P is for Probiotics

My foray into probiotics amounts to making my own Greek yogurt. It’s the live/active bacterial cultures in the yogurt that produce the probiotic effect in one’s gut. Commercial yogurts have added sugars and you can’t guarantee their effectiveness as a probiotic. I would probably get a greater probiotic effect if I was a regular drinker of Kombucha or other fermented products, but I just really like yogurt, so…

It takes a half-gallon of milk (I use whole organic) to make a batch of yogurt in my crock pot. It’s a somewhat tedious operation of having to devote a whole day of checking the thermometer. It heats up to 180 degrees to kill off any unwanted bacteria, then has to cool to 110 degrees before adding the bit of yogurt starter so you don’t kill the good bacteria. It then sits overnight in an oven with just the lightbulb on to keep it warm. When I check in the morning it’s like Christmas day, coming in to check on it–did it set up right? Yes!

At that point it is just regular yogurt. To get it to the “Greek” stage I then strain it through cheesecloth to remove the whey and get it to that nice thick consistency. Voila! Homemade Greek Yogurt!

Yogurt is one of my favorite foods; it’s the only dairy I (mostly) allow myself, so in order to justify eating it, this is my answer–no added sugars, homemade goodness.

Recently I compared the cost of making my own vs. purchasing a brand like Fage whole milk Greek yogurt. They are virtually the same. So in a pinch, I will buy the commercial brand, but there is something quite satisfying in whipping up a batch in my own kitchen.

Total Investment: Cost of 1/2 gallon of whole milk ($3-5.00) per batch (yields about 35 oz.)

Posted in A-Z Challenge, Health & Wellness, nutrition | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

O is for Organic

Even “Organic” is suspect these days. Is it really organic? There isn’t much in the way of regulations to assure us that a label is what it says it is. And an organic farmer could be next door to a Monsanto farm, and become contaminated by proximity.

PLU codes help somewhat–a 9 in front of the code means “organic,” but not all produce is labeled as such. From Snopes.com:

If you only want organic produce, look for items that are specifically labeled as “Organic”; if you want to ensure you avoid any GM produce, buy only items that are USDA certified as “100% organic” (which cannot by law be produced from GMOs). In the latter case consumers might also look for “non-GMO” or “GMO-free” indicators, but that option is still somewhat problematic as the U.S. government does not yet directly regulate the use of those terms

And although there is a code for GMO (numbers starting with “8”) they are rarely used; which is understandable–most people would avoid a product labeled as GMO if they had a choice.

So if at all possible, buy organic from your local produce grower, where you know the source and the footprint is small.

At least with more and more consumers opting for organic alternatives, the price of organic produce is not so exorbitantly high in comparison to “regular” produce as it used to be. And it is more readily available.

It’s been almost 50 years now since Joni Mitchell was begging,

“Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!”

Can’t say as we’ve come a long way, as pesticides are still a problem, making it all the more important to shop organic whenever possible.

 

 

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N is for Neti Pot

Learned about the Neti pot from a co-worker about two years ago when I was suffering from an upper-respiratory infection. It’s a bit disconcerting to use for the first time and I made a few mistakes but soon got it down and it was an effective tool in relieving my swollen and clogged sinuses. As my purchase was relatively new when we headed to England, I took it with me. It came in handy twice in the 14 months we were there, and again more recently I used it for a couple weeks during another bout of a respiratory virus.

It’s pretty ingenious and simple in design, yet very effective. A part of Eastern Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, it is relatively new to Western culture. A simple precaution: Use as directed, especially with distilled (sterile) water.  It’s one of those easy remedies that many overlook or don’t try because it seems too strange or weird to them.

A bit of synchronicity: As I don’t use the neti pot regularly, I thought it was interesting that in the middle of using it for this most recent infection, I got a call from my daughter asking if I used one and could she have some information about it to give to a friend of hers.

Total Investment: about $10 for the neti pot, another $10 for a bag of salt.

