Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Frustrating and Scarey

Slowly but surely I am making my way through "Master Your Metabolism" by Jillian Michaels. I am learning way more about hormones than I ever intended to. Frankly I can't keep track of what all does what all, but I get the idea: They are all interconected and can be thrown out of whack by what we eat, do, feel or allow to invade our bodies.


Everyone has heard of them. Usually it is associated with what we put in our mouths. What I am frustrated about is that now I realize how much garbage manufactureres put in EVERYTHING from meat to dairy and veggies... stuff you would think is good for you.

The problem is, to buy all organic all natural foods is expensive. The average american just can't afford to feed their family ALL organic foods. White starchy foods are cheap, available for everyone, and not very good for you. Refined sugary processed foods are readily available.

There are some steps you can take to get some organic food. Grow your own, if you can. Our soil is terrible. It is very rocky. However, we can get some produce, and we use it. You can go to a farmer's market, but honestly, I have't found very good deals. We did recently buy two gallons of raw honey from a local farmer. It ended up being cheaper per pound than buying at our local Aldi. I do try to find organic veggies on sale at a grocery store near us, but that is hit or miss.

What is a family to do? What is a LARGE family to do?

All that is just one little area of worry. Come to find out many of the plastics around us that have taken over our culture are toxic as well. Those toxins effect our hormones, and thus weight loss ability, among a myriad of other health issues. It is absolutely mind staggering the effect chemicals have on our systems. I STRONGLY recommend reading "Master Your Metabolism". Jillian Michaels, no matter what else you think of her, is extremely thorough in her explanations.

Oh, wait... it isn't just what we eat. It isn't just what we are totally surround by, but also what we are using for cleaning. I had just gotten to this chapter in the book when I got this little update email from the newsletter "Losing It With Jillian", adressed this very issue. Here is an excerpt from it:

From LOSING IT! With Jillian Michaels
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Toxins Under Your Kitchen Sink

If you've been reading this newsletter for a while, you've probably been getting the sense that our bodies are under assault in the modern world. We ingest toxins in the form of refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, and other additives in our food. Some toxins are present in our environment, in the form of air and water pollution. And some can be found right in our homes, under our kitchen sinks and in our bathroom cabinets.

Conventional cleaning products are full of toxic chemicals — in fact, most incidents of poisoning occur in the home and involve items like cleaning supplies. Chemical cleaners pump harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which we then breathe in. The worst offenders are drain, oven, and toilet bowl cleaners and products containing chlorine and ammonia. (Get this: Chlorine and ammonia combine to produce chloramine, which was used as a chemical weapon in World War I.)

Instead of chemical cleaners, stick with products made from 100 percent natural ingredients to clean your house; they're just as effective and they're cheap too! Here are a few useful cleaners you probably already have in your pantry or bathroom cabinet:

Baking soda can be used to deodorize your fridge, freezer, and carpets, to clean cutlery, and to scrub toilets and tubs.

Lemon juice is a great substitute for bleach.

White vinegar mixed with water can be used to clean floors, windows, and mirrors. To clean kitchen surfaces, spray them first with pure white vinegar, then with hydrogen peroxide, and wipe the surfaces clean. Be sure to keep the vinegar and peroxide in two separate spray bottles — mixing them before you spray can create a hazardous concentration of the germ-killing acid formed when the two products are combined.

I am glad there is SOMETHING affordable and easy we can do to help eliminate some of the chemicals in our lives. I may not be able to get out from under the influence of all the toxins in our society, but I can do a little bit, one step at a time, and try to control what we use in the house at least. I can try and grow as many chemical free vegetables as possible, and find organic produce and chemical free meats on sale at the local Wegmans.

Every little bit helps!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY August 3oth...

Outside my window... Sunny and HOT again... summer is back.

I am thinking... "October will come, October will come...."

I am thankful for... The healthy busyness of our lives, even if it can get overwhelming at times.

From the learning rooms... Beginning unit studies on the Crusades, as well as Bees. It's the beginning of our third full week of school!

From the kitchen... right now I smell a cake in the oven, thanks to Josiah and Esther!

I am wearing... Long denim skirt, and laramie red t-shirt.

I am creating... a couple of surprises that I can't share just yet. :D

I am going... to enjoy a long weekend this week!

I am reading... Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott, working on Master Your Metabolism by Julian Michaels, and rereading A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola.

I am hoping... to get my minimalist cardigan put together this week. All the knitting on it is done!

I am hearing... the general hubbub of a busy household.

