How My Family Got RID of Allergies, and You Can Too

I know what you’re thinking… I mean, conventional wisdom says that to heal an allergy one must avoid the allergen for years, radically change one’s diet, heal the gut, take buku probiotics. . . Right?  All those things are good, but no, that’s not how our story goes.

Hoe My Family Got Rid of Allergies

Our family has battled chronic allergies forever.  I have nursed my babies a looong time because studies showed it reduces the development of allergies, but my babies reacted to my milk.  They have experienced the WORST colic, and horrible, weeping eczema.  I had to figure out what I was eating that bothered them and then eliminate it from MY diet so that my milk would not be poisoning my babies!

For awhile, we had a chiropractor who did Muscle Response Testing (MRT, AKA: Kinesiology).  With my lists of “Foods We Eat,” he would pin-point which foods were the culprit.

MRT employs resistance on a muscle while exposing an individual to a test item. If the muscle stays strong, it is assumed that the test item is not a problem.  If the muscle gives under pressure, then it’s assumed that the test item IS a problem.  It sounds easy, but it is a little more complicated than just applying pressure to muscles.  If an individual is “out of balance,” as is not uncommon if your health is under assault, testing can be compromised, and it requires a trained practitioner to correct balance to garner reliable results.

MRT worked for us, but we eventually moved away from our chiropractor.  This led to challenging years of eliminating  foods, and then adding them back, in an effort to identify the problems!  😦

There were years that I had to make a meal three different ways just so everyone could safely eat. 

It.Was.Exhausting.

After so many foods had to be eliminated from our table, I prayed for healing.

BEGGED for healing.

It was the onset of a tick born illness that just put me over the top.  As I shared in my posts about my Journey to Health and Weight Loss, Part 1 and Part 2, this led my taking classes in natural health.

Along the way, God steered me to study a Natural Health modality called Health Kinesiology (HK), which uses MRT.  I thought I was learning how to test in order to figure out what we shouldn’t eat, but instead, God did something astounding.

Through Health Kinesiology, God provided a system that  not only allows me to identify allergens, but to correct the allergy.

Immeasurably more than all I had asked or imagined.  Not only can I help our family, but I can also help others.  Thank-you, Lord!!

How does it work?

  1. A trained HK practitioner uses MRT to identify allergens.  A sample of the items being tested must be physically present, however they can be sealed in a plastic bag or more ideally, a glass dish with lid.  In this way, individuals with severe allergies, like peanuts that can be air born, can still go through testing and corrections.
  2. Practitioners help the body make corrections using Accupressure~placing their finger tips on the client’s traditional Accupuncture points; instead of needles, they use only light pressure.
  3. When the correction is completed, the practitioner will retest for allergy, and it should be clear.
  4. Now comes the detox.  Lets make an analogy: Imagine your immune system like a computer that undergoes updates and has to reboot.  We may tell your body that the allergen is a harmless substance, but soldiers already have marching orders to “attack” what was previously identified as an enemy.  Detox can be viewed as time for the body to get rid of everything relating to the prior allergen, allowing all the “soldiers” to go home and get new orders.
  5. After detox has been completed, it is recommended that clients return to their practitioner to be re-tested to find whether a tolerance correction should be made before exposing themselves to the previous allergen.  Low tolerance does not engage the immune system, but can cause similar symptoms as an allergy.

Some allergens require a long correction (called a SET), which requires a trained practitioner, but some only require what is called an “Allergy Tap,” which takes just minutes, and is available for you to learn how to do at home by requesting a copy of the PDF entitled, “Cure Your Own Allergies in Minutes.”  Request the manual at THIS ADDRESS.

I have used the allergy tap in emergency situations to reverse hives and stop allergy induced nausea within minutes.  It depends upon the individual and each allergen; some require the longer correction, and some are good with the Tap.  If you have an allergy that requires the SET, you can locate a practitioner near you by contacting the International Headquarters of Health Kinesiology.

If you have an allergy that causes a life threatening response, it is not recommended that you try this correction at home.  See a practitioner who has a lot of experience.

I am so grateful for this tool which has been an answer to many desperate prayers!  It is amazing to eat without fear and be able to hold a cat without trouble breathing! We’ve cleared dozens of allergies.  

If you live with chronic or life threatening allergies, doing this is so worth it Life changingin a good way!

Blessings! ~Linda

 

 

 

Finding Funding for Missions in Unusual Places

The collection deadline for Samaritan’s Purse missional shoe boxes is fast approaching!  Our church collected the last of our donated boxes on Sunday.  My kids were SO excited to send ours on its way, and rightly so, because they played a big part in providing the funding to make it possible.

A few months back, I mentioned that we wanted to come up with funds for supporting missions.  We set a goal to reach by the end of the year, and the kids caught the vision that they could be God’s hands by helping send the gospel into the world, literally.  Excited, they went through their rooms looking for spare change.  They found a lot, actually.  I think they probably dipped into their hard earned spending money.  They caught the “giving bug”.

