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Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Photos 2011

I know I have been notably absent from my blog...well, to me, anyways. :)

I thought I'd post the photos I took yesterday of my children. I had been wanting to corral them all to attempt some portraits and they all finally co-operated. It was a wonderful present to me. :)

(Click on photos to enlarge in a black lightbox.)

 My 3yo- T.

T. and my 6yo, C.

No surprise- nothing happened- besides the fact C. was determined to keep me from seeing a smile. :)

M., my 9yo. He was determined to hold a present in his lap for his photo.

No- M. did not blink. He's actually loving on his little sister. Love it!


E., my 15yo.

K., my 18yo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Freezing Apples – and what the old folks taught me | Southern Plate

As I'm busy prepping for Thanksgiving I wondered if I could freeze the apples I was not going to use as we don't generally eat Granny Smith apples. I figured there had to be a way. One website recommended using ascorbic acid. I, umm, didn't happen to have any handy. Then I stumbled across this website and found it informative and thought I'd share.

Freezing Apples – and what the old folks taught me | Southern Plate:

'via Blog this'

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Ignorance is bliss. Knowledge is responsibility."

This statement struck me when I read it. It struck me as the most succinct way to phrase something I have been pondering lately.

I have come to a deep and unsettling realization over the last year that people have a proclivity to compartmentalize what they know, or rather what they choose to know and/or understand. When people are confronted with something that has not been "their reality" and then ask "Why would I want to know?", they have made a choice, but is it a God honoring one?  Do they willfully ignore what others tell them, and the fall-out of the truth that is clearly and publicly seen, or do they pursue more knowledge of the situation in order to be aware of it's true nature so their thoughts and actions will be informed?

I submit that many, even those who claim Christ,  will choose ignorance over responsibility. Ignorance requires nothing, knowledge and truth, on the other hand, are not passive. Knowledge often must be coupled with action.  They require something from the one who possesses them as they become aware of them. Knowing the right thing to do comes pretty easily- it is not a hard matter. However doing what is right, the application of principles and knowledge, is not often easy.

In scripture we are admonished to actively pursue truth. There are many references to truth in the bible underscoring how important it is to God, but I will speak to one specifically.

  • Proverbs 23:23 states "Buy the truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding." (ESV)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary states:
  • "Buying the truth suggests spending whatever energy or financial resources are necessary to acquire truth, along with wisdom, discipline and understanding."

The Believer's Bible Commentary states:
  • "We should be willing to pay a great price for truth, but unwilling to sell it for any consideration. The same goes for wisdom and instruction and understanding. We should spare no pains to acquire them, but never surrender them for anything in this world."

I will bring this back to a personal situation. Earlier this year my husband got in trouble with his employer (a Christian institution) for speaking the truth to the church about several situations where they had violated ethics and Godly principles. Great problems arose when my husband spoke up after well over a year of trying to speak with the administration about these violations. There existed no avenue to bring things to anyone other than the President- and it is well known one needs to stay on his "good side" if they desire to keep their job. Dissent is not tolerated- one must speak only well, or suffer the consequences.

When my husband's letter came to the attention of the President my husband was immediately banned from campus and his office- with 6 weeks of classes and his contract left. (Banning him from his office was in violation of the law which states my husband had every right to his belongings.) A 24-hour armed guard was placed outside of his office door, the lock changed and his work computer was removed. A few days later we were granted two hours to remove "the things you need immediate access to". We were not fooled- we removed everything that belonged to us in his office and studio. My husband was very clear from the beginning that he hoped to keep this a matter for the church to deal with. He refused any interview by the local paper, the denominational paper, and local bloggers that requested them.

What ensued over the next few months was literal hell, all at the hands of those who profess Christ and who's actions are to be ruled by mercy and love, according to scripture.

  • The President of my husband's institution sent a total of three letters before my husband's contract was up- in two of them threatening to cut his pay and benefits if he did not sign saying that he was "dishonest, in breach of contract, and insubordinate". Since my husband was none of the above- he refused to be pressured by financial considerations. Truth was more important than financial exigency. The third letter was the same as the previous two, only it told him that if he refused to sign, his pay and benefits would be cut off in a matter of hours from the deadline.  He refused to sign, and the institution did, indeed cut off his benefits and pay , curiously, this was effective the day before the accrediting agency was due to visit. They violated the law by breaching the contract that was still in effect. 
  • They were forced to retract those actions after our lawyer reminded them that they had violated their own faculty handbook as there was no provision for immediate dismissal.
  •  A lawyer you say? Aren't you Christians? Why did you involve a lawyer? Simply put- we were forced to due to the institutions complete dishonesty and total disregard for their own institutional policies which they were violating left and right. The church (who happens to own the institution) did nothing to hold them accountable. 
  • Nine days before my husband's contract was due to expire and well over a month after this all began- the institution decided to try and have him dismissed through hearings. Nine days- and he was not contracted to come back the next year anyways. It was purely vindictive on their part. The truth had come out and my husband was going to pay. 
  • The 'hearings' convene. On the first day the colleges lawyer was present acting in an advisory capacity. She was advising the Advisory Committee- and all parties as to procedure. Sounds fishy you say? Absolutely. Ethically she had no place acting in an advisory capacity to any other than her client- the President of the college who was the one bringing the trumped up charges. Curiously- the Advisory committee was to render an impartial decision and then advise the President of the institution what they thought he should do. Yes- you noted correctly above- that was the same President who was bringing the 'charges'. Rigged? Yep. Further, the school's attorney was determining how the proceedings would transpire. Instead of the President making a case and my husband having the ability to then answer, they had concocted some odd procedure that forced my husband to go first. It was said, by their lawyer, to be in the form of an appellate hearing. My Father-In-Law (a former appellate court judge) was astonished when we spoke to him afterwards. You see appellate hearings are not the first step in proceedings- they are to follow the initial proceeding.  The school was not only violating their own written policies, but also violating my husbands rights to due process. It was a mess. 
  • It was clear to our lawyer that legal action needed to be taken to protect my husband and a restraining order was filed by us. We did not know that a restraining order would be the filing of a lawsuit. What we did know was that it was an end-game move on our part. We were granted a 10 day restraining order by the judge who agreed that egregious violations were taking place. My husband's contract ended in 9 days. We were sooo done and happy to walk away at that point which was clearly communicated to the institution and their lawyer.
  • According to the faculty handbook faculty members can testify on behalf of other faculty. The one faculty member who would step forth on behalf of my husband did not have her contract renewed even after she had received an exemplary evaluation that year and a letter promising a contract. 
  • A couple of weeks later we were quite surprised to discover that the institution had filed to move the case, which we'd communicated we were dropping to Federal Court. "What on earth???", was our response. They had hired a firm in a larger nearby city to represent them and were requesting we pay their legal fees and the $500 we had put up as security for the restraining order against them. Again- purely vindictive- trying to make us pay in any way they could manage.
  • Long story short- the institution drops what is now their case- after the Federal judge convenes a conference call asking their counsel if they are really sure they desire to continue as it's the smallest set of damages he's ever seen requested in a case in his years as a Federal judge.  
You might be wondering what the point of the above narrative is. It is this:

