Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This blog has moved

Dear Readers,
I am unable to get tech support for the 'comments' issue I am having and I don't know what to do.

Please visit me at my new blog home.

I am in the process of getting all the old posts to the new place. Please update your bookmarks/blog reader/links. :)

See you there!

Defining Real Food

Photo courtesy of Esteban Cavrico

I don't really trust anyone in the "food" industry to tell me what is and isn't a real food.
They are constantly changing what they say is healthy and important to eat. While I find the idea of 'superfoods' very annoying and trendy, I do think they are an improvement over the idea that we can somehow make up for an unhealthy diet by taking artificial supplements. If we truly cannot get what we need to live from our foods then something is terribly wrong with our food supply.

And, I think that is definitely the case. However, that is not what I wanted to talk about today.

Like you, I live in the real world, too. I don't have a two acre, bio-dynamic organic garden from which I can pick everything we eat. I don't have a farm that houses a small number of harmonious animals living out a life of country bliss until the day that their lives are ended (in a humane way) so that our family can have meat we know comes from an animal who has been treated ethically. We don't milk our own cows, collect our own eggs or dry our own salt. I don't make cheese or have summer sausage curing in a shed somewhere.

But I could, if I really wanted to.

That is my definition of real food. Even if it is not prepared by me, I think real food is something I could make myself at home if I really wanted to. For example, I could skim cream off the top of a pail of milk and make whipped cream. I could not make the chemicals and do whatever it is they do to make 'whipped topping', however. (I also could not add all the preservatives and other weird ingredients they add to most creams, so I look for whipping cream that lists 'cream' as the only ingredient.) While I could skim the milk, I could not homogenize it. I also would not skim the milk, throw away the cream and drink the milk skimmed.

I could, if I really wanted to, slaughter a chicken, remove feathers and -- gulp -- the beak, feet and insides and roast the bird for dinner. I could not, however, make a typical chicken nugget. And, I would not slaughter our family's chicken, cut out the two breasts, bone and skin them and throw out the rest of the chicken!! I could churn butter. I could not make margarine. I could make lard. I could not make hydrogenated vegetable oil. I could pick, dry and roast coffee beans (cheers go up from my readers!). I could not make solvent to add to make the beans decaf. I could, however, perform the 'swiss water process', if I really wanted to.

I think it is particularly important to keep these ideas in mind when you are shopping at a natural foods store. I love our local natural foods store and my natural foods buying co-op. However, they do contain lots of factory-made foods. Yes, I could make whole grain pasta and cheese sauce with whole ingredients. No, I could not make whole foods into powdered cheese sauce. Just because something started out with quinoa or organic navy beans does not mean it goes into your body in a whole foods form. It is easy to spend a whole lot of money on foods that, while slightly better than their grocery store counterparts, are really of low nutritional value.

I don't always follow my own philosophy perfectly and I don't always know how everything is made, so I can't always say if I could do it myself at home or not. I just try to keep my philosophy in mind when I shop and do what I can. I don't stress the rest.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Comment Problem

Hi Readers,
I am currently having trouble - AGAIN - with the comments on my blog. I think that you can post comments, but I am unable to answer them! I am currently trying to get Google to fix this, as I believe it is a glitch on their part. Hopefully, I will receive an answer/fix soon and I can answer the questions/comments some of you have submitted on recent posts. I'll get to it as soon as I can.

This week's Parents' Review article: Hero Worship

For our Mommy-brain sharpening this week, we will be reading together the article, Hero Worship from the archives of the Parents' Review. Comments will be posted on Thursday. I hope you will join along in the reading and post your thoughts. I really enjoy this topic.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Thank You Socks

Sheri's Posies Socks, pattern by Wendy Johnson

My dear friend, Irene, has driven my oldest daughter to and from her homeschool high-school co-op once a week for this entire year. It is about an hour away, so it would be a huge effort for me to work this out on my own. However, the co-op is fantastic and we really wanted dd to participate. Irene drives her own daughter (and her daughter now drives sometimes, too) and my dd, waits around the whole day and then drives the girls home. Sigh. I could never repay this kindness to Irene, so I am just tucking away this and all of the other generous things people in my life do for me. One day, I will bless other homeschooling moms with lots of little ones at home who cannot do all of the things they would like to do for their older children.

