Happy Birthday, Blog!

Happy Birthday, blog!

My blog turned two two days ago.

I’ve really enjoyed having my blog, but more than that, I’ve really enjoyed all of you.

I love logging in and seeing your comments, likes, and even views.

So without you, this really wouldn’t have been all that fun.

So thank you to everyone who takes time out of their day to stop by, even just once.

Thank you so everyone who liked a post.

Thank you to everyone who ever left a comment.

So now for the stats: on my first bloggy birthday I had 132 posts, 7,976 views, 410 comments, and 70 followers.

Now I have 239 posts, 16,820 views, 789 comments, and 94 followers.

Thank you.

Blueberry Summer

We went up north to Lost Branch Blueberry Farm to (you guessed it) pick blueberries a few weeks ago.  They have delicious berries, and we really enjoy going.  We were able to go once a few years ago, and I just recently finished the berries we had frozen from that trip.  I was really glad that we were able to pick more!

We have great timing – we went up on what was predicted to be the hottest day of the year yet.  And it was pretty hot.  I picked until 6:30/7-ish, but most of our group had already stopped by that point.  I ended up burning BOTH my arms and my neck (so I was a regular redneck, ha ha).

The heat really wasn’t all that bad.  Once you had gone out there and gotten used to it, the heat didn’t bother you.  Or at least, it didn’t bother me.

We drove up with some friends of ours, and picked that afternoon/evening (I can’t remember a date – although it was a Tuesday).  That evening we had dinner with the P. family (sweet friends of ours), and then headed back to the lodge to turn in stay up way-too-late talking.  But it was fun.

The next morning, Meiling, Mom, and I went to pick some more while Noah and the friends we drove up with went swimming in the pond.  It was a very nice pond, I would have gone swimming in it, too, except for two things:

1.  I hadn’t brought a swimsuit, and I had no spare clothes to get dirty.

2.  I was there to pick.

We left Wednesday afternoon, having picked 41 pounds of berries.

When we got back that evening, the grand processing took place.  We started washing and freezing the berries, and deciding how many we were going to leave out for other purposes.  We froze all but two colanders-full, which would be used for some canning (blueberry syrup) and a pie.

That night Mom wanted me to use up some apricots that I had been planning to use in a crisp, but were aging on the counter instead.  I pulled up a recipe, and cut up the apricots, but I didn’t have enough for a whole batch.  Mom added a few tired peaches, but we still didn’t have enough.  I threw in a handful of blueberries and a few pitted cherries.  Mom tried some that night and said it was really good.  I can’t comment, because I made it gluten and grain-ful and didn’t eat any, but Noah liked it too, and I believe Drake did.

On this past Wednesday I canned four jars of what was supposed to be blueberry syrup, but I think it is really jam.  I made a pie the same day, which used up one colander of berries.  I am hoping to can some syrup that remains syrup with the remaining colander full.

 

Thanks for having us, Lost Branch Blueberry Farm!  It was a blast!

 

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The blues

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Pom juice on manager’s special at Kroger – got to love it!

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My berry bucket

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Wednesday morning – in the blueberry patch

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Walking back to the lodge – A harvested wheat feild

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The fruit mixture of my crisp

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Lots o’ berries

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The crisp topping

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Mom had gotten several pineapples on sale at the grocery store…

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…so we dehydrated several

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A blueberry rolled under the oven, and Lucy was trying to get at it.  Poor Lucy.

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Apricot-Peach-Blueberry-Cherry Crisp

Today’s Projects and a Caterpillar

I had quite a bit of kitchen time today.  And you know what that means:

BIG MESS!

Not exactly what I was talking about.  But, yes, that happens, too.

I made quite a few things.

First, I made enough lip balm to last me awhile.  I had no more in the fridge, so I had to make several more.  I think I made around a dozen.

