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Health, Home, and Happiness: August 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sweet Potato French Fries

Sweet Potato French Fries were a huge hit with everyone. I wanted to use coconut oil for the good fats, so I just melted it in the oven in the pyrex I was going to use to cook the fries in. 375 degrees uncovered for 25 minutes, though this will change based on how crispy you want your fries or how thin you cut your sweet potato.





With sea salt and the melted coconut oil. Just mixed gently with a spatula to coat.


Making this a part of Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday (Especially when sweet potatoes go on sale later this fall!)

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Natural Hair and Body Care

A collection of my easy, cheap, natural alternatives to the normally chemical-filled products we use every day.

Homemade deodorant: I've been using this for a while now, and really like it. I more 'dab' it on than roll it on like conventional deodorant. It works better (on smell) than any other natural brand I had tried. Does nothing for dampness, but I believe we're designed to sweat for a reason, so I have no desire to stop perspiration.

Baking Soda as shampoo and vinegar as a conditioner: Again, impressed with these natural alternatives. I've been converted and now use my Herbal Essenes shampoo to clean the toilet. ~grin~ Not quite sure what to do with my remaining conditioner. I'll also put a dab of vinegar on my wash cloth while in the shower and use that to clean the shower doors on my way out. I had heard that hair can start 'rebelling' to the treatment about a month into it, but I haven't had any problem. I did end up using regular shampoo once because someone carried my baking soda out of the tub with him and took it down stairs, and I still had the regular stuff in there when I took a shower. It left my hair all frizzy and staticky and I couldn't wait to re-wash with baking soda to calm it down. I'll see if I can find a recent picture of me with my 'no poo' hair, just so you can confirm that it's not greasy or dull or ucky.

Tooth soap: Still love how this makes my teeth feel so clean. Still planning on updating in a few months on whether I can feel surface cavities remineralization or not.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Being Informed About Childbirth, Breastfeeding, and Babies


To start this off, I'd like to note that I'm just a mom. I certainly don't have all the answers, but these are the things that I think are important to look into. As with everything, you can't blindly follow anyone for you or your child's well being.

It's up to you as the parent to look into everything for yourself and make the decisions that are best for you and your family. That said, here is some information that I have found to be important to know, but not generally presented as normal. If you don't agree, don't worry, we can still be friends ~grin~

There's even more that I wanted to cover, but I don't think I'm going to have time. So here's what I was able to get down while my toddler was napping and 9 month old was nursing

Pregnancy

I was surprised what a difference a good prenatal vitamin made for me. I tried using Walmart prenatals with my first (ack!) but used a good quality whole foods one with my second and it made a huge difference. Read about it here.

Please be informed about standard prenatal care. Knowing what mainstream doctors do ahead of time is important so you can make informed decisions, not just be railroaded into what is 'normal'. Here is a timeline. Before I was pregnant, when I was researching what I wanted to do as far as prenatal visits go, I methodically went line by line down what was 'normally' done in America. And I became educated on what I wanted to skip (like the quad screen and amnio), what I could do myself (blood pressure, urine dips if necessary, fetal heart rate), and what I would need to be on the watch for (including, but not limited to, signs of preeclampsia, baby movement, growth).

I ended up doing it all myself, but I wouldn't hesitate to seek help if something out of the range of normal presented itself. Because I was educated on what was normal and what wasn't, I was at peace and didn't have to wonder what was going on with my body and depend on a doctor to tell me what was up.

I check my own cervix for dilation out of curiosity, check fundal height, monitor blood pressure, baby's heart rate... It's all easy enough to learn to do on your own and it's nice and reassuring to be able to check it when you want, especially with the fetal heart rate- no more panic attacks if the baby hasn't moved in a couple hours. We use a fetoscope, though I did borrow a doppler to use during my second birth since it's hard to pay attention to the fetoscope when in the middle of labor.


Childbirth

Risks associated with a hospital birth Unfortunately, many moms don't know what they don't know about hospital policies and how they can actually harm mothers and babies. If you're set on a hospital birth, please read and be informed. And have someone else (a doula maybe?) equally informed about your wishes, to help you have the safest experience possible. I'm not completely against hospital births, I just want moms to be aware that there is a lot of bureaucracy in hospital birthing, and there is lots that they will say is a hospital rule that isn't best for you or the baby.

Though many hospitals don't allow it (due to a very minute risk of aspiration during an emergency c-section), eating during labor is very important for a laboring mom and I believe the benefits highly outweigh the risks. I keep honey on hand in with my birth supplies and force myself to eat some every hour, even if I don't want to. Childbirth Today goes over the evidence here.

Science and Sensibility covers many more issues that are pertinent to healthy pregnancy and birth

Childbirth Today again goes over the evidence that indicates that an upright position is best to labor in. Using gravity to help bring the baby down is best for mom, best for baby. While many hospitals claim that they allow laboring in all positions, mandatory fetal monitoring and IVs do not make it easy to do so.

Enjoy Birth has a great article about the dangers of routine hospital procedures like IVs, fetal monitoring, and routine induction. I learned in my research that so many routine hospital procedures are based on outdated information and are not evidence based.

When we were researching our birthing options, I was surprised to find that I think that unlicensed midwives are better for what I need than licensed ones. With the licensing comes state control of your birth, so if whoever gives out the licenses has outdated information, the midwife is obligated to follow those rules rather than what the need of the mother and child is.

Questions to ask your care provider. Suppose you're not totally sold on the whole homebirth/midwife thing yet. I would encourage you to ask your care provider (hospital midwife, doctor, or certified nurse midwife) an extensive list of questions, all that are very applicable to a safe birth. Then, I would encourage you to call a local homebirth midwife in your area (or a few- start with the one who sounds the best to you over the phone when you ask about a consultation) and ask the same questions. Most, if not all, homebirth midwives give free consultations, so this shouldn't be a problem.

An interview with Kim, Why do I need a Doula?


Breastfeeding

Our interview here with Jess from Breastfeeding Basics. She talks about challenges that new mothers face, especially ones specific to our modern culture.

An interesting article, The Language of Breastfeeding, I came across a while back about how to change your language to indicate that breastfeeding is normal rather than subtly indicate that artificial human milk replacement is normal.

