Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Co-Sleeping Experience

Co-sleeping...not exactly what I had pictured when I brought my little boy home from the hospital!  I started out as the typical mom reading all the typical books and hoping for the happiest baby on the block!

But, it didn't happen.  Within a month or so, my son was settled in his crib and I would drag myself out of bed twice a night to breastfeed.  This was exhausting to say the least.

My son was not a big napper either.  He took about three 45 minute naps a day as an infant, which also left me exhausted.  Those naps soon became two 45-60 minute naps.

I breastfed my son until he was 18 months old, still doing a nighttime feeding up to about 14 months.  Despite all my hopes, he would never sleep through the night, even after the feedings stopped.  He was up at least once and sometimes twice a night, crying and needing some comforting.  As much as my reading encouraged the "cry it out" method, a few tries of that left me convinced that that was not normal.  I could not bring myself to ignore my son's screams.  So, I was stuck, getting up once or twice a night to comfort my son and then trying to go back to sleep.

When my son was about 6 months old, I started my journey to become a Clinical Master Herbalist with Vintage Remedies.   A number of months into the program, I had to read a book about co-sleeping with your baby, called Sleeping with Your Baby by James McKenna.  That was eye opening at the least and I started to seriously consider whether we should give it a try, though by this time, my son was a year old and I felt like it might be too late to start.  My husband was not super thrilled with the idea, so I just continued on as we had been doing.

Sadly, last October, I suffered a miscarriage at the end of my first trimester.  After a D&C, I had lifting restrictions for six weeks.  This left a dilemma for nap time.  My son's naps were now down to one nap and that typically lasted one hour - an hour and a half if I was lucky.  Since I really didn't have a choice, I started having him nap on the sofa in our great room.  Imagine my surprise when he started to take better and longer naps, soon stretching to two and three hours at a time.  He was never bothered by me puttering around in the kitchen or doing whatever other things needed doing.

My little guy sleeping on the sofa

It was at this time as well that we took the plunge and started to co-sleep.  My body needed rest so badly to help my recovery and me and my husband really wanted to start to get a full night of sleep, as he still was not sleeping through the night.

We tried sleeping on our queen sized guest room mattress on the floor (our bed was only a full) for a few months to see how things went.   My husband and I like to sleep next to each other, so I would sleep in the middle of the bed.  Our little guy finally started to sleep through the night!  We would start him off in his room, then when we went to bed, we would bring him into bed with us.  This worked great, as it gave us time to be alone at night when he went down.

We soon realized that a queen sized bed was not what we wanted, so we did end up buying a king sized bed.  Because we have a little one sleeping on it and I hope to get pregnant again, we bought an organic wool and latex mattress.  We LOVE it!  It is so comfy and I loved having no chemical smell when it was delivered; no off-gassing worries.  We have a cotton and then wool cover on it and I have to say that when we potty train, we will probably use a plastic liner until we are free of night-time accidents, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it!

I know that co-sleeping may not be for everyone, but we have all come to love it.  My son's naps doubled in time and he is sleeping through the night for the most part.  But, when he wakes up for a drink of water or a bad dream, we snuggle together and he is able to go right back to sleep - and no getting out of bed for mommy and daddy!  It was also very healing to me as I was recovering from my miscarriage to have my son right there with me at night.

I hope our story encourages those of your who are considering co-sleeping.  If we have another baby, we will co-sleep (not in the bed for the first number of months, but the baby will sleep next to our bed) from the start.  I have loved seeing how much our whole family loves co-sleeping and it has certainly met a need my son had.  Once he started to co-sleep with us, those naptimes doubled in time and he was finally able to sleep through the night.  That is all my mommy's heart needs to see to know that we did indeed make the right choice for our family.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cultured Mondays - Why I am Using a Pickl-it for Fermenting

Today, instead of posting another recipe, I wanted to discuss some of the changes to my fermenting practices with my readers, as I have had a number of questions recently.

I have been doing a lot of reading over the past few months, considering some research done by both KerryAnn Foster at Cooking Traditional Foods (read more about oxygen and bifidus HERE), and Kathleen, the maker of the pickl-it (read the steps of fermentation HERE).  I have come to the conclusion that fermenting in an anaerobic environment is a safer option and especially helpful for those who need to heal their gut (which would be most of us!).  Pickl-its provide an increase in the probiotic bacteria that are needed to heal the gut.

