Sunday Journal: Snowy Days

our weekly poetry tea time

our weekly poetry tea time

We were blessed with another quiet week…mostly. The entire state of Kentucky is still wrapped in a blanket of snow. Our area only received a few inches. The area where my mother lives ended up with freezing rain and ice under all their snow. When I spoke to her today she said the entire area was still shut down. Thankfully she still has power so I know she is warm. I did end up cutting our afternoon studies a couple of days so the kids could play in the snow and sled in one of the vacant lots nearby.

20160123_074345 (480x640)This morning the snow was gorgeous…covering the ground like diamond powder, blinding and multi-colored, glistening in the dawn. I stepped out onto our front porch and watched the morning arrive absolutely transfixed by the beauty. My soul was so moved that I wept.

The arthritis aching in my joints returned me to the distracted here-and-now. Winter hurts.

Sparkles in the snow

Sparkles in the snow

The snow cancelled our first homeschool co-op meeting. The kids were bummed but I have to admit to being somewhat relieved. I am sure it will be a great experience in the end but for now it is hard to be the newbie in a set group of people who already know each other.

homemade bacon

homemade bacon

My amazing husband made homemade bacon this week!!! Yummy!!! It cured in the refrigerator this week and finally it went into the smoker today. A few hours later we fried some up and feasted on fresh bacon…way better than store bought!

Littlest all loud and crazy!

Littlest all loud and crazy!

This week Josh from Beautiful Feet Books asked me to work with him at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention again this year. I am so excited to work with the Berg family again. I enjoyed meeting and talking with so many homeschooling families last year at the convention. Crazy busy but such a moving experience for me. I also registered for the Brave Writer Retreat in July. This is a really nice luxury for me and I am glad my husband encouraged me to go. I am sooo looking forward to meeting my fellow BraveSchoolers!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Parent Teacher Meet-up.

Sophrosyne

Last week I managed to exercise five out of seven days…not so bad. The first two days I got up early and had exercised and showered before the kids were out of bed. Those were good and productive days. The rest of the week I walked in the evenings with my husband or during lunch time. I like walking with my husband. Unfortunately he thinks the walking may be aggravating his hip and is going back to using the stationary bike for a while. So back to early mornings for me…hopefully. I used to be a morning person…not sure what happened to change that. Anyway to ensure that I will get up in the mornings to get my exercise in I am gong to drink a big glass of water before going to bed…that WILL get me up and out of bed in the morning!!!

I’ve concentrated on lowering my cholesterol and have been preparing meals for my entire family based on those needs. My husband started having some problems and eventually went to the doctor and discovered his B vitamins (6 & 12 I think) are low. I need less red meat but he needs more! Some of the foods I had cut back on he actually needs. I’ve gone back to making a high fiber bread for him and a separate loaf of bread for the kids. As much as I enjoy making bread I rarely eat it anymore. I used to have toast every morning but now have either a bowl of high fiber cereal or a green smoothie. I put my husbands pre-sliced loaf of bread in the freezer so it will last him all month. Homemade bread does not have all the preservatives of store-bought and will mold very quickly. The kids still get their loaf of white bread but I have started adding chia seeds, wheat germ and bran, and ground flax-seed to their bread.

I went back and read the chapter in Ellie’s book (Life’s too Short to Eat Bad Cheese) about B vitamins today. She says B vitamins need to be consumed with vitamin C (which should be combined with iron). Oi! This stuff gets complicated! So he should have his B vitamin supplement with a salad and some steak (sounds yummy to me!). I once looked into getting a vitamin supplement for us to take but gave up. There are so many choices and different brands. Also, some articles I’ve read say that vitamins are not beneficial unless your body can digest them and taking supplements is a waste of time. I just gave up on taking any supplements. Ellie pointed out in her book that I can test vitamins by placing a tablet in a little cup of white vinegar. If it dissolves within thirty minutes then the vitamin will most likely be helpful. If it has grit on top then it isn’t worth the money. She also advises liquids and capsules as better supplement choices. I’m going to test my husband’s vitamins right after this post is published. I’ll tell the kids it is a science experiment and we’ll have some fun!

