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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Attachment Parenting Toolbelt

Happy Mother's Day!

At 15 months, we're still mostly breastfeeding, spending at least a couple hours in a wrap a day (sometimes many more), and co-sleeping most of the nighttime. How do we do it? There are a few things about this that make everything easier, and a few things we do that make our parenting style easier, too.

Must-have's
  • So much patience. Creativity. Willingness to communicate. I do my best to tell our lil fella what's going on, why it matters, and why the rules are (usually) about keeping him safe. Sometimes this is hard in the moment, but we still talk about it afterwards if not immediately. His understanding is constantly growing and I like to think it makes our job easier later.
  • "Woolies:" For cosleeping, we like disana (german made) wool shorts to keep baby's diapers from getting our bed wet/poopy. (They also keep him warm even if he's wet, which is a great boon because these days a wet diaper may not wake him.) I bought them extra big just in case I accidentally shrunk them, and since they're one of our baby dude's most expensive accessories, I bought them large enough that we may not have to get another pair down the road. I'll talk more about these in a separate post.
  • Separate "cuddle" space for me and hubby to get together.
  • Lightweight blankets for bed. We also think our memory foam pillows help to make it safer to cosleep.
  • 15 feet of fabric to wrap the baby in with me for fussy/tired/teething times. We like girasol, didymos, moby wraps & still use our Ergo carrier lots!  We have multiple wraps in case one gets wet/poopy/food/etc.
  • IKEA nightlights - LED color change with a three click on/stay/off so that we can see him for nighttime diapers and easy on/off plus holds charge for several days at a time so it can come to bed with us. (and in the car for road trips)
  • High-chair in the kitchen! This has made it so much easier for me to get things done while also making the baby dude happy. He loves to be up high enough to see what I'm doing, and he doesn't even have to be eating- water play, kitchen "tools," and playing with food are good, too.
  • Drawing table/snack table with paper, crayons, some fruit & veggies in bite size pieces (or hand size depending on mushiness)

Must-do's:
  • Relax, take a breath and ask: "is there any need to intervene right now?"
  • Relax, take a breath and ask: "do i really need to do anything right now besides just being available, sitting on the floor?" Our little fella totally loves when we come to his level, much like a cat or a dog who wants to be close to their people. (This is a great time to do yoga!!!)
  • Lots of time/space for baby to play outdoors and to explore nature. He's so relaxed after daily outside time, and a great sleeper. 
  • Be sure you're taking care of your own needs. (This advice is crucial for mamas & papas, too!) Get enough rest. The rule of "sleep when baby sleeps" still applies, but is a little less important these days. Drink ample water, especially if you're nursing! This is a great example to set for your little one, too.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Part II - Woodseal for Easter Egg Craft Project

So the eggs are painted and the color is nice, but when we handled them (baby found them and carried them around, then grandma picked them up, too) we got a bit of dye on our hands. Luckily, the dye is "food safe," though I don't think any of us eat colored foods.

It's time to seal the eggs, and complete the project! Grandma found some natural beeswax at the store and we mixed one part shaved beeswax to four parts olive oil. The process was awesome! I hope to do it again, and next time will take pictures all the way through. This time I just have an end photo. You'll notice a couple took color waaaay better than the others. I think this was due to better sanding from the start. The worst looking, the green and blue were only sanded after the first coats of color were applied, and seem to have more blemishes than the others as well as the machining rings.



I mixed one ounce of shaved beeswax to four ounces of olive oil. I heated them double boiler style on the stove until they blended fully. It didn't take long. In fact, the water barely had begun to steam. I'd read the beeswax would require 150 degrees, which I like because I'm pretty sure olive oil retains its beneficial properties until somewhere around 220 degrees. (We don't use olive oil for cooking when our cooking requires hotter temps, preferring coconut oil, butter, or ghee.)

Then I just stirred and scraped the edges of the metal bowl for about five or ten minutes until it was thick like a salve. It was quite cold out, so I put it on the edge of the porch and watched it thicken almost instantly. This was partially due to a fussy, teething baby who I thought would enjoy some outdoor time. By the way, he was in our Girasol baby wrap just about the whole time until it was finished- safer & comfy for him, easier for the adults.

