Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Not My Baby Anymore

One of the sad realizations about having another baby is that your current baby is no longer your baby.  I'm not sure what it would be like once your family is complete and there are no new baby's, or what it would be like to have a large age gap between children.  After all - all baby's grow up, even if there are no new ones behind them.  But there is something about bringing home a new baby that makes your youngest seem to age immensely in about 3 seconds.  All of my children have been 2 years old when another baby has been born - and all of a sudden - they seem so much bigger.

And it's sad.

Here's a few pictures of my sweet little Kara Rose.  The cradle was built by my Dad for Kara and it sits in her room.  The other day she was feeling a little sad about something and she wanted to go in there.  So I tucked her in and she cried for a little while and then she wanted to come out and was happy again.  What a sweet silly babe . . . 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

All Started When . . . Remembering the Beginning of Love

I was telling a friend of mine about my honeymoon the other day and she encouraged me to write it down.  I really do have a very interesting honeymoon story - it was an adventure!  And it is a lot of fun to remember those beginning days :)  Next week it will be 8 years since TR and I were married.  8 years!  I can hardly believe it's possible - but here we are 8 years later with 3 children and 1 on the way.  We have moved twice.  We have had ups and downs.  Moments of financial lows and financial highs.  Moments of health and moments of sickness.

In honor of our anniversary coming up I thought I would share a little with you of our story.  Of course I don't have much for pictures, they are all non-digital.  But here's one that we took a few years into our marriage:

It is a fitting picture because it was a quadding trip that really began our friendship.  I had first noticed TR at my sister Rachel's wedding.  She married TR's brother, Nigel.  I actually don't even remember meeting TR.  Nigel would bring him over to my parents when he would come to see Rachel.  But it wasn't until their wedding that I noticed him.  I was playing the piano trying to distract my young niece Natalie while everyone was visiting after the meal.  TR came and talked to me a while and it just hit me - he's a really nice guy!  That was in November of 2002.  I was just barely 16 years old.  

I didn't see TR again for many months and just put him out of my mind.  It seemed very unlikely that anything would ever develop between us.  I was young and not really all that interested in dating. 

The following Spring I saw him a few times when he was there to see Nigel.  He came out to my parents once to help reshingle the roof.  Again I was attracted to him, but nothing happened.  

In August of 2003 Rachel called and asked if I would like to go quadding with her and Nigel, a friend and her boyfriend and TR.  Of course the only place for me to ride was behind TR.  It was a long weekend and the day after TR called and asked if I wanted to go riding again.  So again the 6 of us went quadding.  I spent the evening with Nigel and Rachel and TR.  When I left TR asked if he could call me sometime.  I don't think I've ever waited for a phone call with so much nervousness!  We began talking on the phone and spending some time together.  I would hang out at Nigel and Rachel's and he would come over to visit at my parents house.  In October he left to go to a 5 month school program.  We emailed back and forth and spoke on the phone about once a week or so.  When he came back in March of 2004 we began dating officially :) :)  He was living about an hour away at the time and we saw each other on weekends.  A couple of times I went to see him and his family who lived there at the time.  It was such an exciting time and it didn't long until both of us were thinking about marriage.  We were engaged in October 2004 and married April 2, 2005. 

We took a 3 week honeymoon (thanks to his job where April is usually Spring break up and very quiet work-wise), spending some time in Banff and then flying to the Turks and Caisos Islands.  TR's Grandpa was born there and there is a lot of family history there.  In fact, we met his great-Aunt while we were there!  Our time on the Islands was full of many adventures.  It was not an all inclusive vacation, I'll just say that!  From the taxi ride, to the 1 star hotel,  to the water supply, to the chicken in the restaurant.  In fact, we both were thinking of just taking a plane ride right back to Canada!  But we didn't and looking back we have many laughs!  But that's all another story for another post :)  Stay tuned . . . 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

20 Weeks

I am now 20 weeks!  Exciting, yet not. . .

Exciting because only 20-22 or so weeks until we get to meet this little one!

Not so exciting because by the time this baby is born summer will be nearly over.  If the rest of this pregnancy goes by as quickly summer will be here and gone before I blink . . .

