Thursday, November 7, 2013

Adapted Persian Stew for Crockpot



Ingredients:
  quantities are flexible for taste.  
onion
garlic
olive oil
tomato
stew beef or lamb
carrot
kale


1 cup split dried yellow peas


tomato sauce
tomato paste


potato fried/french fries?  canned string potatoes
2 cups of rice


Spices/citrus:
dried orange peel (or your own orange-peeled and cut up)
3 dried limes (or a lime quartered)
oregano
tumeric
salt 
pepper
garlic salt
allspice
cinnamon


Turn on crockpot to high. Add onion, garlic, spices, carrots to oil inside crock pot, and stir up.

 Add a cup or two of water

Then add your beef or lamb (you don't even have to defrost it)

Add tomato sauce, paste, split peas, stir

Cook on high for about 3 hours (to defrost meat and cook peas)---or cook peas on burner to soften before adding, and if meat is defrosted already, you can cook on low for the whole day.

Otherwise after 3 hours, turn down and cook on low.

About an hour before done; add kale, cook rice, cook potatoes (if desired)  I cooked the potatoes in coconut oil.  I have done this part many different ways.




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Warm Fall/Winter Veggie/Bean Soup




  

First I make a chicken bone broth: 


Then I sautee/fry:
garlic, celery, onions, carrots, zucchini. oregano


Then add:
broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, peas, white beans, garbanzo beans, basil, rice, balsamic vinaigrette, salt, pepper


Let simmer for approximately 30 minutes


garnish with fresh herbs.  In the picture I have some oregano from our herb garden.




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Amazing Sweet Potato Brownies. Wheat Free

http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/chocolate-brownies-that-blew-me-away/

I only added 1/2 tsp of baking soda though..and I used regular orange sweet potatoes, and chocolate chips.  very moist and you really can't tell it is potato; and you are actually eating something nutritious.

Money and Value


a stack of 11 afghan squares


This post is a continuation of my post from last night.

I am searching for a way to make a career/livelihood from doing these things I have loved doing these past few years, but I am not sure I can do that.  I am developing a sense of myself as an artist; something that I have always known deep inside that I wanted to do, but it never seemed "practical"  Always that voice inside warning me that i would never be able to support myself that way wins out.  I went to college to be a teacher, because I love kids and it would make it possible to live anywhere, even abroad. After teaching middle school, I had a really hard year, with very little support.  I was convinced that I was never going to be good at it.  I was not a very good "classroom manager"--I could connect with kids, but I was not so good at "controlling" them.  I decided to try counseling.  I went back to school and got the education to be a counselor. I worked as a therapist for a very short while; but then had my son, moved to Portland, and found that childcare was not going to be cheap.  My heart was with my son; I did not want to give away over half my pay so someone else could raise and be with him.  

My career as a counselor halted, except in the skills I try to remember while parenting.  And now, it has been ten years, my credentials long expired; to go back to doing it, would require more money spent, to internship; to take some classes to refresh/catch up/retread. The system is not set up to help mothers keep up with the careers while they are "away" taking care of their children. Those years do not seem to "count" professionally.

When I was eight years old; I had decided I wanted to be a writer.  I started journaling and never really stopped all these years.  I loved to write in school and felt I was really good at it.  I also took art in high school, and some art classes in college and loved painting.  Sometimes I'd latch hook; and wold spend hours doing that. I had this thought before I had my first son; that I could write a novel while home with my kids.  My kids took my all; and writing was a frustrating, and impossible experience for me.  Still, in my mind, it has been a bucket list goal.    

Here I am.  Now, I really want to figure out how to do this; and if even I can find a possible combination of ways to provide income for my family.  

Some artists and writers do their work without expecting money.  Sometimes you have to be detached from that.  The integrity of creating--the need to create is so strong--You just have to do it without hope of financial gain from the craft.  Our culture reflects value onto the money something can make--BUT--Just because it does not carry financial reward; does not mean it does not bring value and beauty into the world..  Volunteering in the school is not for any gain.  Serving a religious organization often does not bring any kind of financial support either; but it is still valuable.  Non-profit organizations..and so on..

But what if I can't entirely justify the time I put into it; unless it has some kind of financial gain in mind?  I need to help put money in a fund for my kids' colleges; help replace the roof on our house; help with special lessons and classes for the kids.  I want to be able to help pay for that, but I don't want to have to hire a babysitter which will eat up most the income anyway; or not be home when my kids come home from school.  I am quite right brained, but I cannot ignore the left side practicalities.  

I want to do this art, for the sake of its own value--I have been doing that with the knitting; well, usually, I knit for other people; what I "produce" is a service to myself, because I enjoy it, and it meets a need of my mind to continuously improve myself, my skills, making something beautiful; but I also have a product, I can give to someone, a friend, a relative, my child, my husband..  When I write; what is my product?  Does anyone even read this?  Do they care?  Am I being an idiot in front a an audience who can now scrutinize me? Will someone only see the grammar I miss correcting and discredit everything I have said?  When I am in a bad mood, my writing reflects the darkness and weaknesses of my very soul; lays it bare in front of others to be judged.  On a good day, I have something to offer; on a bad day, I might bring others down too.  Am I helping, hurting; or boring theirs pants off?

Am I even likable as a writer?

Yet, I really really want to write. And I need to be less concerned what anyone thinks.

  I want to create something better than this blog/blogs..  I am ready for something more sophisticated.  maybe?  But, I am also not there yet.  I still have a toddler at home; and possibly a homeschooler next year.  I really do want to do it all; don't I?  Supermom; only I'm not even close.  It may look good on facebook, but in actuality; it is tupperware.  I can only work on one corner at a time; and I may get that corner really nicely locked in; but in the time I get that corner; the other one pops up.  I am writing right now, but the dishes are sitting in the sink and my baby is watching TV; and I am not even dressed yet.  I have been up since 5:30, made breakfast, lunches, got the kids up, drank 2 cups of coffee, nibbled on some beans from their lunches; held the baby in my lap, nursed her, got the kids out the door; talked to them (not in this order), I have broth going on the stove.  And now I write. Almost 9AM. Ok, that sounds productive when I write it down. I wasn't feeling like I had been productive at all.  I need to do better today for my kids, and the house.  I really don't want to go back to using my left brain just yet..don't want to get busy with the dishes..I want to "know"--work and work and work and find out--If I can/am able to write something "valuable"
But--I  need to get my youngest out today; and I should get some exercise; have her exercise too-- After school, there is a violin lesson, homework, chores, dinner, more dishes. This may be all the creative I can do; until after bedtime.  

