Tuesday, May 17, 2011

too much to read and not enough knitting


I have made very little progress on my square sampler/washcloth. That is okay. I have been busy doing other fun (and not so fun) things. Oh my, all the reading material I have needing my attention! Right now, these three. The first two in honor of it being National Photography Month and last one because it is so cool. I mean...see below. I want to make that!

For some actual knitting, visit Ginny and all the others joining her yarn along!

random


While reading through emails on one the listservs I participate in, I came across a request from Rebecca of Bending Birches, asking if anyone had wool felt crowns they would be interested in bartering. I didn't, but I was happy to make a few from wool sweaters for her. Her only requests were that there be three and they all be simple.

Her request to barter and the launch of the new blarter blog both promote trading as such a fun, community building way to get rid of and acquire things in a useful way. As such, I have added a little barter list, which can now be found under the header link {Shop & Barter}.

A little more random...
  • I spent a chunk of a morning last week reading about different summer camps and getting a bit stressed out by my obvious late summer planning. By the end of it, I wondered why. I have all these glorious ideas for our little family for the summer....why should I think that isn't enough? We do worry about socialization for Lala, but otherwise, none of us need summer camps. Anyone else find themselves in this muddle? Now I am just envisioning swim lessons (we spend lots of time near water...this is a critical safety issue) and loads of beach, regional park, local pool, nature walking time.
  • Does anyone have a favorite recommendation for an (at home library) reference book on food and health? Something that can be a go-to for nutritional healing (without loading up on store bought supplements)? Along the same lines...any favorite "home remedy" books?
  • I am trying to have a new found appreciation for music I always switched the radio station away from previously. Finnian, 3 yr, calls out from the back seat this morning, "no mamma! I want that na na na na song!" Pink's "So What." Hmmm...why is the Led Zepplin and Dave Matthews Band not sinking in?
  • I read recently, that when keeping a record of how much money you spend and what you spend it on, you should also record how you felt about spending it. Well, that should take care of any hesitation I have had about buying books. I don't know what it is...I tend only to buy after "test driving" books first from the library and then buy if I know I am going to read and reference over and over, yet I still have trouble plunking down money on something so tangibly lovely.
  • I bought a new shaped Tyvek style bag to hold recycling underneath our sink. It cost less than $3. We used to recycle into a bucket (that finally fell apart) outside our back door. I think this simple change has been positively life altering. I love it.
What's new and random with you?

Monday, May 16, 2011

you are what you eat...unless you are eating nothing.


Sometimes the road to health isn't straight forward.

In September, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease via an endoscopy. This was a result of testing done because of eczema and recurrent infections, not due to any gastrointestinal issues. I immediately began a gluten free diet and the infections diminished significantly.

Unfortunately, the eczema remained...got worse, even, and I began having gastrointestinal issues. My specialist took me off of dairy for a long stretch. With little change, she gave me the okay to resume dairy, and I have done so in limited amounts. My doctor then suggested further testing. Further testing led to a colonoscopy.

The colonoscopy was a surreal, healing experience, because when I was in the prep clinic, feeling horrible, I listened to the nurses discussing amongst themselves how healthy I was. No diabetes, low blood pressure, no heart disease, etc. They are right. Relatively speaking, I am healthy, so hearing this was both a relief and a kick to do all I can to get myself feeling better.


The procedure also required fasting. Fasting, which I had not done in a very long time, is thought to clear the body, allowing the body to heal from the inside.
As I reintroduced foods, I did so slowly, with the least allergenic foods first.

Food sensitivities, which are reactions to foods typically several days after consumption, are hard to determine, as they are often in response to foods eaten frequently. After fasting, eating a simple and plain diet of brown rice, fish, meat (for those who are not vegetarian), vegetables, and fruits (preferably the last two not belonging to the citrus or nightshade families), can help the body hit an equilibrium from which to add foods back in. (I loosely followed the guidelines provided in my old edition of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, although I did a shorter two-day fast.)

One can follow a fast with a rotation diet, where one can eat any food, every four days, adding slowly. Personally, the fast was like a diet reset for me, and although I was eating quite healthy already, I am now taking greater care towards variety and I am still on a more extended avoidance of my beloved legumes, which I was allergic to as a child.