Wondering about iron deficiency in your breast fed baby? The Nourished Kitchen has a post on it. For us, we just watch for external signs of iron deficiency (paleness, lethargy) and our doctor is comfortable with that. We don't do any blood draws to test.

Kellymom is a great resource to quickly check if a medication or herb is okay for breastfeeding, and for different breastfeeding problems and solutions.

Mastitis is an infection that occurs occasionally during breastfeeding. I got it for the first time with my second baby, when he was 8 months old. Here's the research on natural treatments for mastitis that I did.


Baby Care

Car Seat information- We choose to keep our children rear-facing as long as possible, then we'll keep them in 5-point harnesses as long as possible. Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child's back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash. There is research to suggest that a child forward facing is 5 times more likely to die in an auto accident than a child rear facing. Please check out the Kyle David Miller Foundation's web page, it has really great information about how to protect your child in the car. At the least, just know that 'legal' doesn't mean safe. Just because it's legal to turn your child forward facing at 12 months/20 lbs does not mean that's the safest option for your child.

Introducing solids- this is how we introduce solids, we do it really slowly. Please keep in mind also, though, that I produce enough milk easily to do this, and my children thrive on it for 12 months. This might not be best for all families

A Vaccination disclaimer for your doctor to fill out, I highly doubt they ever would. I'd love to go more into vaccinations, but I think that might take an entire year. Again, please just be informed of the real risks of the vaccines, as well as risks of the diseases, how common the diseases are, and how they are *really* spread (ie tetanus isn't spread by rusty nails, it's in cattle manure. And the tetanus vaccine is one of the most toxic ones). To research vaccines, I started by looking each disease up on the CDC website, and was alarmed to find out that they aren't as deadly as we've been conditioned to believe. I actually started researching vaccines attempting to write a paper statistically (with statistics, not just people's opinions) proving that vaccines were necessary. I couldn't do it.

Vaccination Article, my friend Rachel found this.  And an article on how we research vaccines.

We chose not to circumcise. If you thought this was a given and that everyone did it, please visit nocirc.org just to be informed. I fully support circumcision for religious reasons, but even then, how Jesus was likely circumcised as a Jew on the 8th day was much different than the modern routine circumcision done by doctors after birth. A video of modern medical circumcision- not happening for my baby.

And, I've found that I need to educate everyone who might change my son's diaper on how to care for an intact boy. You don't want to retract! And many many people think that you have to.  And please be informed! Circumcision causes more deaths than chocking does in the entire 0-10 age group on a yearly basis.

Cloth diapering: Green Mountain Diapers is my favorite cloth diapering website. Their prefolds are nice and thick, and the whole website is very informative. I used PUL covers with my daughter, but my son is sensitive to any kind of synthetic, so we use wool soakers over prefolds for him.

Unexpected causes of diaper rash: Diaper rashes aren't always from not being changed often enough, sometimes kids are sensitive to the diapers themselves.

Sam had baby eczema when he was little, and still gets it at 9 months if I have too much dairy in my diet. Here's what we did to eliminate his baby eczema quickly and without steroids.

Babywearing: I use a pouch sling for easy in-out of lighter babies, in the cradle hold as newborns and on my hip when they get older and can sit upright. The Ergo on my back, it's super comfortable, and the mei tai on my front to nurse in or on my back for them to sleep in. My baby likes the mei tai the best, it must be most comfortable. I made it so it comes up high enough to support his head when he falls asleep.




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Have a link that applies? Leave me a comment and I'll put it up!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why do I need a doula? An interview with a California Student Doula

I wanted to give you all some information on having a doula, especially if you're planning a hospital birth. I think they are really important to have in any birth, but especially if you are going against the grain in a hospital setting (more on that Friday). Kim agreed to an interview for me.

Personally I've never used a doula, but we've only had home births. If we ever have to transport to a hospital, I do have one who has agreed to meet me there. She knows my wishes for labor and my newborn, and knows her way around both of our hospitals.

Have any of you used a doula? Have any of you wished that you had? Kim can answer any questions you might have in the comments section too.


Can you tell me a little bit about your birth experience and how you decided to become a doula?

My journey toward "Douladom" started when I became a massage therapist. My sister had a baby just after I was certified and, although I didn't know what a doula was at the time, I stayed with her through every contraction. I supported her and did whatever she needed me to do; I even fed her Jell-O at one point! Then, once I was ready to have children of my own, I was one of those moms that reads everything she can get her hands on and I kept seeing blurbs about doulas and it sounded interesting - like something I might enjoy. I learned a lot about childbirth and was especially inspired by a book called "The Birth Partner". Once I became pregnant, I focused more on being a mommy, but I had that in the back of my head and once my daughter was old enough, I pursued doula training. I am still a student doula, and I'm currently working on the practical part of my training. What that means is I've finished all the educational requirements and I'm currently offering my services for free until I can complete the certification process.

What's your contact information?
-My phone number is 707 235-2214 and I'm reachable by email at KimHammerDoula@yahoo.com
(she's in the Santa Rosa/Bay Area of California)

What do you do, as a doula, that is different from what is offered in hospital-sponsored childbirth education classes, independent childbirth classes?

-I've heard (an can attest to the fact) that, in the heat of labor, all the classes, all the books, and all the practice can go out out the window. The best preparation in the world is useless if it is forgotten. As a doula, one of my jobs is to remind the parents of what they learned. I might suggest a position change, I can help to interpret what medical staff says, I can help greatly with breathing and comfort measures. And even more importantly, I'm there for emotional support. Childbirth education is very important and I highly recommend it but education won't be there holding your hand and telling you that you will, in fact, live through this.


What are some important parental decisions that childbirth education classes often skim over?

-The one that comes to mind immediately for me is immunizations. There are definitely two schools of thought on this. When I was pregnant with my daughter, we were quite torn between them. We took our childbirth education through our hospital, and although they addressed the issue, it was mainly to reassure us that their immunizations were safe and they did not believe there was a link to autism. Nobody really told us why we should get our children vaccinated and certainly nobody suggested there may be reasons why not to vaccinate. We had to learn that on our own.

Can you tell us a little bit about how hospitals, doctors, and certified-nurse-midwives often have to cater to insurance companies and outdated hospital policies rather than what is in the best interest of the patient?