Did this moment have value to anyone outside of myself? It certainly will not provide any income, but I practiced writing; and the more I write, the better and more fluid I will write.  That may be the extent of its value right now.  And I think I may just need to be patient.  One stone at a time; and eventually it will become a structure.  Not today; not tomorrow, but hopefully someday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sense of Worth and Guilt. An Artists' Journey



Last night began a wave of creativity.  I spent hours of my nighttime knitting; and then reading.  Today, I indulged in quilting and photography.  I felt good about the quilting, but the photography lead me in a direction of looking up free photo editing software; then posting on a gallery/store website some of my older photos. Some of the photos are of my children. I am proud of them (of course because I love my children) but also from an artistic standpoint. I felt they came out really well--captured something I wanted to capture.  At some point, I started thinking of the photos as art, rather than personally "my kids"..so I posted them, but I felt a nagging feeling about "selling" pictures of my kids.  I later, put them in a gallery that needed a password in order to truly access the images/buy them.  

My toddler started to get restless. A part of me, thought I "should be outside" with her; taking her somewhere. The weather has been phenomenal. She was playing in the backyard quite a bit, but I was not doing a very good job as a mom today.  This need to spend creative time has been overwhelming to me lately.  Also, trying to figure out a way to supplement our income in a creative way; is also driving me.  

My kids were fine for the most part during my mental absence.  Not entirely.  I know I was a little too absent; and it was starting to not feel "right"--I wasn't sure how to break out of it; once the flow had begun, though..  In some ways, the day was wasted. I did not seize the outdoor opportunities with my children.  I was on this personal/career/creative track, but I was not sure if it was going to pay off.  It could be that I totally wasted my time.  I am a novice at many things.  Kind of good at them, but not superbly good at them.  And on top of it; it is just hard to be an artist and to market ones work, even if you are phenomenal at what you do.

I feel guilty for spending all this time in my head.  These ideas floating around may never work out.  Selling cards of my photos.  Making pillows out of afghan squares and selling them.  Printing larger images and framing them; and displaying them at a coffee shop for sale. Creating a children s book with some of my photos. So many ideas require initial overhead.  Overhead that may never work out if they do not sell.  I am trying to figure out what my "big project" should be.  What should I focus on?  Writing a book?  who to write for? what should it be about?  starting a knitting business?  knitting custom orders?  tutoring college students with their writing? babysit?

Thinking about homeschooling my son.  And wondering if I can truly help him learn what he needs; help him get excited about learning again; when that love of learning has almost all but died within him.  How can I serve my children and also be true to this need to "create something"?  

I am impatient.  I want to be able to write that novel now, but I need to practice every day.  I need to really work on my writing craft; not just in essay form, but also in fiction.  I want it now.  I feel this urgency.  But, I also feel this pull of guilt; like I shouldn't be going down this path..just yet..  I think of my almost 3 year old; her face, and how little I was really with her today.. It makes me sad.  

How can I find this balance?  Perhaps for me, it is okay to have a creative "day" or two?  Then, intense attention and outings with my kids.  Once I am in the "mode" of feeling creative; I don't want to stop it.  I want that whole day of being submerged in it; swimming, and musing, creating, and researching.  I also want those full days with my kids too; playing, paying attention to them; cooking special foods.  I may not be a one-hour a day woman.  I think I need "chunks"--to immerse myself in that focus; be it, writing, or crafting; or being with my kids.  I may not be the best multi-tasker..  

Then there is the house...Ug, the house.  It is so often forgotten; until, it screams at me to clean it.  I immerse myself in cleaning too, when it is time to; power clean for a whole day--and it feels exhausting, but good when it is "better"--It is never ever done.

I feel a little bit off even having this dilemma.  Am I lucky to even have this dichotomy?  This choice?  I want so badly to find a way to earn an income (in a way I enjoy) and still be able to be with my kids-parent them, still be present with them.  Is there a way for me to do this?  Or is this like the "false American Dream?"

In some ways, I see this as a feminist struggle-a struggle of being a full time mom; and that being in my heart what I want to do; but also this nagging need to feel valued--  Then another angle; is how many people feel fulfilled anyway?  Millions of people; working in sweat shops--how fulfilled do they feel in their work?  This self-actualization and fulfilling career idea may only be for the privileged..a small select minority of the worlds' population.  Does feminism really apply here on a global scale?  I feel guilty for wanting that "dream" of fulfillment; is that really what life is about?  I am thinking that life is about something other than that.. When the reality of most any man or woman is not about self-actualization.  Self-actualization may only be if you have your other needs met first?  Maslow..  And really?  My life is so full already without this "dream"--that I am also going to "create" something special too--something beautiful and I can make that my livelihood...I am worried it may be too much to ask; when I already have so many blessings to be grateful for.

I would not trade the time with my children while they are young for anything!  Why now; am I feeling antsy?  Maybe because it is time to start thinking..because they are getting older..and a new phase will be beginning when they are all in "school"--(unless I home school)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fourth Grocery Trip: All or Nothing




It is not all or nothing.  Sometimes we need to make decisions that are only for today and do not represent a "policy"  Parenting requires so much flexibility.  Yesterday, my older daughter was "off".  I am not sure why she was off.  There are a number of things that could have caused her unrest.  The full moon; not enough one on one attention; over-stimulus from a playdate the day before.  Our "unrest" as parents dealing with adult issues of our own, overflowing into our daughter's psychology.  Yesterday, I realized that I did not have to figure out what caused it; only, I had an instinctual intuition about what I should do about it.  I wasn't sure I was right about the solution, but I followed my gut--and accepted I might be wrong--and I might choose a different path on another day.

She actually had 3 different invitations yesterday; 2 play date offers, and one opportunity to go to a Birth of the Bab celebration with her grandmother.  She really wanted to go on one of the play dates, but her behavior was sending out all kinds of red flags---a symptom that something was not right with her.  It would have been easier to send her off to the play date, but sending her, I felt would not have given her the opportunity to work through what was going on with her.  She was very hard to have around yesterday; agitated; restless, crying, demanding, entitled acting; like she had a "cold" of her emotions. She was not happy that we decided to keep her home; just like she had a flu--  It made her even more upset; and choosing to keep her home this one time, may not be the "policy" we will adopt whenever she acts this way; however, I think it was the right thing to do, yesterday.  I sat with her for quite a while, just being with her while she vented. It was exhausting, but it felt right.  And, by bedtime, she seemed much more calm and centered.  The agitation was much less.

