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Showing posts from 2012

Vignette Number One: Counting All Things Lost

Her womb was empty of life. But this, she did not know. In her imagination, there was a baby. She wanted there to be a child, and this child-of-her-mind was born out of the grief at the ending of her fertile years. Since she had been newlywed, she’d always told everyone that she wanted many children. “Six,” she would reply in answer to that question, “or however many God gives me.” In her mind, the “however many” was always a greater number, and never a lesser. So here she was, in years that still should have been childbearing years, with a brood of four, larger-than-average, and still she felt that longing and that regret. And now she thought she was pregnant, against all odds. She thought it, because it had happened to to someone she knew who was living proof that surgery does not always work to prevent a baby. So, in her mind, that was the truth, and not the harsh statistic of 99.99 percent effective. She believed in that one-in-a-thousand chance. She also believed beca…

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup (Paleo, Gluten free)

1 package of frozen broccoli
1 package of frozen cauliflower
(or 2 of one of these)

place in large enough pan and add some water, to not quite cover the vegetables.

2-2.5 tsp. salt
2 T. dried onion flakes
a generous spoon full of minced garlic (more or less to taste)
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. dry mustard powder


All all to simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Remove from heat. Puree with immersion blender until the vegetables are "cream of x soup" textured.

Add 1 can of coconut milk.

Stir in and re-heat if necessary.

...this is delicious and very filling. Several of my family members thought it had cheese in it.

To make this soup more nourishing (but not vegan) use homemade bone broth instead of water.

Gluten Free Bread Recipe Tweaks

I just heard "This bread is PERFECT!" coming from my kitchen as one of my kids was making toast for breakfast.

I think so too. I've posted my GF bread recipe before, but I want to share some changes with you, so that you, too (if you are using my recipe) can have a better loaf of frugal, homemade gluten free bread.

Problems that I solved: The old recipe was not quite dense enough and kept collapsing into odd shapes once the loaves cooled. This recipe fills the pans better and does not collapse if you wait until after it's been cooled in the refridgerator to slice it. It can be re-softened in the toaster after slicing, and then has that wonderful fresh baked bread texture.

And, to make things even better, the change uses LESS ENERGY/ELECTRICITY and SAVES TIME.

Here it is:

5 cups GF flour blend (I use equal parts rice flour and tapioca starch)
1/4 cup sugar
2 T. dry yeast
2 t. salt
1/2 T. guar gum (or 1 T. xanthan gum)
...mix these dry ingredients togethe…

Gratitiude Day 2

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Today I am feeling grateful for my kids.


I also finished my dirndle (OK, ALMOST finished...I still need to hem it, and shorten the apron a bit). It's doubling as a hobbit dress, since we are all planning on going to see The Hobbit in full costume this December.


I look like I should be serving mugs of ale at the Green Dragon...or Oktoberfest.

Gratitude November

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This month I want to focus on GRATITUDE. It is, after all, the month inwhich we celebrate Thanksgiving.

So while other people are busily enriching the world by participating in NaNoWriMo...(always feel like I OUGHT to have a novel in me bursting to come out, but I just DON'T), I am going to try and blog more faithfully.

So the thing that I am grateful for, today on November 1:
I am SO SO SO SO very grateful that I got to spend my childhood years in Basel, Switzerland. It was awesome. What a beautiful city, country and language. I miss Switzerland every single day of my life. (Tomorrow will mark 30th anniversary of coming to America). But today I'm going to focus on the GRATITUDE that I got to be there. How many American kids get to do that, you know?

Introducing Potentiana the Pious of Great Potential

Oh boy, have I been SILENT lately. I've been busy over on facebook, though.

The family keeps me hopping and I always have slightly less energy (and therefore time) than there is stuff that needs to be done. I'm learning to "let go" from it all, though, and to ask for help. The result is that my teenagers are stepping up to the plate and taking over more domestic things that otherwise their lazy selves would not be inclined to do.

All this, while I crash out on the couch and watch Deadliest Catch on Netflix. Before that, I was watching a series about climbing Mount Everest, and then Storm Chasers. ...well, actually I finished Deadliest Catch yesterday and now I'm stuck with River Monsters. Sigh.