Words I am thinking about... "The tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beweare of the people who make usefulness their groud of appeal.If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived. The lodestar of the saint is God Himself, not estimated usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. " ~ Oswald Chambers

Around the house... Laundry, menu planning, laundry, shopping list making, laundry, school organization, laundry, general picking up, laundry, making bread... oh, did I mention laundry?

One of my favorite things... A lazy Sunday afternoon, snuggled up napping with Isaac.

A few plans for the rest of the week: More of the same old, same old up until the weekend. It is packed with lots of visiting!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

If you want to participate in the Simple Woman's daybook, go to: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fabric Therapy

Don't judge me.

I know, I totally broke my New Year's resolution about not buying any unneeded fabric. What can I say? How can I explain it? I could say it was because the first two weeks of school are stressful and I needed to have some fabric therapy. Or I could blame it on the big end of summer sale my local quilt shop was having. Or I could say I just wanted their complimentary candy.

I guess any excuse will sound lame, so all I can say, is don't judge me. I'm a quilter. I'm an admitted fabriholic. And I really did need some fabric therapy. There is just something about seeing the colors and textures and letting the ideas and creativity flow over you when in a quilting shop. Even if you don't buy anything, it is a wonderful little experience in eye candy.

Okay, I admit it, I bought something.

Just.... don't judge me!

At least I am being open and honest and without any thoughts of hiding my addiction, sharing the experience. :D

Here is the result of my little trip out:

I have a secret love affair with fat quarters. I don't know why. But these were on sale, and who am I to fight inspiration?

Don't judge me.

This little Moda charm pack charmed me out of a few more dollars. I couldn't help it.

Don't judge me.

I am picturing a couple of nice cuddle quilts from the above pictures. I realized I needed to think about borders, backing, and binding, so here is the rest of the brain storm:

Don't judge me.

Did I break my New Year's resolution? Yes.

Is it the first time? Sadly, no.

Did I spend more than I intended? Uh- huh.

Do I feel guilty? Nope.

Don't judge me.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Learning at the Beehive

We have now completed two full weeks of school! Here is some of what we have been up to:

Read aloud time...( Actually we are done with Ivanhoe, and have moved on to Prince and The Pauper since this picture was taken. It is kicking off our unit study on Mark Twain.)

I read these with Jerusha (and Isaac as he toddled by) while she was reviewing the letter "Ee":

Jerusha practicing some printing... oh, and yes, that is a green egg (but no ham):

I have a new book for Jerusha this year...

Here is the outside of it...

In the midst of our first week I did up some stewed tomatoes from our garden:

Here is Caleb looking Oh SO Thrilled to be working on English:

We did a mini-unit study on dragonflies:

Here Isaac is learning some engineering skills (ummm, he had help):

Not sure what Isaac is learning here... except, maybe how to manipulate his siblings?
(Yes, that is the cat in the basket with him):

Here is Isaac learning to love coffee. Actually, I don't think that will take any learning... I think it is in his blood. :D

Friday, August 27, 2010

BIG BIG Sale at Currclick!

If you haven't taken a peek at their annual sale I highly recommend it! Even if you don't home school you may find some treasures for cheap.

Go to CurrClick. Make sure you have some tea/coffee with you, some pleasant music in the background, and enjoy browsing through their sale pages... all 200+! I got a bunch of goodies and am so excited about what we are doing this year. We'll never use all I got in one year, but I'll roll over the surplus for next year.

Happy shopping!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY August 23rd...

Outside my window... very gray and rainy... *yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn*

I am thinking... I need some more caffeine in my system.

I am thankful for... the rain we have had yesterday and today... we need it!

From the learning rooms... Our second week of school! Continuing in our Dragonfly unit study, and reading of Ivanhoe, and music practice, and all the other subjects we will tackle this week.

From the kitchen... cooking pinto beans, and making peanut butter cookies.

I am wearing... Blue A-line dress I made from an EL pattern.

I am creating... a Seminole - pieced wall hanging for the boys' room, and will be doing a tutorial for the process on my blog when I am finished. :D

I am going... to a local quilt shop later this week that is having a huge end of the summer sale, and out to the bulk food store for some much needed items.

I am reading... "Master Your Metabolism" by Julian Michaels, and Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott.

I am hoping... to be able to have a time of creativity tonight.

I am hearing... the beater going in the kitchen (from the bakers making up peanut butter cookie dough), and the laundry folders behind me doing lip service to "76 Trombones..." from the Music Man.

