Monday, January 31, 2011

M and His Butterflies

M got caterpillars for Christmas.  Well, he got a netted container with a voucher for caterpillars anyway. I love Amazon, and we generally buy most things through it, from grocery items to birthdays and Christmas presents.  We sent away from M's caterpillars at the end of December. His caterpillars finally arrived a few weeks ago.  They crawled around, tiny, eating their food for several days.  They grew and grew and eventually hung from their lid, each forming a chrysalis.  Then, we moved the chrysalides to the netted container and watched them every day.

A few days ago, one chrysalis turned dark and a butterfly emerged.  Yesterday, two more followed.  And today, the final butterfly emerged.  M is the proud papa of four painted lady butterflies.  M named them, in order of emergence from their pods: Iam, Isaac, Sheila and Hella.  According to M, Iam and Isaac are boys, and Sheila and Hella are girls.

We have been giving the butterflies slices of orange to munch on until they were all ready to be released outside.  Of course, M had to be ready too.  A few minutes ago, M announced that he was ready to let them go in the backyard.  We took the net outside, opened the top and gently helped them come out.  They hung around the patio for a few minutes, walking around and trying out their wings.  But then one took flight (we could swear it was Sheila) and we yelled "goodbye!" to her.  While we prepared a plate with sugar-water and orange slices to place in the backyard,  two more butterflies flew off to explore the neighborhood.  M and I hope they come back to visit.  Maybe they will fly by to say "hi" and have a little snack.

(I included the Amazon link above for the brand we bought.  We love it, and their customer service was very nice.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Local Eggs and Produce

I get my eggs every other Saturday at the Phoenix Public Market downtown.  I also always get my produce there, gathering items that cover a wide spectrum.  It's good for our bodies to have variety.  I love some of the heirloom varieties you can find at the different booths.

Jimmie and Celia at Chile Acres are now my friends since I started buying from them over a year ago.  They treat me right, and they treat their chickens right too.  Their birds (they have ducks, too) live outside on pasture, eating bugs, foraging, having garden scraps from the farm.  They do have feed, but it doesn't contain any soy.  When I break the eggs open, the yolks are a very dark orange.  Orange means nutrition.  We love these eggs!

The place I go for produce first every time at the Market is Maya's Farm.  I love all their varying onions and garlics, wonderful herbs, melons, tomatoes, lettuces and the meyer lemons, oh! the meyer lemons!  I also like to know that my produce is fresher and grown in mineral-rich soil, yielding more trace minerals in my foods.  That's part of the reason I try to garden as much as possible too.  I may even start vermicomposting after talking with my friend last night about house-hunting yesterday.  We found a small three-bedroom with a pretty kickass backyard.  Yay!

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things M Says (part 37)

M, choosing a song on the iPod that R doesn't like:

R: "Can you change it? I'm not digging this song."
M, changing it to the next one: "Are you digging for this one?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

(Quick) Tomato Basil Soup with Parmesan Curls

I love tomato soup. Of course, I grew up getting mine out of a can. Canned soup generally contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), vegetable oils like cottonseed, soybean, canola, safflower or sunflower (which are usually cheap, rancid byproducts of Big Ag), high fructose corn syrup, citric acid (another kind of MSG), autolyzed yeast (yet another kind of MSG), cheap iodized salt, wheat flour (which is white flour, probably "enriched" which really means "devoid of nutritional value"). But now that I know about the ingredients in canned soup, I am happy to make my own.  Since I am in the habit of making my own stocks, I can usually throw a soup together in a few minutes.

I usually follow a basic Tomato Cream Soup recipe from Kim Knoch at The Nourishing Cook. She says you can throw it all together in 3 minutes, and she's right.  I usually double her recipe since I have the large cans of diced tomatoes.

I DO use canned tomatoes, which are not ideal due to BPA in the linings of most canned foods.  Eden Organic is the only canned food manufacturer in the States using BPA-free cans, but even they are unable to use those BPA-free cans for tomatoes.  The FDA won't allow it, due to their acidity.

But until I learn how to can, and how to find the time to do it, I am calling compromise on this one.  Maybe once tomatoes are in season here, I will dice them up for fresh tomato soup.

Tomato Cream Soup
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, or tomato sauce
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Add all ingredients to a soup pot, blending with a stick blender to desired consistency (if you used diced tomatoes).  Heat through and serve.

After I had made this basic recipe a few times, which is perfect for a cold day or for dipping grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, I wanted to make something a little different.

Tomato Basil Cream Soup with Parmesan Curls
14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
14 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2-3 tablespoons dried basil (or a handful of chopped fresh basil)
parmesan cheese curls, cut with a knife or cheese slicer

1. Combine all ingredients except cheese curls into a large soup pot.  Heat through, blending with a stick blender to your desired consistency.  Serve in bowls with cheese curls floating on top, and with sourdough toasts and grass-fed butter or homemade crackers.