We are quite busy here at the Sheldahl house, kids are doing school, I finally found a history and a literature curriculum that we all like, and so we are working on those subjects in a much more organized way than ever before.

But at any rate...

I've cre…

Gluten Free Casein Free Baklava

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I made GFCF Baklava today. The dough is not quite as flaky as regular phyllo dough and it IS a first attempt at all that rolling out, after all. But it's a noble first effort, nonetheless.

Here's what I did:

1 can of coconut milk
4 eggs
enough gf flour blend (I mixed rice flour, tapioca starch and sweet rice flour) to make a stiff non-sticky dough.

Let dough rest for two hours, covered in saran wrap.

then, assemble a 9x13 pan, a cup or more of melted butter flavor palm shortening or ghee, 4 cups of walnuts that have been chopped fine and mixed with a teaspoon of

cinnamon, a rolling pin and a pastry mat.

Divide dough into 16 sections. cover what is not being worked.

Start rolling. Roll it thin, then roll it the heck thinner. then find a way to but it the pan. Brush with melted buttery stuff and repeat.

Every two layers of pastry, add a layer of nuts.

Yes, you will get sick of this.

Keep going. Don't stop now!

After the last layer of nuts, add fou…

Better Than Store Bought Gluten Free Bread

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So as not to impinge any particular brand of GF bread (the taste of which my family loves but not so much the price tag at six dollars per loaf), I did not cite the brand in the title of this blog post.

At any rate, I have started making GF bread for my family. The first batch was a bit dry and crumbly, and so I modified the recipe in more than one way. The results was a soft, springy and non-crumbly loaf. Everyone was happy.

This is enough dough to make two small (5.5x7.5inch) loaf pans plus four tuna cans...which is what I use to make GF hamburger buns. So you get two loaves of bread which are the same size as the six dollar store bought loaves plus four buns (which cost about six dollars for I THINK four, but maybe six...but I think it's actually four)...so that's eight teen dollars of bread products that I have made for much less than that.

I buy my GF flours at the local Asian market. I buy big bags of rice flour and big bags of potato starch (tapioca starch wo…

Food and Stuff

Last week when I went grocery shopping, something in my brain snapped. I have GOT to find a way to spend less on groceries. Now, everyone is complaining about high prices these days, and with a special needs diet-most of my family is Gluten Free, and two of us are grain free/dairy free, (unless it's pasta night and then I sometimes cave and have some gluten free pasta because spaghetti with meat sauce is, like, my FAVORITE food ever...but I digress)-food is even MORE expensive because we buy certain “speciality items” like gluten free flour and almond milk and way more cans of coconut milk each week than most americans buy in a decade.

And then there's all the kerfluffle about GMO's. I, for one, think they are most likely toxic and vile and very very bad for us. Interesting that it is the year that GMO's were introduced into the U.S. food supply that coincides precisely when my own health started taking a nose dive. I know causation cannot be proven by that, but…

Find me on Facebook

If any of my readers want to find me on facebook: Alana Juliana Sheldahl. Send me a friend request and if I don't know you personally, just let me know that you read my blog...

A Dying Garden and Chilly Toes

Wes and I went out to the garden last Thursday evening to see if there were any more green beans to pick. We were met with a surprise: Some creatures (herd of deer most likely) had stripped all the leaves and beans off our green bean plants. Honestly, I was rejoicing. I've snapped enough green beans and canned enough green beans to keep me happy for a very long time.

We did gather in all the rest of the green tomatoes from an obviously dying tomato plant of the heirloom Cherokee Purple variety. I'm not enamored with that type of tomato, as they don't seem to ripen well. Additionally we got a huge bowl full of grape and cherry tomatoes picked.

I dug up all the rest of the carrot and beets, as the beet tops had been nibbled as well, and those were obviously done growing, too. We got a LOT more carrots than I expected...about half of a refrigerator crisper drawer full. So, that was a blessing. I feel like our fridge is just STUFFED right now with lots of good thin…

Canning

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He kissed me and thanked me for picking, snapping, washing and canning all those green beans (14 quarts today)

and said he owed me dinner. I said: "If you take me out to dinner it will more than cancel out any savings we might have gotten from this work I did." We laugh. "Well, I owe you something!" he says.


...and I remember all those evenings in June when he swung his mattock into the hard Kentucky clay, to break up the soil.