Being God's hands to the world

We joke that our 9 year old is a money magnet.  She loves going to town with me, and no wonder since she always comes home with change in her pocket.  It helps that she is very observant, but this kids finds money everywhere!  She began the habit of tucking it into my hand and telling me, “Here, you can put this in our missions money.”

I offered that maybe she should keep every other coin, and give every other coin (cuz honestly, some days she comes home with more than a dollar), but she wouldn’t be deterred.  She set such a good example that we all decided to do as she is doing.  When we find coins in town, we bring them home and add them to the mission fund. 🙂  Bring on all those nice Aldi shoppers who give away their carts when leaving the store!  They have no idea the good that they are doing!

Nearly all the contents of our Samaritan Purse shoe box was paid for with lost change.  We’re pretty excited, because we’re re-starting our mission fund now for next year, and I can’t wait to see how much we’ll be able to do.  I’m positive that we find far more change than we used to find, whether because we’re more aware of our surroundings (ulterior motives) or God is blessing our plans.  Probably both.  😉

I paid for our shoe box label/shipping donation online.  You can learn more about it at this address.  When you pay for shipping online they track your shoe box so you know to which country it has gone, and that knowledge is going to be such joy for my crew.  It will keep them motivated to want to do this again!

One thing I will do differently from now on is that I will more intentional when shopping this coming year:  I will notice bargain items that are appropriate to put in these shoe boxes.  I  will buy school type supplies ahead of time, when they are on sale in August/September.  EVERYONE was buying shoe box stuffers in November, and I ended up paying more for items like colored pencils and a pencil sharpener because the “deal items” were completely gone, even at the Dollar Store!  I did find a Ty Beanie Baby at the thrift store for 50 CENTS that was like new, tag and all.  Kinda the frosting on the cake!

Anyway, the purpose of sharing all this is not to show off, but hopefully to inspire you that it’s possible to give more… pray how God would have you do it.  Maybe it’s:

  • Buying less Starbucks
  • Buying a more affordable cell phone so the monthly bill is less
  • Contributing funds you save when couponing
  • Raising money with a garage sale
  • Have a bake sale!  One of the families we know sells cookies, pies, and other delectables to raise money for missions–their friends are very generous when they know where it’s going!
  • Or, perhaps you’re just a money magnet too, LOL.

Do you have ideas?  How does your family set aside funds for missions?  Please share them with me so all our mission funds can benefit from your creativity!

 

Recipe: Gluten-Free Sourdough Biscuits

I was resistant to going gluten-free for a long time.  I had spent so long cultivating good sourdough recipes using spelt (which is glutenous 😦 )that I couldn’t bear the thought of having to learn something new All.Over.Again.

As it turned out, my oldest daughter loves baking and so she scoured Pinterest for recipes and got busy in the kitchen.  I hardly had to do a thing to find new favorites, but the thing we all really missed was a good biscuit!

Oh, we tried several recipes, but nothing really measured up.  They tended to be dry, gummy or gritty.  I just didn’t enjoy them.  And then I got a gluten free starter going and discovered psyllium husk, and voila! We have biscuits!   🙂

The sourdough fermentation makes them soft and easy on the digestion.  The psyllium husk holds moisture, acts as a binder, and keeps the texture real, not gummy.  They are soooo GOOD! THis has become a tried-and-true recipe at our house.  Everyone gets excited when Mom makes biscuits!

Biscuits, mmmmm

Mmmmmmm…..

Are you ready to try them?

To print a PDF of the recipe, click:Gluten-Free Sourdough Biscuits.

Use starter that has been fed in the past 12 hours.

In a medium sized bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons fine psyllium husk powder (6.25 grams)

GF-Biscuit Flour

When these flours are well combined, cut in:

  • 1/2 cup butter

Then add:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup un-chlorinated water or milk of your preference (Take note that milk reduces the fermentation. )

GF biscuits before fermenting

When well combined, cover and allow to ferment 7-12 hours.

After fermenting:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt over the dough and then mix thoroughly.  It will take on an airy feeling as the baking soda reacts with the acidity, neutralizing the sour flavor and adding a small rise to the dough.

GF-biscuits after souring

Roll out to the thickness you desire.  It will not noticeably rise in the oven, so decide now how thick you want them.  I have not noticed it affecting the bake time.  My kids like them about a half inch, smaller, so they can have “more” and feel like their servings are generous.  I have also rolled them out to approximately 1 inch.  I get between 8 and 12 biscuits depending on whether I make them smaller or taller.

GF- biscuits, cutting

Use a spatula or other flat utensil to lift off up and place on a baking sheet.  You can use parchment paper if you’d like, but it’s not necessary.

Bake for 8-10 minutes on a traditional baking sheet or 10-12 minutes on a stone pan.

Allow to rest for a few minutes and then slice, butter, and enjoy!

 

 

What to do When You Have Too Many Eggs!

When I saw the Daily Post listed “egg” as a word prompt on Sunday, it made me giggle, but then I actually have something to share!