I tried a total of three recipes, because I have new oils now.  I picked one recipe out, only to realize while I was making it that it was basically the same as the one I usually make.  So I tried out another one with shea butter, but it only made two, maybe three tubes.  So I tried this third recipe with cocoa butter.  And once I had gotten it in the tube, I was afraid that it wouldn’t harden the way I wanted it to.  So I stuck one tube in the fridge and waited.  When I checked it, it wasn’t as hard as I would like it.  So I decided to empty all eight or so of the tubes, remelt it, and add more beeswax.  I had also forgotten the essential oils, so I opened them and set them right next to the pot so I could add them.

After I added the melted lip balm back to the containers, I realized that I had never added the essential oils.

Back into the pot!

So all that rigmarole took much longer than I would have liked, so I didn’t get started on my next project as soon as I would like.

Next thing on my list was to make gluten-free coconut-milk-based cookie dough ice cream, which I did using my normal chocolate chip cookie recipe (which has AWESOME tasting dough), and chopping up the chips extra small.  Meiling helped me form it into little piles and flash-freeze it to add to the ice cream.  For the ice cream, I just combined coconut milk, vanilla, and honey until it tasted good, then threw it into the ice cream maker.

It turned out pretty well.  The ice cream isn’t as sweet as the cookie dough, which makes it taste a little bland.  But I think that all the vanilla that I poured into it is keeping the ice cream softer (because of the alcohol), which is great, since coconut milk ice cream is usually rock hard.

And then I tried a recipe for powder foundation which contained arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in one recipe, and that plus nutmeg, bentonite clay and ginger, oh, and lavender EO in another.

They did not work for me.

I see other people saying it worked for them, but it just made me look dirty.

 

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The ingredients for the first recipe

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Me, wearing the foundation, as well as the foundation mixed with a bit of lotion (which only made me look dirtier) (look around my chin).  I am also in need of a few other things, but overlook my bad hair.  Please.

I took these pictures of a caterpillar the other day, and am just posting them now.  Enjoy!

 

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I love the rain drops caught between his fat rolls

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I think fat rolls on caterpillars are funny

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And I like using the term fat rolls when relating to caterpillars

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Cause it’s fun when talking about caterpillars

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Friday

I had grand plans of posting about our trip to a you-pick blueberry farm this evening.

And then tonight happened.

But nothing really happened tonight.

I was in the kitchen prepping dinner semi-early, and Meiling and Noah were outside.  They had two Frisbees that they had gotten at the County Fair last night (we worked there yesterday).  They were the kind with the big hole in the middle – just large plastic rings.  They weren’t throwing them at each other, they were using them to…um…do things.  Like the put a long stick thing through both, then one carried one Frisbee and the other carried the other.  They hung things from them, dropped things through them, carried things with them.  And they showed us many of the poses.

Mom and Dad were behind me, just chatting, discussing (among other things) plans for tonight.  There weren’t a whole lot.

Once I had gotten dinner pretty much ready, I headed out the door to go pick up Drake from work.  On my way, I stopped at Sonic to get a medium cherry limeade, since Mom had a token for a free one, and she told me I could use.  So I got it.  A whole medium!  It made me feel so grown up.  A soda AND driving.  If myself 4 years ago could have seen me then, she would have asked who that person was, because there was no way that could have been her.

Earlier today I ran something over to a friend’s home.  After I had gotten over halfway there, I realized I had forgotten what I was supposed to take to them.  So I had to go home.  And it made my trip that much longer.  But I actually kind of liked it.  It was one of those beautiful days, not too warm, clear blue sky, just a few white, semi-wispy clouds, and all the colors oh-so-vibrant.  And there is just something  wonderful about flying down a country highway, windows down, radio playing, hair flying.  It almost made me half glad that nobody was home when I got there, so I just had to leave my things there.  No one needed to see THAT crazy hair.

That feeling carried over to my trip to get Drake, and the soda.  It was so beautiful.  After I grabbed Drake, we chatted on the way home.  He said that, since it was Friday, everyone there was joking, and having more fun.  It just added to my feeling of a relaxed, happy Friday.