I remember how he hoed it, and raked it and then carefully planted the bean seeds while I watched from my chair, often too sick to get up and do anything to help.

And long summer evenings when we both knelt and pulled stinky bean beetle larvae off the leaves, and when we together bonded over spraying essential oils on our plants so that the bugs would not win.

I remember last winter all the evenings he spent reading up on gardening, and how it was HIS energy, passion and drive that got me out there in the dirt in the first place.

I reme…

September 1

Well, it's been a busy week for me. I was feeling ill on Monday and went to the clinic. Ended up with antibiotics for two infections I had going on. Tuesday saw me at the endodontist for a root canal...a RE-DO root canal on a tooth that had already been done. Please pray that my dental insurance comes through and covers most of it. It cost a thousand dollars. I need to learn to ask more questions in advance of medical procedures, because that price threw me for a loop. A was expecting a few hundred, not ten hundred, for a re-do. Lord have mercy.

The thing that has me stressed out these days is our need to get our oldest some services. Now that she's 18 she qualifies for stuff regardless of her dad's income level, as she counts as an adult with an income of zero. Finding help and being her advocate are things that are very very difficult for me to do...especially as I balance home responsibilities and home schooling everyone, as well. Stress makes my brain basica…
Sorry this blog's been so quiet lately. It's been a very busy summer. We moved! Moving was quite the accomplishment and we feel so very blessed. God provided all the energy we required to get the job done. Yes, I did fall off the GAPS diet while we were moving (those Rolo McFlurries at McDonald's kept calling our names while we were moving in the 100 degree heat!), but now it's time for the straight and narrow. Two of my kids had birthdays this week, so the cake's been eaten (happens every August) and now I'm officially off non-gaps legal sugars again. Next week I'll go grain free and that will be good. Baby steps, right?

I'm really really really enjoying our house. It has a den/family room/tv room downstairs, and a garage and one bedroom. Upstairs is living room, dining/kitchen, and bathroom with three more bedrooms. Two of those have been turned into one big bedroom, and so that's the perfect place to put all three girls.

And now, s…

GAPS Vanilla Ice Cream and an update

Boy oh boy! It's been a long time since I've posted anything here. Sorry about that, dear internet.

I thought I'd give a bit of an update on my grain free/GAPS/paleo eating that I've been doing this year. I'm almost to the five month mark, as I started on January 17. I can count on less than one hand the number of times of "broken my diet/cheated". Once was with some plantain chips...that one was a brain fart. For some reason I thought they were legal, and then realized they were not. So at most a few bites of that. Another time was a slice of GF paska bread at Pascha. It was not nearly as amazing as I thought it would have been. And I put some soaked Quinoa (technically still grain free, but it is a starch food) in some meatloaf the other evening. I'll live.

So, cheats, but not CHEATS if you know what I mean.

Good results so far:

Less inflammation. My knees no longer hurt when I go up and down stairs.

My hunger/satiety signals se…

The Chart

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I made a chart. I got the inspiration on Wednesday when I was feeling good, make a quick run to the store to get about three items, and while I was in there started feeling like utter doo doo (pain, exhaustion, feeling flu-ish). I thought to myself: what if I charted my energy and pain levels?

So here it is.

Blue-sleep
Red-pain and utter fatigue, body aches...really can't do anything but sit or lie down (preferably lie down) when I'm red.
Orange-insomnia. When I should be sleeping or getting sleepy but I'm. just. not. It is NOT a productive insomnia. Note the similarity between the colors red and orange.
Pink-also related to red but not as dark. This is fatigue, but I can force myself to get up and "DO"...but I don't want to. But I can and do.

Green-feeling good and getting stuff done.


Most of my life is lived in the pink range. Green is a bonus. I can go from Green to red, or pink, really quickly. Climbing out of red takes sleep and effo…

Breaking it Down

OK, what components go into health and this elusive thing called "wellness"?

Spritiual
Relationships-family and friends
Sleep
Nutrition
Movement: stretching/ strength building/ aerobic
Environment
Work
Hobbies


I've been working SO HARD ya'll, on getting all of these areas in my life at a better place using baby steps. The spiritual part...well, been doing that for years. I won't go into that for now, but the other stuff...of course I've been blogging about it, so this is nothing new.

