We've spent the last year reading through our Herb Fairies books and the kids still love them! It's been such a cool way for them to learn about different herbs and really internalize their medicinal uses. Sam was even able to use an herb once when we were out hiking. It was such a proud moment for him.
You guys, I'm super excited about this Herb Fairies Book Club I just signed up for, but I feel so bad because the sign up period has already closed! I found out about it just before it closed and only barely got in in time, otherwise I totally would've mentioned it on here earlier. But it will open up again next April, so bookmark it, or pin it, or whatever, because it looks awesome!
Okay, this post is totally not because I'm anywhere near getting ready for birth! I haven't had that urge (yet?). But I imagine this advice is plenty pertinent for quite a few of you, or someone you know. There are so many things I wish I had known before getting pregnant and giving birth, things I wish I had prepared for. If there is a third baby in our future, I'll definitely being trying a few of these tricks!
When Clay saw me reading this book he was like, "Why do you need a whole book? Can't you basically feed them like adults, only less?" Well, yes, more or less, except that what passes for food now (adult food and baby food) is so hugely different from what kids should actually be eating, that I think yes, we do need this book. Everyone needs this book! Check out these super scary statistics.
Were I not already a lover of sweet potatoes, this book could have hooked me with its opening reference to Anna Karenina! Of course, I am not surprised that a thoroughly researched, brilliantly written book full of powerful information and delicious recipes should open with a literary reference. The reason? It is written by one of my dearest friends, an all-around renaissance woman who can quote Tolstoy while whipping up a perfect sweet-potato frittatta!
Wouldn't it be nice if someone boiled down all the magic and mystery of herbal medicine making into one tidy little book? Something manageable, something you would actually use? Oh, wait they did! It's right here.
The nice thing about Holly's book is that she focuses on thirteen basic herbs that she calls the essential herbs.
I've had this powerful stuff brewing on my counter for about a week and a half and I couldn't wait to try it out! Well, not on myself, but on some unsuspecting person with a cold coming on. Truthfully I was a little afraid of its awesome power! The recipe is SUPER simple, belying its cold-fighting super powers. If you want to mix up a batch yourself, here's what you do.
The GAPS diet we're doing is no sugar and no grain (among other things); I thought I would miss sugar the most, but that hasn't been the case at all. I'm actually pretty okay without it. But I do really miss starches and grains. So, this recipe for GAPS granola has been on my list to try. It was such a hit!! My mom who is in town for a month and has gamely been sticking to the diet with us (and by the way, feels great, has lost some weight and her arthritis is hardly bothering her at all where it was quite bothersome before) declared it was the best granola she has ever tasted, with or without grains! I must admit, we're all pretty crazy about it. The original recipe is from the Internal Bliss cookbook, but I modified the recipe quite a bit, so I'll share our version here:
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cups sunflower seeds
3 (or maybe 4, I can't remember) cups dried coconut, the large flakes
1/4 cup honey (warmed, if necessary)
1/8 cup oil (something mild-tasting; I used safflower)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup dried fruit pieces (I cut up apricots, apples, dates and then tossed in some raisins and cranberries too)
A bit of coconut flour (optional, but I used it to toss the cut dried fruit pieces in so they didn't stick to each other and clump up in the granola)
Mix everything but the fruit and coconut together, spread it out on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350 for at least fifteen minutes. Mix in the coconut and give it another five minutes, but keep an eye on it and stir it every few minutes as it browns quickly. Finally, toss it with the dried fruit and then pour yourself a big bowl and enjoy! We think it's soooo yummy; let me know if you try it and love it too!
This week we started the GAPS Diet (hence the light posting; I've been passed out on the couch from major detoxing even though I'm only partially doing the intro diet). We have some friends whose son was recently diagnosed with autism so they started the diet. We thought now would be the perfect time to start so we could simultaneously support them and have someone to talk with about it. Although, they've ended up being more of a support to us since they started first and can assure us that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel! We've been wanting to do the diet for awhile to help Sam get his digestion back on track after all his abdominal surgeries and the major load of antibiotics and hard drugs that were involved.The silver lining of this crazy diet is that I was inspired to make lots of yummy, femented veggies!
I mostly used recipes from Nourishing Traditions, plus that exotic beet one from the Nourished Kitchen. We found that the Nourishing Traditions recipes were a bit too salty for our taste, so I think I'll cut back next time or just try a vegetable starter culture and skip the salt altogether.
But what fun it was to fill jars and jars and line them all up on my counter to work their magic! It makes me smile every time I look at them. And, of course, now that they're ready to eat it makes me smile to eat them too:)Sam is a good helper; his favorite job is grating the ginger:) After several days of being so lethargic and having no appetite I was so thrilled when he requested some saurkraut, of all things. He's really quite good at listening to his body and knowing what it needs.
We made the beets with orange zest and spices, daikon radish, gingered carrots and a medley of turnip, golden beets (such a gorgeous color!) and onion, and I've got a pineapple waiting to be combined with some cilantro and other goodies for a fermented chutney!
