Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Monday, June 19

More Prep and Random Things

James' security clearance is good to go, and he starts actual work-work today. I suspect the good Lord let it drag out so long in order to help him be truly excited to work. 😏 Good stuff. He just finished taking his first professional certification, passed it, and he's on his way. It is very exciting to see your grown child follow his passion.

The guys think they've figured out why the Volvo keeps shearing bolts at the alternator. That's more exciting than it should be, but there you have it. We're easily pleased and appreciative. Also, it's NOT a $200 part! That just made it even better, as far as I'm concerned!

I've got the keto menu plan for Philmont just about nailed down. Now it's just a matter of buying the stuff and getting it portioned out. I put powdered heavy cream and powdered eggs on my list. Need to pick up packets of mustard and those little salt and pepper packets, too. If Z hadn't been working on the Volvo, the roast would be dehydrated by now. As it stands, I'm a little nervous about taking trail food that we haven't field tested... eee.

If these kids would just stop needing rides for a week or so, that'd be super helpful (although that's why Z's been working on the Volvo, so six of one, half a dozen of the other). I thought the Bigs would be able to haul the Littles at some point, but they went and got jobs. What's up with their responsibility getting in the way of my payoff? (Not really complaining, well... maybe a little.) Uber needs to set up a NannyCar option - background screened drivers with in-car video on CCTV and offsite storage. I could use that...

But, that said, our Philmont gear order is beginning to arrive. John's puffy jacket, sock liners, our pack covers and sleeping pads. My teeniny camp stove! I have to tell you, I. am. geeking. out over how little this stuff weighs! WOW! Mad love for technology and development! I'm guessing we'll be a lot more comfortable in-camp, as well, than I ever was on the trail. THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!

What's got you excited this month?

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Wednesday, May 24

More Progress, and Food

Four days until the family arrives! A week and a half until graduation! I feel dazed. We've kind of done it. We've raised a decent, fairly wonderful human!

Today, we buy food! I love grocery day! We stuck to our budget, which means I was filled with gratitude the other morning that Z hadn't seasoned the rice in the pot when he made fried rice for the kids. That freed the leftovers (that hadn't gotten fried) to make sweet rice for them one morning. Granted, I didn't think about checking before I made the sweet rice... It could have gone down as one of the stranger meals Mom has offered them. Serendipity!

Just to keep things interesting, though, I did throw some leftover acorn squash into the egg bake yesterday morning. That sounded brilliant and delectable in my head, but it didn't work. The flavor was lovely and the texture was that of soggy bread. Not a great choice, but it did use up the last bits of leftover veggies!

We Kon Mari'd the snot out of our clothing yesterday. I now have nothing anywhere that doesn't fit, or that I do not love, except my Scout shirt (which is both too big and not that attractive, but that's fine, it does its job). Same with the older boys. Woohoo! The Littles will likely outgrow anything they own, whether they love it or not, in the next month, anyway. So I'm not worrying about them.

I tried to move on to books, thinking I could surely clear out one book case of books. But, no. That is not going to happen. I have shunted books out of here regularly for years, and yesterday I got a little stabby at the thought of parting with any that we still have left. Next up, though? Magazines! I am not a keeper of magazines, but my hoarder children are. They have 12 years of Boys' Life, Birds and Blooms, American Rifleman, Game Informer, and Alabama Living (our elec. co-op magazine - really? We keep those?) OUT! Time to go! That may net us an additional 10 square feet of living space!

Not sure what's next after that. Z and I are in negotiations about the ceiling. I want to paint the panels first, then install them and touch them up. He wants to get them up, then paint them. We view painting an in-place ceiling very differently. He doesn't think it's that big a deal. I, having painted this one twice already, and being familiar with how it plays out for me, would rather remove an already in-place ceiling in order to paint it on sawhorses. So. It'll be fun to see what we do. (I say "fun", but honestly, it's fear. My fear is that he'll agree to paint it in place, since it's not that big a deal - to him - but THEN, once it's up, he'll realize that he has a bazillion things to do, which he does, and expect to pass it off to me so he can get to the other things. He will not think this should be a problem, and I'll get stuck saying nassy werds while painting an in-place ceiling. Hence, the negotiations. Very important going in when you know you have different ideas of what's "not that big a deal". It's a marital life saver!)

And that's about it. It's raining, raining, raining, here. Everything is damp and muddy. All the leaves are a brilliant, clean, sparkly green. Through the windows, from the climate-controlled inside, it's gorgeous out there! (But I'm glad we'll be working indoors today.)

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, May 21

Ketogenic Backpacking

So, Philmont released the 2017 trek menus. I printed them off and settled in with a highlighter and a glass of water to go through and see what I'd have to substitute in order to survive the week.

I took a quick look and promptly switched out my water for coffee, kicked off my shoes, popped open Chronometer, and settled in for a day-long task. Turns out that, with the exception of a meat stick at Breakfast on Day 1 and a couple of packets of chicken along the way, I'll have to substitute everything. All of it. Wow.