Of course I've been working a lot on trying to figure out all that is going on and why I feel sick every day, and I think I've finally arrived at some knowledge and acceptance: Fibro, Epstein Barr, and Hashimoto's (autoimmune) --henceforth to be referred to as the trifecta of badness.

I'm at last, as of this morning, taking a medication to help me cope with my fibro symptoms, which will hopefully also lift a bit of the depression I struggle with. It's…

Offer it Up

What a beautiful Saturday morning it is today! I've been up since about 2:30 AM, but I'll not complain. I got some reading and internet cruising done, and the fresh air coming in through my open back door is lovely.

A good morning for a bracing cup of tea!

Well, I went to the doctor again yesterday, and she agrees that since my MRI came back clear we could put off a neurologist until/unless weird neuro stuff starts up again. Meanwhile, I know for a fact now that I do NOT have Lyme Disease. Nor do I have CMV. But I DO have Epstein Barr. No big surprise there. My system (slow, sluggish and beleaguered that it is) just hasn't been able to fight it off yet. So I was right...the mono is still flaring up and affecting my life from time to time.

And so it looks like the three things (or is that four?) that we know about are what are going on: Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto's, Epstein Barr, the copper thing, the and hormones (ya gotta pronounce that like the lady on M…

The Tallest Mountain

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Every Sunday morning I feel like I am fighting a war. Actually the war starts on Saturday night while I'm sleeping. If/when I can. I never sleep well, and each night of deep sleep comes with the price of weird dreams, a side effect of the Melatonin my doctor has me on. So I put up with bad dreams on most nights in order to feel refreshed in the mornings. Saturday nights/Sunday mornings, the dreams are always particularly vile and I always wake up on Sunday's very very depressed.

Yes, I know. There's a war going on.

And physically I wake up on Sundays feeling beaten. Pummeled. In pain.

Yes, I know. That war thing. It's no accident.

I fall asleep praying, I pray when I wake up at night, and a wake up praying. Lord have mercy. Theotokos help me. Jesus have mercy on me a sinner. It's nothing amazing...just me crying out to God.

And the battle rages on.

Many times, I lose the battle and stay a home. The physical aspects of living with chronic …

GAPS/Paleo/SCD Birthday Cake

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Bethany turned 18 today! Congratulations, and God grant you many years! Lemon Cake with Lemon Filling recipe here.

This blog needs a new name

I gave up coffee. Someone forwarded me an article about some reasearch saying that coffee has a protein in it that is cross reactive to gluten. Well, goodbye coffee. I quit the moment I read that article...and I do believe I'm better off for it. Currently I'm swigging my way through the black tea in my cupboard and once that is gone, I'll go with green tea and probably stay with green tea. Unless/until I learn something evil about THAT.

Meanwhile, I do believe taking iron is helping me, as I have a modicum more of energy. Thank God, thank God, thank God!!!!

ANNNNNDDDDDD....I put on a t-shirt that the last time I tried it on was a bit snug, and it fit perfectly. I wore it all day yesterday. Today, I went to put on a shirt that used to fit just fine and it hung like a tent. So, I had to go through all the shirts in my closet, and a bunch of them now reside in a bag destined for the thrift store. Some of them beloved favorites, too. Oh well. I'm not going to…

Holy Week

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I feel so blessed. I AM so blessed, regardless of how I FEEL, and one of the things the Lord has been showing me is that I need to focus more oh how much He helps me (because He does!) and less on how tired I am.

This week, I think, God helped me A LOT. I was able to make several of the services. And that was a huge blessing. We did not go to the 12 Gospels service on Thursday night and on Wedesday, our kids were so fried that we scooted out the door as soon as we got our Holy Unction...B had been having a panic attack during the whole service.



So, Thursday night we stayed home and read the 12 Gospels together as a family. I decorated our fireplace mantle with some silk flowers found in our craft bin, and the right icons, and some candles. I know silk is a bit "redneck" but hey, we are Kentuckians...no shame!

The past two days I've been very busy in the kitchen. I've made SO MUCH FOOD...most of in "diet legal" junk food....GF cream puff shells, GAPS…

Palm Sunday Fail

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It was such a blessing yesterday to be able to go to Church and receive communion on Lazarus Saturday.

