5/30/13

Cooking Outside the Can: Very Versatile Cream Soup

 
Do you know what is in your soup? I know what is in mine, and it does not involve any words longer than mushroom! Not that you would ever find a mushroom in my soup....YUCK! (sorry dear)

INGREDIENTS

WATER, MUSHROOMS, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, WHEAT FLOUR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: VEGETABLE OIL (CORN, COTTONSEED, CANOLA, AND/OR SOYBEAN), SUGAR, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CREAM (MILK), SALT, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, FLAVORING, LOWER SODIUM NATURAL SEA SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DEHYDRATED MUSHROOMS.
All I can say is that I always knew there was a reason that I hate cream of mushroom soup. It could also have to do with the fact that I hate mushrooms. The ingredients in cream of celery are the exact same, except it contains celery instead of mushrooms. Cream of chicken soup at least contains chicken albeit "dehydrated, mechanically separated chicken" and cream. But I can do without the MSG and rancid vegetable oils.

So what's a true homemaker to do when the number one ingredient in almost any casserole (and we love our casseroles) is a cream soup of one kind or another. There is no need to go without your favorite casserole. You just have to think outside the box can.

Cream of anything soup has 6 simple ingredients!
  • Butter...the start of any good meal.
  • Vegetables (Onion, celery, or mushrooms).
  • Flour or Arrowroot powder (for gluten free).
  • Beef broth, chicken broth, or vegetable broth.
  • Cream...the end of any good meal (Or milk if you prefer).
  • Seasonings that are not MSG
Cream of Chicken Soup
3 T butter
1 Diced onion
1/4 Cup flour or arrowroot powder
2 Cups chicken stock
1/2 Cup cream or milk
Sea Salt and pepper to taste
 
Cream of Celery Soup
3 T butter
1/2 Cup Diced onion
1/2 Cup Diced celery
1/4 Cup flour or arrowroot powder
2  Cups Vegetable Stock
1/2 Cup cream or milk
Celery Salt and pepper to taste
 
Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 T butter
1/4 Cup flour or arrowroot powder
1/2 C diced onion
1 Cup chopped mushrooms
2 Cups Beef Broth
1/2 Cup cream or milk
Garlic salt and pepper to taste
 
To make the soup;
Sautee the vegetables in butter. Once they are tender, add the flour and seasonings and wisk to combine.
 
 
 Cook for at least one minute until the flour smells toasty. Add the broth and cook over medium heat, stirring continually until thick and bubbly. Remove from the heat and add the cream!
Eat as is or add to your favorite dish.
 
My favorite dish made with cream of chicken soup is Funeral Potatoes. Named for the fact that they are often served by wonderful ladies to the grieving families at funerals. Something in them just makes the heartache easier to bear. The real and true comfort food. Typically made with a can of cream of chicken soup and a bag of frozen potatoes, here is a makeover!
 
5 Large potatoes, cooked and shredded
1 Batch cream of chicken soup
1 Cup of sour cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
 
Boil 5 large or several smaller potatoes. Cool, peel and shred. Then add salt and pepper.
 
 
Add the sour cream to the soup.
 
 
 Pour over the potatoes and mix to combine.
 
 
Then top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 40-50 min until bubbly.
 
 
 Then place under the broiler for 5 min for a nice toasty taste.
 

I like mine best served with pork. MMM. We give thanks to our little piggie who went to market for his life. We will console ourselves over his death with these magically comforting funeral potatoes.

 
 


Check back often as I will share other recipes that utilize this awesome real creamy soup! If you enjoyed this post, please like my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.



Need more great real food recipes? Have some to share? Join the party at Finding Joy in my Kitchen.

Cooking Outside of the Bag: Whole Wheat Tortillas

 

Tortillas! They are so wonderful and versatile and delicious. They are the reason I go out for Mexican, along with those greasy thin and crispy chips that I dip unashamedly in an unknown cheese-like product and fresh, yummy salsa. Yes, that is my greatest weakness. So, I occasionally indulge. I do it so seldom that I don't even limit myself. I stuff myself silly. When I am at home, however, I am much more conscious of my Mexican food.

