Sometimes, girlfriends just gotta write. I never even realized before I had a blog how many thoughts floated through my head each day that I wanted to share with others. Even though my kitchen is currently messy, my floors need to be swept, I have clean sheets awaiting their destiny on our bed, and squished banana that needs to be wiped up from the desk, I find myself so eager to sit down and ‘chat' with you.
I've already thought a dozen times today, ‘I need to tell my readers about that…'
Guess that means it's time to visit for awhile.
Upon the request of a few readers, I've decided to do a little Q & A session for today's post. I read other blogs, so I know what it's like to have questions for bloggers that you never seem to get answered from them.
But I'm prepared. I've got lemon curd within reach of my right hand. And chocolate within reach of my left. There is warm water on the stove for tea and a baby that is sound asleep for nap time.
Let's do this.
Oooh – before I forget, the winner of the Making Babies Giveaway IS (drum roll, please):
thejacksgraze: Pregnancy is miraculous! I'd love this book!
Dearest thejacksgraze, please email me your address ([email protected]) so I can forward it to Bulk Herb Company. They will send you the book directly. Congratulations and thank you for reading! And a big thanks to all who entered. I wish I could give each of you a copy! But stayed tuned. We have two more giveaways lined up this month!
Now, back to business.
Q: I'd like to know how you got into healthy eating/living. If it is something your family started doing more recently or if it's how you were raised, etc.
A: It wasn't until after Stuart and I got married that things really kicked into high-gear with my healthy living. In college, I happened across a book called “Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About” – I'm sure you've seen the infomercial for it. Ha. Anyway, that book got me interested in a few things: such as coconut oil, aromatherapy alternative medicines, water filters, etc. After that, it wasn't until a few years later that I picked up a cookbook by Renee Loux at the local library. Renee and I have much different philosophies of food now, but I still really appreciated her thoughts on chemical cleaners, laundry detergents, shampoos, food additives, eating whole foods, etc.
It's really interesting how things slowly processed from there. For example, considering that I used to work at a feedlot, it is slightly ironic that I am an advocate for grass-fed, naturally-raised beef now. After we got married and I started cooking dinners each night for Stuart (which happened to be the same year I began gardening and appreciating truly fresh produce) something just sort of ‘clicked' in my brain. I knew I wanted things to be different. I didn't think the way I was used to was necessary the best it could be.
At first, with misinformation, I did what so many people do and gravitated towards ‘health foods' like soy milk. But after further research and armed with a copy of Nourishing Traditions, all the pieces finally started to fall into place. So I started slow, such as incorporating more whole grains and cutting out one packaged item at a time. I worked to incorporate more fresh food and source it from local places. It took me years to get to where we are now – surely, not a change that happens overnight. I remember scribbling down a food-goal list for one, three, and five years. We just keep plugging away and making small change after small change.
Q: Did you ever ask about your carseat at Lowes? Did you ever find it?
If you're totally confused about this question, read HERE.
A: We did check back with Lowes but much to our disappointment, the car seat never returned. I can only hope that it was a blessing to someone in much need of it (though, let's be honest, the car it was accidentally placed into was pretty dang nice…I doubt they would have balked at a $100 car seat purchase). A big shout out to my father-in-law who helped us buy a new one. Otherwise, I may have still been in tears. Or at least Dang Dave would be.
Q: What are your go-to foods for Georgia? What are her favorite recipes and what won't she eat?
A: I'll try and keep this one simple:
Cheddar cheese sticks (I just cut them off the block of cheese)
Fruit (bananas and peeled apple slices are her favorites)
Cream of Wheat (favorite)
Dried fruit (raisins and pears especially)
Homemade popcorn (favorite)
Breakfast cookies (recipe forthcoming!)
We always eat leftovers for lunch. I always give her a few things, so if she doesn't like one, she'll just eat the others. If there aren't any leftovers, I will make her a grilled cheese sandwich which she loves.
