Thursday, February 8, 2018

Elderberry Syrup

I have a post started on how to combat and prevent the flu...but twins, so here is the Elderberry I promised for now.

Elderberry Syrup

3/4 cup of dried elderberries  (flu season has increased the demand and price, they are normally $18-19)
4 cups water (reversosmo. if you are lucky enough, distilled great, filtered will work too)
1 TB cinnamon
2 TB dried ginger or about 1/2 cup fresh peeled and chopped or about half that grated (see what you like)
1 tes cloves
1 cup Raw local honey (I use a little less than a cup, the more honey the sweeter but it also stores longer)

In a sauce pan place the water, berries and spices (NO honey at this point).  Bring to a boil decrease heat and simmer for about 30-45 mins or until it has reduced to about 3 cups...meaning a little more than half for my non kitchen savvy friends.
Turn off the heat and let it sit covered.  Then squish the berries a bit, I use this, you would be amazed at the things I use this for ha!
Then strain the liquid into a medium size bowl ( love this set!), add the honey and stir well...again you want the liquid to be close to room temp, not hot.
Once it is nice and mixed, use a funnel to put it in your favorite jar....If I was supper messy, and I normally am in the kitchen, I strain it again into the funnel to catch the extra bits.

Store in the fridge.
To prevent illness and boost the immune system the recommendation is to take 1 TB for adults and 1tes for kids (over a year old cause it has honey) once a day.  If you are starting to feel the crud coming on take it right away, 1TB every 1-3 hours.
If you really want a boost, add a shot of AVC to one of those and you will kick a cold, sinus infection and heal your guy all in one.

Don't want to make it?  No worries!  Try this great local to the Charlotte area one call Sweet's Syrup.
They are getting new retailers all the time or she ships as well. It has become a big thing in the last year, so I bet a local farmers market has someone selling it...I am hoping the price on the berries decreases when they meet the demand.  It is cheaper to make and supper easy!

Once you have it down, try adding more or less of the spices you like...We will talk more about what they do later.  In boost the immune system, fights colds/sinus stuff and interrupt virus replication.

Ps The links are affiliated, they don't increase the price to your product and I get credit for introducing you to it.  Also I am not your primary care these are just suggestion you take freely, so take your own health into consideration with all topics here...when in doubt call your midwife or family practice.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Cuban Pork know the first post in two years...

The last two years have been crazy!  I use IG a lot to share updates, food, support and create.
I like the space and it is about all the time I have some days.
I recently posted a recipe on Cuban pork and would love to share it...I thought a longer blog post might be easier to navigate.

The original recipe we used is here with some changes on how we cooked it.

You will need:
-Pork shoulder (ours was around 7lbs)
-6 garlic gloves
-1/4 cup of olive oil
-2 cups of OJ
-2 limes, zest and juice from both
-4 tsp of cumin (or a little more if you like cumin)
-1TB oregano (I used dried and worked great)
-1/2 cup mint leaves (fresh, 1/2 if you are using dried...we did fresh)
-1/2 cup cilantro (fresh!)

Mix all the ingredients except the pork in a bowl or food processor.  We have this immersion blender (so I used a a bowl), I have the older model and it is wonderful for soup making and milkshakes. They also have this one on amazon.  It blends nicely with the hand/immersion blender and smells amazing!

Put the pork in a large bowl and pour the marinade over, it should cover about 3/4 of the meat or so.  Cover and and let it soak in the wonderful flavor at least 6hrs...but who has time for that planning, so just leaving over night and take it out first thing in the morning **unless you are going to smoke it overnight then adjust and prep as you wish**
Take out the meat in the morning and let it reach room temperature.
We decided to smoke the meat first.  We received this fun grill for Christmas and wanted to test it out.
After reading up on the all the grilling masters forums, we found that 2-4 hours is a range for absorbing the most flavor.  We smoked for 2.5 hours and then transferred to a roasting pan and cooked in the oven at 225 for 7ish hours.

We loved it and will to do it time we are going to try the all day grilling approach but, you can easily do it in the oven.  The linked recipe above shows a much higher heat.  Anytime I have made a roast shoulder in the oven it is always done on low heat over many hours.  It can be adapted for the instant pot as well but you won't get the crispy layer unless you finish it in the oven.  You can slice and eat once you have hit the optimal internal temp, or for us keep cooking until it falls apart.
We make tacos, wraps, put it on sweet potatoes with a fried egg, and other times ate it straight from the pot.  If you run out of time or want to try it both sliced and shredded, slice the first night and then 2nd put it in a dutch oven with any left over juice and a splash of broth if you need it.  Cook it on the stove top and it will fall apart : )

Make it!  It is supper easy and you will love it!

ps the links above are affiliated...this means I get credit for telling you about cool stuff at no increase cost to you!  Thanks for checking them out!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Crossing off the list...