Honestly, the biggest surprise was how much of the food they provide has Aspartame in it (a regular appearance in the sports drinks they provide "for electrolytes"). I was ready for the carbs (that's a pretty standard backpacking approach), but not for that! If you've been a reader here for any length of time, you know how I feel about Aspartame. So, I'll be packing substitutes for John, and extras for anyone who will listen. I don't mind carrying extra, if it keeps the boys from ingesting that stuff. Blech.

Research on the web for keto backpacking ideas returns mostly forum threads filled with people extolling the OP with rather unsolicited advice on why they would never do that. (Which is, of course, entirely useless, but people don't ask themselves if what they're about to say is actually helpful for the person they're responding to. They say what they want to say, regardless of the information requested. I want to lament the decline of civilization, but I think there have been people who know what they know since the dawn of time. Nothing new, here.) It's still relatively unhelpful, though. I mean, if you are living in nutritional ketosis, and you want to go hiking, you're going to need to eat. And if you're doing it intentionally, then you likely have very good reasons for doing it, and you're asking for information that will help you do it well. Perhaps even pleasantly. Imagine.

I found a great Ketogenic Backpackers group on Facebook, and have been in a wonderful Keto group for a while (not for backpacking, but for nutritional support), so I've been fortunate to amass a wealth of ideas on how to do this. Hopefully, by posting them here, as well, we can make them available to others.

Some of my breakfast substitutions (I don't generally eat breakfast, but I'd rather have it on me and pass it off to a Scout than to be dying out there and wish I'd packed some!):

Powdered eggs, pre-cooked bacon, keto coffee (coffee, powdered heavy cream, powdered MCT oil - from here on out, just called "coffee")

Hard sausages, hard cheeses, bulletproof coffee

Powdered eggs with dehydrated veggies and meats (in a semblance of an omelet), coffee

Epic bar, coffee


Since we eat eggs almost every day, I doubt I'll get tired of this rotation over the course of 12 days.

I'm also working on lunch and dinner substitutions, which I'll share, as well. Then I'll plug in the data and make sure I'm giving myself about a 20% overage from my daily intake. I'll definitely need to up my fat -- I pulled on shorts this morning, went to button them, and realized they were already zipped and buttoned! So I probably ought to splurge on some new shorts, as well.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Tuesday, May 2

Repurposed Failure

I got a wild hair the other day and tried to make some keto peanut butter cups. I didn't pay attention to the chocolate recipe I was using and ended up adding exponentially too much coconut cream to the mixture. When I realized what I'd done, I added more unsweetened baking chocolate to try to offset it, but didn't really add enough (that would have made a lot of chocolate). They taste OK (needed more nut butter, actually), but they never set up properly. We've nibbled at them, but they are neither delicious nor satisfying, so, eh. Tonight, I was feeling bummed at the thought of wasting it when it hit me...

Can I put one in my coffee?

Why, yes! Yes, I can!

They will not go to waste, now.

I love coming up with solutions. Sometimes. Sometimes I am tired and do not want to think them up, but that's probably another blog post, entirely. What I really love is a little serendipitous brainstorm, especially when it involves chocolate and coffee!

Be encouraged!

~Dy

Sunday, March 12

A Sleepy Day of Worship

We awoke this morning, bright and early. Oh, so, early. Fortunately, it's been so cloudy and overcast this winter that we've stopped relying on how light it is outside to gauge the time. We just had to believe the clocks when they told us it was 6:30 *yawn*...

Somehow, Em and I both got slated to serve in this morning's worship service. I maintain that it was part brilliance (as we might not have made it with the time change), and part evil plan (as helpers have to show up half an hour earlier to get squared away) that they put two of us in on this Sunday. But we made it. On time, even. And nobody fell asleep in their seat. The drive up and the drive back? We lost several, there. But we held our own in the pews.

Yesterday, we had a Philmont training hike, so John and I were out the door at 6 in the morning. The high was something like 39 degrees, and it rained on us nonstop after the first mile. It was a really great opportunity to identify weak points in our gear and training. My gear is basically composed of weak points held together by gravity. My training is essentially at the whim of gravity. But it's good to know.

The Vibram Five Fingers, however, held up admirably, and today, my feet are about the only part of me that is not sore and tight. No blisters, either, in spite of doing the entire 12 miles in wet feet. The thighs, I can blame on the hills we did. (So many hills!) The back and shoulders on not having adjusted the internal frame of my pack before I loaded it up (d'oh!) Also, 400mg magnesium is not near enough to stave off DOMS. See? We learned a lot! Never stop learning!

I'm getting a handle on what food to take for the trail. Blessedly, pre-cooked bacon is shelf stable and fairly light. Guess what I'm eating on the trail? Oh, yeah! The Oberto original jerky trail mix is also nice, although it won't make a full meal substitute. The carbs are a little high for regular consumption (within the context of nutritional ketosis). I pitched the idea today to Z of making jerky from an entire roast before we head out. We'll do a practice roast, first. I'm thinking if we salt it and dry it properly, we can vacuum seal it and it should hold up OK. Will keep you updated on how that goes.

