Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

New home for my writing.

I started a new blog. This one is here for a while, so no panicking! I am going to migrate all the recipes and a lot of content but this one is going to be here for a while. Here is the link. Stop by.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Daylight Saving...

I made no secret that I hate Daylight Saving. If you like it, today is probably not the best time to tell me. Or tomorrow. Maybe not for two weeks. It would pretty much be a giant mistake even then. There is no saving or spending of light. You just agreed to go to work an hour earlier so you could come home an hour earlier. If you tell me you have "more light in the evening" I am likely to push you into the mud. Because you don't. You have the same amount. The only difference is that you finished work an hour earlier because you started an hour early. Sell crazy somewhere else, we are full up here.

But for the rest of you not crazy folks, I got something for you. If you managed to get up and start your day, you deserve a little more than a double shot in your Americano. You deserve a Daylight Saving Participation Ribbon. Did you manage to avoid committing acts of violence and treason despite extreme exhaustion? You are killing it, though not really. You know, because you didn't. Did you manage to leave the house fully dressed? Double high five for not being naked! Did you barely manage to haul your hide out of bed and hobble to the kitchen for coffee? Then today is all about you winning it.

So here is your Daylight Saving Participation Ribbon because you look like a winner to me. Treat yourself good today because you freaking deserve it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Finding new strength...

I know I have been absent. I have been on Facebook and I hope that counts. It is just so fast and finding time for other things has been hard. The good news is that my book is now available for sale and will be shipping out now. I am pretty darn excited about it. In case you did not know, I spent the last year writing a book on the in's and out's and how's of Eastern Christian Fasting and it has an extensive, soy-free, busy family oriented recipe section. You can find out more HERE on the Ancient Faith Publishing website. I also am creating a new video podcast for Ancient Faith and I will be talking about fasting and feeding your family. I am always thinking about, reading about, and talking about food so this is pretty natural. Keeping the kidlets reasonably quiet might be something of a challenge but this is life and I am talking to real moms so, I think they will be pretty understanding. Then I also developed real food (and mostly gluten free and always soy free) menus, recipes, and shopping lists for a fantastic holistic Orthodox Lenten program called My Beautiful Lent. I also started teaching art one day at week at my kids' tiny country school where they are almost half the population. All good things but all a lot of work.

I was feeling super run down and in the beginning I thought it was just stress. I was working out this neat little blog post in my head. I was planning on telling you all about self care and I was even practicing some self care but then I realized I was not stressed. Well, I was, but it was not primarily that the stress was getting to me. I was getting sick. I had known that another family at the school had confirmed RSV but I was not terribly worried. We might have had the flu but I am thinking it was more likely the RSV since the school and church and pretty much all we do. My father had the old saying, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses and not zebras." Since we knew people with RSV and they were the sick people that we knew, we probably have RSV. It was like being hit by a truck. A big ugly upper respiratory virus truck that hunted us each down and smacked into us in turn. I am pretty crunchy, having come by it honestly with a pretty crunchy mom. I did the usual tea with cinnamon and cloves and honey, the Oscillo (life changer, get a coupon HERE), and for the couple of kids who did vomit, ginger root tea. In the end, we needed to pull out the big guns and resort to things like Advil and Mucinex because, dang.

I remember when I first had children and I got sick. I would struggle through caring my kids while sick and I would think about how I thought it was hard to be sick by myself. When you have kids, you dig deep and find a new strength and just push through, You do it because you have to and even if you did not know that you could do it until that moment, you could. You did. I learned that there is an even greater depth I could find. We have large animals. This means that twice a day, we could scrape together all the kids who who were well enough to help a bit and assign someone to look after the little people and if there was anyone left, we would take them to go out and milk and haul water and feed the cows. With overnight lows in the negative digits and daytime highs in the low twenties, there is no water and there is no food. The cows have thick fur and as long as it is not windy, they enjoy getting out in the sun and air. Zeus, the steer, he even likes to go for a bit of a run and smash through snow drifts like children do. They they will eat a bit and drink a bit and then lay down next to each other and chew their cud. The cows need us. We have to make sure their water heaters are working and that their water is full and that they have they hay they need; not too much because they will play with it then not eat it. We needed to put fresh wood chips down in the barn stall to give them a nice dry place to sleep each night.  There was work to be done.

