Saturday, October 31, 2009

Giveaways Galore

I love this week! 2 Giveaways in two days! There will soon be another post about yet another giveaway.

Keeper of the Home, a fantastic blog by a great budget-minded earthy crunchy christian woman, is hosting a giveaway that blows my mind.

The Excalibur Dehydrator.

A dehydrator with slide out trays, so you can even use it to rise (raise?) your bread dough. 9 trays, to be exact, so drying grain that I've sprouted for milling into flour is noooooo problem. You can do so many other things worth it, and it is quite an expensive find.

You can join in on the giveaway fun here (but don't spoil my chances, haha).

Friday, October 30, 2009

G-G-Giveaway @ Kitchen Kop

Alright, it did not take much convincing for me to believe that saturated fat is better for you than unsaturated fat. All it took was some simple chemistry, and a little biology, too.

First the chemistry. Saturated fats have the strongest molecular bonds. Next on the list are monounsaturated fats, and then last (with the weakest bonds) are polyunsaturated fats.

When polyunsaturated fats like soy oil and corn oil are exposed to oxygen and heat, they are oxidized (amazing!), and many free radicals are created. Free radicals, rather than supporting health of the body, cause damage to cells. This is why vitamin and health care companies get excited about antioxidants (antioxidants repair and prevent damage caused by free radicals). Now, you may think, "OK, well I'll keep them in a dark cupboard and not heat them up beyond a certain temperature." Well, nice try.

Just to extract the oils, they have already been submitted to substantial amounts of heat and oxidative stress. When they become rancid (which is what this process inevitably results in), they are deodorized, and the American consumer is none the wiser.

Monounsaturated fats like olive oil are a better, but they cannot be used at extremely high temperatures and cannot be used for things like frying.

Saturated fats do not break down and become unstable with heat. Instead, their stronger molecular bonds keep them intact. That makes saturated fats like Beef Tallow, Lard, and Coconut Oil much healthier for cooking with than polyunsaturated oils.

OK, now onto the biology. There is a certain something at work here that I like to refer to as the "starvation principle." Women's health has a perfect example in the direct relationship between estrogen and body fat. Balanced hormones and balanced body fat go hand in hand, an imbalance of estrogen on the upside (too much), and your body starts collecting fat like bicentennial quarters. At the same time...too little estrogen and your body clings to fat. This is the instinct, in case of "starvation." The same thing happens with consuming fats. We, like other living creatures, have saturated fats in our bodies. Our bodies need saturated fats to survive. If we stop eating fat, our body works harder to hang on to fat, making fat harder to get rid of on the way to whole body health.

The best answer is to eat fats in moderation. Not to eat fats all day long, and not to cut them out. But where our foods have fat, they need to contain healthful fats.

Due to dh's coconut allergy, we pretty much use butter for cooking, and olive oil where we cannot use butter. I have been wanting to try beef tallow or pork lard, but ordering online is really expensive, and I do not have enough connections in local farming yet. There are not a lot of earthy crunchy Georgians on the world wide web, it seems. Some, for sure, but not a lot.

This is where one of my fav bloggers comes in. Kelly the Kitchen Kop is hosting a giveaway! A 5-gallon bucket of beef tallow is up for grabs, and I would love to win it. I love homemade doughnuts, sweet potatoe fries, fried bananas...and no one can convince me that the oils currently readily available for frying them in are better for me than tallow or lard.

So, rethink fats and oils this week. What are you putting into your body? What is good for you?

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday. Find more great posts at Food Renegade.

Further Reading:

Fats Cholesterols, Lipids

Weston A. Price Foundation

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stocking up for Winter

So, it seems everyone is posting their chicken stock recipes this time of year, and I thought I would add my own to the mix, since it happens to be Real Food Wednesday, and I am making a pot of stock right now.