And this relates to biking how?

Well, after grocery trip number 3; I reflected on the anxiety I was feeling about biking while feeling imbalanced with her weight and the groceries.  I found a middle ground, for now, while I develop my "muscles"--  On weekends, I can bike to get the groceries without a child in tow; and during the week, I will bike my (almost 3 year old) on fun outings. I do not have to do it all; all at once.  So, today, I bike trekked with only groceries and it was absolutely okay.  A little heavy up hills, but no problems with balance.  Relief.  I do not have to quit getting groceries by bike because of the anxiety/safety issues; I do not have to quit because I can't do the super mom thing and tote both child and groceries at this time.  There is a middle way--a less ambitious, yet still ambitious enough path-

Wheat Free: Buckwheat Buttermilk Pumpkin Waffles


Pumpkin Waffles (makes 10-- half waffles) feeds 5

4 eggs
1 cup of pumpkin
2TB melted coconut oil
 1 cup buttermilk

½ cup of coconut flour
1 cup of buckwheat flour  (buckwheat is not a wheat)
½ tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2TB maple syrup
1tsp vanilla

optional (chocolate chips)


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Photography and Creativity and Writing and Crafting



Part of the journey I am on lately at this stage in life is that I need to feel I have mastered something.  I am at midlife and need to feel I have something of  a marketable skill to show for it.  It is that part of me, that sent me to college and graduate school.  I have had my last child, and she is getting older; and I am working towards this next phase; as she become more and more independent.

I also, cannot deny that in my heart and soul, I am an artist: a writer, a photographer, a crafter, a creator.  And as I embrace this aspect of myself, I, more and more, need to have time every day to create.  It is my job; albeit, I do not make an income from it, as of yet, though.  In order to "indulge" this time, I feel I need to eventually have making an income as a goal.  My kids will, in the blink of an eye, need money for to pay for college.  We cannot live on my husbands income alone for too much longer.  This is the struggle. I still hear that voice in my mind that I must do something more practical, which is why I have two degrees, but currently the practical, is to find something I can do from home in this stage in life.

 (There is also the struggle of this need in my mind of it having monetary value: I have been parenting full time for ten years, and struggle with my feeling of "value"--and the feeling I have when people ask me when I am going back to work..This feeling of; this pressure of: if you are not in the work force--you are not "working"--or you are taking the easy way out, being a leech on your spouse, free-riding.."  There are all these assumptions that people do not come out and say, but are embedded in the question. There has been a building up of this feeling over the years..this feeling that I am supposed to go back to work.  And this feeling might be coming from the social pressure getting to me over ten years.)

Still, even ascending, that struggle; I cannot deny, that I also WANT and NEED to create; and I do want some kind of value from it..  Monetary would be nice.  But, also a sense of that is my "Work; my profession"  I am a MOM, but I am also this too--I am an artist; a writer, a knitter, a crafter. And a feeling that I am GOOD at what I do.  That I have skill, mastery--professionalism.  (funny I just re-read this and did not include what I have degrees in: teaching and counseling; .mainly because I cannot be either of those "professionally"  right now,  not without childcare; being away; and also going back to school to "catch up" my credentials and "hours")


 The artists' life, though, is very difficult.  Already, I find the challenge that when I start the "artists' work" I slip into a different mindset that is not very compatible to being present with my kids and what needs to be done around the home.  Ideas floating in my mind--titles, ideas of novels, then I start editing photos..and my toddler, pours out a container of cream onto the table and floor.  Being interrupted continuously, makes it very hard to "think" and carry through with ideas.  And, thinking about "ideas" does not make me a very present Mom which makes me feel guilty.  Putting the "art: aside after the set hour of work, is hard to do, once I have found a groove.  There is the fear of once putting the art aside, I won't be able to find the groove again.  Still, the biggest part of my job still is "Mother: cook, housekeeper, clothes washer, transporter, homework helper, diaper changer, etc"  That is my most important job right now... Still, there is some room to "create"..And I owe it to myself, and ultimately to our family's material well-being to try to find a creative way in a year or two to make some income while "creating"

If I can figure this out, it will be perfect, working from home, and being available  for my kids after school, when they are home sick; and also be open to the possibility of home schooling my kids during middle school years.  My son's disenchantment with school grows and grows each year.  I think he would benefit from some independent learning, and exploration.

  I need to figure out how I can provide something that people want, need..  I need TIME to do it, and to develop enough mastery of my crafts that I can feel confident that people will be happy with what I offer.

Well, here is one attempt.  I take photos all the time and some of them I am a little bit proud of.  When you take enough photos, you are bound to accidentally or on purpose end up with some good ones.  I have discovered a photo-gallery website for selling the art.  Here is mine:
http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/melinda-conway.html


I have also created an etsy account for selling knitting, but i do not have much on there yet.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RubyheartsCrafts


On a side note;  I am making a table runner right now.  I took another class from Pine Needle Quilt Shop. http://www.pineneedlequiltshop.com/  I owe what I have learned to them for teaching me!  (and for my husband who took over while I was away at class)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Biking Journey: Third Grocery Trip

Today, I made my third grocery trip by bike on my Xtracycle with my (almost 3 year old)..  The groceries were heavier this time, but it was sunny.  I anticipated the logistics more.  I knew to keep my child in the grocery cart while I unlocked the bike, turned it around in the directions I'd be biking away, loaded the bike, and then placed my child in the seat after it was already balanced.

A man kept looking at me a little concerned, I think.  I, honestly, felt concerned, myself.  It was a little wobbly starting off in the parking lot. My heart was racing with the questions in my mind if I could really keep us safe from tipping over.  I took it slow, I biked on the bike trail, away from cars as much as I could. I am probably one of the most cautious people, ever to exist!  (-;  I am most likely annoyingly cautious to other people.  Yet, I felt a look of scrutiny in someone else's eyes that I was being a risk-taker.  (actually it was probably in my mind)--My litte one trusting me; and here I was taking a risk.  Well, in my risk-taking, I was the most cautious person ever.

I reached a hill near home, and going up was tricky. A man on another xtracycle offered to give me a push. I accepted.  He was very chatty; and i was too nervous to be very social.  He told me about a special clip accessory that helps stability; and I asked him if it might be better to move the baby seat forward; and he said that also really helps.

My husband had convinced me to keep her seat far back so she can see better and easier to ride with 2 children, but I am most often just toting my toddler while my older ones are in school.  For now, I have decided to definitely move her seat forward.  The stability is my most important issue right now.  And I need it optimal for Kei and I.  I may not bike with 2 of my kids; not at this point anyway.