It is a funny thing. Sometimes we break, this is true, but sometimes we scrape by and that is a victory in itself. Just realizing that we found just enough strength to crawl just a bit further should not be a moment of doubt or even an opportunity for self-pity. I always thought I was doing a lot that I was doing pretty much all I could handle and then I did more. This was a very hard couple of months topped off with one of the worst weeks I have had since my father died. Pretty much the worst. But I am here. The kids are fed and the dishes are done and there is even some clean laundry and one load is even folded. It is on the table but, hey, I am counting it as a victory. This was a hard week and we are coming out the other side. I think we did good.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Severe Winter Weather Tips...

I am going to be honest here. I am not always understanding or sympathetic when people complain about or are concerned about severe winter weather. I am pretty sorry about that but, really, in my defense please take a look at the photos of the house where we live. The snow banks are taller than me. Because I see annual snowfalls of 28 feet or so, a foot or two seems pretty manageable. Because I see double digit negative highs, I honestly don’t worry about air temps in the teens or even single digits. It’s cold but it doesn’t seem that cold. I know, I am jaded.

I do know that because I live here year round, we have planned for these things and that makes all the difference. We have a block heater that insures that the tractor we use to clear snow can start when we wake up to -36F air temps (not windchill). We have three heating systems to account for a failure of either of the first two. There is cast iron wood burning cook stove that stands between us and cold canned beans with a side of icy death. We have outdoor clothes that enable us to go do barn chores outside in that weather. If it is not your regular experience, then you will not, and not having the right equipment means not being able to do the same things. That said, it has taught us a few things that might be helpful to you whatever your severe weather looks like and whatever your resources might be. Here are my top tips.

1. Get some electric candles. They are brighter than you think and the LED ones use very little electricity and unlike real candles, when your kids knock them over, they will not burn down your house. Keep them next to the beds, in the bathrooms, in hallways, and in each room. This is actually the set that I have and they are all over the house. Each kid has one that they can reach from their beds so that they can find their way through the house in an outage. A tree fell and knocked out our power on Christmas Eve and I was really, really glad for these. 

2. Get some Justin chargers. If our power is out for an extended period of time, we can charge   phones with them so that we have news and a means to contact the outside world. Our neighbors are pretty darn far, almost a mile, so this is a critical issue. Hand crank emergency radios are not expensive and are a good idea to keep around for emergencies. The one I linked to will also charge your phone.You will have access to news about the weather or other conditions and cranking it will help the kids work out some frustration. Or you. You might need to work out some negative energy!

3. If the power goes out, use painter’s masking tape to keep the fridge and freezer closed. Otherwise, you will open the repeatedly without thinking about it.The more people in the household, the more it will be opened. If it is below freezing, you can put things in the garage or on the porch that you will want access to later; things like milk and such. If it is very cold, like single digits or lower, put them in a cooler outside to keep them from getting too cold.

4. If you have a gas stove, you can light it using matches or a lighter which means you can still have stop top meals. If you have an electric stove, make sure you have a manual can opener and canned food options. Make sure that you have some protein and that it is not all canned pastas.

5. If the power goes out, open the cupboards under sinks and run the tap at a trickle to prevent frozen pipes. Shut the bedroom doors and put a towel under the door to keep the air from moving. This way, you can trap the heat into central locations and keep your family warmer. If you do not have a secondary heat source, you should find out who among your closest neighbors does, in case of an extended emergency. That said, even if your house gets down into the low fifties, you will not die. Bundle up, wear hats, and get out the blankets. It is going to be fine.

6. Do not, under any circumstances, use any un-vented heating source such as a camp stove or a BBQ indoors!!! The invisible fumes will kill your family faster than the colder temperatures will. It is not worth the risk. If it falls into the 40s, you should seek shelter elsewhere rather than risk gassing your family.
7. Put together a collection of non-electric games, books, puzzles, crafts so you are ready for the long haul with no electronic distractions.

8. If you have a well, get two 3-galllon water jug with a dispenser for every family member so that you will have enough drinking water for nearly a week. You will also want to fill your bathtubs to the brim with water which you can use for washing and for flushing toilets. Then you have a water source if the power fails.

9. Stay calm. This is unusual but it is not unheard of. People cope with this other places and you can too, you just need to stay calm. Really. It will be okay.

10. I mean it. Stay calm. You’re going to be fine. I promise.

(The above links are Amazon referral links and while your purchase price remains the same, I would receive a referral fee. If you don't want to use them, that's okay, we are still friends. If you use them, super thank you!)
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