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!


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