My goal for the next few weeks is to get up early and exercise since my days are so much better when I do. Prepare fish once a week for dinner and have tuna with my salad a couple of times a week for lunch. So far I have about four fish recipes my family will eat. Maybe I can find one or two more to add. I also hope to stay at exercising five days a week for now and turn that into a regular habit.

 

Sophrosyne: Ginger for Mum

My sweet bloggy sister across the grand pond wanted to know how I take enough ginger to keep the arthritis pains at bay but not get heartburn from ginger tablets. I do not take any vitamins or pill form supplements. I’m not really opposed to vitamins and such…I just don’t like how much they cost and all the research involved to know which brands are actually useful to the body. I looked into it a few years ago and just got overwhelmed by all the conflicting information. I’ve chosen to avoid all that confusion by learning which foods contain the nutrients I need.

Learn how to process ginger here.

Ginger is an amazing little plant and for me it does wonders in battling the effects of inflammation. It takes about three weeks before I really noticed the effects. At first I added ginger to my smoothies but you need a much better machine than mine to get it blended properly. I would like to experiment juicing with it but I have to save for a juicing machine first. My family does not like the taste of ginger so I cannot cook with it. But I have found a few ways to enjoy ginger without assaulting my family’s taste buds.

Everyday I enjoy a cup of masala chai. I make a big concentrated batch on Saturday or Sunday and enjoy a nice warm cup after a hectic and busy homeschool day. I collected several recipes from online and played around with them until I found the combination I like best.

My Chai

6 cups water, four inches of ginger (peeled and sliced), 1 cinnamon stick, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds, ! tablespoon of peppercorns I give them a few whacks to bust them up), I/2 tablespoon ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, I sliced orange (peels and all).

I bring all of this to a boil and then simmer for about thirty minutes (I love how my kitchen smells when this is simmering) before removing from heat. One time I had a used vanilla bean pod that I had used to make extract and put it in the pot to simmer with the other spices. That was my very favorite pot of chai!

I then add 10 tea bags to the pot and just two tablespoons of sugar. Sometimes I add a bit of vanilla extract. I let the tea steep about thirty minutes or so. I then squeeze out the orange and strained the liquid. This is my tea concentrate and I keep it in the refrigerator. I plan to experiment with different teas like green or rooibos in the future.

When I want a cup of chai I bring 3/4 cup of the concentrate to boil in a small saucepan. I remove it from heat and whisk in 1/4 cup of half and half. I like to get it a little frothy. I pour it into my favorite cup and enjoy.

The last time I made it I forgot to add the sugar. I loved it without the sugar so I won’t be adding it to any future pots. I have tried some of the spice mixes available on the market but they are always too sweet for my taste or have way too much cinnamon.

Easy Ginger Salad Dressing

I’ve been trying to have a salad everyday for lunch and this is my favorite dressing.

1/2 cup olive oil, I/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of grated ginger, I clove diced garlic, a pinch of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Keep it in the refrigerator and give it a good shake before using. If you like your salad dressing a bit on the sweet side then add a tablespoon or two of honey.

Crystalized Ginger Salad Dressing

One time I was out of ginger but I had some candied (or crystalized) ginger on hand. It is the same recipe as above except I diced up about a tablespoon of crystalized ginger slices. My kids thought I had lost my mind but it is tasty.

I have never made crystalized ginger since I can get it fresh for a good price from the Mennonite shop. If I decide to make it myself sometime I would use this recipe from Alton Brown.

Beef and Ginger Broth

I usually buy beef broth for this but I plan to start using steak bones to make my own beef bone broth in the crockpot.

4 cups beef broth, 2 cloves diced garlic, 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt (check to see if it even needs salt first!) Bring this to a boil and then simmer about fifteen minutes or so. I like the broth by itself but it is also good with rice noodles and any vegetables you want to throw in. If you cook the vegetables in the broth you may have to simmer it longer until the veggies are the way you like. I prepare any noodles separately and ladle the broth over top.

Those are all of my current ginger recipes. I found two more beverages on-line that look interesting: Golden Milk and Turmeric and Ginger Iced Tea. I haven’t tried them yet. I plan to make a ginger syrup next for making a ginger fizz.

