Monday, December 29, 2008

Vacation

So, I decided to take the week of Christmas off from work. What a great vacation and much needed break. I have done so many things this past week-- I hope I can remember them all.

Grant and I cleaned out our attic- threw a lot of stuff away and made a trip to the goodwill. There is much satisfaction in completing a project. Grant and I almost never complete projects together because we have such different work schedules.

I have been experimenting with bread recipes this past week. Some have been successful and others have not been! I have pictures that I will post later. I love my new wheat grinder, but I am trying to find the right balance of whole wheat in bread recipes without the end result being a hard, thick bread. Still working on the balance. In the meantime I have made four wheat bread loaves, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, and a french artisan white bread (by far the most delicious).

I made homemade sauerkraut this week. It's still fermenting, but we should be able to try some in the next day or two. Did you know that homemade sauerkraut is super good for you-- one of the best fermented foods you can eat. According to the Weston Price website:

"Many sources say raw fermented foods are beneficial to the digestive system by increasing the healthy flora in the intestinal tract or creating the type of environment for them to flourish. Sauerkraut and its juice are traditional folk remedies for constipation. Fermentation actually increases nutrient values in the cabbage, especially vitamin C. Fermented foods are also said to facilitate the nervous system."

I discovered a store at the Farmer's Market that sells pasture fed, antibiotic and hormone free poultry, pork and lamb. I picked up some eggs, a whole chicken and some chicken parts. Made a chicken stock last night with the chicken and chicken parts. I am so excited to discover this store and hope to be able to get there at least once a month.

I finished two books this week. I have been so inspired by one of them-- I will have to blog about it later. All about traditional foods vs. industrial foods. I can't say enough good things about it.

I went to the flea market and stocked up on salts, herbs and green teas.

I know there are other things I've done, just can't remember them right now. I'll post pics of our Christmas and going-ons soon.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas with family and friends.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The real reason of the season

This sign caused quite a stir here last year. Someone was "offended" that a McDonald's was allowed to post this. However, since it is owned by an individual, they were allowed to post whatever they wanted.

Way to go McDonald's. If I ate at McDonald's I would certainly support this one!


This is my view

9 hours a day, 45 hours a week, 180 hours a month and around 2, 250 hours a year.


My office. It's really a nice office with a lovely view of the Country Club golf course. It is though, still, an office.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My New Toy-- The Wheat Mill

Oh, the crazy things I get my heart set on.

I am so fortunate to get a Christmas bonus every year. My firm is very generous and I am able to pick out a special gift that is for me and unrelated to Christmas. My toy of choice this year is a wheat mill.


I hear the snickers and groans-- but, wait, are you listening-- you can grind your own wheat into flour!! How exciting is that?! What, you are not impressed?

Seriously, it is a cool toy and, yes, it is limited to grinding flour and beans. But the benefits of freshly ground flour is pretty cool. Many more nutrients (26 vitamins and minerals) than store bought flour (which has to be "enriched") and much more flavorful. My goal for 2009 is to make my own bread. It will be delicious, more nutritious and just another way to get away from the unpronounceable preservatives that plague store bought bread today.

(sidenote: they are playing Canon in D on the radio right now-- LOVE THAT MUSIC-- I walked down the aisle to that song. I used to listen to Canon in D when I was a little girl and told myself that I was going to "walk down the aisle to that song.")

So hopefully, when my vacation starts next Monday, I will have time to try a loaf out and get back with you on how it turned out.
Oh, and if you want to come by and grind your own flour- feel free! I bought my wheat from my local health food store, Harmony Farms.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yikes!

Umm, I just found my first grey hair a few days ago. This is very sad news for me. Call me vain-- I don't care, but I'm too young for this. And I don't even have kids or a stressful job.

Sigh, the silver lining (pun intended) to all of this is that it can't be seen by anyone because it is near the nape of my neck (not on top). The hair gods were kind to me with that small gift.

Sigh (again).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not your Grandma's Knitting

This picture cracks me up. I don't know why, but it does.