Have you ever been shopping for tortillas? It is an all day affair. My mother was sent to the store one day for tortillas. Knowing that my older sister would not approve of a highly processed variety on her dinner table, she he read the label on every single package. It took a very long time. Her goal was to find tortillas that had five ingredients or less. After an 20 minute read-a-thon,  She found them. Ingredients: Corn and lime. Winner!

But a life of only corn tortillas does not appeal to me.  Not my style. I am a flour tortilla gal myself.  Unfortunately, I have only found one pre-packaged flour tortilla that did not have hydrogenated oil in it. They came from Trader Joes. They were convenient. But fell apart easily and lacked any sort of taste. So, as the saying goes, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. Luckily in this case, you can! With practice, you can make a dozen in under 30 min of hands on time.

You will need:
3 Cups whole wheat flour (I use white wheat)
2 T Lard (I use skimmed bacon grease)
2 T Palm shortening
(Or 4 T total of fat)
1 t Salt
1 t Baking powder
3/4 Cup hot water.

Cut fat into the flour, baking powder and salt. The easiest way to do this is with a food processor, but you can do it by hand for sure.

 
 
 
Slowly add water until dough forms. You may not need it all. You may need a bit more. Add it a bit at a time until a soft (not sticky) dough forms.


Then separate into 10 equal sized balls and let rest for 30 min.


Roll each one out individually.

 
 Then and cook 2 min on each side. You will know it is time to flip when they no longer look wet.



These will stay quite pliable if not overcooked. They can be frozen or refrigerated, but will not last for long out on the counter. That is the thing about real food. If you don't use it, it decomposes. A tortilla from the store can lasts almost forever!


We had a guest for dinner last night. He whispered to my son, "Why is your mom taking pictures of her food?" The kids are as used to it as I am now. "Oh, for the blog," he replied knowingly!

These take time and a little forethought. Making a few extra and throwing in the freezer will help with that. I have a couple leftover today. Still soft and bendy!  How do they compare in price? No comparison. Mission tortillas are upwards of $4 a pack. These probably cost under a dollar for 10. A bargain for actual food!

Please check back tomorrow for more food out of the box! Never miss a post, like my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

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5/29/13

Cooking Outside the Box: No, Not the Blue Box, Please!


I don't know about you, but the favorite cooked food from a box in my home has always been Macaroni and Cheese. It is fast. It is crowd pleasing. It is cheap. It is advertised with catchy jingles! I remember as a college student convincing myself that it was healthy too, if I just left out the butter. Then, as a weight conscious adult, I read the serving size is like 1/4 a cup. I kinda gave up on the stuff after that. But I still served it to my super skinny kids. And they loved it. I missed it too but when I started my education on real food, this was the first one that had me appalled. So, I went on a quest to make a more healthy, delicious alternative.

Many would argue that pasta itself is killing us. There are a lot of wheat haters out there. I can respect that. But it has not ever and does not now cause issues in my home. We all do well with it and I have not felt inspired or compelled by any literature I have read that I need to give it up. So, until I do, we will have pasta on occasion. I will leave it up to my readers to decide which pasta to use. Whole wheat works good for this. You can spend a fortune and buy sprouted, organic stuff. But I personally like Ronzoni Garden Delight. Technically this is still in a box, but if I had to make hand made pasta every time we wanted mac and cheese, we would never have it. Real world here, people!

The scariest thing in Macaroni and Cheese is, of course, the fluorescent orange powder.
First, It contains powdered milk. There are some who claim that when milk is highly processed and turned into a powder, the cholesterol therein oxidizes. Oxidized Cholesterol is thought to be the worst kind of Cholesterol. Heart attack in a box. Not all sources agree on this fact. But whether it is true or not, a Creationist, like myself does not see any resemblance between a powdery substance and the wonderful liquid gold that comes from a real live cow. The farther you take something from it's natural state, the more chance of losing the good stuff. In short, if it doesn't come out of a cow in powdery form, I do not want to consume it in that form. But that's just me. To each, his own.

Next, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Where do I find those in the produce section? Oh, I can't. I am not an expert on this subject, but seems to me that kids these day are a little crazy. Every kid has ADD or ADHD or allergies. Could artificial food dyes be the cause of this? I would imagine so. I have read a lot of literature to that effect. It is not worth the risk to me, so I try to avoid it if possible.