We used to have back yard chickens.  Since switching to a low carb diet, I use a lot more eggs, and I’ve been wishing I still have back yard chickens!

They are so much fun to watch. 🙂

hen layer

In the summers, when the days were long, our hens laid almost daily (sometimes twice).  I’d have 18 or more eggs a day and I had to figure out what to do with all those eggs.  We did egg salad.  We did breakfast pizzas.  And we did a variety of eggs for breakfast.  We got egged out.

Thing is, hens don’t lay when the days are short and they don’t get enough sun.  Since we didn’t want to run electricity for heat and lamps, we just didn’t have fresh eggs in the winter.  So how to save all those extra eggs?

Easy!

Don’t hard boil them to freeze.  They come back out rubbery.  Yuck.

Just crack them open and scramble them up.  Then freeze those scrambled eggs raw.

  • For single servings, freeze them in ice trays and and then transfer to freezer bags.  When you plan your meals, put the number of “egg cubes” you want into a bowl in the fridge and they will defrost by the next day.
  • For larger portions, put your raw scrambled eggs into a freezer bag.  Lay flat to freeze so it doesn’t take up much space in the freezer.  You can stack a bunch in there! 😉  Again, put your bag of frozen eggs in the fridge the day before you need them, and they’ll be ready when you’re ready to cook.

You wouldn’t think it, but I get the question about saving eggs fairly often!  Most recently it was the cashier at Aldi who has hens at home…

So whether you are buying a bunch of eggs while they’re on sale, have somehow inherited eggs like a friend of mine did, or your hens have you swimming in eggs, now you know how to save them long term.  And they’ll still taste good when you get around to eating them!

P.S. Egg cartons make excellent fire starters!  They burn hotter, longer than newspaper!  They’ve been a life saver here when the morning coals are about burned out. 😉

 

 

My Summer Fitness Challenge Results

I owe you an update on my Summer Fitness Challenge.  I am so aware.

I updated you on the first 30 days HERE.

If you remember, I wanted to get back in shape, close the gap in my stomach muscles, and I set a fun goal of getting back into my wedding dress by my wedding anniversary (August 31st).

July:  I had hoped to “knock the socks” off my husband at a wedding mid-July, and I think that mission was a success.  🙂

Willy's wedding together

I lost an additional 2 pounds (a record low for me) and began transitioning down to a pant size 5–something I never dreamed of being able to do.  I was targeting the belly, but the butt was being more cooperative.

August: I tried my wedding dress on mid-August.  It wasn’t quite as loose in the waist as I would have liked, but comparing to wedding pictures, I guess maybe it wasn’t as loose back then either.  The fit was pretty close, but I didn’t take pictures because I still had 2 weeks until our anniversary and my goal date.

HOWEVER, when our anniversary rolled around, I was pretty sure that the dress wasn’t going to fit all that well for another long spell. I had to wait a few more days to make sure…

And then, Semptember:

It’s amazing how 2 little pink lines on a pregnancy test can suddenly and completely change your perspective and rearrange your goals.

It’s totally NOT funny how after having a few babies it really doesn’t matter how much you exercise; that baby pouch remembers the pooch position right away.  I didn’t take a picture in the dress.

I did take a step back, and started praying and researching to determine how to maintain a Keto diet while accommodating my body and a precious baby’s needs during pregnancy.  There is virtually no information available on it, but I did develop a plan.

And yet, life doesn’t always go the way we expect…

One minute I was wondering who this new little life is, and the next I knew that I would never know this baby… not in this life.  Just a couple days before my birthday, I began to miscarry.

I know from the book of James that nothing passes into my life without first passing through God’s hands.  I don’t understand this loss; it hurts my heart.  BUT,  I know that I know that I KNOW that God is GOOD and that He NEVER makes a mistake.  There is always a purpose.  I don’t have to understand.  I need to trust.

October:  I’ve still been pretty tired.  I suspect my iron has been low, and so my energy is recovering as I work with my diet to provide the needed nutrients.  I also need time for my heart to heal, and that will help too.  So right now I am sticking with Keto, I have been exercising how and when I feel able while listening when my body says it’s too tired.  This too shall pass.

Progress:  As far as my goal to close the gap in my stomach muscles, the gap has closed by 50%. This is good!  🙂

And getting in shape? I have muscle tone again!  This makes me happy.

The wedding dress?  Well, I’ll try it on again soon.

I am researching gut healing, and reading Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book on the “GAPS” diet.  There seems to be more than one helpful approach and I’d like to find one that meets the unique needs of our family.  I’ve realized that some of the belly I’ve been trying to shed is not fat, but bloat, and some of our older “kids” are interested in doing a gut healing protocol.  We’re taking baby steps toward that goal; last week we picked up some grass fed beef from a local-ish rancher.

In a Nutshell:  No fun goal on the horizon, but only seeking to honor my commitment to God to care for my body, His temple, in all of this.

Did you set a goal for yourself over the summer?  I’d love to hear about your progress.

