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Friday, January 27, 2012

Water Kefir

I have made milk kefir in the past but always ended up killing my grains.  The raw milk was too pricey to have on hand to make kefir all the time.  Then I found out about water kefir through some lovely ladies online.  One of them sent me some water kefir grains for me to get started.  Here's what happened.

First batch - i used a pinch of baking soda and 1/4 cup organic cane sugar along with almost a quart of spring water and 1/3 cup kefir grains.  The water still seemed really sweet to me and i wasn't sure if it was working.

Second batch - pretty much same as the first.

Third batch - I used some unsulfured raisins, 1/4 cup sugar (heaping) and 1/3 cup kefir grains.  This time I saw major changes.  It was a slightly sweet, fermented taste.  The liquid was cloudy in a different way than it was before....can't really explain it.  I added 1 - 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and it tasted kind of like a flat cream soda.

Fourth batch - I made the same as the above and did a second ferment with blueberries.  That means I strained the grains and took them out.  I then added a handful of frozen blueberries we had picked over the summer, put the lid on and let it sit out 24 more hours.  This one to me tastes kind of like a wine cooler but not as strong.  IT was a tad fizzy.

Fifth batch - I put in sugar, raisins and two peeled lemon wedges.  I let this ferment only 24 hours.  It was more fizzy than the others and the taste to me was pretty good.

So there you have it.  Those are my findings so far.  Unsulfered fruit is great for making the first ferment really awesome.

You can find more out about water kefir with the video link below.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oat Flour Blueberry Muffins

I tweaked things a bit (are you surprised) and made these muffins.  Next time I'd definitely add in probably a tablespoon of lemon zest.  These are not super sweet muffins.  They are nice and hearty as well as tasty.  I think I will also do cranberry, orange peel and nut muffins next time.

2 cups oat flour (I make my own)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans

1. Mix together oat flour and buttermilk and let sit for 10 minutes or so.
2. Mix in eggs, butter and honey.
3. Add in dry ingredients and mix just till combined.
4. Fold in blueberries and nuts and put into 12 muffin liners.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Italian Bean and Sausage Soup

My sil, Beka posted a soup she was making.  It looked so good but I'm not so fond of fennel.  I modified this original recipe and came up with this.  The kids and I love it!  Hubby isn't home yet but I have a feeling he'll really like it too.  I liked mine better when I stirred in the sour cream.  

The soup in it's original state with freshly grated parmesan cheese and sour cream.

 After the sour cream has been stirred in.  

Italian Bean and Sausage Soup
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 pound mild sausage
olive oil or butter for browning
2 cans (15.5oz) great northern beans, rinsed
28 oz petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
sour cream
fresh parmesan cheese

1. Brown meat, onions, peppers and herbs in oil till the meat is cooked through.  Add to crackpot.

2. Pour the tomatoes, broth and beans into the crackpot.  Stir and place lid on.  Cook on high 4 hours.

3. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

My Son - Setting the Bar High!

My son made a bracelet for me out of huge, red beads and a green pipe cleaner.  He crafted it with for his mama.  

He gave it to me and I put it on for a bit, it was so big and cumbersome.  I took it off and put it on the coffee table to admire the rest of the evening.

Days passed and I looked at the bracelet that is not at all my kind of fashion, but thinking of how my son made it special, out of love for his mama.

It was Sunday, time for church!  Everyone dresses nice on this day in our household.  I got all ready and was about to put my coat on when my eye caught glimpse of that gift of love.  

I put it on, then my coat as we got ready to rush outdoors.  I noticed Jon smile big as it went onto my wrist, and then he came up to hold my hand.  He felt special...I showed him love in the way he needs to feel it.

We got to church and I wanted to keep my coat on, what would the ladies think.  Most of them are so cute and fashion savvy.  

Why do I care?  Isn't the joy of my son worth far much more than the glances and weird stares from the ladies here?  

I started to explain to a couple people that my son made it for me, realizing I was still embarrassed.  I then stopped.  Stopped explaining away the bracelet, stopped trying to hide it and wore it proudly.

How I am around this little boy is forming in his mind what a woman should be.  I want to set the bar high, I pray I can set the bar high.  Praying he'll find the one...cherish her and lead her closer to the Lord.  

One of my jobs is to set the bar high, to show him he's a good boy/little man, he's important, he's strong, he makes me feel special, he's mine.  This little man is mine for now, and I am his lady.   He opens the door for mama, pats her head when she's not feeling well, carries heavy things for me, "cooks" for me, and so much more.  He's more of a man every day - a gentleman!

May I set the bar high.  May he know without a doubt he is loved and respected!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When Mama is "sick" - has on-going health issues.

This is something my family knows all too well.  Over the past 2 years things have really been hard in some aspects.  In others, it's been better.  I've recently talked to 3 different women who are also at times bed ridden with children at home.  It's a very difficult road to walk.  While this may not help everyone since we're all different, I know it would be very helpful for me and some of my friends.  Read on if you know someone who has on-going health issues and you want to help them.  It can be very lonely and isolating.

1. Don't forget us.  When testing is being done or we're getting on a new regimen, people pray for us and we get calls and/or letters to see how we're doing.  Once the testing is done, we're forgotten about again (or that's how it seems).  Let us know you're still praying for us, pop on over for a short amount of time (because we usually can't do that long), and just sit with us and talk.  We miss getting out and being able to see people.  It can get very lonely.  If you can't come over, take the time to call.

