Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chocolate-Buttermilk Spice Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

I am posting this recipe, because sometimes I get requests for the recipe. I often make this cake for special occasions and it is really really delicious! It is a recipe that I have adapted from a couple of other recipes.

Chocolate-Buttermilk Spice Cake : 
cooking time is for a bunting pan.  325 degrees for about 70 minutes.  This timing depends on your oven and your pan.  You may want to check it at 60 minutes to see if it might be done.  You can also adapt this to make cupcakes pretty easily..just check the timing of how long to make regular cupcakes and subsititue the temp and time.    (probably 350 degrees for about 15-17 minutes or so)

3 cups raw or white sugar
3 cups of unbleached white flour
3/4 cup of butter
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
3/8 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:  (prepare the day before or many hours before to give the cake enough time to cool)
You will need 2 bowls and one sauce pan
  1. preheat oven to 325. grease and flour your pan (or put parchment paper on the bottom)--it can be hard to get this cake out of the pan and the paper might make a difference.
  2. sift sugar and flour together in one bowl
  3. in sauce pan, combine butter, oil, water, and cocoa, bring to a boil, remove from heat and add to dry ingredients
  4. dissolve baking soda in buttermilk; then add eggs, salt,cinnamon, and vanilla. Then mix this with the cocoa mixture 
  5. pour batter into pan and bake.
When the cake is done baking, set it aside and let it cool completely before trying to get the cake out of the pan.  I have destroyed this cake a couple of times trying to get it out too soon. you may need to loosen the cake or pat the sides and bottom to try not to break the cake before it comes out in one piece. If it does break, you can often mend it with the frosting.

Whipped Cream Frosting
prepare the day of the event as it is best fresh

1 package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of raw or white sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream

  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. 
  2. In another bowl, whip the cream until it stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
Alltogether: Cover the cake with the frosting carefully:  using a rubber spatula works really well. It is often fun to let the kids add sprinkles and candles. 

As you can see, I have made this cake many many times now over the past few years for both my kids!  (-; 

Updated:  Now for all 3 of my kids!  (the above pictures are so old now!)  2013

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


In this time before Thanksgiving (Black Friday and Lots of Food) in light of having Gestational Diabetes, I am faced with the the ongoing challenge of RESTRAINT.. 

Black Friday has never been a temptation me for, but online shopping has at times..  (-; and in light of $$ restraint, my husband and I have started a system of checking in with each other each and every week to account ourselves to what we have spent money on and to align it with the reality of how much $$ is left in checking.  It was really hard to do this at first...(analyzing reality..and not judging ourselves on our splurges, but simply looking at and being accountable for what we have spent) But--it is becoming a wonderful tool and I know it helps keep me in line with "reality"  The book, Your Money or Your Life has really inspired me to do this in a non-judgemental way...tallying every cent that is spent to see just how that money is spent and on what, and to think about the life energy that was used with purchases..and to determine whether it was worth it or not, or if the purchase reflects values, etc..  Choosing Family over Frenzy (an article about Black Friday over consumption)

On the GD topic--I have now had one week of being on a very strict eating regimine of also recording everything I eat and tallying grams of carbs.  I have to eat 6 times a day and have a min/max carb intake combined with a fat/protein and I have to test my blood 4x/day.

So, this is what it looks like on a normal school day with an example of what I've been eating:

5:30 get up and test blood
6:30 (30 carb max/min)  (which is about 1/3 cup of oatmeal and some nuts and 1/2 cup of milk) no sugar
8:30 test blood
10:30 snack (15-30 carb)--perhaps an apple and PB
12-1 lunch (30 carb/max/min)  1 meat sandwich on sprouted wheat bread with a veggie.
3pm test blood
3pm snack (5-15 carb):  some cottage cheese and pomegranite
6pm dinner (30-45 carb)  chicken with 1/2 cup of quinoa or rice and a veggie
8pm test blood
10pm snack (5-15 carb)  about 10 tortilla chips and 2TB of salsa

It is pretty healthy and it is good to see what my blood sugar does with each thing I eat. For example: I've had a white flour food--like pizza and white bread twice and both times, my blood sugar spiked over normal, so I know I need to avoid white bread right now.  I can eat 2 slices of sprouted whole wheat/grain bread and do fine, but if it were white bread, I'd be out of norm. range.

My goal is to stay under 95 for first in the AM fasting sugar level, and under 120-2 hours after each meal.  So, far, I'm doing pretty well staying in that range..when I keep to the schedule..or get extra exercise.

Last night I had a bad dream, though, and I think it threw my numbers off-stress..feeling tired (maybe fighting a cold) and feeling discouraged...getting tired of the regimine..I miss the treats..  It isn't always easy using restraint all the time..restraint in eating and in spending $$...I guess I'm used to rewarding or comforting myself in those ways at times, and I can't allow myself to resort to those patterns when I'm feeling blue..  so I am left with feeling bummed out about it.. 

