07 February 2012

Booster Juice, I don't need you anymore

As part of my 90 day commitments, I'm drinking smoothies and/or shakes as part of my healthy eating plan. (Yes, I've read about the perils of smoothies, and I'm aware of and ok with them.)

One of my FAVOURITE indulgences in days gone by were Booster Juice-type smoothies. They always seemed IMPOSSIBLE to replicate at home, but at up to $6 a pop, they were hard to justify.

Not anymore! Lol!

Berry mango smoothie
1 cup Bolthouse Farms Amazing Mango Fruit Smoothie
1 1/2 cups Western Family Bite Size Blend frozen fruit
1/4 cup water
1 scoop (30g) Kaizen Naturals natural whey - vanilla ice cream flavour
--> blend well. (I use a hand blender and a 1 litre wide-mouth mason jar - less dishes than using a full-size blender!)

Mmmmmm yum!!!

The protein shake mix (Kaizen Naturals) I use is the best I've found (and actually, Todd found it!): whey (not soy) isolate and concentrate, stevia (NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS, flavours or colours), GLUTEN FREE, 24g protein to 1g sugars, AND.... It's only $27.99 at Superstore for a 30 day supply (at 1 shake a day). Plus, and I tell you, I've tried a LOT of shake mixes, it is the BEST TASTING one too. I actually like it plain with just milk.

And no, I don't work for Kaizen, nor do I get any benefit from this post. I just feel that people should know that they have AFFORDABLE options for shake mixes, that do the same things, if not better than the expensive ones. :)


05 February 2012

Process Vs. Product

I know the theory behind process vs. product when dealing with kids. I have to say that I whole-heartedly agree with it, because my generation was taught at a very young age: product > process, and thus there are many people like me who struggle with the fact that we can't be perfect at everything (not so good for self-esteem!).

But sometimes, there are instances when a project DOES need a product, and it ISN'T all about the process. And I think that teaching kids that too is important. So that they understand that in life, there is a time and place to be focused on your product and not just the experience.

Case in point: homemade Valentine's cards. There are 15 other kids in Xman's class and 6 other kids in Shanman's class. To not complete the product would mean that a) some kids would get left out, or b) mummy would do it all. Two unacceptable options in my book.

My compromise?
The boys chose their colours, I made the elements and then guided the crazies in the assembly process.

The result?
Two happy boys who got to glue (X got to cut out too, his latest obsession), and put stickers on, their cards for their classmates.

We got product AND process, and I didn't yell or pull my hair out in frustration.

Yes! Win-win-win!

(The pictures are my "template" on the left, and 4 of each of their interpretations of the template on the right. Red and orange were X's chosen colours and blue and purple were Shan's.)

04 February 2012

Question: Do you share your breastfeeding photos online?

The Facebook debacle.  How many blog posts have been written about his?  *sigh*  I shudder to think of the real estate that is being occupied by this idiotic situation, when TRULY, it is avoidable.

***** If you are just reading/hearing about this now, go check out this page: FB! Stop.. and this regularly-updated blog post on Jodine's World to read the history of the most recent chapter in Facebook's persistence in being a bully and participating in the digital harrassment of breastfeeding mothers worldwide. *****

Boba, a baby carrier maker, posted this pic on the facebook page on 2 February, with the caption: "Press *LIKE* if have photos of your baby breastfeeding. Do you share them online?"

How cute is this pic?!?! LOL!
And I posted this in the comments:
"yes I do. I LOVE my pics of breastfeeding my boys. breastfeeding has been SO HARD for us, and there have been different challenges with each of my 3 boys, but amidst the tears and the struggles, we have succeeded, against all odds. I've been breastfeeding for a combined total of 50 months, none of my boys have ever had a drop of formula, and we're still going strong with baby #3. And I'm PROUD of that fact. Because it's NOT easy for everyone. And because I had NO ONE close to me to help me. If breastfeeding was NORMAL, and everyone SAW it, perhaps I'd have had someone in my life I could call on, to help me through the pain, the spasms, the pinching, the blood, help me with latch, with nursing strikes, with mastitis, with supply issues, etc etc. But it's NOT NORMAL. Even though "they" say it is, here in North America, it's not. Breastfeeding isn't even allowed on Sesame Street anymore. Breastfeeding needs to be RE-NORMALISED, and how else to do it than by making breastfeeding photos NO BIG DEAL? And how do we make them NO BIG DEAL? By posting them, by dealing with the backlash, and by desensitizing our society to the sight of *gasp* a non-sexual breast, and a baby feeding as God designed it to do: at the breast.

