Archive for the ‘homemaking’ Category
Eleven years ago, I married my wonderful husband. I was a professional, a Doctor of Chiropractic, with my whole career ahead of me. But getting married and the hope of adding children to our family was only one aspect of this change….I was about to embark on an amazing adventure. Marrying my husband meant I was moving to Israel.
Why was that part so significant?
Yes, it meant a new culture, new language, very different lifestyle. It was exciting and wonderful and stressful and not-so-wonderful sometimes. I birthed five exceptional children there. I swam in the Dead Sea, prayed at the Kotel, got to see the Temple Mount, vacationed at the Sea of Galilee, and experienced walking down the middle of what would normally be a busy city street in Jerusalem but was absolutely dead silent on Yom Kippur. Memorable.
I gave up my chiropractic career because of this move. And, while there are aspects to that that sadden me slightly, I have no regrets. I would change NOTHING. I am incredibly blessed to have six children now, all healthy. I had wonderful home births, enjoyed teaching people about health whenever I could, and then one day I started FamilyNatural.com and had an outlet for my creativity in writing. I loved writing this blog and although I would stray when things got too crazy, I always came back to it.
Then, one day, after living in Israel for nine and a half years and taking that long to finally get to the point where I didn’t miss the States so much and could honestly say I was glad we lived there and not the US, we moved back.
Yes, it was a surprise to me. And yes, I was glad. And sad. And glad. And looking forward to all the opportunities available here in the US for homeschooling, and friends, and easy shopping, and so on…
EXCEPT, it was another move, across the world, leaving many of our belongings behind. At the location which was supposed to be a “stop over while we figured out where we would stay”, we stayed almost two years. It was an apartment in a beautiful area, on the beach. But it was on the TENTH floor. We had FIVE children. On the TENTH floor. No back yard, no outside play time, no exercise, no space to spread out unless I took us all out for a walk, which despite my best intentions did not happen more than three times a week and sometimes it didn’t happen at all. (remember, we homeschool)
And then we were blessed with another child, this time a difficult pregnancy. Still on the tenth floor, still away from our Israel friends and many complications kept us from spending much time with our American friends.
I have heard that next to death of a loved one, moving is the most stressful experience a person can encounter. And moving to a foreign country is even more stressful. How about pregnancy? Childbirth? Homeschooling? Another pregnancy, another childbirth, times six? Moving three times in Israel and then moving back here? Try flying overseas with five children….
I have basically been under stress nonstop for eleven years. It’s been TOUGH.
But that’s not my point. I’m not writing this to complain, or even to vent. I realized something very important.
When I stopped practicing chiropractic, I began to neglect a very important part of myself. The ME part. The creative part.
Yes, I am a homeschool mom, and I love it. Yes, I have taught and written and learned to bake and sort of to sew and when I’ve made time for it, I exercised and had alone time weekly. My loving husband would sometimes send me on a relaxing “mommy day out” . And although I knew it wasn’t really enough, I thought it was all I could do, and since this is “only a season in my life”, I went along with it as the professional martyr I had learned to be.
Flylady helped me learn to take charge of my home and my life, and when I get disorganized all over again, I realize it’s time to get back to the basics I learned from her. They really do work, and I don’t know why I ever stop. It’s good to know that I know how to get on top of things again. But there is one part, one MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT that I always sort of glossed over, ignored, didn’t think applied to me, UNTIL NOW.
Finally Loving Yourself.
FLY stands for Finally Loving Yourself.
Just like you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first during an emergency on an airplane so that you can then help others, you must take care of yourself first.
I MUST TAKE CARE OF MYSELF FIRST.
I didn’t really realize that I haven’t been. I mean, REALLY haven’t been. I have finally come to the end of my rope. I am empty. I need to be filled. I need some TLC. I need to make sure that I get what I need, and stop putting everyone else before me.
It is time. Finally.