Either dh or I make stock every 1-2 months to have on hand for cooking. Well, the truth is that we had it on hand in case either one of us got sick. Shortly after we got married I learned that he did not have the greatest immune system. Jeff got sick at least once a month with colds, stomach bugs, whatever. Of course I would usually only get sick in the winter, but having asthma meant that my head cold - which always evolved into a chest cold - always turned into bronchitis, which I got approximately 2x a winter.

But, with Jeff sick more often, I was sick more often, too. We did make stock to cook with, but we were having to make it more frequently then (once a month), because if we used it for cooking with and to make chicken soup at the frequency with which we needed it, we ran out quickly.

Now, ever since switching to real milk we almost never get sick, but we still have use for chicken stock in our cooking, so we make a batch every 2 months or so now. Here is how we do it:

1 whole chicken (minus the guts - I know, eloquent, right?)
half a bulb of garlic (probably 6-7 cloves) minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large carrots
2 large stalks of celery
2 T apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Freshly chopped parsley
sea salt
ground black pepper

OK, first things first. Put the chicken in the pot. Make sure that it is a pot that can hold at least one gallon, though in my one gallon pot we could barely fit all the vegetables and the water, so we had to watch it closely and keep adding water to finally yield approximately one gallon of stock. So, a 2-3 gallon stock pot probably would work best. Add chopped vegetables, salt and pepper, and the ACV to the pot, and add plenty of water (cover the chicken to a depth of several inches).

Bring the pot to a boil, and turn the heat to low or med-low. allow to lightly boil for 12-18 hours (sometimes we've gone a whole 24, but more than that is overkill). In the last ten to twenty minutes, add a good amount of freshly chopped parsley.

Remove the chicken from the stock into a bowl, where you can remove the bones and the skin to the garbage (or whatever means of disposal you prefer). Some of the meat we use right away for soup, the rest I freeze to use later (as chicken salad, chicken and biscuits, and what not). Pour the stock (through a colander) into another pot, discard the (now well overcooked) vegetables.

I pour the broth into jars to freeze, except what I'm using to make that batch of soup. When a recipe calls for "broth," I use this stock in a 1:1 ratio. If it calls for concentrated broth or stock, I use it straight.

Why is Chicken Stock good for "what ails you?"

Alright, so at this point in our adult lives, many of us have chalked "Chicken soup will heal you" up with the other "old wives' tales." Well, some of those tales are true! (Actually, did you know the phrase "old wives' tale" came about when hospitals were trying to discredit midwives and convince women to labor in hospitals, instead? So, a lot of these natural remedies are held and taught by midwives, but that does not make them false. Alright, tangent over, back to the rest of the post!)

Chicken stock has many healing attributes, though some of them we add to it. Garlic, for instance, is an antimicrobial. This is why plenty of garlic goes into my stock. I have some friends who had a class project in biology. They took some buckets and grew "sludge" in them (basically a bacterial free-for-all. Using droppers, they put a certain amount of their sludge on two microscope slides. One one slide they also put a tiny drop of penicillin, and on the other they put a very tiny piece of garlic. The garlic killed the bacteria as quickly as the penicillin!

Another benefit of stock made with vinegar is that the vinegar draws the marrow, calcium, and minerals out from within the bones. This makes a richer stock that can be almost amber in color, and it tastes wonderful. More than that, though, it is incredibly nutritious; full of vitamins and minerals that help to boost the immune system and the body as a whole.

I thought that I got this broth originally from a book called Broth is Beautiful, but it turns out that is the name of a Weston A Price Foundation article. You can read much, MUCH more about the benefits of broth there. I'll have to find out the name of that book, though... (attribute it to pregnancy brain?)

This has been a part of Real Food Wednesday - See more great posts at Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stolen Menu Plans

So, over the weekend I came down with this horrible cold - then I started reading up on how pregnancy automatically lowers your immune resistance, so your immune system does not attack the baby. Kinda wish I'd known that before...ever since the switch to raw milk in January, I haven't even gotten the tiniest cold, and now since being pregnant I've already gotten one stomach bug (no it was definitely not morning sickness...morning sickness has actually been pretty mild - some days nonexistent - please don't hate me), and one cold. So, 3-6 drops of elderberry in a glass of water 3-4 times a day, Breathe Easy tea, OJ, a lot of water, and lots of Chicken stock are all on the menu this week. Limited taste and smell, though (thanks to the cold), makes it hard to even try and contemplate what to eat this week, so, I marched over to Org Junkie before posting my menu plan, and scoured the links for things that looked easy, yummy, and nourishing. The crock pot is my friend this week...