 

 

 

 

The Best Thing We Gained at the Fair

Have you ever noticed how kids have a very accurate internal clock, like, from the get go?

We took our oldest to the county fair when she was about three and the next summer, days before the fair was going to start, she started asking me about that place with lights and food and rides? We definitely went to the fair again that year,

and the next,

and every year.  🙂

Nowadays the fair falls the weekend after youth camps end so it’s easy for all of us to anticipate.  It’s a tradition.

When our oldest kids were little, and there were just a handful of them (instead of 2 hands-full) we would buy a sheet of tickets and let them ride a few kiddie rides.  As they got older, the more mature rides cost more.  With more children, one sheet didn’t provide enough tickets to go around.  We learned to be content walking through all the exhibits, petting the animals and having a treat.  My husband loves the malted milk shakes… it’s once a year. 😉

{Farm to Table Children’s Exhibit}

 

Fair 2017- 03

{Miss our goats this year!}

Fair 2017- 04

{Still wearing the camp swimming arm band… and look at that adorable face!}

This year, the big kids were hankering to do some rides and I promised them we’d save up for them to buy an arm band to do unlimited rides.  Tuesday of this week was that day.  However, rather than simply purchase the arm bands and send them off to get hot, dizzy and tired, we gave them the $20 we’d saved for each one of our flock.  We told them that they could pay for the arm bands themselves, or…  they could spend it (or save it) on whatever they pleased.

Somehow, with the $20 they gained in their hands, fair rides didn’t sound so appealing to them anymore. They suddenly appreciated the effort that it would take for them to earn that money back themselves.  Somebody mentioned having money for Christmas presents.

Fair 2017- 05

No one went on rides.  When dad bought his malt, they bought their own ice cream (while mom *cringe* said nothing about all the sugar) and they enjoyed eating them together.  Dad got to taste every flavor because dads are good at sweet talking a taste.

We took in the exhibits.  We petted the animals.  C2 won a frisbee from The Pulse Radio. We won a $10 gift card for Cub Foods.

Yes, we brought home a lot of extra stuff, but the best thing we gained was the reminder that God is a Good Father when we lost. a. child!

Yes! Standing in a crowd with other people, holding tickets as the union for the grocery stores had a big drawing, Ella had a winning #.  She claimed her prize.  The giveaway ended, and as we started to walk away from the booth, I did what I always do:  I counted heads.

“5, 6, 7…” someone was missing.  I have had kids coming and going from camp all summer.  Every week we’ve had a different number at home, so the counting thing has been a little strange.  This is the first week we’ve had all the kids home since the beginning of June.

I re-counted with names and I panicked.  C2 is 4, and I didn’t see his little buzzed head or tye dye shirt.  We had been standing there, all together, the whole time!  How did he slip away?  Where could he have gone?

It’s amazing the clarity with which one can remember the details of a beloved in a moment of bereavement.  His big, tender eyes, full of wide wonderment filled my mind as I hollered his name and scanned the crowd.

I prayed.

While hubby turned the whole crew around, I spoke with the man at the grocery booth, and he said someone had taken a child to the fair office –{he pointed}– >>> that way.

We found him with an older couple, sitting in front of the information booth, and quietly crying as hard as he could.  He was hugging 2 stuffed animals from someone’s game booth.  When he saw us he flung himself into Dad’s arms and held on for dear life, and I silently praised God for keeping him safe.  As we walked away, the older couple who had cared for him said to him,

“Now, remember, your parents will always come for you.”

It was all I could do to restrain myself from snatching him up.  I let my husband hold on to him, but my arms ached to hold him, and I know that is how God feels about every son and daughter who wanders away from the safety of His will.  I can picture Him at the ready, even watching us as we consider stepping away; how he wants to snatch us from danger, but allows us to choose our own footing.

He’s the Good Father.

You’re never really a lost child when you belong to the King.  You can be rebellious, and you can suffer the consequences, but your Father knows where you are.  He has his eye on you and He’s listening for your repentant cry.  When you’re ready to find your way home, He will always come for you.

Always.

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost?  And if it turns out that he finds it, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost.  So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be lost.” Matthew 18:12-14 (emphasis mine)

Always.

 

Caring For Your Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

 

 

gluten-free starter care

If you have never baked with sourdough, there are a few good things to know.

What Is Sourdough?

Sourdough is a mixture of flour and water that contains wild yeasts and lactobacilli. These naturally occurring cultures actually “eat” the simple sugars in the grains, beginning the process of breaking it down.  During this process, they produce carbon dioxide, which appears as bubbles, that helps rise your dough.  These cultures also produce lactic acid which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.

Sourdough is an efficient way to bake for your family.  As long as you save some some “starter” each time you use it, and continue to “feed” it, giving it more flour and water, it will continue to multiply and serve you indefinitely. Because using sourdough incorporates the use of these wild yeasts as leavening in your baked products, this means you do not need to buy instant dry yeast from the store… so you may expect to save time and money.