I decided to try a new nail polish color-- black. Thought it might bring out my mysterious, artistic and, dare I say, goth side.

Well, the next day I decided to tap into my earthy, creative, grandma side and so I pulled out the knitting. When I saw my black nail polish with my knitting needles, it just seemed so, so, so not like my grandma's knitting.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Movement

I think these shots are really cool. Me in action.

Twisting and kicking.


Turning. Turning.


This is my favorite shot. Floating in air.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lucky Me

How lucky am I. I got to meet two very big Christian artists in the past couple of weeks.

Mark Schultz and my dance team . . .


Me and Nicole C. Mullens . . .



Now, if I could just meet Selah, Third Day, Casting Crowns and Bruce Springsteen. My life would be complete.

Carolina Hurricane's Game

Grant and I and Marty and Meridith went to the Hurricane's game on Nov. 30.

In order to save some money and calories, I ate at home. Casper was just making sure I had some company during dinner.



Grant sure was hoping the Hurricane's would win. He even bought red reflective tape to cover his Duck's jersey!


They did not win.


However, we still had a great time!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Homemade Chicken Stock

In my quest to feed myself and Grant healthier, more natural foods, I decided to make my own chicken stock. Bone broth is an excellent, healthy food that I can easily make in my own kitchen-- which translates to “you can do this too.” I can easily store the broth in my freezer and it is ready for any recipe I need. I am eliminating the need to buy chicken stock at the store, thus reducing my food costs and trash waste. The best part for me is not ingesting the preservative laden, sodium filled, “fake” stock at the store. To find out everything you wanted to know about bone broths healthful qualities visit this page.

The key to success here is TIME. It takes a while to cook the stock so that it is full of flavor. But since I don’t do this very often, it is time I’m willing to spend. And it’s not like I’m slaving over the stove during that time, but I don’t like leaving the house when I have the stove on (I have three curious cats at home).

The recipe (from Sally Fallon):

A whole chicken with the innards**
4 quarts of water
2 tablespoons vinegar (this helps draw out minerals from the bones into the broth)
2 carrots, peeled and cut up into large pieces
2 or 3 celery stalks cut up into large pieces
1 onion peeled and cut up into chunks
3 or 4 or 10 garlic cloves roughly cut (this is my own personal addition-- I love garlic-- stop snickering Grant)
Handful of parsley

** of course it will be a much healthier stock if you can purchase farm raised/free range, antibiotic/hormone free chickens

Cut the wings off of the chicken and place them with the rest of the chicken and innards into the water with all ingredients except the parsley. I immediately start to bring to a boil (although the recipe link above suggests letting it stand in the water for 30 min. to an hour). Anyways, remove the scum that rises to the surface (toxins usually float to the surface in this scum). Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for 6 to 8 hours. The longer it simmers, the richer the flavor will be. During the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking you want to add the parsley. When done cooking, remove the chicken and vegetables. Strain the remaining broth into a bowl and freeze or use within 5 days. I shred the meat off the cooled chicken and am able to use it in 3 or 4 recipes.

I get so excited when I think of all the economical and healthy things I am able to make with this one chicken. I am able to get 4 quarts of stock and enough meat for several dishes.

I even got Grant on board with this-- he said it made him very happy to see a bunch of homemade chicken stock in the fridge. I think that translates into “thanks honey for ‘slaving’ over the stove all day so that we can have preservative and sodium free stock for use in our many healthy dinner recipes”-- yes, I’m sure that’s what he meant.

Another recipe that you should try.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My weekend plans

So, I am very excited to be spending my weekend with the MARK SCHULTZ-- yes, the very talented Christian singer who was just on "Extreme Home Makeover" and is known for many songs.

He is coming to my church and will be a part of our Christmas concert on Friday and Saturday night. How cool is that? I get to hear him twice-- woo hoo! Anyway, our church is having our concert before and after Mark Schultz' concert. I am dancing in 2 songs, 1 Bible verse, a small finale bit and am a "music box ballerina" for a drama skit (with a real, live, pink tutu and pointe shoes y'all)! So, it will be a busy week for me with tech/dress rehearsals and two performances. But who cares, because I get to hear Mark Schultz this weekend. Sweeeet!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Simple Sewing Project

Got a sewing bug this morning, so I created this cute kid skirt.

