Thursday 12/25/2014

Today has been very mellow. I started off with the young ones out of town and the one guest that is here and my husband still asleep till the afternoon. I decided to take full advantage of this and try to plan out a few months worth of work for Daycare activities, Entwined Vines Jewelry, and my Close to my Heart business including; social media, blogs, and active work. I am pretty please with where I got these before settling in for quiet time for myself till the rest of the house woke from their slumbers. With the other two sleeping later and knowing what was in the fridge, I elected to do leftovers for brunch and make a much more hearty dinner. I considered making a meal that would be elaborate and time consuming but yielded to my “be a loaf” plan for today and went with a fast yet hardy meal. I really did not do much else so this post is going to be very short and to the point with food being the goal.

Super Fast and Easy Paleo friendly pasta with Chicken and Broccoli:

IMG_2200I used; minced garlic, leeks, chicken, duck fat, broccoli, mushrooms, grain free pasta, heavy cream, and roasted garlic powder in a wok and had from start to finish, counting slicing time, dinner was ready in the time it took 2-1/2 songs play on Pandora.

In a hot wok, I put a dollop of fat (I had duck fat handy so used this), and enough protein (whole or diced does not really matter) for the number of people serving. Tonight I cubed 1 chicken thigh per person. Cook till lightly browned. About 2 minutes.

IMG_2195Now add garlic, leeks or onions, and vegetables of your choice. Tonight I elected to have 3 small brown mushrooms sliced and about 1/2 cup of broccoli per person. IMG_2196Cook this while stirring often till almost cooked (I like my vegetables hot but very firm). About 1 minute more

IMG_2198Now you can turn the wok of and serve at this point if you want a very light meal. Tonight I was after rich decadence and a higher level of carbohydrates as it is a holiday and I was in the mood to splurge. I had a few packages of Cappellos Fettuccine in the fridge so I added enough for everyone that was here for the meal.IMG_2197 This is a grain free pasta that is fresh so cook time is under a minute (how fantastic is that???). I layered the pasta on top and let steam with the lid on for about 30 seconds before tossing with the rest of the goodies.

IMG_2199I then drizzled some heavy cream over the whole works, tossed, and covered for another 20 seconds or so just to get the cream hot and finish the pasta. I then tossed and again and served. Simple yet wow to the taste buds without risk to allergies. What a great meal for a treat if I say so myself. What is your favorite fast treat meal?

IMG_2201Post in the comments questions, comment, idea, menu, and or recipe please.

Wednesday 12/24/2014

My sugars are already getting under control again and I am pretty comfortable in saying it is probably due to stress being down with my State inspection having been completed and secondly by my diet getting back to where I like to keep it. The diet is much easier to make wise choices with the stress being lower. I enjoyed a nice slow cup of coffee with my husband while everyone else was in bed. Such a treat! We then went out to the back yard to walk, talk, and plot our coming plans for the space and when we would like to try to do what.

With our move, we gained a sizable yard with a preset garden area. I like dreaming about a garden and enjoy planting and harvesting through the season. I love the fact that being part of the Maritime Northwest we have a good 10 months for our growing season with little extra work to make this happen. One the other hand, I can not tell one plant from the next at the early stage of the game so falter on weeding. I either do no weeding at all for knowledge that the last time I tried that I pulled everything, including what I was intentionally trying to grow, or I pull everything thinking my starts can’t possibly be what I am seeing and the bed has been over taken and I must tame it. We have a separate preset herb garden that I have no real idea what is in it other than lavender. Also we have a lovely area setup for our chickens.

After walking, talking, and planning, we have agreed to have the main garden be 900 sq. ft. with the goal of this year setting the beds flat but putting in the effort of interchangeable foundations using PVC so that we can change out tunnels, trellises, and the like. We also planned out the irrigation setup along with rain water collection options. We will start pricing out these projects and see how realistic this first year plan is and do what we can. I like raised beds visually as well as the ease of maintenance and long term plan to move that direction as finances allow after the first year so we can workout any adjustments we want to make to the layout before making the space more permanent. I have also lined up a consultant that has a lifetime of proven experience as well as a little regular physical help for the weeding by something that can actually tell by looking what is what. Come late summer or early fall we will be looking to build our greenhouse and begin the adventure of aquaponics. We are working through what we want to raise for protein in this space and we are leaning toward crayfish and trout but will do more research before fully deciding to see if these would be a good fit for our wants and needs.

