Monday, August 29, 2011


The Jarhead flew off to world's unknown this past week...also known as temporary assigned duty.  Since we were housebound with the pink eye and all, I decided to tackle some spring cleaning.  At the end of summer.  Sometimes I am a bit behind the curve. 

Our upcoming PCS in mind, I ruthlessly went through all our stuff and ended up with a great big "sell it" pile.  Now at last I have room in the closet for the vacuum cleaner. Good news, because it wasn't working so well as a contemporary art piece in the living room. 

Along with making room for the vacuum cleaner, I found my old photo albums and was instantly transported back in time.  Ahhh, memories.

Here is my cow.  My brother and I worked long and hard at a local dairy for her.  Her name was Delilah, but all we could think about with that name was the shameless hussy that chopped Sampson's hair off in the Bible; her and the silky-voiced radio host.  We changed her name to Abby and she was our baby; as much as a cow can be. 
 I am awestruck by this picture and the beauty of the dairy.  I can't believe it was all just "background" when I was a teen and surrounded by that beauty everyday.  I wish taking things for granted wasn't so inevitable.  Of course, I was trudging through cow manure at the time....that might have had something to do with it.
 There's me in the height of style, feeding one of the first calves I was ever put in charge of; I think her name was Poppy.
 Ahh, the chicken that made me hate all poultry ever after....he didn't deserve a clear picture.  But you can still see his evil eye.  I think his name was Demon Chicken...or Zeke...
 This would be CJ, the horse that tried to bite my toes while I rode him...
 And here's the hunky Jarhead I was dreaming about while I was scooping up manure and laying down hay for the cows. *swoon* 
Except in my dreams he was a cowboy.  Or a fireman.  Or a backwoodsman. 

This was Iraq, about 6 months before we got married.  He came home, swept me off my feet and slammed my head into the door frame of our honeymoon suite.  Major fail on carrying me over the threshold.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pink Is My Daughter's Favorite Color...Just Not In Her Eyes.

Sickness has struck our family once again.  It seems impossible for us to go more than a few months at a time here without catching some gross strain of something.  I am beginning to understand the profound fashion statement of...the surgical mask...ubiquitously employed  by the locals.  This time it was pink eye. 

 It spread like wildfire among the children of vacation Bible school at our church, and unfortunately for us it must have lingered in the room we held our daughters' birthday party in the day after.  First came the cold.  Then came the pink eye.  By the end of the day my daughter's right eye was swollen shut, and her left was not far behind.  I put warm compresses on her eyes, cuddled her, and scheduled a Dr.s appointment for the next morning.  I put her to bed, then checked my Facebook.  A couple of friends had written that breast milk worked wonders on pink eye.  And here I thought I was the holistic wackjob.  Conveniently I am still nursing my youngest and have a steady supply of "mommy milk."  More conveniently, my daughter woke up crying a couple of minutes after I read the comments.  I brought her downstairs and put on more warm compresses, then expressed some milk for her eyes.  I cautiously proceeded, thinking this might meet with some resistance.  Thankfully, she was half asleep and the first eye was easy peasy.  The shock of the milk in her eye woke her up and it was a bit of a tackle to get it in her other; especially since it was swollen shut.  I persevered though, and within an hour of that first application, she was noticeably improved.  I put more in about an hour later, and then took her up to bed.  In the morning, her eyes looked amazing.  She was still slightly puffy, but with continued applications, she was completely better in no time.  I thought we were all done and good to go.  Then a couple of days later, my younger daughter started with it.  And I thought putting milk in the eyes of my oldest was hard....

My youngest survived all the torture and is looking good.  Again, I thought we were all done and good to go.  Then I woke up this morning to eyelashes nearly fused shut.  Oh joy.  I got myself some hot compresses, and expressed some milk for my eyes.  My precious baby girl was near hysteria, laughing as I put it in my eyes.  Now we are even I guess.  The second application was witnessed by my oldest.

She saw the cup of milk after I expressed it and said, "Mommy, I don't want milk in my eyeballs!"
"No honey, it's not for you, it's for Mommy; my eyes are all yucky now too."
"Awww, it's okay Mommy." She reassured me as she stroked my forehead.  Then when I put the milk in my eyes she got a tissue to wipe away the drips, and I am positive I heard her snickering.  I have some sweet kids, I'll tell you.

Being utterly fascinated and thankful for the wonder of breast milk, I did some searching online for other possible uses.  It's amazing. 
You can use it to relieve the itching from insect bites; for burns, cuts, ear infections, rashes, acne, chicken pox, chapped lips and skin, etc, etc and so forth!

