Eating Seasonally: Summer’s Bounty and a CSA Update

Hi!
Summertime is winding down here in the Pacific Northwest; the days are starting to get shorter and the mornings and evenings have a bit of crisp chilliness to them. 
Its raining today, which is welcomed! It seems like we’ve had a pretty dry summer and its nice to see rain. I know the plants appreciate it too.
Interestingly enough, my 4 year old daughter Ellie is out playing in the kiddie pool even though its raining. She sure loves the water!

We didn’t do a garden this year,but decided instead to participate in a CSA with a local organic farm. With baby Olivia joining our family in March I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get any seeds in the ground or take good care of them. I’m so glad we made it a priority to still have fresh vegetables every week!
Its been so much fun trying new veggies and learning to eat things that I NEVER would have tried otherwise.

Here are a few new veggies that we’ve eaten:

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Hakurei salad turnips. I had never even had turnips before, let alone put them in a salad! I absolutely love these turnips! They are crisp and fresh and sweet and seriously I can just bite into them and eat them like an apple. They’re that good. If we plant veggies next year, these will be one of the must-haves.

Beets. I’ve had pickled beets before and they weren’t my fave, so I was kind of scared to try fresh beets and had no idea how to cook them. It turns out, they are good peeled and sliced in salad, they add a really nice flavor to stir-fry (although they turn everything pink!) and are also yummy roasted with other root veggies.

Asian Greens.  This includes bok choy, pak choy (they’re two completely different things- pak choy is smaller), and this other really good one that I can’t remember the name of. They add such a nice flavor to stir-fries and soups! And of course they are good in salad too. 

Rainbow Chard. I was nervous about being able to find ways to eat this one as well, because I’d tried steamed chard before and hated it. But its super yummy in stir fry (see a theme? we have stir fry at least once a week now and love it!) and also good in salad. The lovely bright colored leaves and stalks are so pretty! 

Of course we have gotten all of the “normal” veggies that are usually front and center at the grocery store- carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, basil, parsley, dill and many more. 
I’ve even been able to put up a few baggies of extra green beans and peas that we couldn’t eat, as well as some chard and kale for fall and winter soups. If you’re thinking of participating in Consumer Supported Agriculture, I definitely recommend it! Our CSA ends at the end of September and I’m already kind of sad that its almost over. If we can afford it I’d love to do it again next year, I really enjoy getting a nice big bag of delicious surprises every week. 

Honestly, there hasn’t been a vegetable that we’ve gotten and not liked. There are definitely favorites that we each have, but overall every single vegetable has been super fresh, flavorful and delicious.  

My grandpa has been giving us zucchini and cucumbers and potatoes and squash and corn from his garden as well, so my mom and I have been putting those up, blanching and freezing and making pickles and zucchini bread. 

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Lemon Cucumber Refrigerator Pickles

Now the apples and prunes are getting ripe and the blackberries are just finishing up- which means jam and pie and applesauce and maybe cider. Eating with the seasons has such a lovely rhythm to it. I love it!

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What do you think about eating seasonally? Have you tried it? Did you like it, or would you rather just go to the grocery store and get what you want year round? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

Summer Favorites

I was thinking this morning about all the things I love about summer and thought I’d share with you. Not that any of these are groundbreaking or anything, but I enjoy them immensely and there are just certain things about summer that you don’t have the rest of the year. 

So, here we go!

Sunshine!

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Duh. Here in the Pacific Northwest, this isn’t always a given even in the summertime, so I’m super thankful when the sun peeks its face out! The weather has been great lately and we’ve been really enjoying it. Which leads me to the second thing…

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I mean, who doesn’t love the beach? Since we live on an Island, the beach is well, surrounding us and we can walk down to it from our house. Spending an afternoon with my toes in the sand and listening to the waves softly lap on the shore while gazing across the water to the mountains is pretty close to paradise. 

 

Fresh Fruit 

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I love fruit. I also love that so much of it is locally available around here. Peaches (not super local but from the same state anyway), cherries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, plums…and non-local but so good I buy it more than I should- WATERMELON!!! I love watermelon. SO much.