  • We are not to sell the truth. We are to purchase it by any resources/means necessary, even if it comes at great personal cost.
In our situation we are left at an odd spot. A spot I wish we were not. We have seen first-hand the depths to which people will ignore truth because the cost is greater than they wish to pay, financially, personally, professionally or politically. We are in a small community. The institution has significant reach within it. We have seen person after person reflect the saying told to us by the one above that our situation "is not my reality", so I really am not interested in what you are saying. I'll admit- I am still confounded by that response. The proof of what we have experienced is available to any (in the form of multiple documents) who care to take an honest look at the situation. The problem is there has been precious little seeking after truth. Someone recently told me that "As long as the music is good on Sundays. people don't care." I have found that to be true, at it fills me with great sadness.

Someone told my husband that the problem was that he (my husband) wanted him (the other person) to agree with him. That person could not have missed the point by any wider of a margin. It was not about agreement- it was about one's responsibility to seek the truth and seek understanding even if it challenges one's currently held perceptions. Humility, honesty and faith require discernment.

The truth is a whole, a constant. "Cherry-picking" certain aspects mis-represents it, just as the Serpent's statements in the garden mis-represented God's words to Adam and Eve.

As people of faith we are told that "by their fruit ye shall know them"- them being they who are truly Christ's. 

There is a world out there that is watching. They are well versed in what we claim as our operating principles, often much better versed than we are. If you claim Christ and even shout His name loudly within the community, the onlookers will be sure to hold you to that standard. Everyone fails at points, we are human. It happens. A refusal to be transparent and look honestly at ourselves and admit our faults and failures destroys our witness and we will be held accountable one day.

It's not about how you look, it's about who you are. In my opinion, the church needs to reassess itself. If our 'image' is more important than truth- then we are missing the point. Entirely. 

As I mentioned there has been great cost to us in this whole situation. It's been emotionally exhausting and we still owe gobs of money to our lawyer and have experienced little emotional support from within our church which has left me with multiple questions and concerns about how the church at-large functions. That said -there have also been great rewards such as total reliance upon God as we continue to pray for a job for my husband.

Matthew 6:25- 34 has long been a favorite passage of mine and now I get the joy of practicing it. :) Life is about much more than what you have, it's about who you are, first and foremost before God.

Financially speaking, we are at a perilous juncture, but  I am continually reminded of Philippians 4:11 where Paul  states "....I have learned  in  whatever situation I am to be content." I can honestly say that I've not been consumed with worry about our future. I can assure you- it's only by the grace of God that I can say that.  I've no clue where our future may lead, and I haven't really worried about it. I choose to trust in Him. 

I have all I need for today and faith requires that I need not concern myself past that.

*Title quote courtesy of  Eden Foods, Inc. from "Clean Eating" magazine.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

20 Years of Memories with my Love

Twenty years ago, I began dating my best friend. We weren't always best friends, though. We met our Freshman year in High School and frankly I tried dodging his witty remarks that were lobbed my direction. He was far more adept at wit than I was at avoidance. :)

These are our Senior Portraits- taken just after we began dating- proof I have actually had hair. ;)

(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

It's weird to think we now have a son who is a Senior. Wow.

We attended Prom together.

We sang The Star Spangled Banner together at our graduation in 1991.

Just over a year later we were married on November 7th, 1992.

Children began to arrive.

This past summer we just celebrated our 20th High School Reunion. 

I think it's worked out alright. :)

Don't get me wrong- we've had our rough patches and even a time when we were not sure if our marriage would survive, but by the grace of God and the loving support of those who cared for us, it did... and it's flourished. We have grown up together, we have learned how to love each other. We are still learning.

I'd do it all over again- in a heart-beat.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Photo of the Day

In honor of the Google+ theme for the day- Floral Friday-I submit: 

Cana  10/2011
(Click to enlarge- recommended) 
With the exception of a slight exposure adjustment- this image is straight out of the camera (SOOC).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's official. I've gone off the deep end.

Of all things photography.  You know when you dream about flash guns ...and light... and capturing things "just so" you have it bad. I'm here to tell you- I have it bad. In all fairness- it ought not come as a surprise to those who really, truly know me. :)

If there is a 12 step program for people such as myself, don't bother telling me. I'm a lost cause, I'm afraid. I'll just stick my fingers in my ears. Happily. Photography is what makes my heart sing, ya know aside from my family/children.

I have discovered Google+, left Facebook in the dust (in terms of checking it more than once a day), and have been having a blast and learning a ton amongst the amazing photography community therein. :)

Are you on G+? You can find me here:

                                 A favorite recent photo:

(click to enlarge)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not Everyone Likes You | A Day Without Sushi

This post resonated with me so I'm passing it along.

The last six months have been pretty rough for our family due to my husband taking a principled stand on an important issue dealing with integrity within our small community. It has resulted in a... sort of falling from grace, if you will. It's been really interesting watching the reactions of people which range from total denial, to the oft voiced "I'm so glad you spoke up!" Such a situation can be really eye-opening. It provides an opportunity that allows one to take note of how others act and how we ourselves act under adverse situations. Sometimes, one finds themselves at great odds with the prevailing culture, as we have. It can be very challenging, but God gives the grace needed moment by moment. For us, this situation has  resulted in significant personal cost (financially/emotionally/you name it)...when it wasn't even about us in the first place. It was about standing for God and His principles no matter the cost. We are not to count our cost, only to do what is right in God's eyes.
Sometimes doing the right thing results in great pain and one being maligned. People assume they know you or the situation leading up to your stand when they have not even cared to ask from a position of trying to see or understand ... yet they attribute a negative characteristic towards you anyways.

In all things we are to be content and find our joy and position in Christ alone. It is not easy and some days it's minute by minute, but it is needful. We were created to glorify God in word and deed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life...maybe I'll get one in a few days.

Life might resume for me by the weekend and perhaps by mid  next week I'll come up for air and resume blogging. LOL  I have been dealing with multiple issues relating to processing images in Lightroom and Photoshop for a shoot I did for a friend, and in the middle of it all my computer crashed. It has been a steep curve, but fun, in a 10 steps forward 8 steps back kind of fashion.

