Thursday, January 27, 2011

Confessions of a sick and tired mama

As I sit here trying to force my fever impaired brain into forming coherent thoughts, I am surrounded by a cacophony of coughing! Last week my youngest two boys, Matthew and Ethan came down with high fevers. They changed overnight from normally very active, loud and rambunctious boys into sad little things that cuddled up together on the sofa, or in bed and didn't move all day. Two days later Logan started showing the same signs. So 3 of our four children were miserable, high fevers, body aches, sore throats and coughing. Pretty soon I was feeling poorly as well. We have spent days watching videos, cuddled up in the living room or in bed napping.

Now Claire has it too.

 I took her to the Dr.'s to find out if there was anything I could give her for the coughing, and they ran a test... it came back positive for the flu! Yuck! They did give me a prescription for her to fight the flu, so we stopped by on the way home and picked it up. The doctor warned us that there were quite a few side effects and if we felt that the side effects were not worth it we could simply stop giving her the medicine at any time. (And even knowing that I still blindly trusted and got her the medicine!) I came home (crawled back into my comfy PJ's) and rested for a while, then jumped on the Internet to find out a bit more about the side effects of this medicine. They include the following:
  • rashes
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • hallucinations
  • aggression
  • encephalitis
  • anger
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • delirium
  • confusion
  • and in Japan, there were 12 deaths in pediatric patients taking this medicine, although the FDA 'can not conclude that there is a causal relationship between this medicine and the reported pediatric deaths.' (* note, well it must be OK, right??? After all the FDA still says it's fine to give to children over 12 months in age in our country, and they wouldn't lie to us would they?! )
So yeah, we did NOT give any of the medicine to Claire! I am just treating her fevers when they get really high and trying to keep her hydrated and comfortable as possible. The same as I have been doing for the rest of us.

As for everything else... I am just ignoring all of the housework, since I barely have the energy to get out of bed and to the kitchen to make sure we have food or warm drinks during the day! Possibly even worse than letting the housework go to pot was this: one day we actually had ramen noodles for lunch! I just couldn't muster the energy to do more than boil water. Normally I shun anything not cooked from scratch from real whole food ingredients... but I have been wiped out!

 Rodrigo was off yesterday from work and did all of the cooking for us then, and made tons of herbal tea for the rest of us, he still feels fine! But yesterday was his only day off, and he went back today... so chores are pretty much shot right now! We are making sure the animals get fed and watered, and after that everything else will get dealt with later. Laundry is piling up around our ears, and the floor really needs to be swept and mopped, but those things are just going to have to wait!

I had big plans for a couple of fun projects I was going to post about this week. One of them would have been our homemade valentine cards for a swap the kids are part of... but as of yet those are still just a concept in my head! Hopefully next week, once we feel better, we will get caught up on everything and I'll have a few fun things to share with you then!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And now for something completely different...

I know, I usually post about my kids and the things we see and do together or about the things I am doing for my family, such as the many homemade Christmas presents I posted about occasionally through the Autumn and early Winter months. But today I wanted to share one of my favorite foods with you and how I make it!  
(Don't you just love this cute old plate? I found it in an estate sale and knew it needed to be hanging on my kitchen wall, above my counter! And yes, now that you ask, that is a pumpkin sitting on my counter in January... I'm going to cook it soon, I promise!)

Kimchi! I love kimchi! I remember the day I first had kimchi, I don't have any idea what else went with the meal but I remember the kimchi that was served! Rodrigo had taken me out to lunch to a Korean restaurant and they served little side dishes of all kinds of yummy pickles and treats to go along with the meal. One of those dishes contained kimchi... and the rest was history! I go through gallons of the stuff every year!

Kimchi is a naturally lacto-fermented pickle made from Napa cabbage, garlic, green onions, and diakon radishes primarily.It is kind of like an Asian version of Sauerkraut.  Many other veggies can be added as flavoring or even used on their own as different versions of kimchi. (Cucumber kimchi is easy, super fast and really yummy too!)

Here is what I use to make it:
1 medium head of Napa Cabbage,  1 cup finely grated carrot, about half a cup diakon radish (that's a large white radish, I have a hard time finding them here sometimes in our small town so I use regular little round red radishes sometimes!), one bunch green onions (today I was out so I used half of a medium onion finely chopped... this is a very easy recipe to make substitutions in), 3 or 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon sea salt, and one tablespoon fresh grated ginger (Rodrigo likes it less gingery so I used about half that amount, you can also use dried ground ginger). And you'll need about one teaspoon red pepper. I use red pepper flakes, and I add a little paprika just for some extra color without adding any more heat since kimchi is traditionally red-orange color from so much chili powder!

(*Note* the chili powder used in Korean kimchi is pure powdered chili peppers, no cumin or anything else added like American chili powder used in Chili (the stew) or taco seasoning, it is also quite a bit milder than the pure powdered chili peppers you can find around here, even though it does pack a punch, they use a ton of it in traditional kimchi to turn it orange and it is spicy, but not too spicy! That is why I only use a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and about a teaspoon of paprika for color!)

Chop up the cabbage into large bite size pieces. The little inner leaves you can even leave whole if you want. Shred the carrots and radishes ( I love to use my vintage saladmaster... a birthday gift from my mom! It chops things so much nicer than my regular food processor and it is super easy to use!) 

Don't the carrots and radishes look pretty coming out?

Next finely chop the onion , grate the ginger and mince or chop up the garlic. Add everything else to the bowl and then the real fun can begin!

Put your hands down inside the bowl and start mixing! You really want to squeeze the veggies to get their juices flowing! I usually do it for at least 5 minutes!