We talked about a few features we wish to have on the next chicken house and adjustments to their yard to make it more safe for the hens against predators such as raccoons and the like, adding a section for meat rabbits, fast turn around area for meat chickens and a small section for honey bees. All in all we had a great time talking and dreaming today. It will be fun to see how this new adventure goes over the course of time.

The rest of the day came and went in a leisurely fashion with company and getting the younger ones ready and out the door for their visit to Goldendale Washington for Christmas. Meals came and went. Socializing meandered through the day as energy and desire guided with a fun break of crazy in the middle. For me every year I try to make a trip to crazy land on Christmas eve by making a trip to the mall. I go in great spirits knowing I am done for this year just to smile, walk, and people watch. Seems strange, and it might be, but I enjoy this little ritual of mine. This year I went with my husband and one friend that is in town from the far off land of Marysville. Good times seemed to be had by all three of us while sipping coffee, walking, talking, and laughing.

Brunch today was a simple salad with olives and wild caught salmon for a slight Mediterranean flair.

<this photo will be inserted once WordPress lets me>

Dinner was steak, salad, and steamed broccoli. I did not take photos of this as I was to focused on eating and socializing and figured you have seen enough of this meal not to need yet another photo tonight.

Tuesday 12/23/2014

This day seems to be much better than yesterday. I got up at a reasonable time for a day off especially knowing that I went to bed last night at 2am. I was fortunate to have time to sip on my morning coffee and catch up with my husband that got home from work a little before (he works graveyard shift). He learned that he will have Christmas off but will have to work the weekend instead. I am glad he will have a few days off and knows enough in advance that he can adjust his sleep but sad that yet another weekend will be spent working. I had scheduled to have three full meals today but realized that no one was going to be awake early enough to bother. I elected to drop the meatloaf and salad that I had planned for lunch and just go with Chard and leftover meats for a nice hearty brunch instead.

Brunch:I heated my large cast iron skillet on medium with a couple cubes of pasture raised local butter and a large dollup of fresh minced garlic while cleaning and slicing fresh local, organic rainbow chard after cutting out the heavy ribbing that tends to make the chard more bitter. I then sauteed the chard in the butter till crisp but tender. I also pulled the last of the leftover ham out to add to the plate chilled. For me I had a half cup chard and 3 oz of the ham along with the last of my cup of coffee. I hope this is a good start to lowering my sugar levels (they were much lower than Monday but still have a long way to go before I am happy with them). I recommend eating the best quality that your budget can afford and staying as local as you can to support your economy and assist the environment in decreasing the use of fossil fuels for your food.

IMG_2186 IMG_2187

While waiting for breakfast to cook, I started getting dinner going so it would have enough time to slow cook through the day and I do not have to worry about most of the meal. We were going to have a Moroccan Lamb stew yesterday but as you know, that did not happen. Today it is kind of happening with mild changes made due to my mood. I took a red onion and a yellow onion that I then diced and sauteed in my large dutch oven with avocado oil and garlic till translucent where I then added 4# cubed lamb that then got browned. To the pot I added a can of coconut milk, cumin seed, cinnamon, hot curry powder, turmeric, pepper, a tiny pinch of salt, coriander, smoked paprika, and fresh flat leaf parsley. I brought the whole pot to a low boil then covered and let simmer for 20 minutes before moving the whole lot into my wonderbag for slow cooking. I really LOVE this contraption in I am saving utilities, money, environment, etc and I do not have to worry about the power going out in a storm for me meal to finish cooking.

IMG_2188 IMG_2189 IMG_2190

I then took advantage of the fact that most of the house was still in bed and started catching up on my blogging and news reading on health and fitness issues that had been stacking up that I really wanted to read while my husband took the mettle recycling in to get off this property. I keep waiting for the point where we only have our stuff here and the property is in good shape.

My friend and I went and did some errands and then it was time for dinner. I added cauli-rice that I cooked with avocado oil and sweet curry powder that the lamb was ladled onto and a side of sauteed Asparagus finished off the meal to perfection.


Monday 12/22/2014

I woke feeling cranky and my sugar levels so high I wanted to cry but not having the time to bother with such silly emotions. Today is the day of go, go, go. I had planned a nice breakfast of herb beef patties, eggs, and toast. None of this happened because my mind was already spinning. I had to hurry and finish cleaning up from our family holiday feast the night before and get in gear for my State childcare health and safely inspection! My yard needed things gotten rid of, the smoke alarm needed moving, gates adjusted, doors hung with better safety options, escape plan posted and the updated poison control number attached to my cell phone in such a way that even the small children could do it if needed to name but a few things that had to be done ASAP. I took the time to take a few deep breaths, drank my coffee and got to work. My family stayed in bed late so no one really noticed that breakfast came and went without anything actually being made. I realize this is so not how I was hoping to start off the week but hay you look at it and move on right?