I read from the book, Your Money or Your Life that frugality is not about denying yourself--the orginal definition is  frugality is being happy with less.  I really really jive with liberating it would be to be HAPPY with LESS..It is completely the opposite of what we are fed by the media every day--You need more to live in more luxury to make you have less work to do at home..(but you have to work more to have more of those conveniences)  What if it really is easier and better to live without that find you don't need it afterall..  don't really need a 2nd in turn don't need as much money going out to pay for the car or fixing/replacing cheaply made dishwasher..  What if there are many many more of those things we could learn to live "without"--how much more liberating that could be!!   

(I'm speaking as my own pep-coach)---as I am on this journey...but not very far into it yet..  Step by step..  So, it also seems that restraint must be what I practice right unfun as it feels right now..  because I would love to have a slice of apple pie right now..or a gingerbread latte to help boost the feeling of being bummed right now.. (but I absolutely can't right now)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gestational Diabetes

Drama yesterday and didn't sleep well last night because of it. 

Last Thursday I took the 3 hour glucose test after having an abnormal 1 hour test.  I had dreaded it and even considered not taking it.  My feeling lately has been that modern medicine is so fear mongering and highly invasive..I have been determined to not live in anxiety during this pregnancy.  I have noticed that even my favorite pregnancy book is filled with the really nice images of a baby's growth every week, but then the rest of each chapter is all about all that can go wrong!  Not really helpful..since stress and worry can cause even more problems.  I'm highly prone to worry, so I'm just trying to think positively and it made me resentful that I had to take 100grams of glucose which I knew would make me feel sick for a whole day and make me worry...I had been feeling mentally/emotionally really good my pregnancy and then this..   And I think attitude can be sooo important..Sometimes these excessive tests simply lead to more stress and money spent.  On the other hand, they can catch some important problems too, so I'm not totally against them.  (ie, I did take the test ultimately)

It took a week for them to get back to me. I thought, "no news is good news, I hope" Still, I worried.  Then yesterday at the worst possible time, I found the message from the clinic, when I had just brought my son home from school..a very tired and upset child who had yet again, had a bad "silly band" experience..  (had taken the chance and let him bring some to school) and he again gave away more than he had wanted to..  I got the message to call..and tried to call and talk to the nurse, but my son was not going to be calmed enough to really be able to do anything about getting the info I needed at that moment.  My 3 hour came back abnormal..  which I guess means I have gestational diabetes.  I didn't really think I'd fail it.  I've only gained 12 pounds and I'm 30 weeks..  But I'm not surprised I have issues with processing does make me feel tired..and I do feel sensitive to it.. (and I've been having too much of it lately with the Halloween candy hanging around)--occasionally I also have a big bowl of spaghetti for lunch, or a bowl of popcorn at night..and I know those have been splurges.  And we often have a mix of whole grain bread, but also have some white ciabatta bread occasionally too..  But, I do eat really good meals with proteins and whole grains and fresh veggies..and avoid processed foods most of the time.. 

I am hoping that (the splurges aside)  I have been keeping my blood sugars managed through how I eat..although I bet I could exercise more.  It has been increasingly difficult to get to the gym.. But I do walk back and forth between home and school quite a bit and do lots of chores around the house, etc.. 

I know what I can do better..But, perhaps, I'm okay because I have been fairly moderate in my eating..(for the most part)...and maybe don't need to worry too much.  My son was 7#2oz, 7 years ago, and my daughter was 7#8oz almost 6 years ago...not big babies..  so hopefully this baby will be fine too.  probably a little bigger, though, since she is the 3rd..  Although I do remember my son's blood sugar dropping a lot the first couple of days after birth..  The pediatrician said it was because he was 2 weeks late..but perhaps I had had some glucose issues then too.  (I did fail the 1 hour test that pregnancy too, but I passed the 3 hour)

I am thinking that just because I passed the 3 hour, didn't mean I didn't have issues I could have been mindful about...I was also tested the beginning of this pregnancy and I failed the one-hour and passed the 3 hour.  I am thinking I could have been less quick to dismiss that I had passed if I had realized that I might have have been borderline..could have been more mindful all this time..  I don't think the result is so black and white..  So, I resent the fear-mongering..  (my last doc appt when we didn't know the result yet, my doc made a comment about measuring a little bigger than norm)--and mentioned the possibility of ultrasound to see if it is the baby or amniotic fluid..  (but I seem to remember that I measure a little little big because I am soo small...the baby has nowhere to go, but out since I have a short waist/etc..)  Just the suggestion, made me feel angry at implanting the worry in my mind that didn't seem necessary (yet)--And I didn't like that she told me some "scary stories" to try to convince me to get the flu shot...She has no idea the research and agonizing I have already gone through in making that decision (last year).. Fear mongering...I'm really vulnerable to it, so I really resent the does not help me to make good decisions.  (and doesn't help me sleep at night!)

