Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Food Rule #39

...Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. (Michael Pollan, Food Rules)

And you know what? I think they taste even better than the ones from a certain fast-food restaurant famous for their root beer! mmm.

Loved this recipe!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Booger buster

It's Christmas. So of course people get sick. It's just one of our traditions.

Unfortunately, my two month old picked up something nasty from his admirers. Boo.  And so, I returned to my trusty "baby first aid box" and found my fearless booger buster

The idea is rather disgusting, but it works like a charm! A little bit of saline. A little bit of sucking and he can breathe again!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Homemade Birthday: Rocking Horse

I'm super excited for Chritmas gifts this year! (And also my daughter's third birthday!) My husband and I have been working on some very cool gifts...

This little guy we found at a community rummage sale. He went from this:

To this:

And it was (mostly!) so easy!

See that marker? Yeah - it was the glitch. After four coats of chalk paint, it still bled through. So I had to strip those areas & sand off the marker. Boo. But the painting and mane were super easy!

Chalk paint: I picked up a can of white sample paint from the store. It cost me 5.99, but I was able to use it for another project as well. I used a recipe from In My Own Style, and purchased a huge container of calcium carbonate from my local pharmacy, which cost nearly $20, but will be used for multiple projects. I could have painted him any colour, but I like white.

(The paint I had to strip and sand off after it was already painted was HARD work... I believe that's a good thing for kids' toys!!)

Mane: a Pinterest idea that wasn't totally awful! I love it when they work! I used this tutorial. I had to read the directions carefully, as she was missing a few photos. Don't do what I did I and make the mane so thick your sewing machine can't sew through it. I had to remove some layers before I could finish it.


Of course the balloons we blew up to decorate her room were the initial hit, but once she got over those, she loved her rocking horse. And still does :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas with 3 under 3

This Christmas season is very special to us, and even more so as we get to experience it through the eyes of our three-year-old daughter. But, that also means we have a seventeen month old and a one-and-half month old in tow, which limits our celebrations.

I have to be honest, our house looks quite sparse in terms of decorations.

We have stockings:

And we have a Christmas tree:

But notice something about the tree? Yup. It's missing ornaments. We have a handful of homemade ornaments at Miss K's level, but otherwise it's a naked tree.

As a perfectionist, this year is tough on me.

But, I just didn't want to yell.  Funny enough, as I reflect upon that same article, I wouldn't get out of bed if "not yelling" was my only criteria/reason for not doing things this year. Realistically, I had to pace myself. We have activities planned that I hope will be traditions, and will make memories - and reinforce other ones - without causing too much added stress to a household where all of the littles need help. All of the time.

There's one other things we have this year:

It's our version of Tsh's Easy, no-Frills Advent Calendar.

I looked at the calendar, and attempted to incorporate activities we were already doing, and then added a few more. We even have a few BONUS activities - as Main Street's Christmas tree was lit in November (Miss K - my soon-to-be three-year-old has been asking about it since last January. Not even kidding), and her birthday part is AFTER Christmas this year (again - the whole not yelling thing as important).

Other activities include:
-decorate Christmas tree
-maintaining our Friday family movie night - Elf, Dad's choice!, and A Charlie Brown Christmas
-make perogies (with all of the aunties - and the cousins showed up too!)
-deliver food to the Foodbank
-shop for & deliver Christmas Hamper Toy
-Church Christmas Concert
-make Nuts & Bolts (an easy "dump" activity)
-make cornstarch & baking soda homemade ornaments (so easy & AWESOME!)
-deliver cookies
-candy cane hot chocolate
-"do you wanna build a snowman?!"
-Christmas train ride

Easy activities. Many of which we were doing already, but now we have anticipation each morning. And? I can switch them around - for instance when there was NO snow on the day we wanted to go tobogganing. And, because I looked ahead, I'm able to "call in the reinforcements" (yay Grandparents!) for the activities that will need a little extra help - like the train ride.

I can't promise I won't yell this year. Mischief abounds around here. But I'm trying not to yell more than normal. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ethical Food Choices

I retweeted Relevant Magazine's article "How Much Should I Care About Ethical Food?" because in a number of ways it resounded with the lessons my head and my heart have been learning this year.

"Ethical" is certainly a buzz word these days. And I wish it wasn't.

Let me explain.

