Monday, May 28, 2007
Friday night our brother-in-law came over to "work on" some motorcycle pieces he and Hubby picked up last weekend. It was nice to have him over, but I think they did more talking about the motorcycles-to-be than actual work. By the time we went to bed that night, my throat was getting awfully sore. I woke up several times during the night with extreme throat pain; it felt like I'd swallowed a chain of razor blades, and when I coughed it felt like I was tearing my throat. Ouch! I found some organic soothing throat drops in the cupboard, but after eating one realized that each drop had 100% RDA of Vitamin C, and if I recall, that's not something to O.D. on when pregnant. So I had to limit it to one. It was a long night!
Hubby had to work Saturday and I managed to caretake the kids and animals, but not much else. Thankfully I had some pork roast in the crockpot (Roast Zeke, we called it), so dinner happened after all. Most of the day I spent on the couch. My throat was not nearly so excruciating but my cough was more often. I'm not sure if it was 'being sick' that was the main problem or the lack of sleep. In any case, the laundry, dishes, and bathrooms were not dealt with Saturday either.
Sunday was our 7-year wedding anniversary! I think it's gotten better with age. I spent the first part of the day doing laundry and dishes, and working more on the garden. Water is the most important thing, and instead of broadcast-sprinkling, I try to water only what I want to grow. I have soaker hoses going up and down the garden area, with (some) carpet strips between to keep down weeds. I lay out the hose first, then the carpet strips, THEN I plant along one or both sides of the soaker hose (for seeds). So far we have about 4 rows of carrots (seems like I should have more with all that seed I bought!), including Nantes, Danvers half-long, Purple Haze (looks like fun!), and a Rainbow selection of orange, yellow, and white carrots which all taste a bit different, they say. I planted a partial row of radishes (I don't even like them, but they will grow fast for the kids) and a few rows of beets. I'm not sure I like beets either, but maybe I can figure out a way to prepare them that I can tolerate. I planted the Detroit kind, and an organic heirloom variety of Bull's Blood which has dark red leaves. New Zealand Spinach made it in, and a large packet of Miniature Indian Popcorn. I grew it a couple years ago and loved the tiny ears! They were beautiful and perfect for harvest decorations, and they popped so tiny and tastey! The seed I got this year seemed almost regular-kernel sized, so I'm not sure if it's the same idea or not. I guess we shall see. I exhausted myself trying to lay out the hoses for the corn (and make sure the little drip-holes weren't plugged - most were). After that Hubby and I took the kids to his folks' house and we had a nice dinnerat a restaurant and saw Spiderman 3. The last theatre-movie we went to together was Windtalkers, I think, when our oldest was a baby. It didn't work out so good, with me walking the lobby to keep her quiet most of the time.
I'm sore from the garden-work today, and the wind is blowing like crazy. My tomatoes and cucumbers are starting to flower, and I'm afraid we don't have enough indoor-honeybees to pollinate them well enough... Might have to break out the q-tips if this wind doesn't quit! I thought I'd do some indoor work instead... like replace the baseboards I removed last summer to refloor the place... and of course not all of them are to be found. *sigh* Is it worse to have SOME baseboards in place, or none at all? I thought I should maybe paint the hallway before replacing the baseboards, but the only paint we have enough of is the bright white that the baseboards were done with and I'd rather not. I did start sanding the dining room table we were given, but I probably shouldn't be breathing varnish particles, so I stopped doing that too. I'm hoping hubby can use a torch on it or something to get that varnish off easier. The places where hot pans were placed are varnish-free, so maybe I'll just have to heat up all the pans and put them on the table..?
And for posterity:
Sunday morning I made grumplys for the kids (like pancakes, kinda), and found some of my fresh-ground flour in the coconut oil! I think the coconut oil was $14 for 14 oz. locally. Ouch. I dumped out what I could and figured it wouldn't hurt when frying the grumplys anyway. Little Monkey finally fessed up to the deed. On the third grumply I smelled a definite toasted-garlic aroma, and my mind raced to think of when I might've added garlic to flour for breading something. I finally realized that what was in the coconut oil wasn't flour at all, but some homemade garlic salt a friend had given me! Thankfully coconut oil isn't liquid enough to soak up the powder and I was able to scrape off what was left. I made sure Little Monkey ate grumplys from the early batches...