I remember watching..what was that movie..can't remember but it addressed how much fear American live in, because of the media, etc..  We are often manipulated by that fear mentality..  and I now feel really sensitized to it when someone uses that tactic...Even in the natural medicine side of things too..I respect Dr. Mercola's information, but his website is filled with sensationalism and fear mongering and conspiracy theory, etc..  It is on both sides..  I believe it is called "pathos"--the persuasion of our emotions.  Logos-persuasion to our minds, and ethos-persuasion to our ethics??  (It's been a long time since I learned those terms..)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dehydrating Tomatoes and Fruit Leather

A few weeks ago, I pulled out my dehydrator to dry some of my tomatoes. Dried tomatoes are very useful and delicous..You can add them to pizza, soups, salads, snack on them, etc..  It is also easier to dry fruits and vegetables than it is to can them.  I like to do both.  It is nice to have some variety during the winter months.  With the tomatoes, I took off ends and gave it and x cut on the bottom to help peel.  I peeled skins by putting tomatoes in hot water bath for 2 minutes, then cold water.  Then I sliced them and placed them on dehydrator.  Took many hours.. 

During this pregnancy I have also had a huge craving for nectarines, so I thought I'd try my first fruit leather and was astounded by how easy it was.  Nectarine Leather: Peel, core, slice, and stick them in a blender with some lemon, honey and spices.  I added nutmeg and yogurt as well.  Pour onto the dehydrator sheets (or cookie sheet if you are using and oven).  And be prepared for it to take many hours. You remove it when it is dry and tough, but a little bit tacky.  Stick in a jar, or line with saran wrap. Keeps for 1 month outside of refrigerator. Longer if refrigerated.


I also decided to try it with apples.  Apple Leather: I peeled, sliced, cored, added a little water, and cooked it until it was soft, added honey(or sugar), cinnamon, lemon, put in blender then poured into the dehydrator.  My kids expecially liked the apple leather.  I have read that adding yogurt to the recipe makes it extra delcious and healthy!

And it is beautiful!

For my dehydrator, I'm not sure if I recommend it yet or not, but so far it works really well.  (It is a "cheaper one" that I got off of Amazon a couple of years ago) I'm sure there are ones that are much better.  But, so far it has performed quite well.  I'm not sure about the plastic, though??  I have heard that Excalibers are really good.

 ThisNesco one is similar to the one I have.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Silly Bandz, Rainbow Fish, and My Son

My 7 year old son's first exposure to a school crazed fad: 

 I think it was about last week my son started really talking about Silly Bandz.  "Mom, I feel left out. Everyone has silly bandz at school.  I really want some; can we go buy some."  It was then that I had a little conversation with him about fads--how they come and go, and everyone goes crazy about one thing and then it passes when the next fad comes along.  I think for me, it was Garfield, then Michael Jackson, then Cabbage Patch Kids. 

This past Sunday, he decided to use his allowance money to buy himself his first Silly Bandz.  He was ecstatic about them and wore so many on his wrist, I was afraid his blood circulation would stop.  He gave some to his sister and even a heart one for me, and I think a Dino for Mike.  He played with them, he admired them, he organized them.  He was on cloud nine. 

Yesterday, he brought them to school, following the rules and only bringing them out for recess and snack time.  I was there at the beginning part of that, helping out in his classroom and saw the first signs of it..  The first couple of them, he received trades for, but then some of them he simply gave away with promises from a couple of kids that they would bring in a trade the next day. 

The hard part came when I picked him up from school and he took inventory of how many he had left.  He realized that he probably wouldn't get "trades" for most of the ones he gave away..and suddenly he realized that his prized collection was mostly depleted..He started talking about how some kids promised to be his friend, how others promised trades, how some kids broke the first one he gave them, and asked for a second one.  Then came the tears, the loss, and the anger.  For about the first hour, I tried to console him, and talk about what he learned from it..Told him I was proud of his generosity and that he made some kids pretty happy, I bet, but also to pay attention to how many he had meant to give away--and to not fall for the "I'll be your friend" line.  This conversation would have been fine, but my son has a way of not being consoled until he has cycled through the trauma, I guess..  He tends to continue to escalate with his feelings and this time he completely melted down-screaming, throwing things, the whole gamut.  Then I find myself, not able to be the compassionate listener anymore and getting harder on him.."It is time to move on..and not wallow in it--because with him, it tends to escalate"..  The episode lasted at least 3 hours, and I finally had to have him sit in a "calm down chair"--to keep him "safe".  His sister tried to help. she gave him a hug, and also  gave him back the silly bandz he had given her..The gesture helped. She did it at the right moment as he was becoming ready to move out of it.  Phew..