I made it through my State inspection with flying colors and we ended up talking about the coming changes for next year and how they would affect many providers but not really me as I already do all of those things because I believe they should be done for the betterment of the children and the care I provide. We also discussed what it would take for me to move up to the highest level of in home care the State approves and how that would affect me, my budget, and the families I work with. My inspection normally takes about 15 minutes and this time lasted well over an hour but really I believe it will be worth it in the long run. My inspector is sending me the packet to apply for the higher level and has already done most of that inspection so it should be a cake walk when I decided to do it. I would be able to afford to higher a full time assistant rather than just part time help, income would go up substantially, and I would be more willing to consider increasing the number of children in care a little bit (I am never at my limit because I believe firmly that it is better for the children to keep my ratio of adult to children low). The meeting took so long though that I had only minutes to grab a slice of ham for lunch instead of the planned chicken Caesar salad before my next appointment.

When I moved into this new home, the previous people had fish in a nice 20 gal. tank that is on a pedestal. They ended up leaving it behind along with a goldfish. I found a home for the fish but the daycare children saw the tank and got so excited that I decided to keep it, clean it up and try my hand at a freshwater tropical tank with live plants and no ceramic. I wanted it to be as natural as a home tank reasonable can be. The challenge is, I have no clue what I am doing. For me fish is what I cook and put on the dinner table right? I read a few books, talked to several people, and decided I was so not ready to take this on but at the same time did not want to disappoint the children and heck the take was already here, so I did the only thing I could think of. I called “The Wet Spot” and asked for Matt their handy tank service guy. He has now been out twice with the first time getting the tank all cleaned up and setting the water levels to support life. Today, he came back with stunning wood features, live plants, and a handful of pretty fish to start stocking the tank. I now have 1 gold snail, a pair of Irian Red Rainbow, and 10 Rummy nose tetra. He then helped me figure out the lighting set up that I have and discussed what I would like for him to bring in two weeks when he returns. All in all I am really happy with the use of this time and do not regret the shift in meal as I know that sitting and watching the fish will be a huge step in helping me relax through the day regardless of what is going on in my life. Stress management a win meal choice not so much.

Finally, the day moved along and I knew I should be making dinner but kept thinking we had a LOT of leftovers from the day before feast and put off making the Moroccan lamb stew in favor of making room in my two fridges and letting everyone scrounge for nutrition. I toodled off to pickup the friends at the train station and we proceeded to stay up way past my bed time. Normally I am in bed pretty early and I suppose that 2am is early except to me that in normally closer to my wake up time rather than the go to bed time. Oh well, it was a good day and I have hopes of better choices Tuesday…

Paleo/ Autoimmune friendly Menu for the week of 12/22/2014

I have been savoring the Paleo lifestyle for awhile now and although I slip and slide down the past on occasion, I find I seem to always feel better and have far superior control of my diabetes when I stay true to coarse. This past few months I have been very far afield with my food, physical movement plan, spiritual work, and pretty much everything else you can imagine. My stress went through the roof with a drastic move, remodel, and state governed career changes. When my stress went crazy, the rest of my life went well off track in a monster truck so to speak. I ran out of time to meditate, cook proper meals (heck shopping was spotty so how was I to cook well?), go for my daily walks or lift heavy things. I have been lax on remembering to take my diabetes medications and taking care of me went to the sidelines for far to long. I normally do not have a bump in the road that lasts this long and I am now paying to price on many fronts. With this all in mind, I am making an effort to get my rear in gear and get back on track. I have thought about ditching my coffee in the morning during this time and although I know it would probably be wise for me to do so, I have decided that I get to have a cup on days I do not work. The days that I have daycare children, I will limit myself to tea and see what the differences in my energy, mood, and sugar levels are before I decided one way or the other on if I really need to give up this simple pleasure more or not.

I have long time friends in town staying with me this week and with that took the time to make a menu outline. I am back to Paleo meals (no grains, legumes, limited dairy) as well as little to no fruit. My guests are also limited to no pit fruit (latex allergy), eggs, or shellfish, limited nightshade family and milder spices. I will also have another friend stopping buy on occasion that has violent reactions to pork so that will have to be served on days he is not over. This seems like a very limiting list for food options but I find it a fun challenge to see what I can come up with that will satisfy all.