Sunday evening on the way to drop the kids off at their grandparents (such a rare treat for them!) we passed a field that often has weird and rare livestock in it. My oldest exclaimed that she saw donkeys, and I glanced over enough to ask if the camel was out. Little Monkey inquired about camels and her big sister went on to explain like this: "I love camels. Camels have big mouths, and they drink out of buckets. They are long and have long tails. They have a bump on their back, and sometimes two. They are white, and brown, and light brown. I love camels." I would love to give that description (minus the word 'camel') to a sketch artist and see what they come up with.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Once home, I gave them some time to recover, and made their breakfast. Little Monkey perked up fairly quickly, but not so the other one. I admonished her several times, "carsick isn't sick. Carsick is because your body didn't like moving around like that. You'll be fine." Eventually I bothered to notice that her cheeks were flushed and she had a fever. Another Mother-Of-The-Year moment, to be sure. She didn't eat much that day, and mostly lay around the house.
Yesterday she started off pretty slowly, but some friends stopped by and by then she was pretty well recovered. It's hard to keep a 5-year-old quiet and calm when there are friends to help terrorize yellow jackets and to show off to. But by the evening Little Monkey was crying about everything, and by the time I had her bathed and in her jammies, I could tell she was under it. She was up last night to go potty and once to be sick. Her appetite is better than her sister's was (usually is!), but she's keeping a pretty low profile today. Hence, we are not in town.
I made oatmeal cake this morning for breakfast. I topped it with (raw) whipped cream, sweetened with maple syrup, and STILL Big Sister complained of the cream smelling like "cows". It wasn't soured at all. I don't know how she can equate fresh cream with cows so well; she hasn't even been very close to cows that I can think of. And I know the cream doesn't smell like the confinement dairies around here!
Here's the recipe for the Oatmeal Cake (baked oatmeal) since I can't seem to find it online where I SWEAR it used to be...
The night before, mix the following in a bowl:
3 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk (gotta get those nasty phytates out!)
1 c. melted butter
3/4-1 c. sucanat (or honey, if you like)
1 t. cinnamon
cover and set on the counter
in the morning:
2 beaten eggs
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2-1 c. raisins, nuts, etc. I like to grate a granny smith apple in it.
Spread in greased 11 x 7 pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. You can serve it with yogurt, milk, whipped cream, whatever.
Now, I double this at least, and it fits well in a large pyrex pan... 10 x 15" maybe? Larger than the standard 9 x 13 one. It is just so darn delicious!
Well, I better get to some of the Friday chores, though after being up with Little Monkey I can't say I much feel like it. Maybe I'll work on the garden, though even the soaker hoses blew awry these last few days...
Monday, May 21, 2007
Saturday was HOT and sunny here. Hubby took the girls to a kids Worship Workshop and I cleaned toilets and dishes. Then I borrowed the truck and went to the hardware store. I guess they don't get a lot of obviously-pregnant women asking for lumber. I had figured my *ahem* ... design... and ordered the appropriate pieces. The old boy behind the counter looked at me and said, "do you have a WAY to transport a 14-foot 2x4?" Are you kidding? I was gonna strap this stuff to my back with baling twine and haul it home. In any case, I bought the lumber and chicken wire and came home to build my ... eyesore ... in the driveway. I'll have to take a picture of it, if it survives the day's 30/40 mile winds. I made a new home for the broiler chicks. They're a month old tomorrow and ugly as sin. I don't know if I'll post a picture of them on here. We're down to ... 30? I think; they're dropping like flies and I don't know why. I had to break down and buy 2 bags of medicated starter (land o' lakes did away with the unmedicated kind, I guess), but have lately switched them to a mixture of whole grains and the vegetarian layer-ration I give the hens. I'm worried that it could be the extra calcium, but I don't know for sure. It's amazing that 30 small chickens can eat more weight per day than my 270 lb pig, but I think they do. Their 'shelter' was not easy to build, and I probably shouldn't have done it in the heat of the day, but what is there to be done? I was certainly exhausted that night. Hubby went to a monster-truck thing with some guys from work, then hung out with them for a while. I stayed up till 12 watching a movie and he got back at 2. Bless his heart, he still gave me the foot rub he promised. I'd had the girls in bed just after 8. It hurt like crazy to go up and down the stairs, so I gave them very specific instructions to STAY in their room and BE QUIET. My eldest came downstairs once or twice; she wanted to check on the "sick chickie" (we had one quarantined in a rabbit cage). I told her she could carefully bring the cage up to the porch if she wanted, and then she MUST go to bed. This was about 8:45. Around 9:00 I thought I heard my youngest from a distance, and drug myself towards the sound. There were my girls, freshly bathed, in their jammies, sitting and playing in the freshly-rototilled dirt of the garden! Let me just say it was not the night to try my patience (and energy). And I had to retrieve the chicken cage anyway.