-Let me start by saying that I truly believe that hospitals, at least in my area do seem to be making strides in that area. There is still a long way to go. The basic problem is that the medical staff at a hospital are responsible to more than just you. They have to answer to the hospital policies, and to the insurance companies. And when it comes right down to it, they will get in a far bigger mess for NOT using interventions when a mother or child is in perceived danger than they would for medical intervention that may or may not be necessary. No matter how disappointed the mother may be she will, eventually, go home. The people that write the paychecks are here to stay.
Not to say that medical staff don't care about you- I truly believe that most of them do and many of them believe in "natural" or non-medicated childbirth but often, their hands are tied. Many would love nothing more than to practically support your wishes for, say, a non-medicated birth but you are one of several laboring mothers to whom they must attend -not to mention the charts and paperwork involved with each- and they simply don't have the time to offer the care and support they'd like. Often, it's that lack of continuous support that makes the mother feel more alone and therefore more fearful and less able to handle the discomfort of contractions. It's a vicious circle.


How do doulas help in a home birth setting?

-Often in a home birth setting, midwives double as doulas. The benefit to having a doula is that her work compliments that of the midwife. This allows the midwife to focus on the birth itself and give the laboring mother her best attention that way. It's truly beneficial for everyone involved because the parents feel very well supported, and the midwife can be even more effective in her role. It's a beautiful synergy- doula helping midwife, midwife helping doula and that all gets transferred to the support of mom and partner.


Anything else you'd like to add?

-When it comes down to it, doulas are all about support. Women often believe that between their partner and, say, their mother they will have all the help they need. And that may be true, but labor can often be much different than you'd pictured. Sometimes when labor is long and drawn out, your support can get pretty exhausted. Part of a doula's job is to relieve them. We make sure they eat, and we can often help to give you the continuous support you need while they get some rest. Also, there are times during labor when your mind may completely change. You may have chosen someone to help because you thought they'd be encouraging but now their presence feels more like a cheerleader at a sporting event than a birth. A doula allows you to focus on the task at hand, rather than family politics.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interview with Jessica of Breastfeeding Basics


I met Jessica online when I was researching home birth over 3 years ago, and we've been long distance buddies since. She has challenged me to question everything for myself, rather than relying on the mis-information spread by the media about such important things as health, childbirth, breastfeeding, and parenting.

She's a mother of 5 young children and her current passion is helping others breastfeed. Where previous generations all had an entire generation of women that had breastfed to draw information from, our generation doesn't have that 'motherly advice' to rely on since a lot of our mothers used formula. On top of that, lots of doctors that we have been told to look to for advice don't have the correct information about breastfeeding, and while they agree that human milk is best for human babies, a lot of bad information is passed on. Jess is working to virtually fill that mother-to-mother need to help women and babies have the solid breastfeeding relationship that they need. Visit her blog at Breastfeedingbasics.info and leave her a comment! She's happy to answer any questions that you might have in the comments too. She has my breastfeeding story up too, see it here.

First off, tell me a little bit about your 'mission' with Breastfeeding Basics

My mission is to target the most common breastfeeding issues that face women who want to breastfeed and provide the most simple, down-to-earth explanations possible. I also seek to provide a sense of community and support for mothers, because what I have found is that the biggest barrier between the mother and child in the breastfeeding relationship is the messages society gives to moms about breastfeeding. For that reason I also try to reach out to other breastfeeding activists and friends of breastfeeding in general, because if mothers don't have real life connections who are prepared to defend them against doubt, uncertainty and an overload of expectations, their chances for long term success go way down.


What do you think the biggest hindrance in America is today that keeps women and babies from having a strong breastfeeding relationship?

I believe the biggest threat would have to be the fact that breastfeeding is a lost art - and a changing one. A hundred years ago moms knew many other moms locally who were very experienced with breastfeeding and were prepared to rally around a new mom and show her the ropes. But now new mothers frequently have jobs, breast pumps and other equipment they need to use, especially if they are going to work away from the home. Even stay-at-home moms live in what we call "nuclear families" where they don't have their mom or aunt living right next door or down the hall for support or help with the household responsibilities. Most new moms have to wear many hats alone - which can be a real strain on a breastfeeding relationship.


What do you think the best thing going for America today as far as breastfeeding goes?

Right now there is a large amount of superficial support which has lead to three quarters of new mothers starting out trying to breastfeed.This is good news! But the bad news is that most people don't have a clue how challenging breastfeeding really is, so aside from the initial lip service of support at the child's birth, the support quickly fades away, leaving the mom alone to struggle. That's why most mothers who start out trying to breastfeed quickly run into troubles that lead to early weaning.

What are some tips for moms who want to breastfeed but have unsupportive family?

Educate them. A great place to start would be a blog like mine. Send them specific information that explains the challenges you are facing and what you need to succeed. Most family members are generous with their own kin and will bend over backwards to help breastfeeding succeed when they understand what is needed and how important their help really is.

(my note: This was really true with me. My husband wasn't educated about breastfeeding at all when we met, but I showed him lots and lots of information on it, and now he's very supportive. If I say that I need something (more sleep, good prenatal vitamins, etc) so that I can keep making good milk for Sam, he's all on board now)


What articles do you have that cover frequently needed information for new moms?

One of the most urgently needed bits of info for new moms is on the topic of scheduling. Scheduling used to be popular but had such poor outcomes, including early weaning, that it has since been abandoned, but your mother in law or other family members may swear by it, so check out Ezzo's Dangerous Breastfeeding Schedules

Breastpumps have a reputation for saving breastfeeding relationships that are complicated by birth emergencies, illness, or job requirements so I wrote two articles about this important subject; Choosing the Best Breastpump and Fitting Your Breastpump

I also had a friend named Dana write a wonderful encouraging article about how she used a supplimental nursing system to save her breastfeeding relationship with her son Silas and increase her milk supply at the same time. Supplemental Nursing System aka SNS And I put a follow up to that promoting my favorite SNS by Medella - Medela Supplemental Nursing System (SNS)

As a community, there are many other great articles by moms who breastfed their babies and share their joys with us, as well as interviews and resources from lactation professionals.