 

 

 

 

Sophrosyne

Sophrosyne [suh-fros-uh-nee] is my new word for the year (with fandabbydosy coming in a close second…love the feel of those syllables!)  I know it is March…nearly April and I should have chosen my word for the year in January. For the past few months I have toyed with the word “nourished” because I thought it filled my current need for seeking spiritual and physical…want or need. I can’t find the right word for this…loss of true harmony. Turns out there is an amazing ancient Greek word that embodies all I lack and seek…sophrosyne.

I found this word while skimming some of the works of Plato (Charmides if you want to read for yourself). In my little spare time I am reading about the influence of humanism from the ancient Greek philosophers on Thomas Aquinas and how this affected the course of the Christian church and Western history (yeah, I need a hobby). Since I am not all that clever I have to look up many words I stumble on in my readings…Anyway, one of the words I encountered was sophrosyne. A word with no clear equivalent English translation. In my quest for physical, spiritual, and mental (that one may be a lost cause!) health this word…sophrosyne…is what I seek!

Sophrosyne is expressed by an abiding awareness of one’s true worth, a healthy state of being dominated by orderly behavior leading to harmony within one’s self and with the Divine. Isn’t that an amazing word! I want to be healthy both within my spirit and within my physical being. I truly believe there is a connection in how I care for this earthy home of the Hold Spirit and my relationship with Christ. I cherish this gift of life and I believe that if I honor this gift then I will find a deeper connection with my Lord. This word expresses my belief in how to achieve this harmony.  It is a continuous process of self-knowledge and self-restraint leading to spiritual harmony.

It means eating healthy foods in healthy proportions is something to rejoice in not feel miserable about. Overindulgence (in food or things) leads to guilt and bondage (a lack of health from over-eating and an unhealthy life-style) and self-discipline (proper and healthy food and activity) points to freedom and joy. If I quit abusing this body and seek the Lord with all my heart then sophrosyne is my way of life…true harmony is mine. Perusing a healthy lifestyle is part of achieving sophrosyne.

My wibbly-wobbly posts about achieving fitness and a healthy lifestyle are now under the name of sophrosyne.

Wibbly Wobbly: Just Plodding Along

I think it might be easier to understand theoretical particle physics than to lose weight. I’m not giving up but simply acknowledging this process is going to take a wee bit longer to see measurable progress. I was down about hitting this plateau a couple of weeks ago. Instead of turning to a box or two of chocolate I’ve kept trudging along. No fun, but I know if I just persevere I will succeed. So, oddly enough, I was rather amused to discover this week’s chapter (Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese by Ellie Marrandette) was all about persevering!

So the scale and body measurements haven’t moved much. Once I quit beating myself up I realized that I am not in a race to lose weight. It is okay for this process to take time. Also, I do feel better. Since I started exercising my hip doesn’t hurt as much. My aching hip no longer wakes me up at night (wish I could say the same about my four-year old!). Turns out I am making progress…just not the measurements I considered to be successful. Honestly, I’ll take less pain and better sleep over pounds lost any day.

I’ll just keep plodding along at my slow pace. Eventually the progress I want will manifest.

I need to get past this plateau so I need to change a few things. I’ve added some weight lifting to my workout. I’ve only gone through the routine twice but I plan to use weights three times per week. I also plan to increase my workouts to six times a week instead of just four. Now that the weather is getting better I will most likely walk in the evenings outside with my husband. So some days I will get two workout sessions. Maybe I’ll even be able to keep up with him one of these days! I’ve added a few dances and workouts to my YouTube page. I always start out with Good Morning, Do Life Big, and Gerinomo from Refit Revolution. After those three songs I am ready to grab life by the horns and win! Sometimes I even repeat! Toward the bottom of my list is a Jessica Smith walking workout with weights that I like and plan to use three times a week for now.