I need to get started soon on some homemade mozzarella. It doesn't need to age in a cave, so I'm all set. I needed a couple teaspoons of citric acid, and wasn't sure where to get such a thing in decent time, so I put in a word to my Supplier Of Such Things, and he thought he might know where he could acquire some. He asked how much I needed, and I said it wasn't much. He thought he could get a half-pint or so, which would be great. When I met him to get the stuff, let's just say he went overboard... I now have a brand new, unopened, 25-lb bucket of citric acid. I wonder if there are laws about dividing it and selling it. Is citric acid worth anything on ebay?
Friday, May 18, 2007
Yesterday continued to be a trial, but I DID make it through, obviously. I was so, SO tired. Little Monkey has had some digestive issues lately, and came upstairs having tried to clean herself after having an accident. I had to stick her in the tub and hose her off, and she said she'd messed her swimsuit up, but it was in the bathroom downstairs. Perhaps I should've checked right then, but I cleaned her up and got her and her sister aimed towards bed, if barely. Hubby got home around 8, while the kids were still looking for their toothbrushes (still MIA) and toothpaste (I found the mostly-empty tube in the family room - it was brand new 2 days ago - haven't found the balance of it). Eventually I went downstairs to find the bathroom COVERED in ... stuff. The swimsuit, the floor, the toilet seat, the roll of toilet paper. Bless her heart she had really tried! But what a mess. I got my vinyl disposable gloves and my arsenal of natural disinfectants (grapefruit seed extract, diluted and Sol-U-Guard with thyme oil) and went to work. God's grace really does see us through. I was aiming for bed after getting the kids in their pajamas, but ended up taking care of things for a couple more hours, probably.
Today didn't go so well as a cleaning day, but there is 300 lbs of animal feed in the trunk of the car and 10 gallons of gas in the garage (now to keep hubby from pouring it into his motorcycles) for the lawn mowers and tractor. I must yet get a few loads of laundry off the line and put away and feed the critters. The hens like their new ground; 22 eggs yesterday and today, considerably more than this past week. Not a lot of calls for the pig. She may end up in our freezer too. :( We lost 2 broiler chicks today; Hubby didn't know I wasn't turning on the heat lamp at night any more and I think at least one of them died from heat. They're ugly critters; not at all like the hens when they were growing. These grow so fast and their pink skin shows everywhere between their sparse white feathers, which just can't keep up. And they eat more like horses, I think. I'm hoping the vegetarian-based hen feed won't kill them. It's far higher in calcium and that can be bad on their kidneys, I read. I'm giving them other grains, but the grains require them to eat grit, and the grit you can buy is laced in calcium! I need to get them on real ground, so I need to build them a pen. Whew. By God's grace!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The appointment was brief, perhaps due to the extra patients in the room? I haven't been drinking my tea like I should, and the pee will tell! Plus, it's been warmer and I guess I need to up my water intake too. The baby's heartbeat was hard to find; he kept moving and avoiding the dopplar. She finally pushed on my belly to move him over and we heard it. The bad news: there was a trace of protein in my urine, so we need to watch that. My bp was fine though. The really bad news: I've gained 9 lbs this last 4 weeks! I zeroed that scale 3 times to make sure, and it showed the same each time. I'm only 23 weeks and I feel like I'm 8 months. I'm not sure how I'm going to manage 4 more months of this! Back off all the homemade raw ice cream, I guess... She scheduled my appointments thru till the end of the pregnancy, and I'm thinking... "Will I be able to get out of the house by 10 in August when I'm twice this big, and it's 100 degrees out???" It's been pushing 90 lately, which is mostly nice.
I made a couple stops after that and then headed for Costco. It does not work to eat a chicken caesar salad while steering your cart and talking on your cell phone. At least not when the kids are getting mustard all over. I got a coupon flyer a bit ago so today stocked up on soap, calcium, toothpaste, toothbrushes, Q-tips, and other spendy items. The tomato sauce was a great deal though; the coupon was for $2 off, and regularly it was $4.39 for a dozen cans. I bought 4 cases at $2.39 each. It was nice to pass by the cream cheese, sour cream, and mozzarella, though. As I picked up a brick of mild cheddar, I told it, "just wait, as soon as I get some cheese wax, a press, and a place of 85% humidity and 55 degrees to age things forever, I won't be buying you either!" I thought about the imported (and therefore guaranteed rBGH-free) Irish cheddar, but it was $5/lb and that's a little steep. Besides, I've been invited to bring a not-organic pasta salad to a birthday party this weekend, and I'm not putting aged Irish cheddar into a salad of white noodles and store-bought mayo. I barely managed a last stop at a busy supermarket to pick up a few of hubby's diet foods. Thankfully, Little Monkey fell asleep on the way home. Of course, she's awake now, and the trunk remains full of non-perishables. I'll get to it eventually. Really I will.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I gave the girls a bath tonight, and got them dried and in their jammies. I paused to check email and let them play with Daddy (who had just gotten home) downstairs. I guess Daddy was in the bathroom, and the girls went outdoors to enjoy the warm evening. I heard their voices thru the window, and looked out to tell them to come back inside. There they were, sitting in the lawn, freshly washed and in their jammies, playing contentedly with.... something. "Okay, let's give them back to the kitty" my oldest said. "What are you playing with?" I asked as they returned their treasures to the cat. "Mouses!" my 3-year-old said. "What?!? Mice???" "Yeah." "Are they... alive?" "No," my daughter said, "they're dead. They don't bite." Good grief. My kids had three dead mice to play with on their laps in the twilight. Of course.