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Real Food Nutrition and Health E-Course


Food Renegade is one of my oft-checked real food blogs.  I am getting more involved with Real Food Media and blogging here at k-land about real food, nourishing practices, and my family's health.  As I build up momentum, I am inspired by the work some of these bloggers do.  It's not just the beautiful websites and the wholesome recipes, it's the feeling of solidarity to have people with me in the real food arena.  A lot of people doubt the veracity of Nourishing Tradition's claims, or that saturated fat really is good for you, or that our ancestors ate raw dairy, sprouted and sourdoughed grains, pastured meats and eggs.

Starting on February 4th and ending April 8th, Food Renegade's Kristen is starting an e-class, complete with e-book!, that teaches you all the basics to traditional foods.  I love how Kristen puts it:

"Nutrition fascinates me. It's a blend of biology, history, chemistry. It's the story of traditional peoples and what they ate, the story of convenience foods and food manufacturing. It's the story of modern Industrial agriculture, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetic engineering, and diminishing top soil while also being the story of humane animal husbandry, biodynamic farming, and a respect for life. It's the story of modern diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Yet it also teaches about true health and aging with stamina."

I feel the exact same way.  I love the intersection of learning about my ancestors and what they ate, wading through current science on nutrition, and then actually incorporating those practices into my kitchen and family menu.  I already have downloaded the ebook, and I am looking forward to the course coming up in a few weeks!

Real Food Nutrition and Health E-Course

And here is a short video to introduce you to what the e-course is all about.  It sounds a lot like Kristen has managed to cover all the basics.  This is great way to jump in to real, whole, traditional food.  Or if you already have committed, it can sharpen your understand of why we all need real food so much.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Thousand-Petaled Lotus

When we reach this level, the seed of our soul has sprouted from its roots in the earth, and grown upward through the elements of water, fire, air, sound, and light, and now to the source of all--consciousness itself, experienced through the element of thought.  Each level brings us new degrees of freedom and awareness.  Now the crown chakra blossoms forth with infinite awareness, its thousand petals like antennae, reaching to higher dimensions. --Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith, pg. 320
Last year I went to a retreat in southern Arizona, a yearly event with my husband's law firm.  We get to stay in lovely hotel rooms, eat gorgeous meals, relax at the spa, and golf in spectacular surroundings.  As usual, I shunned golfing and signed up for a full body massage, my favorite thing on the planet.  And since my husband did not want to go to the spa, I found myself with an extra time allotment.  I had never had a facial, so deciding to try something new I put myself in the schedule.
Carefully choosing the simplest line of products the spa offered, I laid back and started talking with the esthetician as she was working.  Partway through our session she asked if it was okay to "work on my chakras".  I tried not to roll my eyes as she got out her chakra stones, reminding myself that I did not know anything about chakras that I had not heard from skeptics or pop culture.  Either way, I would have a personal experience with chakras that I could draw on for information.
The stones clinked into her hand out of the drawstring bag.  She told me that if I had a chakra out of balance then I would feel the stone as being either hot or cold.  She started with the Root Chakra and worked upward, setting a semi-precious stone over each one on top of the sheet that covered me.  I know now that in yoga practice pranic energy in the body can activate dormant spiritual energy called Kundalini, visualized as a snake coiled up in the first (root) chakra at the base of the spine that, when roused, can move upward passing through each of the lower chakras until becoming one with Crown Chakra.
Halfway there, when we reached the Heart Chakra my skin was exposed and the stone felt cold on my skin.  I internally harumphed and thought "of course it feels cold on my skin, it's a stone". Throat Chakra felt neutral.  Third Eye Chakra felt neutral.  After each placing of the stone, she read a small paragraph from a paper explaining what the chakra meant, what color was associated with that chakra, and which stone she was using.  We had reached the final chakra.
I could not have prepared myself for what that last stone-placing would be like.  She took out an amethyst and said that Crown Chakra was associated with knowledge, intelligence, and oneness.  As she started talking she took the amethyst and gently drew a circle with it on the top of my head.  I flinched as the stone drew that white hot disc on my scalp.  The burning felt bright, like looking into the sun.  I was stunned, though I did manage to explain what had just happened.  The only direction I got that day was to "look into balancing your crown chakra".
Since then, I have pondered what my surprising reaction to that amethyst was.  I have since been to a chiropractic appointment where my coronal suture (the top of my head) was very tight and required a shoulder and neck adjustment.  And just last week I got a(nother) massage and the therapist said I have one of the tightest scalps she has ever worked with.  The universe seems to be trying to send me a message: "fix your head!"
Did the amethyst just feel hot because I have tension in my scalp?  Maybe.  Are chakras more than they seem?  Probably.  I cannot deny that I have been profoundly affected by that experience, especially as it keeps resurfacing in my life.  I even have a crown chakra necklace I wear most days, reminding me of my true nature.  My resolutions for the new year are in a similar vein too, to increase mindfulness through daily meditation (and then tweet them under #meditation365).
I have always known that I should meditate, but I never saw the glaring need until this year.  As a survivor of abuse I have a few post-truamatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.  I have noticed a correlation between my general stress levels and the severity of my symptoms.  I have also noticed a correlation between managing my stress with meditation and being able to sleep well, eat well, and make progress on my weight loss goal.
Physiologically, the crown chakra relates to the brain, especially the higher brain, or cerebral cortex.  Our amazing human brain contains some thirteen billion interconnected nerve cells, capable of making more connections among themselves than the number of start in the entire universe...Our brains, as instruments of awareness, are virtually limitless...From within, we access a dimension that has no locality in time and space...In other words, we carry the whole world inside our heads.  --Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith, pg. 321
I will continue to find connections between my body, mind, awareness, health and spirituality.  What kinds of connections have you, dear readers, found on your spiritual paths?
(cross-posted at The Exponent