So far the second trimester has been going very well.  The hardest part for me is dealing with back/leg pain from working.  Last time I overdid it it took over a week before I was finally feeling like I could walk without too much trouble.  Of course then I had to go and wash my floor (which I do by hand on my knees) and then stand in the kitchen for a few hours.  I find it very frustrating that I get sore so quickly.  Maybe if I could get into the habit of stretching and working out some I would get stronger and not have this problem.  But Spring is nearly here and then I will be so much more active and maybe that will help too.  I can feel the baby is moving so much now.  Nothing strong enough to keep me up at night or cause me to be uncomfortable - just light movements that bring great joy.  I love feeling the life within me!  We are busy thinking of names and I am working on new diapers and yesterday I tried making the baby some pants.  It is so exciting to think of meeting this one soon!! 

You can't see the 4th one because Kara's on my lap, but here I am with my 4 kiddos :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Healthy Birthday Cake

Benjamin recently turned 4 and while this is not the first birthday party we've had since we started eating healthier, it is the first one to be wheat - free.  I also find that as time goes on I let go of more "conventional" foods.  For example I have come to have a real aversion to food colouring/dye whereas for previous birthdays I would use it.  I used to think it was cute when my kids tongue turned all colours from what they were eating - the other day someone gave them something that had dye in it and it just turned my stomach.  Dyes or colourings are so terribly toxic and bad and I just couldn't put it on my son's cake.

So how do you have a great birthday cake without wheat?  Without tons of sugar?  Without food dyes?  Without lots of little candies all over the cake like I used to do?

Thankfully, it really wasn't that hard :)  I am so very thankful that I live in the age that I do!  There are so many blogs and books and people who are experimenting with wheat free foods that all the hard work has been done for me!   It wasn't that long ago when people were beginning to pave the way for people like me.  I had already test run a chocolate cake recipe, which I found here.  I made sure to sift the almond flour and use very finely ground coconut flour for a smooth consistency.  I also added more cocoa and a bit of sugar (I could have used more honey, but I added the extra cocoa at the end and didn't want to take the time to soften more honey). 

Benjamin really wanted a football cake - which thankfully was very simple to make and was easy to colour naturally. 

I made the cake in a round pan and when it had cooled I cut a piece out the middle and pushed the two remaining pieces together.  Then I used the icing from the recipe omitting the cocoa for the white icing.  I also added some melted chocolate chips and more cocoa powder to the chocolate - I wanted it to be very chocolatey :)  It turned out perfect!  And Benjamin was very happy with it :)  Of course I threw on a small handful of chocolate chips just for fun :)

And the candles burning on his cake are made from beeswax!  I also have an immense dislike for paraffin candles.  Especially scented paraffin. It feels great that not only was the cake healthy, but so was the air :) 

Chloe of course wants to have a princess cake!  Yikes!  That is a little bit of a taller order!!!!  Princess usually means purple or pink and you can't really use cocoa powder for those!  I'm thinking about trying to powder dried raspberries and add that to white icing, but I'm guessing it'll be a little on the dull side.  So I've got to put my thinking cap on and do some more googling and searching.  I've read about using beets to make a red cake, but not sure how that would work with icing. . .   I'm hoping to find something though, her birthday is not that far away.  

*I'd just like to add that in the link I posted about paraffin candles it mentions using soy candles as an alternative to paraffin.  While this might be okay for some people, I highly recommend beeswax!  Beeswax is about as natural as you can get!  I haven't read too much about soy candles and how they make them, but I just don't get how you can take soy beans and turn them into wax without a ton of processing . . .

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Calendula Oil

I like to keep things natural!  It is such a wonderful thing to learn new skills and ways of creating things.  I have found such satisfaction in doing things myself instead of just reaching for something off the shelf that was made from who knows what and then paying for it.  Over the last few years I have made diaper cream, sun screen lotion, recrafted soap, body cream, laundry soap, scouring powder - and just recently I made my own shaving cream and tooth"paste"!  There are so many more things I'd love to try!