PS If you're thinking about doing this diet, totally get the guidebook . Dr. Campbell is brilliant, but I found myself hunting through the book for information; it just isn't organized in a super user-friendly way. I also just ordered the cookbook ; I'm excited for a little variety:)
Sometimes when I finally lay my dog-tired bones down at night, so excited to get the rest I've been looking foward to all day... I can't fall asleep!! Does this happen to anyone else? All of a sudden my mind just goes into overdrive and starts thinking about and processing all the things I haven't had time to stop and think about during the day. Then I start thinking about how Vivi is going to wake up to nurse in only a few short hours and how I really need to get as much sleep as I can before then, and it gets even worse! Sometimes I'm awake for hours... Enter, the Snooze Tincture!
I've been crazy busy lately, so this pre-mixed herb blend was so perfect. It's got all sorts of good things in it; chamomile, hops, lemon balm, passion flower, all sorts of dreamy stuff. All I had to do was toss it into a mason jar with a little glycerin and water. Now it sits on my counter, patiently extracting all those good sleep-inducing, eyelid-drooping juices. A few shakes a week and one month later and I should be falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. What I'd really like is Sam's ninja master trick of falling asleep mid-play:)
PS I overstuffed mine; don't cram quite so many herbs into your jar! I guess mine will just be extra strong?
Remember the sauna? I know, it was started so long ago, we practically forgot about it ourselves. Well, just me really, Clay hasn't stopped thinking about it, he just hasn't had a spare moment to work on it. Until recently. And now, with a finished sauna, and me no longer pregnant (apparently they're a no-no when you're preggie), we've been basking in the warm, woodsy heat of the sauna at least once a week. It sure makes winter more bearable.
There's something sort of primal about the sauna; the dimly lit, cave-like interior; the elemental smell of the heat and the wood; the way you leave behind not only your clothes, but the worries and demands on your time that somehow seem so pressing only moments before you step inside.
It's a funny thing about the sauna, time doesn't seem to hold the same properties once inside. On occasion I've only been in there a mere ten minutes, yet it seems as if time lengthens like melted honey. Other times 30 or 40 minutes can easily drift quickly by.
"When I sit in the sauna," Clay says, "I feel like a king." It's true. Life just doesn't get much better than the simple bodily pleasures: good food, soft beds, healthy bodies. It's a richness that doesn't necessarily come from dollars and cents (this sauna, in fact, was pretty much free, made all from reclaimed materials and the wiring work was a trade). I'm often reminded of the rustic tujs I bathed in while living in Guatemala. Like a stone sauna, one would crouch in through the low door. The same combination of hot rocks and water turned the somewhat ugly, cinder block structure into something of beauty. No spa treatment I've experienced comes close to the relaxing, rejuvenating effect of a simple tuj (or sauna!).
The cold and flu pills I made really were a piece of cake. It was slightly time consuming to fill all the little pills, but that was outweighed by how much I just love that little capsule-making gadget. But making a tincture was even easier! I used the same combination of herbs (goldenseal, echinacea, licorice root, and ginger) and put them to soak in glycerin and water for a few weeks, shaking the jar a few times a day. I kept it where I'd see it regularly so the herbs could get a good toss every once in a awhile. Once it was done I just strained it into jars and it was ready to go!
Clay swears by this stuff. There's been a cold knocking at our door the past week or two and we've mostly kept it at bay by dosing ourselves with this mixture and some lobelia tinctured in apple cider vinegar from Clay's mom.
For our handmade sibling gift exchange this year I drew Clay's little sister Molly's name. I made her a kit of all sorts of herbal remedies, salves, lotions and potions with a cute rice bag tucked in (I wish I had a picture; somehow I didn't take pictures of any of the rad gifts this year!). It was really fun to try some new recipes and learn as I went. I feel so much more capable now and the whole process seems more straightforward and less like mystical wizard science. Herbal remedy making is one of those things you just have to jump into and get your hands a little messy before you can feel confident. But once you do it's like a whole new world of possibilities opens up. I'm much less intimidated now and feel like I can experiment and improvise a bit.
PS If you're local, Industrial Container is the place to go for little glass jars and droppers and all sorts of things. They're prices change daily, so just go there and browse around. It's really inexpensive, as in pennies per jar. If you're not local, Mountain Rose Herbs has lots of great, reasonably priced containers too.
This winter I'm going to start dosing my boys with herbal remedies at the first sign of a sniffle! Clay and Sam always pick up the same germs; if one of them has something I know it's only a matter of days before the other one's got it too. But now I'm prepared!
I ordered some powdered herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and made this anti-viral, anti-bacterial blend to be used for all sorts of things. Even though I ordered the smallest amount it still made a ton! I need to find some friends to split it with. I made about half a mason jar full of the pills so we'll have plenty on hand and I may make a tincture in glycerin as well. I feel so safe and empowered knowing that I can make things to take care of my family. And, as often happens when I learn to do something new, I think, "Well for heaven's sake, this is so easy! Why haven't I been doing this all along?!"