I feel that our goal, as "those militant lactivists who post their breastfeeding photos" is that we WANT people to say "meh, whatever, another breastfeeding photo." You don't have to think it's beautiful like we do.... but it should be commonplace, and NO. BIG. DEAL. I do NOT want people to be gawking at my boob. FAR FROM IT. I want to feed my baby when he's hungry, without people getting all up in my face. I want my grandchildren to be breastfed when they need it. I want my great-grandchildren to be breastfed when they need it. I don't want their mothers to feel the shame of feeding their children in public like so many do today. Because that is sad. Sad that any mother should feel shame in providing for her baby. And it IS NOT NECESSARY."
Not long after I posted it, a few people (including the lovely Emma Kwasnica, and Jennifer V T) shared the second paragraph with their peeps... and as I read it back again, this response is probably the best I've pulled out in regards to the photo debacle. 
Sometimes, I can be eloquent, but others, when emotion comes into play, well, I become a cursing, blubbering moron.  I was apparently calm enough to articulate my views on this heated debate in a way that I feel proud of my communication skills.  LOL.  (So yes, folks, English class in school DOES have a purpose.)  I wanted to post it on here for posterity, oh, and for a broader audience than just the likers on the Boba page. ;)
So what about you?  Do you share your breastfeeding photos online?  Do you scrapbook them?  Oh, and next question, are you going to a Facebook nurse-in on 6 February?????  I'll be in Seattle - meet me there! 

02 February 2012

Changing habits

The rule of thumb with habits, good and bad, is that it takes 40 days to make a new habit, or kill an old one.

That means forty days of being diligent, persistent, and conscientious of your actions.  Paying attention.  Being engaged with your own actions, and not just operating in a haze.  (HA!)

I'm bringing up changing habits NOW because I LOATHE the whole "New Year's Resolutions" thing.  I turn 33 this year, and I've wasted enough time in my life lamenting at how I wasn't able to keep up with my NYR this year, BUT NEXT YEAR!!!!  Good gravy.  I've been of the frame of mind, for about the last 7 or 8 years or so, that I don't do resolutions, per sé.  I do GOALS.  Why?

Because setting goals WORKS.

And my goal right now?

To change my habits.

I have a list the length of my leg of habits I'd like to change or develop, but since I'm the type of person, that in order to not get totally overwhelmed, then stressed, then have debilitating anxiety attacks, which THEN result in hideous depression - *breathe* - I have to take baby steps.  So, because 90 days seems to be "THE THING" right now (P90X, Vitality for Life, etc), and yesterday was the 1st of February, I made a commitment to develop a couple of new habits, and to COMMIT to persistence and diligence and engagement with these habits for the next 90 days.  That will take me to 30 April, 2012.  (I will then be 33. :D)  Because, realistically, I know for me, 40 days?  Probably not enough.  Besides.  GO BIG OR GO HOME. ;)  And changing a couple of actions for 90 days seems like a good enough baby step for me.

I'm really excited to see what 2012 holds for our family.  We have faced some MASSIVE adversity and challenges as a family, financially, emotionally, physically, you name it, over the last 4 years most specifically.  And I personally have battled for years with stress/anxiety, depression, and most related to being a housewife: inadequacy.  I LOGICALLY know that these feelings are bunk, but feelings don't have to make sense.  And I know that logically, in order to deal with them, I need to address my actions - and create new habits.  Hence, I'm changing habits.