I've also been learning a lot about different herbs and uses for them.  It was so great to see Chloe running out to get plantain last fall for a small cut :)  I put some of them into olive oil and then used them in my creams.  One of them is calendula.  I grew this calendula myself.  I didn't have lots of plants, but boy did I ever get lots of petals from them!  Every time you take one off it grows more!  So throughout the summer my small patch kept giving and giving.

Yes it is dusty on the lid.  I on purpose did not remove it before taking the picture!  I put the calendula and oil in that jar on Sept. 4 of last year, put it up on a high shelf where it would stay warm but out of direct sunlight and then neglected it.  I already had some calendula oil that was ready that I was using for creams so this one just sat there.  As I was cleaning up the last of the pumpkins that I had sitting there beside it I decided it was time to take it down!  I strained the oil off and this is the result:

Isn't it pretty? I just love looking at the beautiful colour it made!  From a green extra virgin olive colour to this orange :)  I promptly used some in Kara's bath water.  Not so great for the bath toys but wonderful for her skin! I also applied it to her diaper area when she had some sore skin.  I have also used it in making diaper creams. 

You can also use calendula in cooking and as a tea, but I haven't used it that way yet.  

The next way I want to use it is as a facial toner!  Being pregnant has not done wonders for my skin at all and I've heard very positive reports from people who have done oil cleanses on their face.   Between the oil and calendula's healing properties maybe my skin will improve :)

And just for fun here's a few recent pictures of my sweet kiddos :)

 She absolutely loves her baby :)

 So proud of herself for making her own toast :)

Having a blast outside.  He just loves the outdoors!

Daddy made it home just before they were in bed one day last week and they were so very happy to see him!  I don't think Kara stopped squealing until she was in bed :)  TR has been working so much lately and what a real treat it was that he could kiss them goodnight - and toss them in the air and throw them on the couch and tickle them breathless first of course :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tomato Soup

I have been very uninterested in cooking lately.   But as my family still has to eat, I still have to cook!  The trouble is I want food, I want good food, but I want something different.  It's times like these I'm especially thankful for the variety of foods available to me!  I've read so many pioneer stories where the menu stayed the same all through the winter.  The only variation would come when they ran out of something.  So when I find myself craving a different flavour or texture, I'm thankful for all the options.

Last night I just wanted something but I didn't know what.  I knew all the things I didn't want though!  No chicken, no beef.  Which leaves . . . pretty much nothing in my house.  Then out of the blue I remembered something I haven't eaten in a very long time.  Tomato soup.  Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches!  I remembered that I even had a can of store bought tomato soup.  I was going to take the easy way out and just make that - how much easier does it get?  But, luckily for me, the canned soup has wheat in it.  

Since the canned soup was out that left making it from scratch myself.  This is how I made it:

- organic crushed tomatoes (from a can)
- chicken broth (homemade)
- dash of thyme
- chopped onion
- tomato powder (I ground up some dried tomatoes in my coffee grinder) - this helps it to thicken

Boil on the stove for a while.  I didn't boil it very long, maybe only 25 minutes.  If I had allowed myself more time I would have started much earlier and let if simmer for longer.  I strained the onions off, but you could blend them in or leave them if you like chunks.  Add a generous amount of cream.  I also added some feta cheese to mine - soooo good!  Enjoy with grilled cheese sandwich :)

I was amazed at how good it tasted!  Absolutely full of flavour!!!!  I'm very thankful that the store bought tomato soup has wheat in it!  The soup I made was full of good ingredients I could feel good about (and good after eating too!).  It had some homemade chicken broth which is also so very healthy.  And while it wasn't 100 % tomatoes from my garden, they were organic tomatoes and the powdered tomatoes were from my garden.  And that feels good to me :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bread - Take II

For my second attempt at bread I decided to make two different kinds at once.  I copied a little bit from a recipe I found in a gluten free cookbook - but I've noticed lately that I just can't make it like they say!  So I kept the ratio's roughly the same (amount of liquid/amount of flour).  Here's what I came up with:

#1 - Bread on the left

1 cup water + yogurt (I poured some yogurt into a 1 cup measuring cup and filled the rest up with water
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 small spoon honey
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 eggs

