Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A New Year is Coming, Time to Purge!

I don't know if it is the influx of new stuff that comes in our home around Christmas or if the new year always signals this urge, but as January approaches, I feel a strong need to get rid of things that we don't use. We took our second truck load to community aid this week and I still think that we could do to another! How blessed we are to have so much!

While most people are gearing up to start getting rid of excess weight with the new year approaching I am going to be focusing more on the health of my entire family. I have vigilantly kept out processed sugar, processed salt and white, wheat flour and regular, non-pastured meats from our kitchen but even then I have noticed that my family still deals with seasonal illness and healthy people don't get sick. So I started reading and researching, looking for what our diet was missing. What I am discovering though is it is not so much what I am missing as what I am letting in. It is in almost everything that is prepared and pre-made, say hello to vegetable oils.

What is so bad about vegetable oils? Aren't they healthy for you? Let's take a look.
Vegetable oils from corn, soy, cottonseed, canola, safflower and sunflower seeds contain fragile polyunsaturated fatty acids that are heavily damaged by high temperature processing. The result is a product loaded with free radicals, the toxic breakdown products of processed oils, which can cause cancer, depress the immune system and impair growth.* Yikes! Well I think I may have found our problem, because it in everything store made from hummus to organic breakfast bars, things we eat regularly. What is even more worrisome is that these oils are processed with petroleum(think gasoline/kerosene) and then more chemicals are added after that and finally they have to deodorize it because the smell of chemicals and rancid oil is too repulsive. Convenience food, even the "healthy" ones, are tainted with these toxic, rancid oils. The more and more I find out the more I realize I just have to plan ahead and make all of our food, because then I know exactly what I am putting into my family and I can use traditional, healthy oils that are properly exacted and prepared.

My change this year is I am going to be replacing my rancid vegetable oils for the healthy options like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, pure extra virgin olive oil(although you will not want to use this for high heat cooking as it will become toxic like the other vegetable oils) ghee, and grass-fed lard. If any of you have been around my son recently you will know how much he adores butter. It is one of the few words he can say! This is going to mean more planning for me and less just winging it at the grocery store but I am looking for the long term benefits of health.

My other change for this year is I am going to seek out an buy only organic and hopefully grass fed dairy options for our meals. This should not be too much of a change as the only thing we use regularly that is not grass-fed and organic is cheese. I am happy to say we have found a local source and I am looking forward to using it in my meals!

With more people filling our home we have increasingly less and less room, but I have a full home and a full heart, something I wouldn't trade for anything. I want more than anything to give those precious little people a healthy start to their lives, that is why I am currently reading a wonderful book titled *Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care. I am learning so much and I hope to implement much of what I am learning into my diet and my family's diet.

If you are looking to improve your health by using the wisdom of healthy cultures from around the world then I would also highly recommend Nourishing Traditions  I use my copy all the time! Loaded with information and recipes it is an invaluable resource to help you in your journey to health. I encourage you if you are looking to make health changes in the coming year, purge out the things that are holding you back from living a life that is full and exuberant as the Lord would desire for us! May 2016 be a wonderful year for you!

                                                               The Farmer in the Dell


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Nuts

With the holidays upon us it is the season for parties and get-togethers. These kinds of holiday foods are usually hard to digest, full of processed sugar and refined carbohydrates. These kind of foods will stick to your waist at the best and at the worst potentially degenerate your immunity and health. So what do you do? When I go to I like to bring along a healthy snack to share if I can and one of my favorite things to bring are nuts. They contain fiber and healthy fats so they keep me full and help keep me from snacking on other less healthy options. Nuts also prevent my blood sugar from crashing mid-way through the evening, something I struggle with more now that I am nursing.

So I go out and buy a can of nuts from the store and am ready to go, no not really. Nuts contain a compound called phytic acid that binds up minerals and prevents the nuts from being properly digested. It is a defense mechanism that all tree nuts have to keep animals from eating the ripe fruits. The good news is that you can still eat nuts,  all you have to do is soak them in water with a Tbs of salt! Each kind of nut requires a different amount of time soaking in salt water. At this point you can rinse them off and eat them soggy or if you are like me and prefer crispy nuts then you will want to dehydrate them at around 200 degrees in an oven or dehydrator.

  • Almonds: soak for 12 hours, dehydrate for 15 hours
  • Brazil nuts: soak for 12 hours, dehydrate for 18 hours
  • Cashews: soak for 6 hours, dehydrate for 15 hours
  • Hazelnuts: soak for 8 hours, dehydrate for 12 hours
  • Macadamia nuts: soak for 4 hours, dehydrate for 12 hours
  • Pecans: soak for 8 hours, dehydrate for 12 hours
  • Pine nut: soak for 8 hours, dehydrate for 12 hours
  • Walnuts: soak for 8 hours, dehydrate for 12 hours
Once you have properly soaked and dehydrated your nuts you can make a yummy mix like this to take to your party.

Rosemary Nuts

  • 2 1/2 cups mixed nuts (that have been soaked and dehydrated!)
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 1/2- 1 tsp of cayenne pepper 
Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees and spread your nuts on a baking sheet.

Roast the nuts for ten minuets until they are starting to brown.

While nuts are roasting mix the butter, sugar and rosemary oil together till sugar is dissolved. (I skipped this portion and my coconut sugar never completely melted and adhered to the nuts so learn from my mistakes!)

When nuts are nice and golden, remove from the oven and put in a mixing bowl with the butter mix and salt and cayenne. Mix it all together till all the nuts are coated.

These are really good warm or when they are cooled off.

Enjoy and nurture your friends and family this advent season, be blessed!
                                                                  The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Necklace

I love enjoying good smells, we all do! That is why people buy scented candles, perfume, air fresheners, scented laundry detergent, scented trash bags, scented dish soap... you name it it probably has an added fragrance because we love to enjoy a good smell. That being said most of the scents we are familiar with are chemically made, not therapeutic and may even cause headaches and other problems. That is one of the reasons I love therapeutic, high grade essential oils, these extracts from plants are pure and are not a bunch of chemicals put together to stimulate the senses. With most essential oils there is also a helpful effect on the body as well which is an added bonus!

We use a diffuser for when the kids and us are sick or we want to relax but sometimes I just want to wear a smell too or take it with me when I go out. So I have been looking at getting a diffuser necklace. They range in price but most of them are around $30 and to me that is kind of salty! So as with most things when the price is high I try and figure out a way to do better and the easy option was to make it myself. You can go to a craft store and find all the pieces you will need to make one, or in my case I made two, one to give away! I made mine for $10 each, which depending on where you buy the necklace it is 1/2 - 1/3 of the price! It is super easy to do (translate took 10 min), so if you can use pliers you can make a diffuser necklace! Here is what you will need,



Diffuser Necklace
  • A locket pendant with lattice like front. (This is how you will be diffusing the oils!) 
  • A chain
  • Charms
  • Jump rings
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Felt
  • Scissors
  •  Pen
Attach your pendant to your necklace with a jump ring using the pliers.