 

Picnics in the Backyard

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It’s just so sweet to sit in the soft grass in the shade and leisurely munch on fruit and veggies and salads and other yummy things while having unforgettable conversations with my kiddos. 

 

Flowers!

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I guess this isn’t exclusively a summer thing, but I love all the flowers that show their colorful faces all throughout the summer. We have zinnias growing outside our back door and they always are so cheery and bright, even on a cloudy day they bring beautiful color to the world.

 

Being Barefoot

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I really hate wearing shoes. And socks too…barefoot is just so much better! Except on cold fall and winter days of course, which is why I’m glad it’s summer. So what if your feet get dirty? They also wash well. ;)

 

I know there are several more things that are good about summer, but those are my top favorites. What are yours? 

Yogurt Parfait in a Mason Jar- An Easy, On-The-Go Breakfast

Our family took a camping trip over the weekend and we left pretty early in the morning, before breakfast.

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Sunrise over the water- gorgeous!

In order to avoid the unhealthy regrettable decision to just grab a quick breakfast at McDonald’s,(which is, sadly our usual fall-back on road trips- even thought I loathe the place, it’s usually the easiest thing to grab and go.) I decided to be proactive this time and make something for us to eat on the way that was easy to transport, would sustain us for a while and was healthy. Plus it didn’t cost us any extra money. And we weren’t eating icky chemicals and supporting a business I loathe. Anyway, before I rant…

Yogurt Parfaits!

In a Mason jar!!

It was perfect for holding the yogurt without spilling. And it looks pretty!

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We ate breakfast on the ferry ride across the water, as the sun was shining its beautiful way through the window.

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The kids didn’t finish all of theirs at once, so I just put the lid right back on and we saved it for later. I’m definitely doing yogurt parfaits again next time we go on a road trip or just have to be out of the house before we eat breakfast, it worked so well!!

So, if you wanted to make your own yogurt parfait, what would you put in it?
Yogurt, of course! I used my homemade yogurt, which is super yummy and doesn’t have anything extra in it. Just plain goodness.

Maple syrup or organic cane sugar- because the homemade yogurt is unsweetened. If you have sweetened yogurt, skip this step if you want

Organic Strawberries, cut up nicely

A mixture of rolled oats, flaxseeds and chia seeds

If you are bringing this with you on the go, be sure to wait to add the oats and seeds until you are ready to eat it, or you’ll get a gooey, weird consistency of yogurt/oatmeal as the oats absorb the moisture from the yogurt.

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You could also add nuts, jam, other fresh fruit or whatever you think would be yummy-this is just what I had in the house.

Stir it all up and enjoy!!

Yum. :)

A Painted Piano

I mentioned on Facebook a few weeks ago that we were given a piano.

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Well….we painted it!

It was a pretty piano to begin with, however both my hubby and I have always thought that painted pianos just look super cool and we wanted a nice bright color pop in our living room.

Enter the paint.

We chose Pratt &Lambert’s No VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint from our local Sebo’s Do It Center. VOC’s are the elements in the paint that stink and give you a headache if you don’t have proper ventilation when painting. You know, the poisonous stuff. Don’t want none of that in my house, especially with a new baby. It was a little more expensive, but definitely worth it.

I LOVE this color!! It’s so bright and fun and cheery. It’s called “Delightful Aqua” and it is in fact, delightful.

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First, the kids and hubby sanded the piano a little. It didn’t have very much of a finish on it, so we just did a light sanding with fine grained paper.

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Then, the painting began!

Ethan got bored painting pretty quickly, but Ellie just loved it. She has a super artistic personality and really enjoys painting of any kind.

 

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We taped off the keys and the pedals and the kids weren’t allowed to do around them at all- they had to stick to painting the sides and front of the piano.

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It took two coats of paint to get it mostly covered- we did leave a few spots where the wood is peeking through just a tiny bit, for character. I would like to give it a sealing coat of wax or finish of some kind to make sure the paint doesn’t get scraped off easily and we still need to get it tuned, but it makes a very nice addition to our living room.

 

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I love it!!!

We also still need to paint the piano bench- by the time we were done with the piano it was too late at night to start on the bench, we needed our sleep! There’s still a lot of paint left too, so  you just may see it appear on some other things in the future..who knows?