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M is for (Book of) Mormon

This isn’t a post about the Book of Mormon per se, as in “What is the Book of Mormon?” which you can read here, but rather, how the Book of Mormon has recently become a “thing” I do.

Back in April of 2016 I read an article in the Ensign Magazine about a woman who read the Book of Mormon from cover-to-cover every month for a year. My husband and I were serving our mission in England at the time, and we had already been challenge to read the Book of Mormon in a 4-month period the year before, ending on Christmas Day 2015, which we did. I’d also read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover many times before, but this goal, with approximately a year left to our mission, seemed an appropriate way to serve out that time.

I began to read on June 1, 2016, the requisite 18 pages a day.  I chose to read a plain, blue soft-bound copy, one of many we had on hand in the flat to give out to anyone interested.  One thing I was interested in learning, is what kinds of things would stand out to me each month, so I used a different colour marking pencil each month to differentiate.

As I write this blog post, I am in my 10th month of this project. I have read through the 531 pages, 18 pages a day, each month. Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Reading the Book of Mormon never gets “old.” I find something new/interesting each time through.
  • Parts that don’t teach me anything “new” are never boring to re-read, but are like conversations with an old friend. We “finish each other’s sentences,” or in other words, I have become so familiar with the words that they are written on my heart and imprinted in my mind.
  • I’ve been able to pick up on many more of the literary elements of the Book of Mormon than I have found before. Specifically, I’ve been able to see many more examples of chiasmus.
  • I am better able to see the continuity in the timeline of events, the big picture of the unfolding of the Book of Mormon epic.
  • I have a greater awareness of the important themes of the Book of Mormon:
    • Scattering and Gathering of Israel
    • The Pride Cycle
    • If you keep the commandments, you will prosper
    • The Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Saviour (He’s mentioned on almost every page!)
    • Pattern of receiving answers to prayer
  • I have become even more firm in my testimony that Joseph Smith did not, indeed could not, have written this book. It is the word of God through prophets on the American continent, written for our day, to bless our lives and witness that Jesus is the Christ.

 

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L is for LulaRoe

While we were in England, I went to my first Lularoe party, in support of a military wife we were helping. There I bought a skirt and some leggings. Nine months later I have given birth to an addiction.

I have:

  • 12 pairs of (“buttery soft!”) leggings (but in my defense, 3 of them I won free)
  • 4 Julias (I had 5 but gave one to my daughter)
  • 5 Carlys (I was at a Pop-up Party once where the hostess confided that she had 17 Carlys! I didn’t feel so bad after that.)
  • 3 Randys
  • 3 Cassies
  • 2 Irmas (I had 4 but gave 2 of them to my daughters…I think I’ll need to replace them though…)
  • 2 Amelias
  • 1 Maxi
  • 1 Perfect T
  • 1 Sarah

Enough? Umm…I definitely need one more Sarah before I say that.

Total investment: $1300 wardrobe makeover

 

 

Posted in Synchronicity | 3 Comments

K is for Kettlebells

In 2014 I heard about the benefits of weight training with Kettlebells. Picked up a set which also contained a nice DVD so I was able to learn all the correct moves. I like the easy accessibility of the kettlebells, their comfortable grip and flow of the routines. I don’t use them as much as I should, but there’s no time like the present to set and keep a goal!

Total investment: $30.00

 

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J is for Journaling

Although I’m sure I kept some sort of journal in my high school years and earlier, I have none extant to show for it, and don’t remember it being a major focus. The earliest journal I still have is one I began when I went away to college at BYU right out of high school. It was a hardbound red volume and I tried to use it for my deep and cerebral “college” thoughts–haha!

Since then my journals have taken various forms:

  • A monthly newsletter called “The Park Herald” mostly documenting the amazing accomplishments of our children to inform their doting grandparents.
  • Four large hardbound journals I kept from 1984-2010, writing at least once a month.
  • From 20111-2014 I used an online journal called Oh, Life. They closed down in 2014, so I had to copy and migrate all my entries to a Google doc.
  • Since 2014 I’ve kept a daily running journal in a Google doc. It’s been a great resource to the whole family who invariably will ask me, “When did we….?” or “Where was that place we went….?”
  • I’ve kept a blog since 2009, which is somewhat like a journal. I started at Blogger.com, then moved to WordPress after a year. I kept a separate blog for the 14 months we were serving our mission.
  • I have several “special” journals that are for specific purposes:
    • A dream journal
    • A scripture journal
    • A favorite quotes journal

Total Investment: Time, and the cost of the journals, though many of them were gifts.

