Saturday, May 31, 2008

Berry-licious Breakfast Bread

I made breakfast bread this morning.

Side note: I'm really working on having breakfast on the table during the seven o'clock hour. My family has been begging me for some time now to have breakfast before 8 or 9 in the morning. I have four boys and a nearly-teenaged daughter and a tall, strong husband who are very starving when they wake up. I have discovered on the mornings that I "rise while it is still dark and provide food for my household," I see a lot more smiles and gentle attitudes. PLUS, it gives us one more precious meal to share together each day. The conversation is pretty fun, too.

Off-topic: This morning during breakfast we discussed cell phone options for Amberlyn who will turn 13 in October. We also talked about how my tall, strong Paul has been stung by nearly everything that stings in our neck of the woods: red wasps, yellow wasps, honeybees, bumblebees, and jellyfish. He's never been stung by a scorpion, though. Got any good scorpion stories to share?

Back on topic: So, we really enjoyed our breakfast bread this morning and all the conversation. Here are the recipes for the breakfast bread and soft butter. Plan to double or triple it!

Breakfast Bread
1-3/4 c flour
2/3 cup organic sugar
1-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup washed berries of choice
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, soften butter in the microwave (do not melt it). To the cup, add the oj concentrate and enough boiling water to make 3/4 cup of liquid. Stir liquids into big bowl with a large serving fork (easier to clean than a wisk). Add berries last, stirring carefully so as not to crush them and make them "bleed" into your batter. Pour into oiled bread pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool before slicing.

Soft Butter
1 cup of butter, salted or unsalted
3/4 to 1 cup canola oil (or olive oil)
Blend until soft and chill in your favorite container.

Photo Below: Ashton and his friend Benjamin chow down on blueberry breakfast bread with little man Luke. These boys enjoyed every last bite and are living proof that the bread doesn't have to be Martha Stewart-beautiful to be deeply enjoyed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Storing Grains in Bulk

Some friends and I just ordered organic rice in bulk. My twelve-year-old daughter and I drove yesterday to pick it up--it turned out to be a fun girls' day driving through the green fields of grain. I love the look of a grain field--the plants standing so straight and strong like soldiers in their long, neat rows. Ah, the country. There is something so peaceful and healthy about it-- and this coming from a total city girl.

Through this experience of ordering rice, I have learned a lot about storing grains in bulk. Here are some tips that a friend of mine who often stores grain in bulk passed on to me. Hope these bless you today and make your life a little easier, whether you buy 2 lb. bags or 25 lb. bags at a time.

* Rice stores well in the freezer--up to six months to a year--if wrapped properly (Ziplocs made for the freezer, for example)
* Lowell Farms recommends storing your rice in the freezer or fridge, especially your brown rice, because BUGS LIKE BROWN BEST and brown has the shorter shelf life
* Brown rice can store up to a year and white rice can store up to 10 years
* Bay leaves can help to stave off bugs
* Storing your rice in a bucket with a lid (not sealed tightly) with some dry ice on the bottom can kill any larvae in the rice
* Gamma lids for 5-gallon buckets make storing in bulk a snap, keeping your grain fresh and airtight between uses
* New, food-grade five-gallon buckets and other bulk storing supplies can be purchased at a number of quality online sources, including Shipley's or Emergency Essentials ( Sam's Club also carries them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spicy Lemonade

This is my favorite drink for clearing the mucus out of your head and chest. It's quick and inexpensive to make, and I love that!
Spicy Lemonade
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs maple syrup or molasses
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 oz. filtered water

Lemon is a master cleanser and is good for the liver. The maple syrup gives you energy and the cayenne pepper cleans the blood and clears mucus and toxins from the body. You can drink it liberally throughout the day, though I usually drink it once or twice at most.

The less water you use (I have made this with only 4 oz water before), the spicier it is. If your throat is raw and irritated from drainage or allergies, the cayenne will burn at first. It's ok; it will stop, and your throat will feel so much better. I prefer mine chilled, so I try to use cold water.

Leave me a comment and let me know if this works for you!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


The very word strikes fear in many parents' hearts. . . FEVER. This is one of the most-asked questions of me: "What do you do for fever?" Here's my answer in a nutshell.

The first, and most important thing is, I don't freak out over fever. I see fever as a blessing--it is a good thing and means that the body is taking care of business. Our children's bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made and those little bodies know when there is an invader that needs to be ousted. Fever means things are working as they should.

Maybe once or twice ever has one of my children had a fever spike to 106 degrees. And even when it did, it didn't stay there long. Most of the time, my kids' fevers hover around 101-103 degrees for a couple of days.

