Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Preserving Cherries

I waffled on this one. I wanted to preserve cherries, Sweetpea got sick so I didn't want to anymore, then I came across some beautiful Okanagan cherries at the farmers' market and there was no turning back. Twenty pounds of cherries is a decent amount. Once you start pitting them it feels like a ridiculous amount.


This is the first time I've preserved cherries so I didn't want to can a lot of them just to discover that nobody will eat them. I put up seven pints of cherries in light syrup, two pints of cherries in brandy and five half-pints of cherry jam from Canning for a New Generation.


The rest of the cherries were dehydrated for snacking and baking. That came to one and a half quarts of dried cherries.



Unfortunately, three of cherry jams didn't seal. I'm not sure why. I haven't had bad seals with my Tattler lids for a few batched now. I can't figure out what went wrong. But, it is very frustrating to have three half-pints of hard work sitting in the fridge instead of the pantry downstairs. What do you do with jams that don't seal?


Because I already have a few jars of jam in the fridge I opted to make jam thumbprint cookies from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. That used up one jar of jam. I may just freeze the other two jars for now.

Yarn Along (no. 27)

It's been a while. I think this will be a common occurrence throughout the summer. I am knitting but busy with so many other things that my progress is so slow. Much too slow to post about on a regular basis. After some serious procrastination I started knitting myself a top down Siesta shirt. This project will be my first big me project. I'm a little nervous and excited.


Right now I'm reading Tea Time for the Traditionally Built: A No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel. Alexander McCall Smith writes such fun books. I've only read his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel series, has anyone read his other series?

To see what others are knitting, visit Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Living Simply: The Storage Room

I've spent a lot of time trying to organize, declutter and simplify the storage room. I'm happy with what was accomplished.


I went through all the little people clothing. Some of it I donated to the thrift store but most of it I will be selling at the upcoming community kids' clothing sale.


The toy shelf is much more organized. I picked up some clear containers to put the toys in. Now it's much easier to see what there is.


Now that this room is looking much better you should see the adjacent room (the rec-room). It's a disaster. Hubby and I are talking about renovating the room into a play room for the little ones, so I'm making the rec-room into the next project. I'll post some pictures in the next few days.

Elisa has finished decluttering her kids clothes, be sure to go over and check her post.

Friday, July 22, 2011

ATC Swap Results

A few months ago, Cindy over at Cindy's Wobblog hosted an ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap. There was no theme which allowed for the participants to be unique and creative, which they were! I had a difficult time deciding what I would do. I knew I wanted my art to be simple but that's as far as I got until a week before the deadline. I finally decided to do an abstract representation of the progression of pregnancy. Right now I know so many ladies who are pregnant or have just had a baby and so I used acrylic paint to paint the following cards:







A few days ago I received a package from Cindy. Inside were the ATC cards done by others that participated in the swap. Everyone had such creative cards! I want to find a way to display them in my home. Here were the cards I received:


Saturday Rose by Jill


Psalm 19:2 by Heidi


Dream Forest by Jonben


Movement #2 by Cindy


Created by Judy

Aren't they lovely! I hope Cindy will do another swap next Spring. For now you can go check out the cards that she received.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekly Menu

It's time to go to the grocery store. I feel like I haven't gone grocery shopping in weeks. It's not true. I have gone to grab a few things here and there but I'm starting to run out of some bulk items like soy sauce and salsa. These are key items in our kitchen.


Monday: Tuna Kimbap and spinach side dish.

Tuesday: Rosemary White Bean Soup.

Wednesday: Roast Rabbit with Mustard and salad.

Thursday: Curried Beef Stew with Potatoes, Shallots and Malt Vinegar. From 660 Curries.

Friday: Vegetable quesadillas.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Teaching Natural Fertility Regulation

Natural Fertility Regulation or Natural Family Planing (NFP) has been getting some attention in the news and on blogs over the last week. The New York Times published an article titled An Evolving View of Natural Family Planning. The article looked at Bethany Patchin and Sam Torode who married in 2000, wrote a book entitled Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception in 2001, then recanted their statement in 2006 and divorced in 2009. There were a flurry of responses to this news article. Then Danielle Bean wrote an article entitled Five Ways I Don't Love Natural Family Planning. Where she received quite a bit of support and critique from her readers.

I teach Natural Fertility Regulation. Specifically, I teach the Billings Ovulation Method. Initially it was the Catholic Church's teaching around family planning (Humanae Vitae) that piqued my interest in Natural Fertility Regulation. Then I started to see the value of Natural Fertility Regulation from a medical perspective and became interested in becoming a teacher.