Since then, I have been thinking about the learning opportunity here.  Through this, we now have a reference point of how it feels to be taken advantage of--when it might be time to set a limit with other people and be able to say "NO"--  He experienced peer pressure...  On the flip side, he also experienced being generous, and I'm sure felt good at times at the joy it gave to his classmates.  He experienced the "emptying" out--and truly giving at a very generous level--without the holding back--most of us might have.. 

There is this book called the Rainbow Fish-A fish, who basked in his beautiful fins and kept them all to himself..but he was lonely and isolated.  Later, he decided to give away just one fin--but then was able to give away more and more until he only had one left.  It was only then, that he experienced joy and friendship.  There is another children's story, The Quiltmakers Gift, about a king who collected gifts, but was always searching for the one gift that would make him happy(because he was very unhappy despite all that he owned)--It wasn't until he wanted a quilt from the quiltmaker, and she told him to give away the rest of his gifts so he could have a quilt, that he found happiness..such joy in the giving away..not just a few things, but everything.
In the Baha'i Faith, we often look to the son of the Founder of our Faith for examples of how to live as a Baha'i..  Abdu'l-Baha' was known as "a candle who would weep his life away drop by drop to give his flame"--He was not generous as a token, he was generous to his core--to the point that he would not even have a bed to sleep in because he gave it away. 

Tristan was generous to the extent of emptying himself of what he treasured..but he also experienced the "fire" of agony at the loss of it--the consequence of what he did.. Perhaps a purifying fire (from this perspective).. 

So, there are many ways of looking at this---The importance of being assertive and not being taken advantage of or giving into peer pressure.  And, the true spirit of generosity without self-preservation.  What is the balance??  I don't have that answer.  I'm trying to figure it out for myself..  I can't give that answer to Tristan..but I think it is a good thing to think about..  On the one hand, I don't want him to be easily manipulated--and if the giving was because he was manipulated into it--than that is not good..  But if the giving was because he wanted to bring others joy--that is good, I think..  Also, like the rainbow fish, I think he liked his silly bandz because it gave him status--made him feel important, and when he gave them away, he also gave away the "status" that those bandz had given him.  The status evaporated--and I think he may have been crying about that too-- 

So, many aspects to this to process for him (and for us as a family!!)

Another book that is relevant to this is
You are Mine:  About puppets who think that their value comes from the toys they own: boxes and balls--and one puppet sells his home so he can try to have more boxes and balls than anyone(but still there are others who always have more-who are better Wemmicks)..until he finds the puppet maker who lets him know that what makes him special is not his toys... (The Baha'i perspective is that what makes us special is our spiritual reality--and our ability to rise above these material things, this material world-transcend and develop spiritual qualities-virtues)  such as generosity

A friend from the east coast facebooked me, telling me that she had just bought some silly bandz and wanted to mail them to my son to let him know that generosity can be returned..that it often is..  Really touched by this gesture..  So much better coming from someone from afar who cares--better than it would be coming from us.  There is something mystical sometimes about the "emptying out" --and what can end up filling that space can often be something so much more precious..such as the kind gesture of someone who has never even met him.  The bandz are not important, but that gesture is--and the feeling I think it gave to him when I told him this morning that someone he didn't even know cares about him..

What do you think????? 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Buying Stuff: Checklist

Our DVD recorder no longer records.  It cost us $200 about 4 years ago.  It has NOT been used heavily.  It was supposed to be a good brand. Panasonic.  Frustrated.  (this is a panasonic player-but not the one we have--still we may never buy Panasonic again..Our Panasonic phones have had very poor quality/performance as well.)

Because I am often frustrated with buying things that break, or finding out they are toxic, or there is a recall, etc, I thought I'd make a list of questions to ask myself before making a purchase.  (keeping in mind sustainability as well) 

Here is my preliminary list.

