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Monday, November 28, 2011

Taking Christmas Slow


Around here we like to take Christmas slow and enjoy the season. We have no rush to get everything decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving. We want to enjoy each and every part of Christmas in its time.
So how do you take Christmas Slow?
  1. Only put up a few decorations at a time. We began on Friday by finding our advent wreath. This year my son made ours. We followed that up on Saturday with the Nativity Sets. I mentioned one year that I wanted a Nativity Set and everyone and their uncle bought me one. I have the family Fontinani Set in the living room. We are very hands on with this set. Each bedroom has a small set and the bathrooms and kitchen have one. By decorating fist with our Advent decorations it helps us to remember that Christ comes first in Christmas.
  2. We make time to enjoy each of the little events little up to Christmas. St. Nicholas Day, Christmas program at school, picking out the tree, putting the tree up. Each one of these occasions is celebrating in its own right and day.
  3. Wait to put up the tree. When everyone used fresh trees and heated their houses with wood or coal there was no rush to bring a tree into the house. Many families had the tradition of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve.  Growing up we would put our tree up the Sunday before Christmas and decorate it then. That was also the day my grandmother would arrive to start cooking her bounty. Now we wait until Gaudete Sunday IMG_2157to put up our tree. It is a fitting celebration for that Sunday. We make cocoa, and enjoy popcorn while decorating the tree.
  4. One thing I do get done early is my present shopping. And I take advantage of sites like Amazon and Amazon Prime to ship my gifts to my far away family. By getting my shopping done and out of the way I am able to enjoy time with my kids – doing the Christmas things I want to do, not standing in lines to buy presents and then wrap and ship them.
  5. With the busyness  of the season, school parties, Christmas programs at school, Office parties, parades, and everything else I make it a priority to pick just one event each week to attend. I want to be able to enjoy each event not have to rush from one party to the next.  Saying no during the holiday season also gives me more time with my family.
  6. Wait until Christmas Eve to have the kids put up the Stockings. My family likes to use the IMG_2365same stockings every year. These are stockings that I made for them their first Christmas.
  7. Make the focus on family not on the gifts. Our children only get three gifts from Santa. the gifts are for body, mind and soul. Santa also puts presents in stockings, 5 in all – one for each sense.  They are not overwhelmed with gifts.
  8. Speaking of Gifts  - Santa does not wrap his gifts at our house. The kids have access to those right away but we wait until after everyone has had breakfast to open any other gifts under the tree.

What are some of your ways to Slow Down Christmas and make it last the whole Season?

This post is linked up to Simple Lives Thursdays

Friday, November 25, 2011

Butternut Squash and Apple Stuffing


This year I am trying something new for Thanksgiving. Last year I wanted to do this but my family did not want change. So this year I am making the Traditional Stuffing and a Grain-free version too. This stuffing is based on one of my all time favorite winter dishes. Stuffed Butternut Squash. This recipe can be adapted to be vegetarian if you like.
  • 1 lb. Apple Sausage – I am using a locally made one but you can find Apple Sausage at Whole Foods and other supermarkets.
  • 1 small to medium butternut squash
  • 2 medium apples
  • 1 onion
  • allspice –to season
  • cinnamon – to season
  • maple syrup 1/4 cup (real maple syrup)
  • butter about 2 tbs.
  1. Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds
  2. Score the butternut squash and season with all spice, cinnamon and maple syrup.
  3. Place butternut squash in a baking pan and cook at 350 degrees until a fork easily passes through it. (the length of time depends on how big your squash is)
  4. Finely dice the onion and sauté in the skillet with the sausage. Cook the sausage until browned. Remove sausage and onion mixture from skillet
  5. Peel and dice the apples, sauté in skillet with a little butter the any remaining maple syrup and cinnamon and allspice
  6. When butternut squash is fork tender remove scrap it away from the skin. Add the butternut squash to the apples, and add back the chicken sausage.
  7. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Add more allspice and cinnamon if you feel it is necessary. (This would be a time to add poultry seasoning too if you like)
For a vegetarian version I like to use black beans instead of the sausage.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday Alternatives