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tsp xanthum gum
1/2 tsp salt

Warm up all the liquid ingredients to about 110 F.  I warm up everything but the eggs 'cause I am afraid of forgetting about it and cooking them by mistake!
Mix all dry ingredients together.
Add the liquid to the dry and mix using either a hand mixer, food processor or something like it.  I like using  my processor but a stand mixer like a kitchen aid would be perfect.  Grease a pan (on the bottom only) and pour in.  Level off.  Leave in a warm place 30-45 minutes until it has about doubled.  Bake in a 400 F oven fro 25 minutes and then reduce temp. to about 350 F for another 35 or so.  The original recipe called to have it in the 400 F oven the whole time but covering it up with foil halfway through as the top does get dark otherwise.  I don't like to use toxic aluminum foil in a hot oven so I just reduce the temp and leave it in longer and it has worked great!  Remove from oven and allow to cool before taking out of pan.  Using a knife cut along the edges and it should come right out.

Bread #2 - the one on the right

I used the same liquids as above but used these dry ingredients

1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup teff flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
 (same amount of yeast and xanthum gum and salt)

So what's the verdict?  The bread # 2 was better.  #1 was very moist and dense and I think I should have cooked it longer (I cooked it less than I suggested above - if you use the time I suggested you should hopefully be left with a fully cooked loaf).  It didn't toast very well and crumbled apart.  When I did manage to toast it, it burned easily without actually toasting.  Bread #2 held together really well.  It is easy to slice, toast and take to work as a sandwich.  TR has been taking it to work and likes it!  Hurray!  I find the texture to be a little gritty, I think it is due to the teff flour.  I'm planning on experimenting with replacing the teff with quinoa or chickpea or millet.  But I have teff in my stash 
and I'd like to use it :) 
After baking
The winner of the day - bread # 2 sliced 

p.s. I'm sure it's going to take a while before I have the "perfect" recipe :)  I made it again and lowered the amount of potato starch a bit.  I think it was a little less fluffy but still just as good.  I'd love to reduce the starch and xanthum gum by even a little more.

Overall I'm very happy with how easy it is to make.  It's a lot easier than the whole wheat bread I used to make.  I'm almost out of starch so once I get some more I think I will make several loaves at once and see how it freezes.  If it freezes well then I can make lots at once again. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Newborn Diapers!!!

The newborn diaper covers I ordered have come in!!!  A little surreal :) 

I am very excited to begin with cloth - I'm sure we'll still use disposables from time to time, but hopefully these diapers will fit the baby.  My girls also really love the diapers and had so much fun putting them on their baby's (Kara needed a little help of course :).  Benjamin didn't seem to excited about them, but that's just the way it is.  Girls just love babies :)  And my girls are no exception. 

Kara's doll is wearing the new diaper cover and Chloe's doll is wearing the Baby's new sleeper,
with a diaper underneath of course :)

In other news I have finished Baby's blanket!  Hurray!  And with lots of time to spare - it is still cold and miserable outside.  So now I am thinking about doing a few other sewing projects before Spring hits.  I'm dreaming of making the baby some new fitted diapers and using some old wool sweaters I found at a yard sale last Fall to make some covers or pants.  I did actually make 1 new fitted diaper a few days ago and am itching to get it out again and make some more! 

I must admit that I love how the blanket turned out.  I really wasn't sure when I picked out the scraps - but it turned out so great!  Never mind that the elephant somehow moved while I was stitching it on (I guess he wants to walk downhill?) or that the quilting of the three layers caused some bunching.  It is perfect and it feels so cozy, not stiff, but soft and perfect for wrapping our sweet babe in!   Now it just needs a few times through the wash to get that awful stinky laundry soap out (whatever these scraps were laundered in before was obviously chemically scented, yuck!) and hung out to air for a few days and it will be ready :) :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Overdoing It

I have a bad habit of forgetting that I am no longer able to do as much as before!  While my overall well being is so much better this pregnancy - there is one thing that hasn't changed - I bite off more than I can chew.  For example, yesterday I decided that the toys had gotten out of control and so they all got sorted and put away.  It took all morning and it was lots of up and down, lots of sitting on the floor.  You know, normal stuff that shouldn't bother me (when I'm not pregnant that is :).  On top of that we ended up running errands for over 2 hours in the afternoon coming home to quickly make supper and getting the kids to bed.  By the time it was evening I was beyond beat.  Not only tired, but also extremely sore with every step reminding me that I just can't work like I used to.