I decided to show Irene my love and gratitude by knitting her a pair of socks. I used my very best sock yarn, Pagewood Farm's Alyeska Hand Dyed Sock Yarn, which is a cashmere blend. The pattern is 'Sheri's Posies Socks' from the book, Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson. If you look closely, you can see the flower motif along the front of the socks. I thought this was like giving Irene a big boquet of flowers -- only better!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Flower Teaching

Photo courtesy of p!o

This week, we are reading the Parents' Review article,
Flower Teaching by Dorothea Beale. This article is a re-print of a collection of poems about Daisies, originally printed in the Cheltenham Ladies' College Magazine along with some introductory comments about the importance of encouraging a love of flowers in our children. I must admit that a lot of the article was a stretch for me to understand. However, I did take away a few nuggets.

According to Mrs. Beale, it is important that a "love of flowers should be fostered in all" because:
  1. It develops a love of the beautiful
  2. It fine-tunes observation skills
  3. It develops the sense of order as the child observes the patterns of leaves and petals and learns to classify flowers
The author tells of a favourite activity of the Division III students. ( I am wondering what age this is, since the age groups are generally referred to by 'Class'. Do any readers know to what age 'Division III' refers? Of course, it doesn't matter a whole lot to homeschoolers.) Each child contributes a large page about his/her chosen flower. The article doesn't say whether the plant is pressed or painted, but the parts are all labelled. The child also chooses a poem about the flower and copies it onto the page. The sheets are then bound together so that the class has a lovely book to look at, to which each child has contributed. In the family setting, of course, unless you have a gigantic number of children, it would probably be nicer to have each child contribute several flower pages over the course of a couple of months. Otherwise, even for large families, the book would be pretty sparse! I think we will make this our spring/summer/early fall project. I like this idea because I think it is important to have some things that we do together as a family, co-operatively.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the spiritual aspects of the article.
I wanted so badly to really grab hold of the similarities between flowers and our connection to our Lord, but I couldn't wrap my head around the ideas except for a very small preliminary understanding. I did really enjoy the story of the father and son, where the father shows the son that if he breaks the seed, there is nothing inside. Yet, that seed contains the entire essence of the Nyagrodha tree. Given the right growing conditions the seed will become just what it was destined to be.

Taking this further, there are so many factors that affect the way the tree turns out, the quality of the soil, the place where it was planted, the availability of water, and, of course, the nourishing and life-giving presence of the sun. All of these can determine life or death for the tree. Within that life, these factors will determine the strength of the tree to stand up to storms, to live a long life and to be fruitful. Nothing can change the tree from a Nyagrodha into another tree. That was determined by our Lord. How great a Nyagrodha tree it becomes, however, is affected by many things.

I love the parallels of this story to the lives of our little plants, our children.
They are going to be the people God created them to be. They come with a destiny, a nature and a special purpose. We cannot change them into someone else anymore than we can change the seed of the Nyagrodha tree into a grape vine. This isn't our job, though. Our job is to help our little plants become strong so that they will be able to stand up to storms, to live a long life and to be fruitful. And, best of all, when they are strong, trees point straight to our wonderful, generous and loving Lord. :)

What did you take away from the article? Do you have very many flowers out where you live, yet?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today I am thankful for...

cupboard doors! We are doing some renovations right now, including the painting of my kitchen cabinet doors. My mom was wonderful enough to take home all the doors to paint in one -- well, two -- fell swoops. Baby guy thought this was an excellent and rare opportunity, as it gave him access to all kinds of goodies he doesn't normally have access to. The vinegars proved to be great fun, as did the dishwasher detergent, which was, sadly, moved before he had time to really enjoy it.

If my mom wanted to get a picture for her blog of me right inside this cupboard, she should have been quicker with the camera!

Unfortunately, for baby guy, my mom brought back a big stack of doors about an hour after I took this picture. I could never have open shelves in my kitchen. It is amazing what a difference it makes to the look of organization to have my stuff all covered with doors! Of course, there is also the issue of the six children. :)

Thank-you, Mom!!