But that was yesterday.

Today: Palm Sunday Fail.

I was there. I arrived at about 10:20 and stood in the narthex while a baby was being churched. I could feel my energy leaving me at that point. You see, I was barely able to make it in the first place.

That's how my days have been. I do one thing, and I'm exhausted. I plan my days around much needed naps and the rest of the family is picking up my slack.

Almost like when I had mono. No, wait. JUST LIKE WHEN I HAD MONO! (Do I still have mono? Well, as soon as the blood work comes back, we will know.)

Meanwhile, back to my Palm Sunday fail...

So I make it in to churhc. I sit. I can barely hold myself up. Misery. The antiphons are a blur. So is the Epistle and Gospel reading. During the homily I put my head on Wes' shoulder and just drift. Jesus is King. OK, got that. Jesus needs to be King of my whole…

The Garden

Yesterday evening Wes and I took a drive out to the community garden to see what progress has been made.

It was a lovely evening. Insects were already flying in the grass by the road, and the earth had been disced, but not divided into plots yet. We hope to garden two of them this summer.

But there will be much work to be done. Wes wants to work it by hand, and bypass using the rototiller, and to that end he has purchased and spent the winter shapening a mattock. Just a wee step towards less dependance on petroleum products, I guess.

For my part, I just enjoy being out of doors, even if it means sitting and watching, or hobbling around with my cane, which support my legs need by the time evening comes.

After we looked around, we discovered some lettuce growing by the side of the road, so I picked it, and some wild flowers and we munched on some wood sorrel, enjoying its tart and tangy flavors for a few small bites.

While we were there, someone drove by with a horse in full la…

Veils

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I have added new veils to my etsy shop. I must say, they are very pretty...and just in time for Holy Week and Pascha (Easter)!





Response Video to Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus by the OCN

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Orthoodx Hymn Sampler...very lovely!

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Chapel Veil Design

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I designed a chapel veil today. Here are some photos. It is made from a D shaped lace, edged in flowers cut from the design and pleated in the back.from the front. It just sort of sits on my head.
Side view
On my head from behind.
Spread out on a pillow.

On Being an Autism Mom: A Post about Grief and Joy

Being an Autism mom means-

-the possibility of a never-empty nest

-watching your child "flunk out of" ballet lessons

-dealing with bullies and their parents

-feeling bypassed by the parents of normal kids

-being the mother of the odd-family-out

-finding kindred spirits in the strangest of places

-learning that age is no barrier to friendship and being grateful for ANYONE who will love your kids along with you

-not being invited to parties

-having no help or support

-not having people over as often as you would like

-spending all your money on doctors and medicine

-never being able to afford to go on vacation (see above)

-used furniture (see above)

-thrift store clothes because, in part, they are already broken in

-acceptance

-patience

-giving up your spontaneous side in favor of much needed routines

-watching the kids grow and develop at their own pace

-letting go of expectations

-fighting envy of "normal" kids' accomplishments and their proud parents

-accepting that some people w…

Watchfulness at Night

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This lent has been weird for me. I've had all this mental focus on my freaky health issues and the expensive tests for them, like the MRI. And then there's been making decisions about my oldest's care and medical treatment. And then there's been juggling the GAPS diet and the GFCF diet in our family and trying, trying, and certainly not doing it very well, or not being ABLE to do it very well...to eat less meat. Every fasting period, I watch Eric lose weight and deterioroate. We are at the official point of him not being able to focus on his school work. And this is WITH our family still eating fish (which he refuses) and chicken (which he will eat a small amount of).

(Please, no comments on how to get him to eat. He's a teenager and at this point it's really up to him. And when he was wee...well, force feeding and causing him to vomit are NOT good parenting choices in my opinion. Ancient history.)

So for him, and his anemic undernourished self, beef…

Prostrations

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This is a lovely video. For those of my friends and family who are not Orthodox Christians, perhaps it is an inside glimpse into how we worship. At our parish we do have pews and so the prostrations often become simple kneeling. This is a blessing for the ill and elderly.

On Colors and Thrifty Ways of Being.

