this may be a option. If you tend to buy spring water from bottled sources, in plastic bottles from unknown sources and dates using questionable methods of bottling, the chance of maintaining the purity is going down with every process. Many suspect the honesty of the producers that bottle the water as well.

I do buy bottled water (although it is purified- not spring) and try to keep some in the car for trip use but am trying to reduce opur dependance on it. The issue of leeching from plastics especially while steeping in a hot car should be enough of a deterrent but convenience is also an issue. I am presently searching for refillable glass bottles with reusable lids so we prefill on car trips and not rely on purchased water in the car.

Filtered water

Another option that we used for a few years before we invested in our present system is the tap filters, Pur and Brita to name a couple. They range in price from $30 -50.00 and includes at least one filter. Replacmant filters are 10.00 or less and last a month or 6 weeks. The ratings differ on the quality of the water produced so a quick comparison is a good idea. The convenience is high in having water readily available at the sink instantly worked for us for years. However, the filters have been going up and up in recent years and my son and daughter in law do not find them as cost effective any more and have reverted back to the Brita jug carbon filter system. This may work certainly as an option for short term or prolonged use, if you do not mind waiting for the water to pass by the filter using gravity. It's not all that slow but there is a wait factor that you have to think ahead and always refill when it has been emptied. The amount that you need may be an issue if you tend to cook with it as well.

Watching and replacing the filters regularly is a must as a back log of contaminates can flood your water if too warm or hot water is used or the effectivness is reduced as the filter ages. (Hot water opens carbon pores and tends to release what has been previously caught)

Also, even if all or most of the chlorine and other contaminates are removed none of the carbon based filters remove fluoride. A serious concern if your water system does add this dangerous additive to the water system. Sodium fluoride is a by product of the aluminum manufacturing process and there are no conclusive tests - none- that prove that adding this highly toxic substance to water reduces tooth carries at all!

This Brita jug water system is also an excellent method when you travel. We recently took a Brita filter jug along with us on a trip and kept it in the bathroom hotel room. We refilled our water jugs for daytrips and drank freely when we returned. It worked wonderfully as an alternative to carting in bottled water cases while in a hotel.

Reverse Osmosis Systems

The process of reverse osmosis is thorough and does a combination of elaborate filtering and processing for contaminates and ultra violet lights for bacteria. This is the sytem that we settled on and the whole system cost about 250.00 at Home Depot a few years ago. We really love it. It is inexpensive to run (note-there is some water loss in the purification process and that is also a cost of running the system) and the filters must be replaced yearly or in our experience once every year and a half for our volume of water use. Filters run about 90.00, I believe. So, short of calculating the water loss, the cost of operation is about 100.00 per year. Not bad for a years worth of drinking and cooking water handy, pure and readily available without remembering or carting heavy containers.

You can also get a whole house system that attaches to the water pipes as they enter your house but we instead opted for shower filters to remove chlorine (which turns to gas with the heat of the water as we shower) and we do not take many baths. Laundry is not as important to us at this point so for now this system works very well for us and I'm glad we invested in the sink option at this point.

There you have it, a brief synopsis of the basic water purity systems out there and why and how we came to choose our present system. The utmost warning though that whatever system you do use it will be a whole lot better that just plain tap water. I have heard tap water described as a "cesspool of contaminates" ranging from organic bacteria to inorganic drugs and industrial pollution. Just yesterday my husband heard on the news that the amount of prescription drugs being detected in the water is rising. How would you like to be treated for depression without being depressed? How about high blood pressure? Or diabetes?

And no one knows how all these drug contaminates will react when combined together. All drugs are poisons and I avoid them in real life and residues in my water.

Remember water, lots of water, pure and clean is probably one of the single best things you can do for your health. Teaching your children to drink water is a lifetime habit worthy of instilling early. The alternatives are not considerable for me. Soda, bottled juices, drink mixes and tap water. Gasp!

This will be the first in a series of posts on water purity, bottle safety and I am preparing a post on "How to drink water" It isn't a science but a few things to know will save your digestion much stress.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Put something where you can see it; where your eye can remind your heart!

I love to decorate. I always have - ever since I was a child. I think it is my love of color, or design or perhaps the family feel of a specially created space. I don't have much time or money to really decorate the way I'd like to, or used to, but I can do mini projects that continue to create special family memories and reinforce the spiritual principles that I care about.