I wish we didn't live in a world that had to distinguish "ethical" from the rest. I wish we lived in a world where things were ethically produced all the time. A world where wages were fair, workers were not exploited and mistreated, where we strived to preserve our beautiful world instead of working for the cheapest.

I come back again and again to a lesson I drew from Tsh's book, Notes from a Blue Bike: everything costs someone something.

But as this piece gently reminds, I don't want my choices to be driven by guilt. And I also can't always afford the most ethical option. I have to live within the means of our family - and right now we are a single income family, with three kids. Money is carefully budgeted and alloted to certain expenses. Some months we just can't afford certain things.

But that doesn't mean I can't try.

As I have written before, in the summer months I visit the local farmer's market to buy produce and eggs. I can buy honey this way too. With the winter months, I called up my egg supplier and asked her if she would be willing to deliver eggs if I set up a few orders each week. She did! We get a dozen farmer-fresh eggs every week. She also has a variety of different types of meat if I'm interested. 

Our meat comes from a few different sources - chickens from a client of ours, beef from our own pasture, sausage and pepperoni stick from my husband's hunting. Fish from his fishing trips - though we don't get enough in the summer and still have to buy some.

Our freezer is full of chopped apples from my husband's grandmother's tree. They were going to waste when he picked us a box ... Next year we'll try picking more! 

Our small-town owned grocery store does provide some organic produce, and whenever possible I buy their locally sourced produce as well. Obviously things like bananas and mangos don't grow in our cold temperature, but we have tried as much as possible with other fruits, while growing a lot of our own veggies.

I'm trying not to feel guilty, and trying to do my part as best as I can. It's not perfect, but my growing awareness is helping us take small steps in the direction of "ethical food".


The Modern Mrs. Darcy posted this past week about favourite poetry collections.  It made my mind whirl a little. I used to love poetry, and getting to teach it gave me secret thrills.  But as a sleep-deprived mother of three (under three, I might add!) I find it all too easy to gloss of books and other forms of rich literature, and instead turn to mind-numbing TV and Facebook.  Her post reminded me of what I'm missing, and caused me to go back into the recesses of my mind and extract some memories of favourite poets and their work.  One in particular leaped right out.

Without a doubt Derek Walcott stands out in my mind as a poet I admire, and whose work leaves me awe-struck. I was introduced to him in my first-year English course at university.  It was love at first read. His imagery and vocabulary alone give me shivers.

Taken from the Academy of American Poets:

In the Village

Derek Walcott1930


I came up out of the subway and there were
people standing on the steps as if they knew
something I didn’t. This was in the Cold War,
and nuclear fallout. I looked and the whole avenue
was empty, I mean utterly, and I thought,
The birds have abandoned our cities and the plague
of silence multiplies through their arteries, they fought
the war and they lost and there’s nothing subtle or vague
in this horrifying vacuum that is New York. I caught
the blare of a loudspeaker repeatedly warning
the last few people, maybe strolling lovers in their walk,
that the world was about to end that morning
on Sixth or Seventh Avenue with no people going to work
in that uncontradicted, horrifying perspective.
It was no way to die, but it’s also no way to live.
Well, if we burnt, it was at least New York.


Everybody in New York is in a sitcom.
I’m in a Latin American novel, one
in which an egret-haired viejo shakes with some
invisible sorrow, some obscene affliction,
and chronicles it secretly, till it shows in his face,
the parenthetical wrinkles confirming his fiction
to his deep embarrassment. Look, it’s
just the old story of a heart that won’t call it quits
whatever the odds, quixotic. It’s just one that’ll
break nobody’s heart, even if the grizzled colonel
pitches from his steed in a cavalry charge, in a battle
that won’t make him a statue. It is the hell
of ordinary, unrequited love. Watch these egrets
trudging the lawn in a dishevelled troop, white banners
trailing forlornly; they are the bleached regrets
of an old man’s memoirs, printed stanzas.
showing their hinged wings like wide open secrets.