The Jarhead says I am becoming like the guy on My Big Fat Greek Wedding who thought Windex was a cure for everything.  That's ridiculous, I only put it on my daughter's diaper rash.  And my chapped lips.  And my poor, stuffy red nose.  And the Jarhead's zit.  And......okay fine.  I am that guy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Broken Ports and Dr. Burzynski

I find myself in the unfortunate position of not being able to upload photos to either of my computers.  This is bad, bad, bad.  Not only am I doing a photo shoot next weekend with plans for more in the near future, I can't post pictures to my blog.  *sniff* 
Since it is impossible to blog without pictures hardy har har, I will save the delicious recipe and other incredibly useful information I have for another day, leaving you with a trailer for a powerful documentary; one that I would for sure classify as a "must watch".  Understand, the FDA is not interested in the health of the people, but is solely driven by greed.  It is hard to fathom how people can become so calloused as to not regard the lives’ of others, or the future of our people. 
 As the Bible says, "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

You can rent and instantly watch the whole documentary on Amazon for $2.99.  Or you can watch it for free on Youtube.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Good And The Bad: Product Reviews

As promised, our humble opinions regarding some of the organic/all natural products we have purchased and tried. 
I grilled the Jarhead for his opinions too, but sometimes the answer was slightly less than enlightening.  For instance, when he came over to kiss me the other morning with minty fresh breath, I asked him what he thought of the new toothpaste I bought.  He said something like, "It's paste for my teeth."  That's Jarhead speak for, "quit asking me stupid questions."  And the fact that it's a stupid question means that in his mind, it hangs with the rest of toothpaste.  My opinion is pretty much the same; it's toothpaste.  My teeth felt super duper slick and clean, just be prepared for some power flavor from this PowerSmile.  And a somewhat hefty price tag. *gulp*
 Avalon Organics is one of the main all natural companies that the commissary here stocks.  I first became acquainted with them through their shampoo and conditioner, which I loved.  When I ran out of soap from Mountain Creek Gifts, I needed some filler before another order could get here.  I bought this hand soap from Avalon Organics, and it doesn't disappoint.  The Jarhead says, "it smells nice."  I would add that it doesn't dry your  hands out and has a nice consistency.
 I love cereal, and the ease it allows in the morning.  Unfortunately, most cereal you find will have corn ingredients with all their GMO evil, corn syrup and preservatives, along with being packaged in BPA laden plastic bags.  I was determined that if we only bought one thing Organic, it needed to be cereal, since it's an almost daily in our house.  Thankfully the commissary offered some alternatives.  I first bought boxes of Cascadian Farm Oats and Honey Granola, as well as their Honey Nut O's.  The Granola was delicious with the first few bites, but afterward I found it obnoxiously, sickeningly sweet.  I asked the Jarhead what he thought and he concisely said, "it's sweet."  He didn't mean, "Saaaaweeet!" like, "man that cereal is rockin' awesome", but sweet in the obnoxious way.  We won't buy it again.

The Honey Nut O's are much better I find.  They are not good finger food for toddlers and babies like Cheerios, because they are sticky, but in a bowl with milk, they are pretty good.  Nothing to get excited about, but they hit the spot.

 The next time I went to the commissary I found Koala Crisp.  This stuff is pure temptation.  It's deliciously chocolatey.  I am not one for chocolate in general, and definitely not big on super sweet breakfast cereal, but this is not obnoxious.  It's more of a cocoa flavor than pure sweetness, and my girls sure do love it.  "Mom, I want chocolate cereal" is a common early morning request.  I told the Jarhead he needed to try it, and he thought it was good, but nothing to rave about.  I  beg to differ.  *RAVE* The ingredients list does my heart good too.
 This is pretty much...butter.  It's yumm.  The end. 
 Oh dear; now we come to the dishwashing powder I bought.  I don't like to be a stick in the mud, but this stuff was just plain awful.  I should've taken the hint when every box of it in the commissary was a solid brick of caked powder.  To be fair to Seventh Generation, it is quite possible that it got wet some time in shipment.  Don't ask me to tell you about the caked and molded Kraft Mac and Cheese back in the day of eating that kind of stuff.  It's nasty, you really don't want to know.  When I got this soap home, I took a  hammer to it, thinking it would break up without alot of effort.  I was wrong.  I broke the box but didn't really break the powder.  So I put it in bag after bag, and after much effort, ended up with smaller, hard bricks of powder.  I finally said, "FORGET IT!" and thought the water would break it up in the dishwasher.  It did, but my dishes ended up covered in little white, crusted on, dishwasher powder spots, and there was always leftover food pieces floating in water on top of my glasses.  It was really aggravating, and something I never ran into with Cascade.  Since I discovered we have hard water, that could be a contributing factor, but it's back to Cascade for me until I can find another brand that works for me.  I will not be purchasing Seventh Generation again.
Quinoa Pasta is yummilicious.  And expensive.  I usually purchase Barilla Plus, a high protein pasta made of semolina.  The price difference is remarkable, and I don't know enough about "junk" in pasta to decide whether or not it's worth it.  Quinoa is gluten free, so for those with dietary restrictions, it is a great choice.
Despite working at a dairy for a time during my teen years, I am not much of a milk drinker.  However during that time at the dairy, I had the benefit of getting raw milk, and it was delicious.  This is most definitely a step down from that of course, but I am very thankful we have access to it over here.  The Jarhead likes it. 