I've been asked about the mayonnaise I made for the potato salad last weekend. This recipe is out of Nourishing Traditions which I absolutely recommend if you have any sense of caretaking your health so as to be effective in God's Kingdom!
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 whole egg, at room temp
1 egg yolk, at room temp
1 t. Dijon-type mustard
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
1 T. whey (optional)
3/4-1 c. extra virgin olive oil or expeller-expressed sunflower oil
generous pinch sea salt
In your food processor, place egg, egg yolk, mustard, salt and lemon juice and optional whey. Process until well blended, about 30 seconds. Using the attachment that allows you to add liquids drop by drop, add olive oil and/or sunflower oil with the motor running. Taste and check seasoning. You may want to add more salt and lemon juice. If you have added whey, let the mayonnaise sit at room temperature, well covered, for 7 hours before refrigerating. With whey added, mayonnaise will keep several months and will become firmer with time. Without whey, mayonnaise will
keep for about 2 weeks.
My experience: I use Grey Poupon, and it's almost a little TOO much of a mustard-y flavor for mayo. Great in egg-salad though. My mayo comes out decidedly yellow, not because of the pale mustard, but the egg yolks. Most commercial brands use more egg whites than yolks, but the yolks (of decent eggs) are full of good vitamins and enzymes. My egg yolks are quite orange, so this adds to the color. The whey thing is cool; Whey is a by-product of making cheese, and it includes some of the cheese-making bacteria.... particularly lactic-acid-producing bacteria. This is special because lactic acid actually inhibits the growth of many kinds of bad bacteria (same stuff in sauerkraut, etc). Sitting the mayo out for a while lets these good bacteria grow and make the acid; therefore even in the fridge for months bacteria won't be able to spoil your mayo! Why bother? Well, the oils in store-mayo are less than good for you. Even canola is controversial. And 80% of soybeans are genetically modified, so... And if I can't pronounce it, I try to avoid it.
A note on whey: apparently it is also the 'watery stuff' on top of yogurt. Try to find an organic or natural brand (I use Nancy's - well, I did before starting to make it myself), line a colander with cheesecloth and pour in the yogurt (I use plain - not sure if the fruity/sugary stuff would even work). Let it drain all day (into a bowl or jar!). Tie up the cheesecloth and hang it (I tied it to the handle of a wooden spoon resting across the top of a large pot) overnight. What you get in the bowl is whey, what you have in the cloth is cream cheese, albeit a little tangy, but softer to spread. And NOT 'manufactured' in the way it's done commercially.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The hens are being weird. Either the escapees hide their eggs where we haven't found them, or some of them are tapering off. It may be the warmer weather or the fact their water gets too warm. I'm really not sure. Not that 12-18 eggs a day isn't enough, but...
I've run an ad for Trudy, and have had a few calls. We'll see if she's destined to another farm or my freezer.
Mother's Day was interesting. Hubby was on-call till noon, so we stayed around here for the morning. For some reason on Saturday evening his sisters decided to "do something different" for Mom, and forego the shopped-for, planned-for, organized, ready-to-go church barbecue and have a separate barbecue (for which all the Moms must do some cooking). That gave me less than 24 hours to plan food for hubby's and my diets, and prep them. As it was, I spent Sunday morning in the kitchen making a from-scratch potato salad (and I mean homemade mayonnaise made with olive oil, etc), which took considerable time. This while Hubby and kids watched Cars. By afternoon I was beat and tried to nap. I negotiated with Hubby to take the kids to his mom's barbecue and let me stay home and clean the disastrous kitchen and make bread, which we'd been out of for a week! He first refused, until I told him the only thing worse than being working alone at home on Mother's Day was working with everyone underfoot! So I spent a couple hours cleaning and baking and praying. I did pretty well, I think. I'd prayed all Saturday and Sunday that I wouldn't have high expectations (not that I do! I am familiar with this Mother's Day un-occasion!) or be disappointed, and thereby have a poor or hurt attitude with which to ruin the day completely. I had a few moments, but managed through them privately and overall the day ended fine. It was nice to have some quiet time at home to get things done.