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How things come together: I'm thinking of colors and where to put furniture in what room when we move this summer...and what we have and what I love. I have these two wonderfully comfortable, "shabby chic" at this point, leather chairs with half circle ottoman footrests...in dark GREEN. Not my color of choice. But the chairs are here and they shall remain. I love baskets, lace curtains, wooden furniture like a cedar chest, piano, old dish cabinet, spinning wheel...old world country. So how do these green overstuffed leather chairs fit into that picture? Here's how:



I'm not planning on doing a sunflower theme, mind you. That's too 1990's and matchy matchy for my taste. But that pale yellow against the dark green and brown (I know the color of the wall and it fits!)...truly inspired. So now I know what accent colors to start thrift-collecting for my future "parlor". Feeling grateful today.

GAPS Walnut Blondie

You know those awesome and amazing walnut blondies at Applebees? There they get served with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream and white chocolate sauce, which items I will have to perfect gapsy later. But for now, I bring you, inspired by the blondie, the GAPS WALNUT BLONDIE:

3 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/2T. gaps friendly vanilla extract (I found some at Meijer w/ no sugar. McCormicks also has one with no sugar. Or you can make your own with vodka, vanilla beans and three months of waiting).
2 cups of almond flour or almond meal.

Mix all together. sprinkle top with soaked and re-dehydrated walnuts. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until done.

Yum.

Baptismal Gowns

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It's time for a shameless plug for my etsy shop. I've put up three infant baptismal gowns at www.freetocover.etsy.com. I hope these sell fairly well, as I am raising money, in my own quiet way, to help my kids along in scouting. I've been too sick lately to take them door-to-door selling flowers. Here's a photo: For more details, follow the link.

Walking when very fatigued

My legs get very weak, all of a sudden like. When they do, this is how I walk.

MY Brain.

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Today I went for an MRI. I've been having some neurological symptoms lately and my doc wanted to check out all possibilities. I have no idea what it could be, but I have "peace that passes all understanding". Possibilites include Lupus, RA, some other autoimmune disease, or MS. I guess the MRI was looking for MS (or a brain thing, har har).

At any rate, the MRI machine is a great place for the Jesus prayer. I was clicking through the pictures on the DVD they sent home with me and found this image:



What do you see? I see a person kneeling at the foot of the cross, body is to the right of the cross, head/face to the left of the cross. Hair is hanging down.

I needed that today. God doesn't look at my fatigue and see a fat useless "lemon" of a person. That may be how I feel, but it's not the reality. This picture is like an icon of "me".

GAPS banana bread

Into food processor put:

four ripe bananas
four farm fresh eggs
1/4-1/2 cup honey
1/4-1/2 cup of coconut oil
pinch of salt
dash of lemon juice
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal

blend all until smooth. Scrape down sides as necessary.

Spray baking dish with olive oil spray. If you use a 9x13 it will be sort of flat. I have a baking dish that's the size of two small loaf pans side by side. Use whatever works for you. :-)

Pour batter into baking dish. Sprinkle soaked and toasted walnuts on top. Bake until a knife tests done...probably 45 minutes or longer, at 350 degrees.

Can you tell I'm not really into measuring my ingredients?

Lentil Stew (GAPS and Non-GAPS versions)

Alana's Lentil Stew:

1 onion, chopped

4-5 carrots, chopped

sautee these a bit (coconut oil is nice)

add 2 cubed potatoes and 1 large cubed sweet potato
bag of lentils
can of tomato sauce
1 T. salt
1 T. middle eastern five spice blend (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cardamon)
1 T. cumin
Water to cover all. Simmer until all is tender.

Alana's GAPS Lentil stew:

3 days before making the soup: Soak a bag of lentils in filtered water for a day, then drain and allow to sprout for a couple of days in a covered bowl.

Proceed to make the following into a soup:

large onion, chopped,
6 or so carrots, chopped
sautee the above in a healthy fat. (I like coconut oil or beef tallow)

Add: 1 bag of frozen cauliflower, I bag frozen cubed butternut squash
1 T. salt
1 T. middle eastern five spice blend
1 T. cumin
1 can of tomato paste (make sure it's GAPS legal)
sprouted lentils
water or bone broth to cover all.

Allow to simmer until all is tender.

This is less carby than the first version bu…

Sisyphus (They guy in Greek mythology who couldn't get his rock to the top of the mountain)

Well, lent has been peaceful so far. I've been struggling with my health, but then again, what else is new? Last fall seems like a long time ago, and that one month of feeling good was so NICE, but by December it was all over and I started feeling sick again. This has just gotten worse and worse and worse.