She always eats whatever it is we're having. I don't make her anything special. I will always try and include something I know she'll eat, like sliced fruit or buttered bread. Or, for example, if we're eating a green salad, she'll get all the pieces of it instead of the actual salad (ie: a plate of tomato bites, avocado bites, cheese bites, toasted almonds, etc.)
There isn't a food I've found that she hates, but she has her picky moments. I refuse to banter back and forth about what she can and cannot have though, so the rule is she eats what she's served (don't worry, I take into account her preferences – like her love for oatmeal or lentil soup). If she doesn't want to eat it, she won't be be specially made anything else.
Q: Did you finish the 8th chair?
Again, if you're confused, read HERE.
A: Grr… I wish. Our budget is still so tight that upholstery fabric is out of the question for the time being. I'm thankful that I purchased the fabric for the dining room chairs before I realized just how tight the budget actually was (though it would have saved me some heartache at the end of that month). I cannot wait to get that last chair refinished – it's a beautiful chair and it's highlighted in our hallway so wonderfully. I'd love for it to shine in new upholstered glory.
If anyway has 4-5 yards of unused upholstery fabric (I ain't picky) send it my way, would ya?
Q: What church denomination are you guys?
A: We are Presbyterians. In the larger context we are part of the Protestant Christian Church. We are in the process of becoming members at our new church in Alabama, which is a PCA church. Stuart grew up in the PCA denomination (his Dad is still a PCA pastor in Atlanta). I grew up Baptist and then Methodist (but, let's be honest, I had no clue what that meant back then). We are Calvinists. We are reformed. We adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith. We are sinners saved by grace! Praise God!
For more great information on the PCA denomination, click HERE.
To access my favorite Pastor's archive of online audio sermons, click HERE.
Or HERE. I love him, too.
Q: Why does my soaked wheat bread recipe always have a hole in the middle? And sometimes a doughy hole? Even if I bake it longer than it specifies?
A: I wish I knew, but I have no idea. I remember having that problem one time as well. I've read it can be caused by too long of a second-rise time. I've also read it can be caused by the way the loaf is formed. Since I switched to my new soaked bread recipe, I haven't had this problem. Perhaps it's time to try that one and see if the issue resolves itself.
Bread can be a little pesky bugger.
Q: Did you ever redo that 60's bedspread?
A: You mean this one? Psh. No. I did rip the nasty, old-yarn edging off which made a huge difference. Plus, I've given it a few good washings and removed some stains. Now, the beautiful blanket (the fabric is still in great shape) lays across the foot of our bed. I love this blanket. It's perty. Still haven't found any orange throw pillows though. Dang it.
Q: I remember you writing about using Baby Wise with Georgia… did you let her cry herself to sleep? How long did you let her cry? And how old was she when you began implementing it? Thanks!
A: We totally did Babywise. Best decision ever. Because we were very diligent about it from the beginning, we never really had a huge problem with her crying herself to sleep. The whole idea is that from birth, you teach them how to put themselves to sleep – that is, a learned skill they must obtain. I remember her fussing a few times when we'd lay her down (mostly once she became aware we were leaving her), but I really can't remember a night of crying.
Naps were a different story and varied. It took her a little while to realize that crying wasn't going to get her out of taking them. Some days, she would lay down and fall asleep beautifully. Some days, she struggled. But now, even if she decides to not fall asleep, she will play quietly in her bedroom without making a fuss for two hours. I'm fine with this.
Because she rarely cried at night, if she did, it was usually because something was wrong (ie: poopy diaper, too cold of a room, etc.) so I usually would go in and figure out what the problem was and then the crying would stop. With her naps (as long as I knew she had a clean diaper, was full, and wasn't in pain) I wouldf it let her cry as long as she needed to. I think a Mom learns her baby's cry and can usually tell if it's a ‘I'm lonely and want you in here with me' cry. If it was one of those, I'd leave her alone.