Who has removed the typewriter from my desk,
so that I am a musician without his piano
with emptiness ahead as clear and grotesque
as another spring? My veins bud, and I am so
full of poems, a wastebasket of black wire.
The notes outside are visible; sparrows will
line antennae like staves, the way springs were,
but the roofs are cold and the great grey river
where a liner glides, huge as a winter hill,
moves imperceptibly like the accumulating
years. I have no reason to forgive her
for what I brought on myself. I am past hating,
past the longing for Italy where blowing snow
absolves and whitens a kneeling mountain range
outside Milan. Through glass, I am waiting
for the sound of a bird to unhinge the beginning
of spring, but my hands, my work, feel strange
without the rusty music of my machine. No words
for the Arctic liner moving down the Hudson, for the mange
of old snow moulting from the roofs. No poems. No birds.


The Sweet Life Café

If I fall into a grizzled stillness
sometimes, over the red-chequered tablecloth
outdoors of the Sweet Life Café, when the noise
of Sunday traffic in the Village is soft as a moth
working in storage, it is because of age
which I rarely admit to, or, honestly, even think of.
I have kept the same furies, though my domestic rage
is illogical, diabetic, with no lessening of love
though my hand trembles wildly, but not over this page.
My lust is in great health, but, if it happens
that all my towers shrivel to dribbling sand,
joy will still bend the cane-reeds with my pen’s
elation on the road to Vieuxfort with fever-grass
white in the sun, and, as for the sea breaking
in the gap at Praslin, they add up to the grace
I have known and which death will be taking
from my hand on this chequered tablecloth in this good place.

Friday, October 9, 2015

BPA or Bisphenol-A and our food

I'm a little late in learning about BPA - though I had heard about it for years, including the Nalgene bottle controversy from several years ago, but what I didn't realize is how much of our food comes in contact with BPA. And while moderation is key, if we are consuming food with BPA every day, that adds up, especially in little bodies.

Leonard Sax's 2010 Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls really opened my eyes to some this - he recommends
In my opinion, if there is reasonable doubt about the safety of BPA, then we shouldn't use it. 
Avoid canned foods, particularly canned pasta, canned soup, canned beans, and canned tuna. In one recent study, 50 percent or more of these canned foods contained dangerous levels of BPA. Eat fresh or frozen foods instead.
Much of what he goes on to say is found elsewhere too - avoiding heating food items in plastic containers, avoiding placing plastics in the dishwasher, avoiding drinking hot beverages from plastic cups, and avoiding containers with the number "7" in the recycle triangle.

While I have heard about it in plastic items lots (and frequently see "BPA free" advertised), it was the food that really shook me, as I stood and looked at my pantry - canned soups, canned tomatoes, canned tuna... etc. Convenience food. Even though I was trying to choose "healthy" convenience food (is that an oxymoron these days?!), and I thought I was avoiding controversy by buying METAL containers, obviously not.   But then I wonder ... those that advertise as "BPA free", what other chemicals have they used to replace it with? And are these any better for us?

Forbes ran an article in 2012, "Campbell's Big Fat Green BPA Lie -- and the Sustainability Activists who Enabled It" by John Entine. OUCH. How many red labels are in my pantry? The article goes on to talk about that many organizations around the world have in fact found BPA "safe as commonly used" and Entine continues by discussing the alternatives used by natural or organic food companies for their cans, and basically they still use chemicals in their process. It's how we give food a shelf-life. It's how we keep the population safe from all of the food-bourne diseases, etc that come from improper food handling and management.

In 2008, the Government of Canada stated that:

Health Canada's Food Directorate has concluded that the current dietary
exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants.

However, due to the uncertainty raised in some animal studies relating to the potential effects of low levels of BPA, the Government of Canada is taking action to enhance the protection of infants and young children. It is therefore recommended that the general principle of ALARAFootnote 1 (as low as reasonably achievable) be applied to continue efforts on limiting BPA exposure from food packaging applications to infants and newborns, specifically from pre-packaged infant formula products as a sole source food, for this sensitive segment of the population.

WebMD states that:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration used to say that BPA was safe. But in 2010 the agency altered its position. The FDA maintains that studies using standardized toxicity tests have shown BPA to be safe at the current low levels of human exposure. But based on other evidence -- largely from animal studies -- the FDA expressed "some concern" about the potential effects of BPA on the  brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children.

So what's a mom to do?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

God is Sovereign.