I tried a few macaroni and cheese recipes. I will share with you our favorite and spare you the sad details of my other attempts. Even with this recipe, however, the first few times were met with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

                               This is the wrong color.
                                                                  It is too cheesy.
                                                                                           It is too creamy. 

Waaaaaa! Truthfully,  it was not met with smiles in the beginning. It is, you know, real. And the kids were not used to it. I gave a bit of education. That made it easier with the older kids. And eventually they forgot the other option existed.

Creamy Pasta and Cheese

12 oz Box pasta (you choose)
Water to cover the pasta
2 Cups real milk
1 Cup grated cheese (sharp tastes best here, and maybe a bit of swiss)
1/2 Stick butter
1 t Sea Salt
Black pepper to taste
Love. Essential. Do not omit.

Simple! A bit more expensive than the blue box, but infinitely more filling. Cook the pasta in the water for 2/3 the time directed on the box. This will help the pasta start softening and reduce the time you have to spend slaving over a hot stove.  Then drain. Return it to pan and add the milk and butter. It should just be enough to come to the top of the pasta.

 
Now, you will need to say close by and stir. Milk will scorch if left alone. Bring it back to a boil, then reduce to med-high heat.

 
The pasta will thicken the milk as it cooks. If it cooks down and is still not tender enough, add another 1/2 cup of milk. Keep stirring!

 
Once the pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, add the cheese and salt. (Make sure your cheese is not artificially colored. Mine says vegetable dye on it.) Do it slowly and mix it well. If it is too thick and "stringy" add more milk little by little until nice and creamy. Serve with fresh apples and steamed broccoli or asparagus. Comfort food....out of the box. Made with love.



**Money saving tip: It is no secret that real food is more expensive than it's highly processed counterfeit. One way to save money is that when you are going to cook something, do no use the expensive raw milk or butter or honey. They will become pasteurized in the process. Use a less expensive alternative if you can get it cheaper.

It took me 15 min from start to finish. Not bad!

We went to stay with some friends about a year after this and for lunch, I pulled the blue boxes of Mac out of the cupboards and fixed it up for a crowd. My kids looked at me like I was crazy. I thought they might be excited to get back to their roots. Instead, they wouldn't finish it.

                  This is disgusting.
                                                           Not cheesy enough.
                                                                                                      Not creamy enough.
Their complaints were music to my ears!!

Do I have one or two that would still prefer the blue box? Yes. Would I still prefer it?  For the convenience, not for the taste.  It is still a process. But we really do come to like what is before us if that is the only choice. Our taste buds will adapt. It takes patience and time. But it will happen. Creationists know that if you don't eat what's for dinner, you don't eat! Gotta be tough just like great grandma was.

Tune in tomorrow for a recipe out of the bag! Be sure to like me on Facebook or follow on Twitter so you never miss a post! Thanks to all my followers.

 
This recipe is shared at these great parties! Check them out for some inspiration! Also shared at Meatless Monday

5/28/13

Helping Your Children Think (and eat) Outside the Box


If there is a box around, most likely this kid will be in it. How many of us are stuck in a box (quite literally) when it comes to food choices for our families?

One of my most popular posts is Food Rules for the Creationist wherein I share the foods that we try to avoid bringing into our kitchen. Ones that are so far removed from their original form that they can hardly be classified as food. We do not follow the rules to a tee. Laziness or business often take over and we resort to hot dogs (gasp) Doritos and soda. The goal is to make these items the exception rather than the rule.

Truth: Real food does not live in a box! Many things that are edible reside in cardboard packages. Most of it is the stuff my children have grown up eating for lunch. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Trix (they are for kids after all),  Goldfish ("the healthy snack for toddlers"), Pop Tarts, Pringles, Ramen, etc. You know, the standard American diet. It is woefully lacking in naturally occurring minerals and vitamins. Feeling the absolute duty to dump these frankenfoods from my kitchen, I opened the cupboards and tossed them. It has been over a year since cream of chicken soup went into any casserole. And they taste sooo much better.

Some things, however are just not the same. In my kitchen episodes of Extreme Makeover, not all of my attempts have been met with Amens! Some have been met with tears. Others with groans. And some with self inflicted fasting. But my lamp is full of perseverance and stubborninity or something like that.