We implemented Babywise from her birth. So thankful we did. She is a fantastic napper and sleeper and has been for almost her entire life. She still naps daily from 1-3 and sleeps at night from 7-7 in her own bed. To put her down, we lay her in the bed, say a prayer, give kisses, cover her up with blankets, and leave the room. Batta-bing-batta-boom.
Q: Placenta. To eat or not to eat?
A: Oh man. My husband almost gagged when he read this question. I've brought it up to him before (not that I was planning on doing it, but that I'd read of lots of women who had) and he died. Well, okay, he didn't really die, but he sort of looked like he was going to.
I've never wanted to, nor do I plan on doing it. I don't hold any authority to say whether it's right or it's wrong, or whether it's beneficial or not, so all I can say is for me, it ain't happenin'.
Q: What, what, WHAT soup is the picture of on your recipes page?
A: Why, it's no soup at all, my friend! It's wild mushroom risotto! And it's delicious.
Q: Do you still do meal plans each week?
A: Yes, I do. I still find it's the best way to keep from getting the I-have-to-make-dinner-again-blues. I always try and keep side dishes open, since I never know what produce we'll have in our CSA basket for the week, but I like to have the main dish planned. I always try and keep a few simple, throw-together meals on the menu (more so lately) as well as incorporate at least one new dish to try (this keeps me from getting bored!).
Menus save my life. They also save my grocery budget. And keep my from running to the store twelve times a week. And Amen.
Q: Most embarrassing moment?
A: Bleh. Do I have to answer this?
There are two that stick out in my mind.
The first one involved me, feeling super cool in all my high school glory, sliding down a banister at a church youth retreat. There were approximately three hundred people crowded into this entry way. Why I thought it would be a good idea to slide down is beyond me. But I did. And I crashed, big time. And I stood up and tried to play it cool, but there was no way to hide what had just happened. I wanted to die.
The second is much worse. It still haunts me. I remember freshman year of high school sitting at a lunch table with my older boyfriend and his friends. One of his friends had a terrible stutter. I had never seen a stutter before and didn't really know what it looked or sounded like. When this boy tried to speak, and couldn't get the words to come out, I started laughing. I thought he was joking. Drew asked me what was funny and I said that so-and-so had made a funny face. When so-and-so could finally get his words out, he explained that I had been laughing at his stutter. What? No I wasn't. It wasn't until later, after I replayed the scene in my head over and over, that I had realized what had happened. I was sick to my stomach. I would never intentionally laugh at someone for something like that. Never.
Luckily, he didn't hate me, and we were friends for years after that. But the thought of that moment still makes me sad. I've never been the type of person to tease or ridicule anyone. That was the worst.
Q: What is your birth plan for having the new baby?
A: If I learned one lesson with having Georgia, it is that my worth as a woman is not validated by how I give birth. Whether it's with a midwife, up in a tree, at home, in a hospital, or anywhere else. That being said, we are planning to deliver in a hospital. Midwives are ‘illegal' in Alabama, and even if we'd like to see one like we did with Georgia, we wouldn't be able to deliver with one since we had a cesarean section with G. We are on track to have a successful VBAC this go-round and are very blessed to have an OB that is so willing and excited to help us with this. I'm not setting myself up with a plan for delivery. I'm going to do the very best I can, with God's grace. I've been praying for strength to make it through the laboring unassisted, but as I've learned, things don't always go as planned. And that's okay.
I am so thankful Stuart will be there as my coach. He believes I can do it naturally and I trust him.
My prayer is to survive and have a healthy, beautiful baby. And Amen.
Have I mentioned that I currently have a bowling bowl in between my legs?
Q: How has your budget plan affected your food budget? Are there things that you cut back on? How do you still eat well but on an even tighter budget?
A: It hasn't been easy! Currently, for the three of us (mind you, I'm pregnant) our monthly budget is about $350. $100 of that goes automatically to pay for our CSA weekly produce. That leaves me about $250 for the rest of the shopping.