Around the house... starting a full schedule of schoolwork today, plus the usual post-weekend laundry, and picking up.

One of my favorite things... Lazy, rainy, Sunday afternoons that are perfect for taking naps and laying around reading or watching a movie with the kids.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Fibers of Faith meets tonight, and we may be closing the pool this week due to much cooler weather all week. The kids have even said "I'm not swimming when it is this cold!"

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

This feeling is contagious!

For guidelines to participate in the Daybook go to: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quickie Quilt Fix


Yup. That is what I said: "Argh."

No, I haven't turned pirate. Just desperate to get some quilting in! I sewed this summer, but no quilting.

Then a few weeks ago I took advantage of some wicked good coupons for JoAnn's and the girls and I went up to pick out some moleskin for church skirts, and get some fabric for everyday jumpers for Jerusha. It went well, and Gutterman's thread was on sale as well, so I got some of that as a treat.

While we were there, there was a man there demonstrating the AccuQuilt machine thingy. It uses die casts to cut fabric. It even trims the dog ears! I wish I had the money for one, as it would work well on my scraps, as well as strip cutting.

All the girls got to try it, even Jerusha. They are safe even for a 5 year old (okay, with supervision for setting it up). The man gave her some of the scraps she cut and she brought them home. I didn't think much about it. She went on and on in the van about "my fabric" and I didn't really pay that much attention to her jabbering until she said:

"Mama, will you make me a quilt?"

Of course that got my attention. I took a look at what she had, and knew I had some contrasting remnants that would work, and told her I could do a doll quilt for her. She was ecstatic. However, I had to finish the wall hanging for the boys' room first. (First come, first served, ya know.)

I was thankful I decided to do some Seminole piecing for the border on the wall hanging. It would help satiate some of my craving for piecing at least. Then I realized I didn't have the metallic thread I needed for embellishment. Of course, this was like the day after we were at JoAnn's. I groaned. I didn't think I would be able to get back up there for a few weeks due to our intense schedule at the time. So, I did what I could, then had to stop and wait for the opportunity to get that thread.

I turned my attention to the fabric Jerusha brought home. After some measuring, eyeballing, and a general prayer, I started a process of "design as you go" type of piecing. I made a strip of "Streak of Lightening" for the center with some of the triangle from the "see, no dog ears" demonstration, then just added the rest in. All the blue fabric was mine. The rest is from the demonstration. If you are interested... you can go to the AccuQuilt website and check out that nice (spendy) little toy.

Meanwhile, back at the sewing pile, I finally managed to get some more metallic thread. You'll never guess where.... Walmart! They are doing away with their fabrics and stuff, but there were two spools of the thread I wanted left and I grabbed them, laughing and doing the goodie goodie dance like an insane woman. So, now that the doll quilt is finished, I will get back to the Seminole piecing for the wall hanging.

Here is the doll quilt, with flowers from my sweetie! :)

Here is the busy little mama using the doll quilt about 2 seconds after I finished it.

So, since I have been getting a little bit of quilting in, why the "ARGH"? It's addicting.

I want more!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Health, Fitness, and Homeschooling

When we first started home schooling, I bought every book recommended for the 1st grade, from Abeka no less. Over time there have been lots of changes. For one thing, I don't use Abeka at all anymore. It is too spendy! And I found they have way too much "busy work". In one of his books there was a list of things to do everyday, and one them was... "smile at your teacher." I wasn't amused because he was already spending too much time just sitting and copying or doing work he didn't need to do. It was like they were just trying to eat up time for no reason. I love smiles from my children, don't get me wrong. But this just didn't strike me as sincere.

Fast forward to now....

With 6 out of 7 children now doing schoolwork, I have learned to streamline and continue to learn to use hands on type of strategy. Over the last 10 years I have found that for our family, using creativity while learning is wise.

What does all of this have to do with the title?

As I said I have streamlined. There are many books I don't buy. Basically for social studies, geography, history, science... text book learning is non-existent. Benjamin is working from a high school level science book for part of the year, but most of it is learning by doing experiments and keeping a journal or lap book. Pretty much what I do with the rest of the gang. For this year, I gave him the choice of working with us for a unit study, or doing a module (a unit) from his science book. I told him he can go from one to the other, but not in the middle of a unit. He has to finish what he starts.

Our first unit study... actually, a mini-unit study, is on dragonflies. I have the cadaver of one that drowned in our pool a couple weeks ago. So, a simple google search later, we are involved in drawing and writing about dragonflies in our newly decorated nature journals. This will last for the rest of this week, and next week we'll start something new. I figured this was an easy way to start out science for this year.