I find it very frustrating!  I have a whole pile of things I want to do, but I just don't have the endurance and stamina when I'm pregnant.  It's so much better for everyone in our family if I just remember to slow down a little and take breaks in between big projects where I can sit and put my feet up.  I haven't been so tired that I need naps every day, but I still need time to rest.

Of course once I start something it's very difficult to finish.  Do you know the effects of leaving all the toys piled and ready to be sorted only to walk away from it for the day?  Absolute mess.  Worse mess than before.  You may as well have had a tornado blow through because the amount of work leaving something like that half done is worse than not doing it at all!  So what I really need to do is remember before I start something :)

So today I'm planning on taking it a little easier.  A little slower.  And it's cloudy out again today - a good day for sitting in front of the fire anyway :)

(one of my kids took this picture - they love the fire as much as I do :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Adding Sleeves to Gloves/Mittens

I know it is almost Spring and we're all waiting ever so anxiously for the snow to melt - but I've been wanting to post this for a while and if I wait until next Fall to post this  . . . well, you know how life with a new baby is!  It will probably never get posted :) So here it is!

How to Add Sleeves or extensions onto your childs (or yours if you want them) gloves or mitts:

1. Find some old socks.  I used some of my wool socks that had holes in the toes but the rest of the sock was still in great condition.  I'm sure that any sock will do, but warmer is probably better.  Also it's good if it will be big enough to fit over your child's jacket sleeve. (I ended up just using the two pairs on the right).
2. Cut the foot off of the sock.  For Benjamin's I cut off a lot more and left Chloe's longer, although in hindsight I left Chloe's too long.  The length of Ben's is pretty much perfect. (pictured here are the ones I cut for Chloe - they could've been shorter)

3. Fold the sock piece inside out and stuff it inside the glove.  Make sure that the finished side of the sock is on the inside so that you are sewing on the raw (cut) side of the sock. 
4. Using needle and thread sew the sock and glove together. 
Chloe helped me sew them together. 
5. Repeat for remaining socks/gloves.  It hardly took any time at all!  I am actually a little surprised at how quickly I was able to finish them. 
6. Wear them outside and have fun in the snow!  You can either wear them over the jacket sleeve or underneath. 

I am so very pleased with how they turned out! My kids have been wearing them for the last 3 months and they are holding up very well.  I used to have to readjust their mitts all the time while they were playing outside.  They used to complain that their hands were cold.  Now they play outside for a long time and say they are warm.  Their mitts never have to be readjusted and I didn't have to spend any more money on different gloves!

p.s. The inspiration for these sleeve additions came from a lady in Church who had bought gloves for her girls that looked like they had baby warmers attached to them.  I'm sure that reusing your own baby warmers would also work really well.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Putting the Toys Out of Reach

 I can recall a time I wanted more toys.  Not for me - but for my delightful little sweetheart who was always clinging to my legs.  Without any siblings to play with I was her only companion.  I had hopes that if we had enough toys I might once again be able to wash the dishes.

 A great way to keep Chloe entertained :)

Things have changed since that day. 

I now have three children who play with each other and keep each other occupied.  And I've discovered to my dismay . . .


Way too many.  Like piles and piles too many.  Over the last year and a half or so I have been trying to downsize our toys but find that it is like trying to ride a bike uphill.  They have birthdays.  They receive gifts at Christmas.  We find great deals at yard sales.  And some toys are really great to keep.  They do serve a purpose and I just can't quite get rid of them.  It doesn't help that we are now homeschooling and there are so many wonderful educational toys I have my eyes on.