In fact, there's so much good stuff with pictures and video, I don't have the time to create article links to it all - plus, I am constantly adding new content. So you're invited to come on over and send any friends you think may be interested, as well.

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Baby Eczema


cotton clothing, rather than synthetics like polyester (including fleece!), helps clear up baby eczema

My second baby, a boy, started having dry patches of skin when he was a couple weeks old. By a month old it was many patches of dry rough skin on his tummy that I was pretty sure were eczema. Thankfully they didn't get bad and oozy, and didn't seem to bother him that much. But they did bother me. As is our standard operating procedure, we don't rush to the doctor for non life threatening things, but rather do a little research on our own first.

First I googled his symptoms and became relatively sure that it was in fact eczema. Then after reading about conventional treatments (steroids! No thanks!) I started looking into what more gentle holistic methods there were.

WebMD's Eczma page (has a picture)

I've become a fan of holistic medicine since I've learned that it's focus is on finding the root of the problem rather than just covering up or treating symptoms. Even many holistic methods, though, are too 'symptom oriented' for me, meaning that they are treating symptoms rather than the actual problem. I didn't want to just treat the patches of dry skin with moisturizers, or colloidal silver. I wanted to get to the root of the problem, so I looked around a little more.

I already knew that my kids got diaper rashes from synthetic (microfiber) cloth diapers, and it looked like eczema could be exacerbated by synthetics as well. Many websites will tell you to avoid wool as well, but we were fine with nice soft wool and hand knits. Commercially available sweaters, though, are often treated with harsh chemicals that may irritate baby's sensitive skin.

Luke warm baths were supposed to help for comfort, so I did that in our bucket tub.

Eczema, I learned, is an autoimmune response, like allergies. I already knew that my side of the family has a milk allergy, so I eliminated that first. I was really strict for a week, until all the eczema went away, and then I gradually started adding a little back in here and there (butter on my toast, etc). During that time, I added a bunch of coconut milk to my diet, which may have helped as well.

Some more links. Can you tell I enjoy research?

Elimination diet for breastfeeding mothers to try to clear up baby's eczema. If the dairy didn't work, I was going to try coffee next. Glad I didn't have to ~grin~

Coconut milk
may help, this article is about topical coconut oil application, but it also mentions that an abundance of omega 6s may flare up eczema. Coconut milk is rich in omega 3s, which is thought to not cause inflammation.

That worked for us, so I wanted to share. I'm always happy to be able to clear things up for my family on my own without using harsh pharmaceuticals. Of course, you have to make your own decisions for your family and this is just what worked for us, isn't at all medical advice.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Mastitis: Treatments, symptoms, and causes



I had been fortunate enough to avoid getting so much as a plugged duct in my first 2-1/2 years of breastfeeding experience (I nursed my first child through my second pregnancy). Then a few weeks ago I got mastitis, which is really as awful as I had heard it was.

On Saturday I had the vague sensation that If felt like I was getting sick, and I had a little lump and fullness in one breast. Since we share a car, I get most everything out of the house done on the weekends anyway, so I did my costco/health food store/post office/library run as usual, came home, and told hubby that I was going to try and go to bed earlier tonight. By dinner time I moved that up to 'I'm going to bed when the two-year-old does', but before 7:00 came around, I had come to terms that I had mastitis. Bummer.

I already knew the warning signs:
Plugged duct- it feels like a little mass within the breast
Warmth and redness, usually in a wedge shape with the tip pointing toward the nipple
Pain and swelling
Flu-like symptoms; fever, chills, nausea

Fun stuff. I'm a total wimp when it comes to fever/chills, and since I do need to remain somewhat coherent in order to nurse my baby, I took a couple Tylenol to see if it would get rid of those symptoms. It didn't, so I took some amoxacillin that I had left over from a sinus infection that turned out to be viral (antibiotics don't work on viral infections, only bacterial).

Antibiotic treatment:
I'm normally someone who will wait out an infection before resorting to antibiotics, but I had a little brain fart and the medical scare tactics got to me, and I decided I'd use antibiotics since it had to do with milk for my baby, and I didn't want to lose my ability to make milk. It responded well to the antibiotics, so I thought that I could go get a new prescription at the walk in clinic the next day. Nope, they wouldn't give it to me even though the mastitis was responding to it, they gave me cephalexin, that didn't work. It moved over to the left side on Tuesday night, when I took my remaining amoxacillin to get stuff back under control. Went back in on Wednesday, where they checked my white counts, they were fine, and then gave me dicloxacillin, which I was allergic to. By Thursday (when I discovered I was allergic to the dicloxacillin) I was also throughly irritated with the mainstream medicine and decided to be a little more persistent with using the natural remedies that I had heard of. The natural remedies ended up working really well, though I don't know if my 1-day's dose of 3 different antibiotics did jumpstart the process.