With plenty of water, care to get more sleep, attention on my diet, and regular exercise, I am hoping to feel better. I feel like I am taking positive steps towards improving my mental outlook on my physical health and I suddenly feel very open and receptive to health, as though my body and mind are beginning to reconcile with one another. I have to be checked again for symptoms that may or may not be related to my miscarriage and I am still suffering from dry skin and some eczema. I suspect the latter is largely due to the number of environmental/topical allergies I have (rather than food related) and how bad this allergy season has been, so next on my schedule is to research and possibly try acupuncture and autonomic response testing followed by allergy desensitization therapy. (At the suggestions of Adrie and Dave, respectfully.)

What alternative or even drastic measures have you taken before to improve your physical or mental health? How did they work out for you?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Recipes for the yummies above...

Date Balls
Adapted from Raw Energy, by Stephanie Tourles

Pit 15 or more Medjool dates
Cover in enough water so that there is an inch of water above the dates.
Soak 4+ hours.
Drain and reserve the water, if you so choose. (It is nice to drink or can be used in a sweet recipe in lieu of water.)
Mash the dates and mix in 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. (I would use a little less and I used the blender.)
Mix in cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut. Roll into balls and roll balls in additional unsweetened coconut.

(These are so good! A healthy sweet treat.)

Quinoa and Vegetables
My own creation, inspired by I Am Grateful, by Terces Englehart

Cook quinoa in vegetable broth (not water) according to directions. (~Twice as much broth as dry quinoa.)
Dish quinoa into bowl and add cooked bok choy (or raw chopped curly kale), shredded carrot, thinly sliced cucumber, sliced avocado, and roasted cashew nuts.
Top with a sesame garlic sauce. I made mine by blending homemade hummus, homemade yogurt, and fresh parsley.

This was delicious! (And yes, I know hummus is made with garbanzos, a legume. I made this before my legume fast.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

{this moment} - a school camping trip, a parachute, and duck duck goose

Joining in for {this moment}. Sorry this is late in the day...Blogger has been down.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

expressing gratitude


Following Mother's Day, I thought of my own comment about my recent lack of thoughtfulness. My own parents taught me about gratitude, so I took a few minutes (because it really does only take a few) and wrote and mailed off thank you notes to my parents, mother in law, and sister in law, for their gifts, the lovely day we had Sunday, and for helping shape us for who we are, for better or worse.

Have you seen these Forever stamps? Each one is a different "green" message and sweet drawing.


There is something sweet in a written note. Receiving a tangible reminder in the mail that someone was thinking of you. And really, it is the thought that counts.

As I handed the completed cards above to our mail lady, she handed me a stack of incoming mail. Included in the pile was a card from my mom that had a sweet spring scene on the front with the printed words "on a sunny day." On the inside, in my mom's own writing, it said "On a sunny day we paused and watched our children play and gave thanks for the joy and growth they provide...and we gave thanks for our life partners who help us love and see the world in a fresh way. You are special! Love, Mom."

As I said, my parents taught me about gratitude. (Right back at you, mom!)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You've been so kind and generous
I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I'm in debt to you
For your selflessness, my admiration
And for everything you've done

You know I'm bound...
I'm bound to thank you for it

You've been so kind and generous
I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I'm in debt to you
And I never could have come this far without you
So for everything you've done

You know I'm bound...
I'm bound to thank you for it

I want to thank you
For so many gifts
You gave with love and tenderness
I want to thank you

I want to thank you
For your generosity
The love and the honesty
That you gave me

I want to thank you
Show my gratitude
My love and my respect for you
I want to thank you

I want to...

Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you

~Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant

milk paint and beeswax polish

After Mike cut the pieces for the rainbow tunnel stacker for Finnian, I debated whether or not to paint it. In the end, I decide it was the colors as much as anything, that attracted Finn, so I decided to paint and polish the pieces.


For this project, I used store bought milk paint (colorless base), but it is an easy, non-toxic paint base you can mix yourself from materials from the grocery and hardware store. Good recipes can be found here and here.


I used three primary colors of pigments*; red, yellow, and blue. I really wanted to use milk paint with pigments that came from mineral, not man-made sources, so I decided I could mix my own orange (yellow and red pigments) and green (yellow and blue pigments) to meet this desire. I mixed up red, yellow, and blue, then after painting those pieces, mixed half the remaining yellow into the red and half into the blue.


