31 January 2010

Another update ...

...but still nothing deep and meaningful. ;)

Happy Imbolg everyone! Life here is going well...our health continues to improve, though the amazing speed at which it started to improve when we first went wheat-free has slowed considerably. (And I continue to experiment, which sets me back when I do it. Latest -- a small bowl of oatmeal porridge for breakfast on Saturday, and for the last two days I am feeling achy, though not as bad as was normal a few months ago. Nonetheless, achy enough that it hurts to lie in bed.) I actually find it easier to resist the things I thought would be hard, because the feedback is so definite, but I am also finding that in my case, it seems not to be just wheat but any grain. Most of our "replacements" are nut and coconut based, so cutting out wheat has meant slowing way down on all grains. On Saturday our lunch was pretty grain intensive -- one and a half grilled cheese sandwiches on commercial brown rice bread, chicken noodle soup with a handful of quinoa pasta shells, and a small handful of corn chips with peach salsa. By the end of the meal, I felt really awful and I wanted to go lay down for a couple of hours. (There was no time to do that, but my blood sugar has been out of whack every since.) We had been going more and more toward most of our meals being GAPS/specific carbohydrate compliant, since we plan to give that a try in the next few months...and I think part of my feeling so much more energetic was less about wheat specifically and more to do with getting off grasses entirely most of the time. Oh well, as I said, feeling so much better makes that sound less daunting than it might have a few months ago.

In other news, planning is going full steam ahead on the next homeschooling unit, which will be based around Egypt.

One effect of our renewed health is that Rod has become far more involved in our education planning and as a result, we have made quite a few changes. Rod is moving ahead far faster with maths and science than my written plan would have suggested. That's just as well because my math and science planning are very weak -- but most of the ideas I have come across are either too expensive or way, way to advanced for a six year old.

Come to find out, though, math and science as Rod teaches them, are far more interesting to Jack than most of what I had been pouring into the lesson plans. Interestingly, that's taking us more in the direction of Charlotte Mason and away from the Well Trained Mind, which was my first love. Instead of removing the reference materials, though, we're keeping those for adult reference, since more and more this homeschooling thing is a family hobby as much as an educational choice. Rod and I have even started using the Great Courses materials from The Teaching Company at dinner time. They take a half hour, and at the end of twelve sessions, we have a good adult-sized grounding a new subject. Our current subjects are "A Brief History of the World" and "Great Scientific Ideas that Changed the World, Part 1".

Since Rod has also been participating in story time at bedtime, he is also better able to relate the material in the day time to the stories I have chosen to go with them. All in all, I feel like we're on the right track.

Imbolg is here and it's time to start planning the garden. I didn't have a lot of luck last year, because of getting sick at the height of the season and then remaining sick until early winter -- but I did learn a lot.

Planning at this time of year, though, does have its downside. In late winter, it seems that the only foods that appeal are orange. Squash, sweet potatoes, carrots...maybe some onions and cabbages. But of course, that isn't what will appeal most come summer. So, for the moment I am trying to get past my habit of living "in the moment" and send my self back to high summer, to do some planning.

Now that we have started to find some wheat free recipes for things like zucchini bread and eggplant Parmesan, I am definitely going to want some zucchini -- and we had a blast with Japanese eggplant last summer, so we need that, too. Lettuce works well for early spring.

The photos? Those are, perhaps, my favorite Yule gift. Rod and Jack gave me lots of lovely gifts, but Rod also helped me to hang some drapes that we'd had waiting for several years. I love the way they finish the look of the room -- and we've hung them so that Rod can push them way back out of the way come summer and have his view back. ;)

I have been getting an astonishing amount of reading done lately. I'm not having a lot of luck *finishing* a book, since the book I am reading usually isn't where i am when I get a chance to read, but that takes practice. (And one doesn't want to carry a library book in one's purse. That results in fines for damage.)

A couple of my favorites:

Shauna James Ahern's Gluten Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back...And How You Can Too. Shauna loves foods in the same way as I do -- it's all about the fresh flavours of real food for her, too, which means that most of her recipes appeal to me. But even better, I love the way Shauna thinks about food and I find reading her book and blog is bringing creativity back into my own cooking. I got this one from the library, but when the tax refund comes in, it's on my short list.