Monday - Well, this one is easy. Tonight's dinner is a big pot of Chicken Soup with Rice. Made from my homemade stock, and then augmented with even MORE garlic, chicken, onions, and rice. I need Chicken soup!!

Tuesday - Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup - In the crock pot

Wednesday - Community dinner at church (Not sure if I'm going yet - due to this cold, but Jeff definitely will)

Thursday - White Chili (another crock pot recipe), Cornbread (gotta call my mom to get her recipe!)

Friday - Probably leftover Chili for me, Jeff will be eating out w/his consumers

Saturday- Lentil Soup, whole wheat rolls

Sunday - Pizza

Find more great meal plans at Org Junkie!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Adult ADHD Treatment (Without Medication!)

In reading around lately, I have realized that I am not the only woman in my peer group dealing with Adult ADD. More specifically, I have ADHD/I; which means that yes, sometimes I am hyperactive (better described as high energy, high strung, and trying to move in a million directions at once), but sometimes I "space out," having no energy and being very prone to being lost in thought (the "I" stands for inattentive).

Sometimes I like to describe ADD has having a brain that is hardwired to word association. You say the word "tree," and suddenly there is a song stuck in my head that has the word tree in it, or a scene from a movie, or a line from a book. But obviously there is more to it, like the need for motion when I am needing to focus on something. When I was working in retail ADD almost seemed like an advantage; the natural charisma draws people in, and of course standing all day means that it is not difficult to move when you feel like you cannot sit still. Working in an office, however, I have realized just how much I need help focusing during the day. Sitting in a chair all day - not so much. It has been a real struggle for me.

7 years ago, when I was in college, I was seeing a therapist in the counseling center (largely for anxiety, though it turned out that much of what I had attributed to anxiety had been exacerbated by ADD.  The two conditions can certainly overlap in places). It was that counselor who diagnosed me with ADD. She actually had me take an IQ test, first, to confirm her suspicions. Apparently most types of genuine ADD (particularly ADHD/I) is found in people who have higher intelligence - especially people who are gifted creatively such as musicians. I told her that I had seen my friends on ADD meds, and that they practically turned into zombies, and I did not want that. She told me that I could manage my ADD without medications fairly simply, but it would take commitment. A diet high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, regular exercise, and caffeine when I need to focus would help bring things together for me.

While I was in school, I employed the Omega 3 part (through flax seed oil capsules), and the caffeine part, and occasionally attempted "regular exercise," but of course ADD plays against you a little bit there, because it is hard to stick with new things long enough to develop a strong habit.

Out of school, though, and working in retail, I fell out of the whole pattern (except employing my love for caffeine, which easily turned into overuse). But working in an office, as I said above, reminded me that I do need to make efforts to reign things in again. Fortunately, my job is in an office where I have free use of a complete gym facility.

I learned, through some research, that Cod Liver Oil (particularly fermented CLO) taken regularly was an even better source of Omega 3s than flax oil. It is quite high in DHA - an Omega 3 Fatty Acid that is very helpful in dopamine production, which is key for managing ADD).  A little more research indicated that a missing piece of the puzzle was Vitamin B-12. B-12 is also very helpful in the production, release, and absorption of dopamine, a key neurotransmitter for focus.

So, I adjusted my routine, I worked out every morning during the week, took FCLO non-gelatin capsules every morning, plus a sublingual Vitamin B-12 tablet. When I felt my focus start to wane, I would have one cup of coffee. More than 300 mgs of caffeine can be adversely affecting focus, and I found that just the 100-150 mgs of caffeine in one cup of french press coffee was fine for at least a few hours, and taken at the right point in the day, it was the only cup of coffee I needed.

