thankful saturday

Feeling thankful today for...

:: the rhythm + simplicity of healing with herbs
:: thunderstorms
:: an out-of-control garden

:: a prenatal massage! heaven.
:: lots of time to relax and recharge this weekend, both with my family and alone
:: the words "mama, can we go play in the rain?"

:: the feeling of contentedness + ok-edness about having 7 weeks left to go till baby boy
:: preserves on the shelf
:: a blessed burst of energy this weekend to get some much-needed cleaning done

:: sunday tomorrow... a day of rest
:: quiet at last
:: open windows, cool evening breeze



Strawberries! The girls and I had the best time (c'mon, how can you beat a tractor ride and limitless strawberries in your tummy?). So far I have made some strawberry-lemon preserves, strawberry frozen yogurt, and also some jam that turned out to be, uhh, dessert sauce instead. Still on the list: fruit leather and some actual jam, if I can keep enough strawberries around for the purpose. Any favorite strawberry recipes I need to know about?


in the garden

* thinned out a few carrots yesterday.
* feeling ready to thin down a bit myself.
* not happening anytime soon.
* loving this canning book and want to make (and eat) everything in it. apricot + vanilla bean preserves? yes please.
* going to the strawberry u-pick next week. so excited.
* have been reading ramona the pest to the girls. they love it, and i love that they are loving it.
* am understanding completely now why my parents picked the single-level house over the two-story house when they knew they'd be having another baby (me).
* clear-cut most of the arugula this week and made a ton of arugula pesto. arugula pesto on grilled cheese = heaven.
* zucchini blossoms! preparing for the deluge.
* happy weekend. i hope it's been a good one. and happy father's day!


her third

Happy third birthday to my sweet-and-sour, chubby-cheeked, quiet-seeking, thumb-sucking, pink-loving baby girl. Tonight I'm remembering your perfect entrance to this world and enjoying this mama heart full of tenderness for the sweetness you bring to our family. Things just wouldn't be the same without you. Love you, little one.


being good

We took a friend to her doctor's appointment the other day and my kids were freakishly good. It was like they were drugged (they weren't). Maren rounded up all the teddy bears and sucked her thumb. Lizzy drew. I read a book. And that was it. I just sort of wanted to document that, 'cause if stuff goes for you anything like it usually goes for me in doctors' offices, there are usually lots of pleadings, bribes, and straight up threats going down in the course of a normal visit.

There was also a very long car ride involved, for which they were complete angels. They deserved some serious ice cream after all that (besides that I just wanted some ice cream), but then after such a long time of beings soooooo good, they were catfighting and screaming at each other within 30 seconds of getting home and walking in the front door. I am totally not exaggerating. So I got really mad and put them in time out and gave them a stern lecture.

My kids are good. They really are (their Sunday school teachers are probably secretly reading this and snorting their milk out their noses right about now). But I think the not-good moments tend to cast long shadows. When they're mouthy or disobedient or fighting for 2 minutes, I swiftly and easily forget about the 2 hours they just spent being awesome.

That cold I was congratulating myself about the other day? It's morphed into a full-blown sinus infection. And I have morphed into a full-blown phsychobeast mama. My behavior towards my children has not been laudable for the past 2 days. I expect so much perfection out of my children in so many ways, all. the. time. Yet Heavenly Father forgives me again and again -- most of the time without the time outs and the lectures. He forgives me for my shortcomings, my mistakes, my unabashed rebellions -- and then gently leads me back to where I need to be. Again and again. He refreshes me -- encourages me -- builds me up. He helps me to see clearly. Again and again.

"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."


witch-doctoring: the common cold

Last week I caught a cold. I have to say that about 3% of me was excited that I got sick so that I could see whether any of this herbal mumbo jumbo I've been reading about would actually work. I made some elderberry-honey syrup and also found a beautiful recipe in Ms. Bellebuono's book for a cold + flu tea involving lemon balm, echinacea, elder, licorice, mint, and lots of other little tasties. So, tea + syrup + miso soup... I still experienced cold symptoms, but the duration and severity was definitely less than usual. I can roll with that. Chalk one up for the herbs, baby.

Smaller bags of store-bought herbs go in the kitchen, but this is where I keep herbs that I've harvested and dried myself. Raspberry from the backyard, plantain and violet from the edge of the woods, mullein and dandelion from the abandoned community garden, clover from the vacant lot. I also keep valerian in there, triple-bagged inside a glass jar and it still stinks. I haven't worked up the courage to try it yet.

Andrea's series on creating a kitchen pharmacy has been majorly inspiring me lately and giving me a lot of needed confidence where herbalism is concerned. I love that she writes (as do several other well-known herbalists) about how herbalism and modern western medicine don't have to be at odds, but can complement and strengthen each other -- how each are valuable and have their place and purpose. I wholeheartedly believe that and don't place one above another, but it is comforting to know that if my kid is stung by a bee, I know which weed to grab from the backyard to make it feel better. That I can make some tea to soothe a sore throat in the middle of the night. That we've got the right herbs in store to fix indigestion or headache or insomnia without having to pop a pill. I really believe the Lord has provided everything we need on His beautiful earth; we just have to learn how to use it all in the way He intended.

"And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man -- every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving."


garden harvest: kale

It's been rainy for a few days here and we are all going a little bit stir crazy. We did get our first harvest of kale from the garden, though, and that was very exciting. It's incredibly tender and mild, nothing like the kale at the store. It made me think a lot today about how strange it is that we all buy the same varieties of kale, carrots, potatoes, whatever, at every grocery store across the country. It's a small excitement -- an easter egg radish, a royal chantenay carrot, a chioggia beet -- but a happy excitement (and variety!) to add to dinner hour anyway. A good a reason as any to grow a garden.

Last night we put the girls to bed early and I headed out to the garden, "just to hill to potatoes," I told R. He wandered out an hour later, laughing, to find me having torn up another 18 square feet of sod, planting cabbage and cauliflower starts that were just too pretty to leave at the farmer's market, and laying down extra bricks on the garden path. And hilling the potatoes. I had half a rack of baby back ribs at TGI Friday's for dinner, by the way. That may or may not have had something to do with it.


summer food: tabbouleh

It's really summertime when tabbouleh hits the menu. There are million ways to make it; we like ours heavy on the veggies, medium on the herbs, and light on the bulgur. Bulgur is wheat that's been cooked, dried, and crushed; all you have to do is reconstitute it -- in this case, with lemon juice.

I was so giddy that all the green stuff (except the cucumber) came from our garden (eep!). We had this with grilled sausages and some buttered green beans for dinner. It is so crunchy and refreshing. Last year the girls hated it, but this time they gobbled it up -- Maren had 3 helpings!

adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1/2 c bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 to 1/3 c olive oil
salt, to taste
1-2 c minced fresh parsley (cilantro is a nice supplement)
2 medium tomatoes, diced, or 1 can diced tomatoes, drained well
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
4 medium scallions, sliced
2 T minced fresh mint leaves

Combine the bulgur and lemon juice in a medium bowl. If you're using a fresh lemon, dump in the pulp leftover from juicing (yum). Set aside until bulgur grains are tender, 20-40 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Refrigerate until ready to serve.