I love, love, LOVE this little gadget! You just put in the capsules, pour your herbal mixture in and tamp it down, then snap on the top and pop out these perfect little pills! So satisfying, and SO easy! And I think it was only $15 or something. Seriously, why did I ever buy pills at the store?
The wonderful thing is that I know exactly what went into these; no filler, just packed tight with fresh, organic herbs. The recipe I used was so simple too. It's just equal parts echinacea, ginger, goldenseal and licorice root. You can totally do this!
I had such a nice time making these. Sam was napping (a rare treat these days) and Vivian was sitting in her bouncy seat, happily supervising my work. The afternoon sun was coming through the window as I sat quietly filling and refilling the machine as my stash of capsules grew. I'm so excited about how easy this was and I can't wait to try some different recipes.
This is a guest post from Stephanie of Mama and Baby Love that didn't make it up during my blogging "maternity leave," but I thought I'd share it today. Sam and I have been doing a little yoga from the Yoga Today site lately. He'll do the poses on his own little yoga mat right next to me for the first fifteen minutes or so. Then it's off to play, or to climb on Warrior I Mama to make the pose extra challenging. Viv hasn't gotten in on the action yet, but doesn't this look like a fun way to start?
Going to a mama-baby yoga class is great. But what if you don't have a baby yoga class in your
area? How do you get started? First, learn a little yoga from a book, DVD,
or my blog.
Don't try to learn all the poses at once. Take a look at one pose and try it out. Once you have that one down, take a look at
another and try to incorporate that into your yoga routine. Just one step at a time. Baby steps, for baby
Second, instead of trying to find a time to "do" yoga, incorporate it into your baby's playtime on the floor, or as you go about your day. You can do Toes to the Nose, while you are changing a diaper, Moon Toe while you are nursing, or you can do Down Dog when you are potty training and need to wipe a tiny bum!
Third, the only thing you need is you and your baby. No mats, no supplies, nothing. All you need is for baby to be in comfortable
clothing. All that really means is no jeans,
or long dresses. You can do baby yoga
anytime of the day, though I would wait about 10 or 15 minutes after eating. Another time you don't want to do yoga, is if
your baby has a fever or is sick. Just
like you shouldn't exercise when you are fighting a cold, so your body spends
its in energy in rejuvenation.
Lastly, just do it! Make a commitment to a few yoga poses a day with your child. Even it’s just a couple of deep breaths.
I love doing yoga with my daughter because no matter how busy our day is, I can always carve out time to do yoga with her and instantly reconnect with her.
Even though our garden is still producing plenty of late-season veggies, I'm thinking ahead to our standard fall and winter "wheatgrass ." When we start feeling that sense of deprivation that comes from consuming only pale and limp grocery store veggies, we break out the trays and the juicer and start our own indoor meadow right there on the counter top.
It really is so very simple. And in addition to providing healthy juice, it's pleasant to have something vibrant and green to rest your eyes on. The only catch is that you have to have a juicer ; don't even try it in your regular blender or juicer. It'll mess it all up. But they're not too expensive and it's a fun gadget to have around.
Sam loves helping pick the grass and turn the crank. He can do the whole operation by himself. The only thing he doesn't do is drink the juice. He tried it once and that was enough for now:)
If you want to try it yourself all you'll need are some wheat berries, trays and the juicer. Just put some dirt in the tray, cover the top with wheat berries, water it and let it sit, covered with another tray, until they begin to sprout. Once they sprout, take off the cover and let the grass grow, keeping it watered. You'll be surprised how fast it grows; you can practically see the little blades stretching toward the light.
And you'll be able to get more than one harvest out of your tray. Start at one end and snip off a couple handfuls of grass for each "shot" of juice. By the time you get to the end of the tray, that first row will have grown tall again and will be ready for round two. Enjoy!
Good morning! Sorry about the lack of a Make and Do post this morning. I usually write them the night before, but last night I was blissed out at Rebecca's massage clinic and had tapioca for brains when I got home. I just poured myself into some PJs and fell blissfully asleep; here's a visual below to give you an idea of just how relaxed I was:) She totally worked me over with all her late pregnancy tricks; clary sage essential oil, various acupressure and reflexology points etc. I'm amazed at how she can find the exact perfect spot, and also at how sore these random little spots can be. I could tell when she'd found one for sure! And she's so good about working on a spot until it's really done. So often I'll get a massage and the person moves onto the next spot before they've really worked out the soreness in the first one; they just stick with their routine. But Rebecca's really intuitive and her massages are amazing!
Tomorrow morning I'm heading in to our midwife's and we're going to try sweeping the membranes and taking some black and blue cohosh to get things started. Monday will be 42 weeks and after that UT law says a licensed midwife can't attend you at home. But, with Rebecca's fantastic massage and a bit of help from the cohosh, I think we'll be able to have a little birthday party this weekend.