Since the wild yeasts feed on the sugars in the grains, properly prepared sourdough products are lower on the glycemic index than non-sourdough goods.   Now, let me be clear here… I said it is low-er on the glycemic index… I didn’t say it’s safe to pig out  😉 Grains are still starches that provide quick energy to the body.  Moderation, as always, please.

Also, because the sourdough yeasts begin the process of breaking down the flours you bake with, the finished product is easier on the digestive system.  The wild yeasts and bacteria neutralize anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors that are naturally occurring in grains, and actually produce some vitamins themselves, which means more nutrition is readily available.

Other Advantages

Gluten free grains are often more dry and gritty than their glutenous counterparts, and recipes can require more starch.  As the yeasts begin to break down the grains, they are softened, giving baked goods a more pleasant texture, and our family thinks they have a richer flavor.

How to Care for Your Starter

  • Wild yeasts do not like metal.  Whether you are cultivating sourdough, kefir or kombucha, please do not store your cultures in metal–it will kill them.  You can use metal fork/spoon for mixing your baked goods; just don’t store it in metal. Keep your sourdough starter, and unbaked products, in glass.  Except for dipping, as shown in the featured photo, avoid storing in plastics as you do not want your culture to leach chemicals for your family to later consume.
  • Only use un-chlorinated water because the chemicals will kill your starter. If you live in the city and do not have filtered water, measure your water, leave it set for 12 hours before using, and the chlorine should evaporate out.
  • If you are perpetuating more than one type of culture in your kitchen: ie, kombucha…  it is a good idea to keep a few feet between them.
  • Cover, but do not seal air tight.  Fruit flies and other insects just love fermented goodness.  If your sourdough is not covered, it will turn into an insect trap.  (yuck!)
  • Sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures, and slows down in colder temps.  If you keep your starter out on the counter in a moderate temps, it will probably need fed every 12 hours.  If you use it daily, then this is perfect.  If, however, you do not want to use it daily, store your freshly fed starter in the refrigerator and it will not have to be fed for at least a week.
  • After sitting, if there is a layer of liquid on top (may be clearish, pinkish or brownish), this is called hooch.  Just pour it off, down the sink, and freshen your starter: assuming your gluten free starter is brown rice, so feed it some brown rice flour and water.  Stir well, cover, and give a few hours for your starter to get all bubbly and active before using in a recipe.  If you are used to glutenous sourdough which can get frothy on top, it’s helpful to know that the rice starter does not get bubbly on top, but you can see the gas pockets all through the “sponge” through the side of your glass storage container.  (In the past, I did maintain a buckwheat starter, which I began following the same directions as the boosted rice starter.  It was easy to maintain.  I eventually threw it out because buckwheat is stronger smelling and the rice worked equally well.)
  • It is important to know guidelines for how much to feed starter.  Do not exceed 4:1. Four parts new flour and water to one part active starter.  You may feed your starter less, but do not feed it more than this at once because you do not want to weaken it. If your starter will be sitting on the counter all day, do not feed it less than a 1:1 ratio; One part starter to one part fresh brown rice flour and water.  So, for example, if I have had 1/2 cup of starter in the fridge all week and I take it out to use it, I am going to feed it 1/2 cup of fresh brown rice flour and stir in enough water to make it the consistency I want it.  If you make it too thin, the extra water will rise to the top.
  • If your starter sits too long and the top gets dry and pinkish, use a spoon to ladle off the top and discard.  Transfer to a clean glass container and then feed.
  • What about discarding down the sink?  The yeast is amazing for your pipes and septic.  A friend of ours is a septic designer and he highly recommends it!  😉
  • Recipes are mixed up ahead of time, and ferment to allow the wild yeasts to do their magic.  They should not ferment for less than 7 hours before baking.  If you are in a time pinch, remember that sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures.  You can place dough next to a slow cooker or place in an oven that is OFF: if you have a gas oven that is kept warm by a pilot light, or if you have an electric oven you can turn the light on to keep warm.  If you feel the oven is too warm, just prop door open a smidge by placing an oven mitt in the way so it doesn’t close completely.  Remove to complete and bake when ready.  If you have a cool kitchen in the winter, then again, you will want to let your goods sour longer, or find a warm spot for them.  If you have a HOT kitchen, your products will be ready to bake sooner rather than later.

If you have questions or need clarification, please ask about it in the comments.  If you are wondering, someone else is bound to question the same thing!

Well, now you are ready to begin baking with your starter, and I am ready to begin sharing recipes!

Care instructions are available as a PDF for download here: How to care for your gluten free starter

 

From King Size to Twin Size, Breathing Usefulness into a Worn Quilt

One of the ways we are able to provide for the needs of our large family while keeping a reasonable budget is by thrift shopping, and I have discovered I really enjoy it.  It feels good to provide for a need (or want) and not break the budget.