This is a “thing” I hope I can continue up to the end! It gives me an outlet for creativity, a sounding board, a place to blow off steam. It also is a memory keeper–Family members have forgotten some amazing experiences that they neglected to record, but because I recorded those events, the experience was not lost, and was brought back to them with a renewed impact.

The spiritual nature of many of those experiences has meant that the record of them has become a type of “scripture” to our family–a record of God’s tender mercies and dealings with our family. Reading them renews our faith and strengthens our testimony of the reality of God and his love for us.

Posted in A-Z Challenge, Books, Family, Life Lessons, memories, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

I is for Investigator

I have been an investigator my whole life. I like the challenge of solving mysteries and finding truth. I guess that’s why I like to do puzzles and read detective books. Back as a pre-teen I had a detective company called Instant Investigations that was a partnership with my best friend. Later, as a teen in a new school, I made friends with a Mormon (I’d never heard of such a thing!) who invited me to investigate her religion. I did, and found it embodied the truths I had felt in my heart all along, but my own religious upbringing did not address.

But joining the LDS church wasn’t the end of the road for truth-seeking. Thus, as this A-Z challenge theme reveals, I continue to search for truth in all good things and incorporate what is worthy into my life and leave the chaff behind.

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H is for Hula Dancing

My friend wanted to take this class, but didn’t want to go alone, so I signed up with her. We met at the lodge for our housing community along with about 10 other women and the two instructors. Their credentials were impeccable, both from Hawaii and had taught and performed Hawaiian dance for many years. They took it very seriously and were tough task-masters, giving us homework which included memorizing the names of the steps and practicing to a cd.

Two and 1/2 weeks into the class I fell while roller-skating with our grandchildren and broke my wrist. I continued to attend the class in a cast, which made me feel even more uncoordinated and ungraceful than I had before my fall; but four weeks after my fall I was feeling overwhelmed with how difficult life seemed with my dominant hand out of commission that I decided to call it quits. I wrote an email to the instructors bowing out, and learned the next day that they decided to cancel the class entirely, as “too many of the participants were uncommitted.” I felt badly that I was a contributor to their decision to pull the plug on the class, but one has to do what is in one’s own best interest…

Total Investment: $30.00 for the two month’s worth of lessons, plus about $10 worth of fabric to make my hula skirt.

 

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Ungraceful Hula Hands

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G is for Grass-fed Beef

I worked with a woman whose family raises grass-fed beef for slaughter. I’d heard about the benefits of eating grass-fed beef, so, in my typical “jump in with both feet” style, we purchased 1/4 of a cow. Any idea how much space 140 pounds of beef takes up in a freezer? A lot. And we don’t own a standalone freezer…We are not huge meat-eaters to begin with, so eating beef maybe 3-4 times a month it took us close to a year to finish it up.

It tasted good, and I felt righteous eating it, but we only went that route the one time. Now I will shop the Co-op and buy grass-fed beef by the package or even can more easily find it nowadays in the local grocery store.

As I said, we don’t eat red meat very often, so it just didn’t seem worthwhile to invest in a large purchase like that again.

Total Investment: $490.00 (From the Colvin Ranch website: “A beef side, either a half or quarter beef, is a good buy. It is priced at $3.50/pound, hanging weight, (this includes the harvest) plus cutting and wrapping of about $.70/lb. ( $.75/lb.for quarter).The hanging weight is the weight after it is butchered, but before it is cut and wrapped. While weights will vary from one animal to another, a good overall average would be 280 pounds hanging weight on a half, and 140 pounds for a quarter.”)

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