Super, super simple to make. I had everything on hand, so it literally took 20 minutes to make.

This would be so cute with some matching baby leg warmies.

Christmas Tree

We've never gotten our Christmas tree so early in the season as we did this year, but we are both going to be so busy every day for this next week that Friday night was our only day to get it.

I think Grant did a fantastic job finding the "perfect" tree.




He's a good man- cleans and everything.



Here is the finished project!






With a little help from the cats.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

It's been such a whirlwind week for me-- lots to do at work. Now that I have baked and decorated a cake, made kefir, cooked and smashed the broccoli, de-cobbed the corn, simmered the rice, made chicken tetrazini (from scratch) and cleaned the kitchen, I am ready for some holiday down time. Ahh, nice deep breaths.

I was going through some old photos this week (for a special present for someone) and I came across some of my favorites. They reminded me of all the people in my life that I have that I am thankful for.

My sweet husband-- lookin' all dapper in his work clothes.




My adventure loving dad-- I hope there are a few more whitewater rafting trips in our future.




My mom- for encouraging me and teaching me (look at the way she is holding my hands still for the photo-- gentle but firm)!




My sister- definitely my best friend-- we dressed like twins during most of our childhood.



My silly baby brother and sister- they sure are cute and funny (even now).



My music making, rock star singing "babies" (really, my niece and nephew-- but, hey, Rhea doesn't mind)



My middle nephew-- he's being a boy right now. He's adorable and animated.



And my new baby niece- ain't she a cutie! I think I'll keep her for myself.

I have two more precious babies in my life-- a niece and nephew of which I don't have current photos for-- hmm, will have to work on that. In the meantime you can visit them here. They are awfully adorable.


And last but not least, Grant's whole extended family- for without them, I wouldn't have my Grant. Plus, they have been wonderful to me over the years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kefir, sounds funny, tastes delicious

So, I’m a little crunchy and a little paranoid of preservatives and things that are not of nature being put into my food, etc. For these reasons and others (economical) I like to make my own yogurt/kefir.

Well, in one of my fits of boredom (and this was so not done at work, no sirreee) I started investigating different ways to make yogurt, and I kept coming across references to Kefir. Still not having anything constructive to do, I started researching Kefir. It turns out that Kefir is even more amazing than yogurt!!! (Oh, the things you learn when you are at work and supposed to be working, but taking what you term “your cigarette break” internet research time).

Kefir has all the good bacteria that yogurt does plus more-- Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species and Streptococcus species. It also colonizes in your intestines (which is a good thing) rather than leave when the job is done. It also contains good yeasts, which attack the bad yeasts. Yeah, I’m totally simplifying all this stuff. Kefir also helps digest the foods that we eat. And it is easier to digest based on the curd size than yogurt.

What an amazing food. Do you want to know the best part-- it tastes just like yogurt!

So, after learning all these fabulous things, I hopped right on over to my local health food store and bought some freeze dried Kefir starter. It’s been a love affair ever since!

My Kefir recipe:
**Heat 42 oz. organic, whole milk (eventually I plan to switch to raw milk) in a pan until it reaches 110 degrees
**Take the pan off the stove and put it into an ice bath until it cools a little
**Take one packet of the Kefir starter and mix it with some of the heated milk so it dissolves
**Whisk the Kefir mix with the heated milk and pour it into 7 (6 oz) glass bottles.
**Put the glass bottles in a yogurt maker and set for 14 hours
**When 14 hours is up, put the lids on the glass jars and put them into the fridge for at least an hour.

When I eat my kefir, I mix in organic raw honey and organic granola. SOOOO good.