  1. Materials:  toxic?  will the toxicity impact our bodies, or a landfill?  If this item is for making food-what is it made of?? will it leach toxins into the food you eat/drink? Toys--lead, phalates, BPA? Was it made from recycled or raw materials?  How are those materials extracted? 
  2. How are the people treated who extract and manufacture your product?  How is the land treated in the process?  pesticides?  toxins disposed of?  trees cut down/replanted? 
  3. Place of manufacture and extraction of materials--what toxins were released in its creation?  was it made locally or from many places?  Was rainforest destroyed making this product?
  4. How will it be disposed of?  --recycled?  will it cause more toxins in its disposal?
  5. Quality Expectations and Price balance-How long will it last?   And is this item something I can afford?  Will the cheaper one ultimately save money?  what is the (true cost) of the cheaper one--did someone else pay the price (cheap labor, someone else's backyard destroyed?) Would delaying gratification--(saving and waiting for the better one) ultimately enable me to have one that will last much longer?  Can I really afford the true cost of the item?  Am I buying the cheaper one just because I can't wait to save up?  (if I absolutely can't ever afford it, can I get it used?)
  6. Can I make this item? 
  7. Can I use something else to substitute for this item instead of "buying" something new?
  8. Can I buy it used?
  9. Can I borrow it?  How often will I use it?  (do I REALLY need it?)
  10. Can I live without it?  (Do I REALLY need to replace my dishwasher?) Does handwashing really take more time? 
  11. What do I need this item for?  Will I need it NOW or can it put it off for when I will really need it?
  12. Am I responding to external pressure to buy it?  --a sale/ is popular to have this item.   an impulse.  they might run out of them. 
  13. If I am buying it new, have I read the reviews on it?  Are the reviews from people who have used it 1-5x, or someone who has owned it for years? 
  14. Instant Gratification--What is my mindset?  Am I being impulsive or am I able to walk away and resist it?  Am I in charge or is the "impulse" in charge of me? 
  15. Do I need to be dependent on this product?  Is there a way to live without it?  what creative way could I go without it?
  16. Is it replacing a broken item that could be fixed? (it may be cheaper to buy a new one instead of fixing it, but remember that a new one requires the manufacturing of new raw materials too)  Can you support a local artisan/mechanic by having it fixed instead?  Can you fix it yourself?
  17. Does this item have the ability to fix/replace parts?  Does it have metal or plastic internal parts?  Is it all integrated-so if one part fails, you are forced to replace the whole thing?
  18. Your own criteria?  Is buying this item congruent with your values?  --what you value in life?
  19. Each time you buy something you are taking a VOTE--what and who are you supporting by this purchase?  small farm vs. big agribusiness?  organic or GMO?  local, sustainable business??  or large corporation that might be exploiting people, earth, natural resources?  cheaply made or artfully constructed?
  20. Sometimes the less toxic, sustainable purchase may not work as well as the toxic, cheaper product. What to do then?  (sometimes dishwashing soap may not perform as well)--but it is gentler on the environment, and much less toxic to you.  Which do you choose? Performance vs. its environmental impact?  Is a little bit of sacrifice on performance worth the advantage to the environment??
Rember everything you own, is ultimately something more you have to "take care of"--take a look at what you have and how much time you spend "taking care of your stuff"--can you afford to have one more thing to "take care of"?  Remember our stuff can be just as much of a burden as they can be time savers..  Does this item truly save time?  or cost you Life Energy?  what is its true cost?  in hours worked to buy it?  and time spent taking care of it?  is this item truly worth it?  Will this item take you away from the things that really matter?  (for example computer games, movies, --time spent in front of a screen rather than time spent in recreation with your family--directly interating with them)

I recommend reading The Story of Stuff and Your Money or Your Life--for more thoughts on this whole process of consuming.  (should you buy the books or check them out from the library-or find them used, or borrow them??)  (-; 

What do you use as a guide for buying stuff?? What is YOUR criteria??

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Neighborhood Children's Classes

this picture is a couple of years old representing some our our children and parents who attended then

Last weekend, we began our year's monthly children class.  We've been doing this at our home for 3 years now, and before that we taught a toddler children's class at the Portland Baha'i Center.  This year, we are taking a different approach.  After attending Badasht Baha'i School this summer, (our first Baha'i summer school together as a family) we felt inspired to set in motion the possibility of opening up our class to our neighborhood children.  I contacted the ATC (Area Teaching Committee) and they were on board right away.  A weekend before the class began, the ATC came to our home to eat, pray, and go out to meet some of our neighbors. 

Mike and I were very tentative about imposing upon our neighbors, so we simply went to people's homes we already knew and invited their children to attend the class, while giving them a flier I had created a few days beforehand.  (It was the first time I've done something like that since college when I posted fliers around college campus kiosks inviting people to come to our Baha'i Club meetings.  (And before that, when I was on my year of service and we invited children to come to a children's class in a model home in Twin Lakes, Michigan.) 

In any case, we have been given the advice to pay attention mostly to what we learn from the "process" of this..because we are in a stage of transforming our Baha'i community(becoming more neighborhood centered)-the way we teach and our sense of community--and blurring the lines between us and them, Baha'i and non-Baha'i..  We are all a part of a community..and it is time to build up our neighborhood communities. 

I think I am an introvert. I love people and I love building friendships, but I also thrive from being able to "regroup" with my thoughts..through journaling, reflecting, etc..  It is possibly outside of my comfort zone to do this.  A part of me has been afraid of going over my head..suddenly finding myself with more than I can handle..Not wanting to become overwhelmed by this.  Having the support of the ATC and our local LSA (local spiritual assembly) is greatly empowering us--making it seem manageable (especially since we have a baby coming in January..and I am also sometimes very tired just being pregnant and trying to keep up with my two children and the house and getting my children to school, etc.. 