I did not want to deal with the possibility of molds growing in my ferments (which has happened in mason jars) or limp and soggy ferments (which has also happened in the mason jar).  I did not know what I was missing until I tried the pickl-it and have had ferment after ferment come out tasting delicious, crisp, and less salty.  It has been very eye opening comparing the two methods.  If you would like to read a similar experience by another Nourished Living Network Blogger, read this post by Lydia at Divine Health where she shares her reasons and experience switching from mason jars to Pickl-its.

I want to be clear to my readers that at this time, I am not an affiliate of pickl-it.  I simply appreciate the quality product that pickl-it is and want to encourage my readers to use a pickl-it (or a Harsch crock, which also provides an oxygen free ferment) so that you all can ferment safely and effectively.

I have also learned that whey is not needed with the pickl-it and can actually contribute to less of the healing forms of probiotic bacteria.  Here is an excellent post written by Melanie at PickleMeToo, discussing in further depth the reasons why whey is not needed or often helpful when fermenting and using a pickl-it.

I recently bought a number of Fido jars to use to store my ferments in once they are done fermenting.  Fidos provide an air-tight environment, which is excellent for store ferments.  These SHOULD NOT be used for the fermenting process (except yogurt) as they do not allow the air to escape (Pickl-its are made from Fido jars, but have airlocks, which keeps oxygen out, but allows carbon dioxide, which builds during the fermenting process, out).  I have found that you can get Fido jars on sale for excellent prices at both Crate and Barrel or Sur La Table (both are still having a sale last time I checked and the shipping at Crate and Barrel is just a flat $5 fee).  Amazon does carry them, but the prices are often not as good, so check those other stores first.

When you ferment, you are going to end up with a lot of extra brine.  Here are some creative ideas from Lisa, at Lisa's Counter Culture, about how you can use that extra brine.

There are a lot of traditional foodists who still use the mason jar and have chosen that method of fermenting, but I have come to realize that that is not the method I want to use or teach to others.  Thank you all for your patience as I have been making these changes over the past few months.

(Featured on Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Revival, Real Food Forager, The Nourishing Gourmet)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Whole Foods Friday - Tuscan Bread Salad

This tuscan bread salad recipe is hands down my favorite summer salad recipe.  I LOVE this salad.  Here is the recipe from my sister Christy, over at Whole Foods on a Budget.  So, hop on over to her blog and check out her recipe!

(Featured on Food Renegade)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watermelon Link Love!

It's summer and one fun summertime treat is watermelon.  I bought a watermelon this week and wanted to find some creative recipes to try.  Avoid those pesticides if you can and try to grow your own or buy one organic.

Photo Credit: knowledgebase-script.com

I was thrilled to find this recipe from Melanie at PickleMeToo, fellow Nourishing Living Network, contributor:  Fermented Watermelon Rind.  This is a great way to get even more yumminess out of your watermelon!

Here are a few other great ideas for using the watermelon.  I can't wait to try some of these out...

Watermelon Muffins (I would leave out the food coloring and cut the sugar in half, using sucanat instead)

* Melon-and-Mozzarella Salad

* Sweet, Salty, Spicy Watermelon Refresher Recipe

* Tomato-and-Watermelon Salad 

* Beet Watermelon Soup

* Watermelon Pudding

Do you have any fun ways that you like to use watermelon?

(Featured on The Nourishing Gourmet)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Traveling and Cloth Diapering

I recently returned from vacation and six days of doing cloth diapering by hand - we had no machine available.  It was a big learning experience, but can be done.  I was fortunate that my son is 2 1/2 and in the process of being potty trained, so I did not have the normal amount of diapers he would have if he were not potty training.  I would have like to use disposables, but my son gets terrible eczema from them (even G-diapers, which we did try the first day and they caused a bad outbreak).

The type of diaper you have can affect the ease of the handwashing process.  Fortunately, we do pre-folds and these are very easy to hand wash.

Using gloves is an absolute must!!

I did some reading before our trip to get some tips on how others managed this not so fun task!  Here is what worked for me...

I tried using soap nuts liquid detergent (I normally use Thirsties wash products but for some reason those have all of a sudden stopped being made) that I made ahead of time, but was not thrilled with it for handwashing (I do use this for the initial wash at home).  So, I purchased a pure olive oil soap bar and used that instead, rubbing it over the entire diaper and focusing on any poopy spots, and then rubbing the diaper together to agitate.  I then rinsed and rinsed in luke warm water to remove the soap.  If needed, I let them soak a little in the water to help remove the soap.