-Teaching them (kiddos) mindfulness and stress management

You may have noticed this one on my 2016 Goals post, you may have thought it was interesting, or why do you need to teach your 4 and 51/2 year old stress management?  Let me explain...

I grew up on country roads, four wheeling, camping, boating, fishing, tubing, small town, cheerleader, happy and lots of good memories.  At the time, and for the most part now, my childhood seemed is only when I tell someone a story, that I realize how crazy and stressful life was.  From high school and through college (and even now)  my family dynamics changed with a family member suffering from mental illness diagnosis and everything that goes with it.  There was a lot of stress, I remember not wanting to go home in the summer from college two years in a row, but I managed to handle it well.  Then I met my husband, I learned how calm and peaceful life could be, but this brought a down side.

In a great book The Last Best Cure, Donna J. Nakazawa researches the mind body connection and how stress from events long ago can change how our body response to disease and stress later in life.  This connection is something I am well aware of, not only as a midwife, but my own life experience.  I have watched many family members suffer from unknown disease with strange origins, and realized how powerful our minds really are.  Now that I am older, have found peace and find comfort in spiritual growth, I handle stress so differently than I use to.  You would think my hippy zen self could handle it...well this psst year kicked my rump.  So what did I do?  I continued our journey of healthy eating, found new ways to heal through diet, including supporting my adrenals (more on that later), learned to say no and create boundaries ( I am a helper and a fixer, but if people keep taking and I don't fill myself back up there is nothing more I can give, and that helps no one).  I realized that it is like the book talks about, my stress level preset is higher than normal because of life events from earlier years.  Though I handled things well then, anxiety can arise now that triggers a cascade in my body I cannot control.  I know that my genetics say one thing, but I can help control the epigenetics through environment, food and stress management.  Let's leave the genetics for later and get back for my goal for 2016...

So what does this have to do with the kiddos?  I was watching them do yoga one day, while I was in the kitchen cooking and planning out healthy meals for the week.  I have a lot of mindful moments when I am there, it helps me breath, regroup, and see the bigger picture about things.  I heard this voice in my head that said, it is more important to teach them how to be mindful and manage stress than to sweat the small stuff in the kitchen.  It was a big moment for me, it gave me permission to let go of things and to shift my attention to how they are perceiving their environment.  This notion started after my husband and I read a book with a group at church.  The book, How to Raise and Adult, discuses over parenting issues and entitlement in the new generation of young adults and how to break free from it (more on this later).  One of my favorite parts is near the end when the author tells a story about the typical soccer mom doing too much and in the car at practice or a game all the time.  I recommend reading the book, but the moral was, instead of telling our kids what is important why not show them?  If it is exercise then go on a run instead of complaining on the side lines of a soccer game your kid hates to begin with.  No judgment zone here, my oldest loves soccer and one day I am sure we will be there, but right now I play soccer in the yard with her, go on runs, do yoga, dance in the kitchen, show her how to do a cartwheel, laugh a lot, sing loudly, etc.  

They showed me that day, when they asked to do yoga unprompted, that I am doing ok.  I am showing them how to eat well just by doing it not preaching it, I am showing them stress management every time I get on the mat, or take a breath before answering a hard question/conflict, being mindful, trying o so hard to watch what I say and mean it when I do.  I want to teach them stress management and help maintain a low stress point level that will help them later in life.  This won't happen with me telling them what to do, then doing the opposite.  Taking time away from our addiction to busyness, to care for ourselves and see the bigger picture, is a practice we have to grow.  Why not teach them now so they are better equipped to handle life as they grow.

The "balance" so many of use seek is right here, so don't go looking too is in their eyes, actions, our words, gratitude, breath and choices everyday.  Chose to be present even when it sucks, cause the reality is it doesn't.  Out of all the craziness this year our family is closer, stronger and more importantly here.  We are healthy and have each other, growing and learning everyday, I have so much to be thankful for and look forward to.  We are all a work in progress, but once you know better it is time to start doing better.

The Cosmic Kid Yoga Channel  so fun your kids will love it!

Yoga with Adriene  my fav. easy going laid back yogi 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Who needs a yoga mat

So why are the kids laying in the night...and with snow everywhere?