So, I have started a new blog on THIS learning process..It seems worthy of its own blog and attention.  Since part of this process is reflection and learning from what works and what doesn't, etc..

We'll see how it goes!  Our family goal is to become more social with our neighbors...and to see what happens from that.  I don't want the agenda to be solely to get the kids to come to the class..I think that would be a big turnoff to them if they felt this was the case.  Part of this is also to give our children opportunities to build friendships within our neighborhood..How wonderful to have friends nearby to go visit and play with!  And now, we are not balancing two schools, it is easier to concentrate on the possible friendships here!  Another reason I am doing this is because I think it is a good idea in general to know our neighbors and to have a sense of what we can offer each other as a community.  If there is ever an earthquake (and here in Oregon, we are on a major fault line)-expected to be a 9!!  We may need each other in such a crisis!  It would be good to know who to check on and what skills each person has in such an event.  And of course--to simply find friendships..  We plan to be in the neighborhood for a long time..Building friendships is never a waste of time. 

The new blog will be at:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Homestead Healing Begins

photo from wikipedia:
copyright says it can be reused--(as far as I can tell)

Below is the beginning of a new blog or new chapter/tab to this blog.  Been thinking of the concept of Sustainability as Therapy, and came up with the name: Homestead Healing..  Here is the new blog address. Not sure how THIS will evolve yet, but want to jump on it while I'm thinking of it.  Anyone want to collaborate on it??  I think if I have other people working on it with me, it could be quite remarkable!!  

Here is the new blog address:

I've been creating an evolving blog called Time Capsule on an Urban Homestead..In the beginning it was Time Capsule Eighties and the Now; for at that time I thought it would be a refective journal on childhood--I had started journaling when I was eight years old and still have all those journals throughout my 37 years of life.. I don't want those thoughts/pages to be lost. Laura Ingalls Wilder was my inspiration at the time, and who would have thought that even now, the idea of her and her lifestyle back then is now still so much of an inspriation to me. I haven't read the books since I was a child..Hmmmm..maybe I should re-read them now that my kids might be old enough to enjoy?? (My son is 7 and my daughter is 5) and the baby in my tummy will be greeting the world in January..(can't leave her out!)

By profession, I am educated as a teacher and a counselor, but have been home with the kids since my son was one. I often wonder where and how my career will develop...especially now that I am having my third child and am not getting any younger! I don't plan to go back to work anytime soon, but I do have some hope that I can provide some service/income from home/ from within this role..I don't want my career to make me unavailable to my children..or to have to put them into a childcare situation.

Over the past 3 years, ever since we bought our house, I've been on a journey that began with starting a raised bed garden, then taking some classes from Monique Dupre's: Sustainabe Living on a Budget..From there began some lifestyle changes...Had to! (still have to)

In that process, I felt a sense of "utopia"--nourishment, healing...On bad days, I'd find, how comforting it could be to find a new recipe or skill to try out...It turned my feelings of depression into feelings of pride and elatement, joy.. I was doing something wholesome and I was learning, and serving my family, all at the same time. There has to be something to that---this purifying one's lifestyle from the materialistic pressures of our current Western culture that is making us sicker by the day (on soooo many levels!!)--I found myself freeing myself from it bit by bit.. The more I learned, the more I could become independent of it. in baby steps.. Not where I want to be yet.. (you should see how cluttered we live, still..)--my biggest challenge, yet--growing up with a packrat and teacher mindset...collecting, keeping so much, being sentimental about my things, etc..

In any case, I have been mulling the idea of Sustainability as Therapy.. I am probably not the first to think of transforming this process can be--how liberating, nourishing, comforting, uplifiting.. I suppose it is similar to the idea of Recreational Therapy, only, its end result is not just the "fun"--althought it is loads of fun!! It is about transformation of lifestyle, learning new skills, becoming more independent from the consumer culture, learning to eat/prepare real, unprocessed foods, becoming more frugal, living more simply, etc.. So, this is how my blog has evolved until now, and now for this it needs its own blog--the domain name timecapsuleeighties-does not fit at all anymore for this purpose.

***I hope to focus more on the healing process now in its theme, now that I have this vision: (but check out the other categories, because I get more into details of what you can do--there are sooo many things to learn: breadmaking, yogurt making, quilting, making clothes, knitting, gardening, parenting, providing a service to your community, preserving, meditation, exercise, (slowing down and simplifying, purging, networking-creating community, DIY home repair-car repair, and on and on... all of it can be liberating! (it is its own self-medication)--coping skills, transformative, life changing..