But really, when I think about it and try to not let my mother's heart be swayed with "my kids would have so much fun with this", I realize that the less toys they have, the happier they play.  The happier we all are.  There is less to clean up.  Less to organize.  More room for imagination and creative play.  I once saw a blog that had pictures of a beautifully set up toy room.  This room had it ALL.  Toys and crafts lined the walls in a very organized and orderly way.   It was like a dream.  For a few seconds I thought how wonderful that might be.  But I am also realistic enough to remember that I struggle greatly with maintaining order and organization.  Keeping on top of messes is beyond my natural abilities.  I have to make an effort and am learning more all the time about what it takes to keep a house from complete chaos.  I have a feeling that a room like that in my house would be a constant source of frustration and despair.  And I also believe that while it might be fun for the parent and the child to have access to so many wonderful toys and crafts and ways of creative playing, it is no substitute for having less.  I think that having too much can be a crutch for a child.  Less means they have to be more creative.  More imaginative.  They learn to share.  I have been tempted at times to purchase three of something just so we don't have fighting - and while this is fine for some things like the hockey sticks they all got last Christmas, it isn't necessary for a lot of things and gives them great opportunities to learn compromise and wait their turn.
I love the creative ways they come up with to entertain themselves! They thought
of adding rubber bands to the puzzle for a guitar - and anything can 
become a mik :)

So while I have gotten rid of a lot of their toys there are others that I still want to keep.  But the amount of toys we had was driving me to extreme distraction.  Mess all the time.  Everywhere!  Trying to stay on top of the cleanup was just too much for me.  My children are still small and while they are getting better at cleaning up it is still mostly me who does it.  And if I'm not actually doing it, I'm standing there directing and ensuring that they are doing it.   And then I decided.  NO MORE!

We have a closet downstairs that now probably has over half of the kids toys.  They have some in their room and some downstairs to play with - but the toys in the closet are off limits.  They have to ask if they want something and lots of times the answer is "no".  It is a special treat to get those toys.  Most of the time they actually forget that they're there and don't ask.  Often if they clean everything else up they are allowed to get something out.  And then on those days when we're a little stir crazy we pull something out of the closet and it's like the toy is brand new!  It's wonderful!  It has saved my sanity, I am sure of it! Sometimes we'll trade things around and put toys that they're not as interested in in the cupboard and take something else out that they can have for a while.  I've noticed that they play so much better.  Before they would just take a toy out and not really play with it, they would just scatter them all over the house.  Now when we take toys out they play with them and it's fun for them and easier to clean up.  

My house still gets messy.  There are moments when I'm sure we're in complete chaos.  It's still hard to get the kids to clean up.  But it's way better than it used to be and I'm so thankful!

Besides . . . who needs tons of toys to play with when there's socks to put on?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Chokecherries & Prenatal Vitamins

You may be a little shocked to find that I have not been taking multi-vitamins this pregnancy.  I hope that you will not judge me, as I don't do this lightly.

With my first two pregnancies I bought the leading brand of prenatal vitamins.  The ones you find on the grocery store shelves.  I took them as faithfully as is typical of me.  Forgetting sometimes, but doing my best to take them.  After Benjamin was born I learned that when you take the vitamin is important and taking it in the morning on an empty stomach can lead to nausea and vomiting.  Which is exactly what happened to me with him only I didn't realize it at the time.  The mornings I forgot to take the vitamin I felt better.

I also learned that most vitamins don't actually do your body any good but can actually harm the body.  Most vitamins have fillers and binders that your body certainly doesn't have any use for.  They also don't come in forms that our bodies recognize, so they just pass on through.

With Kara I took a prenatal vitamin from "Garden of Life".  It is considered a "raw whole food" vitamin.  It comes in a gel capsule and has no binders or fillers.

When I discovered I was pregnant this time I didn't exactly plan on not taking the vitamins, but I was concerned about the benefits of taking them.  They are quite expensive and I was worried about the negative effects that taking so many vitamins in a non-food form - even if they are raw and "whole food".

So, what am I doing instead?