So...next week...I go for an MRI. And yesterday I had a bunch of blood taken. My doc is testing me for Lupus, RA, and any other auto-immune disease they can think of.

Maybe it's "just the fibromyalgia" but the levels of fatigue I've been having and the weird neurological symptoms are new. Not as much pain, just ginormous fatigue...like my arms and legs are concrete. And my legs get weak and I walk funny.

Recently someone told me I worry about my health too much. Someone else joked that I have Munchhausen's after I opened a pocket knife and clumsily cut myself on the finger. I know he was just joking, but that sort of stuff hurts a tiny bit. Bu…

Gaps friendly Latkes and Carrot Cake

GAPS Latkes

1 large peeled and Shredded Rutabaga
Shredded onion
about three or four eggs
salt and pepper

mix together and cook in flattened lumps in a
skillet with coconut oil for frying them.

These turned out AWESOME. Very tasty and down-home if home happens to be eastern europe. I think every place in that general part of the world has this recipe. In Switzerland they are called "Roeschti". Yum. Normally these are made with potato of course.

Carrot Cake

3 cups or so of shredded carrots
6 eggs,
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut flour
pinch of salt
1/2-3/4 cup of raisins.
1/2 cup coconut oil

mix all this together and bake at 350 F. until done...9x13 pan makes a flattish cake. This tasted moist and delicious and was just the thing for toting to coffee hour.

The Lenten Embrace

Whenever I encounter people who are normal, who have healthy kids, zero chronic illness and who have all their material needs met in abundance I am always left a little bit bewildered. The temptation is towards envy, I won't deny it. I struggle against that, though, and I do believe that God gives me a bit of success in embracing my own reality of chronic illness, ups and downs, spectrum kids, etc. I am very very aware that for all the checks in my "grief and loss" column, it could be much much worse. I am very aware of all the gifts, talents and provisions that God has made for us. I am grateful.

So I learn to be grateful for what IS. And that is spiritual medicine.

Today I was reminded of the vast differences between where people are at when a stranger on facebook commented on a mutual friend's post about fasting: two meals a day, "dry eating"...that sort of thing.

Yes, I know, I have heard it before...this is not news to me.

I'd just for…

Praying with the Saints

Someone wrote to me and asked me to tell him/her about praying with the saints, as we Orthodox understand it. I decided that what I wrote would make a good blog post:

Prayer to saints/with saints: There is a verse in the LXX psalter
somewhere that is translated "God is glorious in his saints". The
reason saints are special (and this has everything to do with our
"salvation theology", our understanding of what OUR goal is, and the
concept of theosis) is because they are utterly filled with the Holy
Spirit of God. So, when you are praying with a saint you are
praying with him or her IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Have you ever read the vignette about St. Seraphim of Sarov (I
consider him and St. Herman of Alaska to be my two saint "grandfathers".)
where he is explaining to a pilgrim about the Holy Spirit? This
explains it so well. We are in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit
is in us, and we are filled with Christ...spiritually AND physically
when we take his body and blo…

A Lesson from my Kitchen

It's official: I hate my crock pot. I bought a new crock pot a few months ago because my old one's crock had cracked (for the second time) and the lid handle had already been replaced. Same brand. But this one has an electronic timer instead of manual controls... Stongly. dislike. that. electronic. timer.

I know. It's "just" a control issue.

I want to be in charge of my appliances! I want to be the one to tell when food is done! I want the POWER. I will NOT submit to some dumb electronic timer who thinks it knows better than me. Submission is for unto God, not unto a Rival Crockpot timer. I have enough things in life I have no control over, and I WANT control of my own appliances, by dingy!!!!

I used to make bone broth in my crock pot...I'd let it go for days and just add more water as necessary.

This crock, however, makes weak, anemic broth because it keeps shutting the flippety flip OFF. And, it does not really get hot enough.

With my old cro…

That Dark Place

I do struggle with depression, don't I? I want to write happy uplifting blog posts, but that's just not possible.

Today was warm and sunny. We had our lessons, I did some knitting, some cooking, some laundry...you would think it'd be an easy day...A sunny day...a perfect day...