I know Polaner All Fruit has been around forever, but I've always been a Welch's Grape Jelly girl.  I decided to give the Polaner a try and now I feel like I am officially an adult.  I felt just this way when I was thirteen and no longer qualified for the kids menu.  Goodbye, grilled cheese.  Hello Caesar salad.  I am particularly fond of their Blueberry Jam; it's so...grown up...with actual blueberries in it!  It's delicious. 
I very reluctantly bought some all natural peanut butter since it was sitting next to the Polaner and all...I've not been keen on it since my Mom bought some when I was a kid.  The separation of the oil kind of looks disgusting when you're ten and then, not knowing any better we put it directly into the fridge before stirring it.  When we finally got up the courage to try it, we stirred and stirred and no avail.  That put an end to that experiment, and my brothers and I breathed a sigh of relief when Jiff once again became the staple peanut butter in the pantry.  When I bought Adams peanut butter, I wasn't expecting much.  I stirred and stirred and stirred, but this time prior to refrigeration.  With a bit of effort, it actually creams up pretty well.  And tastes brilliant too. 

That's it from us for now.  Please feel free to share your opinions and experiences if you've tried these products, or make recommendations for others. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Flu

I have this picture of myself in the future, being the crazy lady that makes concoctions out of weeds that heal what ails you.  The one that everyone comes to when they are sick and modern medicine utterly fails them.  I'll be out in my garden with a wide-brimmed hat and rockin high heels, cutting herbs and flowers for my brews.  Then the vision gets a little theatrically witchy with a black, smoking cauldron and creepishly long red fingernails. *shivers* Holistic healing has a bad rap in my brain I guess.  Regardless, I am very interested in botany and herbal medicine.  As I said before, I believe that God has given us what we need in nature; we just need to know how to use it.  So I check out books and order books, and determine I am going to learn everything there is to know about plants and their healing properties.  I ordered two books on this very subject a couple of months ago; but the post office seemed to think I needed a lesson on patience...they aren't wrong...and just recently delivered them to me.  A few days later, we got the flu.  And I mean, WHAM! we had the flu.  It was bad.  I would have called 911 at one point when I was at home without the Jarhead and deliriously feverish...except that my daughter had decided to give my cell phone swimming lessons earlier in the day and drowned it.  In the toilet.  Thankfully so; I would have felt like an idiot calling 911 because I had a fever...even though it seemed perfectly reasonable in that moment of boiling and fire and molten lava and everything else that can be categorized as hot. 

It would seem that those books on, you know, holistic healing, would have been a God send right about then.  But instead of reading them I layed motionless, sprawled out on the couch for three days, trying to recall the words in my will. 

The Jarhead affectionately calls me "drama queen." 

Now that I am back to good health and spirits, I have had a chance to take a look at those books I bought.  One is called The Green Pharmacy: New Discoveries in Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs.  I love this book.  It has a wide variety of ailments in it, including...the flu and fever.  *sigh*

The other book I am not so sure about.  It seems like a fine resource, but despite it's claims on the back of the book, the ingredients in it's Healing Tonics are far from "common."  I think it may very well come in handy for me someday, but I feel it is a bit over the top for me right now.  I mean, I don't even know how to pronounce Fo-Ti (Ho Shou Wu) - let alone what it is.  The part I love about this book, is the glossary of herbs in the back, along with their properties and uses.  Fo-Ti (Ho Shou Wu) didn't make the cut however, so I remain in the dark on that one.  The author also includes a list of resources for ingredients, which comes in great handy for "lost" people like me.  And since I am way too curious to let it go, since writing the above I Googled Fo-Ti (Ho Shou Wu)...I can't help myself.  It's a plant.  Duh. 

Back to that lesson I need on patience, I have been feeling so on edge lately!  I just want so bad to skip the clock a bit and be settled in our own home, on our land, our farm.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is a purpose to this time, right now, right here, and I don't want to idealize the future so much that I miss out on the present.  I think it almost invariably happens to people used to a military lifestyle; we get close to that 3 year mark and start itching for what's next.  I wonder, how will I adjust to being settled...forever?  Is it going to be easy to stay in one place for a long period of time, or am I going to start getting fidgety 2.5 years in?  Only time will tell I suppose. 

For now, I pray for patience.  *sigh*

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Birthdays and Birth Control

Today is the best day of the year.  I gave birth to both our girls on this day, 3 years ago, and 1 year ago.
One area we didn't need to change in order to fully embrace this all-natural lifestyle was in the area of family planning.  From the day we were married, the Jarhead and I wanted children and hoped they would come right away.  After several negative tests and disappointments, over a year and a half later I found out on my birthday that we were expecting our firstborn.  Blue swirled through our heads as we were positive we were having a boy.  When the ultrasound tech said "it's a girl" we were sure she was wrong, and the Jarhead held out hope all through the pushing stage that miraculously, the baby would be a strapping lad he could teach all about cars.  A well-meaning nurse had told him about a patient who had a boy after 3 ultrasound techs had declared he was a girl; it was just the encouragement he needed, and so he hoped...