We are almost to printing! Yay!!! You've no idea how that thrills me. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering when.... 9/11

A question that is often asked around this time of year: Where were you on "9/11"?

     My son Kyle, daughter Eden and me on Liberty Island in July of 2000.
September 2001 began as a hopeful month for our family of 4. We had spent the summer trying to determine what our next steps were as my husband, Rondall,  had just graduated with his BFA. We had been living for 9 months with our friend, Karen,  in West Hempstead, NY just outside of NYC while we made our decisions and plans. That fateful month my husband began his first semester of graduate school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. On September 10th we put a deposit down on an apartment that would settle us back into Brooklyn. We were really looking forward to being back in the city and closer to Rondall's school. Though we were living just a short walk away from the nearest Long Island Railroad stop it took my husband about one and a half hours one-way to make the 20 mile trip to school via several trains and ending in a short walk. That meant he had to leave the house quite early to make it to his morning classes on time.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 my husband had gone about  his routine and left around 7AM and was not due to return until the 7:30PM train.

I was in my room getting ready for the day when Karen knocked on my bedroom door asking somewhat anxiously if I could turn on the television we had in our room. It was the only TV in the house with an antenna. Karen did not watch live TV so the request coupled with her uncharacteristic manner struck me as quite odd. She explained through the door as I was hastily dressing that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Through my mind flashed the image of something like a little Cessna figuring it was a freak accident though I certainly was immediately concerned for any of the planes occupants. The Towers were so massive...what could a small plane do?  I was not prepared for what I saw. The gaping hole with smoke billowing out of it did not have the look of a small incident.

The WTC, as we locals called it, was a big part of our lives. We saw the towers daily as we traveled about the city, enjoying their majestic rise from the city floor. We passed around and underneath them regularly on the subway and PATH trains. The WTC contained a central subway station which connected Manhattan to New Jersey via New Jersey's PATH train system. Our family enjoyed going to the Borders book store in the WTC and visiting the very large discount department store just across Church Street named "Century21". We would often find ourselves just blocks from the WTC walking along the Hudson River on Battery Park City's esplanade to Rockefeller Park which was a oasis of green grass, beautiful flower beds, as well as the home of a whimsical sculpture garden by Tom Otterness which we all greatly enjoyed.

Karen and I watched the television screen in horror as the newscasters were desperately trying to make sense of the catastrophe unfolding before our eyes at 1 World Trade Center. The horror increased as we saw people leaping to their deaths in real time to escape the inferno behind them. It became startlingly clear that this was no accident as we heard the screaming engines of the second jetliner approach, then watched it plow into 2 World Trade Center seconds after coming into view. The widespread panic was palpable. You could hear it in the newscasters voice and in the screams and gasps of horror coming from the city streets.

While I thought I knew where my husband was (at school), I was not totally sure as he often would run errands into lower Manhattan. To say I was nervous was an understatement. Multiple calls to his cell phone went unanswered.

As I was watching the news my sister, Julie, called me from California. 1 World Trade Center had just fallen.  She was driving to work when she heard the news. I was speaking to her as I was watching, all the while relaying to her what I was seeing.  She asked me where my husband was and I told her I was not completely sure, but I thought he was at school just about 4 miles from the WTC. As we were talking the second tower began to list and then crumpled to the ground. I watched it fall, immediately told my sister what had happened and then ...suddenly and simultaneously... the television lost it's signal and my cell phone went dead. I had never before experienced anything so haunting.

I still did not know for certain where my husband was.

Not only had we lost cell and television reception, we had also lost our internet connection and radio reception. The main telephone exchange for New York City was just blocks away from the WTC and major relay antennas for cell service and radio were on 2 World Trade Center. I can only assume that others in the rest of the world continued to watch as the events unfolded. We were a few miles away yet had very little idea what was going on for several days. The world was disturbingly silent.

I knew there was no way I'd reach my husband via his cell phone. All there was for me to do was wait, just like thousands of others.

Finally, my husband did call. It turns out he had been safely ensconced in Pratt's library about 4.5 miles from the World Trade Center when the world as we knew it fell apart. He left the library and walked to the gym where he noted the TV was not on the customary music video channel, but on a news channel. He asked what had happened and was told planes had hit the World Trade Center. He asked if they were ok and was told after a pause that they were gone. He tried calling the house on his cell phone to no avail. He was able to locate a pay phone and after several attempts reached me on the land line. He asked what I thought he should do- should he come home? Or should he stay as he had classes scheduled? I wasn't much into considering anything other than him getting home- and in a hurry. I asked him to get on the first train out. Actually, I think I insisted.

He managed to be on one of the last trains out of the city before the trains stopped running and the masses resorted to walking. It seemed like it took an eternity of silent waiting for him to arrive when in actuality it was about 3 hours- twice the expected time. I was not sure if he had made it to a train or if he was still in the city. Once he arrived back home he recounted how it was a very eerie feeling to be on the train filled with dazed people covered in dust. The train tracks right across the street sat silent for days afterwards and gone were the near constant sounds of airplanes criss-crossing the skies above.

Our church met on the west side of Greenwich Village and was just shy of 2 miles from Ground Zero. We could not meet that first week as it was within the area of Manhattan that was locked down immediately following the collapse of the towers.

Travelling into the city became other-worldy.  Instead of seeing the gleaming "Twin Towers" we saw a single twisting black plume of smoke that possessed a horrible and acrid smell that I will never forget which billowed heavenward for a month afterwards. Almost instantly the city was filled with heavily armed and flack-jacketed National Guardsmen. They were plentiful on both ends of all bridges that crossed into Manhattan and the subway stations and platforms were crawling with them. They were also placed strategically out on the streets.  It was as if the city I loved had vanished, overnight. The vibrancy had been stripped away and replaced by fear. I don't know why, but I was not fearful. I was defiant and determined and I greatly disliked the strong military presence in the city. One of the verses I have clung to during difficult times is "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind." 1 Timothy 1:7. This was one of those times. I consider fear, in any form, to be antithetical to Christ's dwelling within me. A measure of stubbornness helps as well. :) This does not mean I do not battle it from time to time, but I have the grace of God to pull me up and out of it.

Walking in and around Battery Park City shortly after 9/11 was like stepping into a modern day ghost town. We could look through the windows of businesses and see them just as they were left- in a hurry. One small restaurant within two blocks or so stands out in my mind. The inside of this formerly trendy establishment was covered in a forbidding layer of gray dust, the windows were filthy. Dirty drinking glasses, plates, bowls and silverware were scattered about thickly on every surface. Soiled napkins were laying about like pieces of old confetti. It was very eerie.