I believe that all women should have a basic understanding of their fertility. Most women, both young and old, know very little about their reproductive system. But the reality is the majority of women have such limited opportunities for learning about their fertility, school sex-ed classes skim the topic of female fertility and most medical professionals don't tell women about it either. Some women learn about their fertility from family, friends, the internet or come across books like Taking Charge of Your Fertility and are amazed by what they discover.


There is so much stigma associated to Natural Fertility Regulation. When the topic comes up some of the first things people assume are that it's not reliable and too difficult to learn. Modern methods of Natural Fertility Regulation methods are well researched and based on scientific knowledge. Yes, some of the methods are more effective than others and some are simpler than others, but when modern methods of NFP are used properly (perfect use) they are 95-99+% effective at avoiding pregnancy. Typical use is around 80%; the typical use for most method of family planning are often lower in effectiveness.


Using NFP to avoid pregnancy can be very effective as long as the couple is motivated and receives proper follow-up by an accredited teacher. But, NFP requires self-discipline and self-mastery especially during the times when a couple needs to abstain during the woman's fertile phases. I would be lying if I said that this was easy. It isn't. A woman is often most interested in intercourse when she is fertile.


Some couples choose to mix NFP and barrier methods, at this point it is considered a Fertility Awareness Method. Many NFP methods don't encourage mixing of multiple methods of family planning because it can cause confusion, lack of confidence and a decrease in the effectivess of both methods. The reality is, however, that I teach a wide range of people who choose to use the method in a variety of ways. I ensure that each client understands how to use the method properly, but I cannot control what she chooses to do after that.


I should note, however, that a couple practicing NFP without the use of barrier methods should not be experiencing months of ongoing abstinence. I come across women complaining of nonstop abstinence while using NFP and it makes me scratch my head. Even Danielle Bean in her recent article on NFP makes this statement and it surprises me. Yes, there might be times of extended abstinence during a time of stress, sickness or transition but months of ongoing abstinence raises red flags. Either it's the method of NFP or the couple hasn't received regular chart consultations with an accredited teacher. But, this is not normal and I want to make that clear.


I don't believe that Natural Fertility Regulation is for everyone. But, I do believe that all women should have a basic understanding of their fertility. What women choose to do with knowledge of their fertility is up to them. They could use this knowledge to avoid pregnancy or achieve pregnancy, but at the very least it gives women the knowledge they need to protect their reproductive health.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Seven Quick Takes (no.2)


1} Sweetpea is feeling better. I was worried when she was sick. She's such a tiny girl, weighing only 17lbs at 16 months. She did lose a little weight over the last week and I'm working hard to bulk her up again. I'm a small person myself so I suspect that it's only genetics. I sure wish my mom keep a record of my weight after a year to compare with Sweetpea's. Note to self: keep a record of my children's weights and heights. All in all, Sweetpea does seems healthy, happy and developing well. She's just small, but I am going to get her checked out just in case.

2} There really is no point complaining about the weather anymore. If I pretend that it's the fall then I feel much better. In the winter I give my children regular doses of vitamin D. I've started giving them some drop this week. We just haven't been getting enough sun lately.

3} Tomorrow I'm giving a presentation on Natural Fertility Regulation (Natural Family Planning) at the university. I teach the Billings Ovulation Method. I'm passionate about teaching women about their fertility and helping women to see how beautifully and wonderfully made they are.

4} Hubby and I started watching the third season of Merlin. It's great, once you get past the cheesy special effects.

5} I just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and really enjoyed it. It's written in letter format and is about the people of Guernsey during the German occupation of WWII. I definitely recommend it, it's a great summer read.

6} I received my package of preschool supplies from Catholic Heritage Curricula. I briefly flipped through it but I'm hoping to sit down and do a detailed review of it soon.

7} Coconut oil is sure yummuy! Tonight I used it to make flambéed bananas. Delicious! Do you have a favorite use for coconut oil?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Consuming Coconut Oil

Over the last few days with the rain and virus keeping us indoors I've had the chance to delve into a few books that have been waiting patiently on the bookshelf. A couple friends of mine use coconut oil on a regular basis for baking, cooking and helping a variety of ailments. One of my friends lent me a whole stack of books on coconut oil written by Bruce Fife N.D.. I already have a jar of Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil in my cupboard so I figured it couldn't hurt to learn more about coconut oil.

Coconut Cures: Preventing and Treating Common Health Problems with CoconutIn the past, coconut oil was labelled as bad fat, unfit to be consumed, causing all sorts of cardiovascular problems. Today many people and even health care professionals still believe this to be true. AskDrSears.com states that coconut oil is "the least healthful naturally occuring oil".

In my university days I took a course on nutrition and one thing I remember clearly was that the professor described coconut oil as a good fat, a special fat even though it is a saturated fat. According to Bruce Fife "coconut oil is the healthiest oil on earth". That's a bold statement, and there does seems to be research and science to support his claim.