Have you ever painted a piano? Would you if you had one? Or are you a piano purist? I’d love to hear from you!

Ideal vs. Real: Home Edition

Hey all,

I thought I’d start writing about the ideal vs. reality a bit- kind of going along with my dreaming or discontent post.
Today’s subject is more light-hearted though-

Home.

Home should be a refuge, a place to unwind, a relaxing atmosphere. It also is a place to be yourself- the good, the bad and the ugly. A place of acceptance, a place of (hopefully) unconditional love.

A place that gets messier than ever imaginable. A place that I wish was clean for longer than 12 seconds. :)

Ideal:

This is what my house sometimes looks like:

For 12 seconds. If the kids are watching a movie, maybe it stays like this for an hour. Or if we are not home, it stays like this longer. You know, till we get home.  ;)

 

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Real:

This. This is what it usually looks like.

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You get a sneak peek of the piano here…we were painting it. But other than the painting mess that is not normally there, the rest is quite common.

Three kids ages 6 and under, lots of cooking stuff from scratch/artistic endeavors/crafty inspiration/imagination based play/homeschooling will do this to your house. Every single day.

Sometimes there are an excess of library books strewn everywhere across the floor as well.

Or a fort built in the living room with about 1,000 stuffed animal dollies “camping” in and around it.

Or fossils and fossil tools spread out everywhere for paleontology study.

This is what our kitchen looks like every evening.

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The moments where it is clean are few and far between but you know what?

It is home.

And it is wonderfully, beautifully messy and lived in and happy and loved.

The mess is completely worth it because it means I can spend time with these guys:

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To be here to see their growth and failures and firsts and kiss their hurts and feed them and make sure they learn about God’s love and our sinfulness and life’s responsibilities is worth a messy house. And for those moments where the house is clean, I just savor them and look forward to the next time. :)

 

 

 

Dreaming…or Discontentment?

Today I’m going to share a few dreams of mine.

Not nighttime while-you-are-asleep-dreams. Those are too weird. ;)

Like the one I had once where Star Wars Storm Troopers attacked my house and there were bombs dropping that bounced like super balls….yeah. Weird.

Not those.

Maybe instead of dreams they are more like goals…things I want to do and hope to be able to but am not sure if I can. So yeah. Dreams.

Probably one of my biggest dreams is to have a little farm.

A cute old house, a barn, a few cows and pigs and maybe sheep. I’d love room to have a nice big garden, a root cellar, a spring house (instead of a fridge). Space for the kids to run and play and get lost in the wonder of being outside.  A place for our chickens to sleep and a nice yard for them to scratch around in.

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

I want the farm to need a little fixing up, some love to get it back into shape. I don’t want a clean, new house and fancy barn. I want old, rustic, something with history and character. I’d like a place we can put our fingerprint on and make just how we want it and not be afraid of messing up with mud or dirt or if something gets colored on the walls. I like the satisfaction that comes with hard work, with knowing we made something better than it was, with our own hands.

Road Trip: Finished!

This is a farm we passed somewhere in Iowa, on our trip from Tennessee to Washington.. I took the picture from the car, hence the blurry foreground.

 

Sometimes, I want these things so badly it almost hurts. So badly my eyes fill with tears when I think about it.

Then I wonder…

Why do I want these things?

So that we can produce most of our own food and not rely on the ever-increasing dangerous industrial food system.

Because I want our children to learn the skills it takes to run a small farm, and the responsibility that comes with such hard work.

Because I like having little animal friends that follow me around everywhere.

Because I really enjoy getting my hands in the dirt and cultivating it and watching plants grow.

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A black bean sprout from our garden last year.

So we can have a place that our kids and grand-kids can come back to when they are grown and gather there and cultivate new memories.

So we can teach others about gardening and homesteading, and how to be more healthy and sustainable.

 

When I think of these things I wonder…

Am I being discontent with what God has given me?

I have a lovely sweet amazing husband, three amazing children and countless other blessings! We do have chickens living at my parent’s property and fresh eggs. We joined a CSA to get fresh organic vegetables. I have a nicer house to live in than we’ve ever had before and a great church family and my parents and two brothers and sister close by.

Am I being discontent with where I am right now?  