After the paint dried, I lightly sanded it and chose not to do a second coat, liking the thin, worn look. To polish the stacker, I opted for a beeswax polish.

I used a recipe I read about before the holidays in Living Crafts magazine. (I won a subscription via Imene's blog last year!) Simply take 4 oz of olive oil, add 1 oz of shredded (or in my case, my button sized) beeswax, and microwave until the beeswax melted. (My own note would be that next time, I think I will try a mix of 3 oz olive oil to the 1 oz of beeswax.)

You can use the polish in its liquid form, but I found it much more preferable to wait until it cooled to a paste.

Simply rub, rub, rub the polish into the wood. Let it sit to harden a bit, then buff off with a dry cloth. I did this twice. I put the remaining polish in a jar for next time. The recipe indicated that the wooden item may need re-polishing from time to time.

*The pigments, beeswax, and the pre-packaged milk paint (base) I used all came from The Earth Pigments Company. They had the best prices I found for the sizes, colors, and sources I looked for. Their service was fast and their shipping was reasonable. I have no association to them, so I am just sharing my own positive experience.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

acrostic nourish

After I wrote everything else you are reading in this post, Lala, again, serendipitously, presented me with some of her writing; an acrostic of the word mother. Her teacher taught her class what an acrostic is and then lead the class in doing one for their moms.

Recently, after reading about Rip the Page! by Karen Benke on the ever popular Soule Mama, I checked it out of the library. I love it. I love it so much, I think I am going to buy a copy. (I love the library for allowing me to "test drive" books.) I love it so much that you are likely to see little bits of my own playful writing here on my blog, inspired by exercises (all in small bit sized chunks) from Benke's book.

I have visions of a creative writing group with friends or family, instead of a book group. Wouldn't that be fun? Or just a creative group...writing, knitting, embroidery, whatever strikes your fancy...as a group, with chatter, wine, coffee, yummies, constructive criticism?

Or maybe mamma-daughter creative writing time.


One of the first exercises to catch my eye was acrostic writing. An acrostic is when you flip a word to the vertical and write a verse using the letters. My word is nourish, of course.

Nothing feels
Overwhelming when I
Unleash sunshine. It
Radiates
Illimitably from my
Soul.
Healing begins.

What would your acrostic of the moment be?

Monday, May 9, 2011

the gift


Hi there. I took myself offline for a bit. I just wasn't feeling the blogging groove. The departure of my brother and best friend (and family) made it difficult to drag myself out of a low, so I took a revisit (mentally) to my own little island and for Mother's Day, we ambled to the ocean.


Mike asked me recently, after a weekday at home taking care of the kids while I was unable to, if I ever just sit and watch the kids in their play. I do engage with them, but I don't usually sit and watch when they are playing on their own. He said I should. That we should reduce what I feel needs to get done during the day so that I can take pleasure in just watching them. (Isn't he an awesome husband and dad?) I would like that. So I tried it. They are really amazing, restorative little people, who teach me a little something about living a healthy life, every day. (That is...when they aren't bickering, which seems to be a previously unvisited, unwelcome new stage.) They are a gift.















I have virtually no photos to share of what I witnessed this past week. The photos today are all of our Mother's Day picnic tide pooling.This past week, I have only crafted, written, and photographed a little. Mostly, I have been thinking and doing and being. And that has been nourishing, too.




Above, the homemade gifts we gave my mom (with a box of tea), my mother in law, and my sister in law, respectfully, for mother's day. Below, I am having trouble resisting continuing some part of Lyrical April, so I won't. Welcome, Lyrical May.

Happy mother's day to all of you, every day, whether you are a mother or you have been mothered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When it's not always raining there'll be days like this
When there's no one complaining there'll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this

When you don't need to worry there'll be days like this
When no one's in a hurry there'll be days like this
When you don't get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there'll be days like this

When you don't need an answer there'll be days like this
When you don't meet a chancer there'll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there'll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they're not playing tricks
When you don't have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it's nobody's business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there'll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there'll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there'll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There'll be days like this
Oh my mama told me

~Days Like This, by Van Morrison

Saturday, April 30, 2011

inspired internet: april 2011


April was full of online inspiration. Seriously a lot of goodness.

