Monday, August 30

Why, Oh, Why?

Is it just me or does everyone have days when they obsess over their actions? I very rarely do that over things other people do but I'm a no-holds-barred self-critical type. It's my least healthy habit, for sure. 

For reasons I won't bore you with, it's been a emotionally-grueling day, packed with self-doubt and worry. I hate it when I'm like this. Fortunately, I have a little escape valve I use when I'm obsessing. It's both comforting and amusing in a self-deprecating sort of way...

A few years back, someone sent me a link to a Briggs-Myers personality test which C and I took it just for fun. I have no tolerance for psychobabble, but the results were really uncanny. We sat laughing and amazed as we read to each other the description of our 'types'. I'm telling you, my marriage got easier that day. Things about him that used to drive me nuts now seemed almost endearing and began to take on a logical quality (and when you read about my type, you'll see that things need to make sense to me!)

So, now when I'm doing my obsessive, the-sky-is-falling-and-it's-really-really-all-my-fault, I go back and read about 'myself'. If you know me, you'll get a few chuckles out of it.

So, enjoy at my expense! What's your type? :)

Thursday, August 26

Great Guides for Parents

Every parent knows the uncomfortable feelings of indecision when a child wants to read a book or watch a movie or TV show that you haven't read or seen yourself, especially when the child is feeling pressure from friends. There are two great sites that I use to maintain a good balance between our family's values and cultural and peer pressures. 

Common Sense Media covers all types of media -- books, movies, TV, video games, apps and more. You can find both objective and subjective information. It's rating system covers messages, violence, sex, language, consumerism and drinking, drugs & smoking. Any time I'm told a show is appropriate for my kids, I'll check it out here. If there is something I object to, I still may let them watch it but at least I'm able to talk with them afterward and provide balance with our beliefs. To me, those discussions are the foundation of teaching them how to make good decisions in the difficult, high-pressure situations that lie ahead for them.

The Internet Movie Database covers film and TV episodes. This one is less parent-oriented but it does have  notes for parents and stresses that its reviews be factual and not generalize with comments like 'not too much violence.' Like CSM, it provides great details so that you can determine if 'potty language' is okay but stronger four-letter words are not or how prevalent kissing scenes are.

Monday, August 23

Bye-Bye, Mainstream Healthcare

Well, we're taking the plunge. After looking at how much we spend for health insurance (more than $1000/month) and knowing how little we actually use the benefits, we are dropping the coverage. A major-medical-only policy costs a fraction and even provides some preventative care benefits.

Can you see the cream line? Shake and drink - YUM!
As time goes by, I am more and more convinced that most health problems can be eliminated or diminished by changing our eating habits and the quality of our food. What cannot be helped by dietary changes could likely have been prevented with better nutrition.

One of our biggest concerns about not having traditional health insurance has always been S's asthma. After several months of drinking raw milk, though, his dependence on his maintenance medications is almost nil. (We do keep them on hand in case he sleeps over with a friend with indoor pets and for allergy season.) This wouldn't be at all possible if he were younger and less able to communicate about his breathing, so we are very thankful for the opportunity to wean him off Western medicines.

Another note on raw milk -- we have discovered that three ounces of raw milk is both a powerful pre-workout snack and the perfect recovery aid. I'm not sure why that is but I would guess it's the ratio of protein and carbs as well as it being a 'living' food makes the nutrients more available as well.

Summer CSA - Week 16

Here's what we got last week. I also scored at the farmer's market over the weekend -- I've made a habit of asking farmers if they having any canning tomatoes (slightly bruised or overripe) on hand that they'd sell to me. One man sold me fourteen pounds for $5!! I think he was as happy about the deal as I was since he was just going to throw them away. It wasn't enough to break out the canner for but it made for a nice batch of spaghetti!

Friday, August 20

Food Co-op

A local CSA farmer introduced me to this natural food cooperative for Middle Tennessee. In addition to listing sources for local farmers, they offer some non-local products as well. Check out their selection of grains, nuts, oils, fermented/sprouted baked goods, seasonal fruit and much, much more!

Thursday, August 19

House Decorating and Design

I recently came across Houzz. It's similar to looking through design magazines minus the paper waste. After creating an account, you can save photos to your 'ideabook' and add comments on what you like about the pictured space. It's provided lots of interesting ideas on how to use our new space.

Wednesday, August 18

Honey Wheat Pan Rolls

I'm not a fan of television and have maintained a fairly strict policy with the kids over years. Now that they're older, there are a couple of evening programs we (more or less) enjoy watching together. So eating dinner in front of the TV one night a week has become a habit since C gets home to late to sit down together before primetime. 