In a neighborhood with round-up saturated green lawns all around me and soil that is polluted beyond use for a veggie garden…yet literally a million dollar view of the mountains and ocean, and a beach that we can walk to! And a deck where I could container garden if I made the effort.

I wonder…

Did He put these desires for a farm in my heart or did I? 

Am I just being idealistic and trying to escape reality?

I don’t know.

 

I do know this, though: When my desire for a sweet little farm is greater than my desire for what God has for me, for our family-

Then I am being discontent. 

Then, I am making it an idol instead of a dream.

Then, I am in sin.

Because no matter where life takes me, my greatest desire should always be for God.

For what He has for me, and who he wants to make me into.

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

And the smaller details of life are insignificant compared to the all-surpassing joy and freedom of knowing Christ.

Because He is my peace.

He is my Home.

He is my life.

No matter where I end up, or what God brings me through, that is enough. He is enough.

If I get my idyllic farm someday full of hard work and the sacrifices that come with it, that would be amazing. If I don’t, I’ll get over it eventually. In the meanwhile, I try to be hopeful and stay content with where I am.  And when I fail, there’s God’s grace that can cover any sin, if I just ask Him. :)

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Springtime Scenes

It’s springtime!!
The weather has been improving around here lately and we’ve so been enjoying being outside without it turning cold or rainy. (Although that still happens…a lot. It is after all, Washington State. And “warm” is a relative term….to us that means more than 50F degrees.) It’s supposed to warm up to 70F next week though- I am SO excited!

I’ve been trying to have us go on walks/hikes more often, to enjoy the outdoors as well as get some exercise. Here are some pictures of a few family outings recently, and just some springtime beauty.

 

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On a walk through the woods at a local trail park

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up

 

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I love the sunniness of dandelions against these old transformer caps!

 

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Some of my favorite springtime flowers.

 

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

 

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

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I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy springtime! :)

Herbal Remedy: Garlic Poultice For Treating Infections

This is such an all-purpose remedy, and so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t know about it til a few weeks ago; I just have to share it!

I just had our third baby, Olivia Jane about a month ago and as any new mama knows, when your milk comes in, it comes with a vengance. I reduced the supply to a more comfortable level using cabbage leaves, but when Olivia slept through one of her feedings, I began  to develop mastitis. (The plugging of a milk duct, which causes lots of pain, inflammation and redness, can cause a high fever and infection. Not fun at all. Especially when you’re healing up from just having a baby!)  Thankfully I caught it early and didn’t get a high fever but I did have a bit of one, was achy and tired and in pain.

My friend Kayci sent me this video and said to make a garlic poultice and put it on the affected area, so I did. And guess what? I started to feel better within 20 minutes of applying the poultice, my low grade fever disappeared within an hour and the pain was greatly reduced! I did another poultice that night before bed and the next morning I was almost completely healed up. My breast was still a little sore, but not swollen or hot like it was the day before, and I had my energy back. The day after that I was completely fine. Hooray!!

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Garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and immune system boosting properties in it that makes it one of the best healing foods around. Its been used throughout history for colds, coughs, infections and illnesses to help ease discomfort and literally draw out the infection from your body. And it works! I’ve used garlic countless times, both topically and culinarily (is that a word? In food..) and it always helps heal our bodies. The best part when using garlic as an antibiotic is that it doesn’t kill the good bacteria in your body, like amoxocilin or other commercial antibiotics.

To make the poultice, I just took a couple cloves of raw garlic, peeled and diced them finely, then spread them out on a small rag. I folded the rag up kind of like a square burrito and poured warm water over it, let it sit a moment, then wrung it out and put it on my breast where it was hurting for a minute or two. That was it! If you keep the poultice on too long, the garlic can burn your skin so check it after a minute to make sure you aren’t getting a blister.  (ouch!)

The video explains everything in detail, so make sure to watch it. And you can use the poultice for colds and sicknesses too- it has so many uses! I’m so thankful Kayci told me about it!

If you use this and like it, why not spread the word and tell a few of your friends too?

A Story About Substantial Salad (and a recipe)

First: baby pictures!!

Because I can. ;)

It’s been a month since Olivia’s been born- I can’t believe it!
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Time has gone so  quickly!