Making time to exercise (regularly), not only because I “should”, not only because I want to change my body look or increase my strength, but because I want to feel good, I need to feel good, and I need to be ready to serve my Creator with all that He has given me stewardship over.
Making time to get alone (regularly) so that I can think, so that I can pray, so that I can just listen and BE. Not only so that I can “have a break” from my children, but so that I can be the mom and the wife I was created to be because I will not be consistently wound up so tightly that every moment I feel like I’m about to burst or snap or scream.
Making time to express myself, creatively. Writing here on FamilyNatural.com, because I love to do it, because I can help and teach people, using the gifts I’ve been given. Because I am not alone, and reaching out to others through sharing my experiences helps.
Making time to PLAY with my CHILDREN. I will learn to have fun with them and not either a) feel guilty because I’m not getting something done that needs doing or b)running away and hiding while they are occupied and I can “sneak” some alone time in. I will have fun with them because it will be scheduled and so will my alone time be scheduled and so I won’t feel like I’m giving something else up to do this. By doing so, we will all enjoy each other more, and I won’t feel like it’s “me” and “them”, but more like it’s “us.”
Making time to learn something new, plant a garden, dance, sing, draw, and splash in the puddles.
I’m not sure what else it will be, but I am going to find out.
FINALLY loving myself. I am going to be exploring what that means, what that’s going to look like. Feel free to join me.
I’ve found that there are a few types of things in life that people naturally categorize themselves into those who do and those who don’t.
For example: baking. When I was a child, my baking was limited to following directions on a ready-made mix box. (By the way, did you know you can make your own mixes?) Anybody who baked “from scratch” was seemingly in a whole different league. So, I did bake, but only from a box.
Then I found out why it is so important to use whole wheat flour, and later still why it should be freshly milled. Not only did I begin to bake from scratch, but I became someone who did make bread.
Since our move, I have not made any bread until just a few days ago. We sold our grain mill, and with all the stress of everything, it just wasn’t something I prioritized. However, I’ve finally decided that enough is enough. Even if it isn’t freshly milled, it’s still better than the alternative.
Tonight we’ll have some Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) soup with freshly made garlic herbed bread.
The soup is simple: take chopped carrot, celery, and onion and saute. Add some water, can of crushed tomato, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and cooked white beans. If you’d like, add other veggies like: cubed eggplant, cut green beans, peas, sliced mushrooms. Simmer till yummy and serve over small pasta like macaroni.
And as for the bread, just make this baguette recipe and add some dried herbs into the dough. I usually add 1 tsp of garlic powder and 1 tsp of oregano or basil.
When I first met my husband-to-be, we talked of many things. He spoke of a wonderful, seemingly magical place called Jamaica. Of course, I’d heard of that popular vacation destination, but had never been there. He insisted that it is unlike any other in the world; the people there are genuinely kind and the whole attitude of the island tends toward relaxation, calm, peace, satisfaction, and love.
Sounds pretty good.
After several years of piquing my interest, we finally had an opportunity to go there together. And although I was only there for 3 days, I indeed saw a tiny glimpse of what he described. I also had an opportunity to taste some of the local flavors. My favorite was Ackee with Saltfish for breakfast (yes, even I drank some of the famous Blue Mountain coffee with ‘sweet milk’). Freshly squeezed orange juice was sold everywhere, sugar cane was to be chewed, and pineapple was to be munched.
And the sunsets….the white sand….the clear water….
Someday, I hope to go back. And stay for a loooong time.
Meanwhile, we’ll have to be content with bringing some of those flavors to the dinner table. The Jamaican Rice and Peas (which are not actually “peas” at all but red beans) is one of the simplest dishes I’ve ever made; it’s also inexpensive and healthful. You already know how I feel about beans…
These and other recipes which I have not tried I found at this site.
Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe
3 cups of rice
1 can of tinned or 1 cup of fresh red peas (either kidney beans or pigeon peas) note: I use 2 or 2 1/2 c beans
5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 uncut scotch bonnet pepper (1 jalapeno pepper may be used as a substitute)
3 Scallion (spring onions may be used as a substitute)
1 tin (or one cup) of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (2 teaspoons of dried thyme may be used as a substitute)
Soak beans overnight, rinse, then cook in 7 cups of water with the garlic until cooked through, about 45 mins. Add rice, coconut milk, scallions (crush them-don’t cut), salt, pepper, and thyme. Simmer till all water is absorbed, about another 45 mins. Remove hot pepper and scallions, serve, and enjoy!
Of course, you can do this in the crock pot. Just allow more time, and be ready to add more water if needed.
I usually end up adding a little more salt, and if I want to be fancy-schmanzy, I squeeze on some lime juice, sprinkle some fresh cilantro, and accompany with some mango salsa(healthy) or fried sweet plantains (unhealthy). Some fresh sliced cucumber goes nicely with it on the side.
And if I really want to go all out, I serve it with Jerk Chicken. Fantastic combination.
Here’s how to make the sauce:
NOTE: this recipe makes a HUGE amount of sauce. If you don’t mind having lots leftover to store in the fridge for another time, go for it. Otherwise, cut it in half and you’ll still have plenty for 3 or 4 pounds of chicken.
6 sliced scotch bonnet peppers (jalapenos may be used if scotch bonnet peppers are unavailable) NOTE: I’ve made this sauce twice, and have omitted the hot peppers both times with good results. I’ll add some heat after the fact if needed.
2 Tbsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. ground allspice
8 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Medium onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tsp. ground black pepper
1 to 2 Tsp of the following (to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice of one lime
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white vinegar
Blend it all up, marinade meat overnight, and use some of the rest for basting, and the rest for dipping. Cook chicken (in pieces) about 1/2 hr on each side. Enjoy!
Here’s a funny thing: I mentioned Jerk sauce to a friend, and was reminded about the “Jerk Store”. For all Seinfeld fans, this is for you: Watch this clip (unfortunately, embedding was disabled, or I would have put a player right on here.)
Non-stick coated pans have always been in my kitchen, for as long as I can remember. Have you ever tried to cook on anything else? For many years, I had never even seen a non-non-stick pan….and the first time I experienced attempting to fry an egg on one ( I think it was stainless steel), I vowed never to do it again, if I could help it.
And then I learned about health. And toxins. And how toxins affect your health (I mean in a negative way, of course). And I looked at my non-stick pans and pretended I didn’t know that my food may be poisoning me just for the fact that I’d cooked it on Teflon (actually called Polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE.)
Now, according to Wikipedia, Teflon does not begin to break down and release these toxic chemicals until it reaches 500F. However, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) states, “In two to five minutes on a conventional stovetop, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year, according to tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG).“
Exposure to PTFE can create problems like low birth-weight babies, thyroid and liver issues, elevated cholesterol levels, as well as weakened immune systems.
Now, I’m not saying that using Teflon coated pans is the thing that’s most harmful in your life and that you should concentrate on changing your cookware ahead of making other changes, such as avoiding aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, or MSG. It isn’t.
However, I’m all into getting back to basics lately. I’m reading through the Little House On The Prairie books with my kids, and I just love the idea of going back to the way things used to be (not that I’m about to give up my Kindle or decide that I no longer want an iPhone or an iPad). I want old fashioned skills, and as part of my living simply and owning intentionally, I want to have quality items that will not only last, but can be used in a variety of ways. And if the thing can be used in a survival/off the grid scenario, all the better.
My new cast iron skillet definitely meets those criteria.
And did you know that cast iron IS non-stick if it’s seasoned properly? Another bonus is that bits of iron make their way into your food and into your body, helping to protect you against anemia, which for most people is a good thing.
I was a little intimidated by the whole “needing to season the pan” thing, and then I saw this brand of cast iron that comes already seasoned, ready to use. I’d been thinking about it more and more, especially when I tried to make my whole wheat pancakes on the skillet that’s in the new place where we’re staying, and had a really tough time due to the fact that the pan was completely warped and the batter kept running all over the place. So when I walked into Target and saw it for sale for under $20, it was a no-brainer.