After the hike, John and I split and headed to a bonfire for their ballroom dance class. That was hosted by a family that just started this year, and it was a delightful opportunity for the kids to visit and get to know each other outside the formal setting of the dance floor. They had a blast. I had a blast, too. We got in a lot later than we'd anticipated, but it was worth it. Even at 6:30 this morning.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, February 5

I wish I'd gone into research

I was never good at taking notes, and when I did, I'd often lose them. The running joke in our house, as we search for yet another list I've misplaced, is that this is why I never went into research. But after educating children, having cancer, and refurbishing a house, I wish I had. It would be nice to have volumes of well-tended notes to refer back to, to see if there are new patterns or untapped ideas.

This morning, over sad coffee, I read through the recent posts in a Keto group I'm a member of. (This group is scientifically oriented, and is based on the work of Drs. Phinney and Volek.) The NSV (non-scale victories) are amazing -- off of blood pressure medication, off of insulin, off of statins, off of anxiety medications, no longer categorized as diabetic/pre-diabetic... the list really does go on and on. Daily. The weight stabilization (both gaining and losing, to find optimal) is impressive. Every day, people are getting their lives back, and the healing that's happening in this group comes straight from the learning, growing, and taking control that the members are engaging in to save their own lives. It's my morning read, and is such a place of encouragement for me.

And yet, weekly, I also read stories of doctors who (essentially) won't take notes. They acknowledge that their patients are improving in ways they hadn't expected, but they won't acknowledge or record what their patients are doing differently to see such drastic results. (I have, personally, had the same experience with my new oncologist -- he won't listen to what I'm doing, claims it has no impact, and then when things go far better than the evidence would suggest, or than he expected, he shrugs and says it's a fluke. Sometimes, flukes are part of a pattern you're not seeing.) Some doctors threaten to fire their patients for going off the USDA (or the ADA) recommendations. I don't get that. (And, to be fair, many doctors are saying, "Whoa. Wait a minute, here. What's this?" They have a special place in the hearts of every patient who has healed and gotten his life back.)

I get that a physician has a responsibility to provide a certain standard of care for his patients, and that this standard is described by protocols in place. But we must always be learning, and taking notes to facilitate knowledge and understanding is not precluded by that mandate. If what you're recommending isn't working, and something else works, you don't have to become a kool-aid-drinking-total-believer. But take notes. And if you see it happen again, take more notes. Look for patterns, and if you start to see a pattern emerge, pay attention. Have the mind of a beginner. Why is this not the norm in the medical profession? Was it ever? (I want to say it was, but then I think back on my antibiotic-happy family physician and reconsider my stance... the truth is that I don't know.) I do know that most people become physicians because they want to help people. They want to improve lives, facilitate health, be an integral part of making this world a better place. But it's easy after a while to defer to protocol and forget that we're still learning.

Am I saying Ketogenesis is the answer for all the world's ailments? No. I'm not. Do I think it merits a serious look for some ailments, particularly diabetes? Yes. Do I wish that more people were taking notes and comparing them? Yes. Do I wish I'd gone into research and learned to take better notes, myself? Oh, goodness, yes.

While teaching the kids science over the years, my mantra has always been,

"Once you start acting like you know all the answers, you stop asking questions. Don't be that guy."

Because while there is SO much we know now, there is SO much we do not know.

When I'm an old lady and you see me in the street, yelling, "Take notes! Pay attention! Look for patterns! Talk to others!" Well, you'll know why.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Tuesday, January 10

It's Not All School

In spite of the fact that paperwork and prodding are taking up a ridiculous amount of time these days, that's not all that's going on (because it's never just one thing, is it?) and there are plenty of fun things happening, as well.

I am down 45 pounds from Christmas 2014! The kids don't really appreciate my enthusiasm over that -- they reply with all the things I've told them over the years. "It's not about a number, it's about how you feel..." And yeah, OK, that's true. It is. But FORTY-FIVE POUNDS IS PRETTY STINKING HAPPY MAKING. And yeah, I feel great. I've ditched a small rucksack of books. An angry toddler. A really terrifying snake. (Truthfully, I don't have a handle on just how big a 45 pound snake would be, but we have cottonmouths, and just thinking about that gives me the willies.)

They actually came to appreciate the magnitude of it when they were watching old clips from Just Dance that winter and caught a Big Foot style sighting of their mother walking across the background.

"Holy cow! Did you see Mom?"

(*rewind, play it again*)

"Whoa! Man, you were... I mean, huh. *shifts voice from incredulity to thoughtfulness* You have lost a significant amount of weight."

*blank stare*

Yes. Yes, I have.

"You must feel SO much better!"

*snortch* Yes. Yes, I do.

And it's not about the number. It's not even entirely about the weight -- I'm guessing that ditching the cancer has done tremendous things for my energy and vigor. :-) But the overall healthfulness is encouraging. Being strong enough to live the life I want to live, and being energetic enough to do it well, are huge blessings that I don't take for granted.

I won't go all door-to-door missionary on you, but if you want to know more, look at Drs. Phinney and Volek and their nutritional ketogenic therapies and way of eating. It's good stuff.

Maybe eventually I'll loose enough weight that I can do a whole pull up, eh? (I kid. I'll never get up to a full pull up.)