When we got home, Mom and I were outside, when I heard some music.  And it sounded like it was getting closer.  Dad appeared around the corner holding the speaker from inside, music blaring, with Meiling and Noah behind him, bearing Frisbees.  We all started throwing the Frisbees back and forth, to the happy music.

And then Mom lit the burn pile, and the smoke outlined the sunbeams that were straining through the trees.  I ran inside to get my camera.

I took a few shots of the smoke, and then laid down in the grass, and took a few self-portraits.  They are among my favorites.  Not because they are amazing.  Because they capture the moment.

It wasn’t anything that we did, or really anything we did.  It was the feeling, the mood, that prevailed, that is what made it memorable.  The relaxedness.  The laid-backness. The love.  The feeling of family.  The whatever goes feeling.

We have been running almost nonstop for the past two weeks.  And I have been feeling pressured to do more school, and to be more busy (if that makes sense).

But the other day, Meiling and I were home alone.  And we were sitting on the floor in the family room, making friendship bracelets.  After that, we were going to read “Little House on the Prairie,”  which we call Laura.

While we were sitting there, I kept feeling like I should go do something productive.  School.  Prep for our trip.  Oh, I am sure that my room could have used a cleaning.

But I really just wanted to stay there.

And then it kind of hit me.  It’s summer.  I don’t ALWAYS have to be working, busy.  And this was one of those times that I was going to remember for a long time, if not forever.  And I don’t want to squish that, brush it out of the way, with “what-I-really-should-be-doing.”  School.  Cleaning.  All great things. 

But in the end, what do they mean?  What do they count for?

Meanwhile, I have a little sister who won’t be seven forever.  And what do I want her to remember about me in 10-15 years?  The older sister who was always closeted up with her books, saying, “SHH!  Please shut the door when you leave!”  or as the sister who took time to read, to make friendship bracelets, bake fun things, do projects.

Oftentimes, Drake, Noah, and I talk about all the things that we used to play.  The forts.  The games.  Like pretending that we were orphans (our parents had been killed by monsters – more specifically, their bites, I think), and we had to move from room to room, being orphans with no home now.  (Side note: we actually didn’t remember this one, but I found it in an old journal, and it TOTALLY sounds like something we would have played.)

And Meiling doesn’t have any of those memories.

Now we’re doing school, driving, going to work, running errands, cooking, programming, building, and other what-not, while Meiling is being her little self, at the same age when we were playing in cardboard boxes, cooking pretend food, and taping paper facial hair on one another (I don’t think I ever wore any of that).  And she doesn’t have any memory of that.

So I want to be the sister that takes time for her.  If not to play in cardboard boxes and make paper facial hair, but to at least take time out for her.  Read to her.  Participate in her make-believes.  And give her some of the memories that we have.

And tonight was one of those nights, in a way.

Just a random, fun memory.  Not perfect, but wonderful in spite of the imperfection, maybe because of it.  Or maybe because it seemed so great.

That was today.

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A Puppy, the Fourth of July, and Visiting

My camera has been woefully neglected.  It has been sitting behind my chair in my room, somewhat out of sight and mind.  I do think about it, but feel uninspired. 

Goal: take out my camera and leave it somewhere so that I can post more.

 

Last week Tuesday we picked up an ADORABLE little puppy for my cousins.  They named him Bosco.  He is a chocolate cockapoo.  We were taking him up north for them, and OF COURSE we had to get him a bit early.  Don’t you think so, too?

I had so much fun with a little bundle of nigh-boundless energy padding/pattering around behind me, attacking my feet and skirt hem.  I loved having a little warm puppy ball that would suddenly decided he was tired and fall asleep right next to me.  He had this adorable way of curling up on your feet to snuggle and sleep.

But Lucy didn’t like him.  At all.

And honestly, I can’t quite blame her.  He stole her girl, her crate, her water bowl, her room, her spots to lay, and her snuggle time.

If Lucy had hands, she probably would have rung his neck.

Every time I talked to him, every time he was following me or I was taking him out, Lucy was watching from a distance.