A few years ago, I discovered the book, Celebrating the Christian Year, by Marsha Zimmerman. She has written an excellent handbook for every Christian Holiday and how to celebrate it with recipes, traditions and Bible passages. The most memorable thing in the book is the importance of allowing your eye to see something that reminds your heart of a spiritual principle. Combine that with my love of decorating and you get one happy Momma. I get to visually reinforce spiritual principles through my love of decorating! How cool is that?

We have meaningfully celebrated St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, St Lucia' Day, St Nicholas Day, to name a few and all the traditional holidays as well, Christmas, Easter, and Mother's and Father's Day with extra special meaning.

For Easter, I don't generally use bunnies but I have a small collection of lambs, some made from china, and some soft and cuddly. I have collected over the years additional significant items such as old rusty railroad ties, a unique bent metal crown of thorns/candle holder and some special egg holders. I picked up some sparkly and some flat purple fabric and use the table as a display and conversation piece.

Some of the significant symbols of Easter.
Gold and Purple- royalty
white- purity of Christ
Yellow- sunrise on Ressurection Day
Lamb- the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world!
Nails- our sins that are nailed to the cross
Eggs- comes from pagan mythology- but I choose to redeem the image of the egg into a symbol of the tomb out of which Christ appeared, the newness of life and that the was raised from the dead- It helps us anticiate the completion of our slavation in Chrsit's ressurection!

Yesterday, (a few days early) we celebrated our Easter dinner with family and I served roast lamb, whipped turnip , beets, and stir fried asparagus and lime pie for dessert. (There is no significance in the lime pie but I thought I'd try it.) Usually we quote some memory verses or read the account of the death and Resurrection of Jesus after dinner. AND do we have an Easter egg hunt. Eggs have absolutely nothing to do with the Death and Ressurection of our Lord but they are a symbol of the newness of life, or rebirth and so we have kept eggs in our Easter traditions.

Now it's your turn. Share with us what meaningful celebrations you have shared with your family and what significant items you use to decorate or serve. I'd love to hear how Easter is special in your home.

Happy Ressurection Day Muffins!

Traditions are so important in families. They tie memories together and create regularly and a sense of predictability. As any family our family traditions have developed over the years. On Easter we always have a breakfast of eggs and homemade, fresh out the the oven oatmeal muffins. But, these muffins have a slight twist. The eggs and the muffins are in one tidy package, baked together at the same time making a memorable portable breakfast to take out on a morning sunrise service or just enjoyed at home. Every year we color raw eggs and pop those in the muffins or mark some Easter message on the tops of the whole white eggs once they come out of the oven. Either way they make a pretty picture and we plan on taking them to church with us tomorrow for some friends. Enjoy!

Nestled Egg Muffins

2 1/2 cups whole wheat (or other) flour
2 c flaked oats
1/2 cup brown sugar (I use honey)
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs (to go in the batter)
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup oil coconut is best- but olive works well. (Other oils should never be heated)
1 cup raisins
18 small whole white eggs. I have used large eggs but if you can find medium or small eggs they work best depending on the size of your muffins tins.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, beat 2 eggs well and blend in milk, oil, and raisins. Add to dry ingredients, stirring till just moistened.

Spoon into 18 greased muffin tins equally-(they should not be very full) Press 1 egg, colored or not, but still raw into each cup and let sit about half or 2/3 deep into the dough.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min or till done.

The eggs will probably be cooked to perfection, maybe better than you have ever done them on the stove top - not grey lined which seems to be the risk on the stove. Serve with butter and jam for the muffin and salt for the egg.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Classical and Lifestyle of Learning compared.

Many new homeschool parents are confused and overwhelmed by the multitude of terms used to describe the different approaches to Home education. A thorough understanding is not necessary to start a wonderful education in your home but a reasonable scanning of the terms used and their major belief premises are very beneficial to parents as they try and hone their own style and belief system. There is not one right way, but as you learn and grow you will be able to focus on what works for you and your particular family.

Below is an brief comparison of Trivium (Classical), Public school and Lifestyle of Learning "methods". Notice the variances of activities at different ages and readiness emphasis in both Trivium and the LOL approaches as compared to Public School.

Birth to 5
Trivium says - nothing (other than real life experiences and building of character)
PS says - Preschool
LOL says - readiness activities.