I flipped though three books by Bruce Fife, a naturopathic doctor, and here's a few things I found interesting:

The Coconut Oil Miracle (Previously published as The Healing Miracle of Coconut Oil)Coconut oil is unique because it contains medium chain fatty acids which are more easily absorbed, transported and metabolized by the body than the long chain fatty acids found in animal fats. Because of the way the body processes coconut oil, coconut oil is converted directly into energy like carbohydrates. In fact, you need to eat a lot of coconut oil before its stored as fat like other oils. Numerous testimonials report increased energy and weight loss with regular consumption of coconut oil in their diet. Also, coconut oil doesn't contain cholesterol and people who have a diet high in coconut like the Pacific Islanders have very little heart disease, cancer and degenerative diseases.

The Truth About Coconut Oil: The Drugstore in a BottleA "Drugstore in a Bottle", this is what proponents of coconut oil call it. Coconut oil has been used for thousands of years to treat human ailments. Interestingly, coconut oil contains some of the same substances as breastmilk (lauric acid) which help explains its antibactirial, antiviral, antifugal and immune enhancing properties. Coconut can also be used to improve skin and hair.

Bruce Fife recommends that an adult should try consuming 2-4 Tbsp. of coconut oil per day either by cooking/baking, eating it directly or applying it to the skin. I've started adding coconut oil to our morning oatmeal and using it for cooking and baking. Coconut Oil Cooking has some interesting coconut oil recipes that I'd like to try. I'm hoping that it will help boost our immune systems, especially Sweetpea's.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Virus Crisis

Sweetpea has gone from bad to worse. She seemed to be improving until last night when she started vomiting again. It's been an odd virus but our family physician thinks it's just that... a virus. Right now we're waiting it out and keeping her hydrated.


Things around the house are on hold for the time being. I haven't finished decluttering the storage room but when our virus crisis has passed I'll be sure to get it finished. In the meantime we are enjoying a lot of homemade chicken noodle soup.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pickled Garlic Scapes

It's hard to remain calm, collected and cool when you see something you really want at the farmers' market. Yesterday I spotted a large bin of garlic scapes. I practically jumped into it! But self-control prevailed. I noticed there was no advertised price for the scapes. I nonchalantly asked the farmer how much they cost. He informed me that because people are not familiar with them up North he was selling them cheap. This time I dug my hands into the pile and started piling them into a large bag. The farmer looked a little dumbfounded even after I told him I was making pickled garlic scapes. I skipped away with a smile on my face and a large bag of garlic scapes in my hands.


There was less glee involved during the prepping of the garlic scapes. I cut off 4" pieces from the bottom of the garlic scape, stopping when the scape became tough. Most of the time I got two 4" pieces from each scape, sometimes only one. I suppose I could have cut them up into 1-2" pieces but I have a hard time changing plans when I set my mind to something,


Stuffing the jars was a challenge, especially when the garlic scapes curled. After stuffing the jars I poured in the brine. I used the pickled garlic scape recipe from Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry. The brine consists of 4 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acetic acid), 2 cups water and 1/4 cup picking salt. Bring to a simmer. Fill jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Pint jars are processed for 15 minutes.


I can't wait to start eating these!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Seven Quick Takes (no.1)


1} Sweetpea is sick. Her stomach has been upset since yesterday morning. I'm not sure if it's the teething or the cold, or both, but there has been plenty of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) around here.

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing2} Charcuterie is the next skill Hubby and I would like to learn. I've been reading about charcuterie and eyeing up the meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. We like the idea of making our own sausage. We have a lot of rabbit and pork in our freezers and it be a great way to use some of it up.

3} The long winter and cool rainy summer have put a damper on my canning plans. Local produce is behind by a few weeks. Okanagan cherries and apricots are starting to make their way up here but prices are high. So, I've been twiddling my thumbs while I dream of canning.

4} I'm still baking with my sourdough culture. This morning I made a batch of Sourdough English Muffins. I had to stop making loaves of bread because there was no more storage space in my freezer, but I'm experimenting with using the sourdough starter for pancakes, cinnamon rolls, muffins and other baked goods.

5} The storage room is slowly getting decluttered. I need to purchase a few more plastic bins and decide what I'm going to do with the large box of binders and bin of nursing textbooks.

6} I'm awaiting my package from Catholic Heritage Curricula. I ordered the Preschool Core Kit for Monkey. Monkey isn't ready for any highly structured schooling yet, so I'm planning to use the CHC resources more as a guide to trying out various activities.

7} The knitted Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan is almost finished. All I need to do is get some buttons and weave in the loose ends. I have another project to get started on but after checking out Etsy there's another project I'd like to start instead.