We go through one gallon of raw milk per week (sometimes we water it down a bit to stretch it further), which is $6 a gallon.
We also go through two dozen eggs per week, which we buy from a local farmer for $2.50/dozen. I pick them up every two weeks.
I usually try and do one bulk purchase with this budget per month, whether that be a bag of wheat, olive oil, or a gallon of raw vinegar. At the beginning of the month, I'll do a quick trip to Sam's Club to stock up on nuts, cheese, coffee, grass-fed butter, and a few other supplies. Once these are gone at the end of the month, we have to wait until the next paycheck to get them again (I have found this has helped us from overindulging!).
In a way, I'm thankful for the tight food budget. For one, it's kept me making everything from scratch, which is arguably much healthier for us. Every bread product, salad dressing, cereal, meat marinade, even pasta is made from scratch. We don't buy chips. We don't buy cookies. We only buy the building blocks: butter, meats, cheeses, nuts, grains, produce. From this, I can make anything.
The only bummer is that sometimes, when I'm out of something, I don't always have the money to buy it right away. I've been out of coconut oil for about two months and have yet to restock my supply. Last month purchasing a gallon of raw honey took priority, so the coconut oil had to wait. Patience is a virtue, they say.
We eat a lot less meat now too, which I suppose is a good thing. We've come to appreciate and savor red meat when we get it. Typically, I roast a chicken on Sunday's for dinner and then we use it for another meal or two (plus leftovers) throughout the week. The carcass is then used to make stock, so it really goes a long way. We've also been blessed with some king mackerel that Stuart caught over the summer, so we've been enjoying that. It's also hunting season here in Alabama (a deer a day, baby!) and if we can come up with enough extra money for Stuart to get his hunting license, we're hoping to stock the freezer with some venison this fall. Lord, willing.
It's hard, but it's doable.
And more importantly, for our health, it's worth it.
Q: How did the big girl bed transition go?
A: AWESOME! Y'all, seriously, I was so blessed by prayers for this transition. It was a miracle. We simply put her in the bed, tucked her in, and walked out. She never fussed or tried to escape. She just stayed there. Since that first night, there has only been one nap-time incident where she was pulling on the door knob asking for ‘Mama'…but eventually, she just went and lay back down and went to sleep. Incredible!
Q: Favorite romantic comedy?
A: Father of The Bride. And Father of The Bride Part 2. Love, love, love, love. Still cry every time I watch them.
Actually, now that I think about it, are those considered Romantic Comedies? Or just Comedies?
Q: Where and how are you able to find organic produce in the South?
A: This is a tough one. As this reader also found out, moving from the West-Coast to the South is a big transition in more than one way. Organic produce is simply not as in-demand down here as it is out West.
Sometimes, when I tell people I'm from the West, they say “Oh, so you must be into healthy food and stuff.”
I guess we are that clique. Because I totally am.
That being said, I still find it more important to buy locally. I'd rather support an conventional orange grove down the road than buy an organic orange from Ecuador. In Fairhope, we have a wonderful market that sources mostly-local produce (if it's not local, it's at least from the U.S.) which has been a real blessing to us. I try not to stress as much about buying organic as I do buying local, high-quality produce. The less time produce sits around after it's harvested, the better. And even organic produce available that large markets can be deceiving.
While our local Publix has a pretty large organic produce section, it simply isn't cost effective (or nutrient effective for that matter) for me to buy our produce from there. Instead, farmers markets or local markets are the way we shop.
Phew! That was a lot of words. That was a lot of me babbling. I know I missed a few questions that I'd read previously, but I couldn't seem to find them again. If I missed yours, please send it to me again. I won't drop the ball twice. Promise. I very much appreciate all the questions. Feel free to contact me if you have any more. I'm here for ya.
Except right now.
Because right now, I still have to go clean up that mooshed banana that's all over my desk.
Funny how my work still waits for me while I blog and blog and blog….