Black Friday Hot Deal Header Image4TFTSThumb205140
While many are preparing for Black Friday- (my girls among them) I am thinking of many other things I would love to do instead of standing in line in the dark cold night only to run into a store to pushing people down to get that bargain or great deal. Black Friday shopping is not my idea of fun. Not to mention I like to have my shopping done by Thanksgiving so I can enjoy Advent.
While there are many reasons that you don’t need to go out bargain shopping on Black Friday I will not go into those here. But you can read some of those reasons here and here.
Instead I am going to offer some alternatives to Black Friday Shopping

  • Go out to Breakfast with your Family
  • Many cities have runs the day after Thanksgiving – go burn off those calories from Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Go to a Museum or Zoo
  • Clean out your closet and purge 20 items – Load it up in the car and drop off at a local Charity
  • Get your Car ready for the Winter – clean out the trunk and put your “winter” stuff in the trunk – boots hats, gloves, blanket
  • Finish up those last few outside yard chores and winterize the house
  • Have a family game tournament
  • Start a neighborhood football/soccer game
  • Get out your Advent Wreath and Nativity Set – Set them up
  • Go to see a family friendly movie
  • Have a Homemade Black Friday – get together with some friends or the kids and make gifts, enjoy leftovers.
What will you be doing this Black Friday? I will for one will be getting out my Advent Wreaths (yes I have more than one) and Nativity Sets (I have several of these as well). Did I mention that Advent is my favorite season?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Choosing Your Thanksgiving Focus

handprint turkey

I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. What is our focus on Thanksgiving? We all talk about it being about Giving Thanks, but for so many it is about eating and gorging ourselves, watching football and preparing for Black Friday sales. For me football and Black Friday are not big Mostly about the amount of food that is prepared and wasted. Yes wasted. It seems that That’s right – how much food is wasted. I have been thinking about how much food is eaten too. It seems that Thanksgiving has become more a holiday of gluttony and less about giving Thanks. We normally eat a turkey a week this time of year, so by Thanksgiving turkey has been done a couple of times. In some families, Thanksgiving means not not only turkey but ham and sometimes lasagna. It seems the bigger the gathering the more food there is . I know that when I am going to a potluck I bring enough food for my family to make an entrée out of and a dessert.
So what can we do to make Thanksgiving less about feasting and gorging ourselves?
  • Eliminate dishes you do not need to make. Only make your family’s favorite dishes. If your family does not like sweet potato casserole don’t make it. Just because it looks good in the magazine does not mean you need to make it.
  • Stick to the basics – at  bigger Thanksgiving gatherings, make what people expect. Most people want to see stuffing, turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans. My family used to make more dishes but not everyone liked all the vegetable dishes. It had just become a tradition.
  • Make Less Food –Consider the portion size, do you really need a 20 lb. turkey when a 12 will do? Do you need to cook 10 lbs. of mashed potatoes? I know if you are the hostess you want to make sure that no one goes away hungry or that everyone gets their favorite dish. One question – Have you ever seen anyone walk away from the Thanksgiving dinner hungry?
  • Change the emphasis – If Thanksgiving is about giving Thanks, find ways to do that with your family and in your community. Go help out with a food outreach, Invite the lonely to Thanksgiving. If you live in a college town ask your local college if there are any students who can’t go home for Thanksgiving. Visit those who have to work for Thanksgiving, firemen, policemen, take them some pie or other dessert.
  • Help out Those Less Fortunate than You – Go work at a soup kitchen for a few hours on Thanksgiving. Help hand out turkeys the day before at a Food Bank. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Growing (up) in Faith