Decide where you want the charms and attach them using your pliers to open the jump rings and add to necklace.

Open the pendant and lay your felt on the back half. Trace in the inside rim of the pendant on the felt with a pen to see how big you need to make the cut out.

Cut out the circle and place it inside your pendant.

You are now ready to use or give your necklace to some one special! All you do at this point is add a drop or two of the essential oil of your choice to the felt, close the locket and start diffusing pretty on the go!

I love mine and this would make a great gift as well! I hope you give it a try!
                                                                     
                                                               The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How We Potty Train Our Kids Before They Are 2

Evey child is different and has their own unique strengths and challenges.  To be honest I wasn't sure that we would hit our no diapers by age two goal with Boaz but he has been in his "big boy" pants all week, with only had two accidents on the first day. He is still in a diaper at night, but that has been dry as well for the last few days so I know that my days of two in diapers are coming to an end very soon! I am one happy momma! (As soon as I post this I know we will have a relapse because that is the nature of the beast. The proud will be humbled!) At any rate I thought I would share some tips with you with what worked for us.

Potty Training Tips


Start Early

We start sitting our kids on the potty as soon as they can sit on their own around the 6-8 month mark. This may seem silly but they become comfortable on a potty and soon learn what to do on there. I usually sit them on in the morning, before lunch and after, after nap time and before bed. Try and look for your child's signals when they usually go, most of the time they have a rhythm.

Be Consistent

The more consistent you are with sitting them on the potty the quicker they will be diaper free. Both parents have to be on board and involved. I have been very motivated to get Boaz out of diapers, (because two in cloth is a lot of work!) so it actually happened sooner with him than with Phoebe. It also helps when they have an older sibling to encourage them and model it for them.

Plan Ahead

If you want to be consistent when you go out have a potty in the car, especially for long trips. This keeps you from having to drive all over to find a restroom and public bathrooms can be very scary so if you can avoid them with little people all the better! Those collapsible potty seats are nice to have as well for travel but you can just hold on to your child to keep them from falling in too. I always pack an extra set of clothes in case we don't make it in time.

Have Fun Rewards

My kids are rarely allowed to have "treats" but when we potty train I make exceptions. Little treats like a chocolate chip, a corn syrup-free gummy, raisins, little bite size cookie or a butter mint. It makes it really special to get something new. Food can be a powerful motivator. If your kid is not a foodie then stickers on a chart that add up to a new toy may be more effective. You know what makes your kid's eyes twinkle. I had one that was a foodie and one that liked stuff so you just have to experiment a bit.

Have a "No Pants Week"

When you find that your child is going well on the potty and only goes in their diaper 2-3 times in 24 hours then it is time for "no pants week." You will be cleaning up messes for the first few days, so stay on hard floors, but I have found that both my kids hated to pee on the floor. They both learned to fine tune their bladder control very quickly, and it didn't take either of them a whole week. For girls I just had her in a dress all the time to make it easier. For a boy we went from just underwear to underwear with sweat pants or pants with an elastic waist so he could take them down himself. I have to say this was the hardest part of potty training a boy, those dumb jeans!

Encouragement

No matter how bad the day was it is always good to keep your attitude positive toward your child, nothing dampers the spirit like an angry, frustrated mom! After all we are also raising little people so lets set a good example on how to deal with disappointment as well as going to the bathroom. You don't want to make the potty a battle field, when they do a good job keeping their pants dry then let them know how awesome they are!

This is what we have done for our last two children and it has worked great. Some days can seem very daunting, like you will have a child that pees their pants till they are 12, but that is just one day tomorrow is usually better! Phoebe was potty trained by 23 months and Boaz is 21 months now so there is hope!  God is good He will never give you more then you can handle :)
                                                              
                                                            The Farmer in the Dell


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It's the Little Things!

Sometimes I find that I would like to surprise someone special with a little gift. I like when it doesn't have really any reason other than I care about that person, keeping it random, just because. I have been on the the receiving end of these "just because" gifts from a friend and it was so special to know they were thinking of me, I find that these kind of gifts usually come when you or the person getting them needs an emotional pick-me-up.

I also like to make thank you gifts because it is nice to be able to give something thoughtful along with a note. One of my favorites to have on hand for this sort of thing are these wonderful lotion bars. You can make a batch ahead of time and have ready for hostess gifts, thank you gifts or a just-because-I-care gift. I love them! Simple and useful gifts are my favorite because I am in the process of cleaning out the excess in our house and if it doesn't get used in a years time I most likely will not use it. Time to pass it on to someone who will, otherwise I spend an hour every night cleaning the random things up that my kids have scattered around our home.

So I have been wanting to try making sharpie mugs. They look so pretty and you can personalize them to make them even more unique. I think that they make a perfect "just because" gift because who doesn't like drinking tea or coffee? Anyway if you are looking for a simple fun idea for a little gift, this is a winner. You can make it even more fancy by filing the inside with coffee, tea, hot chocolate or if you want something chocolate and coffee, chocolate covered coffee beans! Can you guess what I chose?

Here is how you make a sharpie mug.

You will need:
  • a plain white mug (found these for .89 at Ollie's!)
  • a black, fine point sharpie  
  • adhesive stencles
  • an oven
  • a cookie sheet
  • coffee, tea, hot coco or other filler
Clean and dry your mug well before applying your stencil, press down to ensure there are no air pockets.


Use your sharpie and color in your stencil allowing a few seconds for the ink to dry before removing the stencil.

Put your mug on a cookie sheet and place in oven for 30 min. Allow it to preheat with the oven to 450 Degrees and when the 30 minuets are up turn off oven and let the mug cool in the oven to prevent cracking from sudden temperature changes.

Now you mug is done you can fill it with whatever you think your friend will like best!

These mugs are so simple and fun to make and sometimes it's the little things that brighten up someones day!