Last night was the last straw for me. With a sick child in the house, preparing dinner took a bit more effort than usual and included two new things I knew everyone would like. As we sat in the living room, the food was left to cool on the kids' plates as they focused on the program. Now I'm not one to expect  praise for making a meal because the act of nourishing my family is reward enough but I believe that food provides adequate sensory stimulation. To shovel food in one's mouth and not enjoy what we eat is just wrong. 

So the pain of forced changed is ahead for my brood. That's okay, though, they'll gain much more than they lose...

Here's one of the new things I tried. They were delicious with freshly-made honey butter!

Honey Wheat Pan Rolls
    makes two dozen
1 c water
1/4 c honey
1/4 c butter
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c old-fashioned oats, uncooked
4 t yeast
1 t sea salt
1 large egg
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • Combine water, honey and butter in small saucepan: heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and cool to 120˚.
  • Combine wheat flour, oats, yeast and salt in mixing bowl. Stir well. Gradually add hot mixture. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. Add egg. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough. 
  • Turn dough out onto a heavily-floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic (about eight minutes.) Shape into 24 balls and place in a lightly-greased 13X9 pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (85˚) until double in size (about an hour). 
  • Bake at 375˚ for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, August 16

Coming Clean...

Well, over the weekend, I was bellyaching to my long-suffering husband about our water woes since our faucets' output is still not suitable for drinking and cooking. Then, a strikingly novel thought occurred to me...what if I just Let. It. Go???

I mean, even I am tired of fretting over the delays and inconveniences we've encountered so far, so I know that everyone else is tired of hearing it.

Soooooo.....I hereby proclaim that last week will now officially be known as 'Week One' of construction. Bygones be gone already!

This week we are scheduled to have a new water tank installed, have the slab poured for the workshop/root cellar and receive our first order of lumber. Framing and land clearing may begin as well.

So, cue that incessant 80s hit, 'New Attitude' and check out last week's progress!

Okra - Indian-Style

I made this with the okra I got from the CSA last week. It was such a hit that T loaded handful after handful of okra into a bag at the farmers' market on Saturday.

Indian-Spiced Okra

3 T butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lb fresh okra, sliced
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/4 t black pepper
sea salt 

Melt butter in skillet. Add onion and sautée over medium heat until tender. Stir in the okra, then seasonings. Cook and stir for a few minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until okra is tender. 

(Note: I'm out of cumin so I substituted garam masala which was delicious. Also, we thought the called-for amounts of seasoning was too little. So, if you like strongly-flavored foods, add more. )

Friday, August 13

Summer CSA - Week 15

This week's share included cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, okra, bell and hot peppers and eggplant.

Wednesday, August 11

House Addition Update

Well, it's not much for almost twelve weeks of 'construction', but it's something and for that we are so thankful!

Today, the wall is much higher than this, enough to  require some scaffolding. I'm loving watching the root cellar take shape!

The crew we have out here now is awesome.  I had to leave the house today while they were taking a lunch break. I told them to feel free to laugh as I unskillfully backed down the driveway because, honestly, I'm not sure how a reasonably intelligent person like myself can go off both sides of the concrete so many times. It's pathetic! One of them looked at me and said, very seriously, "No, we will not."

Maybe he has issues with our crazy drive too...

Check it out eleven hours later! I promise I'm not going to post pics every time someone moves a shovelful of dirt but I'm pretty wowed by these guys.

Monday, August 9

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I read this book at the beach this summer. While it's a sad story, it's one of those I'm glad I read because it should be known. 
The author, Rebecca Skloot, meticulously researched the story of Lacks, a poor black woman from Virginia, who after moving to Baltimore, was treated at Johns Hopkins for cervical cancer. The book details the emergence of cellular technologies using Lacks' cells without her or her family's knowledge. The cells, known as HeLa, are still cultured and sold today. The family has never received any compensation and precious little recognition. 
Skloot's persistence in trying to obtain interviews with Lacks' family paid off as she gained the trust of Henrietta's children, one by one. Her relationship with them reveals a heartbreaking story of a family who just wants to understand...and to afford health care. 
It seems a mind-boggling conspiracy story, though there was no real conspiracy, just the hospital systematically taking advantage of the poor community just outside its doors. Sadly, this was not uncommon practice at Johns Hopkins for many, many years. 
Lacks' story is one of a wrong that cannot be made right, but knowledge is power against the repetition of such things. 

Saturday, August 7

Who Knew?