The turning point: I started packing lunches with homemade bread. Also inside was real fruit, sometimes dried, sometimes fresh. They contained home made yogurt and organic corn popped in coconut oil, tossed with real butter. Homemade granola balls (see the no bake version at bottom of the post), and fresh baked cookies. Sometimes, I send leftovers of macaroni and cheese or soup. The funniest thing started to happen as a result of sending my kids to school with all home made food. And that thing is called peer pressure. Friends started to notice the food the kids brought. My kids felt poor and picked on at their lack of a Lunchable and were more than happy to trade their food for the packaged stuff offered by their peers. One son loved to come home and brag,

"Johnny loved your home made fruit strips mom!" 

In fact, he started commenting more and more each day about who loved my food. Suddenly mom is one talented lady who is making her kid super popular at school. I sometimes sent a little extra to really gain favor with the lunch crowd. I credit those wonderful fourth graders for my success in transitioning my kids to real food. They don't share anymore!

Truth: A little education goes a long way. I sat the kids down and gave them a lesson on the dangers of artificial colors. I asked them to note little brother and how crazy pants he gets when he has food containing bright colors. We talked about how we are not cutting every candy out of our diet but please avoid those with bright colors. You know the ones we love to give our kids like M&Ms and Skittles. So, one of them had a dollar burning a hole in his pocket and he went to the candy booth at the races. He was so proud when he came to show me his find. Look mom, he said as he presented a box of Skittles, they make them in dark instead of bright! Oh I could kiss that kid for listening so well. But time for another learning opportunity.

Educate yourself on what foods are best for your family. Educate your spouse. Educate your children. These are the most important keys to transitioning your family to a diet in real food. I am not saying it is a piece of cake. Some days it is not even worth the battle. But I have found how consistency pays off. My daughter self regulates her own sugar intake. I never have to remind her to eat just one. She reminds me, actually. My son refuses to eat out because he recognizes that the food makes him feel differently. Educate your kids! They are much more likely to make good choices themselves when they understand why we are making the choices in the first place. This week, I will share some recipes that have worked well for us. Maybe they will help you and your children to climb out of the box and towards real food and real nutrition.

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5/27/13

A Lamp Full: Meekness


One of mortality’s great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively—to “put up our dukes.” But these are important opportunities to step back, pray, and follow the Savior’s example. Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world.  But when we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christlike, we invite others to feel His love and follow Him as well.    Robert D. Hales

Last week, I stared at the television in horror as an F5 tornado swept through a very populated area not far from my home. I stood with mouth wide open at the absolute destruction left in the aftermath of that fierce storm. I could not hold back the tears as I thought of the many people who were surely lost in such a calamity. If you saw what I saw and know what I know of the amazing power of tornadoes, you would surely recognize the miracle that more people were not lost.  I knew much of what these good people would be facing as we  faced it ourselves exactly two years ago. But there is one thing that brought me hope through it all. I know the people of Oklahoma. They are strong. They are courageous. They know to whom to look for help. The savior of the world who suffered all things for us so that he might know how to succor us in time of need. The news anchors reporting at the time encouraged all who were watching to pray.

The national press came, and people started talking. In a world where it is becoming less and less acceptable to praise God, we do anyway. And we do it with courage. This leaves us open for ridicule. And the ridicule has been great. There are many who mock us as we stand for faith, family and freedom of religion. But where else can courage come from, if not from God? I know of no other source for true courage. 

I read a news article about the wonderful teachers who protected children in Plaza Towers Elementary School as it was ripped to pieces. They all attributed God as the reason they were yet living. I made the mistake of reading the comments below the article. I do that a lot and it doesn't matter what the subject of the article, but the comments always turn into a hot spiritual debate. That was certainly the case in this article.  One person will profess a belief in God and twelve others will tell her that she is delusional. Then the fist fight begins. True Christianity at it's finest (not) as the offended lash out and ridicule and mock those who don't believe in a most unkind manner. Let us remember to be meek.