We have a little local shop that supports a school, and it’s one of my favorite places to browse.  It is astounding, really.  If I think of something I know I’m going to want, or I pray about a need, it’s not uncommon to find it the next time I visit.  Other times I may keep my eyes peeled longer, but God always provides, one way or another!

Last year when we had a cold snap I realized that C1 needed a real bed quilt instead of the over-sized baby blanket and throws I had layered on his bed.  I started watching for a cotton twin sized bed quilt, and found a Target brand quilt with automobiles on it,  but a couple of the applique`s had begun to pull away so they were only asking $2.00.  This is something I can fix, so I was thrilled and thankful!

Then last winter that annual cold snap hit and I realized C2 also needed a real, bed sized quilt, but I wasn’t find anything.

My own bed quilt was a king sized quilt.  Our bed is a queen, but I like my quilts to hang long and cover the sides of the bed.  The top edge and whole first row of blocks had grown ratty from 12 years of wear, and my husband mentioned how nice it would be to replace it.  It did occur to me that our old quilt, a mix of blocks in the green and brown spectrum, could make a very nice boy blanket.

Sometimes using what you have is the most creative endeavor of all!!

I laid it out on the roomiest floor I could find, and spread C1’s quilt on top for a template, avoiding the ratty side of the old quilt.  C1’s quilt was a little shorter than I like, so I cut C2’s longer so that it will tuck under the bottom of his bunk mattress.  I just cut along the rows and pinned as I went to hold the layers together.

quilt 1

Using a heavy cotton camouflage fabric from Joanne’s, I cut strips and made a binding.  I used this tutorial as a guide to piece the binding and sew it on the quilt.  I’ve done a lot of bindings, but this is my favorite method by far!  The tutorial is clear and easy to follow, and it saved me a lot of time.  I did the whole project in one day.

quilt 2

 

quilt 3

I wasn’t sure I was going to like the camo fabric.  It had the browns like the quilt, but it was a completely different style.  However, when I put the quilt on the bed, I loved it!  The dark browns in the binding match the dark brown of the wood in the bed and make it look like I gave the project more forethought than I actually did.  (Really, I just didn’t find anything I liked better.)

C2 bed

I’d like to do a little woodsy theme in the boys’ room, with stars and some camp inspired decor.  There are old, green and flannel marine sleeping bags on the bottom of the beds for colder nights.  They’re fun to crawl around inside too, if you’re 4 and 6 years old.  🙂

Back at the thrift store I found a pair of matching pillow shams for 75 cents that also contribute to this woodsy theme and I’m keeping my eyes open for small stuffed animals that match the sham.

C2 pillow

For $15.00 I replaced my quilt at the Salvation Army.  I still have some camo fabric to make the boys some hot and cold pack/bean bags (if I ever get around to it!) 😉

The best part?  C2 loves his new blanket, and seeing me make it for him makes him feel special too!

How to Make Coconut Water Kefir

In my journey to health I spent a long time eating Body Ecology style, which eliminated some foods, included some lesser known foods, and incorporated proper food combining.   I still apply some of its principles to the meals I prepare for my family.  Body Ecology founder, Donna Gates, highly recommends coconut water kefir.  She sells it on her web site, but being who I am, I opted for affordability and the challenge of making it myself.

Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is found in young green coconuts, before it is replaced with coconut meat.

I was told by a “sample lady” at Costco about one of her customers who had served in the military.  He said that in times of war, when no IV fluid was available, they used straight coconut water in the IV’s of the wounded due its purity and high electrolyte content. Bottled coconut water is not as ideal as fresh, but this is what I have to use.

Kefir 4

Coconut water contains some B vitamins, and is high in potassium and sodium which are good for adrenal health.  It is sweet, as it contains easily digested carbohydrates which is what makes it suitable, temporarily, for kefir grains.

The name Kefir means “feel good” in Turkish.  Kefir contains the essential amino acid tryptophan which helps calm the nervous system and is also used by the body to produce serotonin.  Serotonin affects mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, and memory.

There are two types of kefir grains.  One thrives in milk and the other in sugar water (called water kefir).  I have not made water kefir, though I someday hope to try it.  I already had dairy kefir grains and so I use them to make my coconut water kefir.  If you have an allergy or intolerance to milk, you may want to use water kefir.

A mixture of live yeasts and bacteria, kefir grains digest sugars in the beverage they are added to, fermenting it into a sour but probiotic rich drink.  Combining the coconut water and kefir gains you the benefits of both, but with less natural sugars.  It provides good bacteria to populate your gut where most of your immune system resides and it improves digestion along the way.

Kefir 1

Here you can see my kefir grains have been busy turning this milk into a thick kefir. They tend to float up toward the top.

I use a plastic mesh strainer that came with the Kefir Kit I bought from Cultures From Health to rinse my grains.  Never use metal with your kefir grains.  Use a plastic strainer, but store your grains in glass so that your kefir does not leach chemicals from the plastic.

Kefir 3

When I wash the grains under cool water, I use a wooden spoon or clean hands to rinse the milk off as best as possible.