Over the next few months little by little the normalcy of life began to return.  In February, 5 months after we had paid our deposit, we were finally able to take possession of our apartment and move in. Slowly things began the return to a state of normalcy as people resumed living and the Guardsmen dwindled in number. When spring finally arrived, it brought with it new hope and healing.

We will never forget. How could we?

                       My husband and son, Kyle, at the WTC with one of the towers as the back drop to your right.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Contigo's Truly Leak-Proof Bottles and Mugs.

I have to say I just LOVE Contigo's BPA free bottles/cups! Over a year ago I was on the quest for a leak-proof cup that was actually what it claimed to be- ya know, leak-proof. I am beyond thrilled!

Photos from

This is my favorite bottle that they produce and I take mine with me wherever I go. I clip it onto my purse strap and off I go. Is it the height of fashion? No, not really.However, since I drink water most of the time and can't stomach chlorinated water I have found it to be a trade-off I can live with.  I have recently discovered that I struggle with a lack of hydration, my first clue being dry lips. I wish I would have known that earlier in life as it would have saved me a small fortune on Blistex and Chapstick. I have found I struggle less with a lack of hydration when I keep my bottle near me as doing so reminds me to drink. I can get a bit hyper-focused at times and hydration does not tend to top the list. :) I love the hands-free manner in which I can carry my bottle so my hands are free to tend to my young children. Due to their lid design they are also quite easy for children to carry as they can hook their fingers through the lid instead of trying to wrap their small hands around the circumference of the bottle. In fact, it works well for me too. :)

My bottles get plenty of abuse. I cannot count how many times they have been dropped by my children... or myself. In fact, I just finished ordering 2 replacement lids. The cool thing is that I bought them on sale 20% off and they did not charge me shipping. That is customer service, in my book. In fact, Contigo takes it a step further. I tried calling them yesterday but was unable to get through. I could not recall my ID or Password. True to their word a representative called me back in (less than) 24 hours and helped me. I appreciate the assist as my brain just gets fatigued will all the different things I have to recall in a day for myself and the other 6 members of my family, and passwords are the worst.

All told we have at least 5 different styles of Contigo's water bottles. I have not been unhappy with any of them.

I also own two of these West Loop travel mugs:

They are awesome as they simply do not leak. Mine roll all over my car and get tossed in bags sideways and I don't ever worry about my coffee spilling on anything. (Suggestion about Sunday school- don't hold the cup ready to drink with your fingers on the release button with your bible on your lap , because when your bible starts to slide off your lap....yeah.) This travel mug will keep your beverage warm for over 4 hours. One word of advice though- if you have a hot beverage in this mug press the button to release the pent up steam before it's right under your nose. :)

If you are looking for great leak-proof mug of cup you should give these a try. I recommend them simply because I use them personally and love them. There is a wider variety available through their on-line store, however I have seen them at Target and Sears and have heard they have been sold at Costco as well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quinoa- the third time is charmed after all.


Some time ago when I switched my diet drastically I bought a number of new to me grains and flours to try out. Ahem, I still have some to try. :)

I'll admit I did try quinoa a couple of times since I bought it. The first time I added some to oatmeal but since I was unsure how to properly cook the grain....we'll just say it did not work very well and due to that the rest sat in my cabinet for a few months afterwards.

I tried it again perhaps a month ago, only this time I decided to cook it in my rice cooker as I had heard was possible. I also added chicken bouillon (not a 'clean' ingredient, but I did not have any broth on hand and had cubes to finish up). Some people can cook quinoa in their rice cookers. Apparently, I am not one of them. It burnt thoroughly on the bottom and man was it salty! So the second try= another flop. No one in the family ate it except me as I was reluctant to waste it.

After my second, and failed, attempt I was determined to get this quinoa thing right. I thought I could like it and besides, I still had more in the cabinet so I decided to give it a 'go' one more time. This time I researched a little more thoroughly beforehand.

I really, really wanted to like quinoa. I have a particularly high need for protein and I really wanted quinoa to be in my diet as it is unique as it contains a balanced set of amino acids which makes it a nutritionally complete source of plant based protein which is also easily digestible. Quinoa also contains lysine, phosphorus, calcium and iron.

Quinoa is relatively new to the US market and was first cultivated by the Inca.

As I was researching how to get my quinoa to turn out well edible I found the blog "Cooking Quinoa" and stumbled upon a post on how to cook quinoa perfectly. Since I've always been interested in perfection, especially when it comes to my taste buds, I decided to try Wendy's method. What did I have to lose? I am happy to report that it was perfect! I did use 2 cups of homemade chicken broth in place of some of the water.

Another happy bonus is that my most picky eater decided he really likes it as well. :) I made a few cups thinking I would do as others have and dip into it over the week for various meals. It has worked very well and has helped to provide me with the needed boost of protein at meal times. And while I have always liked brown rice since my mom forced it upon me had me try it as a teen, I am happy to have an alternative for the sake of variety.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Faces of Ground Zero photography show: Time Warner Center in NYC

If I still lived in NYC I would make tracks in a hurry to see this fantastic looking show. My husband and I lived just outside of NYC on 9/11. I can't think of a more deserving group of people to be the subjects of this show by such an accomplished photographer as Joe.

Photo from Joe Mcnally's blog linked below.

Joe's blog:

Friday, August 26, 2011

My love/hate relationship with polyester.

No, I'm not talking about the famous leisure suits of yesteryear such as this:

Photo from

I'm speaking of the much more tasteful and updated poly's of today, the non scratchy ones. The ones that you'd have a hard time recognizing as polyester... unless you smelled them.

Yes, you read correctly. I said smelled them.

It all began with a certain deficiency of mine and my dh's survival instincts colliding. (Personally, I think child number five was very much a part of the equation as well.) My particular deficiency results in my iron getting used on a quite infrequent basis. I don't dislike ironing, mind you. When I was a high school student I'd often tackle my mom's gargantuan pile of items that needed pressing. It might have had something to do with them blocking my own use of the ironing board... but, no matter, I tackled them.

I think what I dislike about ironing is not the task itself, but rather the compulsion I feel once I have drug out the necessary tools to find everything that really *should* be pressed and them. With 7 people in my household that adds up. Fast.

While I really enjoy seeing my 6'5" husband dressed up in a suit and tie, I do not mind at all avoiding ironing his long-sleeved dress shirts. You see I'm 5" on a tall day. That means when this vertically challenged woman irons his shirts I have sleeves puddling on the floor when the ironing board is at a good height for me to complete the task. That means I must first make sure the floor is swept and even mopped, if need be. Polyester is far easier. :)

I adore polyester because unlike my children (*cough*) it always behaves beautifully. It never walks around with a scrunched up face and always has a pleasant expression. Facades, however, can be quite deceptive.