These all worked really well for me.  I was able to reap the benefits of some of the aspects of ADD, but also able to manage the hindrances like poor short term memory and the inability to sit still. If you read that first line and are thinking, "Benefits? What on earth is she talking about?" let me explain a bit. You see, there is an abstract thinking ability and creativity that come hand in hand with the seemingly random nature of ADD. This is why I did not want anything to do with conventional medicines. It seemed that my friends on conventional medicines lost the pros along with the cons, and I had no desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

What worked even better for me, though, was my switch to a treadmill desk. Walking at a slow pace of 1-2 miles an hour while I worked, I had more focus than I even knew was possible. Beyond that, I had more energy and focus at the end of the day when I came home from work. A long day of focus-requiring work, even with all my other tools, left me really drained an unable to focus when I came home from work, and the treadmill desk did away with all of that. Currently I am not able to use my treadmill desk, but I hope to be back on it soon when we hire a new customer service representative (someone left the company, which pushed me up to the front desk, where there is not room for the treadmill set up). If you have a job or perform any tasks where you're sitting or standing for long periods of time, I highly recommend getting a treadmill desk!

If you want to employ these tips, but do not like coffee, drink caffeinated Tea. Tea only has 45 mg caffeine per serving, generally, so you may need two cups of tea instead. Do not drink soda. Soda has caffeine, it is true, but it also has loads of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. These will give you a momentary rush, but then you crash, feeling exhausted. Sugar ends up being really detrimental to your energy and focus levels. On top of that, sugar leaches B-12 from your system. Since, as stated above, B-12 is essential for focus due to its role in dopamine production, foods that steal your B-12 should be avoided when focus is needed.

So this is my ADD story. I know many have seen promising results with the GAPS diet, but this has been so successful for me that the idea of so completely changing the way we do things has just seemed like unnecessary extra work. The hardest part of this method, for me, was initially finding the time to exercise, but once I pushed myself to make the time, I found sticking to it was very easy. So in short, I exercise regularly, take fermented cod liver oil supplements, sublingual B12 supplements, and small amounts of caffeine when I need extra focus. I have my days that are a little bit harder than others, but overall I have found this plan extremely helpful. I can honestly say that there is no way I could do all the things we are doing to stay healthy if I did not have help with my ADD.

For further reading on the importance of B12 and FCLO:
Weston Price Foundation - B12
Weston Price Foundation - FCLO
Kelly The Kitchen Kop - FCLO

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Planning in Early Pregnancy

As some of you may have already read, Jeff and I are expecting, due in June. We found out last Monday morning, and a sudden attack of a 24-hour bug (wednesday) and recovery from that in the middle of morning sickness, some meals got skipped last week (We improvised and had a big batch of chicken soup, then pretty much ate that for a few days).

Then, we had a GOOD menu plan change. We received a gift card for dining out this week, so our Sunday meal plan was changed, too. As far as pregnancy / morning sickness / potential changes in appetite, I am not sure how well we'll stick to meal plans in the midst of all this, but I am thinking that it is wise just to do them, anyway. Any moms out there with tips, comment away!

Monday: Lunch - Sunday dining out Leftovers
Dinner - Pizza
To Do: Soak Pizza Dough, Make Sauce (both night before)

Tuesday: Lunch - Leftover Pizza
Dinner - Rosemary Orange Chicken
To Do: Thaw Chicken (night before). Marinade (morning of).