I wonder what Ma Ingalls’ favorite thing to cook on hers was.
For more info, here’s an article from Natural News called “Ten reasons to try cast iron cooking.”
I love kitchen gadgets. And yet, I do show restraint when it comes to acquiring them; I know well how NOT fun it is to have drawers and cabinets that are overflowing with gizmos you use only twice a year (sandwich maker and fondue set) and some which you’ve used….never (deep fryer) but don’t want to let go of just in case you have an A-list guest who simply MUST have fresh, homemade potato chips.
We’ve moved now, and in all my decluttering I DEFINITELY took to heart the concept of owning intentionally. I want to only have things which I will really use (preferably often or in more than one way), and also those which are easy to store or travel with. And if it doesn’t use electricity, that’s an added plus.
I’ve seen these old fashioned mortar and pestles, and always wondered what they were used for and why they were necessary….I mean, if you have a food processor, Vitamix, or even a garlic press, why on earth would you use one of these?
Well, I’ll tell you. I don’t know. But I just bought a simple wooden one and I’m excited to use it tonight in the only recipe I have that calls for one: Cuban Black Beans. It says to crush the garlic with the salt and pepper in this way; I’ve always just chopped it and I’m sure that’s why the dinner has always been only excellent….now it will be FANTASTIC, I’m sure.
In researching now, I see that the wood is highly absorbent, and it might be better to get one made from another substance. I thought that might be the case, but this one had the right price. If I really like it and use it, I’ll upgrade.
Here’s a great video of Jamie Oliver teaching how (and why) to use one. Great info.
But until then, I’m happy to use this one. I really do like simple, old fashioned things. Not that I’d give up my high-tech gadgets, mind you.
What’s one of your favorite gadgets (kitchen or otherwise, simple or high tech)?
I am excited to have finally bought myself one of these old fashioned things
Have you visited the hair-care aisle in your supermarket or pharmacy lately? You may have just gotten used to it, but next time you are there, take a good LOOK. It’s tremendous! Cosmetic and drug companies have spend a lot of money (and they’ve done a good job) to convince us that we need these things to make our hair look good. I know that throughout my life, I’ve tried one conditioner after another, and especially went through an assortment of “styling products”: mousse, gel, spray, spritz, and glaze. And these things are not only expensive (as you probably know), but are also full of toxic chemicals which are not only hard on your hair, but also affect the rest of your body.
I have good news for you. You don’t need them.
There’s a whole movement out there in the healthy/natural lifestyle world. I only heard of it about a year ago and was intrigued. It’s called “no poo” (no-shampoo), and it means that you stop using shampoo to wash your hair.
Why would you do this? To recap above:
- Shampoo is expensive.
- Shampoo is filled with harsh chemicals which are toxic to your body as they both enter your scalp and you breathe in their fumes.
- Your body creates natural oils for your hair which are good for it (and meant to be there). Shampooing often disturbs this occurrence and actually causes your body to make MORE oil (since you took away the oil that was there by shampooing).
- Read # 3 again: Shampooing makes your hair MORE oily, not less.
I haven’t shampooed my hair for about 3 months now, and I can officially say that this method works, and works well. My hair is not oily or stinky, and in fact looks as healthy as ever. All I need to have to take excellent care of my hair is baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
Basically, you wash your hair with 1 tbsp of baking soda mixed with 1 cup of water, massaging the roots well. After rinsing, you condition your hair with 1 tbsp of ACV (apple cider vinegar) mixed with 1 cup of water (an important step for maintaining the proper pH), rinse, and you’re done.
The hardest part for me was to refrain from adding some type of gel to my wet hair, but I am getting used to it. If I really want to add something to help it hold its position and keep from frizzing, I add a little bit of aloe vera gel, which works just fine.