Natural remedies:
~Of course have the baby nurse, though mine is 8 months and crawling and not at all interested in nursing for any longer than absolutely necessary. And he bites if I try and 'encourage' it. So we just nursed the normal amount.
~Tea tree oil topically. This is what 'cured' it for me. When I stopped taking the antibiotics I started applying the tea tree oil at regular intervals, every few hours, and again if I woke up at night. 'Topically' is putting it right on the affected area. My tea tree oil had a dropper top, and I poured 15-20 drops right on the top every few hours. Be liberal. You'll smell like tea tree oil (I don't love how it smells) but it's natural and inexpensive. Just about any health food store will have it, I think I bought mine from Mountain Rose Herbs a few years back for $4 or right around that amount.
~ Topical iodine may help break up the fatty 'clot' that's plugging the duct. I didn't try this, didn't have iodine.
~Have the baby nurse with his chin pointing toward the affected area. For me that meant using the football hold, which was amusing to do with a 21-pound 8 month old who had never nursed like this before. Lots of giggles on his end, glad to amuse someone ~grin~. For some, if the affected area is on the top of the breast, this could mean nursing laying down with baby's feet way up over your head. If it gets the infection to drain, you do what you have to do. I had read that this doesn't work for all women, since sometimes ducts wind around and come out different areas on the nipple. But since it's easy and free, it's worth a shot. It did work well for me, I could feel the infection drain a bit after each nursing session like this. Kellymom has lots and lots of information about how you really do need to keep nursing during mastitis, it will not harm your child at all.
~Boosting supply: My milk supply is finicky; stress or sickness will reduce the amount of milk I make quickly. I can tell because the baby starts thrashing at the breast, or biting, when they normally would nurse contentedly. If I'm going to have issues, they normally happen in the evening. At one point, I was even pumping in the morning so that I could feed my first expressed milk in the evening when I didn't have as much milk. I know this, and I started taking Traditional Medicinals Mother's Milk Tea right away. My body responds really well to this, I knew it would get the milk flowing and keep my supply up for my little boy. I made it into sun tea since it was July and pretty warm to be boiling water. The fenugreek in the nursing mother's tea is what boosts supply (but it doesn't work in all women). The only side effect that I've found is that it gives me a lot more foremilk, and thus turns the baby's poops green. Green poops in a breastfed baby usually mean that they're not getting enough fatty hind milk (the thicker milk that comes out at the end, when the breast is nearly drained) and can give them a little upset stomach and make them more fussy than usual. For this reason, I only take the mother's milk tea when I think it's necessary.
~ Lots of water is important for milk production, and you want to keep your milk production up to help clear out the infection, and of course for the baby.
~ Vitamin C. I take vitamin C, usually EmergenC, though I haven't looked at the ingredients closely, when I'm sick. Our immune function depends on vitamin C to work, though I don't know of an excess amount of vitamin C actually helping immune function so excess isn't necessary. You just don't want a deficiency to limit your immune system.
~Going braless is recommended to keep any pressure off the ducts. I wore a vest over my shirt. In July. You do what you have to do ;)
~ Hot showers can help dislodge the plugged duct and draw out infection. I tried this and it didn't seem to work. My boy isn't too thrilled about me taking long showers, though, so I didn't put a whole lot of effort into it. I also read that soaping up a wide-toothed comb and 'combing' the infection out by putting pressure downward towards the nipple can help.
~ Sleep/rest. I had my husband take a day off work to help with the toddler. I've been bad about getting enough sleep lately, either because I'm so excited to be able to get things done when both kids are asleep at the same time that I can't sleep, or because they're not asleep at the same time, so I can't sleep. I'm working on this, since it's important that I not be sickly and run down so I can be a better mama and wife.

I highly suspect that the reason I got mastitis was because I wasn't getting enough sleep and was doing quite a bit of physical activity. We recently got a double jogging stroller, and I've been enjoying this nice summer weather by taking two walks a day, a couple miles each. I don't think that the walks themselves did it, but coupled with my lack of sleep (I've been getting 7 hours a night, where I normally require about 8-9) I think it just ran me down too much. I see some women who are just chronically tired; baggy eyes, run down, low energy. I've never been like that, I tend toward going along just fine and then, wham, getting unable-to-get-out-of-bed sick. In school I used to get sick like this after finals almost every time.

So, as much as I'd like to be like some people who function well on 5-6 hours of sleep, I just need to admit that I personally need more sleep than that. There's no glory or pride in going going going until I crash.

I'm sure there are other mothers out there who have had mastitis battles. What worked for you? What didn't?

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Affordable Organic Lunch Meat


I finally got around to weighing my bowl that I keep my crockpot chicken lunch meat in so that once it's all picked off the bones I could figure out my price per pound.

My bowl is 2 lbs 3.5 ounces, and after it was filled with one chicken's worth of meat it was 3 lbs 13.5 ounces. Yielding 1 lb, 10 ounces, right? They come in a package of 2, this package was 21.35, so 21.35/2~ 10.60 for 26 ounces of meat.

That's 0.40 cents an ounce, comparable with the regular prepared nitrate-laden lunch meat in our local grocery store.

Do some of you do 'price books' to keep track of costs at your grocery store? Meredith at Like Merchant Ships explains what a price book is here. I've tried them at various times, but I am better able to save money by just simplifying my life and generally buying the same thing month-to-month. But I do pay attention to the price per pound/ounce at the store, when comparing the value of what I'm buying, though not necessary in price-book format. For example, the frozen blueberries at Costco are a bit more per ounce than the frozen mixed berries, so we usually just choose the mixed berries and have mixed berry muffins rather than plain blueberries. Fruit I keep under $2/pound, and I compare the price per ounce on cheese. How about you?

More:
How I simplify our menus and grocery shopping
Making stock from the chicken bones to use throughout the week
Have a baby? Pregnant? Just curious? This week I'm doing a bunch of baby posts!

This post is going to be a part of next week's Pennywise Platter Thursdays at The Nourishing Gourmet, Real Food Wednesday, and Fight Back Friday

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Homemade Oatmeal Bars


I'm becoming quite dependent on our real fast food; the Clif-type bars that I've been making to grab on the run. This week they are just soaked steel cut oats, dried apricots, soaked almonds, and sea salt.

I was going to write down measurements for you, but lost track of them. We started with 3-1/2 cups steel cut oats from our health food store's bulk bins, and added water and a tablespoon of whey to soak overnight (see my soaked bread recipe here, same idea). I soaked almonds overnight as well. All my previous bars had used dried rolled oats as the base, so I wasn't sure how these would work, since the oats started out moist.

I ended up having to do 2 batches in the food processor, the 3-1/2 cups oats after soaking expanded quite a bit. I put half the oats in, added some of the soaked (but not baked yet) almonds and whirled that in the food processor. Added in sea salt and then dried apricots, about a cup. Oiled a 9x13 pyrex with coconut oil, spread the mixture in with a spatula, baked at 300 for an hour. These are more moist than my other 'homemade clif bars' but good. Nice and filling. Again, we cut them into bars and put in snack sized ziplocks. I'm keeping them in the fridge (I think they'd go bad if I didn't) in the meat and cheese drawer.

These might just fit into The Nourishing Gourmet's Oatmeal Challenge, since we'll certainly be eating them every day, though for a snack not a meal.