Liana over at Working to be Worthy asked me to review her new e-book. l was more than pleased to do so and overjoyed. I wish I had a resource like this when my kids were little.  This is a well written book about celebrating the liturgical year with your child with ideas for activities and crafts from Advent to Christmas to Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time. The  written from a Catholic perspective, but has many ideas that will appeal to Christians of all denominations. I wish I had a book like this when my kids were younger.
Liana has a back round in Psychology, and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. As such she understands child development and how your child thinks.  She has worked with children of all ages and has geared this book for those up to age 5.
I particularly loved what Liana had to say about Christmas. She writes about reducing materialism during Christmas. I am a big fan of the simple Christmas, so this was right up my alley.  Liana, also touches on teaching your child how to dress for church and the importance of doing so.
“In our culture, dressing in formal clothing is a sign of respect.
Christmas and Easter usually inspire people to wear their best
clothes. Many families will buy special outfits particularly for the
season. It is worth considering why most people do not wear their
“Sunday best” for every Mass”
Liana does not neglect the parent either.  Each chapter end with a special section for the parent’s spiritual growth.  You can get Liana’s  her book Growing (up) in Faith here where 10% of the proceeds go to Angel Care  or if you are an e-book reader you can get it on Amazon for Kindle. At $4.95 it is a great value.
This book makes a great edition to the  family bookshelf and has many ideas that can be incorporated in families of all ages.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What happens when the Washing Machine Breaks

While my washing machine was out of commission this week I had some time to get caught up on some other things, like my room. While cleaning, and rearranging and decluttering (apparently, not having to do laundry gave me a LOT of free time) I came across this poem written by my dear daughter Pi.
There, here no where, still where?
Sun, Moon, Stars, Sky, There , here , nowhere.
but where is holy heaven?

Hope, Faith,life, love Jesus
Church as Faith, Hope life and and love
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Trinity

Father, Mother, Daughter, Son, Family.
All together life and death in heaven
God’s done what we have.

Mother’s heartbeat. Boom boom!
Nourishing food Yum Yum tummy full ahh!
A baby in Mother’s womb
New beginning lost life, try!

Old, new still trying, last change try
still waiting, last change TRY!
Begin, doing, End a race
Will death win over you? Run Race, run Sprint You win I Live.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Caring Cross Review and Giveaway

This Giveaway is closed. Thanks to all who participated.

caring cross
When I was asked to do a review of the Caring Cross I was thrilled. I have been buying Olive Wood products from the Christians in Bethlehem for years. I usually have to wait till they come around to our parish but not anymore. You can get these crosses directly for yourself.
Each Caring Cross is individually carved from a single piece of beautifully grained olive wood pruned from the olive trees around Bethlehem. When you buy a caring cross you are helping Christians in Bethlehem directly. Christians in Bethlehem are now in a minority  The Christians in Bethlehem are discriminated against, so when you buy their handiwork you are helping to provide a living wage for these people.
I received a beautiful Caring Cross with a velveteen gift bag. This cross is made from a solid piece of beautifully grained olive wood.  They are designed specifically to fit within the contours of your hand and are  perfectly formed to fit in your hand.  Caring Crosses make a wonderful gift to say "thanks" or "I care" to your pastors, priests, Sunday School Teachers, or prayer group.
These crosses are smooth and polished, easy to hold in your hand and take with you. They make great gifts too.  Christmas is coming up, and they are offering a special price for my readers.  Why not take advantage of the great discounts and order a few and knock out some Christmas gifts?
To order your own there are some great discounts at this time!
1 cross is $8 ($5 plus $3 shipping)
2 crosses are $12 ($9 plus $3 shipping)
Mission Pack is 8 crosses at $40 ($32 plus $8 shipping)
Fundraising and Church packs are still $3 per cross plus shipping.
To order at these great prices above go here.
each cross will come with a beautiful velveteen gift bag.

Giveaway~ Caring Cross has offered one of my readers their very own Comfort Cross and velveteen gift bag!