I was given an amazing gift today -- a gift of time, friendship and physical ability. Toss in a generous portion of beautiful weather and it really just doesn't get much better!!

When I got a text last night that today's trail-running route was fifteen miles, my signature self-doubt reared it's ugly head but after a tough week, I was mentally amped to give it a go. I ate my tried-and-true carb-rich foods yesterday and went to sleep early. I woke before the alarm and headed out. I knew I wasn't ready for the full fifteen yet but knowing all the bailout points on the trail made for a low pressure situation.

After only two miles, I fell behind but certainly wasn't spent. (I really wanted to run nine.) I urged my friend to run her best, pulled out my pepper spray (probably overkill but better safe than sorry) and was alone for the next two plus hours.

Little did I know that I had a twelve-miler in me! And, boy, was it just what I needed. That much time alone gives you lots of space to think (much like shelling peas). More than that for me, it's just the unique thrill of beating myself up and pushing past the barriers my mind sets for my body. It was a glorious moment when I became aware that two miles had passed without any awareness that I was running -- ahhhh -- the wonderful high!

Before now, my longest trail run was eight miles so this is a big achievement for me and is fabulously close to my longest road run of 18 miles.

On a related note, my buddy, Julie, and I have decided that the 50K race is not in the cards for us this year as I had purposed. I can't express how much I've looked forward to meeting that challenge but with the flood and her resulting broken ankle, it's just not wise to run the required miles in two months. I've stubbornly run injured through the last half of a half marathon before and paid for it with five months of no running at all. It wasn't worth it.

God willing, we'll be able to train properly next year and collect that 50K medal. Until then, I've got my heart set on a race about half that distance. After today, I know I can do that....

Friday, August 6

I'm Thinking Maybe Not

We are having water issues again. The word (over the phone) from our well company guy was that it was safe to drink and use for cooking. Maybe he should come out and see it first. What do you think? I know what I think and you can bet your buttons that my 'babies' won't be ingesting a drop!

No explanation yet as to how dirt is getting into our in-ground tank but it really puts a damper on cooking, bathing and cleaning around here. The toilets look especially they've never been flushed.

I'm usually of the mindset that we'll look back and laugh on most troubles. Can't wait to get this particular one far enough behind me to do so!

Summer CSA - Week 13 & 14

Last week, we got tomatoes, peas, corn, melon, bell peppers, potatoes, squash and eggplant. This week (below), our share contained corn, cucumbers, peas, potatoes, okra, zucchini, blackberries, jalapenos, and bell peppers.

Thursday, August 5

Quiet Time

Yesterday, I spent 45 quiet minutes shelling field peas for freezing. It was a simple task and I was surprised at the introspection and calmness it brought to my day.

As I opened the pods, I studied their structure from time to time appreciating (yet again) the artistry and beauty of God's imagination. Other than that, I didn't really have anything on my mind. As the minutes passed, I noticed that my thoughts weren't on the worries and strivings of this world, such as material things and scheduling, but on simple pleasures and God-centered contentment. I was very relaxed and, thus, wondered if I should save the remainder of pods until right before bedtime!

Of course, it then dawned on me that this is what we're missing these days. Menial tasks that allow us time -- time to appreciate, time to reflect, time to be at peace. I thought about the things we use to 'relax', for example, watching television. If you really think about it, though, watching TV is not relaxing but stimulating. It makes us 'hungry' and think we 'need' things that we really don't.

Long ago, I learned something about T. Very often, when watching a movie or show, she would ask for something to eat. And, very often, she had just had a meal. She wasn't allowed 'screen time' everyday which gave me the chance to see a pattern. If she sat in front of the TV, she was 'hungry', if she was playing (busy hands), she wasn't. She quickly learned that if she asked for a snack during TV time, she would have to turn off the TV to prove to herself that she wasn't really hungry. That bad habit was quashed quickly!

What I learned from that is that none of us is immune to the pull of suggestion or boredom. So when I apply her behavior to myself, I could see all kinds of pitfalls. After all, I'm the one who (mostly) controls what foods come into our home and what habits/behaviors are allowed.

My husband pointed out that the many efficiencies of our culture rob us of so much. I think he's right. One of the things that so often gets in the way of spiritual fulfillment is the lack of stillness. Now, for everyone, that's not going to be about shelling peas but it worked for me.

Monday, August 2

Just For Laughs

I recently visited with one of my cousins and his family. They told us about this comedian who is so funny!

Learn how to avoid such everyday hazards as dirt naps, crashing into a pier and those dreaded upper thigh fishing injuries.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!