I am getting stronger.  On the way to the store, with Kei in back, even with her way in back, I felt pretty comfortable with her, and on hills.  It was only when I had about 55 pounds of groceries (I actually just weighed them), plus 30 pounds of baby...85 pounds to counterbalance that I became uncomfortable.

I am also realizing I don't have to be a supermom about this.  I can take some baby steps in between.  I should bike around more with just Kei..and relax the grocery part of it a bit.  There are the library, community center, and parks I can go to.  Perhaps, I can also, pick up a couple things from the store en route, rather than lugging a whole week's worth in one trip.

I am facing some anxiety and fear here, but I do not have to bite off more than I am comfortable with.  Phew..giving myself some permission to take it a little slower.  On the other hand, moving her seat forward could make all the difference in the world, and elevate my comfort level.

The weather is fabulous this whole week, so I should take advantage of the opportunity to practice in good weather before the rains come back again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fourteen Point Two Miles

 This weekend I passed a new milestone. I biked 7.1 miles to the Convention Center (and back)--for a total of 14.2 miles in a day-to attend Wordstock Festival.
When I was a teen, I biked all around town in a small city in NH. It was my transportation.  It was a small town; so I could cross it in 3 miles, but I would go everywhere; however, I never biked more than a 3.5 mile distance. I, perhaps, biked more miles than I realized in a day, but I did not bike far away from home.It was a time in life, I felt fit, courageous, spirited, independent, and strong and I have never forgotten how that felt.
I think I shall name her My Beasty Blue my new friend (I used to have a big station wagon nicknamed Beast)--She is like a station wagon.  (-;  

 In college in Ohio,  I continued to bike all over campus; from my apartment to campus. I used that same bike for a very long time. A blue Univega 12 speed, that I had bought with my paper route money when I was about 13. That bike felt like my friend, a part of my own self. I was perfectly comfortable with it, as I felt about my own body. I would even bike on snow and ice (carefully), but when I moved to Oregon; I drove more.  I would only bike on occasion.  I got out of shape.  Then when I did bike, it felt like a chore.  I had children and it became even more complicated.  I tried a bike trailer, but my two little ones would fight inside of it and it was heavy and awkward to pull them.  I tried again, last year, but once when my husband took the kids out to bike, my middle daughter had a bad spill and broke/chipeed 3 teeth. One of them she had to have a root canal for. It felt traumatizing. Fear crept in; and I became timid about going out.  The little flame that was beginning to burn snuffed out for over a year.

This Fall; however, I have had a wave of courage and motivation.   I decided to try Breezer/ Xtracycle.  It is working so far. I love the way the Breezer bike rides. It feels stable; it is a good fit for my height,  it handles hills well; and it is practical with a family. It is a simple 7 speeds, which at first, seemed meager, but now I find awesome in its simplicity.  I can fit groceries and a child or two on the back.  I have not yet, tried it with two of my children at once yet, but I have taken my 84 pound son on the back and was fine.  I have also taken it with my toddler and groceries.

I had been planning to bike to Wordstock for awhile. I was a little nervous.  Those of you who are already bike enthusiasts, I will seem like a toddler to you, I am sure.  7.1 miles on not so hilly bike trail, is not really a big deal; I realize that; but for me, it was. My husband, who rarely brags, bikes 10 miles to work every day. 100 miles a week. Biking is his way of life. I also remember my father, who struggled with back pain, would bike to limber up those muscles. He, I remember once, went on a 100 mile bike ride. He biked regularly, and often. He was part of a bike club.

 But for me;  before yesterday, my world was smaller; I did not think I had the strength to bike very far.  The idea of biking downtown; seemed unreachable.  But, in truth, it actually was much easier than I thought it would be.  I have to admit, the last leg, on the way home, in the dark, became more difficult.  At that point, I did feel tired.  I do not think I could have gone many more miles than that, at this point, but it was good to see what I could do.  I felt proud of my body; appreciative. Strong. Empowered.

It was a beautiful ride on the bike trail, following the river.  I hit the river at sunset.  I saw a heron fly overhead.  I could feel the sun, the air around me, a panoramic view you do not experience in a car.  I was experiencing the ride. The journey was part of the destination and the ultimate victory and joy in the day.  I felt so fortunate that the weather held an idyllic window this weekend  as the rains in Oregon have already returned.  It was warm, sunny, clear; perfection!  The ride was incredibly healthy for me on so many levels.

I have not even touched upon the excitement yet of the event I bike to.  That is a whole other story in itself--the inspiration of being in the presence of people who are heroes to me-Writers. And so many of them. I tried to soak up every moment like a sponge--  Being a writer is what I have always wanted to be; to do--  I have not yet, gotten myself to take the plunge of seriously writing every day; and truly trying to develop my own craft.  This year, it is my goal, to learn as much as I can, to attempt some fiction.  I have to put knitting aside a bit to do this, because I have very little time of my own to "work" It is hard to think of putting the knitting aside, but I feel this burning inside. Writing is what I really need to start doing now.  Writing and biking. (-;




 Pictured here is Newberry Metal Award Winner Cynthia Voight, and Kristen Kittscher author of Wig in the Window.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti: Seriously Simple and Delicious!

Ok, this is a seriously happy discovery.  One of my favorite comfort foods is spaghetti.  I saw that you can make noodles by using this tool: spiral  vegetable slicer
it has a hand crank and it is really quite simple and easy.  I got it on sale for about $22.00
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007Y9WHQ/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

In any case; I sauteed the noodles briefly in garlic and olive oil, added the sauce and it was DELICIOUS!  better than semolina pasta and certainly much much more healthy (rather than negatively healthy and heavy carb adding)..  I like the texture and the taste and it filled me up on very little.  My kids didn't really go for it (yet)  (-;  They are a little prejudiced against zucchini in general. There's time to encourage this transition.