My husband has two polyester shirts that he is quite fond of wearing. He's a pretty fastidious guy, but for some unknown reason he draws the line at actually ironing any of this own things. ~shrug~ To each their own. ;) After wearing these two shirts for several months they began to protest, and I began to protest whenever they were near me. They smelled horribly even after being freshly laundered. I any longer. I informed dh I was going to have to burn them, or something. The last time I washed them with other laundry they made the entire load smell so bad that I was forced to rewash it all. I have enough laundry to do, thank you very much, without being forced to re-wash. Being frugal minded I was reluctant to actually follow through with the threat of burning the offending items, because they actually do look nice on dh and it's not the easiest thing for him to find affordable shirts that do not shrink or become misshapen after a wash or two.

I'm happy to say that the shirts can now stay! They are happily hanging in the closet, stench free. (Make no mistake- I am talking about my happiness.) I resolved the issue by washing them in warm water by themselves with liberal doses of my secret weapons for stinky fabrics- essential oil of thyme and white vinegar . I added approximately 8 drops of thyme to the wash cycle and I filled the rinse cycle compartment with vinegar and an additional 8 drops of so of thyme oil. The shirts came out smelling wonderfully with a slight hint of thyme.

Living in the deep south as I do I have found these tools to be ~ essential~ to my laundry care arsenal. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm a fan.:)

I have been on a particular internet forum for about 10 years. It was through that forum where I first learned about grinding my own wheat, Essential Oils, how to deal with 5 children and live ;) and most recently I've been learning about homeopathy. I used to consider herbal remedies, essential oils and such as "homeopathic". They are not. One company tha thas been in the homeopathy business for years in Hyland's. I have known of Hyland's teething tablets for years as I've used them with each of my children.

Hyland's Teething Tablets New Packaging

I've also used the colic tablets with GREAT relief (hers AND mine) with my last child, in particular.
Colic Tablets

Well, I have now discovered there are homeopathic remedies for *me* and I've barely scratched the surface of possibilities.

My first foray outside of my trusted sources was to Joette Calabrese's website, Homeopathy Works. Another site recommended by a friend is this one- Dr. Luc.

After reading up on homeopathy a bit and conversing with my friends who use it I was convinced to try it after skirting around it for a couple years. What speaks to me about homeopathy is that the remedies are mild and have no known contraindications or side affects. They are safe for children as well as adults.

They are also inexpensive. Seriously inexpensive. For what you pay for one doctor's visit you can buy months and months worth of homeopathic remedies. And... I don't have to threaten my children with bodily harm in order to get them to take them! From my 3yo on up to my 18yo they all take them without a fuss. I have never had that happen before. Ever. My 3yo is an expert at spitting out any medicine you seem to think you will convince her to ingest.

I'm excited and I've only ventured out into about 4 remedies on the most basic of levels. They are "arnica montana" (for aches and pains/muscles) in ingest-able pellet and topical gel forms; "sepia" for irritability/PMS, etc; Hyland's "Calms Forte" for better sleeping, and ahem... Hyland's hemorrhoids no further explanation needed. Recall the 5 children? They are gifts that keep on It's a tad embarrassing to write about, but if this information helps someone else who suffers then it has served it's purpose well.

The other day a pound of frozen solid meat dropped from a few feet above the floor square onto my big toe. It hurt very badly. Amidst the intense pain it occurred to me to try the arnica. I kid you not within 1 minute the pain was tolerable and within 5 minutes I hardly felt a thing. I used no ice. Rite Aid has a special this week where one can buy Boiron Arnicare Gel for $6.99 and get a Register Reward upon purchase for $6.00. I had intended to try it and $.99 can't be beat so I was happy to take advantage of the sale. I have been using it on the neuroma on the underside of my foot that has been acting up and it has helped quite a bit.

The sepia has saved my sanity and a few lives around here. Literally. Whenever I feel an edginess creep up within me I take some sepia and within minutes I'm much more mellow. When I have a kid melting down I slip them some sepia and it's calmed them nearly immediately. It's awesome!

Rite Aid also had the Calms Forte remedy for less than a dollar after Register Rewards so I bought that as well. I'd used the child's version for my children years ago and it worked. I have been having difficulty achieving quality sleep as of late in part due to being a light sleeper. I have used melatonin in the past, but I wind up upon waking feeling as if I've been drugged. That is not a feeling I enjoy. I woke feeling totally refreshed after the 1st night I took it.

As for the hemorrhoid remedy- I'll just say it works completely and extremely quickly.

I will mention one more remedy I forgot about: Hyland's Bug Bite Ointment.

Hyland's Homeopathic Bug Bite Ointment

This stuff is AM.AZ.ING. My 8yo swells horribly from any bug bite and has required a dose of hydroxyzine or two (spaced out) each time he was bitten by a mosquito, or red ant, what have you. Until now, that is. Now we just apply this ointment right away and he's totally fine. No swelling to speak of. I became very interested in finding an alternative to hydroxyzine when I took some of his while I was dealing with a severe allergic reaction to poison ivy. It made me so tired and drugged out! It was not good and I didn't want my child constantly taking a med that had that affect. We live in Louisiana and let's face it, mosquito bites are a near daily event.

I have found the above remedies either at Rite Aid or online through I purchased the single remedies in the 30C dosage.

I know many are happy to continue along the route of allopathic medicine, and it certainly has it's place. I ventured into essential oils initially due to their abilities to help ward of germs, bacteria and all manner of things. I have found many effective uses and many just smell good!

My reasons for venturing into homeopathy are somewhat related. Anything natural or with no side effects appeals to me a great deal as I figure it's less stress on my body . I desire to help my body heal itself if at all possible. Another large factor is the reality that I have spent most of my married life without medical insurance. As such I have learned that taking care of my body is solely my responsibility. When one does not possess the luxury of going to the Dr. due to the costs involved, one seeks alternative methods.

I can honestly say that I'm very glad I was forced by circumstances to find alternative methods for dealing with issues including illness, pain, etc. Initially I was forced into it, now... it's my choice.

**** The above is solely my experience. Before attempting to deal with any chronic or severe health issues one should consult a licensed Homeopath.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Auto" Setting No More

It all began innocently enough. I was minding my own business when out of the blue a good friend asked me to photograph her family so she could give copies to family/friends as Christmas gifts. She had seen photos I've taken, including some of her children and liked them.

That was all it took. I have been absent from my blog and a few other things (life) because I've been obsessed, as my husband would say.