I'm going to be posting in the coming weeks about my commitment, in addition to other things, and I'd love to hear what kind of things that you have committed to - either now or in the past.  What things have you battled with in your commitment?  What challenges have you faced to keeping those commitments?

Dinnae ;)

19 January 2012

My gluten free all purpose mix & some yum yum yummy cheddar dill biscuits

So I've been asked by more than one person on more than one occasion what "all purpose" gluten free flour I am using these days.  Since embarking on this "gluten-free journey" I'll call it, I've learned SO much about what's out there and available, what's not out there (yet), and how we can adapt our "normal" life to be more gluten free friendly, if you will.  

When I first started gluten free baking, I posted about an all purpose flour mix that I found the recipe for at glutenfreegobsmacked, and celiac.com.  Then, as my reading and researching continued, I learned more about flours, and how to use them to recreate our normal recipes, as close as I could, but using the gluten free substitutes.  The most notable source of my knowledge about how flour works in a recipe would probably have to be the posts that I've read that are part of Shauna's (from a gluten free girl) brain child, the Gluten Free Ratio Rally.  

***The Ratio Rally is a group of gluten free bloggers who have been experimenting with replacing wheat flour with gluten free flours, based on WEIGHT, not volume measures, under the premise that every good recipe is based on a solid ratio that will create a good product, no matter whether you are using wheat flour or not.  Follow the ratio, and your results are almost guaranteed.***

As said by Tara over at "a baking life:"
"Baking by ratio is not an entirely new concept, but it's been spotlighted lately by Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio. It's an enormously helpful way of understanding traditional cooking and baking, but I've noticed some hesitation about applying it to gluten-free baking. Would it even work with all our crazy flours? Would a good gluten-free ratio be adaptable to a variety of flours? Would it make gluten-free baking even more daunting to the uninitiated? 
Yes, yes, and thankfully, no. It really works. And it's easier than you think."

That said, I have yet to try out any of the GFRR recipes.  :O  I know.  Here I am saying how great it is, and I haven't tried the fruits of their labours.  Okay, so I haven't tried the recipes, but the whole WEIGHT thing is a nugget that is stuck in my head - and that is a good thing.  Kate (at gf gobsmacked) also mentioned weighing flours vs. measuring them, in fact, most gf bakers recommend it.  

This is due to the different density in the different grains.  Corn has a different density to millet, to chana, to rice, to the starches.... you get my point.  But when we're baking gluten free, we have to mix these flours, and try to get a flour that will mimic wheat as best we can.

Another thing I've learned, that while brown rice flour is the closest match to wheat in taste (yet still SO far), there are so many other flours that give amazing texture, flavour and NUTRITION to your baked goods.  So combining these flours to create a whole- and multi-grain flour gives great texture and flavour, and beats wheat flour hands down in the nutrition aspect.  (Just don't eat the batters or doughs raw... ummm, grossness.)

I don't use that multi blend mix anymore.  Ha ha.  It's funny but it's not.  This is a learning experience for me, as it is for ANY person taking on the task of learning to bake (and cook) gluten free.  I only used the multi blend mix for a couple of months... before the reading and research convinced me that I should be putting more whole grains in.  For the first couple of times that I made my own mix, it was just a hodgepodge of flours, to make up the 70% flour and 30% starch by weight.  I made it in 1 kg batches, and was using it in place of the multi blend mix. But, because as I said above, more than one person on more than one occasion has asked me for the mix I'm using now, I ACTUALLY wrote it down when I made it last weekend.  :)  Stoked.

Dinnae's all purpose multi-grain flour mix

350g brown rice flour
150g corn flour (NOT corn meal or corn starch)
100g millet flour
100g chana flour
100g tapioca starch
100g cornstarch
100g sweet rice flour
2 TB guar gum

Mix together with a whisk or seive, store in an airtight container.  Use in place of wheat flour in your recipes.

Use as is for cookies, waffles, pancakes, etc.  If making cakes, sweet breads, muffins or cupcakes, add 1/4 tsp of guar gum per cup measure of flour in the recipe.  (This addition of guar is based on the addition of guar to the Multi-blend mix - I'm just continuing that.)  I wouldn't recommend this mix for baking bread, as your ratio of flours to starches is one that needs to be more specific.