Real Life Snippets


The Crazy:
Last night, we had open house. It was one more thing to fit into our day.  The routine has been becoming a comfort, but sometimes when there is one more thing, it throws things off.  We got home later than usual.  No time for a story. Straight to bed.  Today was picture day and I had forgotten to fill out the form.  On top of getting breakfast, kids up, etc, I had to figure out the picture thing; encourage the kids to pick out something nice for their pictures and to brush their hair a little better than the usual garbage pail mop expectation.  As I was filling out the forms; the toddler woke up and would not be happy if I was not the one to hold her.  There was no choice this morning as I tried to fill out the forms, she sobbed and hung onto my legs.  At the same time, we could not find the gentle hairbrush. My eight year old daughter would not accept using a regular brush. It hurts too much. She had to find it, but finding it was not realistic. She would not accept reality and continued to refuse to brush with the harsher alternative. Of course, it was missing on picture day.  Meanwhile the clock ticked.  Fortunately, my son was compliant this morning, dressed in a Minecraft tee shirt,  hair wetted down and brushed(for a change).  Oh, but where did he go last minute when it was time to get out the door?  Finally, middle daughter, accepted her fate and allowed me to brush and braid her hair. Crying toddler, placed in stroller for the walk to school and we somehow managed to make it to school on time(barely).  (of course, my hair was hurriedly thrown into a ponytail; and my own teeth unbrushed; and the only thing I put into myself was coffee)  This is real life.  The crazy rush of morning. Not having even a chance to really say anything to my husband before going separate ways; other than reactions to the harried stress of getting everyone ready; and answering to his frustrations, as he also tried to keep up.

The Contemplative:
But real life is this too: Through the Eyes of a Two Year Old.  Walking home from school; after dropping off the kids; we slowed.  We walked by the grapevine.  Yesterday, we had stopped there after school. Toddler-Kei had noticed a fallen grape, and was very concerned about it. She picked it up and carried it home.  This morning, she thought of the grape again, and looked for it, very concerned that it was no longer there.  She talked about the grape. "oh no, grape"  We walked away, but she stopped. She started to cry.  There was something about the fallen grape. Did she want another one?  Was she thinking of the grape as a living being, hurt?  Or did she just feel hungry for a grape?  Or something else entirely?  I slowed enough, to walk back there with her to find some small ones still growing and talked to her about how there were more.  She reached out to touch them, and picked two of them and held them in her hand; satisfied.  I wonder what about it made it better?  And why the grapes were so important to her.  It was so tender to me how a simple thing like grapes were so important to her.

Then we walked further, and a neighbor had a bunch a blow up ghosts in their yard, "what's that?" she asked.  "ghosts," I said. "they goo whoooo whooo boo," and she laughed.  We walked closer and she shivered.  She was fascinated, but also scared (or cold).  She repeated, "what's that?" and I repeated my answer and she laughed again.  She was so affected by the ghosts too; both fascinated and scared and humored.

Epilogue:
While I was writing this; my 2 year old, got into her sister's room, rummaged through her things, found a lollipop. I found her gleefully rummaging with sucker in mouth!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Made it to the Grocery Store and Back

Ok, I did it.  My first run with grocery shopping on my Xtracycle with toddler.  She weighs about 30 # and the groceries weighed about 40#.  The grocery store is about 1.5 miles away (with a hill involved)  One of the good things about doing it this way; I am motivated to limit what I buy because I have to haul it back!  (-;  I also got much more of a work-out this way than I would have by going to the gym and no gas involved.

I'm not going to pretend it was easy for me, though.  I was nervous.  Mainly worried about tipping over with "my most precious cargo"  I packed bungees and lots of bags; not sure how much grocery I could fit into the panniers.  I wasn't sure if it might rain. I had to make sure I had some diapers (just in case).

  It took me about an hour and a half.  It takes a little while to load/unload especially with a child.  She enjoyed the ride until the very last part; when we were about 2 blocks from home and she decided to pull off her helmet.  I had to stop; put up the kickstand and fix it; which was a pain.  It also seemed that today was the day for obstacles to bike around; trucks parked everywhere; construction, etc. This certainly isn't the easiest way of going shopping! "inconvenient food" I am hoping it gets easier!  I'm committed either way.  Scarily committed.  The first time was not quite as fun as I hoped; but I think as I gain some confidence, it will feel good after a few runs.  I do not feel "elated" quite yet. I am still feeling, "Holy S@#$, what have I committed myself to!"  I need to do this; though; on many levels doing this is sooo good for me.

It isn't really much, but it is a start.

BTW, I just happened to run into the guy who sold me the bike in the store and he recognized me and the bike.  Kind of funny.

PPS. I didn't break any eggs.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Holy Moly What am I Doing?

Day 21: of 21 day sugar detox

I have lost about 5 pounds.  I haven't been totally wheat free, or 100 percent no sugar, but I have drastically changed my diet.  I am happy to say, I am eating very little wheat(and only whole wheat)..and very very little sugar.  And I am not ending today.  I feel better, much better.  More energy, and I feel thinner.

I am also at the same time, going to go by bike whenever I can.
I picked up my (new to me) Breezer Xtracycle on Saturday and tomorrow will be my first time taking it grocery shopping. I took it out for a spin today to practice a little.

I am fighting a cold and feel a bit out of sorts and having a wave of fear about the whole thing.  It has started to rain. What am I doing?  yikes!  (nervous about lugging baby and groceries on hills tomorrow)  I'm having a down-day..a hurtle day.  Having a cold is taking away some of my steam; courage..  I think I am at the next phase of this change. I got through the first 3 weeks and accomplished quite a bit, but now I am worried about backsliding; worried about failing myself, now that I have made this commitment.  Tomorrow will hopefully help me gain some confidence.  I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

This morning I made pumpkin pancakes with no wheat and no sugar.
http://balancedbites.com/2012/10/easy-recipe-pumpkin-pancakes-from-practical-paleo.html
It felt good to also attempt enticing my children into eating this way too.

Monday, September 16, 2013

On a Roll: Fitting Exercise in Daily Life. Saving Gas. Being an Example.


21 Day Sugar Detox: Day 14


I'm on a roll.  

For two weeks, I've been on a sugar-detox and I am feeling really good.  I am finding ways to find new ways of cooking without sugar and white flour and with minimal wheat and grains.

It did not stop there.  In the back of my mind, I have had the idea of getting groceries by bike.  I have tried it with a bike trailer.  I have lugged my youngest on the back of my bike in bike seat.  Neither option was very comfortable for me.  My bike was too large and my baby felt unstable in back.  I did not like the bike seat for her either.  The groceries rolled around and dragged inside of the bike trailer.  There were too many obstacles to my going through with the idea.  

More and more I have been seeing people in town on cargo bikes and I've been salivating at them for quite some time. Years now, but I was not ready to take the leap. I knew if I did my husband would hold me to a commitment to biking as much as possible rather than driving.  I wasn't ready.

Now, I am.  Before the weather completely turns and while I am on a roll and energized, motivated to change. I am leaping.