                                                             The Farmer in the Dell



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Helpful Tips for Dealing with Food Poisoning

You never know when it will hit you but when it does you will wish it didn't. Food poisoning or food-borne illness as it is called in the medical community, is caused from a bacteria or viruses being present in your food. Usually it is a result of poor food handling, (not keeping refrigerated or raw items at a safe level of cold) or not keeping the preparation area clean that causes the growth of harmful bacteria on the food. When you eat the infected food the symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, weakness, soreness of the joints, fever, or the chills and may not show up for up to a month in some cases. This can make it hard to pin point the actual culprit and can sometimes be confused with the stomach flu. At any rate most people will take Imodium and Tylenol to help get through it but this is only treating the symptoms and not the root of the problem, the contaminated food in your system.
If you prefer a more holistic and natural approach here are some options for you:
  1. Activated Charcoal~ This is my all time favorite for food poisoning. I discovered this when I was pregnant with Boaz and was so sick that I was loosing a pound a day. Nothing was working and my midwife was going to put me on IV fluids if I didn't get it to stop by the morning. I had read about activated charcoal and called to verify if it was safe to use during pregnancy. With a go ahead I took 1 Tbs of loose charcoal powder mixed with water, drank 8 more ounces and then repeated the same thing the next hour. Just like that it bound up the toxin and stopped the wild rampage that was in my body. I have used it many times, with success every time. Activated charcoal is not digestible by the body so it binds up anything in your digestive system and eliminates it. It really should be used in it's loose form, capsules will sometimes inhibit the binding process. It should also not be taken with milk or dairy products as they will nullify the charcoal rendering it useless. 
  2. Raw Garlic~ I know this one sounds like a real joke but garlic is a natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial food. So if food poisoning comes from a virus or bacteria then eating a clove of raw garlic will eliminate the problem at it's source. I did try out this one and surprisingly it has a almost immediate relief from the nausea and I didn't experience any of my other symptoms after eating it. This is probably why most people don't get food poisoning after eating Italian food, all the yummy garlic!
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar~ When you are throwing up everything this may sound like the last thing you want to drink but apple cider vinegar, when metabolized, actually makes your body more alkaline immediately reducing the symptoms effect. It soothes the gastrointestinal lining and will kill off the offending bacteria that caused the problems in the first place. You can take 2 Tbs mixed in warm water with some honey or just take the two Tbs straight.
  4. Basil Juice~ Is great for treating bacterial infections, it is also easy to get down. You can just juice fresh basil leaves and mix with honey and take throughout the day. Or if you like to use essential oils, one drop of basil essential oil in a cup of water will sooth the stomach and deal with the bacteria at the same time. 
After you get rid of the bacteria you will want to gently sooth the body. Here are some simple ways to heal your gut.

Drink lots of liquids as you may have lost lots of fluids in the process. Some very beneficial ones are:
  • Lemon water~the acid in the lemon will deal with any lingering bacteria and the taste is refreshing and clean, something you may need. 
  • Ginger Tea~Using lots of fresh ginger, slice and boil it for a few minuets to infuse. Let it cool down till warm take out ginger and mix with honey if desired. 
  • Keifer or Keifer water~This builds up the good bacteria in the gut. 
  • Green Tea
  • Bone Broth
Start on solids slowly. Bland, starchy foods are often the easiest on your body after a bout with food poisoning. Foods like
  • White rice(I really like the puffed rice or plain rice cakes)
  • Bananas
  • Plain toast
  • Instant mashed potatoes without butter
  • Oatmeal(soaked is better)
  • Apple or pear sauce
When you start to feel like you a whole person incorporate yogurt, kombucha and other fermented/probiotic foods and beverages back into your diet to strengthen your immune system and build up the good gut bacteria so you are feeling your healthiest once more.

I hope you never have to deal with food poisoning but it is likely to happen at least once in your life so it is best to be prepared and know what you can do to heal your body from the inside out.
                                                                 The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fire Water

It's here! Tis the season for sniffles and sneezes, colds all around at every get together. Should you just hole up this season and hide away from the runny noses and sick masses? I know I have been tempted to do that very thing but it is not practical to go into hermit status in the winter. Here are some of our favorite things to have on hand when we come in contact with a sickie or feel like we are coming down with a cold. 
  • Elderberry syrup~ I make a batch of this and the kids love taking a dose, they often ask for more!
  • Echinacea tincture~ I usually make a "tea" with this to give my kids by mixing a few droppers of tincture with warm water and some liquid stevia. If you didn't get a chance to make some you can buy it from Amazon
  • Raw Garlic~ Smash it up and swallow like a pill. You will have garlic breath, it will burn, but you will not get sick! Maybe being a hermit is the way to go ;)
  • On Gaurd Beadlets~ We love these for when you know you have been around the sickness but don't have it yet, it usually works to keep us well! If you are interested in leaning more about essential oils or want help making an order please let me know!
  • Vitamin C~ If I do fall ill I will take extra vitamin C to ward it off sooner. This is great in conjunction with the echinacea.  
  • Fire Water~ This one is one Josh and I favorite ways to boost immunity. It is a spicy but flavorful and it is sure to knock the cold right out of you!
I have been making fire water the longest of all these; made my first batch almost 10 years ago and I still am making it! Partially because the ingredients are easy to find at your local market and it is very easy to make. Notice the amount of easy in the previous sentence :) Anyway, in my book, the only down side is that this would not be one to give to your small children, not if you want them to ever trust you again. It is way too spicy for my little folk but if yours like things hot then give it a try, you know your kids best.



Fire Water
Makes 2 Quarts

  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 heads of garlic, peeled chopped
  • 3-4 ginger roots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large horse radish root, peeled and chopped
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • Raw apple cider vinegar, to cover
 layer ingredients into quart jars, you want have approximately equal parts of all the chopped ingredients so a little less than 1/2 cup of each per jar.

Cover with apple cider vinegar and let set 1 week-1month. Strain out the vegetables and store in quart jar room temp.

Take one Tbs of fire water whenever you feel that tingle in your throat.
                                                         

                                                          To your family's good health!
                                                                The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

20 Uses for Baking Soda

I love anything I can use as for multi-purpose. It saves me time and energy of keeping only one thing stocked up rather than having to check over a list of things all the time. One of my favorite multi- purpose items in my pantry is baking soda. It really is a jack-of-all-trades in our house. I like it because it is inexpensive, natural and effective! Here is a list of household uses for baking soda besides making a batch of waffles or a cake!

