It warms the heart.

As I may have mentioned before, the wasps and yellow jackets are really bad this year. After LK got 3 stings within a month, my desire to take the kids outside went down considerably. The Dearliest brought home 5 traps one evening and hung them around the house and out buildings, and they were all full or nearly full by the end of the next day. Yes, this disgusts me (but in a good way).

We have a small pond, and even with the traps around there were clouds and clouds of wasps getting water. The Dearliest read online that adding a few tablespoons of dish liquid would turn the pond into a trap, so he tried it. The soap breaks the surface tension of the water, so when the wasps land on it they bog down instead of floating. Yes, this disgusts me too (but in a good way).

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I took a video right after taking this picture, and over a course of 1 minute I counted an average of 3 kills every 10 seconds. This lasted pretty much all day, so if the Dearliest or I needed a break from working on the house (we shampooed the area rugs and all the carpets over the weekend, so lots of furniture moving, etc.), we’d take a few minutes and go watch the pond. It’s an interesting kind of entertainment.

It’s been two days since we “treated” the pond, and I’m amazed at the difference! I actually feel like I can walk around outside without fear of something flying up my skirt or pants. On top of that, we’ve started seeing more honeybees in the flowers. I wonder if the wasps and yellow jackets kept them away, or perhaps it’s just easier to see them now that the pests are diminished.

In more heartwarming news, the Dearliest and LK came home one evening with a hummingbird feeder for me! It hadn’t been up an hour before we saw our first bird, and I’m hoping that within a week we’ll have lots of regular visitors.

In less heartwarming news, I have to take the edging out of my star blanket AGAIN. I tried something new and different, but it didn’t work. So I tried something else. I thought it was working, but apparently not. I’m kinda mad at myself over it, personally, because the math added up in my head and came out very different than I was expecting. Oh well. Live and learn. At this point I’ll use the method that I know works with hexagons and figure out the problems of the other method later.

In writing news, I finished polishing my pirates short story! It’ll be released in 5 installments over at Pen Wending, and I confess I’m kinda excited that I’m already 4 weeks out in my queue because that gives me a good chunk of the margin I wanted before starting work on one of the novels. I might finish up one more short story first, though. I think I’d feel better with a 6 week margin.

Stories up for finishing:
– Fairytale-esque involving a missing princess and a Bible smuggling operation.
– Modern adventure involving a 4 year old shape-shifter and government conspiracy.
– Historical fiction about early fire-fighters in America.
– I’m still reading through my myriad of notebooks and selecting the more promising-sounding titles. A lot of this stuff I don’t even remember writing!

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Revisiting Oil Pulling and Other Mouthy Notes

Now that I’ve been oil pulling for around two months, I feel I can touch on the subject with a little more confidence. The change in my teeth, gums, and overall oral health is AMAZING. My teeth are whiter and stronger, the gums are pink and not nearly so sensitive, and they haven’t bled at all since the first week of oil pulling.

The Dearliest decided to try it too (he’s been at it about a month), and while he really likes what it’s done for his mouth, he has more difficulty with the texture of the oil. He has to be distracted doing something else or the gag reflex is pretty bad.

A couple things I re-learned or discovered through this experience:

– Cavities are not caused by sugar directly. Sugars and starches feed bacteria in the mouth, which in turn produce acids that eat away at the teeth. Diets high in processed and refined foods will have more mouth problems than a diet focused on natural, whole foods.
– Most commercial toothpastes contain fluoride and/ or glycerin. Fluoride is popular as a disease preventive, but it’s toxic which is why you don’t swallow toothpaste. Glycerin coats the teeth with a protective layer, but this layer prevents the natural re-mineralization of teeth that the body tries to do. If the enamel can’t be restored, the health of the teeth isn’t going to improve. I’ve always had trouble using toothpaste (gag reflex, could never seem to get things to stay clean). The gag reflex especially was exponentially worse during pregnancies.
– Baking soda is a popular alternative to commercial toothpastes, but I can’t do this. It’s too salty and feels too weird. My mother-in-law suggested Earthpaste, which is essentially flavored clay (the kids call it mud). It’s completely natural with no fluoride or glycerin, and I’m able to use it without too much trouble.