Dad asked what they wanted to know sled, play in the snow, go in and read or play a game before bed.  Yoga...yup they asked to do yoga.  Dad said inside? Nope outside, and thus the impromptu yoga from the fun channel we found on youtube started.

I think it is the stillness.  The snow brings quite, a time to reflect, be still.  I was out this morning taking pictures...

The girls were not having it, decided the coop and their oatmeal treat was the only way to go...

I just wanted to sit down meditate, or just listen to my breath.  The silence and beauty all around was amazing.  Kids just do, they don't overthink or have the boxes and labels we do as adults.  They think they can, so they do.  They feel and are connected to this world on a deeper level, though they may not always express it in words.  It is important we give them tools so they can express what they are feeling around them...this time it was yoga.  They sat down and connected with the earth, the beautiful snow and stillness around them.  It was fun to watch their concentration, they just trusted and did it.  No second guessing or questioning, it just was.  They came inside happy and had the best time playing trains together before bed.
I hope you can find stillness this week, reset and be the awesomeness that I know you are...

This print sits on my dresser as a reminder.  If you like the art check out Katie Daisy!  I love her work

ps I have a whole post about kids, yoga and that channel I was talking about, coming soon!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Adventure of having a boy

You never know what you will find walking into the bathroom, playroom, opening his drawers, car seat, you name it.  They are so sweet, steal your heart and little monsters at the same time...I am so thankful for my (not so) little boy.

Said boy will be 4 in a few days.  We are full on party planning, while prepping for "the storm!"
If you want to experience pure hysteria, move to the metro DC/VA/MD area right in time for a flurry or two, not to mention the two feet we are expected to get...Oh goodness or silliness more like it.

Mostly I think it is beautiful, specially the sun rise before the storm...
Kiddos playing and planning the next snowball fight...

Or witty librarian humor...

Wherever you are choose to be open to, new possibilities, God's beauty in a sun rise or single snowflake...and sweet little boys that aren't so little anymore.  I want to breath him in deep every time he gives me a hug and says I love you, not worry about and be open to the crazy behavior a normal 4 year old boy has.  I don't want to forget the little things, I want to tell him what he was like at almost four, and I want to teach him how to live in the moment and love big.
Happy Birthday my sweet petit homme...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Advise for first time mamas

Mamas aren't born the moment their little one comes into the world, it is a long journey with many paths along the way.  We are shaped and molded from the time we decide we want a family one day, reaffirmed the day they are placed in our arms and more developing for decades to come.
Some parts are almost a rite of passage.  One in particular, the tradition of passing on advice and crazy stories from one mama to the next.  How should we handle this one?  Some of the advice is good, some parts just fun to hear another persons journey, some of the advice does work or just merely offers support in a time of need.  So I hesitate to give advise to first time parents, but this advice will hopefully be a little different than most.

My advice or lack of

1. Listen and share a like, but set boundaries and know how to say no.

    There is something about the power and energy a group of women sharing their stories can send out.  It is a fun thing to experience, but there can be a draw back.  Negative stories, traumatizing birth experiences, crazy advice that doesn't match your value/belief system and more...What is it about women that makes them think it is OK to over share every crazy thing they hear about when someone they know is pregnant?  The best advise I can give on this?  There is a great birth education series called HypnoBabies (not to be confused with Hypnobirthing, very different), I saw many patient use this method and then chose it myself after seeing the success rate compared to other child birth education programs out there.  One tract and lesson in the series talks about the bubble of peace.  It sound ridiculous but when you really think about it, it is the best thing you can do for you and your baby (even adoption and surrogacy parents can practice this).  When you start to hear that crazy scary story or get the advise that makes you roll your eyes, it is fun to imagine that bubble of peace and all the negative energy bouncing off, away from you and your baby. Then take a breath and tell the person how you feel, thanks but that is not what I want to hear right now, or I hear you are concerned but we got it covered, or don't worry I know my body better than anyone and this baby, etc.  So be apart of the right of passage, feel the amazing loving energy that can come from the talk, but also know you can do this and sticking up for you is a good thing (not to mention good practice for later when baby is here and all the crazy advice and guilt trips you may get, just say no! and know that you are allowed to, even with someone in the medical field.)**I will also say here, help to break the cycle by surrounding the pregnant, expecting or adopting mama with love and support, not crazy stories.

a beautiful friend and her rainbow belly
2.  You are an amazing strong and beautiful women, trust your body (still applies if you are carrying your baby in your heart)