To enter the giveaway be sure to leave a comment, and don't forget to share this giveaway with your friends. Winner will be chosen via This giveaway will be open until November 21st.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Sponsored by

Sunday, November 13, 2011

White Sage for Cold Relief

image credit
I enjoy learning new things and you never know where or who you learn it from. While attending a Mountain Man Rendezvous I had an opportunity to learn a new cold remedy. My husband is Cherokee and because of that we try to incorporate his culture in our lives. So when a lovely lady told me of a new to use for White Sage I was eager to try it. As it turned out,  my oldest is dealing with a cold. So we tried this remedy as soon as we got home. White Sage is typically used in smudging and cleansing ceremonies by Native Americans. However it does have medicinal uses too, It can be made into a tea, which reduces mucous secretions of the sinuses, lungs and throat, salivation and sweating. Cold Sage tea can be a good remedy for stomach tonic, while a warmer Sage tea is good at sore throats remedy. The Sage’s leaves are also used as a remedy for heavy and painful menstruation when it is applied as a uterine hemostatic tea..  Considering that most cough syrups are not effective Why not give this remedy a try next time you have a cough or cold?
  • White Sage – 1 tsp.
  • Honey – 1 tsp.
  • Lemon juice – 1tsp

To use make an infusion by pouring  1 pint of boiling water on to 1 OZ. of the dried herb, 1 tsp. of honey and the juice of one lemon. Let it steep for about 30 minutes.  Strain it and drink it up. We like to use the French Press for making our infusions. Your dose will be anywhere from 3 oz. to 8 oz.  Take throughout the day.

this post is linked up to Homestead Barn HopFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysHealthy 2Day ,WednesdaysSpa SunDaze

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kids need the Sabbath

Many of us set aside time aside to attend church on the weekend. But do you keep the Sabbath? Do you teach your children to keep the Sabbath? What am I talking about here? I am talking about setting time aside for God and family. Most of us do a pretty decent to good job of setting aside time for God and Church, but what about setting time aside on the Sabbath for our families or ourselves?
When I was growing up stores were closed on Sundays. All of them, grocery stores and even the Mall. Shopping was just not done on the Sundays. somewhere about my teens the Blue Laws as they called them started to relax.  It allowed for grocery stores to be open, as groceries were a necessity. However they did not open until noon or 1pm and closed by 5 or 6pm. Now today drive by any Shopping Center parking lot and you will find that Sunday is perhaps the busiest day of the week. There was a time in our marriage and family life that we joined the crowds on Sunday. It was church out to lunch and shopping. We  would get home somewhere about 3pm. When I realized that we had no down time on Sundays, no real family time I decided to make a change in that.
For many Sunday has blended into Saturday  and is called "the weekend." Many of us do go to church but for just as many. Sunday is just another weekend day to get the shopping done, or watch a football game. I understand the demands of the week for many of us.  For some of us we see Sundays as a bonus weekend day, a day to catch up on those things we did not get done during the week. While we can not change how our American society treats Sundays we can as families and individuals set aside  Sunday as a day that for worship, for family, for rest and recreation, and for charitable acts, not for business (and especially not for non-essential, unpaid work so often demanded by corporate employers on that day).
The  Catechism of the Catholic Church states that  God’s  action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed."96 The Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.97
The Sunday obligation
As Catholics we have an obligation to attend and participate in the Mass. We must make time on Sundays for Mass, As a practicing Catholic, I follow the percept to attend Mass first and foremost on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. I believe that Sunday should be set aside not only  for mass but  for family time. Much to my chagrin I have had fellow parishioners tell me they were not going to mass because they were going to a soccer game or a birthday party, or needed to go grocery shopping  and they could not fit mass in. Seriously?!! Living near the city there is practically a mass and hour here. If going to another mass is not an option go late to the birthday party. What sort of message are you sending when you put your social life or grocery or Christmas shopping ahead of God?  The Catholic Catechism goes on to say that those who do not attend mass (except those excused for a serious reason) commit a grave sin.