I am trying to eat really well.  The foods I am eating now, I would consider to be leaps and bounds healthier than my first two pregnancies, and slightly more healthy than Kara's.  I eat a lot less of the foods I would consider unhealthy.  I also take stinging nettle, alfafa, red raspberry leaf in a gel capsule.  I take raw whole food vitamin D in a gel capsule.  I swallow a spoonful of cod liver oil. I eat farm raised eggs everyday.  I consume broth made from chicken and beef bones that I've made myself several times a week (I'd love to say everyday, but alas . . . )  I have also recently begun to take evening primrose.  (you'll notice I take everything in capsules.  This is because they are in their truest form, in an easy to swallow vehicle.  No binders or fillers.)  I also try to drink herbal teas that are good for you.

And yesterday I added something else that I'm very excited about!

Chokecherries :) :) :)

Last fall I dehydrated some chokecherries from off my Mom's Mayday tree.  I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to use them but I read this great article that had a ton of suggestions and was sure I could use them somehow.  I also made chokecherry jelly and took the leaves and branches and made some chokecherry syrup to ease coughs.  Chokecherry's are full of vitamins and are so very healthy.  Their pits are poisonous until heated - dehydrating makes them safe to eat.

Yesterday I put some through my flour mill (with a little fear as I wasn't sure you were supposed to, but it worked great :) and ground it as finely as I could.  The powder smells like almond extract (very much like the almond cookies my brother in law Tim's mother makes :).  I mixed a little with some milk and drank it.  I wouldn't say that I would drink it just for the taste but it didn't taste bad and was very easy to drink.  It's not terribly finely ground so it didn't mix in completely.

There are so many opinions out there as to what a pregnant woman should take.  For now, with this baby, this is what I'm doing.   And so far I feel great!  Honestly this has been the easiest pregnancy for me so far.  I have more energy, way less nausea, less heartburn, less body aches, less stomach aches, more emotional stability.

Now if only I could regularly consume enough liquids.  That is a huge struggle for me.  I have begun keeping track of how much I'm drinking and that definitely helps me to drink more.  

 Well, on to my day.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend full of sunshine! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

1st Bread

I made my first loaf of gluten free bread yesterday!  Technically it is actually my second loaf because I did make one for my mom-in-law - although I didn't eat that so that doesn't count :) It also had a lot of starches in it and I want to make bread without so much starch.

I was aiming at a loaf that would work for toast and sandwiches but didn't contain too many additional starches.  I based the loaf on some pizza dough that we I made last week.  The pizza dough turned out really well and the so did the bread!

The original recipe I found here.

When I made it I changed it to this:
(I doubled the recipe from the one given in the article)

2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup almond flour (sift it first to remove any large clumps if you ground it yourself)
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup potato starch
4 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup warm water
2 tbsp yogurt
1 full spoon honey
1 1/2 tbsp yeast

Mix altogether in a food processor.  Pour into a bread pan (grease only the bottom as it will cling to the sides and rise better in the pan if you don't grease the sides).  Let it rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 about 40 minutes.  Let cool completely before removing from pan.  Use a knife to loosen the sides.  I found that it came out of the pan really well.

I was hoping to make two loaves of bread with this but it actually only made 1!  So I'm going to have to make some changes 'cause 1 1/2 tbsp of yeast for one loaf of bread seems a bit much!  The bread turned out to be a little eggy.  It was dense and moist, and while I found it didn't taste all that amazing toasted and eaten with eggs, it was very good with some jam.  TR took it to work as a sandwich and it held together very well.  He also said that it tasted very good and he would not mind eating that over the wheat bread!  The loaf rose very well, but did sink once it cooled.  So although I would like to tweak the recipe a bit to see if I could get the yeast, xanthum gum and potato starch and salt lower I would consider it a huge success!!!!  It is actually way easier to make than the wheat bread I used to make :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Getting Ready for Baby

I have some very fond memories of my first pregnancy.  We were living near a city then and would often go in on weekends.  I would go into the Babies R Us and just walk around.  I hardly bought anything, but I just looked at all the baby things and dreamed.  I sat in the rockers, I felt the soft sleepers.  I felt the baby within me and wondered what it would be like to be a Mom.  I've been in that store since and those wonderful dreamy feelings all came rushing.  It was a wonderful time. . .