  • Toothpaste  When I a in a pinch I use baking soda on a wet toothbrush to brush my teeth 
  • Face scrub  Make a paste with the baking soda and water (add EO's if desired) 
  • Shampoo/hair pH balance  I don't use as shampoo regularly but I do sprinkle into my scalp before using my shampoo bar. It eliminates build up on the hair and scalp
  • Deodorant  Because of the pH balancing properties this makes a good deodorant in the winter. Some people find it is too strong/irritating to underarms, so if you have sensitive skin this may not be for you   
  • Dirty hand cleaner  Works well to get grimy hands clean
  • Cold sores  Apply to cold sores around and in your mouth to dry them up
  • Scouring powder  This works amazingly well on sinks and plastic pitchers that have tea stains! 
  • Drain un-clogger  Pour it a whole bunch of baking soda down the drain and pour white vinegar on top to help break down the clog.
  • Odor eliminator  Put a box in the refrigerator and freezer to keep odors at bay.
  • Litter Box Freshener  Put one 2 lbs box of baking soda on the bottom of the litter box cover with cat litter. This extends the life of the litter and helps with the smell. 
  • Pre-soak for Cloth diapers  This is especially helpful if you have hard water!
  • Pre-laundry stain treatment  Make a paste out of baking soda and water and put on the stain and let it dry, it will drawl the stain out of the fabric. If it is an oil or sweat stain, apply dry to fabric and it will pull the oil up out of the clothes. Make sure to brush off the baking soda before laundering as normal! 
  • A pretzel bath  When making pretzels, make a bath of warm water and baking soda to dip them in to give the soft pretzels a nice gloss and salty touch. 
  • pH balance in the body  Just a pinch in some water can help keep your body from getting to acid. I would do this with all the holidays coming up. Processed foods tend to throw the body off balance and make us more vulnerable to illness. 
  • For powdery mildew in the garden  Mix 1 tbsp of baking soda, 1 gallon of water, 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and 1 tbsp of dishwashing liquid. Mix and put in a sprayer. Use weekly. (try to use it when it is not too sunny)
  • To kill crabgrass/weeds  Pour directly on avoiding surrounding grass. This also works in cracks of sidewalks too. 
  • Sweeten Tomatoes  Sprinkle around the earth close the tomato plant, makes a sweeter fruit.
  • Fungicide  Mix 4 tsp baking soda in one gallon of water and spray on plants
  • Pest Control  If you have silverfish, roaches or ants sprinkle around door or window frames to keep them away. 
  • Splinter removal  Clean affected area, make a paste of 1/4 tsp baking soda and a little water. Apply to splinter and bandage. Wait 24 hours and remove bandage. If it hasn't worked out of the skin repeat till it does. This method works best with tiny splinters or really deep ones.
I am sure this is not an exhaustive list but you sure can do a lot with this common, humble household staple! What other ways do you use baking soda? I would love to hear!
                                                                 The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Heart of a Child

Sometimes, in the chaos that is motherhood, God sends reminders though some of the most unlikely ways. Namely I am thinking of children. As adults I think that we forget that, with all that we are teaching our children, they can teach us too.

One of my areas of struggle is with giving. I am an extremely frugal person. Those that know me well know I like to try and save wherever I can in the area of fiances. I have been a saver rather than a spender for just about all my life. As a child when someone gave me money as a gift I rarely spent it, usually it was put away for a later date. We always take out money from the paycheck for tithe but I am not really the kind of person who just gives money to organizations or people right away without first counting the cost. If the budget is too tight then I will put it off until we can afford it. It is in my nature to do that. However through different ways I had been feeling the pull at my heart to give toward children who don't have enough food and are fighting starvation every day.

First it was this video I watched on my news feed.


Then the radio station I listen to was doing a pledge drive that was working with the group Feed My Starving Children. I would listen to the radio and my heart was so heavy for the children who were forced to eat dirt to quiet the emptiness in their stomachs. Still it was not enough to push me into action.

Jesus talked about caring for children.    

Matthew 19:14-15
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Mark 9: 41-42

 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

James 1:27
 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Then I was driving in the car with my daughter and we started to talk about what we were having for supper. She started off by saying that she hoped that we had strawberry bagels for supper and if we didn't she would cry. I went on to tell her we should be thankful for what ever we have to eat because there are other children in the world who have nothing to eat but dirt who would love to have her supper.

Silence

"Why, Mommy?"
"Because they don't have money to buy food"
"I have some money, I could send them money so they don't have to eat dirt! I don't want them to be hungry."

She has been saving up for a new wagon but she still wanted to give money to help those hungry children. I had no excuse now, my own daughter showed me true religion. We had to look after those in distress. We had to feed those who had nothing to eat, not just talk about about how blessed we are.

I can't teach her what gratitude is until I show her how to give extravagantly. I can't teach her faith without her seeing that Jesus will meet our needs as well as those who have so much less. It is one of those times where actions speak louder than words and NOW was the time to act.

We are coming up on Thanksgiving, a holiday where we celebrate our gratitude. Why not take this time to share with those who have so much less than we do? If you have been feeling the pull on your heart to help those who are less fortunate it only takes .22 to produce a single meal for a starving child. This can make a huge difference in the life of that little one. Let's use the blessings we have to show others the caring hands of Jesus, the kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

Thank you Phoebe for teaching mommy to give without fear, being led by the Spirit! May our hearts be tender and compassionate like that of a child to the needs of others.
                                                               The Farmer in the Dell 





Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rosemary's Perfect Face Cream

When I was a teenager I struggled with cystic acne and an extremely oily face. I remember crying about how I wished I could just go out in public without make-up to cover up my angry red bumps and shiny skin. I used every acne topical you could buy over the counter, sometimes more than one at a time, they would work for a little then flare up angry and red again. My skin was a weird combo of extremely oily and flaky dry from all the drying creams I used to work on the acne. I NEVER used face lotion, I thought I never would, I was convinced it would clog my pores even more and make my problem worse. After all it was that evil oil my skin produced that caused this problem in the first  place, at that time the equation was, all oil=bad. It was that simple.

Well it just so happens that it wasn't that simple. After going on an elimination diet I discovered that when I stopped eating wheat, bread in particular, that miraculously the welt-like acne went away! I was a heavy bread eater and literally ate whole loaves of french bread for one meal. I just loved bread! Well that had to stop. Once I cut it out it gave my skin a chance to regulate and heal up. I was still terrified of using anything oily on my face, I was finally getting my skin regulated, why throw it off again? Once my skin balanced out, after I had been off wheat for a year, I was dealing with a different problem, once in a while my skin was too dry and was causing breakouts from the dry skin getting clogged in my pores. I felt so defeated, my skin just hated me! After some research I came to the conclusion that maybe I needed to try adding lotion to my skin regimen. Amazingly it didn't clog my pores and I didn't have tight, flaky skin either! 

Now I am living my dream and go out almost all the time without having to wear makeup to cover and balance my skin tone and it feels great! It goes to show that sometimes the problems in your body show up in the most unlikely ways. Healing begins from the inside out not the other way around.

I am also more concerned now with what is in the lotions and things that go on my skin. I am also more aware that man made chemicals are not good for the body the way wonderful plants and oils God made are. So I like to make a lot of the products I use on my skin. This lotion is one of my favorites. A friend made it for me, and while it seems like it would be too heavy for the face, it is wonderful to put on at night, especially in the winter when the air is drier. The Recipe was published in Herbs for Health magazine and was created by Rosemary Gladstar, a revered herbalist.