I rented a Breezer/Xtracycle and tried it out for a couple of days.  I fell in love.  Not only could I ride with my toddler on back.  I was also comfortable with my 84lb son, and my 60 pound daughter. (not all at once).  I also did not take my older children on hills either, but taking them on the bike will mostly be for fun.  This is for me, my toddler, and groceries.  I took them bike up to Trader Joes up a very big hill 3 miles away, bike home, biked to Sellwood to drop off the bike, and walked home. That day I biked 7 1/2 miles and walked 1 1/2 miles.  

My plan. I will cancel my gym membership.  I will no longer need to "drive" to the gym to get exercise.  Instead I will bike wherever and whenever I am able to.  With this bike system, I can bike the way I would drive around town, on errands, shopping, trips to library, knitting group, parks, little trips, etc.

I will: 
1. Save money on gym membership
2. Save money on gas
3. Reduce my carbon footprint
4. Model exercise for my kids
5. Maybe motivate my kids to bike more, themselves
6. Exercise as a part of my daily life rather than as an accessory activity that takes money and time
7. Extend the life of our car and need less frequent oil changes
8. Get in shape (hopefully)
9. Be able to go on family bike rides. 
10. Have biking as a joint hobby with my husband (who bikes 10 miles to work everyday)



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Buttermilk Zucchini Bread Pancakes (Wheat Free: includes GF, Paleo, sugarfree version)



Buttermilk Coconut Zucchini Bread Pancakes (wheat and sugar-free)
 (Paleo/GF/sugar-free, Wheat free or non paleo versions) (made 22 pancakes) feeds 5-7

 this is my own recipe I created today.. I adapted a favorite pancake/waffle recipe with ideas from paleo zucchinni bread.  It worked really well, texture a little between a pancake and a thick crepe. It has its own sweet-spice flavor without even adding syrup. 


 DRY ingredients
3 cups of coconut flour

½ cup of tapioca flour

1 TB baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

dash of ginger

 dash of allspice
  
Wet Ingredients
2 cups of shredded zucchini

1-3 cups of buttermilk/or coconut milk (depending on how thick or thin you want your batter)

6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2TBcoconut oil



Add Ins

(if you are not concerned with sugar, you can also add)

honey/syrup

chocolate chips

walnuts

raisins

 mix the dry ingredients together
Add wet ingredients. Add the oil last

Fry over medium to medium-lo heat


Friday, September 6, 2013

Wheat and Sugar Free Pizza



I adapted a recipe from this blog:  http://www.paleocupboard.com/paleo-pizza.html
the author of this blog also has instructions for making paleo cheese as well!  I wasn't  that adventurous..nor did I have the time tonight to try that.  I'm not eliminating cheese from our diets anyway.  but, her recipe for cheese looked quite tastey!

to make the crust for this pizza.  It was really really good.  The crust was like a really good pie crust (to me)

I doubled the recipe from the blog because I have 5 people in my family to feed.

For 2 pizzas to feed 5-7 people.
I used 4 eggs
3 cups of almond flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of almond flour/plus more to put under the pizza while rolling it. (you really do need parchment paper to roll it on top)
salt
oregano
basil
garlic powder

I am not putting all the instructions here, because I think it is not quite my recipe. I encourage you to visit her blog.  I may play around more with the recipe to see how these different flours work and taste and see what works best for us.  I am quite happy, however, with this first attempt!

21 Day Sugar Detox and Learning about Paleo. Day 4



Apple spice buckwheat coffee cake
I adapted the recipe from this link and used buckwheat instead of coconut flour

On a new journey.  When I was pregnant with my third child; I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  I was put on a strict diet where I had to have a very careful combination of carbs and protein combinations.  My servings were small and frequent and I had to measure my blood sugar three times a day.  It was HARD and I did not like it and I felt very skeptical about it.  I did; however learn something, a pattern of being conscientious of the quantity of the food I ate and how each food affected my blood sugar and how long it took for my body to process carbs.  I noticed a huge difference between white bread and whole grain.  The white bread would spike me very high and I could only eat a very very small amount of it. I could get away with quite a bit more when I had whole wheat.

Well, now that my child is two and a half and I am forty; I am suddenly putting on some pounds.  My body is not being very forgiving anymore.  It is an obvious change and only just recently.  I am convinced it is the sugar and the wheat.  I realize I have to do something about it and cannot go on the way I have been.  Since my third child; I have gone back to short-cutting for survival.  No more.  She is older now, and it is time for me to put some effort back into making things more from scratch.

For me, I need something dramatic and different to really get excited about it and to mark the change. That it will be different. So, I am trying the 21 day sugar detox  .http://the21daysugardetox.com/  Today is day 4.

I have not been completely on track these past 4 days.  It has been a process of learning what I am doing and figuring out substitutions.  In this process I am also learning about Paleo and the concept of being wheat free.  I don't think I want to go grain free.  In my gut, I think we need grains too.. However, wheat, is perhaps a good idea to go without...and corn too.  A friend gave me a couple of other resources that I am in the process of learning about:  http://www.elanaspantry.com/ and http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/

So, I have purchased some coconut flour, and almond meal, and tapioca flour.  These I will experiment with when making my pizza crust tonight.  (I also think my kids and husband could use a sugar/wheat detox) My middle child is especially a bagel/white bread addict, and she craves sugar all the time.  I am reading that wheat can stimulate your appetite..make you want to eat more.  So, I am hoping to improve my energy and to lose some weight. And also, find ways I can get my family on track too. I am on a new journey I am excited about.  I love learning new things!   While this is day 4, it has been more like each day, I've eliminated one more food while finding substitutes.  Day one-three-no sugar..  And now, I am working on eliminating wheat and corn.  I do not know if I have lost any weight yet.  I hope so, but I think my biggest goal is more of a long term change.

I hope this pizza recipe is good!  http://www.paleocupboard.com/paleo-pizza.html  I am using regular cheese, but I want to see what this crust is like.

This week, I also make a buckwheat/apple/walnut coffee cake. The original recipe called for coconut flour, but I used buckwheat instead because I did not have coconut flour yet.  It turned out pretty good. http://nummyformytummy.com/2013/05/13/apple-spice-coffee-cake/


I am also wary of substituting one ingredient for wheat--like using too much almond or coconut..  I am guessing it may not be too good to eat too much "nut"??  Therefore, think it might be good to use buckwheat or spelt?  How much almonds, cashews, coconuts are okay to have on a daily basis?  I also do not plan to eliminate dairy either.  I have used whole organic milk, cream, and butter for a long time. Currently we are not drinking raw milk, though.  We used to.  