Be encouraged!

~Dy

Wednesday, December 21

It Is Time

James went to a party last night with friends. I have no idea how it went because I went to bed long before he got home. Z was up doing homework, and I'm out of things to watch on my own, so I read and got sleepy. I have my ringer volume set to Mind Numbingly Loud, so if there'd been an emergency he could have reached me. I'd have likely shown up looking like someone from an archived episode of Cops, but still, there. That's what counts, right? Pass the Okayest Mother of the Year Award this way, please.

This is not James getting home from his party. This is John, who was in charge of casting music while the Littles decorated the tree. Bonus points if you recognize the video.

We're nominally still doing school. In my head. Actually, right now, Jase is devouring the next in the Warriors (cat) books, and John is in the basement playing his favorite video game. (The basement is nearly finished - it's not as creepy as it sounds.) Everyone else is either sleeping in, or lying in bed praying I won't come poke them. And I haven't the umpf to poke them. Clearly, it's time for Christmas Break.

So today we'll wrap the rest of the presents. I will take notes as we wrap and make sure I haven't missed something important. I'm still waiting on a few packages, because I can't get my financial shizzle together in August and shop like a grown-up. Mahabis (that's James big gift this year) has awesome tracking info... until the package leaves the UK. After that, it all goes dark. I have no idea where his shoes are, if they're nearly here, or if they're now decorating the happy feet of a Somali pirate. And we'll clean a bit. Because that makes everything better.

James has to take his AP Physics final exam today. He won't let me make excited happy faces until that's over. (But I am totally making them in my head!)

Oh! We made liver pate yesterday. It's ostensibly "mellowing", or something, in the fridge, and we'll have it Christmas Eve. It tasted pretty good, although I don't know if it will taste good enough to overwhelm the visual... issues. (That is one unattractive dish!) But it was fun to do, we learned some new techniques, and so that was fun. I've got a package of Braunschweiger, just in case the pate is a no-go.

Be encouraged!
~Dy

Tuesday, December 6

It's a Party! With Party Food!

This fall, I've been part of the most amazing book club. It's been a source of humor, support, prayer, encouragement, ideas and insights, thoughtful conversation... You name it. We've also managed to read a couple of books. But that turned out to be the excuse, not the purpose. Tomorrow, we party.

The gift exchange plan is that the adults have drawn names and are to give gifts that we already have lying around, or can make. Wish I'd thought about the potential for this at some point in the last year of purging and wardrobe capsules and decluttering. I'm down to offering up a spare cast iron skillet, or maybe a SCOBY... So, I think we're going to go with making something. (But it's 10:30 and I don't know what. The odds that it will be "something laminated" are increasing as we approach midnight, I'm not gonna lie.) The kids are doing a similar gift plan, but they're planning on doing a Dirty Santa exchange instead of drawing names.

Em crocheted a mermaid while we read today.

I.... I've got nothing like that up my sleeve.

So James and I were thinking homemade treats would be nice. But of the group, we have varying degrees of dietary restrictions: sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, peanut-free, Keto, and Paleo. Plus one who can pretty much only eat cotton candy and nuts. (It's not that bad, but if I'm going to feed her, I take a picture of the ingredients, or the label on a product and text her, "Can you eat this?" Because if I guess, I will guess wrong!)

James happily decanted some of his vanilla erythritol, slapped a bow on it, and went back to studying. John grabbed a carabiner, which he hails as "the most useful thing since the pocket knife", wrapped it, and went back to studying. Jacob made a bracelet. Jase found a recipe for mint chocolate cookies that meets ALL of the dietary limitations of the group, so that's what he wants to make in the morning.

I still don't know what I'm going to do for the gift exchange, but in my search for inspiration I found some neat links to random things you can feed people who have special dietary requirements and thought perhaps you would enjoy some of them. (I've been full-on Keto for the last year, and feel amazing. But we don't really eat a lot of treats and sweets and such, so I haven't looked for alternatives. We make our mayo and sriracha and everything else can be killed or grown. Boy, was that search eye-opening! I had NO IDEA how far recipes had come for the dietary-restricted diets! Dang, people, way to get creative with your bad selves!)

First up, I found this recipe for what the author says is a lot like a Jolly Rancher. It's made with xylitol and either LorAnn's candy flavoring or unsweetened Kool-Aid. Oh, and a hot plate. (We do not have a hot plate, or a mug warmer, much to James' sorrow, so we used the coffee pot. It seems to have worked.) I didn't get pictures of the process because I am so far out of that frame of mind you wouldn't believe it. But it's a very low key process. We didn't add enough flavoring, I think. Prototypes are like that. But we also did not napalm anyone in the kitchen, break the coffee pot, or poison the dog. Plus, it's very satisfying to get xylitol to crystallize.

Then I found this mother lode of links for mug cakes. Paleo, low-carb, crazy, rampant cake recipes! I haven't made them, yet, but we did put Meyer lemons on the grocery list. I'm kind of toying with the idea of having batches pre-made and bagged with mugs set out, so guests can just pick their mix, dump it into a mug, and IT'S A PARTY!