And now, my latest gluten free adaptation was a recipe that I got from the lady who actually trained me to cook for treeplanters, Kara.  Her mum was (is?) a camp cook for a summer camp, and I do believe that this recipe for Cheddar Dill Bread was originally hers.  Using the gluten free flour makes this bread very scone-y, so I'm calling them scones.  I made them in muffin-top pans, so they even look kinda like scones too.

Sorry, HORRIBLE photo, but it was taken at night.  And they're still yum!
 Cheddar Cheese Dill Scones

4 c all pupose gluten free flour blend
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 c sugar
4 tsp onion or garlic salt
1 tb dill
1 tsp dry mustard
2 1/2 c grated cheddar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 c milk
2 tb veggie or canola oil

1/4 c water IF NEEDED

Oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, including cheese.  Mix well.  Add remaining ingredients, stir until just moist.  Batter/dough will be tough, but if needed, add another 1/4 c of water or milk and mix in thoroughly.  Using an ice cream scoop, scoop into greased muffin top pans.  

With wet fingers, "smoosh" down the scoop of batter/dough so that it is fairly flat in the pan, wetting fingers anew before each smoosh. (I keep a small bowl of water next to where I'm working so I don't have to keep the water running, or keep walking over to the sink.)

Bake for 12 - 14 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Best when eaten fresh.  ;)

Makes 40 muffin top scones.  YUM.

*** Notes: this recipe halves really well, and makes the PERFECT size batch to accompany dinner. ***

Now, I know I am going to get this question, because *I* would ask if I were you!  What kind of ice cream scoop do I use?  It is a COMMERCIAL one that I got when my mum owned a café.  You should be able to find this same kind, in varying sizes, in any commercial kitchen supply store.  They are INDISPENSABLE for muffins, cookies, etc, keeping your baked goods equal in measure, and uniform in shape too (ie with no bake/boiled cookies).  If memory serves, it was about $10 (give or take) about 15 years ago.  If you find a place to buy one, especially online, let me know!  I'd love to be able to pass the info on.  ;)

The ice cream scoop I use for scooping muffin batter and cookie dough.
I believe it is a 1 oz size.

16 January 2012

Blog Dare Post - Convincing children....

So @TheBlogDare followed me on twitter the other day.  It's a group/initiative put on by @BloggyMoms, and it's a "dare" to do a POST A DAY for the entire year.  Oi.  I struggle to get a post a month in!  LOL.  Don't know that I'll be able to manage EVERY DAY, but I guess I can just participate as the prompts stir a post in me.

Today's prompt was: "I convinced my children to..."

hee hee.  Convincing children?  Herding cats?  Correlation?  YES.  Absolutely. :D

But... funnily enough, this IS something that happened recently.

T and I are both "attachment-minded," natural-ish parents.  That doesn't mean that we are full on, 100% crunchy hippies, but we try to be as engaged as we can as parents, and are trying to change the parenting cycle from how our parents were.  We practice co-sleeping (until they want their own space, which for our kids was fairly early), baby-wearing, breastfeeding, all 3 of our boys are intact, 2 of our 3 kids have had no vaccines (and they're the healthiest out of the 3 too!), 2 of our 3 births were 100% natural (and one at home unassisted!), and we are doing our best to change what was modeled for us both, and spend more time with our kids in a way that is going to foster their development.