Because milk kefir grains thrive in milk, it is important not to keep them out for too long. They do not convert the coconut water as quickly as they do milk.  The grains will float up and down in the liquid.  Milk kefir is ready to consume 12-24 hours after adding grains, depending on how thick and how sour you want it.  I leave my kefir grains in coconut water between 2-3 full days.  I often do 2 batches in a row so my fridge is stocked and then I promptly put the grains back into milk for one or two cycles to make sure they are fed well and strong before placing them back into the refrigerator to store.  If they spend too much time in the refrigerator they will lose their ability to ferment.  As long as I give mine a couple of days in milk on the counter every two or three weeks they are fine.

Kefir 6

Once your coconut water kefir is done fermenting, strain the grains out and add to a clean glass container to either make more coconut water kefir or refresh with milk. Store your finished products in the refrigerator.

Drink 1/4 cup in your Plexus Slim for a lemonaidy taste or with meals for better digestion.  My little ones beg to drink it anytime as they are accustomed to sour flavors and enjoy them.  I love this since I know I am giving them something that will protect their immune system and benefit them in many ways.

Are you ready to add this to your wellness routine?

If you do not already have kefir grains, or don’t know anyone who can share (they multiply over time) you can order a starter from Cultures For Health.  The grains come dehydrated with detailed directions on rehydrating and using.  The website also has many video tutorials and recipes for using their cultured products.

If you would like to read about more of the health protecting benefits of kefir, Dr. Axe has a good article.

If you plan to make a boosted rice sourdough starter, this coconut water kefir is what I used to create the starter.  Look for instructions in a future post!

Can you use milk kefir grains to make kefir from coconut milk?  Umm, yes.  I did it once with canned coconut milk.  It worked.  It was also one of the few things that ever made me gag!  😉  So, you can try it if you want to.  Maybe you will like it better than I!!

My Journey to Health & Weight Loss, Part 2

 

Journey to health part 2

To Read Part 1, visit HERE.

I think it was some time during month 2 of dietary changes that I decided to add back in the meat and proteins that I had removed to follow the detox diet.  I used a salad plate for meals instead of a dinner plate, and continued to eat gluten free and sugar free.  There were no frills to my food, you know?  Just the basics: meats, grains, fruits and vegetables,  and with the Slim I wasn’t really hungry a lot of the time.  I continued to steadily lose weight, but more slowly than the first month.  I was able to dig out tubs of clothes that had been packed away for years, and it was like Christmas finding pretty an things that fit.  I felt less sloppy when I looked in the mirror.  I was standing up straighter, sleeping better at night, the natural practitioner I checked in with said my blood sugar levels were amazing, and my brain fog was lifting.  I didn’t remember ever having so much energy.

{11 weeks of gluten free, 10 weeks of Plexus Slim}

Years earlier, when I was pregnant with our first baby, I had researched an education in natural health, but it had not been feasible at that time, and over the years and our growing family I had forgotten that dream.  Now that passion began to rekindle, and my husband and I started discussing the possibility of me taking some classes in order to help our family instead of paying someone else.

I decided to get my feet wet.  One class, I decided, to see if I could really do this school thing, and find out if I liked it as much as I thought I would.  It was a block class that was held for long hours, several days in a row, and I had to travel away from my family to do it (which if you know us–it is a huge thing).  The class was on Enzymes and the part they play in our bodies, and I loved it.  I had learned just enough over the years, because of my own research and experimentation, to understand what the instructor was explaining and it made sense… a LOT of sense.  I was never going to look at nutrition the same way, ever!

I came home from that class armed with knowledge and a whole lot of enzymes!  I started giving them to our family with every meal, and tackled the job of changing our children’s diets.  I switched them to a primarily gluten free diet.  I worked the refined sugar out of their diets, too.  Within 6 months I noticed many of the health quirks each child had suffered were resolving… gone was bloat, dark circles under eyes, immune function improved and they stopped catching EVERY bug that went around, my husband’s heart burn went away and he was able to stop using kombucha after every meal, and the list is LONG.

Even with the Plexus Slim and dietary changes, I had continued to have soreness in my knees which had persisted since 6 weeks following that fateful tick bite and rash.  Applying the knowledge I had gained about enzymes, this pain now went away.

My husband and I began planning for my continuing education.  I felt like God was propelling me forward, and my confirmation was my husband’s persistence in sending me despite the fact he hardly sleeps when I am gone, so this was a huge deviation from the norm.  People started sharing with me on a regular basis about their struggles with Lyme Disease, even people I didn’t know—it appeared epidemic and I felt a burden to help others.  By the end of that first year, I completed certification as a “Natural Health Professional”.