The next step was sprinkling the wet diapers with aluminum free baking soda and organic white vinegar.  This combination bubbled up nicely and was a helpful way to kill germs.  I left the diapers with this on them for 15-30 minutes.

The last step was rinsing in the hottest water possible until I was sure any remaining soap, vinegar, and baking soda was out of the diapers.  I squeezed as much liquid as I could out of the diapers and hung them up to dry.

I did bring enough diapers with me so that I did not have to reuse the diapers I hand washed and I put these diapers through the wash when I got home.  Again, this was only possible because we kept my son in his big boy undies as much as we could and brought his potty from home.

That was my handwashing experience!  I would love to hear from others who have tried the same thing.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cultured Mondays - Super Easy Cultured Green Beans

I'm sure that many of you are enjoying an abundance of green beans this summer.  We love green beans in this house and I had a bunch from the co-op that I wanted to culture very quickly this past week.

I washed and removed the stems from my green beans.  I used the 1 1/2 liter size pickl-it jar and packed it with the green beans until it reached the shoulder (my guess is between 1-2 pounds of green beans).  I then placed the glass dunker on top to help keep the beans under the brine and poured a 2% salt brine over the beans (you can use this guide for figuring out salt brine).  And that was it!  I let them sit out for 3 days in my dark pantry where it is a bit cooler than the rest of the house (ideal fermenting temp is around 70 degrees).

These came out delicious and quite crispy.  These can be eaten right out of the jar, dipped in hummus, or chopped up in a salad for just a few ideas.  I have a feeling they won't last long in our house!

(Featured on Healthy Home Economist)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Traveling and Supplements

Traveling can be fun, but sometimes, it can be stressful for the body.  I brought a number of supplements along on this trip to help keep us healthy and happy on this trip.

For my husband and myself, I brought a greens mix, our Sealogica, some vit. C, powdered colostrum, and a few of my regular supplements I take.

For my son, I brought almost all his Herbs for Kids products; Allergy Relief, Echinacea, Temp Assure, and one for colds.  I was so glad to have these on hand as he had an outbreak of his eczema and was sniffily here and there, so he had a boost of echinacea (we all did as a matter of fact!)

I also brought some essential oils for us to use on the trip.  Lavender and sweet orange for a good night's rest, lemon as a disinfectant in case that was needed for the room, and ginger in case of a sore throat.  I also had some tea tree oil to use as needed for disinfecting.

Thankfully, expect for the eczema flare up, we all stayed healthy!

We did not fly on this trip, but drove.  If we had flown, I would have done the following:

*Echinacea a few days before and after the flight.
*A drop or two of lemon essential oil on a cotton ball to keep on the seat tray during the flight.
*A natural disinfecting spray to have on hand and would have wiped down the tray tables since I have a toddler.

*A drop or two of lavender essential oil if my toddler was having trouble sitting still.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Switch: From Mason Jar to Pickl-it

As many of your know, I have recently made the switch from using mason jars (a method often used by Nourishing Traditions and Sandor Katz) to using a Pickl-it Jar for my culturing and ferments.  I could not be happier with the switch and having been producing some beautiful ferments with less salt and no starter culture or whey.

I made this switch because of new research done by KerryAnn at Cooking Traditional Foods.  I have also appreciated all the information at the Pickl-it Website, which helped me make this decision.

Bottom line - from all the reading I have done, I believe that safer, tastier, and healthier (increased amounts of important probiotics called LABS) ferments are done in an anaerobic environment, which the pickl-it produces and a mason jar cannot.

I really enjoyed reading this article by Kathleen over at Pickl-it today: Open Crocks are a Crock!

If you would like a fun, easy recipe to try with some summer squash, check out my Yellow Squash Pickles...I opened these today and they won't last long.  My toddler is gobbling them down!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Traveling and Whole Foods

We had a lovely time this past week at Lake Tahoe.  So peaceful and restful, even with a two year old! I have to highly recommend The Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa at Lake Tahoe!  We were so pleased with our stay there.

I thought I would take the next few days to do a few posts about traveling and eating "whole foods" as well as the supplements I brought along so we could enjoy a healthy and happy trip, and my experience with cloth diapering on the road.