Other posts of interest:
Why soak grains? See how we soak our wheat flour to make whole wheat bread more digestible
A Homemade Clif Bar Recipe, using rolled oats.
Another healthy real food snack, crispy almonds

And I'm going to be doing a maternity/baby week next week. I don't want to focus too much on babies all the time, since not everyone is at that stage in life right now. But there is some information I'd like to get out there about birthing, breastfeeding, and babies, so I'll just try and cram it all into one week. Hope to see you there!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Orange Juice Millet Porridge


I heard about this millet porridge when I was a nanny, and updated it to make it more digestible (and it is!) by soaking overnight with a dab of whey.

Orange juice isn't recommended in either The Maker's Diet or Nourishing Traditions, but I think it's okay because it's not taken in huge quantities. The flavor is nice and different.

Overnight soak:
3/4 cup millet (I bought mine in bulk)
1-1/2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon whey (or skip if you don't have it)
2 tablespoons OJ concentrate. I used Great Value (Walmart brand). See, I'm not hard core about this whole eating thing am I?

I turned it on medium-low and cooked covered about 30 minutes. Added a good amount of butter (I still need to do a 'fat' post, but those informational posts take a long time... Here's one from Sally Fallon) and a drizzle of the last of the maple syrup. Ate with some scrambled omega 3 eggs.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

home made natural deoderant with baking soda, coconut oil, and rosemary oil

I'd read somewhere about people using baking soda and coconut oil as a natural deodorant. I'd been hanging on to an empty Toms Of Maine Lavender deodorant container for whenever I got around to figuring out how to make my own. I did a few days ago, and I was surprised at how well it worked. Here's what I did:


Coconut oil from Walmart, because I sure didn't want to put expensive cold pressed organic coconut oil on my armpits. But coconut oil does have antimicrobial properties and is a solid oil, making it good for deodorant.

Rosemary oil because I kept forgetting to order lavender essential order when I ordered anything from an online health food store, and I sure was not interested in paying the $7.99 it cost at our local health food store (online it's about $3-4 for half an ounce). So I settled on rosemary essential oil at $3.79 for 1/3 of an ounce. Rosemary has a slightly medicinal smell, which works well in a deoderant. The only other oils I had at home were eucalyptus, orange, lemon, camphor, and tea tree, all which I thought would smell odd in my underarms.

*Note: It's said that Rosemary oil in excessive quantities may harm a pregnancy, so you need to make your own decision about this if you're pregnant. I'm pretty sure that Lavender oil is generally considered safe, but please do your own research. I don't really think that this is an excessive amount, but you want to research anyway and see what you're comfortable with.


I put about 3/4 a cup of baking soda in a bowl, melted come coconut oil, and mixed the melted coconut oil and 30 drops of rosemary oil in until it was mixed through. I thought that by melting the coconut oil I'd get a firmer deoderant stick once it set up.

Backed out the deoderant tube. Didn't bother cleaning the dab of Tom's left in the bottom, just left it there.
Filled it with the baking soda mixture and tapped the bottom on the counter to get all the bubbles out.
Let it sit over night to harden up, and it did.

It's soft still, so I just raised it up a little bit to use it and didn't press hard. It worked really well for me, better than the Tom's. I thought it might leave residue because it's baking soda, especially on a dark shirt, but I didn't notice any and I wore a more tight fitting dark navy tee shirt just to see how bad it would be.

I'm happy with it and glad I tried it out.

Related posts:
Tooth Care
Hair Care

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Do You Like Green Eggs and Toast?

Tired of hearing about Costco? Montana doesn't have a ton of health food that's within our budget, so I get most of it from Costco. I thought they only sold caged pale white conventional eggs 5 dozen at a time. Found out that for a little over $3 you can get 18 'Omega 3' eggs. Tried them to see if they were any better, and they were. The yolks were nice and yellow.
Scrambled with some perfectly ripe avacado.
Green eggs and soaked wheat toast.


I've been 'cheating' and giving my almost 9-month-old some avacado. He loves it.

(how we -in general- do baby food)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

homemade clif bars recipe

I did these again, and even measured for you. And left out the chocolate to make them really real food. They're good, and best of all they're filling enough to be an easy substantial snack. Nutrition info at the end of the post.

Ingredients:
4 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups crispy pecans (I suppose regular pecans could work too, I just had these)
1-1/2 cup dates packed, approx 15 large ones (see below)
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons grade B maple syrup (I would think that honey would work as well)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Blend in food processor in order listed above. Press into a 8x8 or 9x9 pan, bake at 325 degrees 30 minutes. Allow to cool for a bit, then cut into bars. Allow to cool completely before packaging.


Crispy pecans
mixture of pecans and oats. Sorry it's blurry, but I like to see the pictures of consistency when I read recipes that are made in the food processor
Pitted dates. I got these from Costco, they're soft and whole. I had to take the pits out. I've seen, for lack of a better description, date pellets before that are pretty hard and don't have the pits. If you have those, I'd pour boiling water over them in a bowl, let sit for an hour or so, drain, and then measure out 1-1/2 cups so they add the moisture.
date/oat/pecan mixture
after adding the wet ingredients

Using a calorie counter online, cut into 12 bars, each bar has:

243 calories total
81 calories from fat
9 g fat
2.2 g saturated fat
36.3 g carbohydrate
5.1 g dietary fiber
14.3 g sugar (no refined sugar though)
7.2 g protein

Too low in protein and fat to be a good breakfast on it's own, but I made these for snacks, and I think they're just fine for that, for our family at least. I gave my toddler 1/2 of one for a snack today, and it seemed to hold her for a while.

Related posts:
About home made Clif Bars
Improving a biscotti recipe



Works for me...

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stevia sweetened Iced Tea

We've been using stevia to sweeten our iced tea for a refreshing afternoon drink. I haven't had diet Pepsi in well over 3 years, but I *still* crave one almost every afternoon. This is my real foods substitute.

I like a variety of herbal teas to mix it up a bit. This is Traditional Medicinals Mother's Milk tea, chai, and Tangerine Orange. In the morning I put one of each tea bag in a quart mason jar, fill with filtered water, and set on the south-facing porch. By noon it's ready. The stevia sweetens a LOT, one packet is plenty for the whole jar's worth of tea. We got this stevia at Walmart of all places.

I had tried stevia in my coffee and seriously I had to dump it down the drain. It's a sweet taste, but it isn't the same as sugar (now I use a little coconut milk in my coffee). I find it works well to sweeten bread if I want to skip the honey, and I like it in the tea, but definitely test a little bit before using it in a huge batch of something to make sure you like it.