  A Rhythm of Work and Rest
We as humans crave a rhythm of work and rest. This need is ingrained in our very core. In setting aside a day of rest for everyone it allows us to recharge our batteries, we are able to make time for not only physical rest, but we are able to cultivate our cultural and social lives. The Catholic Catechism states that on Sundays and other holy days of obligations the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.123
Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse a person  from the obligation of Sunday rest.  Most families need to eat. There was a time when I did not cook on Sundays, because I was cooking 3 meals a day 6 days a week, we used Sunday as our Leftover Buffet.  It is good to give ourselves a break on Sundays.  I certainly enjoy taking a break from laundry and other big jobs at home on Sundays.  As a general rule I opt not to spend my time catching up on laundry or house cleaning on Sundays. We try to set aside the afternoon for family time, weather permitting, doing something outside.  
The Sabbath and Family Time
In the Catholic church Sunday is traditionally consecrated by good works and humble service to the sick, infirm and elderly. Thus you will see Deacons and others taking the Eucharist to those who are not able to attend mass. As Christians we are called to spend time devoted to our families and relatives. Many families still carry on the tradition of Sunday dinners. In our case our family is too far flung to gather on Sundays. But we do take time to gather with those in our Church family and have set aside Sundays for family time. Growing up I remember well one family that religiously set aside Sundays explicitly for church and family. Children were not to visit their friends on Sundays, or get jobs that would require them to work on Sundays.
Taking Time to remember those less fortunate on Sundays
Catholic catechism states that we are to keep the Sabbath Holy. But it also states that we should be mindful of our brothers who have the same need for rest and relaxation on Sundays but who cannot because they must work. Many of those in public service fall into this category, firemen, paramedics, police. We must also consider those who must work to provide for their family’s basic needs, of food and shelter.  . Today it is often necessary for those who earn the least to work 2 or more jobs and many of them end up working at business that are open 24/7. Instead of having disdain for those who need to work to supply the basics for their family we should work to help those who need assistance. There are many ways you can remember those less fortunate than ourselves. It humbles me to think that no matter how bad I think we have had things that there is always someone who has had it worse then me. If you don’t think that there is someone who has it worse than you, volunteer at a local shelter, or food bank.
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Catholic Catechism states that every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would make it difficult for them to observe the Sabbath. Some people may need to work on Sundays for the good of others, i.e., police, firemen. As managers and business owners that means accommodating people taking off time on the weekend for church and rest. I am not suggesting that all businesses need to close on Sunday, but I am suggesting that employers  they try to accommodate their workers so that they have enough time off for church  relaxation or leisure and time to spend with families.
I know it is not easy to always keep the Sabbath a day of rest, but we must do our best to set aside time for our faith and families, for it is up to us to teach our children how to keep the day special.

Sugar Detox–Week 7–Limiting Breads, Pastas, Rice and Potatoes

Woo hoo! I am almost there . Only two more weeks left to go on the Sugar Detox challenge for me. Have I mentioned that week 8 will be Thanksgiving?  I am not sure what that will entail but for me I am not sure if I will go there either. But truth be told, I have been saying that all along. This week really was not too hard for me. Week 7 had me giving up all but 1 teaspoon of natural sugar per day. I decided it was time to let go of my honey in my tea.  Once upon a time a go, I always drank my tea without any sweetener, and to tell the truth I have been about 1/2 step ahead of the detox all along.
Now this week 7 coming up does not scare me. I thought it was going to be something extremely difficult, In reality this week will not be too difficult for me at all.  Week 7 has me giving up most bread, potatoes, and rice, basically your starches. I am not a big starch girl. In general I don’t eat bread, rarely eat rice these days, if I do a small portion, and potatoes are reserved for baking when the weather is cold. Lately we have been in the upper 60’s and 70’s..
You may be wondering why I am not shaking in my boots at giving up bread and rice and pastas and potatoes. . I have been working on going grain free for a while now. Now why would I go grain free?  My body apparently does not like grains. I tend to suffer from arthritis symptoms and have skin rash breakouts whenever I eat grains. Years ago, I switched my entire family to whole grains. Along the way I started to eat less grains at the suggestion of my acupuncturist and herbalist. They both let me know how grains affected my arthritis. As I began to eat fewer grains my body began to feel better. Today if I do eat grains I must be prepared to pay the price.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I Wear Dresses and Skirts


I guess I wear dresses a lot more than I don’t, because the other day a mom at school commented on the fact that I am always “dressed up” her words. I don’t consider myself dressed up. That is what you do for a wedding. I don’t wear heels I wear sensible comfortable shoes. When this mom said that I dress up she meant that I dress up too much for our little country school.