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Submissions for Exponent II Spring 2011 Issue due January 15th

I am writing an article for this submission.  Any of my readers want to contribute?

You can check out the announcement and call for submissions here at The Exponent.

And you can read the current Winter 2010 issue here.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Real Food Resolutions

It's that time of year where almost everyone makes a new year's resolution, and I am no different.  I just wrote a post this morning about meditation and cleaning, two paths that I am endeavoring to take this year on 2011.

In the meantime, I have noticed that one of my favorite bloggers, Kimi over at The Nourishing Gourmet, is hosting a Nourishing Resolutions 2011 carnival today.  So here I am, making my real food resolution list.

Real Food Resolutions:

  1. For vitamin K2: Make liver once a week, or serve natto. (Either way we will be having hard cheese and Kerrygold butter almost daily.)
  2. For B vitamins: Make a Coconut Smoothie with nutritional yeast added to it at least once a week.  
  3. For maintenance: Keep going and maintaining my current nourishing practices by making water kefir, making beet kvass, sprouting wheat for flour, soaking grains, soaking and dehydrating nuts, taking daily cod liver oil and butter oil, daily vitamin C and B complex, maca root, oregano oil, iodine from kelp, and a multivitamin.
  4. Participate: Join in a real food carnival once a month.
  5. Continue with my weight loss goal: Operation Lose Baby Weight.  (Based on Eat Fat, Lose Fat.)

Meditation, Drawing, Cleaning, Reading or "2 New Goals"

I love making goals.  I have been involved with Phoenix Youth at Risk for almost a year now.  We make a LOT of goals in the program, and I have seen some amazing things pulled from deep inside me last year.  I love getting out a new goal sheet and filling it out.  I love the clarity I get as I create the vision at the beginning, and I love the clarity that comes after completing the steps and seeing the transformation in my life.  I just love it!

I was inspired by a recent project of my friend G where she completed a drawing every day last year, called #draw365.  I love the idea of doing something once a day, and how satisfying it would be to look back over the accumulation of those days by this time next year.

And then I was thinking and clicking around the internet, I got inspired by another friend mfranti to try out a #clean365 project, since I already do that most days, but it's more random and without an overlying purpose.  This one doesn't stress me out, but will help me stretch a bit to feel and look more organized.  So there is one goal I can make and keep, and tweet under #clean365.

Of course, after the all the drawing and cleaning thoughts I got to thinking about meditation.  I am thinking that I may try a #meditation365 hashtag of my own, or maybe it already exists.  I find myself meditating on my relationship with my children the most.

I had a conversation once with R when M was giving me some grief about a year ago.  I joked "what would the Buddha say?" and he came back with "he would say to see The Boy's suffering".  I was hit with that sentence like a ton of bricks.  Ever since then I have seen my relationship with M (and E) a little more clearly.

Starting with Thich Nhat Hanh's book Peace is Every Step, I'm going to read many books on mindfulness this year, taking inspiration from them to direct my daily meditation.  Upcoming books that I have been eyeing:

This will be another goal I can realistically make and keep, and even tweet daily under #meditation365.

I suppose I should mention that you can follow me on Twitter here, huh?

(Of course, I will be continuing on with my Operation Lose Baby Weight goal.  I am already very comfortable taking my coconut oil three times a day, keeping my fats plentiful, nourishing, and traditional, and being patient while the weight comes off.  So far I have managed to shed 5 pounds, but there is a lot more where that came from!  That will be my goal until it's completed.)