I am one who believes wholeheartedly in speaking what I believe. I also am quick to defend others. But there is power in quietly, meekly and boldly declaring a belief without tearing others down. If we could see one another as God sees us, we would surely treat one another differently. We must "Put off the natural man and become meek." (Mosiah 3:19)

How can we fill our lamps with meekness?
  • Bite  your tongue. Just try it. You won't explode, I promise. Once words are out, you can never call them back. 
  • Do not be so easily offended. Strive to be so firm in your faith that it really doesn't matter what others think of you. It is a trap of Satan to worry and fret so over the opinions of others. Does that fact that my neighbor does not believe as I do make my belief any less real? Absolutely not!
  • Pray for those who despitefully use your and persecute you. (Matt 5:44) Better yet, serve them, compliment their syntax, or if all else fails, their car. Pour out compassion and kindness and love. 
We can not borrow meekness from another. We must have our own lamps full of meekness so that we can defend our faith, our families, and our freedom of religion as true disciples of Christ and truly honor Him in our efforts. 

Please see the rest of this series here.
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5/24/13

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal

I have never really loved oatmeal. My kids don't either. They say it is like eating a bowl full of chopped up tires. ???  Pleasant thought! There is no accounting for good taste.

My favorite place to experiment is in the kitchen and I have worked oatmeal over and over. I have had some horrid results. I have had some okay results. And then there is this one. Even my six year old picky miss asked for this today. I couldn't believe my ears. If you don't have a bottle of  wild orange oil...you should. It makes almost every food I create better. I also have found it adds a pleasant sweetness which means less sugar in my oatmeal or smoothie. You can make this without. Maybe add a bit of orange juice and some zest. But I like having this on hand. One little drop will do you and my mornings are busy. So I like to do things as fast as possible.


Cranberry Orange Oatmeal (for one)
1 Cup water or coconut milk
1\2 Cup oats
1 Pinch salt
1-2 t Sweetener of choice. I use evaporated cane sugar.
1 t Coconut oil or butter (keep oats from sticking to pan)
1/3 Cup dried cranberries
1 Drop wild orange Oil
2-3 Drops of vanilla
Optional: Stir in some coconut cream concentrate
Additional toppings depending on the mood if the day: toasted coconut, chocolate chips, nuts (pecans are great here). For me, oatmeal is better when treated as a hot fudge sundae.

Bring liquid to a boil. Add oatmeal, salt, sugar, butter and cranberries. Reduce heat to medium and stir occasionally as the liquid reduces. (3-4 minutes) When the liquid is gone, remove from heat add orange and vanilla and stir well. Then top with your choice of toppings.

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5/22/13

Roasted Rabbit..Almost

"Hey Janine, I have an idea!" 
Uh oh! What now Farmer Rocky
"Let's teach our kids responsibility by having them raise rabbits."
Sure! Why not? 
I will tell you why not with just two little words: dead rabbits.

Turns out they don't like Oklahoma summers. They really do need water. And chances are if you bring a breeding buck to my place, it is gonna die. Perhaps gently, perhaps a little more violently. 

Try, try again we did. And Ruby bunny got her self knocked up just after she turned psycho rabbit on us (think Holy Grail kind of psycho) and tried to bite off the hand that feeds her. Just try to convince an 11 year old boy to go do it. Not happening. Especially when he has to pass by mean old Rocky (the rooster, not the farmer) and his razor sharp talons to get to her. It is a dangerous world out there for a kid. Needless to say, Rocky rooster is in solitary confinement...fer um...fattening up! :) 


Ruby had her babies in just weeks. Daddy didn't make it. Big surprise there! Four of them lived, the other four were not so lucky (they were probably bucks.) The good news is, motherhood has mellowed dear Ruby out a bit, but we still kinda drop the food and run. 


Have you ever seen anything cuter? We are having so much fun with these babies. No animal at our home has ever had as much love as these four babies. But therein lies the problem. They are one day destined for the dinner table. At least that was the plan. Plans get derailed sometimes. Especially when you have a sleeping bunny on your chest! 

So, what to do? My mom told me that if you are going to be a farmer, you have to toughen up. I asked her why I don't recall actually eating rabbit after about the age of 7. 

Well duh! Because bunnies look like this, of course. I guess farmer ma and pa never quite developed skin thick enough to do bunny butchering on a long term basis. Needless to say, these four are not likely to grace our dinner table at any point in our lives. We will get tougher when the next batch is born. Right? Right? Chicken anyone?