She probably saw my  outfit more as this

 images (5)

 When in reality I dress more like this images (6)

I really don’t think I am over dressed for what I do. I teach part time at our school, and I wear comfortable clothes.

So why do I wear dresses and skirts so much?

  • A dress is an easy way to get dressed in the morning. I don’t have to worry about what top to wear with it or bottoms to wear with it.

  • Dresses and skirts fit my curves better than pants and jeans ever did or will.

  • I look more put together in a dress or skirt.

  • A dress is more forgiving if you happen to gain some weight or just feel a little bloated.

  • I just happen to like dresses and skirts, I did as a girl and still do. Matter of fact as a little girl I played in dresses all the time, even climbing trees in them.

  • Wearing a dress or skirt lets me wear leggings and that is a nice comfy feeling.

Now don’t think that I wear dresses and skirts all the time. Because that is not so. I do wear pants or jeans, but sometimes I just feel like wearing a skirt or a dress.

How about you? Are you more of a dress person or a pants person? When you get ready to head out for a meeting or school or just running errands what do you like to wear?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5 Onions Soup


This soup does take some time to prep, but is is so worth the extra time and effort. According to my oldest (13 year old Pi ) this soup is smooth and savory.
  • 1 Onion diced
  • I Leek (peeled, washed and sliced)
  • 3-5 Garlic cloves (organic has more flavor)
  • 2-3 Shallots
  • A small handful of chives or green new onions (I used wild onions this time)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1tsp of olive oil
  • 4 quarts of beef broth -
  • 1/2 lb. of carrots
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 1/2 lb.  of lentils
  1.  In a sturdy pan like a Dutch Oven melt butter with a little olive oil.(This keep the butter from burning.
  2. Slice all of your onions, garlic shallots and leeks.
  3. Add your onions and, garlic, shallots and leeks to the already melted butter. They will look like a lot in your pan, don’t worry they will cook down. (quite a bit).
  4. Put the lid on the onion mixture and turn the heat down. At this point you want to sweat your onions. Sweat them until they start to brown.  Take your time with this step don’t rush it.
  5. Once your onion mixture has sweated down it will reduce in size to about 1/4 of what it was before and it will turn a nice golden brown color.
  6. Add the 4 quarts of beef broth, along with carrots potatoes and lentils to the pan. Continue cooking until the carrots and potatoes are cooked through. (you can do this part in a crock pot if you wish and it will still come out yummy).
  7. Garnish with  snipped chives or fresh green onions. I used wild onions.

This post is linked up to Fat TuesdayPennywise PlatterSimple Lives Thursday

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

This past week. 
I enjoyed a quiet night at home. Matching socks. Turns out the weather is getting colder and my kids want socks to wear. Go figure.
We have been experiencing Earthquakes here in Oklahoma.  Our strongest was a 5.6  After much searching I was able to find some damage.
We went to an All Saints Party – Peanut was Blessed Kateri Tekawitha.
While Pumpkin was St. George. Turns out there were many St. Georg’s there as well as Crusaders. They had some friendly sword fighting.
We enjoyed a lovely bonfire where we prayed the litany of Saints.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Your Honey may not be Honey


If you are visiting from one of the great Food Carnivals please be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any informative posts like this one. You can subscribe via  email. or rss feed. Or join me on Facebook or Twitter