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sustainable Living on a Budget(workshops): Monique Dupre

(some recent veggies from my garden!)---they are so beautiful to photograph)

I would not be fair to this series of local resources if I did not include Monique Dupre's contribution to my education.  Three years ago, taking her first workshop was the catalyst that truly began my proactive journey towards changing our lifestyle and learning some skills...Sure, there were plenty of "seeds" for that before I met her, but her words were what I needed to hear to get started.  She was the "kick in the butt" for me and full of ideas and actual skills that were a springboard for me and for many other people in this area.

Her inspiriation, I believe is Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and Weston Price's research.  But, I believe she has been on this track for many years and has a perspective on "simplicity" that is refreshing to me.  I am not even close to getting to where she is in her food budget or her purity, but she continues to be an inspiration to me as I often refer back to the workshops I took with her.

She teaches about the importance of sustainability and that you truly can buy organic (how can we not when the alternatives are pretty bleak...cost of food or cost of healthcare (take your pick)--but she really has figured out how to do this on a very minimal budget..  Being a foodie does not mean you have to be rich or elite.  I like that about her perspective, because I defintitely don't consider myself of the "elite"--

I've been to her house several times and she truly does live in a peaceful, simple way..taking care not to rush, and not to acquire too much to "take care of"  Her daughters' playroom consists of simple toys (and not a lot of them) that are made from natural materials (nut shells, handcarved wood (possibly made by her husband), homemade waldorf dolls, etc..  There is not a TV in her home. She has chickens in her backyard and grains soaking on her countertops. She grinds her own wheat, makes her own bread..

 Monique's daughter Solenne in their yard

a HUGE cabbage from Monique's garden!

Monquie also loves to fish!!

She gives some basic information, but then she gets nitty gritty and gives you some wonderful skills: how to make yogurt, creme fraiche,  how to make bread, how to ferment foods, how to cook a wide variety of whole grains (and to make sure you soak them first!)--  I highly recommend that if you are a beginner, her classes are a great place to start if you want to learn some valuable skills.

Another positive contribution that I believe she has made is that she has also helped create a community in the area that can draw support from one another.  She has a google group where members can email each other, share tips, and ask questions.

A Portland Food Buying Club/Co-Op: Know Thy Food/Warehouse Cafe/Daisies and Dinos/Portland Green Parenting

(possible sign for the cafe) by Harmony Spangler)

I have the goal to eliminate my dependency on the grocery store as much as possible..

A couple of months ago, a friend recommended Portland Green Parenting's Food Buying Club: Know Thy Food founded by Rebecca Andersson, a local parent who cares about sustainability and healthy real food.  She worked very hard to coordinate local consumers with farmers and out of that work, a wonderful creation: a food buying club at close to wholesale prices where locals can buy fresh produce, meat, fresh fish, local tuna,  eggs, milk, (and more) from mostly local farmers.  She also offers some CSA's-eggs csa-meat, csa- fruit and veggies,..and an opportunity with Taylor Made Farms to buy a cow share for raw milk. You can also buy sides of beef, lamb, pork,  rabbit and chickens. I LOVE it!  and each time I pick up my food, I get to meet members of the community as well..people who are taking charge of their food buying power, etc..  It is like a year-round-farmers market. 

I was able to buy 50# of tomatoes for canning, and 30# of nectarines for jam, 15# of green beans for canning and freezing, etc..  (I don't have enough land to grow that much food for the winter!)  Of course, like being a part of a CSA, you have to be ready to be flexible for the differing food seasons when you buy this way; however, each season has its food highlights which are probably appropriate for the nutrition we need for that season.  Right now, apples and tomatoes are bountiful.  Treat this week: freshly pressed cider! There is also chocolate, coffee, kambucha...the list is ever growing and changing upon availability..which keeps it interesting and has made me appreciate the food more--instead of thinking I'm entitled to have ALL food varieties ALL year long.  When tomaotes are in season...I LOVE to eat tomatoes, etc.. In the winter- greens such as collard and kale, and root veggies are very nourishing.. (as well as being able to pull out from my stash of home canned and frozen produce)

New to the warehouse, Rebecca has also opened up a coffee shop for morning breakfast and coffee.  In the future there will also be a children's consignment shop included: Daisies and Dinos. 

To become a part of this food buying club, you join, offer a yearly donation, based on what you can afford, and shop online.  You pick up your food on Tuesday afternoon/eves.  You also pay a co-op free which is a percentage of the food you buy..It helps them afford the 5-year lease of the warehouse, and the labor of coordinating all that food.  What a wonderful service that is community based--

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our CSA: Birds and Bees Community Farm

We have had a wonderful experience with our local CSA for almost 2 years now--been getting fresh fruit and veggies all year long (with extended winter share) We get a half share(since we also grow veggies in our yard) and take turns with a neighbor with the driving who also gets 1/2 share.  Our once a month trip to the farm is something I really look forward to.