We do much of the same process with the other subjects. Some unit studies take a week, some a month, some more. We go with our interests at the time. When we had our missions conference last year we studied Morocco, for example. We did a very large lap book study on that country. It was fun! We even tried making a couple of Moroccan dishes for our international dinner.

There are a couple subjects I don't even do that much with because they are worked into our everyday life: Health and Fitness.

Once upon a time I bought a "heath" book, with worksheets and everything, for my oldest. It was the biggest waste of money. It talked about everything we already told him to do... teeth brushing, bathing, eating good food, etc. Oh puh-leeze.

To be honest, having "health and fitness" learned from a book seems downright boring. Also, it gives it the stigma of being something just to learn for a time during school, when in reality, it needs to be a lifestyle.

This is one of those things I incorporate into everyday life. For example, yesterday, we made "healthy" cookies. Those in the pic at the top of this post. Now, I didn't sit down and say what each nutrient does, but I did point out what we were substituting for certain usual baking ingredients, and why. I didn't make a "lesson" out of it, per se, but mentioned it in regular conversation. I'm not worried if they understood it all. Why? Because, we'll be doing it again. And again. It isn't a quick lesson from a textbook, it is part of our lifestyle. As I learn more and more about nutrition and health, I use it, and pass it on to my family in a gentle, everyday life type of learning.

Another subject I laugh at is gym. Oh give me a break. I have never scheduled "gym class" in our ten years of home schooling. My kids are "outdoor" kids. They love to be outside. They are always swimming, or bike riding, or playing baseball, or kickball, or just tearing around like wild Indians. Lately the twins (and sometimes Jerusha for a short time) will do the WATP dvd's with me. We usually do about 4 miles, or 5 miles. On days when we are more pressed for time, we do 3 miles, with weights. They do that at least 4 times a week with me... by choice. I don't force them too. In my opinion... "gym class" is a waste of time. Let's use that time to get done the academics that we need to, then you can go out and ride bikes or play kick ball, or tag, or swim, for a long time!

I guess some would call that "unschooling". I don't know what to call it. All I know is that I want health and fitness to be a lifestyle for my children, not a subject they have to study in school.

Okay, as promised, here is my version of:

Whole Wheat, Honey sweetened Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (How's that for a title?)

1 Cup honey ( I think you could get away with 3/4 of a cup)
1/2 Cup applesauce
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TBSP non-fat plain yogurt
1 Cup Whole Wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (kosher is recommended, but we just used regular)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 nutmeg (this was a little strong.. I would do about 1/8 tsp next time)
1 GENEROUS cup oats ( we used quick oats, but you can use any kind)
The zest of one orange (optional... we didn't do this... but I will next time)
Chocolate chips (1 cup is recommended, but we used a whole bag. Ahem.)

Mix together, in a large bowl, applesauce and honey. Add the egg, vanilla, and yogurt, and stir until it's all creamy.

In a small bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together and then add them to the wet batter. Stir to incorporate.

Add oats, orange zest, and chocolate chips. Mix.

I added more oats here as I like the dough a bit stiffer than what I was getting.

Spoon out the batter in whatever size you like onto greased cookie sheets, or use parchment paper. We did our cookies pretty large, and due to the stiffer batter, they baked into soft little balls (see above pic). Next time, I would smoosh them down a bit since they didn't spread at all.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until the cookies are nicely browned.

I have no clue how many calories these are. I looked on MyFitnessPal.com for something compatible, and my best guess at this point is that they are around 85 calories each, depending on the size you make.

You can really fool around with this recipe... add nuts, use peanut butter, or pumpkin puree, or use raisins instead of chocolate chips (you're kidding, right?), or white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.... etc, etc... use your imagination.

The exchanges I made were:
Yogurt instead of milk
applesauce instead of butter
whole wheat flour instead of white flour
honey instead of sugar.

The eggs I used were farm fresh. You could use steel cut oats instead of quick oats for an even healthier version.

Enjoy, guilt free!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And We're Off!......

I don't mean "off" as in peculiar.

Though that may apply....

Anyway, we are off and running... first day of school was yesterday. Woot! I think I am more excited than the kids are. The first week is always a time of settling back into the routine of school. The first day is usually what public school would call "orientation".