Rosemary's Perfect Cream





Ingredients

Waters
  • 2/3 Cup distilled rosewater
  • 1/3 Cup aloe vera gel
  • 1-2 drops essential oil
  • Vitamin E (to preserve freshness) 
Oils
  • 3/4 Cup almond oil
  • 1/3 Cup coconut oil or cocoa butter
  • 1/4 tsp lanolin*
  • 1/2 - 1 oz bee wax grated 
Directions
Combine the rose water, aloe vera gel, essential oils and vitamin E in a glass measuring bowl, set aside.

In a double broiler over low heat melt the oils together. Pour into a blender and let cool to room temperature. It should become thick, creamy, semi solid and cream colored.


when cooled turn the blender on high then in a slow thin drizzle pour about 3/4 of the waters mix into the center of the vortex. You are aiming to make an emulsion.

Listen to the blender and watch the cream. When the blender coughs, and the cream looks thick like buttercream frosting, turn off the blender. By hand mix in the remaining water mix and do not over beat. It thickens as it sets.

Pour cream into jars and store in a cool place.

* Lanolin has been found to contain pesticides due to the way it is harvested. I use Lansinoh HPA brand as they say that the brand is "guaranteed to never have more than 1 part per million of total combined pesticide residues.(.000001)" Theirs is also refined without bleaching. Good to know I thought. They also say that a current certificate of analysis is always available for review, if you want to take a look.


I love waking up to my skin now, this face cream makes my skin so soft and dewy! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
                                                                 The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

It brings back memories every time I see a bunch of prickly balls laying around the yard. As a little girl I went over to my neighbors yard, and I was forever barefoot, to visit. I would have to go to the front yard to avoid stepping on all the terrible prickly balls that littered the back of his yard. I knew from experience they really hurt! I often wondered why he didn't just cut that tree down but he was sort of an odd neighbor to find in the city.

He had asked the industrial company behind us to farm their empty quarter acre lot that lay between our property and his. On it he grew corn, tomatoes, sunflowers, and had a prolific peach and sour cherry tree planted there. He would be out early in the morning working that piece of soil with his trusty dog rusty, a rat terrier, who I just loved. I would open my window and shout, "Hey Harry what'cha doing?" He liked to go to auctions and get boxes of junk and he would let me pick through them and take some of the odds and ends that I liked. When it was really hot out he had a snow maker in his basement and he would dig it out and make snow cones. He sang weird songs to me like, "There's a ant on a log, on a hole, in the middle of the sea..." when he sat in his back yard or tell me stories about a cursed Indian that would get me if I went in the shed where he kept his bow and arrows he used for hunting groundhogs. Harry made my childhood full of fun memories, including those prickly balls, the fruit of a sweet chestnut tree.





Chestnut History

Those chestnuts also had an interesting history. Originally from the orient, these sweet chestnuts were brought to Europe by the Romans. Before wheat was readily available and inexpensive this nut was used to sustain the poor of Europe. It was ground into flour and used to make "down bread" because it didn't rise like yeast bread does. Typical gluten-free flour. It was probably rather nutritious as it is the only cultivated nut containing vitamin C, about 40 mg for 3 oz. It has a similar protein content as beans and is close to a potato in carbohydrate content. Sweet chestnuts also have the lowest fat content of any nut, only 2%. Chestnuts are also native to America but were nearly wiped out by blight in the 30's. The native Americans used them for many different medicinal purposes; for headaches, chills, baby powder, colds, sores, cough syrup and stomach ache. The tree was also a main source of tannin used in the leather industry and the original telegraph poles were made of chestnut.

How to Harvest Chestnuts?

There are poisonous and edible chestnuts that are grown in the US. How you tell the difference is by the outer husk. The edible has many needle like spikes and can be brown or green with one or more nuts inside. The toxic chestnut has a green husk with few spikes and only one nut per husk. The edible also has a little tuft at the tip of the nut where the toxic is just round and smooth.

You collect these nuts and can store them inside for a week or so in one layer to cure and become sweeter. Or you can put the husk-less nuts in the freezer, after scoring, as some people say the shells come off very easy after they are defrosted. I am planning on trying this method next year. Do not bring in the ones that have little holes in them as they have chestnut weevil inside and worms will come out!

After curing you make a score X cut in the shell and then you are ready to bake/roast or boil the nuts to get those shells off. I would strongly recommend the boiling as the shells came off so much easier and the flavor and texture were no different in my opinion.

Boiling

Put the scored nuts in small batches in boiling water for a few 3 min. Take out with a slotted spoon and the shells peel off wonderfully. If you do not do this quickly the inner skin may re-adhere and you will have to boil again to loosen it.

Baking/Roasting

The more traditional method. Place scored nuts in small batches on a cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 10 min. then peel off the shells. Again this must be done quickly to keep skin from re-adhering.

I am going to be making a majority of mine into flour and freezing it this year, by putting it though the food processor, using it in place of almond flour in recipes. As it strikes me that it would be similar in texture and flavor. Oh and less expensive as well! You can can them in a light syrup to preserve long term as well. You can make soup, stuffing and of course we like to just eat them as is too.
 Turns out after I was married that we have one of those "pricker ball trees" in our front yard. I have my own little girl who likes to go in the front yard and collect the nuts up. Now I know why Harry kept that tree, the nuts are yummy! Phoebe loves them so much that when I was encouraging her to be entrepreneurial and sell them on a road side stand she looked astonished and said, "Not my nuts! We would not have enough!" They still remind me of Harry and his prickly yard but now we are making new memories with a new sweet chestnut tree.
                                                                The Farmer in the Dell


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cradle Cap Gel

I love snuggling and cuddling my new baby, in fact we all do! Most of the time this happens when we are nursing or putting her to sleep but this weekend we were able to go out as a family to enjoy some fall activities. When we do an all day outing I usually like to carry my baby in my carrier and use the double stroller for the older two. I get to spend more cuddle time this way and sneak in more kisses to her sweet little head. During this time wandering through a 9 acre corn maze I happened to notice, when I was going in to kiss her sweet little head, those yellow, flaky scales that are characteristic of cradle cap. I don't know about you but whenever my children get cradle cap I just get this urge to scratch it off for them; but the more you loosen them off the more there is it seems. Then you just end up with a baby covered in little flakes of dandruff and them looking worse that when you started. What is a mommy to do?