There are several good reasons to join a CSA (community supported agriculture)
  • supporting a local farm, your local economy, a small farm-sometimes a family--
  • Fresh local veggies
  • You are more in charge of your food-You can see where it comes from..see how it is grown
  • You get to experiment with new foods; it makes you eat more fruits and veggies.
  • You become more in touch with what is in season and learn to adapt to that-
  • Each week is a surprise--a treat to find out what you have in your box to try

It is run by John Martinson and Bev Koch. The farm is small, with only sixteen shares. They grow on a corner of Mahonia Land Trust Conservancy, 67 acres of green space, wildlife habitat, sustainable forest, and the farm. (I have excerpted some of what they had included in their email info on their farm)

"Birds & Bees Community Farm has since 1994 supplied fresh and nutritious produce to local households. As a farm participant, you get a share of whatever the farm grows, an assortment of vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs, honey, and filberts. (each week's cost is equals out to be about $26--which includes a wonderful amount of food that feeds our family of 4 amply)--

They grow: "apples, arugula, Asian greens, basil, beans, beets, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cherries, celery, cilantro, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, eggs, figs, filberts, garlic, grapes, herbs, wildflower honey, kale, kiwis, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, loganberries, marionberries, melons, mustard, onions, peaches, pears, snow and snap peas, peppers (sweet & hot), plums and prunes, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, shallots, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard, tayberries, tomatoes, turnips, winter squash, zucchini, and more? In any given year, some crops may fail, while others produce a bumper crop. We attempt, however, and generally succeed, in providing a balanced and varied assortment of produce week after week, absolutely fresh and grown for high nutrition and taste."

 Recently, their cow gave birth.
 Feeding the bunny and chickens is a treat for the kids!  (not to mention getting some of their eggs in our share) 

 My daughter especially enjoys the swing!
 Each share gets some honey each year
 Never saw a solar oven before--although I've been hearing about them.  Bev and John implement some wonderfully simple and sustainable ideas for their home.
Green houses keep us fed with wonderful salads all year!

some of the food all ready to be picked up!

the two shares all packed up and ready for the trip home--tons of yummy fruits and veggies this past week!

Birds & Bees Community Farm
20495 S. Geiger Road
Oregon City, OR 97045-9712

To find your own Local CSA visit:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wild Food Foraging

John Kallas, Ph.D., Director, Wild Food Adventures (holding wild sweet pea)

This past summer, including today, I have taken 3 classes on Wild Foods from John Kallas here in Portland. 
The first class, we went to an organic farm and learned about all the edible weeds that can grown on a farm, we picked an assortment and made a delicious salad with them..  I really do mean that it was delicious..You'd never realize how good some of these plants are!  He doesn't like to call them weeds, because really they are native plants that are indeed edible, but often mistaken for weeds. 
(rose hips)
The second class, was about survival. It was a foundation class that went over the types of survival and about some of the easier foods to find and prepare-ones to avoid because they take too much energy to prepare. He said that the number one important thing to do in a survival situation is to stay calm and simply look around for awhile and think about what your resources are and what is around you..  In other words, your psychological state is #1!!  Chances are you want to leave that situation and food isnt' really your first priority(oftentimes)--people are usually rescued within 3 days and you can survive a month without food depending on the weather and conditions..water you need much sooner, though.. 

Today's class, was neighborhood foraging and we found lots of foods from an old city neighborhood, from trees, bushes, weeds...bushes.  (rosehips, plums, english walnut, lindentree, (pokeweed bad-unless really cooked), sheep sorrel, chestnuts, cats ear, pulslane(sp?), hawthorne, mountain ash, wild fennel, mint, wild sweet pea, green amarath, english linden tree, oregon white oak, wild spinnach, red clover, etc..) Lots of food around here!!  Learned that wild spinnach and wild garlic mustard are among the most nutritious greens known (and taste really good)!
english linden tree-like lettuce

 Brought my husband and  kids with me this time--little bit tricky with my kids..3 hours is a long time for them, I realized to listen and stand around looking at plants..but I think it was good for them to try..  My husband needed to take them for a couple breaks..  Realized that it is good for kids to be pushed sometimes even when they are bored--wasn't as fun for us, but character building for them (I hope)

In any case, these were fun and valuable classes.   He offers many many more classes..I realized through the 3 classes that I took that there is a wealth of knowledge out there!!  I only got a grazing of it..  There are many plants that are poisionous, so you really need to be careful and know what you are doing!  (for example the wild carrot looks almost just like the VERY poisonous hemlock that can kill you even in a very small quanitity and tastes good..

John Kallas also has his first book out and plans to write a whole series. 


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