Sausage-Cabbage Casserole
I have not eliminated potatoes--only minimized them so far.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Forty, Assertiveness, and Conequences

Someone told me that part of being forty for her was a process of letting go of people and things--and being able to do that.  Some people can be toxic in particular relationships and sometimes it is necessary to let go of that relationship when it is like that.

Lately, I've come to terms with some of my own limitations while raising three children, and I have had to voice those limitations.  I cannot be as open or do everything I would like to do, or quite be the person I would like to be--I have to be honest with that, and sometimes I have to admit to it when I am at my limit and say "no" sometimes.

Recently, when I have said "no"--as kindly as I could muster, it has been misunderstood in the process.  I have been misunderstood, and I have felt judged.  The limit was not received well.  Sometimes, people think they understand what it is about, but they really and truly do not have the context to understand; yet they assume, they know, and have the right to judge.

It is painful to be misunderstood.  And still misunderstood even after trying to explain it.  There is no way to explain to someone who does not walk in your shoes sometimes.  And the more I think about it, the more I think "being judgmental" is a dead end road.  It is best to try not to offend or "be offended"--We truly do not know what it is to walk in someone else's shoes.  We have stereotypes in our minds, and it dehumanizes others whenever we refer to those judgments.  Besides, no one is cast in stone, humans are dynamic, and changing all the time.  A judgment or mistake made one day, can be truly a transient aspect of that person--and that person may be quite different another day, another year, another choice.

Judgment hurts, but it also makes me angry.  I do not feel that I am accepted for who I am. I am not who they want me to be.  I used to think I needed to be what people wanted me to be in order to be loved.  It may be the case, that there are fewer people who will love me as I be honest with what I can be, and who I really am...there may be a shedding of people who I thought liked/loved me.  It is scary, but at forty, I am beginning to feel that life will not be over if I am not liked in the ways I wanted to be liked.  Perhaps, it will shed some of those people, but perhaps, it will open the door to other people who will be more genuine in their relationship with me.

I am not sorry and I do not feel I was wrong to say, "no" sometimes to what I know will push me to the limit of what I truly can do.  They may think less of me, that I unable to do what they wish.  And I hope to make peace that they may not like me anymore.

This is not so different as learning to say no as a teen to unwanted sex--  It is the very same principle.  Funny, how this is so much more difficult, and how it is the same lesson so deep into my adulthood.  Funny, how I still struggle with being able to let go of wanting to be liked.  The fear of being alone in this world. Being unlikable.  Maybe there are worse things than being unlikable.

I am starting to be willing to take that risk.  That by being honest, I am going to be unlikable to some--Sticking my neck out and being willing to be honest--maybe shedding those people who do not like me for that, is not a bad thing.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boredom Part II: Parenting as an Introvert


I began this topic in an earlier post--starting to think about how boredom may be good for parents as well..Not just our kids.

I have a huge drum of dish soap that I use to refill the smaller container that I use in the kitchen. I use a funnel to refill it. The soap is very viscous and takes awhile to run through.  Usually, I run a load of laundry while waiting for it to drain downwards (the first time); however, I need to do it four time and while I am waiting, I am hoping that my 2 year old is not getting into mischief.

While I wait for it to drain through, I experience discomfort.  I want to "fill" that time. I look around for what else i can do.  God forbid that that moment is wasted in waiting.  As a teen, I had a poster on my wall that read, "when you wake up, get up and when you get up, do something"

I also feel discomfort when my son is in student council.  There is a forty-five minute period of time between picking up my daughter and picking up my son.  Last week, the weather was nice for playground time during the wait.  I usually follow my two year old around the playground, shadowing her, mainly to make sure she doesn't fall off of the play structure or wander away too far.  It is boring doing this.  I spent already a chunk of time doing this with my other two children when they were at this stage.  I long to play on my phone, read, or knit, but instead, I need to keep track of the antics of a toddler..  (sounds horrible, huh!--LOL)  Still, I am impatient...antsy to do something else more challenging or fun.  I feel I am being held back while my engine is revving to race.


In my earlier post, I was longing to write. It was during a part of the evening, where I needed to be off-duty..It had been a long day.  My children needed me to be present mind and body and there was no time or place to go within myself or to move outside of what was beginning to feel like shackles. I tried to write anyway, and was constantly interrupted by my toddler.  She was getting into drawers climbing up, pulling things out, and then finally hurt herself; at which point, I had to quit.

It was painful.  It is boring supervising those antics sometimes.  I think when my other two were this age, I had more freedom to take them places.  Now, I am locked into the school routine, which requires being around for pickup, regular mealtime, homework time, etc..

This sounds like I am belly-aching.  I really do not mean this to be.  I consider it a wonderful privilege to be able to do this.  Still, after ten years, I have to admit, that now, I am feeling restlessness and boredom at times.   (more often lately than I want to admit)  My children force me to be "present" which is difficult for me.  I am most definitely an introvert..I bask in being able to reflect, write, read, knit...I bask in quiet.  I am not antisocial..I love people too, but it is in those quiet moments, I refuel.  Those moments are like food--and  I often feel I am close to starving.

(right now my toddler is pushing me away from the computer, wedging between)  (-;

But, what is that "restlessness"???  That part of me that does not feel patient to enjoy the moment of following my toddler around the playground. That part of me that looks for a way to fill the wait time of the soap draining into its receptical??  Is this a part of me that comes from being an edgy New Englander/ East Coaster?  "Hurry up and get there, get it done, already!" (perhaps this is part of the midlife crisis?  I will be hit forty this year!)

I think of Thich Nhat Hanh: http://www.amazon.com/The-Miracle-Mindfulness-Introduction-ebook/dp/B009U9S6VM/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369328237&sr=1-2f  In the Miracle of Mindfulness.

He, I think, would advise, not trying to be somewhere else, but to appreciate the present..doing the dishes and really thinking about what you are doing, not trying to be somewhere else. We waste so much of our lives wanting to be somewhere else; and when we are there, we want to still, be somewhere else.

In Simplicity Parenting,  http://www.amazon.com/Simplicity-Parenting-Extraordinary-Happier-ebook/dp/B002LLRDS8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369328539&sr=1-1&keywords=simplicity+parenting Kim John advocates that boredom is good for children.  Having less in the house, fewer toys, fewer screens, fewer distractions.  In this environment, they will find their creativity, find themselves, be more peaceful, etc.