It is common to have an adjustment period of oilier hair, since your body is used to making extra oil to replace what you’ve been stripping away. Once your body realizes that you’re not doing that any more, it will reduce the amount it makes. I didn’t have much of a problem with this, and I think that’s because I was already only shampooing about twice a week (but that’s only my theory).
There are plenty of instructions out there, with variations. Do a google search on “no poo”, and you’ll get plenty. Here’s a simple one: How To Go No Poo . If you are considering trying this (which I encourage you to do), you should definitely spend a few minutes researching. If you’d like more detailed information, you can download The No Shampoo Method e-book for a few dollars.
And if you’re looking for a community of no-pooers, “like” the No Shampoo Method on Facebook.
I have a desire for a simple, non-toxic lifestyle in which I spend as little money as necessary and don’t need to worry about running out of, buying, or needing to store lots of STUFF. So since I can also use baking soda for brushing my teeth and cleaning, and apple cider vinegar as a wonder-tool as well, this definitely fits my criteria for intentional owning.
Now it’s time to get the rest of the family with the program…
I watched a movie last night with my hubby. You may have heard of it; it’s called Julie & Julia and it stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I’d had it recommended to me several times, and found it offered at the library and…I’m SO glad I watched it.
And here’s why.
The movie is actually two stories in one. How Julia Child became “Julia Child” was really interesting to me; I really didn’t know very much about her and enjoyed seeing that even someone of her expertise wasn’t always an expert. In fact, she didn’t even know what she wanted to do and went from one hobby to another before she pursued her passion.
The other story is about an average housewife; a regular homemaker who found herself frustrated and unfulfilled in her everyday life and wondering what she might be able to do to help herself find that spark, the passion she was missing. She was a huge fan of Julia Child and loved to cook; her husband suggested that she start a blog about cooking. (She was also a writer though not working in that capacity). So, she undertook a challenge-type project: to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook in one year, blogging as she went.
The movie intertwines these stories and shows their parallels in a most delightfully entertaining way.
And now that I’ve promoted the movie, I’ll tell you why I really enjoyed it.
Both of these women, like me, “didn’t know what they wanted to be when they grew up.” At least, that’s how I feel. I know what I love to do, I know what I long for, but I don’t know how to put it all together and how it’s supposed to look in the end. And in the meantime days, weeks, and months go by without my moving forward and working on the things for which I have a passion.
I really like blogging. Part of that is because I love to teach, and have a passion for helping people learn about health. I also am just like you; I struggle with changes and enjoy the feeling I get from knowing I’ve got friends out there learning and growing , just like I am.
Another side of it that I think really helps me more than it might help whoever is out there reading this is that I really love to share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I’d say “I love to write”, but I’m not a writer and never aspired to be one. However, I do indeed like to type it and send it “out there.” For me. Sure, I like to know that there’s someone out there who enjoys reading what I write. But even if NOBODY reads my blog, I want to write it, because it helps me be a better me. It’s an outlet for my creativity, a commitment to a project of which I can be proud.
So, what can I do to make the progress I like to make? I’ve probably mentioned it in another post, but the main thing I need to do is to not be a perfectionist. Just like Flylady says, perfectionism really does rob your life of joy. If I have something I want to share, then I should do it even if I don’t have the time to do research and answer the questions I may pose. And even if my post doesn’t directly relate to health and wellness, I should not skip it. I do not have the time to run more than one blog and so I’ve got to put it in this one or I won’t write it at all.
I look forward to doing this more often again.
What’s a passion/desire/hobby/goal of yours that you’ve been putting off/neglecting/shying away from that you can start (or re-start) now (or soon)?
I haven’t posted much in a long time, and it’s not just because having 5 children keeps me so busy (though it does) or because having them all at home because we homeschool keeps me so busy (though it does), no. It’s because for several months we’ve been preparing, for various reasons, to uproot and move away from our home in Israel all the way to the other side of the world. Back to the good ‘ole USA.
Oh, we’ve had adventures on the way here.