The next change I plan to make is with my diet. I think I will do better fighting cravings throughout the day if I begin with a big breakfast. I like my smoothies but I do not love them. So I am going to have a yummy big breakfast, my premade soups for lunch and a very small dinner. I have always envisioned that we should have a huge yummy dinner in the evenings but really I think a small supper would be better. So I am going to try out the old saying of eating like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch, and a pauper for supper. I’ll let you know how that goes the next week…

Wibbly-Wobbly Life Goals: Week 3

This was supposed to be posted last week but I never really got a moment to get caught up. Littlest was feverish off and on for a couple of days and then the business of the Christmas season hit us. My children were all involved in this past weekend’s play and talent show at church keeping us busy with practicing. Also, we started working on all the yummy Christmas goodies and gifts for teachers and friends. I was completely stressed for my kids and far more anxious than they were (and they were the ones performing!). I may have indulged in a few of the chocolate treats and cocoa this week…but not too much. I am really trying not to turn to food when I feel stressed and try to recite Psalm 139 instead.

This week I worked on keeping a food log…and failed. Even though I didn’t always write down what I ate and when, I did end up thinking about why I was reaching for a snack. Most of the time just being conscious of what I was doing and asking myself if I was actually hungry was enough for me not to eat the snack. I usually got a glass of water instead. The past four days I’ve managed to actually meet my water goal!!! This week my goal is simply to reach my water intake goal everyday this coming week. I started marking a place on my planner each day with seven water drops and filling in each drop as I finish a glass of water. For some reason it makes me happy coloring in my water drops each day…

Anyway, I changed the title of this series from weight loss to life goals. This chapter is about making goals and the reasons for getting healthy. Weight loss is not my primary reason. I want to feel better and have more energy for my family. I want the pain in my hands to go away and wear my wedding band again. I want to teach my children good habits so they will hopefully make better choices than I did. These are my main goals and each week I set small goals to help me reach these larger goals for my life. So, I borrowed Ellie’s term “life goals” and put it in place of weight loss.

This weeks goals: Seven glasses of water each day and journal my food. Make a weight loss page for my planner as well as a place to chart my measurements.

 

Wibbly-Wobbly Weightloss Reboot Week 2

I may not have been thinking clearly when I restarted this series so close to the feasting holiday season…I’m just not feeling the motivation right now.

My thoughts have wandered over the reasons for feasting this week as I’ve planned recipes for our special day of Thanksgiving. What is the point of feasting if you never fast? Jesus mentioned fasting a few times in the Bible but I’ve never heard a sermon about the topic. The Catholic church has seasons and rules for fasting that I faithfully followed in years past but never thought to ask, “Why?” Other than to really enjoy a feast I’m curious to learn why God teaches us to fast. Over the next few weeks I’ll study the topic and share what I discover.

This past year the kids and I have read several books about the Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the first Thanksgiving. We’ve watched Monumental and a few early American history documentaries. This year I am very aware of the meaning and history of the holiday and of my complete failure to really embrace it. I realized I’ve never sat at a table with my loved ones and told them why I am thankful. With this omission in mind I helped the kids to make  thankful pine cone turkeys to place on the table. On each colorful tail feather I had them write down someone or something they were grateful for. For them it was a fun craft but their turkeys will be on the table during the feast…a reminder to be grateful. It’s a start.

I didn’t lose any weight this week but I didn’t gain either so I’m going to claim victory. This week’s chapter in my book was about not comparing my self to others. God made us all to be unique and in his eyes we are beautiful the way he made us to be…for who he made us to be. My worth…your worth is not in the number the scale shows but in the price God willingly paid for our redemption. Ellie also points out that I can’t make these healthy changes all at one. I need to make a goal, just one. Later, when this goal is a set habit then make a new goal. Since I’ve let a few habits slip I am going to work on reestablishing them. The first one I’ve decided to tackle is drinking more water. Since the weather turned cold I do not want to drink water. I haven’t been feeling very lethargic lately and I think it is because I’ve not drank enough water or exercised much. I’ll figure out a new exercise schedule later but for this week I am going to focus on water. I told my kids I needed help remembering to drink water and twice today my oldest brought me a glass of water to drink!

One of the questions in the devotional this week asked if I believed God loves me the way he created me…tough question. Intellectually I know that God loves me for who he created me to be. In my heart I feel unworthy…not worth God’s (or anyone’s) time. But, I am a work in progress…working on becoming a New Creation.