Well first off it is really nothing serious, at it's worst your baby can have an irritating itch on their head. In most cases it probably bothers the mom worse than the baby. It is not really known what causes cradle cap in infants but it could possibly be from a hormone over load that the mother passes to her child, either from late pregnancy or through breastfeeding, causing the oil glands in their scalp to over produce. It is also speculated that it may be a yeast over growth in the hair follicle that causes the yellow flakes to appear. At any rate whether it is too much yeast or oils it doesn't look very nice.

As someone who likes a more natural approach the idea of using cortisone (steroid) cream on my baby's head doesn't appeal to me. Especially as it always seems the worst right in her soft spot where the skin is the only thing protecting her brain and it is so absorbent. So besides using a gentle castile soap and combing out the flakes at bath time I am using this home remedy to lessen Eliora's cradle cap.

Cradle Cap Gel
  • 1/4 Cup aloe vera gel
  • 3 drops Mellaluca or Tea tree essential oil
  • 3 drops Lavender essential oil
Mix it all together in a glass jar and apply to cradle cap 3 times a day. Massaging gently into flakes, then brush out with a boar bristle brush.

It is so hard on mommies all the new stuff that goes on with our babies. As if we aren't stressed out enough as it is! This is a simple recipe that works very well for us, here is her head after one day of using the gel.

Enjoy kissing and cuddling those sweet babies while they while they are still little. Eliora rolled over for the fist time yesterday at 12 weeks old! I can't believe how quick she is growing! Time flies when you are having fun :)

                                                                  The farmer in the Dell



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I Brew Kombucha Do You?

It is controversial in the health world, but you have those who swear by it and those who say it is dangerous. Kind of like raw milk. Kombucha has an interesting history and people have been making and drinking it for thousands of years. While there is not any major scientific studies done on the benefits of drinking it, there is also no big company pushing to have the benefits and safety verified. I am okay trusting what others say about their experiences, seeing as most people are not trying to sell me something that I can make for under a dollar a gallon. That being said you should make this decision for yourself and drink it at your own risk, as if you do not handle it properly you can become sick from drinking it. Just like anything raw and live understand what you are putting into your body and use common sense, everything in moderation!

What is kombucha?

It is a tea that is fermented with a live bacterial culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) or tea mushroom. This culture changes the tea and sugar into a probiotic drink. To gain any benefits from this tea the recommended amount to drink is 4-6 oz per day, however there are people who drink way more than that and are better off for it. Like any probiotic you will want to get your body adjusted before drinking that much.

What nutrients does kombucha contain?

You get antioxidants from the tea, probiotics, enzymes, gluconic acid.
If you look at these key nutrients the benefits you gain are
  • Energy boost 
  • Improved digestion and assimilation from the probiotic
  • Kills Candida over growth with high acid content 
  • Liver detox from the gluconic acid
  • Immune support from antioxidants
  • Joint lubrication
Some say that it is beneficial in cancer prevention and treatment from high levels of gluconic acid. President Ronald Regan reportedly drank Kombucha to treat his stomach cancer and it is noted he died of old age not cancer. However again this is not proven but interesting information to think about.
I feel kombucha is more of a body balancer and when your body is balanced it is better equip to heal it's self. You have to try it to see how and what it does for your body. 

Possible Risks for nursing/pregnant mothers

It is worth noting that the heavy meal and environmental detoxing that occurs in the liver from kombucha poses a possible risk to the pregnant and nursing mother. If you have a moldy SCOBY it can make you sick or if you are not properly hydrated the detox from the acid will be too strong and can cause those toxins to escape your body through milk or to the unborn baby. You can buy pH test strips to see that your brew is not too high in acid. A pH of 2.5-3 is a good level.

Kombucha is rated at a level 5 safety for breastfeeding moms. Now the La Lache League administrator did say it was probably "out of an abundance of caution" because of the lack of evidence either way. So if you decide to drink it while nursing and you notice any change in your infants stools becoming more frequent, blowing out all the time or your baby shows excessive fussiness it would be time to stop drinking the tea.

Also there is alcohol in Kombucha so I would wait 3 hours after drinking it to nurse and avoid altogether while pregnant. It has about .05-1% alcohol depending on various factors. So 12 oz of Kombucha has roughly the same alcohol content as 2-3 oz of beer. To compare, fruit juice that has sat out all day, has the alcohol content of .08%. You know what is best for your body and baby so listen to it.

How do I make it?

It only takes a few simple ingredients to make a batch of kombucha and you can do lots of variations as well by changing types of teas and sugar. I even knew someone who made kombucha with Dr Pepper! However as some of the sugar remains after the bacteria feeds off it I would not use anything containing corn syrup.  The point is to make something good for you that tastes good too. Anyway here is what you will need

Kombucha Tea
  • 1 Kombucha SCOBY
  • 1 Cup of starter tea from the original brew
  • 1 Cup sugar, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar ect.
  • 8 tea bags of your choice (you can use herbal)
  • 1 gallon glass jar
  • coffee filter or cheese cloth 
  • rubber band
  • wooden spoon
  • 12 cups filtered water

Heat the water to it is just ready to boil then take off the heat and pour into your glass container. Add the tea bags and sugar and stir till sugar is dissolved.

Let tea cool. (Do not add the SCOBY till the tea has completely cooled off.)

Take out tea bags and add in the starter tea then the SCOBY. (Do not use any metal in contact with the SCOBY)

Cover the top of the container with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.

Let it set in a warm area, about 70-80 degrees, for 7 or more days. The kombucha should be tangy, and have a vinegary taste with some sweet in the background.

You can take the remaining tea (all but one cup for the next starter batch) out of the bigger container and keep in smaller glass jars with plastic tops in the refrigerator. Now you can start another batch, and eventually you will have baby SCOBY's to give away for others to brew their own batches, it is the gift that keeps on giving!

 If you find you don't like the taste you can use it in place of vinegar in any recipe. I like to use it for dressings. Some people mix it with fresh fruit juice and let it ferment another two days it becomes more fizzy and soda like that way. At any rate we enjoy it and I hope you give it a try!

                                                                   The Farmer in the Dell







Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is Baltic Amber a Money Racket or an Easy Cure?

I love to use natural things for my family's health care. The less side effects the better, and with young children it is even more critical to pay attention to amounts/dosages given and how much time between dosages. For a mother who already has a sick or hurting baby this can be nerve racking.

So when my son started teething I heard all kinds of advice on what I should do. Teething tablets, teething biscuits, teething gel, pain relievers and we tried many of those things without much success. Finally after talking to a friend about how little Boaz was miserable she asked if I had ever heard of using an amber necklace. How could a necklace help my son? It sounds like a possible placebo effect. Time to research.

What is Baltic Amber?

Baltic amber is the resin from a succinisera pine tree that has hardened into a stone like form. This kind of amber is found in the Baltic region in main land Europe. It has a light weight and is warm to the touch. What is unique Baltic amber is the fact that it contains 3-8% succinic acid which is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.