If I can get up and out the door early enough tomorrow to buy some Swerve, I really want to make these Butterfinger Bars by Maria Emmerich.

And my sweet friend who has to preview ingredients graciously sent me her own pumpkin "pie" recipe after Thanksgiving... I doubled the egg count, threw in a titch of stevia, and we ate the whole danged thing. So she's getting a ramekin of that with whipped coconut cream tomorrow. In a heart shape, because I love her, and I'm a dork, and it'll make her smile.

Then we'll sit and catch up on each other's lives over the last week. We'll share a few quiet minutes while the kids play The Resistance and yell in the other room. We'll refresh our spirits and bolster ourselves for the coming week. It's good stuff.

Be encouraged!
~Dy

Tuesday, September 23

Tiny Co-Op

I've avoided using a co-op for ten years. Mostly, we just never found one that would fit what we'd need from an outside source. But this year, we have six students who needed Biology. And labs sound like a lot more fun with friends. So three families got together and put together a Tiny Co-op. It's just Biology. And snacks.


The Littles do their thing during the class period (usually begging food off the host of the week). JakeRabbit works on whatever he needs to wrap up before the next library trip, and wanders in to observe. (He's made it fairly clear that I need to plan on doing something similar when he hits high school.) The high school students do their research independently and the labs in pairs.


They have absolutely blown me away with what they're doing. Not just the way they cover the material, but their willingness to discuss topics in depth. And one of our students does some absolutely fantastic lab drawings! I'll see if she will let me take a picture next week so I can share it. All around, it's been a fun reminder that teens are incredibly capable, funny, insightful, and diligent. (Or they can be, when they have the opportunity.)

We're using High School Biology in Your Home, from Bridget Ardoin. The students are given the topic and questions to answer over the course of the week. They can use whatever material they want to do their resource (so the first week we covered the elements of a trustworthy, reputable source). They learn to cite their sources, follow rabbit trails, and fill in the depth of their knowledge as much as they are motivated to. The labs are fantastic. There are enough typos in the printed material that it's a bit distracting, and I'd love to get my hands on fixing them. But the process is sound, and we'll definitely be using her Chemistry program next year.

I hope everyone else is willing to co-op again!


And just for fun, the boys' Troop had a cook-off at the meeting last night. Each patrol had to prepare a trail meal over a camp stove, and then present its meal to the judges. That was hilarious and fantastic. After the judging, the boys ate the evidence. (I didn't get to the camera in time to snap a shot of the full production.) Once again, kids will blow you away if you give them half a chance.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, September 1

As You Like It

Every year, I remember that Nashville has a Shakespeare in the Park performance. Usually, I remember this the week after the last performance. So this year, we invited friends (accountability), picked a date (procrastination), and we went! I am so glad we did.


It was absolutely fantastic. We took our blankets and spread out on the grass near the front of the stage. This is probably my favorite way to watch live theater, now. It was a long day, with the 2-hour drive each way, but that was made more fun with friends. It was, without a doubt, absolutely worth it, though.

Everything about this performance by the Nashville Shakespeare Festival was delightful and engaging, but one thing I hadn't thought about before hand was the music. This is *Nashville*! The music blew us all away. At first, we didn't think the actors on stage were singing live. It was too good. Then we realized that's exactly what they were doing. So that was like getting a whole other performance on top of the Shakespeare.


I would have better pictures, but they asked us not to take pictures during the performance (understandable), and we were just having too much fun visiting, watching, laughing, and eating during the time we could take photos.

Actually, most of the pictures I did get centered around the food. They had Thai, Egyptian, and BBQ. Oh, how much we spent trying a little of everything! I'm so glad my kids are adventurous eaters. And we do love some food truck food. (As an aside, anybody ever call them "roach coaches"? I get that that's considered derogatory, but we always meant it affectionately. I'm working very hard on not squealing with delight, "Oh! Let's see what's at the roach coach!" when we pull into a venue and see the trucks lined up. But I do still say it on the inside.)


So, yes, Mr. Shakespeare, we did like it. We liked it very much. From the atmosphere to the production to the food trucks, this was one of our favorite outings of 2014 so far.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, July 7

Fourth, early

Our little town had its annual Independence Day celebration last night, so that's when we had friends over and cooked out. The Charter service man came to switch out our modem in the morning. Hopefully, that will reduce the amount of downtime our internet suffers. He was fantastic, Charter, we're not so thrilled with so far. Then we commenced the preparations for the party.


We could not have begged for better weather - sunny and bright, but breezy and comfortable. Wow. Just wow. Z rocked the asado action on the smoker, and I think if we hadn't had guests I'd have eaten the whole thing myself, keeping the kids at bay with a poky stick - so, unbelievably good! Thankfully, part of my filter is still in place and I didn't assault the guests. Or run cackling into the woods with the pan of asado.