Here is what she looks like now:

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So Cute!! She just started smiling last week, I love it!

Okay, here is a story about salad. And how I eat it and actually don’t feel deprived.

Around a month before Olivia was born, I went to my normal midwife appointment, and I had gained 6 pounds. In two weeks. Oops.

My midwife was not happy, and she told me that I needed to stop eating carbs, period. I could have as many vegetables as I liked, and lots of protein, but to stop eating carbs. I already had told her that I stay away from sugar most of the time. (except for those times I make cookies and eat like six the day I make them…but it’s organic sugar and they are oatmeal raisin cookies…they’re “healthy” right?)

She gave me the example, if we were having spaghetti for dinner I could eat some veggies with pasta sauce, but no noodles. Dang. That’s hard core.

Our family has basically switched out complex carbs in place of meat….like beans and rice, lots of beans of different kinds- lentils, chickpeas, whole wheat pasta without meat….or sometimes with meat,  but meat is so expensive because we want to buy good quality, pastured meat that we’ve cut back on the amount we eat. So…if I stopped eating carbs, what would I eat?
I was offended at first, and upset and not sure where to begin. So I started with just not eating bread.

I make my own bread, and it is GOOD. It was hard to give up, but I had been eating around 5 pieces a day- toast two or three times a day, a sandwich for lunch, toast after dinner with cinnamon sugar for dessert. I hadn’t realized how much bread I’d been eating!
Once I cut it out of my diet, I started to feel more energetic and less…puffy. Not sure how else to explain it.

I also started eating lots of yogurt and cottage cheese, and putting oats, flaxseed and chia seeds in the yogurt to bulk it up. I know some of those are carbs, but they also have fiber in them. I also still ate our normal breakfast- steel cut oats with maple syrup and milk, and I started finding veggies that I could eat instead of carbs for dinner. One of my favorites has been sweet potatoes. They make a really good substitute for rice or beans, since they are still kinda starchy but have lots of good vitamins in them and are delicious.

Then I began having salad for lunch.

I must confess, I have never been a salad girl. You know, those girls who eat salad all the time and go to restaurants and order salad. If I’m going to a restaurant, I’m ordering real food, ya’ll. I can make salad at home and don’t have to pay $7 for it when I can get a super good burger for the same price.

But after eating this for a while…

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I think I’m becoming a salad girl.

Although I don’t think I’ll ever order a salad from a restaurant, because we don’t really go to them all that often so when we do, I kind of splurge and get something I wouldn’t make at home.

And this salad…

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This salad is more than just lettuce.

I’ve been eating it almost every day for lunch for a couple months now, and I feel like it’s my special indulgence of the day- which I get to prepare just for me; no one else. It’s so yummy and it actually keeps me full for several hours!

Here’s what is in it:

Organic lettuce or spinach or a spring mix, depending on what is cheapest at the store

Organic cherry tomatoes (non-organic tomatoes taste gross like chemicals and may be genetically  modified)

Broccoli

Cucumber

Red Cabbage

Organic raisins

Chia Seeds (protein!)

Hardboiled egg from our hens (organic, free range protein!)

Blue cheese dressing

It’s so yummy and filling! Avocado is delicious in there too, I’m just out right now. And sometimes I have a small dish of cottage cheese on the side if I’m extra hungry.

So back to the story…

I went back to the midwife two weeks later and…I’d lost 3 pounds. Lost!
Then I lost another pound the next two weeks, then didn’t gain any more weight the remaining week or so of my pregnancy.

Cutting out carbs works, man!

So that’s my weight loss plan for losing the baby weight:

Salad for lunch, very few carbs, lots of protein and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil. And I’m trying not to make cookies very often, but it’s hard when Ellie (my 4 year old who LOVES to bake) asks I just have trouble saying no. :) I have been eating a few more carbs than I did when I was pregnant because I figure that the calories I burn when nursing will make up for my eating them.

So far it’s working; I’m about halfway there to my pre-preggo weight. Hopefully it will keep working! Even if it doesn’t for some reason, I’m hooked on the salad for lunch thing, and miss it when I have something else.

Are you a salad person? If so, try this salad, it’s so good!