Last year I had the privilege of studying the Book of Daniel and the theme of God's Sovereignty with my Ladies' Bible study.  Many of those verses and ideas still float around in my mind - but today's Our Daily Bread further anchored them:

Habakkuk 1:1-11 NLT

1 This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.

Habakkuk’s Complaint
2 How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
    But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
    but you do not come to save.
3 Must I forever see these evil deeds?
    Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
    I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
    who love to argue and fight.
4 The law has become paralyzed,
    and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
    so that justice has become perverted.
The Lord’s Reply
5 The Lord replied,

“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed![a]
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,[b]
    a cruel and violent people.
They will march across the world
    and conquer other lands.
7 They are notorious for their cruelty
    and do whatever they like.
8 Their horses are swifter than cheetahs[c]
    and fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their charioteers charge from far away.
    Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.
9 “On they come, all bent on violence.
    Their hordes advance like a desert wind,
    sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.
10 They scoff at kings and princes
    and scorn all their fortresses.
They simply pile ramps of earth
    against their walls and capture them!
11 They sweep past like the wind
    and are gone.
But they are deeply guilty,

    for their own strength is their god.”

...he learned to look at his circumstances from the framework of God’s character instead of looking at God’s character from the context of his own circumstances.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beautiful, yummy tomatoes!

These tomatoes. Pesticide free and from a local farmer (10 minutes down the road!) The peppers didn't make the photo.... :)

My goal? Homemade tomato sauce for our family.  It's SO easy!

Start by scoring the bottoms with an "X" and blanching them in order to remove their skins (25-30 seconds tops in the boiling water). Chop them roughly. You can remove the seeds or not. It's your choice. I don't.

Simmer them on the stove until the mixture reaches your desired consistency with a variety of add-ins depending on your preference (just tomatoes, tomatoes + marinara seasoning, tomatoes + chopped onions). Allow the sauce to cool and then freeze in Ziploc bags (I do 1-2 cup portions) for yummy tomato sauces.  You can make tomato paste in a similar way.

When it comes time for use, I thaw it, pop it in the blender if it needs to be smoother, and use it for pizza sauce, pasta sauce, meatball sauce, chilli sauce.... All kinds of sauce!

Apparently... you can freeze a tomato whole. When it thaws, just squeeze it to remove the juice and then throw it in to whatever concoction you need it for... I've never tried this, but a few I know swear by it. Obviously they work better in a sauce or stew after this, as freezing does make them mushy.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Apple Pie

Every fall apple pie is on the top of our list of treats. Over the years I've tried different recipes, and this year ... I think I found the shortcut in the crust :)

I used this for the crust: Grandmother's Super Flaky Pie Crust (my new go-to recipe for anything requiring a crust)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup margarine  (you can use butter!)
  • water
Cut the margarine into the flour until crumbly. Add water gradually until right consistency. Separate into two pieces and roll out on a lightly floured surface to fit pie plate.

I used this for the spices:
  • 3 T. flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
Mix together. (I actually make extra of this and keep it on hand for quick apple pies!)

And we chopped apples from our friend's garden, even leaving on the skins!

Layer apple slices and spices in the crust. Top with crust.  350 F-degrees for about 30 minutes... 

Thursday, September 10, 2015


When I first saw the title of this book, 168 Hours, I wasn't sure what Laura Vanderkam was counting - wasted hours? Found hours? Turns out that's how many hours you and I have in one week. At first that didn't sound like much ... but she's quick to point out it's more than you realize.

I really enjoyed the book on a number of levels - though I found it hard to chart my hours as I'm (1) a mom, and (2) CONSTANTLY multi-tasking (for example, I'm switching loads of laundry while eating breakfast, while chatting with my kids, while emptying the dishwasher...or "watching" TV while I scan documents for a client and I'm working on a to do list).  The process of attempting to record my time has been telling, however.

The first area that struck a chord for me? CORE COMPETENCIES. And I think this is my biggest take-away from her book - core competencies are "things that a company does best and others cannot do nearly as well" (34). She constantly reminds the reader to focus on core competencies and to minimize, outsource or ignore everything else, as there is "little point in being too scattered to master something, or in spending much time on activities in which you can't excel" (35).


Remember my problem with tracking my time? Being too scattered would be another take-away. There are things I am definitely better at in life. If I claim that the priorities in my life are God, wife, mom and then everything else, my time should reflect this better.

I loved a few of her other suggestions and ideas in this chapter:
-in order to spend more time reading with my kids, choose quality books, such as the Caldecott Medal winners - brilliant! I Googled the list and I've since ordered 10 of the books from our library. I figured 10 was a good start.