Some notes on oil pulling itself:
– The first 4 times I did the oil pulling, my teeth were terribly sensitive (I actually pulled every other day in the beginning because it was pretty intense). I haven’t had a chance to fully research it, but I assume this is due to a massive detox as it stripped the glycerin layers, killed bacteria, and brought my mouth back to a clean starting point, as it were.
– After 2 pulling sessions my teeth were notably whiter.
– After 1 week all bleeding stopped.
– After 1 month I noticed my fingernails were growing in thicker, stronger, and harder. This was unexpected, but there haven’t been any other changes to my hygiene or diet, so I assume it’s related to the oil pulling. I’ve always struggled with weak nails. They ripped and tore with very little aggravation, and I was never able to grow longer, nicely shaped nails. A couple weeks ago it crossed my mind that I hadn’t had to cut my nails in weeks, and when I looked down I had nails twice as long as I’m normally able to grow. They were smooth, strong, and gorgeous! The same thing is happening to the Dearliest’s nails.

Here’s my new routine for oral hygiene:
– Upon waking up, oil pull with coconut oil for 20 minutes. This involves gentle swishing, rolling it around, or simply holding it in my mouth. While I’m pulling I get dressed, boil tea water, get breakfast going, and maybe compute a little.
– After pulling, I brush with plain water and rinse my mouth until I feel all the oil has been washed out. Floss.
– In the evening I brush my teeth with the Sonicare and Earthpaste. Floss. Rinse with a hydrogen peroxide solution 3-4 times a week.

My teeth feel consistently clean and happy, and it’s a beautiful thing. Is oil pulling for everyone? Probably not, but if you’re looking for a more natural way to care for your teeth and mouth, then I can fully recommend it as part of a routine.

Introducing Pen Wending

The Pen Wending Blog

I created Pen Wending a week or so ago in order to corral all the writing stuff in one place. I wanted to make sure I was actually going to use it before sharing it with anyone, because saying “Hey! Go here if you want to see my writing!” and then never posting anything would be kind of embarrassing. It’s not just about sharing the writing, though. Another reason I’m doing this is to have a secondary place to store the words, in case something happens to my computer or–heaven forbid–the original handwritten copies.

If you would like to follow along with this project (finishing the unfinished, sharing the completed stuff, and other whathaveyou), you are welcome to doso. For the most part the entries will be password protected for copyright reasons, but I will use the same password for everything. To request the password fill out the feedback form below (your information will not be public) OR you can shoot me an email if you know my address. 🙂

I only plan to make one Pen Wending update a week because of Life and such. Once I get some crochet projects finished the number might increase to two as I get more time for writing.

The Pen Wending Blog

Well, phooey.

I just realized that the county fair is a month and a half away, and my goal for Project Emerald was to have it done in time to enter it in the quilt division. I seriously don’t think I can finish it in the amount of time I have left. If I had a full two months, maaaaybe I could swing it, but I still have to sew up the backing, buy more material if I don’t have enough to make the backing AND the edging, buy the batting, and let’s not forget the quilting part which will probably be lots of tediousness because it involves buttons and hand embroidery…

…you know, I think I just talked myself out of attempting it for this year.

Well, phooey again.

Homemade Yogurt/ Greek Yogurt

(Within the post, when I say “yogurt” I’m talking about the plain, unsweetened stuff that contains L. acidophilus.)

During my longer period of illness (post on that coming later), one of the recommended things to help fight it was a daily intake of yogurt.* At first I bought the plain, unsweetened stuff from the store, but when it looked like I might be eating a cup or more a day for a while, I decided to pursue making my own. Yogurt is expensive!

I first made a small batch to test the recipe I found, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was! Also how yummy. I’ll never buy from a store again if I can help it!

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(pictured here with roasted pecans, chopped fresh cherries, and a drizzle of maple syrup)

Yogurt

  • 2 quarts milk (I like whole cow milk, but you can use any kind of cow, goat, or sheep milk. I do not know about soy, almond, or other sorts.)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons plain, unsweetened yogurt (I like the Nancy’s brand, but any brand will work so long as it contains the live cultures.)

1) In a medium sized stock pot, heat the milk to 180° F. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, there should be a skin on top and bubbles.
2) Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool to 120° F. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, it’s close enough if you can touch it.
3) Remove about 1 cup of milk to a small bowl and gently swirl in the yogurt.
4) Using a fine mesh strainer, pour remaining milk into clean jars. I think any sort of glass container or bowl will work, but I don’t have personal experience with that.
5) Divide the yogurt mixture evenly between the jars. Chunks are good. That’s the yogurt growing.
6) Cover jars securely. Place them in an ice chest with 2-3 quarts of hot water. Leave 6-8 hours. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours before using. For best flavor use within 10 days, but make sure you save a few tablespoons of it if you plan to make more!