5-7 years old Preoperational
Trivium says - Basic skills, (reading writing, math)
Public school says - kindergarten through grade two
LOL says - preparing phonics, learning to write, copy work. Establish the use of identification books, field guides. Begin collections,with simple notebook collections. 20 min table time (pencil in hand-focused)

8-10 years Concrete operational
Trivium says - grammar stage
Public school says - grades 3-5
LOL says - collections, compositions, and grammar use. Library skills, more references and special projects. Begin journaling and independent reading. Continue copy work.
30 min table time

11-13 years Formal Operational
Trivium says - dialectic stage, deductive reasoning.
Public school says - grades 6-8
LOL says - thinking, logic, reasoning. Begin math studies. Increase detail. Initiate bible study independently. Continue journaling, encourage goal setting.
45 min table time

14-15 years
Trivium says - rhetoric stage, expressing yourself
Public school says - 9 -10th grades
LOL says - speaking, writing, in depth Bible study, writing projects, eg, family newsletter. Continue studies in areas the student is most interested in. Core subjects as appropriate. (a computer programmer needs little biology)
60 min table time

16 - 18 years

Trivium says - quadrium subjects, university studies, very focused.
PS says - grades 11-12 still general and compulsory studies.
LOL says - functioning at an adult level in areas you have been pursuing already and intend on spending a lifetime learning new and wonderful things daily. It's all in the heart. Table time varies as per study and goals.

Baked Oatmeal-Yum!

Stephanie (my daughter in law) made a wonderful baked oatmeal breakfast while we were at her house last weekend. What I really liked about it was she has adapted it to presoaking so the phylates are minimized (increases digestablilty) I've posted it below for you to try. This is directly quoted from her Keeper of the Home Blog.

A new dish that we've been thoroughly enjoying lately is a variation of the Baked Oatmeal that Crystal posted a little while back. I wanted to adapt the recipe for overnight soaking, so this is how I do it:

1 cup oil (I often do this 1/2 butter and 1/2 oil- you can use coconut oil as well, instead of olive)

1 cup sugar (I use honey- about 1/2- 3/4 cup. Because we also add fruit, this seems to be enough sweetness for us)

4 eggs

6 cups oats

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon (a bit more cinnamon is good, too!)

2 cups milk (I substitute this with about half and even up to all yogurt, kefir or buttermilk if I have them, for better soaking results, although I have used milk with added whey or apple cider vinegar in a pinch)

Variations: Adding chopped apples or raisins (or both) before baking is a
wonderful addition, almost like eating dessert for breakfast!

1) Prepare (oil) a 9x13 pan. Mix oats well with milk/yogurt mixture (or whatever substitutions you are using). Let soak in pan overnight. Since I
usually use about half milk, I leave it to soak in the fridge (rather than just
on the counter). This isn't quite as good as the soaking process, but it's much,
much better than not soaking it at all.

2) Bake at 375° for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.

3) We pour raw milk or cream, and add raisins or other fruit (if not added during baking) before eating.


Monday, March 17, 2008

We have just returned from a wonderful family trip up north to see our two married children and their families just over the Canadian border. It is always such a delight for me as a mom and grandma to visit my children and to see the newest developments in Abbie (3) and the two babies, Caden, 10 months, (Ryan and Stephanies second), and Gabriel, 7 months, (Tim and Amy's first) I had a great time just watching and holding my two babies learn new things and progress in their development. How I miss them all.
Caden- a spittin' image of his Daddy at that age-(My son) He is 10 months now and really cutting some sharp teeth but we did manage to get some smiles out of him this time.
Gabriel ( 7 months) is a going concern. He never stops moving, ever. Even if it is just his hands or his feet while nursing. Whenever he is not so preoccupied he is rolling and twisting and just about crawling. He has a lovely smile but he just kept hidding it that day.

Okay, enough boasting in my grandchildren. Back to work on a really good post coming up next!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Raw Passion to Learn

The passion to learn- It is born in each one of us and yet for some reason it seems to mysteriously disappear somewhere around the teenage years or before. Well, isn't that just to be expected? After all he/she is a teenager now and it's expected to go through a hard time, even rebellion because ...well, they are teenagers now.

I challenge you to think again.

Perhaps the expected passages of time may just be a predictable reaction to the injustices and dysfunction of our culture. Parenting is not what it used to be and certainly schooling is not either by any stretch of the imagination. In years gone by parents expected to teach and train their own children, in discipline and morals and even in 2+ 2 =4. But today, we have all learned or been taught to let experts do it for us, so it can be done right! They have been to school (dead giveaway) for many years to learn how to teach and so therefore since we as parents have not, (probably) we simply cannot know how to teach or, better put, get out of the way and let our children learn.
We are all born with that innate desire to learn. Just look at a baby. Have you ever seen a teenager just starting to learn to walk because he just didn't have the desire to learn or that no one taught him in the art of walking properly? How ridiculous a thought? Parents, you are the best, God ordained, teachers and trainers of your children. Once understood and fully grasped, this concept can revolutionize your perspective.