I know that I have a tendency to forget to take photos of what I eat mostly because I am so in the moment of joy that taking the step back to take a picture slips my mind. I am posting my menu outline today knowing that I adjust often due to schedule and my mood. My outline does not give a great idea of the seasonings I will use but I will post those as the week progresses. If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will reply within the week.


Breakfast: herb beef patties, eggs for those that can have them, and asparagus

Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad

Dinner: Moroccan Lamb Stew


Breakfast: Garlic Herb Chicken, Rainbow Chard

Lunch: Meatloaf, tossed green salad

Dinner: Fish, Salad, Broccoli


Breakfast: Mediterranean Salmon Salad

Lunch: Chicken & Dumpling Stew

Dinner: Grilled Pork, Mashed spuds, Green Beans with bacon


Breakfast: Pork Patties, eggs for those that can have, Brussels sprouts with bacon

Lunch: Teared Ahi Tuna salad

Dinner: Egg drop soup, paleo potstickers, fried “rice”, lemon grass chicken


Breakfast: Steak, mushrooms, asparagus

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Sausages & Kraut


Breakfast: Bacon quiche (for those that can have), toast, fruit bowl

Lunch: Vegetable soup, anti pasta plater

Dinner: Roast, carrots, cabbage, salad


Brunch: Pancakes, bacon, eggs for those that can have

Dinner: Tandoori chicken, curry “rice”, sliced cucumbers

As you can see I like a lot of variety in my menu and I make enough items per meal to satisfy all while keeping in mind that this will be feeding my normal household of 7 plus a minimum of 3 extras each round. I normally also list a snack for each day but with my not having daycare at all this week and it being the holidays, I am just not going to make that option be filled in and will rather have enough healthy options to grab and go if needed. My one concern is if I will have enough left overs for Friday lunch. If I do not, I will pull a rabbit out of my hat I am sure so check back to see how this pans out.

super easy, fast, and nutritious soup: Paleo Friendly Fall Soup to Help Keep You Feeling Great

I have been seeing lots of “healthy” soup recipes floating around the past few weeks with Fall basically here and the weather changing around the US. Today it reached a lovely 71 degrees Fahrenheit with a perfect small smattering of drizzle here at my home. With the weather comes pressure in the sinuses (at least for me), head colds abound in my child care program, and the desire for a tasty steaming cup of soup rise. I am one of those people that LOVE soup. I enjoy this aspect of a menu year round although I have not found a chilled soup that I like as of yet.

I decided to put together some of my knowledge in nutrition as well as the art and science of food to create the foundation of this soup. While reading through  this though I really want to remind everyone that I do NOT generally make recipes, rather I create a template that is meant to be played with.

Nutritionally this soup; boosts T cell activity to help your body fight bacteria and viruses, is full of sulfuric compounds that have been found effective against bacteria and infection, has high beta carotene that converts to vitamin A (one of its jobs is to support the mucus membranes making it harder for bacteria to enter), immune builders in the form of mushrooms, beneficial iron and antioxidants in the dark greens that help build white blood cell production, and so much more that if I continued I would feel like an infomercial!

*** As anyone that know me, knows that I cook for a miniature army so when I say I took an onion for instance, in reality I took closer to 3 but have decreased to size of the batch to be about right for a smaller meal (about 3 or 4 servings). I do not feel this is deceptive as I did take at least the amount listed to make my meal and am just being nice in making it a manageable meal. ***

Paleo Friendly Fall Soup to Help Keep You Feeling Great
top of Paleo Friendly Fall Soup to Help Keep You Feeling Great in a hand crafted wooden bowl.

Paleo Friendly Fall Soup to Help Keep You Feeling Great

fat of choice to coat a heavy dutch oven or stock pot (I used bacon fat as I had some handy on the back of my stove)

1 onion – diced (I used a couple and mixed it up with a yellow and a purple but either or will work just fine)

1 leek sliced thin – white part only

2 or 3 carrots sliced or shredded (I like chunky soup so I sliced but shredded tends to look prettier)

1 bundle of celery sliced – optional but again I like chunky soup

5 to 10 cloves of fresh garlic- minced (my family LOVE garlic so I used probably all 10 cloves, maybe more)

an inch of fresh ginger that I peeled, sliced, and then pressed with the flat of my knife to release more of the yummm

1 dash of crushed chili peppers (I used about 1 tsp but I like it hot)

 — saute the above for about 5 minutes over medium high heat —

cover with 3 to 4 cups of chicken stock or bone broth is even better if you have any on hand

 — after bringing to a boil turn down the heat to a nice simmer for 15 minutes or till the vegetables are almost as tender as you like them to be. I like mine to still have a good body and not very soft —

Add a bundle of dark leafy greens (like spinach, kale, radicchio,  or chard personally) that you have sliced – I have both spinach and radicchio in the photo as I wanted the green and purple coloring!