       We once lived in a world where no one questioned our/their bodies.  Giving birth was natural just like every other animal on this planet.  I love the Ina May Gaskin quotes:

“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets:  Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine.  The Creator is not a careless mechanic.  Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo.  Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

"We are the only species of mammal that doubts our ability to give birth. It's profitable to scare women about birth. But let's stop it. I tell women: Your body is not a lemon"

It is no wonder we doubt, with shows like birth story, the news with traumatic stories, your BFF with her own.  I never doubted my ability to birth a child naturally, it never even crossed my mind...but I was born a midwife and my perspective is different than most.  The only time I was concerned?  Well, when my husband put her in my arms and I thought: what did we do?  am I going to do this right?  what will our first sleepless night be like? and well there is no going back now...
My advice?  Ina May should be your guru, "Your body is not a lemon,"  never doubt your ability, no matter if you carry the child in your own body or not.  Yes there are things that can happen and intervention needed, that's why the emergency medical care exist, but still trust your instinct and speak up...this can also help when the decision for an intervention needs to be made, you will feel more at peace about the choice because you were listening to your body and being heard by the people caring for you.  You are amazing, you are light, you are powerful and about to care for another tiny human being...this is one of the greatest things you can do, so don't ever say I can't!  Say I will, I am awesome and I will own this!

3.  Trust your inner voice
      This is one you will have to tell yourself over and over again.  My husband put his trust in me and my mamasence after a story he heard from a coworker.  The family had been in the ER with a MD telling them everything was ok with their little one.  The mama pushed and finally got the test she wanted and sure enough it was positive.  Another caution here.  This is not the, well my friend said or google said voice, insert eye roll and sigh.  This is the real deal intuition that we all should be keyed into.  In all the babies I delivered there was never a bad one, why?  I listened to those amazing goddesses bringing life into the world.  If they were off or said something strange I keyed in right away.  They knew way before I did (or the monitors if we used them) that something wasn't right. The same with the mamas that came in with their newborns needing help or feeling off.  They were always right.  You can easily over think this one, second guess.  Go with your gut, then talk it out.  You know you have a good medical provider when they are willing to listen and make a plan that works for everyone.  They also get bonus points from me when they can say they don't know the answer but are willing to search it out.

4.  You really don't need all that baby crap

       No you don' just don't.  I know the baby shower is another right of passage, but use your common sense here.  The baby wipe warmer problem can be solved with two literally, rub your hands together and warm the thing up, or better yet use cloth.  It is so easy to get sucked into all the gear, that is the point of the industry and what they want.  Our grandparents lived long, (more) healthy lives and were born at home, co-sleepers or slept in a draw and never had all the extra crap that they try to push on a young family.  Even better?  when baby comes home and you start to figure out what you do need, send the new grandparents and in laws out to buy it.  They will be out of your hair for a bit and feel like they are helping/needed.  Seriously don't cave, it only gets worse...your siblings that don't have kids will buy you the biggest, loudest, most obnoxious toy ever and then you suddenly have a houseful of stuff you can't store the first Christmas after they are born...o and the kiddo is only interested in the box.  The more stuff we get the less we want, there is something to be said about the simple life, but that is a great topic for later.

5.  Take care of you, it will spill over on to your partner and kiddo(s)

     I hope this one is obvious, but if not don't worry we will discuss this more later.  For now, take the nap, drink the wine, color the book, take the bath, go shopping on their birthday (hey let's be real until they are 18 the birthday is really about the mom), say I love you more, don't settle for sweat pants, buy a pair of matching undergarments, shinny lip gloss and go on a date with your partner.  O and read, a lot (I have a list of great books for later), keep learning never stop growing.

6.  Be mindful, practice gratitude, because this to moves too fast and may never happen again

     Everyone says it, but yes you blink and they are almost 4 and while you type a blog post you are staring at minion party favors and menu list.  Before you know it, they walk, talk, paint you a picture, take the bus to school, you remember the toddler years of your second but think humm about how exactly it happened when the first one did it, or planning for number three turns into years of infertility, or you forget the way they looked/sounded/smelled while doing that silly thing they did.  I remember being pregnant with the said soon to be 4 year old, taking belly pictures (above) on the back deck, rubbing my belly and thinking, I need to enjoy this, every moment, because it might not happen again and every baby is so different.  I went back in the house, sat with my husband on the sofa and told him my thoughts...he agreed and said you never know we may not want more children or maybe we can't.  I remember the feeling I had in that moment, then brushed it off, smiled and said of course we will have more, I can feel it.  I am glad I have that memory, that moment and feelings.  I am glad I took the time to write the big events/stages down, for me it is another way to touch/feel and relive it.  Mindfulness helps us to cultivate gratitude and thus create the happiness we all crave in life.  There is no textbook way to do this one, find your own way, make a new tradition and lots of memories.