Another cool thing: you don’t have to have a yogurt maker to make kefir (or yogurt). You just do the same thing as above- heat up your milk to 110 degrees, put the starter in it, put it in a big mason-type glass jar (cover it with a cloth) and set it on your counter for 24 to 48 hours (stir occasionally with a wooden spoon). The longer you let it sit out the tarter and firmer the Kefir (or yogurt) will be. Important: Always use clean utensils and hands when making kefir-- you don’t want to add bad bacteria to it and don’t store or stir it with anything metallic.

Now don’t be scared, the milk is not going bad. It’s fermenting. Hmm, fermenting still doesn’t sound as good-- but trust me, fermented foods are good for you.

You really should try this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Update

It just started snowing again!!!!

Snow

Umm, it actually just snowed here for about 4 minutes today. Because I feared that this might be the only snow I see this year, I took a trip outside to see it in person-- just to make sure it wasn't my imagination. Nope, it wasn't. It was actually real, live flakes. It did, however, stop snowing the minute I stepped back into my office. I love snow. It makes me all things happy. Even if for only 4 minutes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

THANK A VET TODAY

I hope you remembered to thank a veteran of our great country today.

A HUGE thanks to all the men and women who have served our country. They are the true definition of a hero. May they be blessed ten fold for the sacrifices they have made for all of us.

I have two very special vets in my life.

My brother, Sam.

I am very proud of what you have done for our country. I am very proud of what you have personally accomplished in your life. I remember writing these words to you while you were in boot camp.

You are good
And you’re brave
What a father that you’ll be someday
Make it home
Make it safe
(Lyrics by Mark Schultz “Letters from War”)

Those words are still true.


The other vet is a man I have never actually met-- my grandfather, Papa Phil.
I may not have known him, but he will always hold a special place in my heart. I know that he is in heaven watching all of us down here.


Thank you for your service and for having my dad-- for without you and him, I would not be here today. Just saying.

Love and the most sincerest thanks to you both.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Baby Leg Warmies/Baby Leg Warmers/Baby Legs

I think baby leg warmies are adorable. They are fun, funky and cute. They allow a baby to crawl around without getting rug burn, stay in a onesie all day, stay warm on a chilly day and make a cute fashion statement. Here is my attempt at a pair. I was inspired by this post. The stripe pattern is my own design.


Hmm, which baby will get to enjoy these?

Another Birthday Shout Out!

I was (gently) reminded that my cousin had her birthday this past week too! I promised her a shout out-- Happy Birthday Caitlin!! I know it was a great one! Hope to see you soon.





I just love this picture-- Caitlin with my nephew Avin.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Hoo-Hoo

My sweet grandfather turned 80 this past week.
Happy Birthday Hoo-Hoo!!!!


(My grandparents with most of the grandchildren)


I feel blessed that you are my grandfather!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Knit Hats

So, some of what I've been doing these past couple of days is knitting. Here is what I've done so far.


Cute little roll up hat with knitted flower (kind've hard to see flower though)

Another hat with ribbed edging.

I love hats and I love pink. Wonder what I'll do next.

We exercised

our right to vote yesterday.


Enough said.

I'm a bad blogger

Yes, it has been awhile since I've blogged. Gosh, I even did stuff worth blogging about too! Pics and stories to come soon. Stick with me people.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Fear Farm

Ooh, can you just hear the creepy music playing??

Grant and I, Meridith and Marty and Mark and Kelly went to the Clayton Fear Farm last night. It was so much fun. We went through 5 haunted "houses," the dark hole and a corn maze.





Mark, Kelly, me and Meridith pose at one of the "eyes" of the corn fields.

Grant coming out of the "dark hole."


We were just chased out by demented clowns with chain saws. Fun good times.



Um, Grant, watch the hands. No wonder he looks mad

Friday, October 24, 2008

Me 'n My Girls

I love them . . . the crazy fur balls.







Monday, October 20, 2008

THE FAIR- Part 2

This was one serious goat- he defended his hay pile with much vigor.

I've never seen a hairless donkey. Ain't he cute though?


Oh, I so touched the rabbit, even though I was not supposed to!! Just call me a rebel.



Get your head out of the gutter people-- it's a brain.


And last but not least, a ride. It was so cold, but tons o' fun.

video