-Caroline Ceniza-Levine's "List of 100 Dreams" - oh, the dreamer in my LOVED this activity. My list may include chocolate too.

-questions to ask myself:
What do I do best, that other people cannot do nearly as well? 
What things do I spend time on that others could do, or do better?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Finding food a little closer to home

It's Prince Henry in the movie Ever After who tells Danielle,
I used to think that if I cared about anything, I would have to care about everything, and I'll go stark raving mad. But, now I have found a purpose.
There are times on this journey of ours when I share his sentiment. Admittedly, I still find myself laughing at some of the people I meet or hear about - the extremists, or perhaps the ones who are simply further on the journey than I am, the ones who are so committed to their quest for health and well-being that they are seemingly in another world.

I think I felt this way as I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and considered her family's commitment to only eat local produce and food for a year. The thought of rhubarb being the only fruit for a period of time in one's diet seemed ludicrous (especially with toddlers!). Yet, as I considered her challenge and thought more, it started to make sense, until I tried to figure out what it would look like in my own family and I headed towards the "stark raving mad" end of the spectrum.

What I'm learning in this process is to glean bits and pieces from each of these journeys that work for our family, as best as I can, utilizing the resources I have, or the ones available to me. But, as I crawl further down this proverbial rabbit hole, I am realizing just how far our society, and myself along with it, has fallen to convenience.

In our attempt to find food closer to our home, I have been doing the following:

  • growing a LARGE garden with a friend. Hard work (weeding!) is always easier with a friend.  We each have two toddlers, so finding the time to spend in the garden is not always easy with the four of them racing about - our onions are looking a little sorry thanks to their trampling efforts. But we are working with it, and some times even recruit our husbands to play with the kids while we work our garden. That being said, the time spent together has been good and the yield has been satisfying and fun - so far we have enjoyed peas, lettuce, tomatoes beans, potatoes, carrots, onions and rhubarb. We have planted some berry bushes too, which will hopefully yield fruit in future years.
Garden pano from earlier in the season. I'm standing in the potatoes.

Garden pumpkin - harvested early because of the threat of frost!
  • asking friends who have fruit trees and bushes in their gardens if they're using them or not. We scored a tub of apples (for pies and smoothies) and these plum/cherry (there's a bit of a debate able what they are!) that we are  going to can. The girls inhaled these as we were washing and de-stemming them!
Mysterious plum/cherry. The debate rages on!
  • shopping our local farmer's market - this is hard as I need to still form relationships and figure out exactly what I am buying, as at one of the booths I spied the same MANGOES that I bought from the store the other day. Um, not local farmers. Our market also sustains itself with "home party" type goods, so we're working on it.... Meat seems to be our must successful thus far, but we're slowly adding other food, as we are also trying to build relationships with others in the area - unpasteurized honey from a friend I was in Bible study with a few years ago, a local producer who grows tomatoes and peppers without pesticides (especially since those are on the Dirty Dozen List), having sourced chicken from some family friends; we "grow" our own steers in the pasture, and we are very fortunate because my husband is able to hunt and fish which provides us with wild game and fish. 
12 eggs from this week's market - for $3.00! I love the different sizes & colours!
  • and finally, checking out options such as The Green Pantry who deliver to our area. I might have some more success in finding what I'm looking for through them - though some of their items still travel a LONG distance because we're rural and in a northern climate. But, I really appreciate that they have a link on their site called Our Producers where I can read about who is growing/making the food and where it is coming from before it hits our table.

Monday, August 17, 2015


This is a gorgeous photo.

I must admit, night-time photos give me a special thrill. More than most. I think it's because there is something mysterious and beautiful and elusive about the night sky. Whether it is the northern lights, the moon, the milky way... or some of the International Space Station.  But as with all things worthwhile, these images require learning, patience and practice. Ah yes, patience and practice :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

MEC mail

These arrived this week!

I was SO excited to get this package in the mail from MEC - I was pretty pumped to try these items on too.