Wednesday: Lunch - Leftover Chicken
Chicken Spinach and Mushroom Crepes
To Do: Soak Crepe Batter (night before)

Thursday: Lunch - Leftover Crepes
Dinner - Beef Stroganoff (w/the last of our tasty beef from Hearst Ranch)

Friday: Lunch - Egg Salad Sandwich (Using Food Renegade's Enzyme-Rich Mayonnaise)
Dinner - Leftover Stroganoff (on my own, Jeff eating w/his clients)

Saturday: Lunch - Rice and Beans, fresh veggies
Dinner - Porkchops (Very very simple, see recipe below) w/Mashed Sweet Potatoes
& Steamed Veggies

Sunday: Lunch - Out with friends
Dinner - Leftovers Parade

Citrus Apple Pork Chops

This is a recipe I improvised with a friend a few years ago. I never really liked pork chops until we cooked them like this.

4 pork chops
3 oranges
1 Apple, sliced
1 Tbsp Sucanat
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Juice 2.5 oranges and blend with sucanat in a saucepan over medium heat. Add apple slices and cinnamon. Add the other half of the orange, sectioned. When juice is warmed, add pork chops and cover (checking periodically to see when they should be flipped).

Serve with Sweet Potatoes sweetened with Sucanat and Cinnamon.

This has been a part of Menu Plan Monday - See Org Junkie for more great menu plans!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speaking English Kills

First I thought I would post a picture of our delicious real-food dinner from last night, I listed it in my menu plan for the week. We enjoyed this incredible Tilapia with Quinoa and Black Beans recipe. Now, I have to tell you that I know fish have a lot of health benefits to offer, but I am not a fish eater. The first time I ever cooked fish was on our honeymoon. We went deep sea fishing (I love fishing, and am not a big fan of eating fish. Does anyone else find that funny?), and managed to catch for ourselves some Kingfish and also a barely-legal sized seabass. This was before Real Food, for us, but still, I knew exactly how I wanted to cook it. At our little time share we had a small electric wok and I threw some butter in there, then garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lime juice. It was incredible, but still...most fish tastes too "fishy" for me.

So when Jeff grabbed this bag of Tilapia I thought, "Well, I guess I could try it..." I did make changes. I replaced the olive oil with butter. We did not have any paprika so I just left it out. And the recipe did not call for garlic, so I added it (dh does not believe in garlic free meals, haha). Delicious! I loved it, and I actually cannot wait for the leftovers :)

Second, every time I read a real-food post or hear about the false "lipid hypothesis," my mind goes back to an email I received long ago...Six or seven years ago when I was in college I received an email that was an uncredited forward. It read:

In Japan, they eat very little fat, and have a low incidence of heart disease. In France, they have a diet high in fats, and have a low incidence of heart disease. In India, they drink very little red wine and have a low incidence of heart disease. In Italy, they drink a lot of red wine, and have a very low incidence of heart disease. In Germany, they drink heavy beers and eat all kinds of sausages, and have a low incidence of heart disease. So, eat and drink whatever you want. Apparently it is speaking English that kills you.

I was amused, of course, and half-jokingly used it to justify my love of junk food (even though that is ridiculous), but I barely thought about it again until getting into raw foods.

Now, everywhere I turn on the internet, I am reading about the "health" of America and how it is rapidly deteriorating, especially in comparison to other countries. Other countries do not have the rates of cancer that we have, the rates of heart disease that we have, or even the rates of Autism and ADHD that we have.

The difference, while it is obviously not speaking English, definitely exists. So what makes us different from so many other nations? We have processed foods in our supermarkets and in our pantries, and they simply do not eat like this in other countries. I know many people who have no idea how to cook, because they were served only instant foods at home, except for big traditional family holidays. We are so used to foods having chemical ingredients we cannot pronounce that we have simply stopped reading ingredient labels. We "don't have time" to eat healthy, so we come up with more ultra-processed, ultra-preserved "health foods" that are instant, and wonder why our health continues to decline.

So, now I read all of this and I think of that email, and I wonder why more people have not caught on to this idea. Seriously, if we claim saturated fats will be the death of us we ignore the fact that the French are much healthier (and much more slender) than we are. To go even farther, what about the Inuit people, who have lived largely on whale meat and blubber, and are ridiculously healthier than we are? If we claim that it is too many carbohydrates, then we're ignoring the fact that Italians are much healthier than we are. The only difference is that they are eating food. And we are eating junk that is based on food.