Succinic acid is naturally found in both plant and animal tissue and has many benefits.  It has been used for teething pain, arthritis, growth pains, head aches, joint pain, menstrual cramps or essentially anything you would take an Advil for.

The salts of succinic acid are one of the active substances used for cellular level respiration. Which means that it is effective at producing energy in the body by jump starting the Krebs cycle, one of the main ways we metabolize carbs, fats and proteins. Restoring a dragging energy level.

How does it work? 

Amber is a very soft and when it is worn against the skin the oils and heat your body produces break down the amber and rub some of the succinic acid off. This gives relief of pain close to location of the amber. Thus for best effect you should wear it closest to the source of pain; necklace for tooth and jaw issues, bracelet for carpel tunnel ect.  It has also been mentioned that the lighter the color amber the higher the concentration of the succinic acid so if you want or need a stronger pain reliever you would want to get a light yellow amber as opposed to a more brown or green shade.

But does it really work?

This was something I was interested in finding out. After all it sounds like it does a lot and has no known side effects. I purchased an amber necklace and put it on my little boy for the day time and wrapped it around the ankle at night to avoid possible strangulation. Well he didn't fuss as much and he stopped drooling. Good signs. It seemed like his teething pain was over but I wondered if it wasn't just coincidentally timed with the purchase of the necklace. I kept up with it anyway until I lost the necklace. This would be a good test to find out if it was doing anything. So for the first month no big change, however by the third month he was drooling and fussing all the time, so I bought another necklace. Then it stopped again, so am happy to say yes it does work and I don't want to loose it again!
I purchased a bracelet for my self to see if it would help with a ganglion cyst I get in my left wrist. Sure enough it has kept it in check so I don't have to take the turmeric powder every day. I like turmeric but not that much.

How do I know if the Baltic Amber is genuine? 

The best way in my opinion is to make a bowl of salty water and place the jewelry in. If it floats then it is the real deal. You can also test it by putting it up to a flame if it smells like pine it is genuine if it smells like burning plastic then it is a fake. I don't know about you but I don't really like the idea of putting my jewelry to a flame, you may know if it is real but you could ruin it in the process!

We have had good experiences with Baltic amber and I would recommend it to anyone who suffers from joint pain or inflammation. It is pretty too! Enjoy your life without the pain.
                                                           The Farmer in the Dell






Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Farmer Strong Lip Balm

So I am loving the now cooler weather that is the signature of fall, seeing as we are at the middle of September already, I was beginning to get nervous that my favorite season would be wiped out by a forever summer. With this delicious cooler weather comes leaf changes, the air becoming drier, and the enjoyment of harvest plenty. It also reminds me of my wedding, that was now four years ago, where it was so cold everyone was in jackets during our outdoor ceremony. I hate sweating so I like to think that the Lord gave me the gift of cooler weather for our special day. It wasn't for my husband at any rate because he doesn't like to be cold!

We went away for our anniversary last week and since we have been having drier air he has been having the worst time with severely chapped lips. We went to CVS to pick up some chap stick for him but most of the options contained alcohol and other agents that actually dry your lips out more, so we settled on some Burt's Bees chap stick or "lip chap" as I tend to call it. It was okay and it got us through our getaway time but I knew he needed something with more moisturizing power that didn't need re-applied so frequently.

So I went home to make a "farmer strong" version that he could use. I love making lotion bars with coconut oil, Shea butter and bees wax. He has actually used them on his lips before and met with good success but I wanted this to have more staying power. When your hands are dirty applying chap stick with your finger is not really ideal. I also didn't really want that much. Most of those recipes are for making a lot so you can give some away but here I just wanted to make a little batch as a little goes a long way.

This is very firm and if you wanted to have it softer you could add some more coconut oil to the mix but I didn't want it to melt in the tractor or in his pocket so we went firmer. The ingredients are chosen for the moisture, healing and soothing extremely dry chapped lips.

Farmer's Barn Balm
makes three 1 oz tins
  • 2 Tablespoons bee wax pellets or shavings
  • 1 Tablespoon Shea butter
  • 1 Teaspoon lanolin (use the one formulated for breastfeeding mothers)
  • 2 Teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon honey
  • 6 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil
Add all the ingredients but the essential oil to a double broiler or small metal or glass bowl that fits over the edge of a saucepan filled with water and turn the heat on medium.


Once everything is melted turn off the heat add the essential oil and mix then remove from stove.

Pour immediately into tin or tubes to set.

Let set in the refrigerator for 1 hour and then use as needed!

It works really well at trapping in the moisture and healing the raw skin. It made my lips so soft!
Like I mentioned before if it is too firm for your liking you can melt it down again and add some extra coconut oil to make it softer.

As summer comes to an end it is time to prepare for the new season and good times ahead. Happy fall to you and yours!

                                                              The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

To My Dear Daughters

My girls, this world is not always going to be kind to you. In fact it may not even be the people themselves that hurt you but the ideas and thoughts that are commonly accepted. I spent so much of my youth running after "perfection" that at one point it consumed me physically and spiritually. I had wasted my body away and it was a mirror to my spirit. I was hungry for the acceptance and the love I thought I wanted. No one could tell me I was wrong, my heart was hard, no one could change my mind. The pain of rejection is fierce, it can tear you apart and leave you valunrable and weak. I felt in control of my body and my life but I was not in control, thankfully someone else was. 

Someone else who doesn't look at how skinny your waist is or if you have a thigh gap. Who will not require you to have flawless skin and perfect hair in order to spend time with you. He will see you for who you are and the spirit that you have cultivated through the trials you have faced. Because you see my dear girls, we are not merely human, we are spirit too. We long to feel loved and accepted by someone special. It is wired into each one of us to desire companionship, and spiritual connection.

My dears let me tell you every man, no matter how perfect you may believe he is, will disappoint you. He will not be able to meet all your needs and desires, he may even hurt you deeply and not even know. This is because he was not the one who was made satisfy your soul and bring you continual joy, there is someone else.

While I was trying so hard to show how I was what he wanted, there was someone who knew that I was what HE wanted. He was patiently waiting till I would see His love, the same love I was longing for, a love that was not skin deep but soul filling. Sure I knew He was there the whole time but I didn't want to let go of my idea of perfect, I didn't want to love Him because that would mean I would have have to give up controlling my own life. It was too scary, the pain and disappointment hurt but they were familiar and I knew what to expect. So I resisted. I resisted until I realized that I couldn't sustain life like this, it was going to be hospitalization or death, and that was not what I wanted the end of my story to be. No it was a new beginning.