What of  parents' boredom.  Reading the same book hundreds of times, doing the dishes day in and day out, looking at the endless pile of laundry, taking the children to school day after day after day??  It is exciting at first, the first day of school, experiencing the milestones, but at at point, it becomes monotonous.  (not that every day is the same and without challenge--THAT is FAR from the truth. Children create a ton of drama on a daily basis)  lol!  And life is quite busy in that routine, there is always something to do and tons of work..Still, what is this boredom, and what do to about it?  What does it push me to do?  In my case, it has pushed me to learn---learn about sustainability, growing food, nutrition, cooking, knitting..but those are done in my stolen moments..What about those moments I need to be "present"  How do I get over "boredom" and enjoy washing the dishes??  and not longing for the next moment I have to myself...How do I keep going when the "newness" has worn off; when I am at a stage, I take for granted what I have accomplished, when cooking Pho Ga no longer seems remarkable?  When juggling 3 children no longer seems like an amazing thing?  And Coffee no longer gives the boost it used to.  Could it be that I question the value of what I am doing--being worn down by how our culture undervalues this role; this job? thinking that in order to have a valuable life; I must also be successful in the material/elitist sense..

I often feel like a car revving my engine sitting in the driveway unable to move.  I am moving, all the time, still, it is with the weight and distraction of 3 children on my back. (and as wonderful and warm and fuzzy as it can be..and as grateful as I am to have them, love them with ALLLL my HEART!--and I would never ever ever ever trade it in a million years)  I move as if in quicksand at times.  And sometimes, it makes me feel a little crazy.


Even now, I rush to write these words before my daughter demands the ultimate in how I am right now ignoring her as she pushes on my legs trying so hard to get my attention.I feel guilty and selfish. I am "stealing time" write now to fulfill a need of my own, which I know I can not do for much longer.  She is a timer ticking and there is only so much ignoring that she will endure.  I will not conclude this essay..I do not know the answer yet, just the observation.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Constipation Aids for Toddler or Anyone

My little one is constipated right now, so I looked up some foods that could help.  I am crossing my fingers that it will help her.  The good news she liked both drinks and at the very least, it was a way to get more fluid and fiber into her.

Here are the two things I made for her this morning.

Smoothie for Constipation
1 celery
1 prune
1 strawberry
water
(pear/apricots/blueberries would be a good choices too, I think).

Tea for Constipation  (fennel grows really well here in the NW. You can also grow your own chamomile as well in your yard or in pots)  This tea has a very nice flavor, in my opinion)
steep with:
fennel
chamomile
ginger
honey

Other Remedies:
 Lots of walking
applesauce
popcorn and olive oil

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Boredom

I've been reading for awhile that there are benefits for children in experiencing boredom.  It encourages them to find creative ways to appease the discomfort of boredom.  Without boredom; they will not have those coping skills. Without boredom; they will not have opportunities for creativity.

What about parents?  What about the boredom that comes from "not being able to do the creative things of their own adult ...In writing this far, I have been interruped 3 times by my very creative toddler.  (-;

(just to illustrate what I am trying to say)

What about the boredom that comes from wanting to write a blog entry, but being stopped constantly?? and instead needing to find ways to meet her needs.  It is a ....


There we go..  I cannot write what I long to write about (yet)  Just can't..right now..

Sunday, May 5, 2013

DIY Kiwi Arbor



For a couple of years, I have wanted to grow kiwi and to build an arbor for them to grow.  This Spring, it developed into a plan, but at first I did not know what kind of arbor to make.  At one point, I had an idea of an elaborate arbor that doubled as a tire swing for the kids, but such a project would have been quite consuming, and someone mentioned that the kiwi might attract bees, so having an arbor doubling as a rigorous play area, might not be the wisest choice.  Swinging around might upset the bees and cause many stings. 

There are many things to consider in beginning a project.  Where to place it; how to design it.  We decided that simple was best.  My neighbor has a beautiful tall arbor with at least 6 to 8 posts; and her kiwi is very tall and expanded.  Our yard is much smaller; and I did not want to have to stand on a ladder that tall to harvest and prune kiwi.  Hence, we have a short 2 posted arbor. 

For the past couple of months, I've been looking at and studying every arbor I would pass.  None of them were quite what I wanted until I saw one just down the street, I hadn't noticed before.


I stopped my car, and took a picture.  If they saw me taking a picture into their yard, they might think I was some kind of a weirdo.  


This was the kind of design that I thought might work; only I wanted to make the ends deeper.  

Still, we didn't really know the first thing about making an arbor, using cement, etc.  So, I consulted some DIY websites.  

Our result is a combination of using this picture as a guide and consulting different arbor building websites.  

 Here is the recipe we came up with. Ingredients first:


2 4x4 8' posts pressure treated
4 2x4 8'
4 2x6 6' end pieces
6 2x2 8'   pole pieces


(4)2x4 braces made from scraps

gravel to put in holdes under posts
150# cement
2 tube forms 
carriage bolt and washers 12”/ and 12' bit
3" screws


Drill, saw, auger






The first step we took was to rototill and level the area we chose for the arbor.

Then we rented an auger to dig the holes 2' deep.  This part was a bear.  It took both of us all our strength to hold the machine and it got stuck at first.  Lesson learned,  make sure you don't just dig down; dig a little down, lift up, dig some more downward, lift up, etc.

Our auger looked like a BORG!
After diggging the holes, we inserted the tube forms and  shoveled in some gravel





(After cutting the lumber to the right size with corners cut diagonally: We had a neighbor who graciously let us borrow their skill saw.)    We placed the posts into the tubes, centered; drilled on supports, leveled, etc.



Once we had the posts as we wanted them, freestanding; we poured the dry cement (about 75# each hole)  We put on goggles/respirator to protect eyes and lungs.  

For each 50# of cement, you need about a gallon of water.  You just pour it on top and let it seep into the cement.  We covered it to protect our pets from getting into it while it set.  We let it be for the next 24 hours.


When it was dry; the next day, we pre-drilled and drilled with the very large bit to bolt 2 of the 2x6 pieces to the each post. Measuring to center and leveling them.





Then we predrilled and drilled on the 2x4 perpendicular on top of the 2x6 at an angle into the the 2x6. We measured again and leveled, making marks in pencil to guide us.  My husband fashioned a little extra triangle piece to help support the structure.  

The last step was to measure, place, predrill, and drill the 6 poles onto the top.

After it was all put together, I planted the Kiwi!  (you need both male and female plants unless you know a neighbor has another male plant)


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