She was a girl.  And we wouldn't trade her for 100 boys.  And the Jarhead is teaching her all about cars. 
 I used to piously proclaim that I wasn't on birth control because I was trusting God to give us children in His time.  That meant I wanted children right then, in my time.  I went through alot of anger towards God in those 19 months for not giving me children, and fear that we wouldn't be able to have children of our own.  When I finally let it go and sought forgiveness for that anger, we conceived. 
During the ultrasound where we found out we were having a girl, the tech seemed very quiet to me, and it seemed to take a long time, as she took multiple pictures of our baby's head.  A few days later, while we were vacationing with our family my OB called.  The ultrasound revealed cysts on my daughter's brain.  I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.  My wonderful OB gave me the medical terminology for the cysts, so I could look it up and see what they could indicate.  The more I studied, the more I wept.  The cysts were possible signs of a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18.  Down syndrome is Trisomy 21, but unlike down syndrome, babies with Trisomy 18 are severely retarded and less than 10% of babies live past their first birthday.  The thought of losing our precious child was agonizing.  But then an incredible peace came over me after alot of prayer, and I knew that everything would be alright; even if our daughter did have this awful disorder.  After an extensive 3D ultrasound, the Dr. gave us a 1 in 500 chance of her having Trisomy 18. 
She was born perfectly healthy and beautiful.  After she was born, the Jarhead and I decided once again that we were going to trust God to give us children, in His time, but this time in earnest.  "Natural family planning" did not generally please the Dr's that were very curious about our birth control strategy, but that's okay.  We have always wanted a big family.  We thought 5 or 6 kids would be the perfect number, and that two years apart was the perfect gap, and that would be it for us.  Then we started thinking; was it hypocritical to say we would trust God for when to give us children, but we wouldn't trust Him for how many He wanted to bless us with?  That was a scary thought.  I mean, we really, really don't want to be outdoing the Duggars here!  We were up in the air.  Then I found out I was pregnant again, and due on July 10th, the day our oldest was due.  I was sure this baby was going to come early though, since I started having contractions very early on.  Then, just like her sister, she ended up having to be induced at a week overdue.  Two years...and two hours apart; our perfect gap.  It was as if a sign from God saying "trust Me."
So we are.  Trusting God for His timing of when He wants us to have children.  Trusting Him for how many children He wants us to have.  That is our family planning strategy.  

Please believe, I am far from presuming to tell you what your family should do.  This is just the conclusion the Jarhead and I came to after much prayerful consideration.

Now if I find out on my birthday again that I'm pregnant, and the baby is due on July 10th....God's got an incredible sense of humor.  And I'm already putting in a special request for a boy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Schedules and Diaper Stripping

To me, summer usually conjures up images of family vacations, cook-outs, and freckled, red-headed 12 year olds zooming down water slides....or maybe that was a Wet n' Wild commercial...I guess their ad campaign worked on me, dogonit.  The leisure that is so indicative of Summer has been elusive for me so far this year.  Then again, I'm not 12 anymore.  Or red-headed.  Or freckled...sun spots don't count.

My dry-erase board calendar has been chock full this month, and it's been difficult to find the time for blogging.

  I have always been excessively talented at making lists and schedules and on paper I am an efficiency expert!  Try as I might though, I can never seem to get them to translate to real life.  FlyLady to the rescue.  My Mom signed up for FlyLady way, way back when I was a teen and I remember thinking how ridiculous it was.  I mean, the point was time and home management, yet there would be 57 emails in her inbox from the beloved woman every time she checked her mail.  You can't get nothin' done reading emails all day, FlyLady!  So I dismissed her and continued with my ineffective list-making.  Then I got a care package in the mail from my Mom, with a stack of printed papers from the FlyLady: instructions on how to get with it by making a control journal.  *sigh*  I thought I had told my Mom already that I thought FlyLady was ridiculous and probably in cahoots with maid services everywhere. *eyeroll* But since she had gone to the trouble to mail it, I decided I should go to the trouble to read it.  The Jarhead probably heard something like this: 
"Wow....not bad." 
Followed by a, "wow, sounds good." 
Then a, "Wow, let's do this thing!"

Yes I was impressed.  And I desperately need help with my time management these days due to our new lifestyle.  The extra steps involved in cooking from scratch, making cleaners...just about everything involved in being green takes time and effort.  It's absolutely worth it, but it is a crunch nonetheless.

Not just a crunch in the time department either.  It costs more.  Some people may argue that point, but when you are in the position of not being able to grow/raise your own food, it's definitely more expensive to purchase organic products.  There is trial and error involved as well.  I have found some organic products are abysmally awful, and others that are exceptional.  Very soon I will write a post sharing with you my findings and recommendations.  For now, just know that I will get better and be more consistent with my blogging so bear with me.