 I had grown up knowing of this love and I had said I had excepted it but I had become drawn into wanting something different, something I thought would be better, more tangible. Girls it is a terrible lie and do not believe that you can find or make happiness for yourself. While you may feel happy for a while it does not last and leaves you feeling even more empty than before. The only love that sets hearts free is the love of the one who made you, the one who sees into your heart, knows your every thought and longs for you to experience true joy and security of being close to Him.

Dear daughters only Jesus can be there for you all the time. He never changes, He is perfect, He is always faithful, He will never fail and His promises are true. You can cast all your cares on him because He cares. He has loved you since He thought you up. You will never be able to have a relationship with anyone else with these qualities. Don't throw away valuable time by pouring your heart and soul into empty promises this world puts in your way. Accept Jesus and throw yourself wholeheartedly into Him, He will change your life. It will be scary, it will be uncomfortable at times but stay close to Him, wrap your heart and mind in His words and Joy comes in the morning!

I love you so much, but Jesus loves you more! Things in this world just do not not compare and it has taken me this long to see what lies they are. I am seeing more clearly every day. Do not let the lies rob you of the vibrancy and joy of your youth. Become a friend of Jesus, love Him and immerse yourself in His words for there you will find life and true love!
In love and prayer
                               Your Mother,
                                                                  The Farmer in the Dell


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What I Needed the Most

I feel like everything in my life right now is pointing to one thing, I am worn out. It is a busy time of year for a farming family, the harvest is in and the workers are few. I have two busy toddlers and a new baby to take care of, a house to keep and bills that still need paid. Life is happening and I am trying to keep up with the pace but it is leaving me exhausted. This is not a new phenomenon, I keep telling myself that I can get through this. I am getting to do what I love every day, take care of my family, however I am finding it is leaving me drained. Why?

I discovered the root of my problem while I was spending a few moments before bed reading a book for a group I am part of. We are reading Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson and the portion we were discussing was exactly what I needed the most right now. I needed to make time to refresh my soul.

Sometimes as a mother I feel like I can pour myself out continually, day after day and see very few breaks. I start to run out of time, motivation, strength and purpose. I start putting things on the back burner in order to get by day to day. I don't know about you but most of the stuff that gets put off is personal time and activities.

At first this sacrifice feels good. Putting family and your children first is the right thing to do so inevitably it keeps happening. Something else starts happening too, patience doesn't last as long, energy starts to dwindle and the days seem very long and they all run together. I love my children and family but the smallest things start to drive me crazy. Why is this? Because my soul is drained and needs replenished.

An image for this is a large cup; if it is empty it needs to be filled before it can spill over.  You will not be able to bless those around you if you are not full yourself. For Christ to pour out of your very being you must be soaked through with His word and spirit. This doesn't occur by chance but through well invested, regular time in His presence. I had stopped spending part of my day studying Him, and meditating on His words and the end result was I was empty. I now make a habit to take little parts of my day and have a couple 10 minute mini devotions. I had taken it out of my schedule because I never felt like I could get a good 30-45 minuets in. Now I enjoy the pick-me-ups throughout the day.

I also remembered how soul filling music is for me. My children check my happiness meter by how much/what I am singing. So I started putting music on at lunch time so we could all enjoy it. Both of the older two love to make music and sing so I believe this fills their souls too.

Closely related to that is dance. If you have never been a dancer or danced before this probably will not mean much to you. There is nothing quite the same as hearing a beautiful piece of music and dancing with all you have in you. David danced before the Lord and became a fool in the eyes of his wife but he told her,"I will become even more undignified than this!" He understood the fullness of the dance. Once you feel that, a part of you will always long to dance. I still have not found a good way to express this with 3 little ones but I soon hope to again.

It is important in our busy lives that we make time to fill ourselves up with Christ. Weather it is in the beauty of nature, the majesty of song, the joy of dance, the peace of His presence, artistry of a lovingly prepared meal, or the gifting of skillful hands. Each person is different and communicates and feels differently.  If you take time to evaluate yourself you will know what fills your soul and lifts your spirit. When life dries you up and leaves you feeling empty what you may need the most is to give yourself permission to enjoy the life God has blessed you with.

                                                              The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stevia Extract

Now that my 6 weeks postpartum period is ending I am realizing that I have to start doing some things that I have been putting off. I actually really love the first 6 weeks after having a baby. It is one of the only times where I give myself permission to take life easy, put things on hold and enjoy meeting my new family member. About this time after having my babies I usually start doing a structured workout, more cooking and saving those freezer meals for the crammed days were I really can't handle one more thing.

One of those "things" I have not been keeping up with is my herb garden. Right now watering plants is the last on my list of things to do and it often just doesn't happen. Because to be honest I am still adjusting to having three children, three and under, in our home. This week I also started to cloth diaper Eliora too, so now between potty training Boaz and changing the two in cloth, I feel like if I make meals the day is a success!

We are working on getting into a good routine so we can get back to doing more educational/fun things. Right now that includes how to harvest and make stevia extract! Not the usual preschool activity, but it can be fun and educational all the same.



So we all went out to harvest my stevia plant before it shrived up and died like my poor basil did :(  Anyway we picked all of the leaves off the plant and gave them a good rinse, because I found out the flies like this plant too and we wouldn't want that in our extract!

Next we put them in the dehydrator overnight at 95 degrees to crisp them up. You could sun dry them instead if you don't have a dehydrator. Mine were almost dried when I took them off. See benefits of not watering, I save on electricity!

Now I just cram them into a quart jar, lightly crushing them down till it is full. Cover the crushed leaves with vodka and let it set for 24-36 hours on the counter.

Strain out the leaves from the vodka and bottle or if you don't want the alcohol in it you can put the liquid in a sauce pan and cook off the alcohol. DO NOT BOIL IT! That will make the extract bitter/less sweet. Cook it for 15-30 min on low. Then store in a dark glass container in the refrigerator for future use.

You can also grind the dried leaves into a powder and use it for quick breads, coffee, tea or smoothies where the green color will not make it look unappetizing.

My mother makes a wonderful iced tea using the whole dried leaf. It is the perfect touch of sweet in my opinion.
  • Set one gallon of water in a pot to boil with 3-4 tea bags and enough dried whole stevia leaves to cover the top of the water. 
  • Bring the water to the point right before it boils but do not boil the tea bags. 
  • Turn the heat off, remove the tea bags and cover. 
  • Let it set till the tea has cooled on the stove top then strain off the stevia leaves and cool in the refrigerator.
We like using stevia to sweeten up things in the kitchen without adding empty calories or feeding bacterial yeast over growth in the body. It is fun and rewarding to harvest your own "sugar" in your back yard!
                                                                The Farmer in the Dell