He knows me well. :)

I freely admit it, I'm in love with my camera. :) It, and the rest of my kit, are my most prized possessions. I love taking photos and am known to carry my camera to many events, or places where I think I may get a few good shots. I've been very lucky. Over the years I have taken a number of shots that are pretty decent. I even have a few fans which I think is fun. :)

I say I've been lucky because until a few weeks ago my Sony DSLR never left the "auto" setting ... at least not on purpose. I had been more concerned with composition and such things. I decided that if I was going to take photos for my friend I had really better become more familiar with my camera's settings in order to do the best job possible on such short notice. ~Gulp!~ I was commissioned to turn out a usable product. So I set to studying up. It was a crash course, but I found out many great things about my camera. You see- I've had the camera for just over 2 years, however having never used a SLR or a DSLR before...I was a bit intimidated by anything other than "auto". No more. :)

The shoot went fine. It was a lot of fun! I am happy to say that as a result of the studying up I did I am certain I came away with many more usable shots than I would have otherwise. The edited photos are still in Lightroom, awaiting conversion from RAW to JPEG format. I might be tempted to share one if they were already converted, but they are not. And besides, my friend D should probably see them first. ;) I have been teaching myself Lightroom 3 as I edit these photos. It has been a steep curve, I tell you, to get here but it has been fun!

There is a minutiae of details that have surfaced during this project and while I'm not out of the woods just yet with this project, but I'm close!

I have discovered in this process that there is much I did not know, and still don't. One such concern is to produce printed photos that actually resemble the ones on my screen in both color and exposure. To achieve this I must first calibrate my screen to the process of the printing lab I have chosen...after researching. I just received the needed software to accomplish this yesterday and I look forward to getting it set up, however, I must wait until my husband's laptop is available for me to use, for it is the only computer we have that is capable of running Lightroom and Photoshop. ~Drat!~ Admittedly, this vexes me a tad as R does much work on the computer. But it is what it is. He's been very gracious so I shall not complain. :)

So this project I thought would be fairly simple has been anything but. But learning and stretching myself in a new area has been great fun.

I think I have some shots D and her family will really like and I'm anxious to have them printed already! But first to practice patience and eagerly await use of the laptop.

Dang it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Cleaned Up" Honey Orange Basil Chicken and Balsamic Citrus Dressing (Vita-Mix)

Last night I was inspired to try and use some of the oodles of basil I have in my garden. I had the idea of pairing basil and the juice of fresh oranges, but after that... my inspiration hit a dead end. I then had the idea to use the "ingredients" function on and found a recipe that suited my fancy. After reading that it required marinating I decided I would put it off for tonight's dinner. You just can't shortcut a marinade.

I know, I know- displaying a nice photo of the finished recipe is blog convention and I do enjoy seeing them myself as I'm a 'a picture is worth a 1,000 words' type gal. One hindrance to my placing a photo is my beloved camera being away for repair. The other? I have five kids and a slight disability that is especially pronounced in the summer. I often forget to look at the clock. After's still light outside it can't possibly be dinner time yet! Either that or I have failed to plan so it's not uncommon for dinner to be delayed due to one or both of these factors. By the time dinner is ready to be served I'm often being pressed by a number of ravenous children and they can be unrelenting. A photo op is simply not going to happen. At least, not often

OK- so to the recipes. :)

You can find the Honey Orange Basil Chicken on allrecipes. The photo does not adequately display the yumminess of this dish!

As is often the case with recipes I will adapt as I go. My goals are two-fold. 1- to "clean up" the recipe, if needed and to increase anything I think may require it in order to make the flavor more robust.

How I adapted this recipe:

To make it a "Clean Eating" recipe I simply changed out the vegetable oil for olive oil. Easy!

With flavor in mind I doubled the OJ and the orange zest. I juiced my own oranges from which I also got the zest called for in the recipe. If you use store bought OJ you will likely get a stronger orange flavor. I pulled some frozen parsley out of the freezer and I used freshly ribboned basil. I cannot tell you how much basil I used as I did it by eye, however I know I at least tripled the recipe amount. I used 8 5-oz chicken bre*sts. (Amended for internet filters.)

The chicken was delicious!! A key test- everyone in the family ate it. :) My husband did say that he preferred the chicken that had cooked with more of the basil and zest pieces on it. I agree. I think next time I make it I will strain the juice out and sprinkle the chicken with the basil and zest as it's grilling. I will probably also add in at least a TBSP of pre-minced garlic. If one only uses 1/4 cup of the OJ as the recipe is written I'd recommend starting at 1 tsp. I find garlic to always be helpful. :)

I served this with brown rice that was cooked with half chicken broth (home made), half water as well as a few larger zest pieces tossed into the rice cooker.

We also had salad with a new dressing which I really love, Balsamic Citrus Dressing. I had printed this off of the Vita-Mix site some time ago. I'm sorry I waited so long to make it! The oranges really do an excellent job of mellowing the tartness of the balsamic vinegar.

Substitutions I made according to what I had on hand and to clean it up: I used 2 pretty large oranges, a sliver of white onion (perhaps a tsp chopped?), honey for the sweetener, and one small whole lime, peeled. I halved the salt and used freshly ground black pepper.

Because I was in a hurry I did not fully read the directions and I blended it all at the same time instead of adding the oil after blending the rest. It worked out just fine. :)

If you adore citrus, as I do, these recipes will not disappoint! They make for very pleasing light summer fare. I'm already planning my lunch for tomorrow- a salad with chopped leftover chicken and dressing. :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ginger Pork- from All Recipes :)

This is dinner tonight and it's wonderful! I have yet to meet a recipe with sherry in it that I do not like and 10yr old port is excellent in this one.

It tastes much better than the photo on the site would suggest. I can't take my own photo as my camera is away for servicing.

I did not have green onion so I subbed some white onion in when I browned the pork (in freshly ground hard red wheat flour). I used Chicken broth for the broth and water measurements. I'm sure I doubled if not tripled the ginger (grated from frozen) as one cannot have too much ginger. :) I omitted the sugar to make it a "clean eating" recipe. In the last few minutes of simmering I added thinly sliced carrot.

I served it over brown rice that was made in a rice cooker with a clove of garlic and a few rings of white onion thrown in.

Definitely a keeper!

An added benefit- every child happily ate the meat. :) Now the rice was another story, though I quite liked mine with the sauce on it. When I buy a pork loin I cube a portion of it and bag. The relatively quick defrost has saved me on a number of occasions. Tonight was not one of them...I was a tad late. Photoshop was decidedly more fun than cooking. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

They say "misery loves company" and they just might be right. :)

How about being my company? :)

I realized that I've not posted for some time. Life kind of unraveled in the past few months and then we were away from home for 28 days. We drove to California ("home") from Louisiana (where we currently reside) for several reasons- to see family, attend our 20th high school reunion, and apparently to get a nice shiny new transmission in our van.