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5/19/13

A Lamp full: Balance

  • Just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.
Dallin H. Oaks



I once played 700 games of solitaire on my Ipod touch in a few weeks. (Granted one of those days I was in labor and it was too keep my mind off all of that.) I once watched the entire season of Jag (10 seasons) in 3 months. I have watched very little television since. I was addicted to Pinterest for a month. Every time I walked past the computer I had to see if any of my friends had pinned something new.  Pinterest holds no interest for me now. I used to be an avid couponer and would check each coupon site multiple times a day to look for new deals and freebies. I haven't printed out a coupon in months! I had a period of time when I sprouted all my wheat, made my own crackers, dehydrated fruit, made all our bread, yogurt and snacks by hand, and drove an hour to find raw milk. We never ate a single processed food...for about 2 weeks and then I gave it all up because AAAAH!  Seriously, who has time for that? 

I confess to you these situations to illustrate one very important point. I lack balance! I have a tendency in my life to go all out in one area that consumes my thoughts, my time, my whole being. I want it to be the best, and I want to be the best at it. I am finally learning one important truth. I can not be the best at any one thing if I spend so much time at it that I neglect the other important things in my life. I need to learn to choose the things that are "better than good." In short, if I lack balance, I run and run, never reaching my destination. And then I get frustrated, and then, I quit!

I am finally getting it through my thick head. Well, maybe. But I am trying to get it through my thick head that balance is the key to a productive and happy life. We all need a cause. But the way to be most effective at any cause in the long run is to not go so overboard on that one cause that we forget balance.

If crying is good for the soul and laughter is good for mood (and tummy muscles) then you can get a tummy firming, soul lifting, mood boosting high with this video clip, where I laughed until I cried. But comedy aside, there is an important lesson to be learned here about balance, especially where healthy eating is concerned. (If you do not see video, click here)


So, do you see yourself in these two? I know I do, to an extent. But I have refused to eat things that taste gross, even if they are good for me, since mom first put spinach on my plate, so I wouldn't go this far.

I have read a lot of blogs, books, and articles about the importance of cutting out certain foods. Avoid all sugar! Avoid all carbs! Avoid all fat! Only eat veggies! Eat everything raw. I have read articles on essential oils where I have been encouraged to use them for everything. And others that warn against using too much. But invariably all the authors come to the very same conclusion in the end. Doing all of one thing and none of the others leaves you sick. Frustrated. Worn Down. Unbalanced. Moderation in all things is the key that so many of us find our way back to after going down the road of all or nothing.

So how do we gain balance? I am the last person in the world qualified to instruct on this topic. But I will share a few things that have helped me at the seasons in my life where things were a bit better.
  • Prioritize: Do the most important things first and the least last. Seems simple enough. Unfortunately, the important things are not always the funnest. And it sometimes takes serious reflection to choose the best part.
  • Schedule: I am really good at writing schedules. Following them? Not so much. But when I do, I find that I get a lot more done. Otherwise, I start one project and get distracted by another and in the end, get nothing done.
  • Be flexible: When consulting said schedule, It is important to be flexible so that you can help a friend, tend to a child, or catch a goat that has escaped the yard. But then, get back to the schedule.
  • Forgive yourself: If you don't make it back to your schedule, don't beat yourself up. Have forgiveness as you learn and start again tomorrow. Adjust the schedule as needed.
  • Put God First: I have discovered that there is no better way to magically have more time in my schedule than when I pray and study the word of God and His servants. The balance of my day goes better and I accomplish more. For me, He is "better than good." When I put Him first, I find balance.
We can not borrow balance from another. We must find our own way to courageously identify the things in our lives that are better than good and fill our lamps until they are overflowing...in a balanced sort of way.

How have you found balance in your life?

If you enjoyed this post, please read the others in my series here.
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5/17/13

A Chemical Free Toilet is a Happy Toilet

What I am about to show you may cause distress, but don't worry, there is a happy ending. And please, don't judge me by my toilet! I have been scrubbing that gunk for months. It just wont come off.



Toilet Cleaner:

½ cup baking soda

5-10 drops tea tree oil

½ cup vinegar


Add the soda to the water, drop in the melaleuca and then sprinkle in the soda. Start scrubbing when you see it bubbling, then let it sit for 10 min or even overnight and flush.


See it bubbling? Maybe the kids would like to help with this one!

It's a miracle!  Even the orange gunk is gone. Admittedly, I got down in the hole with a cloth, it came right off. And there's melaleuca in there, right? So no worries. And I also washed my hands. Of course. 