Once everything is very juicy and well mixed, the contents of your bowl will seem much more compact as you have really squished everything together! (Is "squished" the correct technical term???) The salt will cause the juices to be released from the vegetables with the "squishing". 

By this time it will smell pretty yummy and spicy-garlicky!  Pack your kimchi into a jar leaving at least an inch of head space for it to expand during the fermentation process. I used this jar since I made more than a quart but not enough for two jars...

Pack everything down tightly so as much of the juice as possible comes to the top of your kimchi. Then put the jar on your kitchen shelf, or in the corner of your counter and let it sit and ferment for a few days. 3 to 5 days usually does it for us! I like mine pretty sour tasting so I usually leave it for 5 days if I can resist it for that long! When you are happy with how fermented it tastes you can put it in the refrigerator and eat it!! Mine never lasts very long, but it should be fine for a couple of weeks in the fridge at least!  

If you've never tried it before you should! It tastes great and because it is naturally fermented it is loaded with all kind of beneficial things that do wonders for your health!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Days!

To think that just a few days ago it was warm enough outside for the kids and I to be out there in nothing but our shirtsleeves! (See previous post here)

We spent this past weekend in happy contentment never leaving our house. The boys played games with their daddy, while Claire and I deep cleaned (she was sooo helpful! ;P) In the evenings we had dinner early and then spent hour after hour playing the new game Logan got for Christmas called The Settlers of Catan. (By the way in case anyone wonders, it is a super fun game- I was very pleasantly surprised! I found this one over the summer along with the expansion pack for 5 to 6 players  both new, still sealed in the boxes for a grand total of $2.00!!! I was thrilled, I had been planning on getting it from for Christmas this year!! Sometimes going to garage sales really pays!) We never turned on the TV once all weekend. We rarely do, we don't have cable or satellite TV although we do have an antenna that allows us to watch local channels, we just never bother... This was one time it might have paid to watch TV!

We went to bed on Sunday night, and woke up Monday to a world of white!

Here I am heading out to feed and water my chickens early in the morning.

Our little country road, the county never bothers to salt or plow it.

Our driveway was an icy mess! We have a rather steep drive straight down hill from the road to our house. Since we didn't know that the snow was coming, Rodrigo didn't bother to salt the drive (no matter- we didn't have any salt on hand, having run out last time it snowed and I forgot to buy more, even though Rodrigo had put it on my list to get more...ooops!)... So, even with 4 wheel drive we couldn't get out on Monday morning, so he had an extra day off!

This morning he went to work, and the kids and I enjoyed another cozy day at home! Early this morning we watched a couple of videos on youtube, of how to build an igloo out of snow. Logan decided that he could do that, so after breakfast the boys dressed up and headed out the back door to play in the snow. 

Logan set right to work making his igloo, the littler two boys lost interest rather quickly and pelted each other with snowballs and took turns sledding down the hill.

I didn't get any pictures of the initial building stages because Claire wasn't feeling the best and was having a hard time falling asleep for her nap. She's working on some teeth right now that have made her rather grumpy the past couple of days... I didn't want to take her outside with me for very long since the wind was howling and it was very, very cold!

I did get a few pictures of when he was almost finished with the igloo:

Here Ethan is checking out the inside...

Logan showing me how he can fit through his arched doorway...

 After he packed more snow all over, covering up the cracks and smoothing things out...

Self Portrait, taken inside his now completed new igloo!

My van is still under a good five or six inches of snow, and more is falling as I type this... we may be staying home for a good long while yet! Yay! Here's to cozy, snowed in days with all of my favorite people!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The last day of the year

Today turned out pleasantly warm and even a bit sunny... So we spent lots of time outside playing together. The boys brought out some of the new toys we made them for Christmas and had a great time playing and practicing with their new things!

Claire enjoying the sunshine on New Year's Eve!

 Practicing with the whips I made for them for Christmas. They were really easy to make and best of all they really crack! I made one for each boy.

Matthew trying to get his whip to wrap around their zip line so he can swing on it "Like Indiana Jones!"

Sir Matthew with his new sword and shield. Rodrigo helped me make these... they turned out beautifully! (My only complaint is that with very rough play the cross guards are breaking off... next time we make them I'll choose a harder wood that should help prevent breaking along the grain of the wood at the cross guards. These are made of pine. But the boys love them, and that is the important part! )

Sir Ethan showing off his sword and shield too! 

His sister's brave protector!

Claire was fascinated with the remnants of Christmas day's now melted snow fort.

Ethan helping prepare for our family's New Year's Eve "party".
My kids are so much fun and so easy to make happy! I just make a bunch of fun finger foods, use special glasses, light a few extra candles and have some nice jazz music playing in the background and they call it a party! I have memories of many such parties from my own childhood. I know these simple family celebrations are things that they will always remember. That makes me happy!
Getting the table ready for our party...
My beautiful handmade Christmas Present... This table and a wonderfully long bench made to match just for me by my loving husband! I had been wanting a bigger table for years, but especially since our family was really outgrowing our other small table. We filled it completely and there was no room for any guests or (hopefully) future family members! So my sweety made this table for me! These pictures don't do it justice... it is really gorgeous! I am so happy with how it turned out, and now we have room for lots of people!!!

Claire playing with a music box that Grandma got her for Christmas. 

The boys goofing off...

Happy New Year! We have so much to be thankful for. This past year was filled with many blessings and wonderful memories for our little family. We pray that this coming year is filled with many blessings as well! There are so many new and exciting things that we are looking forward to in 2011... I can't wait to share them with you all! I pray that God places a special blessing in each of your lives and draws you closer to him through out the coming year!
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