The teens got restless about an hour before the fireworks began. They wanted to get down to the square while it was still light and see the sights. Since none of the adults were quite ready to roll yet, the boys asked if they could take their bikes. We have a million bikes, so there were plenty for everyone who wanted to ride, and off they went. I'm guessing they had fun. We put eyes on them when we arrived at the square an hour later, and everyone had shave ice and was laughing. No blood, no limping. We called it good. It was nice, though, to run into friends who volunteered that they'd seen the boys and spoken with them and were so glad to see them. I love it when people volunteer good things about teens. They get it, and they get the kids. That's good stuff, right there. The rest of us, big and little, were happy to take our time moseying about in the meantime.


The fireworks were, once again, absolutely spectacular. It's one of my favorite parts of living here. Well, the whole thing, really - the show is amazing, the people are sweet, the food is fantastic. It's a good combination.


After the show, everyone (plus a few we picked up at the square) came back to the house for a bonfire and to finish off the desserts. That was, quite possibly, the perfect ending to a lovely day.

Today, we laid around doing nothing. It was delicious. Jacob told me he really needed a full week of that, and then interrupted himself to add, "Oh, wait! You have Circe coming up, which means Dad will be watching us, and we'll have a week of doing nothing. Oh, that's perfect!" And off he ran to share his revelation with his siblings. Z grinned when I shared that story with him, but he didn't deny it. I guess Kinderspringa shall become a tradition. They could do worse, really.


Have a safe and thankful weekend!

Kiss those babies,
Dy

Friday, May 2

Small Town Fun

Steak sandwiches made with real ribeye steaks, grilled there on the courthouse square, live music (fantastic Fleetwood Mac covers - wow!), local vendors, good friends, and, as a final touch, some of the most spectacular fireworks you could ever wish to see...


That was the game plan at the annual town celebration today. That doesn't even count the antique car show, the 1 mile fun run and the 5K. 


It doesn't include the beautiful skies and friendly local personalities, the charitable groups doing good things for people in the community, and the community itself.


Sometimes, it's just awesome to live here.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Tuesday, January 28

That was fun.

It was such a cool weekend.

EmilyGirl left a note for the tooth fairy.


So sweet. And she's completely on to me, but doesn't seem to mind.



She also put the tooth into an origami box she'd made. There was a hole in the top so the fairy could document that yes, the tooth is there, but Em was really hoping to keep the tooth. I did not know this at the time, and now have a frankly fantastic addition to my Collection Of Things That Will Probably Freak Out My Adult Children After I'm Dead: a stray tooth in a paper box! But really, it's just too awesome to release back into the detritus of the crafting area and allow to end up in the back end of a vacuum. So I'm keeping it.

The guys made chips and queso to take to youth group, so not only did we get to be helpful, but the kitchen smelled magnificent all afternoon Sunday. (If you think a small Mexican restaurant smells magnificent, which we totally do. Someday, someone will come out with green chile scented candles. I live in hope.)

Z repaired the dishwasher for the happy price of a bottle of Lime-Away. And some creative application of elbow grease and a pointy thing. I don't know. We walked in halfway through, so all I had to do was get a little calcium build up off the sprayer arms and then dance in the kitchen during the test run. He did the sleuthing and heavy lifting. It worked out perfectly, too, as the boys have been doing dishes by hand for a little over a week - just long enough to be pretty appreciative about unloading the dishwasher this morning.

Also, after some particularly disgusting failures over the last several months (and with the help of a friend who said, "Use this recipe, but use that method,"), we managed to make homemade mayo successfully today. When it works, you feel like Penn Jillette. (When it doesn't, the feeling is closer to Gob*.) But seriously, that's a simple thing that's geeky-cool. If you haven't tried it, yet, and you have a stick blender, you've gotta try it. Truly, I don't know how the people in the demonstration videos don't geek out over watching it happen every. time.


Kiss those babies!
~Dy

*Gob Bluth, definitely not Penn & Teller... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Nvxv2R01po

Tuesday, December 18

90% Done!

Which, for us, is like 110% done. We seldom get this far. I still have the kick plate to put back on, and the wood putty in the nail holes is drying. We may, or may not, get those dealt with in 2013. For now, though, here it is -- The Window!

It's like having a whole new kitchen! We'll add upper cabinets, now, and put up the beadboard ceiling and trim, and then... I think that's it. The inside will be, dare I say it? :whispers: Complete. That's hard to comprehend. Oh, no. No, I take that back. The boys' bedroom windows still need to be replaced, Em's room needs new carpet, and we need screen doors. OK, that feels more like it. (I'm not sure I'd know how to behave in a finished home!)

So, I tried to find the original before photos of the kitchen, but it looks like I'd uploaded them to a Flickr account, which has since been... emptied? sucked into the ether? eaten by Yahoo? :shrug: I don't know. I could log in with my normal account, but they had an old address for main contact info, so I'm sure they warned me that they were deleting pictures, but I don't use the ISP email, so I never saw it coming. Hopefully, there are some tucked away on the hard drive James salvaged from the basement.

And then, because it's more fun to play in a well-lit kitchen, we've been busy in there...