This was so easy & so aromatic! I ended up rubbing it on the baby's knees (he still crawls often enough to have rough little knees) and my hands, then on my feet and his hands. We rubbed it into grandma's wooden spoons, her meat mallet, and her cutting boards. We also got it all over her wooden floors and quartz countertops. Oops! Maybe a better project to do at our place next time. Hopefully there will be a next time. I totally loved making wood seal out of olive oil and beeswax.

One final note: When we started I just assumed pouring boiled water over the cheese grater would remove the beeswax. I'm lucky, because this wasn't my grater and there was beeswax stuck all over from me rubbing them together to shave it. It totally was melted off with boiling water, so if you're planning the process, use metal implements and boiling water to ease clean up.

Okay, here's the recipe/required tools to do it the way we did:

Food-Grade Wood Sealing Compound of Beeswax and Olive Oil

One ounce beeswax
Four ounces olive oil
Grating tool- we used a cheese grater, and I was surprised to find that the easiest part to use was the slicing tool in the middle instead of the fine or large shred sections.
Small stainless steel bowl (mine had tall, flat sides, which was super convenient for scraping along them as it cooled)
Small cooking pot
Stirring implement(s) - I liked a chopstick for stirring while it heated and a wooden spoon for cooling
Jar to transfer the finished product into

Add enough water to your cooking pot to meet the level of the oil & wax inside the small bowl.

Stir if you like until the wax is fully melted in the oil. I don't think stirring is necessary, but it was fun.

Transfer out of the cooking pot, allowing that water to continue to boil to clean the grater, if necessary. Keep the wax/oil compound in the steel bowl to cool.

Allow it to cool, stirring occasionally and scraping the sides.

Transfer to a jar for storage. All finished! :)

Rub on wooden toys, cooking tools, cutting boards, furniture, etc.
***Be advised: Test a small patch first. Be sure you like the result.***



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hand-Painted Easter Eggs - Wooden Craft Project

I made something for our little fella again, and this was such a fun project I wanted to share it.




I had been thinking of getting him a set of plain wooden eggs for a couple months, since he loves the plastic egg set one of his grandmothers gave us. It is pretty neat, featuring different shapes and colors inside the egg halves which challenge him to match them up. They are great, but they are plastic, and as I've previously blogged, I challenge myself to limit our plastic toy exposure. With that said, I am pretty sure we still wouldn't get rid of the plastic eggs unless we had a wooden version of the same sort. They're just too cool.


So, new eggs! I looked on Etsy (my go-to for a hand-crafted toy store) and found that the plain eggs were $18/6 eggs. I didn't want to pay that much. :/

Then recently I found six eggs for $5 in a craft store and I totally bought them. I was thrilled. I'm not sure what they're made of, but I know it would be hard for him to really gnaw on the egg shape, so I don't feel too worried about splinters, etc.

I found another blog where someone painted her eggs and then coated them with food-grade polish, and I set out to do the same.

I mixed some food coloring with a few drops of water and used a paint brush to apply blue and green to the first two eggs. They looked atrocious. They were stripey from the machining that made them round, and spotted from blemishes from poor packaging. I realized I'd have to add a step and sand all the eggs before I proceeded.

If you're going to do this, I highly recommend doing a little sanding first.

Then, painting the color on is fairly easy- I just applied it liberally and allover the egg, smoothing the color on and watching absorb, then applying more until I liked the color.

They looked great!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

First "Paleo" Birthday Party

The hubby and I have radically changed our diets in the last few years. This year we're mostly eating fruits and veggies, plus some dairy and eggs. More on this in a separate post.

Our birthday party/brunch was different than any we'd attended before because we really wanted to keep our healthy diets. Here's how we did it and still made (hopefully) crowd-pleasing snacks:

We planned to serve fruit salad, "eggy muffins," veggie sticks with homeade hummus and paté, and salad. No crackers, breads, grain-based muffins, cookies, cakes, etc... it felt really funny to my raised-in-the-South mentality of entertaining, but the food we served was nutritious and delicious. (well, that was the plan anyway. Do read on. :)

We made a fruit salad the night before and mixed honey, orange juice and a dash of cardamom into it. The fruit salad was just four fruits, but other additions would have been fine. We used bananas, oranges, apples, and pineapple. We made a big salad bowl and had just about all of it left- or so it seemed. Everyone at some, but we might make a smaller one next time. On the other hand, we had it for several days thereafter, so it was fine to have extra.