The other day I was trying to find jarred applesauce that did not have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it, and I found it nearly impossible! Strawberry Jam? Forget it. I found a very expensive fairly small bottle of organic strawberry jam that had no HFCS.

Since working to incorporate real foods into our diet (and get rid of the preservative-rich, overly processed junk - though we're not completely there yet) our health has improved so much. Specifically, since switching to Raw Milk in January, the bug that Jeff and I came down with this morning is the first time that I have gotten sick at all. On the whole, I have so much more energy and feel really nourished, as opposed to just feeling full.

So, if you're on the fence about real food, about the legitimacy of the idea that saturated fats are good for you, or about a switch to Real (Raw) Milk; ask yourself what you think the difference is between the Standard American Diet and the way the rest of the world eats.

But why do we eat this way? The biggest reason is time! We do not seem to think we have the time to eat right. But how much time are we saving if we spend so much of it unable to be with loved ones because we're sick, or unable to work because we get sick? That is the biggest comment I hear from other people if they hear about the way Jeff and I are eating. "How do you have time to do that?" It is not easy. We both work full time and are involved in our church, so it takes careful planning and a lot of time to eat the way we want to. But we both are at-risk for enough health conditions that it almost makes us feel as though there is no other way to do it. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol all run in my family. And I am realizing that they are ALL in a lot of people's family history. Not only that, but I used to get sick all the time. Big case of bronchitis every fall and every winter, little head colds ever couple of months or so. Jeff got sick practically twice a month! As I said before, now we don't
If we invested more time in our diets, we would be so much healthier, and then have more time to spend with our friends and loved ones. If we invest the time to eat real foods, we would not carry so much sickness around to other people in our work places or our churches. Just think about it.

This has been a part of Real Food Wednesday. Visit Kelly the Kitchen Cop for more great posts!

Easier Said Than Done

Disclaimer: This may prove to be TMI, but I feel the need to share it.

So, Monday morning early Jeff and I found out that we are going to have a baby. While we know that many desire to keep that news quiet until the end of the first trimester, we made a decision that since we live in community (the Body of Christ), we do not want to walk through anything alone which we do not need to walk through alone. In other words, we want to share our joy with people, and if our joy is followed by heartbreak (whether in miscarriage, or in any other situation), we want to give the church the opportunity to be the church in our lives. Additionally, there is just so much joy in a couple discovering their first pregnancy, it is hard to keep it in and contain it.

This morning I woke up to discover some spotting, and while I know that at only 5 weeks along it is perfectly normal (not that it happens in all pregnancies, but it is not necessarily something to flip out over). However, it was also followed by the quick realization that Jeff and I both seem to have come down with a pretty intense intestinal bug. I was worried and I called my midwife and she encouraged me to drink some kefir and/or maybe a little (like 2 oz) of wine to help kill the bug, to take it easy, and to try to take my mind off of any thoughts of miscarriage. She advised me to ask Jeff to lay hands on me and pray (which he had already been doing all morning), and to stay at home and rest. She reminded me that, this early on there really is not something we can do either way except for pray. A well established pregnancy is a well established pregnancy, as she said.

So I am praying. Any of you are also welcome to pray. And I am knowing that being as sick as I am right now does not necessarily mean it will compromise this pregnancy. But I wanted to share, because this is the decision that Jeff and I made together; to let the church be the church in our lives, and to trust God with our joys and our sorrows. I had no idea I would have to face the fear of that so soon, but my mother reminded me that I am facing just that: the fear. Right now that is all that is definitely threatening us.

Thanks for love and for prayers.

Edit: Just thought anyone reading might like to know that, except for being exhausted, my symptoms seem to have subsided, including the spotting. A huge answer to prayer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Monday Monday - Menu Plan

Another Monday rolls around and it is time for a menu plan. Grocery shopping with dh the other day we saw some tilapia on sale, and I was thinking it was exactly what we needed to spice things up a little bit. I found this great recipe, and I plan on trying it out Tuesday night: Tilapia with Quinoa and Black Beans. Sooooo excited to try this one! I even got a swagbuck for searching it! So, here's the menu plan for this week!