Since I'm pregnant for the third time in as many years, and the last few days have been HOT (plus 30C, and at many points, without a breeze) ... I was looking for some new options and some cooler options since I fear I'm sweating from every part of my body.... I was lucky my last two pregnancies have been in an air conditioned house, and I strangely don't remember feeling so hot ;) 

So here's what arrived:

MEC AMANITA SHORTS (WOMEN'S) - in dark slate

  • These were my most expensive purchase - $29.99 for some SHORT SHORTS ... but, it was the reviews that sold them on them, and so far they are living up to them (I'm wearing them as I write this review). They are stretchy and comfy, and seem to breathe well.  I'll update this on another super hot day, but for now, I am very happy with my new shorts! I usually fit a size 6 for jeans, but ordered a size 8 for the shorts, and they fit me while I'm pregnant. They have a stretchy waist-band and a draw-string, so I think this helps. Based on the fabric, etc, I think they'll fit fine once I'm no longer sporting a baby bump.

MEC NIKKI TANK TOP (WOMEN'S) - in both starfish/sleet and black/starfish

  • I'm updating my tank top collection as I wear one daily, often under other shirts to ensure appropriate length and cover, and sometimes simply because the fabric of other shirts feels too thin. They fulfill both purposes well. These are both racer-back style tanks, so I will have to wear the appropriate underwear with them, however for the same price as other tank tops I've purchased in the past (they were on clearance), I am very happy with the quality - the fabric seems nice and thick, yet still breathable. I ordered size SMALL, and they fit, but still have room.

MEC SHORT-SLEEVE TEE SHIRT (WOMEN'S) - in dark plum-arbutus stripe

  • Probably not the colour I would usually go for, but it fits beautifully. I'm looking forward to wearing a new shirt for a change as my pregnancy wardrobe hasn't had a lot of updating....  This shirt is stretchy enough that it should double as a nursing-top too when the time comes. I ordered size MEDIUM, and it covers up nicely. 

I am thrilled with my purchases' - both their quality and sizing. 

While the labels list "made in India" and "made in China", based upon my research of MEC and their policies, I am feeling confident that they have taken efforts to ensure those who were involved in the manufacturing process were treated fairly and paid accordingly.  It also made my day to spy this little tag attached to my new t-shirt:

I paid a little more for this purchase than I would have in the past, but as I we are working towards a goal here, I think the end goal of a more ethical wardrobe is achievable. That being said, it will likely be a capsule wardrobe in order to afford the new pieces... but, I think that fits well with my goals this year.

**I paid for my clothing and have NOT received compensation from MEC in any form for this post. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Buycott vs. Boycott

This year has been a journey.

Since reading Notes from a Blue Bike back in January, I can't help but shake the ideas that Tsh presents. It has shaped my year in so many ways - which will hopefully become more and more evident on my blog about intentionality.

One of the many ideas I keep returning to is that "the beautiful thing about living a slower, richer life is that you can impact others in the most surprising ways" (212).  I've struggled with inferiority in this sense - thinking that there's no way I can "change the world".  In recent months, I'm realizing that I can, just not how I once thought...

Ann Voskamp takes some of these ideas in a very personal direction in the prologue, "to realize that the real hidden cost of everything you buy--is how much life it cost you to get it" (xx).  I've mulled these ideas over and over this year - realizing that it costs ME something. It costs my FAMILY something. But beyond ourselves, it costs OTHERS something - in the supply chain that gets goods to my house: from the fields to production to delivery (we live in a rural area), and many other points in between. No matter how much of a "good deal" I can score, somewhere, somehow, it has cost something and perhaps even scarier, it might just have cost someone

As a result of all of these new ideas, I have been looking for options for our family that are more ethical. I'm searching for ways to bring at least some of our purchasing closer to home to support our local farmers and producers. I've been researching ways to live life with more intentionality, instead of simply getting the biggest and best deal I can find. Some of those areas include:
  • healthier food options, grown as close to home as possible (Thanks Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver!) - but we still eat bananas,
  • "cleaner" skin care products, and 
  • ethical clothing and other goods (toys, etc)
It was while searching for ethical clothing options in Canada that I happened upon MEC's site, and I learned the term "Buycott" -
We favour the "buycott" method of social reform over the traditional boycott method. The latter closes communication, builds fences, and in reality does little to advance human rights. Workers receive no support from the companies who boycott Chinese factories. Instead, the more effective "buycott" uses the supply chain and larger orders to reward suppliers who practice good human rights. By sourcing in China we're able to monitor factories, empower workers, and share our views with their management. -Why Do You Source from China?
I have long been a fan of MEC and their products (check out my "Travelling with Baby K" series) - but now I have some more reasons to love them, thanks to their stance on Ethical Sourcing.
And while yes, we are only one family, we "do life" with many other families. I have this blog. We do in fact have voices within this world - perhaps voices that carry a little further than I once realized. We can use our buying decisions to BUYCOTT instead of BOYCOTT, and hopefully encourage those around us to do the same. 