Today I had another topic in mind as I have written much on honey already this fall, but this morning two different stories hit my in box. If you are new to my blog your can read about Why I like local honey and Why you need to know where your honey is coming from.
Honey is the primary sweetener in my house. I use it in baking, in my tea on our faces and for other skin problems.
Today I was astonished to learn that much of the store bought honey would not pass food safety inspections and qualify as honey. Why is that? When I last wrote about honey it appeared that honey from North and Central America was safe.
Well Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia. These samples were tested at a reliable laboratory. It is a well known scientific fact that honey can be traced to its place of origin based on the pollen. In testing the honey from the grocery stores it was found that
  • 76 percent of samples bought at grocery stores had all the pollen removed
  • 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores had no pollen.
  • 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
  • 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald's and KFC had the pollen removed.
Why should consumers care if their honey has had its pollen removed?
Raw honey has been known through history to have many medicinal properties. Honey has been used for stomach ailments, anemia and allergies.
Removal of all pollen from honey "makes no sense" and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey," Jensen said. In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it's even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law," he added.  
It's no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China," Adee added.
Ambrose, who was co-chair of the team that drafted the state beekeeper association's honey standards says the language is very simple, "Our standard says that nothing can be added or removed from the honey. So in other words, if somebody removes the pollen, or adds moisture or corn syrup or table sugar, that's adulteration," Ambrose told Food Safety News. Even though the Florida state Beekeepers Association has standards for honey there are no National standards for honey. Oddly enough other countries, have higher standards for food than the United States.

So what can you do?
  • Buy local honey- everyone one of the samples  Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and "natural" stores like PCC and Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.
  • Buy organic honey -the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn't ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen.
  • Check country of origin - all of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.
  • Don’t buy processed foods. The National Honey Board, a federal research and promotion organization under USDA oversight, says the bulk of foreign honey (at least 60 percent or more) is sold to the food industry for use in baked goods, beverages, sauces and processed foods. 
  • If you want real honey avoid these brands.

for additional reading check out Food Safety News

this post is linked up to Fat Tuesday,Traditional TuesdaysHearth and SoulYour Green ResourceGreen and Natural Mama

Friday, November 4, 2011

7 Quick Takes–Sugar Sugar



In case you have not been following, I crazily decided to do an EIGHT WEEK, yes you read that right, 8 week, sugar detox, during a period which encompasses both Halloween and Thanksgiving. I am about to start week 6. So far things have been going well, unless you count all the strange detox symptoms I have been having, like my first cold in 2 years, blood shot eyes, and various skin break outs. But other problems are clearing up. It was explained to me that I would have the symptoms in reverse of how they originally occurred. I think in 5 almost 6 weeks I have been able to go back 2 years.
Now for the good news – In 6 weeks I have lost a little over 6lbs doing the detox. I have not been counting calories, watching carbs or any of those other diet things and I am not working out like a beast I have also lost 1 1/2 inches off my waist. Not yet ready for a smaller size but I am doing a happy dance.
Okay now for the somewhat bad news – Week 6 has me giving up all but 1 tsp. of added natural sugar. I got the news last night (Thursday) and my week 6 starts on Saturday. I had already cut back on my honey in my tea, but I am working on eliminating honey from my tea. Believe it or not there was a day when I never used honey in my tea. Now I am having a hard time with this next step. I can eliminate the honey in my tea, but I am not sure about my Nutella, my new go to snack. And then what will I be giving up next? I really want to make my homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.
Now with all this sugar detoxing, it has made me consider how I can cut the amount of sugar in some of my holiday recipes, to make them figure friendly. I will be sure to share with you how I do that.

We have a family tradition here that Halloween Candy only lasts a week. Then it leaves the house. Good thing we have an All Saints Party to go to on Sunday. I will be sure to bring the candy and share it with the other families. What do you do with all of your Halloween Candy?
Today I began taking inventory of my baking supplies and replenishing them to get ready for the upcoming baking/holiday season. This is something that my grandmother taught me to do, she was a great cook and would come to stay with us for all the holidays. She is one of the things I am thankful for.
I am doing 30 days of Thanksgiving over on  Facebook. You can join me over there and share what you are thankful for.
This post is linked up to 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretty Happy Funny Real

Our favorite Art Museum recently, they have an exhibit of Great Master’s Paintings.

While we were there we could not resist a walk in the gardens.