Instead, it was just hard. I struggled to get up this morning, and then there was the inevitable guilt that I feel when my slow body does not kick into gear as soon as I think it should. So it's a bit after ten thirty and we are starting school. (Not all the kids wait on me...some of them get a jump start on things like Math and Science while I'm drinking coffee...but others play the Wii, content to wait until I've officially started the school day before engaging their brains.

But we got it done, that's the thing...we DID get it done.

And by mid afternoon, I was dead on my feet. After doing almost nothing today. Not nothing...just quiet stuff.

Cooking soup for an early pre…

Coconut Sweets

Today I bought three fresh coconuts instead of buying the already processed-with chemicals added flaked coconut.

Getting one of them open was an adventure, but it seems it will need to be an adventure I get used to, since I'm committed to eating fresh real food.

First I took a hammer and a scewdriver, and banged two holes in the top, and drained the juice out of the center. (I'd already shaken them to hear the juice sloshing in the store, and checked the integrity of the shells.)

After pouring off the juice we sat down on the concrete (covered in vinyl floor tiles stuff) kitchen floor and started banging away at the coconut. Nothing worked until I took it and gave it the old "medicine ball floor slam"...THAT cracked the shell. So then we pried the rest of it off, with a few hammer whacks and some jabs with the screw driver.

Eventually I was able to use a vegetable peeler on the soft brown inner rind. It was about as fun as peeling a raw butternut squash, which …

What the Gaps diet is really: Vegetables and More Vegetables

I did not really realize how much processed food I was eating until I started this GAPS diet. Now, I'm eating vegetables, meat and the fats derived therefrom, eggs and a very small smidgen of fruit and honey. That's it.

Today, at the grocery store my shopping cart contained the following:

Acorn Squash-3
Butternut Squash-3
Spaghetti Squash-3
Cabbage
leeks
mushrooms (4 packs)
beets
turnips
brussel sprouts
cauliflower (I broke down and got this frozen because I knew I did not have room in the fridge)
carrots-4 lbs.
onions-2 bags
zucchini-8
eggplant-2
organic apples
small box of red currants
bananas-2 bunches, 1 ripe and 1 green
giant bag of frozen green beans
clementines
dried bananas (chewy like fruit leather, found at Trader Joes)
four avocados

coconut oil
sesame seeds (for later)
almond meal (for later).

I might be missing something. But that, my friends, is a LOT of vegetables!

I also bought:

1 pork roast
4 organic chickens
3 containers of ground pork for making sausages
6 pounds of beef (from …

Courtesy of Facebook

This blog post is sponsored in part by Facebook...which is currently down and not loading. He he he.

Seriously? Facebook is down? How will I get my George Takei nerdy funny pictures fix? How will I know what's happening in the wide wide world of Orthodoxy today? How will I ENDURE my morning without watching all my Facebook friends flinging political poopie pies at each other?

How will I be ABLE to endure the loneliness of simply being present here, in my own life, with my own kids and the responsibilities I have this day?

How can I be virtual? Auuuugh? No facebook?

Whatever did we do before FACEBOOK????

Ah yes, I remember...we blogged.

And before blogging, we had actual phone conversations with friends (hard to do for a home schooling or working mom, that's for sure).

And before that...I remember this thing called "people" that I used to hang out with. But that was when the kids were babies and toddlers and we had these phenomena called "play dates&…

Gaps update ...day six.

Well, I started the GAPS diet last Tuesday (on my birthday)...and let me say this: It is brutal. I"m not unhappy, it's just brutal. I can tell that I'm experienceing "die off" symptoms, which means basically that whilst getting healthier, I'm temporarily feeling worse.

I'm back to needing to lay down in the late afternoon for an hour or so. I've heard that as exactly what a person with adrenal fatigue ought to do anyway, so it's good to know that I'm killing two proverbial birds with one proverbial stone.

I was able to make it to Church this morning, and it was SO good to be there and to sing in the choir and to take communion. I feel truly blessed. I hope and pray I can have the energy to start going to choir practice again. I was going to do that last Thursday, but by 6 pm I was dead on my feet and not going anywhere but underneath a blanket.

So far, with my body, the die off feels exactly like the fibromyalgia. Yes, achy and ver…