I am going to start with a self-plug...tomorrow is May Day. If you haven't seen this ROTH article, you might enjoy it! It mixes a little post-Easter egg flower planting and May Day flower gifting.


earth and other craftiness:Link food:
parenting and health:
education and books:
  • Teaching children to knit, with Ginny and Elizabeth, at Small Things.
  • Renee of FIMBY had a lovely thorough review of several parenting books over on her blog. I have added to my library request list!
  • I checked Rip the Page! out from the library. What a fun package of exercises for me, but I can't wait until my kids are old enough to do them with me!

Friday, April 29, 2011

i am grateful


Thank you, everyone, for your comments, emails, and calls about my post yesterday. I will work my way through responding to them! For once, I actually felt like I truly was admitting, rather than whining about my current low, so it did actually feel better to share.

The exercise in taking a negative and turning it positive is such a healthy thing for me. It made me think of a restaurant that Mike and I have come to like in recent months, because it caters beautifully toward gluten free vegans. The restaurant is called Cafe Gratitude. Everything in the place is about whole foods and being grateful (obviously).

The dishes are all lined with the question: What are you grateful for?

Cafe Gratitude has a cookbook, which I have checked out of the library. Part of the reason I love their food is that it overlaps a lot of what we eat, only it is more. More variety, more foods that are new to me, more flavor than the vegan, gluten-free fare that I had come up with. If you are vegan and gluten free, and especially if you are into raw foods, this is definitely worth requesting from the library (inter library loan if you have to).

My gratitude list for today:
  • That my mom came through a car accident unharmed this week.
  • Seeing my best friend and her family. They live in Alaska and we have been lucky enough to unexpectedly see them often. They left early this morning with no plans to return again anytime soon. I know she and I will stay close, but the thought of her littlest not knowing me...
  • Sunshine. Today, the weather is exactly like it is when we are at the lake mid-summer. Soul cleansing weather.
  • My children. Yesterday while driving, Finnian said, "I ate my buggies and snot. Yummmmmmmy!" Yuck! But oh so hysterical in that moment.
  • Mike on PTO today and we are off to the park with the kids of other visiting friends' in tow....
What are you grateful for?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

lyrical april: keep on going

I have absolutely no idea what made Lala write and stick this where she did (right next to my desk), but it is serendipitously perfect.


I've been battling a low. The days have been so full lately that I've had little time to embrace or expel it. If you ask how I am, I will say "fine." And I am. I am living and breathing. My kids, my husband, my family are living and breathing. But all of the little things (which really aren't always so little) are niggling at me. Mike still works too much (and too intensely) and isn't able to be present here as much as either of us would like. He is stressed and tired, and in turn, I am stressed and tired. Spill over in effect, I suppose. Despite drastic dietary and lifestyle changes, I am still struggling with health issues. And I'm not over it. I know it is okay for me to not be over it, but everyone else is over it, so "I'm fine" is a more acceptable answer to "how are you?" than "Actually, my cycle came back around again today. I've bled a lot more in the last three months than I thought possible, it occurred to me last week I would be more than half way through this pregnancy now, and Finn asked me about naming the baby today, clearly still not understanding there is no baby."

And I stop short. This is starting to sound like an outright self pity party. (And so familiar.)

It has been pointed out to me in subtle ways that I am not thinking of others as I should. I am not. When it is pointed out to me, I am a bit embarrassed, but I don't feel guilty. I am not being thoughtless, even if it may come across as so. It isn't that I am intentionally uncaring of others right now, more that I am desperately trying to keep it all together and moving forward. I am clouded by this overwhelming weariness right now, tinged with a tad of envy of those around me who seem to be at peace with where they are right now. Yet I am intensely aware that my problems are tiny compared to many.

I am reading The Woman's Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden. In it, there are a great many things I find reassuring to read. That it is okay for me to have written the paragraphs above and be about to hit "publish post," for example. It is a self-nourishing act, actually. One exercise that caught my attention, because it so closely parallels one of my favorite exercises in Raising Your Spirited Child, is the idea of writing the negative and turning it into a positive.

I have lost a baby.
I am blessed with two healthy, amazing children.

I am tired.
I have many and much of importance to keep me busy. I am needed.