You've Got Mail

Does anyone else still get excited to receive ACTUAL mail these days?  With most "mail" these days being bills and flyers (yay for being a grown-up!) a letter, or postcard, or package most definitely cause me to break out into a happy dance best only seen by my family.

I'm anxiously awaiting packages in the mail ... and according to tracking one of them should be here TODAY! Cue awkward dance moves (think Elaine from Seinfeld)....

Friday, July 31, 2015


As an INFP (more on this later), I find myself dreaming all the time... and when I come across posts like this, I lose myself for a long-while:

I think I could get lost in his "Endless Stories" image for the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation over and over again. Stunning.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Babies & Milk-Protein Intolerances

Being a new mom terrified me. As a type-A perfectionist, I had an almost paralyzing fear that I would "get it wrong". (I'm happy to say I'm now the mom of 2 happy and thriving daughters - I might have gotten a lot of things wrong, I'm trusting God to help me get the important stuff right!)

It was only a few weeks in with my first that I was in tears every night. My some times smiley baby would spends hours and hours screaming. The only way it seemed to calm her was to nurse her, and the crying would stop for about 20 minutes. I had no idea what was wrong or why I couldn't console her. In my sleep-deprived stupor I would try rocking her and rocking her... And nothing would work.

photo credit: marcstolz via photopin cc

What I didn't realize at the time is that she was suffering from abdominal cramps due to her gas, caused by the milk products in my diet, and more specifically the milk proteins in milk products.

My mom, thankfully, helped me realize it was gas causing the issue, and then I began the process of eliminating various foods from my diet to figure out what was causing the gas. Unfortunately when I was researching, I tried some of the usual suspects - broccoli, garlic, onions, and other veggies. 

photo credit: Philocrites via photopin cc

It was on some obscure website that I read that milk frequently causes gas in newborns, and more specifically, milk proteins (so "lactose free" products were still problematic). I went off milk and the difference was night and day. I realized very quickly that I consume a LOT of dairy products in a day - from yogurt to cheese to ice-cream to chocolate to lattes.... All culprits and all reasons I would get minimal sleep at night.

photo credit: zaveqna via photopin cc

Thus my milk-free diet began. At the time I feared it would go on forever (at least until I weened her... Though that feels like forever away when it stands between myself and chocolate!) I began taking calcium to replace what my diet was lacking (there are some green leafy veggies that can do this, however they can cause gas from time to time too).

I was fortunate, she wasn't soy intolerant, a common additional one, so I was able to use soy cheese in some of my cooking. I avoided soy milk as I found the taste quite awful compared to the real deal, unless it was in a latte. Beware with switching to soy, however, as soy contains hormones and long-term exposure is not so good. 

Over time, I learned to make (and enjoy!) brownies without chocolate chips. Meals became a bit more creative. Instead of cheesy sauces, I made a lot more tomato sauce based pastas and Chinese food.

-soy based cheese

-there are other options out there, but our tiny town stores don't stock them yet

Chocolate: (stash the good stuff until you can eat it again!)
-Brownies (replaced butter with margarine and no chocolate chips)

-Mix-in-a-Pan chocolate cake

Hot beverages:
-apple cider
-herbal teas
-Soy chai lattes or London Fogs (for a special treat!)

-sorbets (watch the label!)
-frozen banana substitutes

-lasagna (remove my portion of noddles & meat before adding cheeses)
-pizza (sprinkle soy on my portion or individual size)
-homemade dough to make buns and cinnamon buns (their recipes often call for milk!), and also pizza crust and bread
-tomato soup with water (and toast with dried basil sprinkled on instead of cheese!)

Things to be careful of:
-pastry (often made with butter!)
-icing (butter/milk)
-"cream of"soups (often in casseroles)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Where I've Been

It's a big world out there! Travel is in my bones. Can't wait to take on more of the world!