To make it Greek Yogurt:

1) Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel. Place the colander in a bowl. One or two inches of space between the bottom of the colander and the bowl is ideal.
2) Spoon refrigerated yogurt into the colander, then close up the cheesecloth or towel using a twist tie or rubber band.
3) Place bowl in the refrigerator and let sit for 1 hour. Discard the whey in the bowl and return the bowl to the fridge for another hour. Discard the whey again.
4) Check your yogurt consistency. It should be similar to sour cream. If you want it thicker, return it to the fridge until the consistency is where you want it.
5) Scrape yogurt into a plastic storage container and refrigerate until ready to use. For best results, consume within 10 days.

Notes:

– The longer the yogurt sits in the ice chest developing, the more sour the end product will be.

– If the yogurt is watery after refrigerating, this means you added too much of the live culture and/ or you let it sit too long in the ice chest. Try reducing the amount of yogurt you introduce by one tablespoon or reduce the time in the ice chest.

– Discarding the whey reduces mass, so by the end of the draining process the yogurt could be reduced by up to a third. Greek yogurt is thicker, creamier, and milder in flavor.

– I’ve read about people making yogurt in their oven, but I haven’t done that so I can’t offer any help there. 🙂

*I assumed while writing this that it’s common knowledge that the body is full of “good” bacteria. As an afterthought I decided to include this note on the off chance there’s someone reading who doesn’t know. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, good and bad. Probiotics (of which yogurt is one) helps to maintain a bacterial balance in the body. It replenishes the good bacterial and discourages the bad. The bacteria in yogurt is transient, meaning it stays in the system for a few days, and then leaves. This is why if you’re eating yogurt specifically to boost your system, fight an infection, or maintain a balance, it’s best to eat it daily.

I have Plans, you know.

There are about half a dozen blog posts in my mind, all written and ready to go. I seem to be having difficulty finding the time to sit down to type them out, which is a little frustrating because the list of things I want to blog about keeps getting longer. The mental queue is getting backed up in the process.

I don’t really have anyone but myself to blame, because the precious hour or so I have for quiet writing has recently gone to more selfish pursuits (like crocheting over an episode of Heroes). I’m not about to apologize to myself for that, but on the bright side my current crochet project is almost done, as is the last season of Heroes. There will soon be Much Time for writing.

Which leads me to the reason for this post.

Firstly, a friend got me somewhat addicted to a Tumblr that has inspired me to dust off my pen and pursue the binders of unfinished stories hiding somewhere in my room. I’m deeply saddened with myself that I can’t even remember where they are right now. If this urge to write persists, my intention is to work through the stories one by one. Hopefully at the end of it all I’ll have at least one completed story.

Secondly, here’s a list of a few of the upcoming blog posts, mostly so I don’t forget anything I wanted to share.

Homemade Yogurt/ Greek Yogurt
Road to Recovery, Recovered!
Pen Wending
Garden Update
Grab Your Running Shoes
Haircuts and Jury Duty

Communicating with Kids

I refrain from writing a lot of parenting or marriage type posts, because what works for one family or couple may or may not work for another. There will always be someone who does something differently, and to an extent I think it’s good for people to discover what works for them on their own. Not saying I never help, but I prefer the help be asked for.

This post isn’t meant as anything more than reflection on one aspect of my children. Well, child. See, for the most part I can say to the kids, “Please don’t do that.” And they stop (for the most part) and go find something else to do (for the most part). I have one child, though, who at the first mention of “no” or “don’t” gets her back up. It doesn’t matter how I approach the words, if one of them is mentioned she goes into automatic “will not comply” mode and disciplining her for it doesn’t usually work because she left listening and self-control waaaay back at the gate.

What DOES work, I discovered, is a two-fold solution. First there’s telling her what she can do instead of what she can’t. Instead of saying, “Don’t play with Mommy’s yarn” I say “You can put Mommy’s yarn down now.” The second part is having something specific to direct her to, so once she’s put down the yarn (or the paper book, or the wipe container, or whatever), she has a task to occupy and distract herself. On top of that, if I can word it such that she’s “helping Mommy” in doing the new task,  it almost always works.