My daughter has a unique blog about her love of learning in the area of art,
I create because I must and a recent post about her baby's raw passion which I thought was insightful. You gotta read it.

Between each line is a mother's pride and a grandma's joy in a really cute and bright baby!

Remember ladies, you are not only raising your children, you are also raising your grandchildren. Your grown children will parent in your grace and style - if it is honorable - and someone else's if it was not. Either way, your influence can be enormous.... for generations to come.

PS My daugher sketched the picture in this post. Pretty good, eh? (The Canadian in me comes through everyone once in a while!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Grace Based Parenting

I believe in grace based parenting but in my many attempts at explaining exactly what I mean by that, I fall short in my meager explanations.(maybe because I have not mastered it myself) Until now. I came across a marvelous example of what grace based parenting is through a wonderful living book called Little Women by Lousia May Alcott. If your daughter has not read it she should and if you have a chance to read it aloud, even better. Chapter 8 has a marvelous example of how a loving mother tenderly leads her daughter, who is quick-tempered and unforgiving, through listening to her, validating her, sharing honestly before her, loving her, and leading her to relationship with her Father-God.

Lord, help each of us moms (me in the formost) to learn how to parent with grace and lead our children to relationship with You... AND thank you Lord for my friend, Linda,for bringing this book to my attention. Thanks Linda, you are a never ending source of inspiration!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rainy days on Monday's always get me down.

Do anyone of you ever have those rainy day Monday blues? A day of uninspired apathy? After having a great week last week and really making some headway on routines, then enjoying a busy weekend and all seemed to come unglued today. Everything seemed to crash. Nobody wants to do anything except curl up and watch TV all day (not that we ever do that)

I have noticed this phenomenon occur time and again at our house and I have come to "not expect much on Monday." It kind of bothers me accepting this lackadaisical attitude and quite honestly I have fought it with a vengeance in the past only to make matters worse in the end. But lets face it, Mondays are back to routine, and for most of us that means work, an uphill climb in discipline and after having a lot of fun enjoying sweet fellowship on Sunday, Mondays just seem to be a let down. So why fight it?

Today, we got up a little late due to the time change in the clocks and after quiet time and then morning devotions we read three chapters of, Whatever Happened to Justice from Bluestocking Press, and then curled up and watched a movie/documentary called Darwin's' Deadly Legacy. Afterward I started sewing a period costume for Jonathan and he in turn read aloud to me, "Are you Liberal, Conservative or Confused." Graydon worked on his blog and in the evening the boys worked on their Mission Impossible movie that they are producing. That is not entirely a write off day and we should not feel like a day has been wasted. Rainy days on Mondays can allow for a day off and productive free time can still produce much learning. A true free lifestyle of learning can embrace the occasional rainy day Monday as long as it doesn't get you down. Tomorrow we'll be better equipped to get back to the routine. Have a great day on Terrific Tuesday.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Outragous! Homeschooling is now illegal in California!

In case you haven't heard, a life changing case was decided by the courts in California that can have devastating effects on homeschooling across the country. Please take the time to read the following information. Click here for the news report

Dr. Dobson interrupted his programming schedule today to do a special broadcast on the issue. Click here to go to the website then click on the Friday, March 7th broadcast, In Defense of Homeschooling.

HSLDA also has a petition you can sign. You do not have to be a member of HSLDA to sign this. To sign the homeschool petition click here.

~The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad!
Psalm 126:3

Training Hearts to be Joyful.

Many have assumed at first sight that the term Lifestyle of Learning implies a willy nilly or undisciplined approach to parenting and education. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I am continuing my New Years goal of getting things back in order and re focusing on many good habits that have slipped out in the past year I am starting to focus on inner heart attitudes that both my children and I have slipped into sloppiness. These are the non negotiables that I have determined that I will not give in on. Child Training is important and quite honestly, not understood by many of us who tend to think spanking takes care of heart conditions, however corporal punishment is not training. Neither is training simply repeated practice but also holding ourselves and our children accountable. The following heart attitudes are in training right now at our house.

We will be happy in the morning, evidenced by smiling and polite respect when mom approaches sleeping children to get up in the morning. My approach is to firstly model this by my happy heart and then to hold each child accountable to do the same back to me and to each other.