As if I didn't already have enough to do, my poor diapers suffered a great deal in my ignorant, cheap hands and began repelling.
I had originally purchased some Rock N' Green detergent when I bought my diapers, but I noticed after a while that my diapers were kind of funky, my daughters' pee was smelling much more...amonia-ish, and they were starting to rash up again.  I suspected the detergent, and decided I would just use my normal laundry soap, Arm and Hammer Sensitive Skin, on the diapers to see if it helped at all.  It is a free and clear detergent, so I thought it couldn't be too bad.  The first time I washed them, they looked brighter than they had in a while, and my girls didn't rash up with it.  I thought I was a genius and would save loads of money using the cheapo, more effective soap, rather than the expensive stuff.  After a few washes though, my diapers were not getting clean like they had before, they were funky, and to my great dismay, my GroVia AIO's had small holes along the seams.  *GASP!*  I put them on my daughter and she leaked right through.  Twice.  My diapers were repelling.  I contacted the diaper lady here and told her to warn all her customers to never, ever use that soap and it's bad juju on their dipes, and asked her what to do to fix my poor, sad, leaky ones.  She recommended putting two Tablespoons of Original Dawn dish soap in with the diapers, and then rinse them repeatedly in hot washes until there were no more bubbles visible while it was agitating.  It worked.  *Whew*  And I purchased more Rock N' Green detergent.  I discovered our water is hard, so I changed to Hard Rock, and it seems to be doing the trick...for now.  I am on the hunt for something new though; funk ain't my friend.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Egg Zoo

It's been a busy week.  A hectic, crazy week.  The kind of week that requires some fun and relaxing recreation for the weekend.  And with that purpose in mind I loaded my girls up this morning and we headed for the egg shop.  There is nothing inherently fun in an egg, I know, but the egg shop here is a very unique place.  It's a mini zoo; a bakery with the most delicious puff pastries to ever tingle my tongue, and of course it has loads and loads of fresh, fertile eggs.  They are so fresh and fertile in fact, that in a mental lapse I spent at least a half hour researching how to hatch eggs.  Youtube appealed to my every maternal instinct with videos of sweet little fuzzy chicks kicking and squirming their way out of their shells.  Awwwww.  Thank goodness I regained my sanity.  What on earth would I do with a chicken?!  A few days later I was relating my delirium to the librarian, who informed me that he had a chicken, but it was luring snakes to his yard with it's siren clucking. For the safety of his family he tried to give it away.  No one wanted it.  So he drove up a mountain and dropped it off.  I think that is the only time in the course of my life I have ever felt bad for a chicken.

My daughters had a great time looking at all the animals.
They particularly liked the bunnies.  Good thing too because I recently added them to our list of must-have farm animals.  I had pet bunnies when I was a little girl and really liked them...until one decided to bite the tip of my middle finger off when I was trying to give him a carrot.  It's eerily reminiscent of my run-in with my best friend's horse.  I think I shall leave the feeding of our animals to the Jarhead. 
Despite my bad experience and flat middle finger, I would love to keep some angora rabbits for their wool.  I recently met a fellow military spouse here who spins her own yarn, and being completely fascinated by this, I've signed up for a spinning class.  I just know I am going to fall madly in love with it, and have closets full of afghans I've made from the backs of my bunnies.  Nex step: learn how to knit. 
Then we came to the semi-large animals, and the shaking and crying and clinging commenced.  Yes, we want a farm.
After a tour of the zoo, I used up just about all of my local currency on creme puffs.  Fresh Eggs can wait for another day.  And those puffs....totally worth all the happy shrieking from my two sugar-high toddlers on the way home. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dictocrats and Potty-training

The Jarhead was away this past week for an exercise and per the usual, I decided to take on something challenging while he was gone.  It's usually something like rearranging all the furniture, painting, super duper spring cleaning..something like that.  I've even stretched myself a time or two and gotten a rockin' new hairdo while he's been away.  Now that's work right there.

This time I decided I would tackle the thus unsuccessful potty training.  I thought it might be a bit tough with my whiney little teether wanting every second of my time, but these are the challenges we military wives are told to adapt to and overcome, OoRah! 

I flunked. 

And as I was cleaning the third puddle of pee off the floor, I had this rising suspicion that my girl was doing this just to spite me.  Not really.  But sort of.

Fortunately the mail came and rescued me and my disgruntled attitude.  We got five packages in one day.  Three turned out to be car parts for the gear-head Jarhead, and two were from the gear-head Jarhead's mom.  Gotta say, I love my in-laws.  Upon reading my blogpost on popcorn and how I wasn't able to find any organic popcorn here, they mailed us four bags, totaling SEVEN pounds of the stuff!  Oh, ho, ho...does it get any better than that? 
 I suddenly remembered the chick flicks my Mom had mailed me that I hadn't had a chance to watch yet.  Oh, ho, ho, yes...