7.  Take lots of pictures, and make sure you are in them

     Because you will look for a picture one day to see what you looked like holding, playing loving your kiddos and not find one.  Even if you feel silly, frumpy, not so hot that day...take the picture show your kids how to make memories and what family is about.  They love looking at pictures from when they were little, they will ask where you are.  Take the pictures, tell them lots of stories and watch their face light up to know you love them and knew them from the beginning.  

I’m so crafty I make people
8.  It is ok to work, it is ok not to work...just don't think you have to reinvent the wheel or make a million dollars.

     We all do want to make something cute for the little one or come up with an idea to make an every day task easier.  You don't have to make 100 and sell them on etsy...If it turns into a passion great, if it is your calling even better, but don't forget what first brought you there, not to mention the above #4 people really don't need all that baby crap so lets stop adding to it.  Instead, keep your day job, or stay home with the baby, either way just love, laugh, enjoy, breath do more of #6 & 7.  Trust me I went there, opened the etsy shop and everything, then it became a chore instead of fun.  I did have time to develop my photography though, but that has always been a passion and my work got better as our family grew, as I grew and learned how to be creative (but I didn't try to sell it to everyone).  Motherhood brings out that creative side, tap into it, explore those once was passions and interest...this could be away to accomplish #5.  Whatever you decided to do, make it fit you and your core family, not what your (outside) family, friends, church or neighbors think is best for you...mama knows best (#3)

9.  People will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, listen to them, the dishes will get done eventually...In other words let your body heal (even in case of adoption or surrogacy, stress is the worst on your body) and stop to smell the roses.  Explore healthy eating, exercises that fits your needs, and the best way to nap in only 20 mins.

10.  You are enough.

        You are amazing, a goddess, you are made of stars and born from the ocean (in more ways then one...did you know amniotic fluid is the same salt concentration as the ocean?!?  no wonder it calls to us, heals us every time we go it's shores).  There is no should of -could of- would of's here.  No judgment, evil thoughts in your head, mean mamas making you feel guilty...You, just you the way you are is enough.  You are exactly where you should be on this journey, see where it takes you, keep growing and loving, but know you are enough.  Cue One Direction song and turn it up start dancing and celebrating how amazing you are.

So that's it, my "advise," what do you think?  What is some of the best advise you received as a new parent?   Have a beautiful weekend! 

There are a few affiliate links here, clicking them doesn't change what you pay, it just offers the site away to make enough for a dot com one day ; )  ps If you want more info on the books or other products I mention in the post, click the amazon link on the right.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Making exercise a priority...

Crossing off the list one goal at a time

Almost two years ago I stumbled on a wonderful yoga site after searching for a home practice that would fit my style.  I hate voice overs... most of the yogis are way to serious and into showing what they can do and that defeats the point of yoga for me.  I love doing yoga on the beach, it combines all the things I love, but the thought people may think I am doing it for show makes me shy away from it (hey work in progress right?)
Yoga with Adriene makes me laugh, work, smile, show up, find what feels good, commit, practice XYZ (*balance, discipline, stillness etc), it just clicked with me from day one.  She wants all people to find the pleasure of practicing yoga no matter the stuff they bring with them or skill really is for everyone, check her out and you will see what I mean.

What else am I doing to make exercise a priority?  Show up, start early, change it up, keep moving and doing it with a partner/friend.  While yoga has been a solo path for me for a few years, my husband and I started strength training together.  I really believe when you do things that the other partner enjoys or is passionate about it helps deepen a relationship.  So he found this site and app called StrongLifts.  It is a great way to track a work out, start small, track your progress and learn about strength training.

This is one goal I will be adjusting and improving with time.  Last year I did Adriene's 30 day yoga challenge to start the year and really recommit to practice.  It was amazing how my body and stress level responded and I could tell when I went one too many days without it.  This year she is offering Yoga Camp, a 30 day practice with mantras and a focus on foundations of yoga.  She also offers a lot of free videos and paid programs (this is not sponsored I just love the channel).  I need to keep moving my body this winter, getting outside and exploring new ways to keep my body healthy through movement.  I have a good start, but also have weaknesses just like anyone else...

Cause sometimes you still need the giant cookie and bottle of wine...

What do you do to calm your mind and strengthen your body?