The spiced nuts would make a wonderful gift. I think. We can't keep them around long enough to package and give away, so it's only a guess. The saltine toffee, of course, is a natural favorite. James has reached a Zen-like mastery of the Russian tea cakes (aka, Snowballs, or Mexican Wedding Cookies). And a dear friend brought the mock Turtles to the Troop meeting last week (pretzels, rolos, and she topped hers with M&Ms, although pecans are traditional, and almonds are not bad at all!) So Jase and Em have been making those. Rice krispy treat wreaths, and old fashioned chocolate chip cookies round out this week's adventures. I might make some of my Mother-in-Law's amazing candies the week after Christmas. (The kids need to be busy doing something else for that. I don't have it down well enough to supervise helpers, and there would be scalding. She would probably rescind my rights to the recipes, and rightfully so, if I scalded the grandbabies.) We're on the lookout for more ideas to make together, though. Do you have a favorite recipe you'd be willing to let me know about?

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Saturday, December 1

Eggs!

The hens aren't using the nesting boxes for anything other than naps, so these were a pleasant surprise.


James came back from putting up the chickens and announced, "We have 18 chickens, and FIVE EGGS!" It took us all a second for it to sink in, but then we were excited.

Unfortunately, the roosters are all pretty into doing their jobs, and we have no clue how long those eggs have been there... so we'll have to crack them outside, in case they're bad. Still, it's exciting to have some progress.

(This was last night. Jacob found another one today. We don't know who is laying, but they're all in the same place so far, so that makes it easier. How exciting!)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Tuesday, June 12

Day Camp, Day Two

Day One went fairly well. Had the usual struggles that I run into when dealing with the Type A Scout Lady (and she had the usual struggles that she runs into when dealing with me - we complete each other. *snort*) But we were not Late, which is virtually ground-shifting.

James and John both said they were pleasantly surprised. I guess they thought it would be a little rough (or weird), but they had a good time working with the younger kids. Jacob, of course, thought it was TheBestCampEver. (Every camp should be, right?) That almost makes having to shift gears and pack lunches worth while.

(On a side note - packing lunches? Whole different ball game. I thought I'd be creative and fun, so I started out looking for lunchbox ideas, but the sites I found all seem to have been written by well-rested parents with one tiny child who doesn't eat much. That's not the lunch I was looking for. The pictures were adorable, though! I guess there's a reason nobody blogs pictures of the lunches you have to pack for adolescent pantry locusts.)

We're picking up a friend's son this afternoon, so they offered to pick up ours on the way in this morning. We have truly fantastic friends. :-) And it would have been perfect, had this not been Trash Day, and had we not snuggled in a little deeper and slept until 6:20. Ugh. Just as I started to call, "Come and eat," I had to change that to, "Oh, look, he's here. Um... :tosses bacon into a bowl: Here, this is for you three to share. Pretend this is normal, okay?"

So they are at camp. The Littlest Littles are still blissfully asleep. There are so many chores left to do this morning. We just can't get moving that quickly, that early. (But first, coffee!)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, February 13

Winter Fun

Today, Zorak brought home a Johnny Rodriguez CD one of his friends had found for him this weekend. (He just *knew* Z would love it - I don't think our friend knows a thing about Johnny Rodriguez, but he knows Zorak well enough to be pretty right-on about it. It's nice to have friends like that.) So, we popped it in... and waltzed. I love waltzing with that man. The kids, however, wanted to know what we were doing. And why.

Um... uh-oh. We've breached some serious law of parental obligation, here, when none of our children knows how to dance. Great Granny's 98th Birthday is coming up, and you know there'll be a barn dance - live music, gorgeous weather - we'd best get on it, or we'll find ourselves in trouble when Granny can't dance with her grandsons BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS DROPPED THE DANGED BALL!! We have a plan in place to remedy this. Also, we should move somewhere with more live music and dancing. This will never do.

Meantime, we had a gorgeous Saturday - Me-Wa came out to do some shooting and see the godbabies. He's so awesome. I wish we lived closer to them, so it wasn't a full day's outing, away from home, just to stop in for a visit. Last time he came out, EmBaby got to try her hand at the Cricket. The balcony has built-in rests. I am beginning to suspect that was intentional...
And today, Jacob made his first-ever solo loaf of banana bread. My only input was pulling it out of the oven. He told me, after they'd devoured the whole thing, "You know how, when you make enchiladas, they don't look that great, but they taste just fine? Yeah :sigh: It was like that." It must have been good, though, because they didn't even leave crumbs for the mice to find.
If this cool weather keeps up, he may get his wings on any number of loaves this week!

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Tuesday, May 17

The Whole 30

I'd mentioned the Whole 30 in my previous post. We are down to the last couple of days on this. It seems deceptively simple: avoid grains of all kinds, added sugars, alcohol, dairy, legumes and white potatoes (admittedly arbitrary, but they are carb-heavy and nutrient-light) for 30 days and see the difference for yourself. In all actuality, it is simple. The hardest part is, honestly, getting enough calories in without feeling like a total and complete glutton.

Before I get into the results and experience, I should ante up on the caveats and errata from the peanut gallery:

Intentional Alterations, based on philosophy:

* We eat sausage and other preserved meats that have nitrites in them. That's a personal decision. Neither Zorak nor I are convinced either of the claims of harm, nor of the levels of concern. Even when we make our own sausage at home, we use cure with nitrite. I'm not out to evangelize anyone to that particular point of view, nor am I open to being evangelized against them. I'm just being upfront about how our plan differed from that suggested by the Whole 30 plan.