After I planned my evening, I took a look at the other package from my mom-in-law; this book,
 Being the educated woman that I am, I had no idea what a "dictocrat" was.  It sounded kind of like a democratic dictator, but then that seemed so oxy-moronic; like sweet little knick knacks that say "simplify" on them.  Thankfully the in-laws also provided us with a dictionary when we got married; something about the Jarhead declaring as a child that he would never have a dictionary in his house when he was grown up.  Hardy, har, har.  He didn't know that his one true love was a self-declared wordy, and already possessed a couple of dictionaries with broken bindings from constant use.  Webster was my steady companion through many assigned books in school...Shakespeare and Scott had much higher vocabularies than me.  I grabbed our beautiful wedding gift dictionary, and searched for the meaning of "dictocrat."  Turns out it's only a word in the mind of Sally Fallon.  Since I had chick-flicks to watch and popcorn to eat...*cough*...I haven't had an opportunity to read it yet.  I gave it a quick flip-through and it seems very interesting.  More importantly she defines what she means by diet dictocrats: "Doctors, researchers and spokesmen for various government and quasi-government agencies, such as the FDA," etc.
I am looking forward to perusing it soon, and will no doubt be writing a review so stay tuned. 

 And say a little prayer for me and my daughter; potty training shall be conquered!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunning Diapers

The girls' diapers were showing stains and getting a little funky, so I sun-bleached them.  By my front door.  I'm sure the neighbors were in awe.
Now I leave you with a conundrum to ponder; we sun ourselves to make us darker and sun our diapers to make them whiter. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Three R's and Disinfecting

When I was 14 years old, my family moved to a new town where we didn't recycle.  We had up to that point, so I am sure it had something to do with the town, or Waste Management there. 

Suffice it to say, for many years I was not in the habit of it.  When I married the Jarhead, our 3rd home was on Quantico Marine Base where the housing is beautiful, and feels like your own.  They provided us with some pretty blue bins, and feeling like a snazzy, grown-up homeowner, I decided I would be responsible and recycle.  I will openly confess though, I was pretty lazy about it.  When it came time to clean out the fridge, I wasn't about to even open the 6 month old sour cream; let alone scoop it out and wash the container.  And the Jarhead had this nasty habit of leaving plastic lunch containers in his pack...for a week...and then bringing them home and placing them lovingly in the sink for me to take care of.  Do you have any notion what a used protein shaker cup smells like after being sealed for that long?  My nose was far too delicate for that kind of work, and into the trash it went.  GNC loved us; we bought alot of shaker cups. 

Fast forward to 2009 when we moved overseas and were presented with a stack of papers on the rules and SOFAS of our new home.  A few pages were dedicated to...recycling.  Turns out, it's mandatory here, which AFN commercials remind us of daily.  I'm talking strict rules and guidelines.  Everything must be placed in clear plastic bags and there must be a bag for shredded paper, a bag for colored paper, a bag for magazines and glossy paper.  Cans, glass, plastic, cardboard boxes, which must be collapsed, lined up and taped together in a criss-cross pattern.  The list went on and on.  I was in shock and thought I wouldn't ever be able to do anything fun here, just expend my life in the cause of recycling, sorting trash into separate bins.  Forever.  *sniff*

Turns out it's not that big of a deal.

And now when it comes time to clean out the fridge and I find the green sour cream, I dump the contents and wash the container.  My nose has adjusted.  And my sweet tender conscience wins out against my lazy, snobby side in an all-out shoulder duel when I come across something kind of gross and am tempted to just chuck it all into the can.  It's a close call as my devil shoulder exclaims that God never said to recycle!  But then my sweet tender angel comes back with something along the lines of submitting to the governing authority and it's all up; I must do it, grumbling though I might be. 

When there is something completely the Jarhead leaves a porkchop in a container in his pack for 9 days and then remembers it....old habits die hard...I, well, I let him take care of it and turn a blind eye.  Pretty sure the plastic container goes straight into the trash, but I can neither confirm nor deny.

All this recycling has been a good influence on us, and we have tried to cut back on our waste.  Which brings me to today, when I snazzily repurposed an old familar friend.   

This is my towel. 
I've had two towels in my life since I was 5 years old; the one before this one was white with mutli-colored pastel stripes and it was a sad day when, at long last, it had to be replaced.  That is where this, my beloved pink towel came in.  It served me well for many, many years, when yesterday I thanked it for it's service by cutting it up into little rectangles, and sewing a zig-zag stitch around each one.  Some things you just can't bare to chuck in the trash, you know.  Thankfully in the name of recycling I don't have to address my psychotic attachment issues with bath towels; I'm just saving the planet, man.  And getting some wash rags for free.  Score.  Serve me well, pink rags. 

 Today I made up a disinfecting cleaner recipe and it's wondrous.  It's 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil, and 1/4 teaspoon tea tree essential oil. 
 And then I tried to get a picture of it's germ fighting power in action.  Fail. 
One of the seventeen photos I took I was trying to get a picture of the spray coming at the camera.  My camera...and my arms and face, are completely disinfected now.  And I didn't even get a good picture. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Avoiding Fast Food

You know those days when you end up being out of the house much longer than you anticipated?  Wrong turns (my specialty), errands that take longer than you ever thought they possibly could, and the old paunch starts saying things like, "grrrrrr, feed me."  Or if it's having a bad day, "food now, or I eat your lung."  Yes, my stomach is just like that...evil.  And I had "one of those days" yesterday.