8 to 10 mushrooms of choice – chopped (I used shiitake this round)

an egg for each person that will be enjoying – whipped then drug through the soup with a fork

 — cook an additional 5 minutes till done —

Sprinkle with salt (I used smoked), pepper, curry powder (I used spicy). and turmeric to taste or any other spice combination you might like. Serve with a splash of citrus juice of choice (think lemon or lime might be best for an extra boost of vitamin c) then serve hot and enjoy!

Remember this is a template so it you want fewer or greater variety of vegetable go for it, you don’t want egg mixed in this round for the extra protein boost? No biggy! Don’t like curry or just in a different mood? Change it up! Want a mellower form of garlic? Use roasted and squeeze it in! Make this soup yours then please share a comment and maybe even a picture of your own to help inspire others…

Adventures of Rafting, Well Almost Anyway

This last Friday my oldest daughter, husband, and I loaded up my mini-van and hit the road for a planned fantastic weekend on the Deschutes river whitewater rafting with several other friends. We headed out early so we could stop up at Timberline Lodge to take a short hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (at least a segment of). The hike was so pretty and it was fun seeing the skiers and snowboarders plowing down the Mountain at the beginning of August (peek summer month here in Oregon) even though the snow was sparse! There were pretty little flowers in bloom and in patches and the historic lodge was worth the stop and walk about. After our hike we took a short break and sat down in the pub on the second floor to savor a cheese platter as well as the charcuterie board, yummy. When we turned off of I-24 to head up to the lodge from Government Camp, we noticed that our van lost the speedometer and with that the ability to know when to change gears. We had hoped that with the heat and elevation that once it had a rest things would run smooth again but decided to cut short our hike time,  hence it was a very short trek. We got out to the van and as we went down the mountain everything seemed to have self-corrected and we were on our way again yay! Or so we thought. The next climb we needed to take as we cruised along I-24 the darn thing went out again. The view was stunning and we felt pretty confident that we would be able to keep driving along as we knew how to handle this situation enough to be safe.

Once we reached Madras though we started to have to help the van shift from a stop and had to accept that the crew that would be shuttling our vehicles to our pullout point in Maupin after ridding through boxcar rapid, would not be willing to deal with our glitch van. We had a choice to make of either turning around and driving the over 2 hours back home to get the auto repair manual and tools or calling my ex-husband who we had driven 3 hours one way to rescue last year to have him bring what we needed while we grabbed the parts from the shop, have dinner, and wait. We elected to make that phone call and wait. Turned out a friend of ours volunteered to run over to our house to grab what was needed while my ex was fixing dinner for his children and when the friend looked, could not find what we were after so he gave us a fast call back. Wow it had already been an hour and time was getting itchy! We had a second idea of grabbing my daughter that drives mini-van from the sheriffs parking lot where it was sitting for the weekend anyway as she is off doing something at the coast and would not need it then the friend could just swap vans and we could fix mine when we got home on Sunday yay this would help save time in the Safeway parking lot and get us setup for the night before midnight! Or so we thought… about 2 hours after the friend got off the phone with us saying he would be on his way, we received another call to say he was stranded at the side of the road about 30 minutes out and my daughters van was DEAD. Oh how I wanted to whimper at that moment! I decided I really did not want to go rafting this round without my husband and so was willing to pass but our oldest daughter was still game if we could get her there. We told our friend that we would be on the way as soon as we dropped her off. At this point it was now 10pm and traffic was heavy enough we missed the turn-off in the dark and when we turned around our daughter was at the point of lets just get home and if the van is fixed in time to come back before morning great. We called our tow company to be told that they would be happy to send a truck but where we wanted the van taken the truck company required $600 up-front to pay for the mileage! This was NOT going to happen. We turned them down, picked up our friend and came home accepting that rafting was not going to happen for us this year. In the morning, we rented a car carrier, a truck (the least expensive place even after adding in the truck required us to not use our own truck) and the friend and my husband made the drive, grabbed my daughters van and brought it back while I stayed home and emptied our my van and put away all our clean un-used camping gear, dry bags, and misc. All in all Saturday was retrieval and recovery day. Saturday evening became fix my van time instead of relax with friends and family time. I had moments of deep sighing time but managed. Sunday became finish my van and start the process of trying to figure out my daughters van issues… All in all the weekend had a great hike, lovely views, and could have been worse. We missed the trip down the river and look forward to next year.

Living each day with Joy