Yesterday, we made our nature journals, personalized notebooks, got a lot of odds and ends done, did math and English, listened to "Ivanhoe" on the Homeschool Radio show (a GREAT site, btw!), and called it a day. My main goal the first week is to just get everyone back into the swing of the schedule.

Here are some pics from yesterday, before the camera blipped a "memory card full" message to me. Time to do some housecleaning on the camera!

The finished products:

Jerusha doesn't read or write yet, so I let her decorate a special notebook for when we practice her printing while learning letters.

Okay you grandparents out there reading this... did you notice something missing in that picture? Like... .maybe a tooth?

Yup, Jerusha lost her first tooth! It happened about two weeks ago, and I've been meaning to get a pic up. Such a cute little pixie face! I think we'll call her Jack... hehehehhe.

Speaking of school, I need to get off here, get everyone moving, and upload some pics from my camera so I can take a bunch more. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book in Review.....

"Master Your Metabolism" by Julian Michaels.

I'm only about 1/4 of the way through, but already I'm having some light bulb moments. For example.... I've been counting calories, exercising like crazy, and yes, weight is coming off, but it is S L O W! I keep thinking... why isn't it coming off faster? I'm working hard, being so careful about everything I put in my mouth, so why isn't the weight melting off? I have PLENTY to lose. It isn't like I am a mere 10 pounds away from my goal weight. According to the official weight ranges, I'm still "obese". I can see that things are going in the right direction, but why won't my weight go down a little faster?

I have always blamed it on my metabolism. Rightfully so, indeed, but there is much more to metabolism, at least the way I used to think of it.

Metabolism is more than just burning calories. Every action and reaction in our bodies are controlled by hormones. If one little hormone is out of whack, then it messes up the whole thing. Jillian Michaels likens it to an orchestra. It sounds amazing and wonderful when everything is in tune, but all you need is for one instrument to be a little off, and the whole thing just sounds wrong.

As I am reading this book, I am amazed at her history too. That fitness guru used to have some major weight issues! You'd never know it now! I'm not particularly interested in having a "hot" body as she says, but I am interested in the general health benefits to getting hormones and metabolism under control. It can prevent things like diabetes... which runs all through my family. I used to think I was just plain doomed, but after what little I have read, I may be able to prevent it altogether. Maybe. It's worth a try, I'd say.

Our bodies are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. There is nothing wrong with understanding better how they work so we can better take care of them. There is nothing wrong with understanding how toxins in our food and environment also effect our hormones. It is scary and amazing.

I'm sure you have heard it said... that people "way back when" were thinner and more fit because their lifestyle was more active. That is partly true. I have come to believe that it also because the food they consumed wasn't riddled with man made, added-in chemicals and hormones, no processed foods, no junk, basically. That, coupled with the fact that life "way back then" was more active by necessity, gives a better chemical and hormonal balance in general.

This is just the tip of the iceburg, so to speak. If you are tired of killing yourself with a grueling exercise regime, and counting every single calorie obsessively, then I highly recommend this book. The plain fact is, you can do EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING right, but if your hormones are out of whack, it will be for nothing, or very little at best.

As previously stated, I haven't finished the book yet, so I may have to retract this recommendation, but I'm so excited about this that I couldn't wait! Where it will lead... we'll see.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY August 9th....

Outside my window... Hazy, Hot, and Humid... welcome Dog Days of August!

I am thinking... It is time to get serious about getting ready for the new school term.

I am thankful for... Some easy days before we start up school again.

From the learning rooms... Organizing the new books and notebooks and getting ready to get things rolling next week.

From the kitchen... Baking bread! Smells so good!

I am wearing... denim cullottes, and laramie red t-shirt.

I am creating... a new look for my blog.

I am going... to take Benjamin to the orthodontist's on Wednesday.

I am reading... "Master Your Metabolism" by Julian Michaels, and "Under the Lilac" (DailyLit.com) by Louisa May Alcott.

I am hoping... to finish my minimalist cardigan by this weekend.

I am hearing... the happy hum of the AC.

Around the house... Laundry, menu planning, shopping list making, general picking up, and pool time!

One of my favorite things... Watching the littles play and explore.

A few plans for the rest of the week: visit with a friend this afternoon; organizing for school, some sewing, some knitting, and just enjoying the last of our summer vacation as much as possible.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

For guidelines for participating in the Simple Woman's Daybook go to: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Road Rash

A certain oldest son of my wanted to get up early for a bike ride before it got too hot.

This enterprising young man came home banged up, with road rash all down one side of his body.

My son, next time... hit the cat.

Just sayin'.