I got the girls ready, and myself all dolled up, then eagerly left the house early to go watch the Jarhead, who had a prominent role in a change of command ceremony.  It was in an area I don't normally go to and I got lost.  Hopelessly.  Being directionally challenged, it was far from a new experience for me.  I've weaved my way through countless unfamiliar steets, half-panic stricken, sure that if I stop my car for a second I will be pounced upon and murdered.  I've learned over the years to enjoy the ride; or as my Dad-in-law would say, "you can miss an exit, but never miss a meal."  

Yesterday though, I was not in the mood.  I got out of the house late...excessive nose powdering...and was already pressed for time.  After driving around in apparent circles for a good bit, I set my eyes on a taxi and decided I would follow it wherever it went.  I informed God of my decision and asked that the taxi man would happen to be heading in the direction I needed to go in.  No sooner had I made my request than a sign came into view showing me just where I needed to go, and we finally arrived, 30 minutes late.

Thankfully, the ceremony was still going.  Bless you, long-winded Generals.  And the Jarhead was rockin' his combat uniform. *swoon*
After the ceremony we  had some other errands to run, and inevitably ended up being out until lunchtime.  I contemplated whipping through a drivethru...just this once...for about 38 seconds when my daughter echoed the whine of my belly with a, "Mama, I'm hungry!"  The greasy thought was enough to turn me off of it; and enlarge my nose pores.

I've been looking for ways to make "grab and go" snacks for just such occasions.  I bought a food dehydrator prompted by visions of eating delicious homemade trail mix while wearing hiking boots and doing something outdoorsy.  The first things I dehydrated were banana slices.  I cut up ripe bananas and layed the slices out on the tray.  Some hours later, they had shrivelled up into almost unrecognizable blobs.  Still you can't judge a book by it's cover, so I took some off the tray and brought them to the Jarhead to try.  He said something along the lines of, "ewww, yuck!  No, not happening."  Perhaps I should've waited for them to cool before giving them to him....maybe.  Still, I thought it had to be possible to make banana chips that actually looked like, well, banana slices.  I read somewhere that green bananas hold their shape much better through dehydration, so when I found a large bunch of green bananas for cheap at the farmer's market, I snagged them.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to peel a green banana?  I ended up doing three of them; enough to fill one tray.
I knew something was amiss when they dried in just a couple of hours.  They were nasty.  Don't ask me why I thought they would magically taste sweet and wonderful after dehydration, when they tasted like chalk before dehydration.  My brain is way ahead of reality.
I made a recipe I found for flaxseed crackers too.  The taste was wonderful but the consistency was like...whole flaxseeds smashed together.  It wasn't rockin' my socks.  I made fruit roll-ups with applesauce; they didn't do much for me.  I cut up a honeydew and dehydrated wasn't terrible....  *sigh*
Anyone in the market for a dehydrator?

So, how do you avoid fast food when out and about?  Any recommendations for snazzy snacky stuffs for grab and go convenience? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Buy Local, Buy Fresh

There is nothing like a day full of errands to get the juices flowing in the morning; that and a big cup of delicious coffee.  I haven't been able to indulge in the latter in quite some time because the transformation caffeine renders on me is akin to the Hulk.  I don't turn green and gain mass amounts of sinewy muscle, but I do most definately turn "super."  My productivity level spikes dramatically as I shake my way through the day.  I'm talkin' the shakes like a shy person singing at the Superbowl.  Many well-intentioned friends have suggested decaf.  Decaf coffee?!  It's like fat free butter!  Sugar free ice cream!  What has happened to the world??  In a fit of pure geniusness, I created a coffee shop in my mind called "Half-Caff" and thought I would make millions of dollars selling coffee to the masses with half the amount of caffeine as regular coffee.  I excitedly related my plan to a friend, who said, "yeah...they've already got that at the store." 
Curses; foiled again.

With the immense amount of errands I had to do, I got my non-caffeinated self and the two sweeties ready to go and set off.  The first place we hit was the local farmer's market. 
Like discovering color in a world of black and white, the fragrance and taste are beautifully overwhelming with locally, organically grown produce.  It takes me back to playing outside during long Summer days, and heading to my Mother's garden whenever I needed a snack.  Cherry tomatoes, green beans, chives...they seldom made it inside with my grazing. 
How have we grown accustomed to such flavorless produce shopping at the supermarket?  The convenience of a one-stop wonder is not worth it.  For flavor, for health, for freedom!  Charge on over to to find locally grown, organic produce in your area (USA).

I know it is not always possible to buy organic everything.  Many factors, including finances and location can greatly hinder doing so.  The Environmental Working Group recently put together a new shopper's guide on buying produce:

 These "dirty dozen" are the things you should buy organically, or at least try to avoid when shopping in a supermarket due to the high pesticide residue found on them.

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines - imported
7. Grapes - imported
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries - domestic
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/Collard Greens

  The produce with the least amounts of pesticide residue, or "the clean 15" are:
1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe - domestic
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

Ewww, mushrooms.  Make that the clean 14 for me...pesticides or not, mushrooms are just plain dirty and disgusting.  Except for when they are stuffed with bacon and cheese...I'm proud to be an American.  Pass the ketchup.   

