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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.