Yeah, between you and me, I could have skipped that last part, especially with 5 kids in tow.

But even though were were stranded in Barstow, CA for 5 nights it turned out OK. We were able to go to some places we would otherwise not have known about nor visited had we blown through there as was our original intent. I believe 'blowing through' Barstow is pretty high on the list of most who pass through. :)

We visited "Calico" a once booming mining town that is still into mining only they don't mine silver anymore, they mine the pockets of tourists for dollars. No matter, is was still a lot of fun and was great for spending a day that would otherwise have been spent at the hotel. Did I mention 5 kids? Yeah- NO way was I going to stay at the hotel. For five days. Nope- wasn't happening. There would be no telling how my families' demographics would have been altered had we stayed holed up in our one room for that long...

After we visited Calico we the drove through Rainbow Basin. It was a fantastic place to drive through! One would never have known of it's existence if it weren't for the handy AAA Tour Book. It was just a couple short miles from Calico and we were very glad we had the rented Tahoe with it's 4-wheel drive instead of our fully loaded minivan.

The great thing about both of the above links? They have pictures so I don't have to feel compelled to post any. :) My pics currently reside on my dh's laptop which I have limited access to. I will say that the pics on Wiki do not do either place justice.

Now back to being miserable.... :) I have been stuck inside and mostly at my computer, as it requires limited arm motion, for several days now. I am highly allergic to SOMEthing in my yard and had the brilliant idea (NOT) after a several mile bike ride last week to hedge all the growing things in our front and back yards that required it. I was in a tank top and shorts. I figured I was already sweaty so I may as well take care of things (note 28 days away from home). That was a foolhardy decision, lemme tell ya. I did wash up with my Jewelweed soap as I have been doing every time I come in from the yard since I discovered it. I guess after about 2 hours hedging with no protection for my skin from allergens, it was too little and far too late. Within 24 hours I was uncomfortable, by 48 hours out I was down right miserable. The underside of my arms, even the bend in my elbow have been in horrid shape with first itchy raised oozing sores, then an incredibly itchy raised red rash with slight oozing everywhere in the affected areas which basically is bounded by my arm pits and my wrists. The love has been shared (thankfully in smaller areas) by my torso and upper thighs. Recall the shorts? Even the underside of my chin did not escape. In short I've been a wreck. I have been living on Advil for days. I thought of snapping a few pics to show, but lucky for you, my camera is away for sensor cleaning. :)

So I've been utilizing the Jewelweed soap which helps to dry out the lesions and it does a great job of quelling the painful and very intense itching. I have been using Jewelweed salve as well and while it all helps a lot, the level of relief has not been as much as I would have liked. I have been thinking I'm allergic to Poison Ivy, Oak, or even Sumac, but I do not recall seeing any of either. I'm allergic to something- that is certain. My husband thinks it may be the three tall bushes in the front yard that I had to get very up-close and personal with in order to trim them and cut the tops. He just might be right. All I know is I have now officially resigned from hedging.

I've not slept all night for a number of nights now as I'd wake up itching and in pain. I'd have to get up and wash with the soap in order to go back to sleep. Last night I had an idea. Why not take my son's Rx which helps him with the itching and swelling of bug bites? So I did. I slept for 12 hours which was awesome! By this morning my pain and swelling had decreased by half. I know, I know, it's not wise to take an Rx that is not yours. But, I was desperate. In truth, I was originally looking for Benadryl when I happened upon my son's Rx. Sue me.

The good news is I think I have turned a corner. I seem to be doing well today with Advil and coconut oil infused with a few drops of cypress essential oil (good for swelling) slathered upon my skin. I still have the rash and some slight oozing, but I also have dry spots that look as though they are trying to heal. Wish me luck! :)

A few benefits have been a now clean desk, and I have caught up on all the blog I follow in Reader since I've been pretty much useless in any other capacity. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fighting The Dark Side of Nature... On It's Own Turf

My first foray into essential oils began with making my own cleansers for the house. I liked the scents as well as the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and other properties that came with them. And frankly the cleansers themselves were dirt cheap compared to store bought. More than the lower cost, though was my focus on reducing the use of various and assundry chemicals used within my home. If I can make something with an identifiable list of 4 ingredients, why buy something with a list of 20, only being able to identify a few?

So- that is where it began. As I became more cognizant of the various oils and their uses I began to realize that I could infuse coconut oil with essential oils as a moisturizer. I learned I could use peppermint oil for headaches, fevers, or even indigestion. And so on...

As opportunities (symptoms to some :) ) would present themselves over the last week of illness I would pull out my copy of :

to see if I could find a treatment inside for the ailment. I must admit, I'm impressed.

This last week I have been dealing with a severe cold. It's the worst cold I've had in years. It began with a stiff and sore neck with a mild migraine, then a fever. I had a day where I felt I was rebounding only to then be dealt what felt like a sinus infection, a deep productive cough, laryngitis and continued fatigue. My oldest son contracted it, as did my 2yo daughter.

I have dealt with this cold strictly with essential oils and I have to say- I'm very pleased with how they've benefited me.

When I first began to feel ill I diffused a mixture of eucalyptus oil, thyme, and lavender. As I felt the fever and chills coming on I incorporated a bath infused with 5 drops of Tea Tree, 2 drops Lavender, and 2 drops Thyme. I didn't think to incorporate the other suggestions in the book for flu. I just wanted to sleep. :) I did use "Tension Tamer" on my very sore neck and around my hairline for the slight migraine the virus brought me and it was a huge help. Tension Tamer is an essential oil mixture sold by Beeyoutiful that contains a few carrier oils and wintergreen, eucalyptus and peppermint oils.

As the cold symptoms and sever sinus issues set in I felt the benefits of the oils even more. (I did also utilize a NeilMed sinus rinse 2- 3 times at the beginning.)

For sinusitis (an overabundance of mucus in the sinus') I put 2 drops of Rosemary, 1 drop of Geranium and 1 drop of Eucalyptus oil on a tissue when I felt the need and when I went to bed I placed it next to my pillow.

Once I noticed my throat feeling tender and sore I diluted 5 drops of Chamomile, 1 drop of Thyme, and 2 drops of Lemon in a tsp of Sweet Almond Oil and rubbed it all over my neck and behind my ears. I did this at night and when I woke I was very surprised that my throat was not sore at all with all the post nasal drip. I re-applied as necessary.