I don't like doing a bunch at once since it takes up too much room in my fridge. So daily works for me.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Make-Ahead Nourishing Dinners for a busy week

(Birthday sewing. Because long rambly posts
are better with pictures, even if rather unrelated)


I've got a big doll order right now, so I'm trying to get everything caught up so I can sew next week. In addition to getting the laundry and cleaning completely done, I try to have at least a few dinners mostly done when I know I'm going to sew. I'd rather work on it all now than have us running out of clean laundry half way through my sewing project, with a huge mound to tackle after.

So here's my make-ahead plan for next week, which I'm attempting to have completed by the end of the weekend.

Make- ahead Snacks:
Fake Clif bars
Muffins
Cookies

Make-ahead other:
2 loaves of whole wheat bread
4 sandwiches (2 days' lunch for all of us)


*make ahead

Monday: Chicken*, rice*, *egg, veggie stir fry
I'll just fry the rice in the pan before adding the other already-cooked ingredients. Easy one-pan/one bowl meal

Tuesday:
Veggie/turkey sausage Pizza*

Wednesday:
Bean* and Rice* Burritos (cook both this and Monday's rice together, add salsa to the burritos. Beans are bulk, organic, cooked in the crock pot and also re-fried in the crock pot)

Thursday:
Waffles* (pre-make batter, add eggs before cooking), fruit smoothies, turkey sausage

Friday:
Pizza*

The more I learn, the more strange I become:

Brushing teeth with soap

Washing hair with baking soda and vinegar (I'm still loving this- tried shampoo one day and my hair was frizz frizz frizz until I washed it with baking soda again)

Using cloth pads (though not real often. Yay for lactational amenorrhea)


this is as part of Menu Plan Monday

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Natural bedding


After my baby daughter woke up covered in hives after sleeping on an unwrapped conventional crib mattress for the first time, I was shaken enough to spend some money on natural bedding for the kids at least. Both my kids have natural wool/cotton mattresses in their cribs and next on my list of things to buy was natural pillows for hubby and I. We want to buy a natural mattress for our bed too, especially since my babies sleep in bed with us while they're little, but since it's so costly, we wanted to start with pillows to reduce the toxins that we breathe in at night.

I was tickled when CSNmattress.com contacted me recently to see if I'd like to try any of their products. I looked around at their great selection of natural bedding and saw that they have quite a few natural pillows to choose from. They offered to let me try the Sealy 309X, so I am. I'll let you know!

I've been looking around because buying a new mattress is such a big purchase, and I love seeing that natural mattresses are becoming more popular like this natural crib mattress.

Where are your priorities for reducing toxins in the home? I'd love to hear about them.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Make Your Own Kid's Cliff Bar

I know that packaged name-brand food isn't a good use of our money. The markup on packaged foods is high because of the packaging, marketing, and distribution, which means a lot of your grocery money is going out but not a whole lot of food value is coming in. But I know that without something quick to grab on our way out the door, sometimes we'll never actually make it out the door.

So I picked up these Clif Bars for Kids at Costco last week. They worked out to about 43 cents a bar, and they're small. Nutritionally they're not absolutely horrid for you, but they do contain soy (but it's not the main part of the bar and it's GMO free). A friend and I were talking about how pricey, but easy, healthy energy bars are and we were talking about how we could make our own. She suggested under baking them so they stay chewy. That was what I needed to hear, all my past granola bar attempts had been rock hard, so I was hesitant to try again.

I cheated and looked at the back of the package.
Organic rolled oats, organic oat flour, organic brown rice syrup, organic tapioca syrup, organic honey, organic soy butter, organic evaporated cane juice syrup, organic oat fiber, organic milled flax seed, baking soda, salt
decided to skip attempting to make these with soaked grain, and just dumped a bunch of rolled oats in the food processor. Added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I know!), some grade B maple syrup for sweetness/stickiness, crispy pecans, enough coconut milk to hold it all together (not much, maybe 1/4 cup), and a few grinds of sea salt. Pressed it into a buttered 9x13" Pyrex and baked at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Cut into bars with a pizza cutter.

They turned out a tiny bit crumbly, so I'm going to try to add dates next time to see if I can firm them up a little bit. I really want these to be solid enough to eat on the run without getting crumbs all over, but also not sticky. They are nice the right texture and sweetness, though, so that's a good start. Packaged in those 'snack size' ziplocks and kept in the fridge, these are much cheaper and almost as easy as those Kid Clif Bars.

I'll actually measure next time and post a real recipe when I get it to turn out how I want it, but if you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and see what you can do!


Updated to add link to recipe & nutrition information:
Homemade Clif Bars


For more cost-saving time-saving food, check out these past posts:

Lactofermented veggies to keep veggies from spoiling in the fridge

Make your own yogurt without any special equipment

Potentially save on dentist bills with a holistic approach to dentistry

Do-it-yourself organic chicken lunch meat for a fraction of the cost

This post is a part of Pennywise Platters Thursdays.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reheating Leftovers without a microwave

The only thing I missed about our microwave when we got rid of it nearly 3 years ago was reheating leftovers. Little plastic tupperwares full of steamy yesterday's food, in 45 seconds. I've adapted, and like making fermented wheat bread, it's worth the wait to do it right.

I stopped using the microwave because we're just not convinced of the safety of it. So many things that were 'proven' safe in our culture were really rammed through sketchy safety tests prematurely, in the spirit of greed. And later they are found to have been harmful, after they have already affected many many lives.

I had leftovers, mostly meat, from the shepherd's pie last week that I wanted to eat for lunch.

We put some butter in a stainless steel skillet, added our pressed garlic (this is the garlic press I have) , then added our meat over medium heat.

Next I put my stir fry veggies in, covered, and allowed to heat through for about 15 minutes.
A side note: That huge tub of peeled garlic that's available from Costco goes bad in the fridge in about a week, and even if you use a lot of garlic that's a lot to use in a week. But, if you keep it in your freezer, it's still easily pressable and stays good for a long time. I thought the freezer might turn it into little rock-hard garlic pellets, but it doesn't.