I made Kefir this weekend, and Creme Fraiche ("crem fresh" - which isn't fresh at all). They both turned out well. I made a broccoli soup yesterday and served it with the creme fraiche and it was delicious. My cream cheese and yogurt are great too. I'm slowly but surely getting away from feeding my family the genetically-engineered rBGH in most of those mega-dairy products. Now to learn cottage cheese and cheese! Yikes! I'm so blessed to have a supply of organic dairy with which I can make much of this. That supply is scheduled to end, soon, however, and I'm not sure what we'll do then. I'm not quite up to milking my own cow, but that would be the ideal. If cows only came with milkmaids or illegal immigrants or something...
Well, it's time to get back to work!
Sunday, May 06, 2007
After the party, one family left (2 parents, 3 kids) and the rest stayed on for dinner. The weather forced a lasagna feed, which is ok with me! I had three women to help in the kitchen, and we rolled out lasagna noodles, made the sauce with some of Zeke (thanks Zeke!), and had a good time. I also tried a recipe for caesar dressing, including anchovies. With salt (which it didn't call for) it was pretty good. Hubby tried to brag about the lasagna to someone, saying it was all "made from scratch". I vehemently disagreed, because save for the pork and eggs, it was all from the store! I didn't make the mozzarella, parmesan, or the cottage cheese nor did I grow the tomatoes or herbs. Silly me, he meant I didn't buy noodles or pre-made sauce (and here I am figuring out how to grow/manufacture a REAL "from scratch" lasagna!). We used a pan I got from the bar/restaurant supply, and I weighed it on the bathroom scale before cooking it; twenty pounds! And I'm not sure if we should be proud or ashamed to say that as of now, 24 hours later, there is one little piece of it left for Hubby's lunch tomorrow.
We've been blessed to buy a "spare fridge" (man, I think every family should have one of those!) for a good price from some friends. Now I can quit stacking the fridge so dangerously, what with all the eggs and cream I've been getting!
Hubby had a checkup last week, and it was all good news. In 2 months he has lost 26 lbs, his cholesterol and triglycerides are normal, and his blood pressure is normal! He isn't done with the weight loss (and yesterday's festivities didn't help), but we're so encouraged by this milestone. He's had a low body-temp when the naturopath has checked him, so he was sent to a lab for a thyroid test; we haven't heard anything back yet, so assume things are normal. I don't know much about thyroid stuff, but it amazes me that he'd have a sub-normal temp; he's ALWAYS warm, and uses 1/3 the blankets I do in bed. He's like a heater, I swear.
Today we went to church *gasp* and enjoyed a presentation/testimonial of a former Power-Team member. It was encouraging and neat to hear his story. He was speaking again tonight, and Hubby rode to town to see him (I wonder if it didn't have to do with the guy's mentioning of his Harley...). Church often has a lunch or potluck afterwards... This sunday it was Deli Fried Chicken, which they tried to tell us was organic. Ha ha ha. I'm sure the Deli Potato Salad was too. I suppose we should be grateful if the chicken wasn't among those fed the industrial product that also contaminated the pet food! I was glad for hubby's diet for an excuse to get something at least a little better (the Power-Team guy and his 3%-body-fat wife weren't there for lunch either [I do not mean to mock them - his wife was extremely fit and beautiful and I'm sure she works hard to be so]). I'm so torn between understanding that "in Rome, do as the Romans" and consciously doing what I can to care for my "temple" (and those of my kids). There is a scripture about drinking poison and not dying, but I'm not so sure we should tempt God on such a regular basis. What is right? It would be snobbery to consistently refuse the food that is offered, and to say true, we do not (indeed, cannot at this point) eat how I really would like. It would be more right to offer to others food that is healthy; as we did yesterday with the cake, ice cream, and lasagna, more or less. We do not often know enough ahead of time whether we can feed the entire church or not, though. And while many are understanding (at least tolerant) of how we prefer to eat, there are few who espouse it. And of course, those who mock with "this chicken is organic!"
We have lost 2 of the 40 chickies, and while I wasn't sure about a few of them there for awhile, they're all doing well now. I'm imagining what I need to do in 6 weeks, and I'm starting to wonder if I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. I don't really like going elbow-deep in viscera, and can't ask hubby to do ALL the eviscerating of that many chickens. I wonder if I can get a haz-mat suit on ebay. At least a rubber apron and some elbow-length gloves...