* Raw milk. I kept that as an option for the occasional treat. Again, a personal decision. While I am convinced of the detriments of homogenization, and would forgo dairy completely were that the only alternative available, I've seen no evidence that suggests raw dairy is in any way inflammatory or detrimental to the gut. The Paleo crowd does seem to blow off dairy on the argument that Grok wouldn't have had it, and so neither should we. However, the science and the history both bear out that raw and fermented dairy have been staples of the human diet for as far back as the domestication of livestock, with fantastic results. So. The raw milk stayed, for us. As did the fresh butter, although that was reserved only for the things that really must be sauteed in butter. Arbitrary, perhaps. But tasty and, as I said, it was a non-negotiable for me.

(Note, if we were battling a degenerative disease, or if there were a life-threatening situation which caused us to seek this detox, I will admit that we may have been more strict with regard to the dairy. I probably won't know unless I'm faced with that choice. Your mileage may vary.)

Two Supremely Unjustifiable Errors:

* Alcohol. Gah. This one is entirely on me. I'd signed up for a Wine 101 class that I've been trying to get into since the beginning of February. I finally got in, although I got the slot before we started the Whole 30. The evening was slated for about 3/4 of the way through our 30. The stars aligned, and I had the opportunity for a date night with my honey. I hung my head in shame for a moment, then grabbed my coat and went. We probably consumed half a glass of wine, total. Still, it was all-carby, with zero nutritional value. The evening spent with my husband and the wonderful folks at the class, however, was fantastic. Again, had we been doing this for a high-stakes situation, we'd have passed. But I can't even really justify it or claim it didn't have an impact on the results. I'm fairly sure it did.

* A s'more. We went camping. James picked up toasted coconut marshmallows and a caramel bar for his s'mores. I wanted one. I had it. About the only good thing with regard to this is that I decided days ahead that I would do it, not feel guilty about it, and not decide that I'd fallen off the horse forever because of it. I was able to have that one and enjoy it and move on. No justification, but I did want to be honest.

And, that's it. Other than those exceptions, we've eaten "clean" for a month. This included a week without power, and a Mother's Day campout.

What we noticed:

* Improved rest at night. Less flailing (the elbow of death has not hit me once during the night), deeper sleep, and more rejuvenating sleep.

* Improved digestion and less bloating.

* For the girly folk, the various female issues were much decreased during this cycle.

* No mid-day slump. This has been my *favorite* perk. Absolute, hands-down, favorite. It feels SO good to be functional all day long. Zorak also reported that he's been more alert and had a steady stream of energy at work, without the 2PM slump that always hit him in the past.

* Clearer complexion. This one's probably a close second. I hate having acne in the wrinkles. Nobody warned me about that. Now, I just have the wrinkles. The acne has cleared significantly, and overall skin tone seems improved.

* Tone - overall body tone. We did not add in additional exercises - Zorak, because he hadn't received the all-clear from the surgeon yet, and I, because I'm essentially lazy and didn't want to. However, we've both seen a visible, measurable, tangible, no-kidding improvement in body tone.

* Weight stability. In our cases, it was loss, but from what I've read, I suspect that someone who needed to gain weight would do so on this plan. The body seems to seek out its own balance when we're not busy tweaking our bodies with insulin spikes and crashes.

If you are considering this at all, my advice would be to do it. Just jump in and run with it. It's only 30 days. There is support, and there are resources available. The results you'll see - and I am firmly convinced you will see them - are worth it. There are so many Whole 30 friendly recipes out there. It takes a bit of planning, to have something on hand when you get ready to eat. But not much more than it takes to keep a household fed, anyway. It's not hard, but it is worth it.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, May 15

Taking it Outside

I love our balcony. If I'd known how much we would use it and love it, I might have foregone finishing the bedrooms or some other project in lieu of building the balcony our first year here. It's like having an entire extra room for the house. There's room to play, room to read, room to sprawl out and relax. It's high enough off the ground that mosquitoes aren't much of a problem (although James has a citronella plant in a pot that he hauls to wherever we'll be eating, just in case). The view is gorgeous, and thanks to the zealous over-engineering of my awesome crew, this thing could hold up a three-ring circus without fear of giving out. Or, you know, a family. (It's a fine line...)

As soon as the evenings or mornings lose their bitter winter bite, we start meandering out there for meals. For some reason, it's as much fun as a picnic, without the traditional picnic drawbacks. Plenty of fun.

On a side-note, we're on day 24 of the Whole 30, a 30-day food challenge. It's been fun. It's been fantastic, actually. I can write more about it, if anyone is interested (although there are far better, more diligent bloggers out there who have documented every single day of it - we had a week without power, and a Mother's Day campout thrown in there during our project, both of which shot the blogging to pieces.) And I can attest that we've experienced definite improvement in many areas because of it. But anyway, this is an example of how we've been eating, and it's. been. delightful.
Link


Kiss those babies!
~Dy
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