2. Offer to help us.  It's very hard to get the basic things done in our homes.  Things like cleaning, cooking and doing school with the kids.  While I make sure we get that done, that doesn't leave room (if I'm not feeling well) to do anything else.  With little kids running around and playing, we can get very overwhelmed.  I want a clean house, clean carpets, finished projects....but I just can't do it all.  Or how about taking our kids out for the day?  I know for me a friend would have to call and say "I'm doing this so give me a date".  lol

3. Surprise us!  Write us a letter, bring over a cup of tea, make dinner for our family (make sure to check dietary restrictions) or send over a comedy.  Laughter and friendship really does boost our spirit and our health.

4. If you go to visit a mama that has on-going health issues, lower your expectations of her house and her entertaining/running around.  This is the big one for me.  It would do my heart so good if I knew "they" weren't judging my house and even offered to help.  The stress of getting ready for guests is sometimes overwhelming and that can send us into being in bed days after you're gone.  We want people around...but it needs to be less stressful.

5. If you simply cannot come over and visit, care packages are great.  We focus so much on our families and their needs...we don't think much about giving ourself "fun time".  How about sending a comfy pair of socks, a comedy dvd, a favorite treat, tea bags, homemade cards, etc... The sky is the limit.

6. Be patient with us.  We've had to cancel or not show up to family events because my health couldn't take it.  Being patient with us and realizing that we just can't do things normal people can means a lot.

Most of us look fine on the outside and even sometimes when you're around us, you'd never know we have major health problems going on inside.  This is the hardest part.  Most people think if you look good, you feel good.  The purpose of this post is to really get the word out there that there are so many people suffering right now of major health issues.  It would mean a lot to them for you to take the time out of your busy day/days and brighten theirs for a bit.  It can be a very lonely place.

Most importantly, hold them up in prayer and let them know that. It does my heart so good to know I have friends that are consistently praying for me.  Nothing compares to that.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Favorite Things 2011

Here goes.  Here is a list of some of my favorite things of 2011.  If I had the money, I'd totally buy 1 of each for all of you ;)  The list is short but these items rock!  Def. not a necessity but they've been nice to have.

Contigo Mugs - these are amazing!  They hold hot beverages for hours.  

Heavenly Organics Chocolates - My favorite is the mint flavored.  This is just dark chocolate, honey and mint flavoring.  Now I can indulge from time to time.

Avalon Organics Biotin B Shampoo (Thickening) - I love, love, love this shampoo.  I get it at a discount on

IngenuiTEA - This has to be the best tea invention to date!  I use lots of bulk, loose, organic herbs for my tea.  This is the perfect way to brew it.  Super simple and easy clean-up.

Zevia Soda - My current favorite flavor is Ginger.  Mmmm!  It's nice to have a soda from time to time that does not contain any sugar/glycemic load.

Levi's - yes this is def. my brand of choice in jeans.  I got a gift card for Christmas from my brother Nathan and his wife Colette.  I was able to pick up a pair of Levi's with them.  Better fit than any jeans I've ever owned and that's saying a lot!

Keen H2 Sandals - my hubby got me a pair of Keen's and I must say, I LOVE them!  They are the most amazing sandals out there.  You can wear them in the water, on dry land and even throw them in the washer.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea - this helps so much with female issues during that time.  Wouldn't want to be without it.  My daughter is also learning the joys of drinking it.

David Nouveaux Music - it just speaks to my soul.  I will daily send the children upstairs to rest/nap/do something quiet and put this one while I lay down and rest for a bit.  It's so calm and restful to this sometimes weary soul.

Soaker Hose - This was wonderful for our garden this year.  This gave me time to do other things outdoors while the garden was being gently watered.  Slow, gentle watering is key to good gardening.  I'm anxious to see how the hose is doing this spring.  I saw I could keep it outdoors as long as it wasn't hooked up to the water spout and was drained.  That will be a post for another time.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Clinging to the One

It's amazing how trouble in our family can shake our world
make us feel like everything is upside down
and inside out.
It heightens some senses
while it numbs others.
Odd isn't it?

I had one of these moments not long ago.
I felt like my heart
was living outside of my body
being trampled and beaten.
I had a hard time catching my breath
and each minute it was quiet, 
I had time to think...
to ponder on "what if".
That wasn't a pleasant road.

When seeking the counsel of friends
many offered a choice;
a choice to turn aside from my convictions
and find another path.
The confusion was overwhelming
and caused me to question.

By God's grace alone, I was able to stand firm
to hold on to those convictions 
and see peace renewed
relationships restored
Love Came Down!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Valentine's Day

(Above - Chocolate testing I had with hubby 2 years ago)

It's just over 1 month away and I'm excitedly making plans for this year.  Now if you're one of those "Valentine's Day is one of those stupid Hallmark holidays we don't celebrate", or "I can pick any day of the year to love and celebrate my family", move on please.  I always have and always will love 
Valentine's Day.  

Growing up my mom always did something very special for us on Valentine's Day.  It was always fun seeing what she had planned.  It was especially fun when it fell on a school day and I'd anticipate all day long what she was doing.  She'd always make a fantastic meal and incorporate hearts into it any way she could.  We would also always get a special card from her and special treats.  

Now that I have my own family, I try to follow the same theme as my mother.  It's always been a special time for our family too.  No matter what our budget, we've always been able to make the day very special.  There are so many fun things you can do as a family and as a couple.

Thank you mom for the legacy of Love!