The "eggy" muffins are one of my favorites for a go-to protein snack or quickie breakfast. They are made of just a few ingredients and without any measuring! 
I mix the following in a bowl:  about a quarter cup or so of flax, 5 or 6 eggs, a pinch of dulse (seaweed) flakes, some fresh-frozen & cooked spinach (squeezing water out first!), then pour it over a layer of oven cooked potato cubes (like hashbrowns) in the bottom of each silicone cup. I added shredded monterey jack cheese to some of them.
They bake about 425 degrees for around 15 minutes until there's a little bit of a golden color on top and they've pulled away from the sides of the muffin (silicone) pan.

We made long slices of carrot, cucumber, and celery to serve with the paté and hummus. The hummus was sprouted and cooked garbanzos, a dash of cumin, cayenne, salt & pepper, 2 Tbsp olive oil, a half lemon's juice, and 2 Tbsp of tahini, blended in our food processor. 
The paté was homemade from local grass-fed beef liver. I love the farm it comes from and though I don't looove liver, I find this version really tasty. I cooked the liver with rosemary and thyme in grass-fed butter, then blended it in the food processor. For the baby, I augmented the recipe to use about a quarter cup of coconut oil instead of the bacon fat I added to our paté. They both turned out delicious. And yeah, since I needed bacon fat, we had a great reason to eat some bacon. Just eating bacon was pretty great, but maybe next time I'd wrap it around figs...

Two of our party guests offered to bring food, so we accepted. One brought a salad with lots of chopped veggies and the other brought two pies. She made a beautiful gluten free apple and pear tart with rolled oats and also a pecan pie- classic! The pecan pie wasn't our version of "on diet" but the apple and pear tart didn't have powdered grains or sugar (which are two of the things we try hardest to avoid), so it was a welcome treat. The pecan pie was totally a hit (and I tasted it- it was delicious.) Maybe I'll figure out how to make a pecan pie that doesn't have HFCS & sugar & wheat. Anybody have a recipe? Please comment if so; I'd love it! 

Thanks for reading <3



Monday, February 8, 2016

First Birthday "Cake" for our Baby- Grain Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free

...And it was amazing!


I looked everywhere for a recipe for a "baby" cake that had no grains, gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar or other normal cake ingredients. I really wanted our baby to have the first smash cake experience at his party without introducing him to foods outside his diet, much less the inevitable sugar crash that usually ensues.

Our son is still mostly breastfed and eats all kinds of veggies, seeds, fruits and some fish and believe it or not, liver pate. He loves dates, pineapple, apples and anything we're eating.

So after much research, hubby and I decided to invent our own cake.



Here's what we did:

The Cake:
First blended dates (removed pits) and walnuts in food processor. Just a handful of walnuts and about 6 dates.

Then added about 10 frozen blueberries and a tablespoon of ground flax and processed some more.



This was a nice texture but much more like cake batter with the addition of a little bit of fresh pineapple (about two tablespoons) and about a tablespoon of fresh pineapple juice.

 We put this mixture into the oven on 325 in a silicone muffin pan without greasing it (yay, silicone!) Each muffin well was filled only about a quarter of an inch.


We stacked three layers of really delicious blueberry & pineapple flavored "cake." It tasted a lot like blueberry pineapple banana bread, and had a similarly moist texture.



The Frosting:
Only two ingredients went into our frosting, and it was absolutely the best cake frosting I've ever had.

We blended pineapple and dates in equal parts in the food processor until they made a lofty, thick, creamy frosting. It tasted just like banana bread batter, but without the baking powder flavor.

We gave samples of our frosting to some early arriving party guests and they all guessed it was made with bananas.

It was totally awesome! Yum!






Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sentimental or In the Way?

Collecting vs. Discarding

I've always collected stuff. Cool stuff. Like crystals, old furniture, little blue glass bottles, really old books. I've struggled to keep organized, and to find ways to store things.

Marie Kondo writes, "storage experts are hoarders." Actually it's the title of a sub-chapter in her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.



On first glance, the book seems unassuming. It's small, clean, and sorta pretty. It's totally changing my life. I'm not sure I've ever said that about a book, and I really, really love books.