I'm very thankful for those memories, but have to admit that those feelings just can't be replicated.  I already know what it is to be a Mom.  New sleepers and crib sheets just don't make me as excited anymore.  Now I'm a lot more concerned about toxins and would much rather have some organic clothing or used clothing that's been through the wash dozens of times.  I think about my rocker and shudder at the thought of all the toxins it emits into the air while I snuggle my baby.  I've learned that there are more important things than "new" when it comes to baby.   I've discovered that there are great ways to make wonderful and useful things from other things.  And that is also a wonderful thing!

Lately I have begun to do a few things to get ready for baby.  I've been working on a quilt.  It's not very babyish or typical of a baby blanket, but I love it!  It is made from scraps of fabric my Mom gave me and some that I had around.  It is lots of greens, blues, orange, tan with some of the pieces floral.  It is very summery, which I thought was fitting considering that Baby will be born in August.  The back is a piece of blue plaid flannel from my Mom and the batting in the middle is two layers of an old cotton bed sheet.

I have also ordered the baby new diapers!  I tried having Kara in cloth right from the start but failed to remember that my babies have always been small :)  So I thought I could get away with the diapers that were size "small".  What I really needed were "newborn".  So this time I am ordering newborn cloth diapers!  I am so very excited about this, especially considering that I got them at a very good price, thanks to a good friend who recommended them.  I'm just getting some wraps (the covers) and will use some fitted diapers I made for Kara and prefolds that I already own, inside.  (If you're curious what I'm getting, here is the link to them - yes Leanne I did get them in colours!  Not the design ones, but the solid colours that were gender neutral) I am so very excited that I should be able to start right from cloth this time. 

I've been thinking of trying to make the baby some clothes - but if you know me, you know that sewing clothes is not my specialty!  But I've really been wanting to learn.  I find clothes on cloth bottomed babies just doesn't fit the same as they do on disposable bottomed babies.  It'd really be great to have some clothes that were made to fit over larger bottoms.  We'll see.  I've been telling myself I first need to finish the baby's blanket.  No need to have several unfinished projects hanging around.

What I'm NOT doing to get ready for baby and have absolutely no intention of doing:
  • I won't be painting baby's room.  Not that it couldn't use a fresh coat of paint.  But I feel very strongly that paint is toxic, and what I breath the baby breathes.  And filling my baby's room with even more toxins just doesn't sound like a good time to me.  Besides, I am fairly certain that my baby won't notice :)  Even if someone else painted the baby's room it would still add more toxins to our home that I just would rather leave in the store.  
  • I won't be dyeing my hair :)  Not that I've ever dyed my hair, but I also feel that the dye is just much too toxic to be anywhere near my baby.
  • I won't be adding rug or new furniture to baby's room.  I'd love to tear the carpet that is already in there out and replace it with something less toxic, but as we're hoping to sell our home soon we've decided to just leave it be.  If I was so be adding new furniture I would be making sure that it was not OSB or filled with tons of toxic glue.  
I'm sure that as time goes on I will be continuing to do things to get ready for our baby.  But I've started and it does help it to feel a little more real.  I've begun to notice the baby moving around some and sleeping has become more uncomfortable as my belly expands.  I've even noticed some wonderful braxton hicks!  One of the many perks of having been pregnant before :)  I dug out the maternity clothes the other day and have begun to wear some of them - not so much because I need to, but because sometimes it's nice :)  Here's a photo that I took around 16 weeks. (I'm 17 now)  I look quite pregnant in this photo thanks to the shirt I'm wearing.  In regular clothing, I don't look quite so pregnant. 

It still seems a little odd to me that I am pregnant for the fourth time.  I look at my three blessings and wonder what it will be like with four.  Yesterday as we were getting out of the van to go into Church I wondered how I would manage to get all four inside on those Sundays TR is not there.  I still buckle all three in and out (although hopefully Chloe will be going into a booster soon and able to manage her buckles even in all her winter gear).

So far this pregnancy has been wonderful and I seriously could not ask for more.  I have been very blessed and I am very thankful!  Some of the things I dealt with in previous pregnancies just haven't been an issue this time - even my emotions haven't been quite as overrun :)  And for that one I'm sure TR is very thankful :)