I am struggling with my health.
I do not have a fatal illness.

My house is a mess and is full of unfinished projects.
I have a home, everything I need, and much of what I want.

Mike and I are struggling to find time for relaxed togetherness.
We love each other and are lucky for employment that covers our bills.

And so on...

This little statue belongs to my mom, who really is an amazing individual. She practices yoga, which perhaps has contributed to the fact that she is also a cancer survivor.


This low is already passing. (Thank you (thank you) to the friends and family this week who gave me some healthy moments alone, gave Mike and me a moment together, and who have listened when I needed to talk.)

I remember to relax and keep on going. Sandwiched between a very wise daughter and a very wise mom, how can I not?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put 'em in quotations

Say what you need to say [x8]

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

Say what you need to say [x8]

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say [x24]

~Say by John Mayer

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

yarn along

Joining Ginny (Small Things) and her knitting/crochet friends again this week!


This week, with my mind overloaded with a little of too much, I turned to my big stack of books from the library and chose The Woman's Comfort Book, by Jennifer Louden. Each short chapter is an exercise, either to think through, practice peacefully, write, whatever. At the end, there is a chart listing all the negative emotions many women feel, with a list of the exercises in her book to practice when feeling that particular emotion. Genius.

My knitting this week is the first real project I ever started...two years ago. It is a washcloth (I guess). My seed stitch stinks, but I think I've nailed the stockinette. And I love the color and feel of this cotton yarn. (I know most people are all about wooden or bamboo knitting needles, and I have some, but as a beginner, I have found that the metal ones just work a little better for me. I am as much for the natural wood as anyone, but there is also something to be said for being able to find most sizes for less than $2 a pair at the thrift store, too.) Oh, and here is the finished bunny (or eyeless horned critter).

So armed with my book, my notebook, a latte, and my knitting, I spent an hour at a cafe in the sunshine, all by myself, trying to solar charge my mind and soul.
Thanks to my dear friend Liz, who always has Finn Luca with her own Lily for preschooler gymnastics at that time, but who graciously took Bella along with them, so I could have a little break during this school spring break week.

lyrical april: hey, mike!


If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you a house (I would buy you a house)
If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you furniture for your house
(Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman)
If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you a K-Car (a nice Reliant automobile)
If I Had $1000000 I'd buy your love.

If I Had $1000000
I'd build a tree fort in our yard.
If I Had $1000000
You could help, it wouldn't be that hard.
If I Had $1000000
Maybe we could put put a little tiny fridge in there somewhere
([Talking:] We could just go up there and hang out.
Like open the fridge and stuff, and there'd be foods laid out for us
With little pre-wrapped sausages and things. Mmmmm.
They have pre-wrapped sausages but they don't have pre-wrapped bacon.
Well can you blame them. Yeah)

If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you a fur coat (but not a real fur coat that's cruel)
If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you an exotic pet (Like a llama or an emu)
If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you John Merrick's remains (All them crazy elephant bones)
If I Had $1000000 I'd buy your love

If I Had $1000000
We wouldn't have to walk to the store
If I Had $1000000
We'd take a limousine 'cause it costs more
If I Had $1000000
We wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner.
(But we would eat Kraft Dinner. Of course we would, we'd just eat more.
And buy really expensive ketchup with it.
That's right, all the fanciest Dijon Ketchup. Mmmmmm.)

If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you a green dress (but not a real green dress, that's cruel)
If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you some art (a Picasso or a Garfunkel)
If I Had $1000000 (If I Had $1000000)
I'd buy you a monkey (haven't you always wanted a monkey?)
If I Had $1000000 I'd buy your love

If I Had $1000000, If I Had $1000000
If I Had $1000000, If I Had $1000000
I'd be rich.

~If I Had a Million Dollars, by the Barenaked Ladies

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter

Easter was, well, lovely in each individual celebration. We got time with friends and family on several occasions. But the net of it, in hindsight, was a tad excessive. Too much candy (now compiled in an adult-reach-only location) and four (yes four) egg hunts. I loved the creativity, though. The Easter morning hunt (done by grandma and nonno...ummm...I mean the Easter bunny) were slips of paper with instructions of various sorts (kiss Grannie Annie and Hop like a bunny) were equal in reception to the ones with candy.






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