This Real Food works for me!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tooth Soap Update

I bought the kids tooth brushes at the health food store, since I was determined to find ones that didn't have a character on them, and everywhere else had characters on them. Sorry, don't want Dora in my bathroom ;)


I've been using tooth soap (researched and wrote about it here, other dental posts here) for about a month, and have passed a tube on to a friend to try too. I honestly love it and I don't plan on going back to other regular tooth pastes ever.

At first I was really surprised at how it wasn't as soapy as I was expecting. I even brush my tongue with it now. It is still soap, but not nearly as soapy as I thought it would be. My toddler doesn't mind it either, I use it to brush her teeth too.

It leaves my teeth feeling so so clean, and since the remineralization process seems to essentially be from your God-made saliva working on clean teeth, I really think this tooth soap will help completely clean off the teeth to allow the saliva to do it's job. Glycerin, commonly found in natural tooth pastes is said to leave a coating on the teeth that lasts for a long time, and may inhibit the saliva from actually getting to the teeth themselves.

I'm able to tell if I missed any spots when brushing easily too, they feel different. I did end up switching to a softer tooth brush, which works better at not leaving any unbrushed spots. I usually buy soft bristled brushes, but maybe the one I was using was a medium? I just got the soft one from Shopko, nothing fancy, and it made a big improvement.

I try to remember to not eat anything for a while after brushing to give my saliva time to work uninterrupted on my teeth. I have the hardest time remembering to do this, especially in the morning. I brush after I finish my coffee and breakfast, and then at least half the time I catch myself eating part of an apple that I'm cutting up for my toddler, or cutting off a piece of a muffin that's sitting out on the counter - within an hour of brushing my teeth. And before bed... by the time the stars are all aligned (dog has gone out, baby is changed, dishwasher is started...) and I'm ready to go to bed, I'm embarassed to admit that way too often I completely forget to brush my teeth. I'm working on this.

I've also noticed that my teeth are more sensative if I drink more coffee. One cup in the morning doesn't seem to make a difference, but if I have another iced coffee in the afternoon, my teeth seem a little more sensative that night and the next day. In Nourishing Traditions Sally Fallon mentions that coffee can deplete calcium and cause osteoperosis. I'm attempting to cut back on coffee, but I'm not planning on giving it up completely any time soon.

When I was at the dentist last, he said I had quite a few surface cavities. On the way home from errands one day I was feeling around with my fingernail and at the gumline of each 'bottom eye tooth' I felt a little cavity and had a little pain when I would run my fingernail over it. Since using tooth soap for a month I can still feel an indentation with my nail, but there is no pain. Hmmm. To me this is a sign that it's working, I'm curious to see if the cavities fill in completely over the next year.

Does anyone else use tooth soap? What do you think?

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Gratituesday



What are you thankful for? I've seen this pop up over at Heavenly Homemakers, and I finally have a chance to do a post. The beginning of the week is busy over here, and I have a harder time doing regular posts on Monday and Tuesday.


Lots to be thankful for here. Baby toes (and the baby who they belong to). Toddler hugs. Access to clean filtered tap water. The ability to go feed my family a variety of healthy fresh food without traveling more than 30 minutes. The car that can get us to and from the store. The double stroller so we can get fresh air and exercise. My little girl's sweet curls. Watching my children interact with each other now. My hubby going out in the heat and working hard to support our family. Great friends that encourage and inspire. Email correspondence with Grandma, who enjoys me gushing about my sweet family as much as I do. Disposable diapers for when I am running behind. A safe neighborhood to walk in. Big coffee cups. Having been blessed so much that we can share with others.

What makes you happy today?

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8/3/09

Picture of a post-clean out section. Mostly. Notice the Christmas decorations up on top of the cabinet and the mass of books in no particular order on the bottom right. And the guitar that was being used as a weapon up top as well. This would be many people's 'before' clean out pic... but for me it's an after...


I'm still cleaning out, at a rate I never have before. Getting things out that we will use in the future, even hand made things. I was on an apron kick for a while, and I have 7 aprons of various child and mama sizes in my pantry. One for me, one for the toddler that fits her right now is plenty. I do believe that I'll still have the ability to sew aprons in a few years when she out grows hers, and someone else could be blessed by them now, rather than having them sit there waiting for us. Got rid of a spare car seat (we can just move the ones we have back and forth), the single stroller (we have a double jogging stroller now). Do I need both the baby bjorn bouncer and the jumparoo thing that hangs from the doorway? I think one will do (we're keeping the bouncer). Freecycle has become my friend, as well as the local consignment and rescue mission thrift stores.

More cleaning out means less cleaning and moving around of *stuff*, which means more time for my sweet family, more time cooking fun meals, and more time enjoying the outdoors.

Anyway, on to the menu plan. It's still quick meals, since I'm spending most of my time getting rid of stuff.

Monday: Chicken and rice stir fry with those cool already chopped frozen stir fry veggies from Costco. Loved Food Renegade's post about how organic produce is one of the lowest priorities for our food budget. I'm using organic chicken and organic brown rice (both from Costco, we don't have a Trader Joe's here, but Costco does pretty well)

Tuesday: Pizza- I'll try to get my dough recipe up this week. I used soaked wheat for it before and it turned out really well, but hubby really prefers it with unbleached white flour.

Wednesday: Burritos, beans and rice and lactofermented peppers, avacado, tomatoes from my little plants that actually didn't end up being hit too hard by the grasshoppers

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner: Scrambled eggs, beef sausage patties, hollidase sauce over soaked whole wheat english muffins. Fruit salad from all the awesome fresh fruit that's out right now.

Friday: Pizza again, with stir fry veggies cooked in garlic butter

More menu plans over here this week

~~
I want to do a 'baby week' this month some time. I have an interview to post from Jess at Breastfeeding Basics, an interview with a Doula friend about childbirth, then there's my post about how we do baby food, I just got mastitis for the first time I guess it was 2 weeks ago now, and after trying both mainstream and natural remidies, the natural ones worked way better, so I'll talk about that. And I'd like to do a list of links of things to be aware of that aren't commonly taught in childbirth education classes. I didn't want to focus this blog on babies too much, so I think I'll just cram it all into one week.

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