I've been amazed at how much we've discarded. We began on December 31st and it's now the 14th of January. We are almost finished. The konmari method involves going through each category of stuff throughout the house until literally every belonging has been processed. While holding each item, we looked for a sense of joy. If it wasn't there, the belonging needed a new life and we freed it... and ourselves.

Within the first twelve days, we easily and effortlessly donated 9 trunk loads (in a sedan, not compact...) of clothes (7- 30 gallon bags), toys (1-30 gallon bag), two tents, a sleeping bag, craft materials & housewares, books (well over a hundred), our bike rack (never used it), furniture (it was in the way), my easel (out of use anyway since LBD arrival) and we discovered that we didn't miss anything. We've thrown lots away, too, but diverted anything we thought reasonable from landfills for reuse. For example, we found that we had a surprising number (especially me) of bath & beauty products that were unused, unwanted, and just old. Ew, these were trash. A lot of them expired awhile back and we just didn't think to trash them before this. It was so easy when we're going through EVERYTHING to find what was old and ready to go.

Wow. The really crazy part of all of this for me is the shift I feel about possession and the magic of objects. I'm not sure when it started, but since an early age I've loved collecting things. I heard a story about walking around my grandfather's neighborhood when I was maybe three or so and stopping every few steps to pick up a rock, an acorn or a piece of glass. By age seven I had a collection of dead butterflies, turtle shells, cicada skins, and various toys, books, and dolls. (the latter seems normal enough, but now I see that saving dead creatures is really unnecessary to my enjoyment of them)

Profound Results

The hubby prompted this post, saying that it's been a monumental change for me to go from seeing objects as magical and holding onto them to seeing them as deserving a different life. These days I don't really collect things- with the exception of crafting supplies, minerals and books. However, I still had the things (or most of them) that I've collected during my years of adventuring. I had a hat from graduation, my girl scout vest with the patches & pins, my little sewing kit from childhood, my husband's grandmother's sewing kit from her recent move & subsequent discarding phase, trinkets, toys, and so much more. These are described as komono, or "little things" in Marie's book, with the exception of those that are sentimental. Some of these I've kept so far through the discarding, but many will be gone after I sort through my sentimental category. It's last since it's more difficult for most people than clothes, dishes, etc.

I've found that although I've always thought each item was individually magical, many of them simply don't resonate with me anymore. It was the way I felt about them that was so magical, and the way I feel changes. Kondo writes that when we keep something put away in a box and don't use it, the object is [read: feels] neglected. I really appreciate this now that we've done so much discarding far more than I would have 15 days ago. It's profound to let things go and realize they really didn't mean much at all, and that the memories are still there. 

Our home is more spacious and organization is simpler. Our baby is putting his toys away (and anything he likes that we leave in reach, such as keys, wallet, tupperwares, cat toys) into his toybox, and we're finding that increasingly, we have a place for everything. Really, that's the goal. When everything we have has a designated place to be, we will know we have finished. Well, and when everything we have is something we really, really want. 

My life is getting better. Who'd have thought it was about letting things go? Lovely.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Learning to Let Go

We got some books for Christmas, like "Which Pet Should I Get," by Dr. Seuss and "the Blue Zone." There was an unexpected surprise for us. It's a book we'd never heard of, by Marie Kondo called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It's a small volume, pretty and well-worded. Marie Kondo does a great job of making discarding and tidying sound fun and portrays our belongings as having lives, too. As a matter of respect for our things, we should keep as few as necessary and those that bring us great joy.

For a long while, it's been apparent we had too much stuff. We moved in together from spaces larger than the ones we'd share, and especially since my father moved from his house to an Airstream on the road, I have had lots of sentimental .. well, baggage. Having lots of stuff is great when it's useful and easy to find when needed, but we were overburdened with our own awesome stuff, and it was taking a toll on our relationship. It's stressful to feel there's not enough space to play, not space to put down bags when we walk in the door, or to put a new book when we bring one home.

This new book has changed us. We are different just since perusing the pages... One cursory glance told us something about our lives would change, even if we did nothing. Hubby dear and I dove in. Last day of the year, first day of the next, we are doing it.

If you're curious, check it out. Below is a link to amazon.com (FYI I do not  make any money if you click this link, hmm, maybe I will learn how, but I don't currently.)