Mom's happy. Kids are happy because I did this particular chore for them. Oh how they love blogging! And the toilet is gunk free, chemical free, and smell free. That makes for one happy toilet!



Only one problem. Now I can't get the marker off. Whoops! Don't worry, I am sure there's an oil for that!


5/16/13

What is the Real Food Movement? Why Should I Care?

This particular Rooster is currently in solitary confinement as a punishment for his most recent attack on my boy.
He is going to make some super nutritious bone broth in the very near future! Food doesn't get more real than that!

Over the past year, I have been delving into the world of real food. In some circles, it is dubbed, the Real Food Movement. The irony here is that there needs to be a movement to eat real food. Did you know that most Americans don't? Then what he heck have we been eating? Well, what the ads on TV tell us to for one. Since I was a child, I have been convinced that fruit loops are part of this nutritious breakfast. If it says it on TV, it must be true. For most folks that is the only source of information they care to look into. Well, commercials and Dr.OZ. My feeling is that even if Dr. Oz himself thinks that butter is good for you there is no way he would be allowed to say that on TV. 

I am a rule follower by nature. I do not make waves. So, this little group of like minded people rebelling against conventional nutrition and food preparation is very exciting to me. I feel like I am a part of some amazing protest when I drink milk that hasn't even been pasturized. I feel just a tiny bit of rebellion coming out that I never knew was in there. I also feel empowered by the fact that I can think for myself. We live in a culture where that is not exactly encouraged. We are told by the media and by school how to think and feel about nutrition. We are duped by advertisements. If you want to find out if something is really good for you, you have to dig. And the problem is that once you start digging, what you find is infuriating.

You find that it is illegal in some states to buy raw milk. Artificial colors and flavors that have been banned in other countries are legal here, and the public is told that they pose no health hazzards. You find that the majority of inexpensive convenience foods available to us are filled with rancid soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, gmo corn, msg, and artificial poison sweeteners.  You learn that restaraunts are not allowed to cook fries in beef tallow and movie theatres are forbidden from popping popcorn in wonderful coconut oil. You find that there are neighborhood associations that forbid residents from planting gardens and having chickens. You will find that butter has been banned from NYC schools in a campain to fight childhood obesity. Oh brother. Don't even get me started on that one! And that is just the tip of the iceberg. We are basically told what to eat, how to eat it and who to eat with. Does this sound like freedom to you?

100 years ago, if you didn't grow it yourself, you didn't eat. Today, it is almost forbidden to grow your own food, let alone eat anything without the approval of "he who has the most money." Our basic, fundamental rights to real food are threatened with every neighborhood dairy farmer whose milk operation is shut down. With every crop farmer who is required to plant GMO seeds. With every city council who decides that flowers are prettier than strawberries or tomatoes.


So, now we have what is called the Real Food Movement. Most people are unaware that it is needed. But it so is. Go to the grocery store and watch what people come out with. Count the number of items that are food and how many are food like substances. More often than not, what is going in the cart is chips, soda, cookies, cereal, crackers, white bread, meals in a box, pink slime that is called meat, and maybe a gallon or two of milk. Edible? Yes. Tasty? Absolutely. Nutritious? Not even a little bit. But you can hardly blame us right? We buy what is available. What is convenient. I try to never judge a person by their shopping cart. I just fume at the fact that there are not more choices and that ignorance is pounded into our culture when it comes to food.

I sometimes hate the fact that I have learned what I have learned about food. It makes life more complicated. It means I spend a lot more time in the kitchen. It means giving up some of my favorite junk foods. But it also means better health, greater empowerment and the fun of sharing with others. Start digging yourself...if you dare.


Here is a baby step in moving towards real food:
Prepare fresh fruit, vegetables, home made yogurt, popcorn popped in coconut oil, and nuts for snacks.
Get rid of gogurts (or any bright colored yogurt) goldfish crackers, cookies, chips and other boxed snacks that offer no nutrition and are filled with harmful preservatives and artificial colors.
Please remember to give yourself a break if on occasion you throw a processed snack at your kids. Replacing some is better than none which is exactly what will happen if you burn yourself out! (I know whereof I speak).

What snacks do you feed your family that are delicious and offer real nutrition? Please share.
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