And then she started giving me the cold shoulder.  When I would talk to her, she wouldn’t look at me.  And if I tried to hug her or pick her up, she would pull away.

Needless to say, she is happy that he is gone.

 

For the Fourth of July, we had some dear friends over.  We have spent probably the majority of the major holidays with this family for the past 5+ years.  So we continued the tradition.  There was food, bubbles, squirt gun fights, paddle boat rides, and pond-swimming.  Bonfires, badminton, puppy snuggling, and kitty snuggling.  And plenty of talking.

It was wonderful.

I hope your Fourth was as lovely as ours.

 

Friday afternoon we headed up north to deliver a puppy and visit.  It was so great to see family, but too short as always.  I got in several games of Rummikub with Grandma, and Pop joined us for a few, also.  I really love that game.

 

And I hauled my camera all the way up there, and, woefully, it stayed in the bag most of the time.

So I only have one photo of Bosco to share.  And a not-to-great one at that.

 

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Hoping to take more pictures soon!

Love,
Allison

One Year

Today is the one-year anniversary of me being grain-free.  Back when I first started, I called it Primal.  But more on that in a minute.

I didn’t know what it was going to be like when I started.  I know this is crazy to say, because it seems obvious.  But when I started, it seemed crazy to me.  Even though I was doing it, I had NO IDEA what it would look like.

The first day of being Primal, I thought I was going to die.

Not really.

It turns out I had picked a really bad day to start, as it was a meal day at church that week.  I started the day with a smoothie, brought some carrot sticks to church with me, and then the only grain-free dishes at the meal were salads.  NO PROTEIN!  Man, I went home HUNGRY!

(Should I be worried that I can recall what I ate exactly one year ago?  You know, I won’t worry about it.)

For the first month is was difficult, and it was something I really had to think about.  I ate a lot of ground beef.  And a small amount of really dark chocolate.

The first time that I went “off” and had grain was one night when we went out for pizza.  I could have just ordered a salad, but I really wanted pizza.  So I ate the pizza.  That night, I woke up in the middle of the night, and didn’t fall back asleep for 2 hours.  I believe I had a mild stomach ache.  And I actually had to go look for my peppermint oil.

And that’s when I realized all of the symptoms that I had been having that had disappeared.

I was happier.  I slept whole nights.  I didn’t have nearly the number of stomach aches/upsets that I used to have.  I rarely, if ever, woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick.  I had forgotten the last place I had had my peppermint oil, since I hadn’t needed to use it in so long.  Previously I had always known where it was.  It had practically permanent residence in my room.  If it wasn’t there, it was in my purse.  Now it has taken up permanent residence in the basement.

Over the next few months I had times where I ate more grain, and times where I ate less grain.  I ate a lot of grain and other bad stuff in December.

So I decided to cut out all dairy, bad fats, seeds, nuts, nightshades, and berries (to aid digestion), in addition to being strictly grain-free and soy-free.  It was hard.  Very hard.  Although I felt better in some respects, I started eating more, and more often.  I gained the smallish amount of weight that I had lost.  I couldn’t go without snacking.

I only did that for three weeks before I started eating nuts, seeds, nightshades, and berries again.  It took me awhile to reteach my body not to crave food when I wasn’t hungry.

During this whole time I also struggle with the terms Primal and Paleo.

First of all, I wasn’t strictly either.

Second of all, I don’t agree with the philosophy behind either.

So I stopped saying Paleo/Primal (except, maybe, in regards to classifying and finding recipes) and started saying grain-free, and even gluten-free.

(I had really resisted the gluten-free label for awhile, since there is a difference between gluten-free and the way I eat.)

I try to be grain-free most of the time, and I have made it a goal to be gluten-free for six solid months.

Now I am contemplating going completely dairy-free for awhile.  I am still struggling with some eczema, and believe that the dairy may be the root of the problem.

But I am so thankful for the healing that the Lord has provided through being grain-free.

Love,
Allison