Just the amount of decluttering we did in an attempt to simplify our lives was tremendous. Wanna know how to throw a super-good house sale? I can tell you!
Wanna know how to take 5 young children on an airplane for many, MANY hours? I can tell you.
So, we made it. From Jerusalem to sunny Florida, we made it. We don’t know how long we’re staying, but we’re up for more adventures along the road.
So, I’ll share any health-related or family-related issues I find (as I have time to ha HA), as well as just those things I’m noticing that are either different than how I remember them to be, or just different from how they are in Israel.
Which will always be our home.
As you know, I’ve had babies. Five times. And whether you’ve had one, or five, or maybe even none but have ever gotten sick to the point that you’re bedridden for at least a few days, then you know what it’s like to be trying to figure out how to care for your household when you can’t DO anything.
The very best thing, the biggest help I ever had, was having friends bring over prepared meals for my family. Just knowing that we had dinner already done took a huge weight off my mind, and I will always seek to do the same type of thing for others when the need arises.
I recently received some sad news of a friend passing away. Another friend was coordinating help for the family, and what I saw was an amazing tool that I know will come in handy for so many people. It’s called Take Them a Meal. It’s a scheduling tool for coordinating meals for any family. I was glad to see such a thing, and know that it would have come in handy; I’m sure I’ll find a way to utilize it in the future.
And then I got to thinking. If having meals brought was such a tremendous help when I was sick, or after I’d had a baby….why not share that kind of help other times? I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to have a dinner brought to us even on a regular old normal day, just to make my life easier. And if I feel that way, then others must also.
I often wonder what I can do to give a gift or bless others, when my resources are limited. Well, this is something that I can do. Despite my lack of time or money, I know that I can make double or triple batches of something that I am already making, to give to a friend. (I also recommend freezing for your own use later on).
With this in mind, I decided to make a double batch of challah dough this morning. The dough was so big as it rose that it went above the rim of my largest mixing bowl! And I’m off in a few minutes to deliver a freshly baked whole wheat challah to a neighbor, just to say “thank you for being a friend.”
So much of the time I feel overwhelmed and needy, unable to give and too often asking for something to be given to me. I need to remember that I also have the ability to give back; I just need to figure out how.
What can you do for someone else today?
Yesterday I shared my new quest for a more simplistic lifestyle. In doing so, I’m not only massively decluttering, flylady style to get rid of “extra” stuff, but I’m trying to go greener, cleaner, and all-around more purposeful. FamilyNatural style.
One of the ideas I’d been tossing around my head for awhile was going “no poo,” meaning not using traditional shampoo. I have begun that endeavor and will post about that soon (update: here’s the post), but the reason I bring it up now is that in doing so, I employ what is quickly becoming my new good friend: sodium bicarbonate AKA baking soda.
I’d also been thinking about toothpaste and wanting to make my own less expensive, all natural alternative, and also am using my new good friend: baking soda.
I’m seeing a trend here.
Just thinking of the things I won’t need to buy or store (because I can use baking soda instead) makes me feel inspired in an “I’m headed for a simpler life” – kind – of – a – way.
Here’s a great article listing 40 uses for baking soda. I can’t wait to try more of them out.
And as far as the toothpaste thing, all I did was mix some baking soda with a little sea salt. I dip my moistened brush in and use. It’s definitely salty tasting, but boy, does my mouth feel clean afterward! As soon as I can get my hands on some mint oil, I’ll add that in.
I like the looks of this recipe from Organic Body Care Recipes (Storey, 2007) By Stephanie Tourles.
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
1 drop peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove, or cinnamon bark essential oil
A few drops tap water
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a toothbrush, your finger, or a small spoon until a smooth, thick paste forms. The paste shouldn’t be too runny; it has to stay on your toothbrush.
Dip your toothbrush into the paste and use as you would regular commercial toothpaste.
Baking Soda is one of those things that definitely works for me. What’s your favorite way to use it?