Jean Shinoda Bolen's Crones Don't Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women. Jean Bolen has been a sort of a spiritual "big sister" for me. She is a little older than I am, and so a little ahead of me on life's path. In 1984, when I was trying to figure out what it meant to be a woman, rather than a girl, she published Goddesses in Everywoman. In 2001, as I was contemplating growing older, she published Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women over Fifty. More recently, as I have contemplated my transition to crone, she published Crones Don't Whine. There is nothing earth shatteringly new in this one, so much as it is, as she titled it, concentrated wisdom. A series of meditations on the strengths of a crone, all in one place and pleasantly and inquiringly written. This one is also a library book that is on my list of books to own. I don't know whether Jean is pagan or just fascinated by Greek mythology, but her emphasis on the Olympians has allowed her to speak to me in a way that few writers of her ilk have.

Ok, I have people coming over to celebrate Imbolg with us at 3pm. I'd best get cooking: roasted root vegetables with Indonesian inspired curry served over steamed spaghetti squash. It's similar to the groundnut stew, but with the richer flavours of roasted vegetables it makes a lovely change!


  1. Bright Blessings and warmer moments to you all
    at Imbolg....be well, and know I love reading your posts...

    re: gardening ......I went surfing for us.

    Top 10 Gardening “to do’s” in January and February in the Great Lakes area:

    • Check the outdoor garden on a frequent basis to make sure that plants have not heaved up out of the soil due to freeze-and-thaw cycles, and to make sure that the insulating mulch cover you laid down in the fall has not blown away.
    • Inspect trees and shrubs for deer or rabbit damage. If signs of chewing are apparent, carefully wrap vulnerable plants and tree trunks with fine-mesh chicken-wire fencing to protect them.
    • Hunker down in front of the fireplace (!!!..;-)...)with a few good garden catalogs. Put plans on paper for new garden beds in the yard and search print & websites for new plants.
    • Order an assortment of vegetable and flower seeds to start indoors, and replenish seed-starting supplies.
    • Give houseplants a midwinter cleaning in the shower. The increased humidity will help keep spider mites at bay, and removing dust from your plants' leaves improves their general health by facilitating the respiration process.
    • Force paperwhite bulbs in pots on the kitchen windowsill. The view outside may be bleak and snowy, but the paperwhites will perfume your kitchen and remind you that spring will be here eventually!
    • Empty seed pods that have dried from fall-gathered seeds into separate envelopes for spring planting
    • Share seeds and ideas with other gardeners.
    • Make new items for the garden: birdhouses, cement stepping stones and leaves for birdbaths. One could press leaves and flowers from the garden during the summer and make greeting cards with them for throughout the year as a means to extend the garden rewards.
    • Gather materials for composting: wood shavings, shredded paper from the office, etc.

    A great link I found, very rich.....

    This site has FREE downloadable stuff to organize your gardening’ such as the link below, if you want a shortcut;


    All is good,as you make it, of course, and the Full Moon quite lovely.


  2. Thanks, Linda!

    Given how cold and dark the house is, I have agreed with Rod to skip the seeds this year and just start with plants. It's theoretically more expensive, but we get so few plants when we start from seed that I think it will come to the same. (I would have liked to have a seed starter heat and light source, and maybe we can do that another year, but right now it doesn't make sense financially.

    The vermicomposter is in production, though, and the junk mail mulch is ready to go. ;)

    Wasn't that moon amazing??!?! It looked like a HUGE orange platter on Saturday night!

  3. Misti, there's been some talk of "winter sowing" on the Arborseeds e-mail list. That's where you sow seeds in some soil at the bottom inside of a clear plastic milk jug or 2 liter soda bottle, with a horizontal cut across the middle. Then you set it outside in the snow and let the seeds germinate when they are ready. This way you don't need any special lights or fancy equipment to start the seeds, and you get hardened-off plants that are ready to grow outdoors since they are already growing there.

    I haven't personally tried it, but I am intrigued.

    The infernally annoying text editor for this site won't let me paste links in here, but if you e-mail me I can send you some links to useful sites with information about winter sowing.

    I can also send you a link to the grow lights I use. They aren't heated, but they are about $40 each for an energy-efficient fluorescent bulb and an enclosed tray that is about 24 inches long and 12 inches wide. I can fit about 21 little flowerpots in there.

    I don't know if any of that is useful....

  4. Great Courses. I really should be using those more for my own education (too bad they don't have one on CM lol). Drakon and I are enjoying the Mark Twain course, when we find time to get to it. I really want to use their world religions course next year.

    Thanks for the reminder and I hope you had a wonderful Imbolc.


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