As the cold moved into my chest I continued to use the oils on the tissue and I made another mixture of oils (1 drop Lemon, 2 drops Eucalyptus, 3 drops Rosemary in 1 tsp sweet Almond Oil) and rubbed that on the chest, neck and forehead, nose, and cheekbones. This was a great help! It was especially helpful with my 2yo. This particular 2yo is VERY resistant to any liquid form of medicine. So for her chest cold and sore throat I used the oil mixtures/rubs and couldn't be happier with the results as well as the lack of struggle they required.

I think by far the most far reaching help was the cough treatment- once I found it. I had a cough set in that was so deep it prompted a friend to say I needed a breathing treatment. I had a cough 2 years ago that was similar to this one. It held on for weeks and did not abate until I received a couple of prescriptions. This cough seemed headed in the same direction and I was not liking the idea as convulsive coughing fits are not exactly my idea of fun. :) I combined 2 drops of Eucalyptus, 1 drop of Thyme, and 1 drop of Tea Tree. I used 1 drop of that mixture in half a mug of hot water with a TBSP of honey. Within a day I felt the cold lessening and breathing became more free. I hadn't realized my breathing had been compromised. Oh, and the cough backed off significantly as well. :)

I did not use all the methods the book lists for Influenza, Sinusitis, Laryngitis and the Common Cold. Nevertheless, I'm feeling much better and all without the need, cost or side effects of pharmaceuticals.

The last little gift of the cold ( I hope!) are ear aches. Fortunately there is an aid for that as well that I've used previously with great success- a warm tsp of olive oil with 1 drop of Lavender and 1 drop Chamomile and put on a cotton ball and plug ear. After one treatment last night at least the pain in my one ear is no longer a stabbing one. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why The Chicken Pox Vaccine is Nuts!

As I was perusing my Face Book news feed this AM I ran across this article about the chicken pox vaccine written by a microbiologist, JoAnn Farb. This is my first encounter with any of JoAnn's writings but I thought she did a good job of concisely laying out the argument of those of us who remain unconvinced about the Chicken Pox vaccine in particular, or vaccines in general. I have felt for years that it really makes no sense for one to circumvent the body's natural defense mechanisms and introduce a form of a virus and it's accompanying toxins straight into the blood stream. I also found it interesting that vaccine makers/marketers do not often follow the vaccinated once they get the shot past 90 days, if that. So how then can the manufacturer then say in good conscience there are few adverse reactions (or just a few) and the dramatic rise in autoimmune diseases have no correlation??

Makes one wonder...

Friday, March 4, 2011

"The Oiling of America" talk by Sally Fallon

So I've heard of Sally Fallon for years, and knew she had SOMEthing to do with diet and nutrition. But I have never investigated deeply. Or at all, really. I found her talk quite interesting.

I have often wondered about a correlation between diet and health. I'm convinced there is a huge one, partly through my own experience as I've changed how I eat and partly due to logic. I think there is great truth to the saying "You are what you eat".

One fact that stuck out to me was that the first recorded MI (heart attack) was recorded in the early '20's. I think it was 1921. I was also unaware of how some things were connected (and have become interconnected) throughout history such as the agency's that deal with heart disease/ health and diet.

I find the discussion of cholesterol/stain drugs fascinating in light of all the processes' cholesterol is required for within the body, yet "too much" cholesterol has become a huge talking point today amongst the public and the medical establishment. I have old cookbooks. 100 year old ones. I can clearly see how the diet of yesteryear differs from today's eating habits. I also see the dramatic increase in diseases of all sorts. I do not think this is coincidence. I think we are poisoning ourselves, in many cases, by the things we consume.

The genesis of the 'edible' oil industry, it's marketing practices and the impact upon health is well worth the view. I have been moving more and more towards the perimeter of the grocery store over the last few years being of the persuasion that the closer it is to how it grew- the more likely it is it'll make it into my cart. This pushes me more towards the perimeter, still. Of course, this also means that less snack type foods in the house require my children to actually prepare snacks or meals to some degree if they want something more than an apple. They are not thrilled. Now I do buy some snack things and likely will continue, but I'm much more selective than I used to be.

It is a 2 hour talk, but well worth the time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chloe's Virus Killing Soup

Props to Chloe. :)

This is what we had for dinner tonight along with freshly ground whole wheat drop biscuits.
I've made this soup before, but had not used all the garlic, nor had I a fennel bulb. ~hint~ Don't skimp on the garlic, nor the fennel.
My younger children did not care for it, but it was cool with me because I enjoyed eating theirs. :) I will freeze individual portions and should I feel a virus coming on- I will pull one out to eat.

I used two onions instead of just one. I cooked one with the meat in the pressure cooker with about a third of the garlic, then the other cooked with the sauteed veggies with the rest of the garlic.

(My comments are in blue.)

Chloe's Virus Killing Soup

One chicken
Appx 15-30 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (I used 30 or a few more. ;) )
1 Tbs salt
3-4 Thyme sprigs
Cayenne pepper (to taste. I use about a tsp) (oops! I forgot this one.)
Fresh Rosemary sprigs
Fresh ground pepper

1) Place chicken and above ingredients in a soup pot (I use my pressure cooker) and cover with water or chicken broth (I really like those boxes of organic chicken broth). Cook on stove top until chicken starts to fall apart. (I used my pressure cooker containing 1 whole chicken , cut up, for 20 minutes, next time I'll try 15 minutes. I do not care for boiled bird.) Remove from heat. Strain out chicken and stuff and set aside until cool enough to chop. Reserve broth.

1 large onion (coarsely chopped or sliced)
1 fennel bulb (sliced thin)
1 leek (sliced thin)
4-6 stalks of celery (coarse chopped)
large red pepper (coarse chopped)
1/2 lb. carrots (coarse chopped) (I used at least 1lb.)

Add any or all of the following vegetables if you have them and/or like them: (I didn't add any of these)
yellow squash
green beans
anything you like. If you have frozen veggies wait and add them during the last step.

2-4 tbs olive oil
1/2 C good White Wine
salt and pepper

2) Place oil in bottom of large pot and heat. Add onion, fennel, celery, pepper and leek and sauté until onion just transparent. Add other vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces and cook until tender. Add wine and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Cover the vegetables with chicken broth from chicken--add more broth from can or box if you don't have enough broth from chicken and simmer veggies until just tender.

Frozen peas
Frozen green beans
flat leaf parsley (chopped) (I only added this one)
1-2 cans chopped tomatoes with juice
salt and pepper to taste (oh- and these)

3) Add the above ingredients and simmer until everything is tender. Add chopped chicken, salt and pepper to taste.

You can also add cabbage with the end ingredients if you like, or any other veggies your family likes. Sometimes I'll throw in whatever is in my veggie bin in addition to the above. You can also make it very simple with fewer veggies.

The next day add egg noodles and turn it into chicken noodle soup.