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The past few days have found me soaking up every second I could get with my Jarhead, who took some much needed leave.  We did some fun family stuff, and burned up way too much gas trying to find a waterfall that doesn't seem to exist.  I've made popcorn.  Lots and lots of popcorn.  We've always been fans of the stuff, and used to buy the healthy microwave kind, before realizing that "microwave" and "healthy" really shouldn't be together; they don't get along so well.  Both of our mothers knew this, and popped it on the stove throughout our upbringings.  We decided it was high time to get back to our roots, so I bought some popping corn, and asked my Mom for her "desert storm" recipe.  Desert storm happens to be the best popcorn on the face of the earth...popped in olive oil, with a sprinkling of salt.  Butter is a capital crime.  You can go ahead and call me plain jane.  The recipe was 3 Tbsp olive oil, and 1/2 cup of popcorn.  Cook covered over medium heat until it starts to pop, then cock the lid slightly to let air out.  Pop until it starts to slow down a bit, then remove from the heat.  I thought, knowing my Mom, that 1/2 cup of popcorn would in no way be enough for us, so I doubled it and used a big pot.  I watched in awe as the corn popped, and then "ooohed" and "ahhhed" my way through the grand finale; it was impressive.  And it lifted the lid right off my pot.  And lifted it higher.  I put back the huge metal bowl I had intended to serve the popcorn in, and got out the gigantic one.  I think 1/2 cup would have been enough.  This picture doesn't do the mass quantity justice because Jarhead has huge hands....ahhh, those hands. *swoon*
Delicious.  So much so that we had it for dinner the next night; and the night after.  That's the epitome of health right there; nothing like a well balanced diet.  Of course this was before my discovery that everything corn you can buy that isn't organic is a GM food, *gasp*  I've searched high and low on the commissary shelves and can't find organic popping corn. *sigh*

On top of the popcorn, I made ice cream for a special treat.  My fantabulous, ice-cream lovin' mother-in-law made us a gift of my Kitchen Aid, along with an ice cream maker attachment and the Ben and Jerrys Cookbook.  I'm from New England...Ben and Jerrys ice cream is my love language.
There is something wonderful about indulging in a special treat when you know exactly what's in it; it kind of takes some of the guilt away.  Fully deserving of my plain Jane christening, my favorite ice cream in the world is...vanilla.  To quote my good friends Ben and Jerry, "a good vanilla ice cream is the measure of all ice creams."  True that. 

Ben and Jerry's Vanilla Ice Cream

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream (conveniently, 1 pint)
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Do a float test on your eggs to make sure they are still good (if you don't shop at an overseas military commissary, you may be able to forgo this important step).  Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.  Pour in the cream, milk, and vanilla and whisk to blend.  
Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.
Makes 1 quart.
Now that floats my boat. 

I made pancakes again too, this time reaching deep down inside and gathering my courage to attempt a mickey mouse face for my daughter.  I am now part of the club; the mickey mouse club. 
M-I-C-K-E-Y  M-O-U-S-E!
You may be wondering what happened to his ear.  I fancy he fell on hard times after retirement due to a series of bad investments, and, while hungrily scrounging around for food one night, found a solitary piece of cheese in the middle of a wood and metal contraption.  Part of his ear didn't make it out.  My daughter didn't seem to notice, so I didn't have to relate my gruesome tale.  She was however quite upset when I chopped Poor Mick into bite-sized pieces for her.  Woops.  Her imagination, every bit as vivid as mine set to work, and she began putting in requests.  "Make Donald Duck Mom!  And Daisy, and Goofy, and Special Agent Oso, and Handy Manny, and....."  !!!!!  I think I'll stick with circles from here on out.

I received another book I ordered in the mail the other day, and am captivated.  I searched for hours online looking for a book that would give me what I wanted in the way of herbal medicine.  I ended up with A Modern Herbal.  It was just what I was looking for.  I believe whole-heartedly that God has provided what we need for our health in nature; we just need to learn how to apply it.  One of my favorite quotes from the introduction of the book is, "Surely it makes a garden more romantic and wonderful to know that Wallflowers, Irises, Lupins, Delphiniums, Columbines, Dahlias and Chrsyanthemums, every flower in the garden from the first Snowdrop to the Christmas Rose, are not only there for man's pleasure but have their compassionate use in his pain." 
 I couldn't have said it better. 

My girls are excellent mess-makers.  My oldest dropped a jar of applesauce on one carpet in the house, and spilled a bit of blueberry yogurt on another.  I decided to test the "all-surfaceness" of my all-surface cleaner, and sprayed it on both.  Incredibley, they both lifted immediately out of the carpet with minimal blotting.  I had a few other stains on the carpets that had stubbornly remained after bouts with Resolve, and two steam cleanings.  I sprayed them too, not expecting too much.  They lifted right out as well!  I was near giddy, and looking for every little thing I could smite with my cleaner.  I spotted some marker on the daughter is a very talented artist.  Again, it lifted right out.  This is the same all-surface cleaner that costs 5 cents to make 32 ounces.  I need it in my life.