I learned a lot myself, traveling and trying to bring some healthy whole foods along so that we were not  eating out for every meal.  Breakfast was covered with the resort, so I was focusing on options for snacks, lunch, and dinner.  We had no fridge and I was only able to bring a small ice chest along.  I also like to bring a zero water filter when we travel so that we are having as clean as possible water source.

It took some creative thinking to come up with some fun food options, some which which did not need refrigeration, was toddler friendly, and was not very sugary.

Here is a list of what I brought for our trip:

*Homemade trail mix with fruit I had dried and nuts I had soaked and some chocolate chips thrown in for fun!

*Organic cold cuts with fun organic rolls, loaf of bread, tortillas for wraps, and pesto for sandwich spread.

*Lots of veggies cut up and ready to dip in some homemade dip and homemade hummus.  I used carrots, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, radishes and also bought some organic chips.  My two year old loved the dipping options and it was a great way to get some good veggies into him.

*Homemade scones

*Apples, oranges, and grapefruits

*Grain free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

*Zero water pitcher for filtering water

*Homemade pizza for the trip up to Tahoe

*Homemade egg "mcmuffins" for our early morning the day we left

Having these food options was wonderful and we were able to consume a good amount of healthy food while still enjoying our times of eating out.  Now that we eat organic whole foods in our home, eating too much convention food is unbalancing for us.  I found that this seemed to be a good mix for us.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cultured Mondays - Yellow Squash Pickles

It's Cultured Mondays again!  I thought I would give you just a little peek into my life...We returned from a lovely vacation at Lake Tahoe.  It was so peaceful and relaxing and I can't wait to go back again!

This week I decided to try to ferment some yellow squash we received this week in our co-op.  I have really enjoyed using my new pickl-it jars and highly encourage the use of these jars for fermenting, as they provide an anaerobic environment that will produce a safe fermented product (I do not get compensated for encouraging the use of pickl-it jars.  I am just a very satisfied customer.)

For this recipe I used:

*3 mediums sized yellow squashes
*14 small garlic cloves, lightly crushed by hand
*1 handful of fresh dill
*2.5% brine (15 grams of fine pink salt to 3 cups of water)
*1 1/2 liter pickl-it jar

Wash the squash, garlic cloves, and fresh dill.  Slice the squash into pickle like slices.  Place squash, garlic, and dill into jar.  Pour over brine and fill until it hits the jar's shoulder.  Allow to sit in a dark place (like a kitchen cabinet)  for about three days or until bubbling slows.  Ferments do best at about 70 degrees, so since we are in the summer heat, try to find a cool spot in your home and check your ferment frequently
My jar is just slightly overfilled

Ready to brew!

(Featured on the Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Revival, Real Food Forager, GNOWFLGINS, A Little Nosh, Beyond the Peel, Nourishing Gourmet, Food Renegade)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sealogica on Sale all Week!

Dear readers,
     You will hear less from me this week as I am enjoying a lovely vacation with my family up in Northern California.  But, I will be holding over my Sealogica sale, so please take advantage of these prices if you would like to try this amazing raw, whole food supplement.  We don't go a day without it - not even on vacation!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cultured Mondays - Grapefruit "Soda"

We have been enjoying a lot of citrus sodas in this house lately with an abundance of citrus coming through our co-op.  I never though I would try this recipe with just grapefruits, but we had a bunch last week so I thought I would give it a try.  It came out tasting quite yummy!

I like my "sodas" on the more sour side, but if you want this sweeter, then add more sucanat or some honey to taste to your finished product.

*2 1/2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
*1 1/2 cups sucant
*3/4 gallon of water
*1/2 cup cultured "orange" soda as a starter
*1 five liter pickl-it jar

Place all ingredients in your pickl-it jar and stir until well mixed.  Allow to sit in a dark place (like a kitchen cabinet) for 24-36 hours.  These sodas culture fast!  Your finished product should be less sweet than normal grapefruit juice (thus the added sucanat if you need it) and should have a nice fizz to it like soda.  You should be able to see the juice swirling around and bubbles coming out of the airlock.  Transfer to the fridge when it is done culturing.  Like other cultured drinks, start out drinking this slowly, in small amounts with food.  It may take a little time for your body to get used to these new probiotics.

(Featured on Healthy Home Economist, The Homestead Revival, Nourishing Treasures)