I had been sharing Plexus Products with other people.  I genuinely wanted to see others attain better health, and I felt that sharing Plexus products could be part of that journey for others while helping me pay for my own products.  However, people are creatures of habit and we tend to take the easiest path.  So many wanted a product to do it all for them, wanted immediate results, and weren’t willing to make long term lifestyle changes to see that come about… in addition, because Plexus is structured as a multi-level marketing company I was concerned that people I might really be able to help as a practitioner may avoid visiting me for fear I would just try to sign them up in my downline.  I stopped sharing about Plexus.  I pulled back.  I experimented with what I had learned~ one can gain a lot of practical experience working with a large family.  😉

6 months into my own Plexus experience I discovered I was pregnant and stopped taking Slim with the intention of going back to it after the first trimester.  I suffered an early miscarriage.

My husband and I have committed our family planning to the Lord, and I knew another pregnancy was possible. Having lost a total of 50 pounds, I was comfortable with my weight and my body for the first time ever. God had been changing my heart in amazing ways.  He had used the difficulties of this season in my life to teach me to look to Him alone instead of looking to others for answers and approval. My “why” became completely focused on pleasing Him and being available to walk in His will.

I made the decision not to go back on the Slim, but to take time to evaluate where my health was without it.  My goal was not to need it.

Great progress had been made in rebuilding my health, but when I stopped taking Slim my energy plummeted again.  The rule of thumb for any practitioner working with someone who suffers from nutritional deficiencies and needs to rebuild their bodies is that after applying appropriate changes, it will take 3 months PLUS 1 month for every year an individual has lived with the deficiency for their body to regain proper balance.  In addition, the body picks its own order of priority.  The symptom you want to eliminate is often not the first thing to resolve.  The tick bite had been a catalyst to my making appropriate changes, but my health had been a struggle since I was in grade school, and I had been diagnosed with Environmental Illness and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a young adult. 6 months of doing things right had only reached back 3 years in my health history.  I had a LOT further to go.

In my studies, I kept reading about the importance of proper food combining over and over.  Grrr.  This was another change I really didn’t want to make, but after it popping up in my studies so often, I began to feel like God was beating me over the head with it.  So, I obeyed.  Eventually I found the best platform for doing this was by following a Body Ecology Diet.  This diet is also good for controlling candida, which was a plus I needed.

In addition to food combining, my goals were to increase nutrition and decrease empty calories.  I made sprouts and learned how to cook some new foods, including coconut water kefir and kimchi.

I quickly became pregnant again, and this time I miscarried at 12 weeks.  It was a heart break and emotionally draining, and I also bled heavily which caused symptoms of severe anemia.  I continued to eat right, packing in the nutrients, and paid special attention to iron rich foods.  I took Maca Root, an adaptogen that slowly and gently aided my stamina and is good for hormones and reproductive health.  It is nutrient dense and rich in essential fatty acids.  As a result of the healing that continued to take place in my body, over the course of the next 6 months I slowly lost an additional 10 pounds.

Education wise, I really felt that I had barely scratched the surface of what I should learn, and so I continued studying and my family sacrificed to send me to more classes.  I became a Health Kinesiologist, and it changed our lives.  It will take a whole post to share exactly what that is, but I can start by sharing that the allergies that we have suffered with our whole lives are becoming a thing of the past as I take time to do the corrections.  Candida overgrowth is gone.  I have absolutely no residual symptoms of any tick borne illness.  HK is also a wonderful tool to aid emotional healing and the physical symptoms that can be a tied to emotional distress as our body, mind and spiritual health are intertwined.

God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl who is now 17 months old, and she is a lively, mischievous and healthy sweetheart.  God’s grace is abundant.

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I am 3.5 years into this health journey: 3 months plus a month for every year takes me back to those grade school years when my original health issues began in earnest.  I am following a ketogenic diet and am aware that a lot of detoxification has been happening… this has been something I have known I needed to do for a long time, and I believe it may be the last major step in healing.  I recently decided to try Plexus Slim again as Plexus has improved the formula and I wanted to rebuild muscle.  It’s still a great product, and yet I am grateful that I have not noticed any marked change in my energy.  I don’t NEED Plexus products to feel good anymore, though I know they are a beneficial product for my health.  The chronic fatigue that I have lived with since childhood is GONE, Praise the Lord!

God answers prayer.  I’m still studying.  Still learning.  I believe I always will.

God is the Master Healer.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Whatever it is you may be struggling with, ask Him what to do and then listen carefully… pursue Him, expect to feel a little nudge, and then buckle up.  His plan is always bigger than anything you and I can imagine.  God NEVER wastes pain.  He will never waste any experience you go through if only your submit your plans to Him.

Even the most difficult experiences we feel that we may barely survive are, as Ann Voskamp calls them, “Hard Grace”, but grace nonetheless.

He takes our impossible and turns it into glory.

glo·ry–

noun: glory
1.  high renown or honor won by notable achievements.

synonyms:renownfameprestigehonordistinctionkudoseminenceacclaim,  praise

2.  magnificence or great beauty.                                                                                                          synonyms: magnificence, splendor, resplendence, grandeur, majesty, greatness, nobility   {a thing that is beautiful or distinctive; a special cause for pride, respect, or delight.}

3.   praise, worship, and thanksgiving offered to a deity.