I am also using tools- music can be a tool. We have a series that I have enjoyed for years called the Scripture Memory Series The one that I play every morning right now as I'm getting them up is the CD featuring Scriptures on Anxiety and its opposites-trust and joy.

Another tool is to train them in daily Bible reading and study as well, modelled and required by Mom (and Dad but even if Dad does not Mom can still be the major influence in her children's lives. )

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs him down (causes depression)

but a good word makes him glad.

Proverbs 15:13

A joyful heart makes a cheerful face

When the heart is sad the spirit is broken.

Joy is a product of a healthy relationship with out heavenly Father. As my morning times are focusing on a disciplines of morning Bible reading, study and prayer (and journalling) I am focusing on establishing this habit firmly in my children's lives as well-thereby producing the fruit of JOY..... and a happy face, and then peace and blessing in our homes as well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wacky Wednesday

It was a typical day, a day like any other. The sun was shining, and we had just finished doing a great cleanup job on the Family Room and all three bathrooms and then .... unexpectedly and broke out at our house. What is it we wondered? What can it be? Then we realized that today is Wacky Wednesday (Beginner Books(R))This book was one of our kids favorite and most requested books, so much so that Wacky Wednesday became incorporated into our everyday lives. We even ended up maintaining names for all the days of the week, usually in relation to our household chores or other events that typically happened on that day; Marvelous Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday-we often wore our clothes inside out that day (one of them usually did anyway) Thorough Thursday and Fun Friday.

After some school work we went to the park. (believe me it was also a wacky thing to do - it was still to cold out to spend any length of time!)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Faith is a place that I can go.....

If any of you know of the amazing story of Garden of Life founder, Jordon Rubin, then you will want to see this inspirational video, written and sung by Jordon himself. (I feel like I know him personally-I saw him speak live at a small health food store recently during his Change Your World American Tour. He certainly is a multi talented man and God has given him a message.
I love this song...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Super Sour Saturday!

I had such fun yesterday. I had the whole day to play. I happened to find a mother load of fresh but half price raw milk at my local Health Food store and bought not one, not 3 but 5 gallons of it! I wondered what to do with it all but could not pass up $4.39 per gallon. (Remember this is raw, living, full of enzymes raw milk- not dead, cooked, sterilized and highly allergenic pasteurized milk.) You can find raw milk cheaper but in my locale I have to travel about 45 min to find it at $5.50 straight from the farmer so I am content to buy it at normally $8.79 pr gallon upon occasion or as often as I can at $4.39 a gallon!

So what I did with it all!

I set one large glass jar on the counter to separate into curds and whey. The whey I will use for souring grains and all flour products, (muffins, pancakes, bread, etc,since whey keeps about 6 weeks in the fridge) and the solid I will be making into cream cheese of which I have plans to make a raw cheesecake to take up to Canada when I visit my grown children and their families next weekend)

Another gallon (and a half) I made 6 qts of kefir, (see first picture) and that is on my counter setting right now.

The third gallon (and a half) I made a big batch of yogurt, which is sitting on a heating pad covered in towels as we speak. (Notice the thermometer-95 degrees is perfect for 12 hours)

The fifth gallon is in my fridge for drinking and for on homemade buckwheat granola and other breakfast cereals.

But that is not all. I had a lot of fun souring other things yesterday as well. I made a beautiful batch of sauerkraut AND a jar of pineapple chutney, souring on my counter for two days and then put in the fridge for about 3 weeks or till gone which will probably be the later. Use a few tablespoons as a garnish to be eaten with meat to improve digestibility.

AND I made a quadruple batch of raw brownies, in my dehydrator right now (I can hear the hum of the dehydrator in the next room)

Lastly, I made a batch of kombucha tea, a fermented sour and sweet bubbly drink made from black tea.

And to finish it all off (or rather start off the day) I had Chocolate Mousse for breakfast. Yum. I pulled it over again on another unsuspecting victim. This time I asked Jonathan (17) if he would like some Chocolate Mousse and he cautiously took a taste. "OK, thanks Mom." He downed the whole thing!

Sorry, I must find humor in tricking my family into eating what they say they detest-frog. See my previous post on Chocolate Mousse to find out what frog is at my house!.

All of these recipes, except the mousse, are in the great kitchen book (not exactly a cookbook alone) Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats Get it from your library if you have to but you will quickly see the need to have your own copy.