I was happy to have some time after Mass to take some pictures of my kids at a wonderful park. Apparently it makes my kids happy too. Or maybe that was Deacon G making faces behind me?
It seems that sticking her tongue helps Peanut create better Art.
Yes – this is my family. In our quest to be healthy we did a Halloween run. The Saturday before Halloween actually. Maybe we figured it would help us burn off the candy.

for more Pretty Happy Funny Real go to Like Mother Like Daughter

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


When I went to get some vanilla for the baking season, I had some concerns.  You see not all vanilla is created equal. In fact not all vanilla is even vanilla! So what were my options? I decided to try my hand at making our own vanilla. It is really not that hard it just takes patience and time. If you want some in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas baking you better get started real soon though, because the process takes at least three weeks.
What you need.
  • a bottle to make the vanilla extract in
  • a couple of vanilla beans.
  • some vodka. The cheap kind will work. 


Split the Vanilla beans, This will allow the alcohol to dissolve and absorb more of the oils from the beans.

Place the beans in the jar and add the vodka.
Now here comes the hard part. Sit it in a dark cupboard and wait. Three weeks is the minimum amount of time, but it can sit longer.


Now here is the good news. You can reuse your vanilla beans, after making the extract. As long as the beans still smell like vanilla you can keep on using it to make more vanilla.

This post is linked up with Simple Lives Thursday Pennywise PlatterYour Green ResourceWorks for Me Wednesday,  Living Well Blog Hop,Fight Back Friday

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is your Baby’s Shampoo Safe?


image credit

First of all I would like to thank one of my regular readers for bringing this to my attention. While I answered this question in short on my Facebook page. I thought it needed more in depth coverage. if you don’t want to miss any up to the minute coverage go to Facebook to like  Granola Catholic.

If you are like most moms you are probably using Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. I know I used it when my kids were young. I believed them when they said it was safe and all the no more tears part too. In fact I simply used it as a body wash too. They did not have such fancy things when my oldest was a baby. Along the way I have read and learned that the products that we consider safe and trust for our family may not be the best thing for them.

A little over Two years ago the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found released the groundbreaking report, No More Toxic Tub, which revealed that popular kids' bath products – including Johnson's Baby Shampoo – contained chemicals linked to cancer. They  promptly asked Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its iconic baby shampoo and specifically to remove the formaldehyde-releasing chemical quaternium-15. Currently they have reformulated their baby shampoo in European Union countries, most likely due to tighter governmental restrictions on chemicals in health and beauty products.

But as it turns out the name you trust, Johnson & Johnson may not be a brand to trust after all. A recent study done by the Campaign  Safe Cosmetics purchased Johnson and Johnson’s baby shampoo between July and of 2011, and reviewed the labels of Johnson's Baby Shampoo sold in 13 countries to see if the products contained quaternium-15, a chemical preservative that kills bacteria by releasing formaldehyde.  They found out that Johnson's Baby Shampoo sold in the United States, Australia, Canada, China and Indonesia contains quaternium-15, a formaldehyde preservative, while Johnson's Baby Shampoo sold in Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. contain non-formaldehyde preservatives.

Formaldehyde was recently added to the U.S. government list of known human carcinogens by the National Toxicology Program, under the Department of Health and Human Services. Formaldehyde and quaternium-15 are also potent allergens that can trigger rashes and other skin inflammation problems. According to a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association, quaternium-15 is “the most sensitizing formaldehyde-releasing preservative and has been repeatedly shown to be a strong allergen that can cause contact dermatitis. Seriously, and this stuff in baby shampoo?

I don’t know about you but even though my kids no longer use baby shampoo, this makes my hackles stand up. So if you are concerned what can you do?

  • Try the no-poo method. Currently my girls (11, and 13) and myself have been using this method for about 5 months. We are loving it. For directions on how to use it check here.

  • Vote with your dollar, don’t buy Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. Check EWG to see how your shampoo rates and look for a new one.

  • Sign the petition to get Johnson and Johnson to reformulate their shampoo.

  • Ask your congressman to support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.

 This post is linked to Your Green Resource

Wordless Wednesday = Mom the Photographer

I am a closet photographer, ever since I got my first camera in 6th grade. So when I am out and about with the family I like to take my little camera. This weekend I had a couple of unplanned opportunities to take pictures. I am not afraid to get to that spot to take the picture either. Can you say mucky mud?




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