Now, here's my line of defense during times of fever to keep my children as comfortable as possible and still let the fever work its magic:

1. Boost the immune system--work with the fever. Be its comrade and help it fight off the invader. I use whatever I happen to have on hand. Some of my favorite boosters are EmergenC (Vitamin C), BarleyLife, carrot juice, lots of pure water, Del-Immune, cutting out all sugar and dairy until the fever is over, increasing fresh fruits and vegetables (if they even feel like eating), encouraging lots of rest, and echinacea. I know there are even more natural solutions, but these are the ones we use the most.

2. Tepid baths--a lukewarm bath feels so good on a fevered body and is often all it takes to "break" the fever in my babies and begin to bring their temperature back down to normal. Also, for an infant, I nurse him or her more frequently. Mama's milk is such a God-given gift of natural anitbodies and wellness for our littlest ones. And it's deliciously FREE!

3. Teething tablets--sometimes the fevers in children are from teething (even at two years old when they get their molars in). This year I discovered Humphrey's Very Cherry Teething Tablets, and they have been very effective for my baby's fevers. With infants, it's so hard to know sometimes exactly what's causing the fever. I have found that these homeopathic teething tablets are very effective no matter what the cause of the fever is. I found mine at Walgreens and they are under $10 and last a long time. As with any medicine, I don't give it unless it's really needed, otherwise it doesn't seem to work as well. In other words, don't overdo it. Medicine is a tool, not a crutch.

4. Tylenol--I save this for the times that the fever has lingered for 36 hours or more without coming down at all and the child cannot rest. This doesn't happen very often around here; probably because of our faithfulness to number one on this list (boosting their immune system). But from time to time an over-the-counter medicine is needed. My rule of thumb for over-the-counter drugs is: use 1/2 the amount the directions say to. I have found that if we aren't used to popping a pill for every little pain, then when we really DO need to take something, it doesn't take nearly as much to get the job done.

Now, I don't think I need to say this, but I will anyway: I am not a medical professional and you know your child best. If my child had a fever that spiked very high, very quickly and I could not get it to start coming down with natural remedies or it was accompanied by throwing up or something else very unusual, I would not hesitate to seek medical help right away. You know your child best and what is normal and what is not. Plus, we have the good Lord, the Great Physician, to guide us and give us wisdom in how to handle our children's fevers. So, there is no need to fear fever. And that is definitely good news!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Glass is good

Here's to a greener week!

I'll be purging my pantry this week of plastic. I've wanted for a long time to convert to all glass containers and just never have. For the frugal queens among us, we could finally put all those wide-mouthed salsa jars from the grocery store to good use, instead of grimmacing as we toss them into the trash (for those of us who don't have convenient curbside glass recycling pick-up). I also like those large canning jars for storing leftovers in the fridge. They often double around our house as a fun, retro drinking glass for all that pure water we're supposed to be drinking each day!

So, here's my green mantra for the week. . . glass is good.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Back Online. . . Testimony of a Computer Fast

We were offline for nearly six weeks and I went through technology withdrawal.

Our computer's hard drive almost crashed and we couldn't even get to the desktop, but we were able to get it in for repair just in time to save all the baby pictures that hadn't been backed up. I know, I know. . .

Anyway, I give the Lord the credit for saving our memories--we had no idea anything was even wrong until it was almost too late. I don't even want to think about how bad that would have been to have lost those precious pictures. So, the moral of this story is two-fold: back up all your irreplacable data and God is so faithful to watch over us even when we don't realize we are in immediate danger. He is so good to us!

The first week or so of my computer fast was the toughest. I found myself walking over to the computer screen constantly to see if there was an email that couldn't wait to be answered. I discovered that I have used my computer a lot to escape. You know, technology can be such a wonderful tool, but it can also really steal a lot of time and energy if allowed to.

But as time wore on, I found that I thought and prayed a lot more. I began to relax. I became more available to my children and to my sweetheart. I started projects around the house that had been in sore neglect.

So, now that my time of fasting is over, I don't want to go back to where I was. I like the new me. I want the computer to serve me, not the other way around. How do I do this?

I am baby stepping by setting a time boundary for myself. I am going to limit myself during the week to two hours on the computer a day. That should be more than enough time to answer emails, balance my checkbook (I love that online feature!), and do a little business work. When my kids take their quiet time around 1 pm, I will take my computer time. And when they get up, I get up.

If you think of me, please pray for me to stay committed to this new discipline. It is so hard to bring our flesh into line sometimes, and I covet your prayers. Hey, maybe the next time you step away from your computer to bake cookies with your kids or kiss your man, you can pray for those of us who still need some computer discipline. :-)