Monday: Hamburgers with (really yummy grass finished organic beef I got for practically nothing because of a (no longer running) special on
Tuesday: Tilapia with Quinoa and Black Beans
To Do - Tuesday Mid-day Soak Quinoa
Wednesday: Pizza! It has been wayyyyy too long since we've had pizza!
To Do - Night before: soak pizza dough
Wednesday afternoon - make cheese.

Thursday: Rosemary and Orange Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Friday: Cozy Quinoa Casserole (Also ended up switching last minute the other week...)

Saturday: Leftovers (Jeff will be at the men's retreat for our church, so I'll be on my own).

Sunday: Spinach, chicken, and mushroom crepes (didn't end up doing these last Sunday)
To Do - Sunday night, soak crepe batter

This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday! Find more great posts @ Orgjunkie!

We spent Friday and Saturday getting things more settled in here at the house, and taking time to rest, as well. Rest is one of those things that is harder for me, at least in the terms of spending time relaxing or unwinding. For me, it is easier to just stay in motion all the time, because when I rest I either pass out or zone out. As Christians, though, God calls us to rest in Him, so I have been working on and praying about how I can take time to rest both spiritually and physically. We had slow mornings and good breakfasts, and set about work allowing time for small breaks between tasks. It was really good for me to feel like I was getting so much accomplished and also not feeling hurried. Today I felt more rested than I have in a long time! We still have a lot to get done, but it feels good to get so much out of the way!

We were supposed to be traveling this weekend, but due to our present financial situation we decided it was particularly unwise. I was glad for the extra day to work on the house, but sad that we missed out on the time with family. The holidays are not far away, though. We will have lots of opportunity to see them then, too.

Speaking of the holidays, I am already eagerly looking forward to the season of Advent. We have everything we need for our wreath already. I have mine set up to be a centerpiece on our dining room table. We have an 8-inch square mirror (with no frame), and an 8-inch round wreath that goes on top of it. In the corners of the mirror that the wreath does not touch, four candle holders hold the three purple candles and the one pink candle. In the center of the wreath goes the Christ candle. When I have it set up on Nov. 29th I will post pictures! And I just downloaded a great devotional here. I just swag searched free advent devotionals and - voila! I do not know all of the hymns, so we may look for some that fit in with that particular week in advent that we already know. Jeff and I are thinking about having a few friends over on Sunday nights to light the wreath with us on those nights (though we plan to do the devotionals / candle lighting nightly).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mmmmonday Again!

Tonight we had an incredible Pumpkin Soup for dinner. I would post the ingredients, but it was a "little of this, little of that, smell and add a little more of this" kind of recipe I got from my mom. I used canned pumpkin because, well, it was cheaper and we had a really really tight grocery budget this week. Basically I sauteed onions in butter (Mom also uses green peppers but I did not have any), added minced garlic, salt, pepper, and added a 15 oz. can of pumpkin when the onions were transparent. I added some chicken stock, and also some water. I also seasoned with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and added a few teaspoons of sucanat. Lastly I added in some rosemary. I let it heat through and start to boil. Then I added some of our tasty whole real milk, and heated it through again. This time I did not let it get to boiling, because the milk can curdle. Doesn't change the flavor, really, but it does change how it looks!

So that was Monday.

Tuesday: Chicken, Quinoa & Blackbeans

Wednesday: Potluck at home group (I'll be making guacamole)

Thursday: Sweet Potato Burritos

Friday: Leftovers (mmm...more burritos)

Saturday: Dinner in Warner Robins (Mom B's Birthday)

Sunday: Dinner out on the way back from Warner Robins, I imagine.

All in all, it is a pretty light cooking week for us this time around. I'm not sure what I'll do with my extra time!

Read more great menu plans at Org Junkie.