I want to interject here and say that most parents in the 70s and 80s, and even 90s did what they knew, and what they were modeled or taught, so not to say that my parents were bad, it's just that they didn't know the amount of info that parents today have at their disposal... can we say "internet?"  Our generation of parents is, in a general way, far more educated about the more effective ways to parent, and raise secure, confident children.  But that doesn't mean we don't love our parents anyway.  ;)

Anyway, right now, we're reading a parenting book called "Positive Discipline for Preschoolers" by Jane Nelson, Cheryl Erwin and Roslyn Ann Duffy.  There is an entire series of books in the Positive Discipline series, and in a nutshell, it's about raising children who are "responsible, respectful and resourceful."  Oh my dog.  What an amazing book.  And what a PARADIGM SHIFT for both of us.  My mum often says to me that she BEGAN to change the cycle of parenting with me and my bro, and it's my job to finish that change.  (She is SO supportive that way!)  One of my biggest battles is how much I yell.  I'm a yeller.  My mum was a yeller.  My grama was a yeller.  And I don't for a second doubt that before she had herself committed, that my great-grandma was a yeller too.  (Yes, that is part of my family history... but that's for another day.)  Frustration is a daily feeling for me.  But I'm working on it, and getting MUUUUUUCH better.  I'm not so much a yeller when dealing with the baby I'll add... somehow it's "easier" to attachment parent a baby than it is a difficult toddler, preschooler, or kindergartener. :P  

But ANYWAY.  Something in the book talked about how, even with babies, if you ask them to help you do something you are empowering them, and they will understand that, and will be more than likely to accommodate you.

Riley is teething right now.  First year molars.  YUCK.  Monday he had a low-grade fever, not enough for drugs, just warm.  By evening though, he was shaking from the fever, had puked up his dinner, and was burning up.  :/  (It was still a low fever though, not hospital-worth.)  I checked to see if it was a tooth, and nothing, so I just assumed tummy bug.  Out came the gravol and ibuprofen so that maybe he could be in less discomfort, poor bubba.  We had a rough night, up every 1.5-2 hours, and the next day, he had these two HUGE bumps on his bottom gums.  AWESOME.  (But at least it wasn't gastro!)

Anyway, when you have a grumpy, sick child, the LAST thing they want is medicine.  The first two days were fighting and messiness and stickiness and YUCK trying to get the medicine into him.  Then on Wednesday, I read the part in the book about asking even babies to "help" and empowering them.  So.... I thought, why not, let's give it a try.

"Riley, honey, can you please help mummy and take your medicine?  Mummy needs your help baby.  Will you help mummy?"

Well, string me up and call me Sally, holy crap it WORKED.  Not kidding.  He's 14 months old.  And he took his ibuprofen NO PROBLEM.

He hasn't had a lot of medicine since then, as I try not to give it to him too often, just when he's seeming really grumpy/in pain, but every time I have, since then, I've asked him to help me, and EVERY time, he has taken it with no fight.

Oh, bless you Jane Nelson et al.  BLESS YOU.

How have you managed to convince your children to do something lately?

02 January 2012

Back at it!

Healthy living-wise, December was a rough month.
The first week was good, but then, Monday of week 2, my "aunt flo" returned after 22 months of absence. (okay, so that stretch ROCKS, but her return was still not welcome.)  First cycle after 22 months of none was HEINOUS.  I felt like I was going to die.  LOL  NOOOOO exercise that week, and holy Moses, I usually NEVER crave chocolate at my time of the month, but this go round?  WOW, NEVER have I eaten that much chocolate in a week. :/
Then, the craziness of the last week of school, and all the stuff going on, the shopping, the INSANITY... The sniffles (everyone had colds again)...
Then the week before Christmas - holy crackers - 3 littlies at home full time again.  WOW.  It'll be awhile before I actually homeschool if I ever do (that was a desire of mine, but out of necessity - my sanity - I don't yet).
Then the week between Christmas and New Year's - I got an infected lip.  Not just a little bump and sore, but I'm talking my upper lip swelled to THREE TIMES it's normal size.  (Happened as a result of some tickling/roughhousing with my boys.)  Went to the walk-in and got 'roids and abx, and finally, as of yesterday, I look normal again.  It's still a bit infected, but I still have 1 more day of 'roids and 6 days of abx, so I should be all clear.
Monday is here, and now YAY! I just did my first workout in weeks.  That felt freeeeeaaaakin' awesome!  And today my healthy eating was good (so far).  I'm excited to see what 2012 has in store for my body and my health! :)
Happy 2012 to all!
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   Happy 2012
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