Monday, January 16, 2012

Lunches at Work: January Update

I feel better about my lunches lately. My family received a membership to our local co-op for Christmas (hurray!), and we've been buying organic products and local produce (where available in January in Wisconsin) keeping my lunches in mind. I've had some good sandwiches and fruit this month so far and have no regrets about overindulging in the snacks while at work.

Today's lunch may be less healthy than my others the past few weeks because it's so much food (and thus so many calories. My husband warned me as I left the house that I wouldn't be able to [or perhaps, even if I could, I shouldn't] eat it all.) but todays is the day I'm blogging, so I'm sharing:

On today's menu is brown rice made right (no sauce, but that's okay--it's good plain as long as it's hot. Swear.), homemade (by the hubby) soup with organic veggies and beans, organic oatmeal & raisins (soaked in milk overnight vs. cooked), and a small slice of veggie pizza with whole wheat crust. And vitamins (I remembered!).

Delicious. And I still have an apple and carrots and celery sticks in my lunch bag for an afternoon snack, if I need them.

Only thing I wish I'd thought of for today:  I forgot a spoon. I brought a fork but forgot the spoon so I'm using a plastic one from the breakroom. I hate using "disposable" utensils (especially those that might be leaching poison!!). What I should do is pick-up a single set of flatware from St. Vinny's specifically for me to keep at the office. Filing that away for my next trip there.

Mmmmm. Filling-up on wholesome foods. Don't think I'll be tempted by the chip bags today! (At least, I can write about them here without feeling the intense urge to go buy one. That is progress, my friends.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When She Takes Pictures

One of my favorite things about digital is you can let your three year old loose with the camera and you're not out any money for film. And I love downloading my camera and finding surprises like these:

My girl. She belongs on both sides of the lens.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Extra! Extra! Water Heater Turned Down, Mom Doesn't Notice!

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When I visualize "experiments," I think of Doc and his DeLorean or Frankenstein and his lonely monster. Compared to those, my family's experiment in natural living is so woefully unremarkable I'm somewhat embarrassed to share it. Of course, compared to those examples, my experiment was real. So, there's that.

We decided to turn down the thermostat on our water heater. We have the old tank kind that most people still seem to have. It sits in the spidery corner of the basement, heating element coming on, going off, on and off, hour after hour, day after day. Lots of water hot and at the ready and mostly going unused.  Seemed easy, to turn down the dial. With a four month old and a three year old during the holiday season, easy seemed like all the experiment we could handle.

We were already running the heater at a lowish setting. Our dial's highest level is "Hot," then there are four marks below that, then "Warm," then two marks below that, and finally the coolest level is "Vacation." We were running at one click above "Warm" before beginning our experiment.

Here's a typed representation of the round dial:


Day One
We turn our water heater down three clicks, from one above Warm to one above Vacation. I notice the water doesn't seem to get very hot when I wash my hands in the kitchen sink, but I don't dwell on it.

Day Two
My husband suffers through a chilly shower and informs me that the water temperature is now too cold. He heads into the basement and turns the temperature back up. I believe our experiment failed. 

Days Three - Seven
Life goes on. I take normal showers and fill the bathtub for my daughter. We wash dishes and wash diapers. For all intents and purposes we are normal, hot-water-using people, and I notice nothing out of the ordinary. 

It's not until the week has passed and I mention having to write a "failure" post about our natural living experiment that my husband explains we haven't failed at all. I'd misunderstood what he did on back on Day Two. He'd increased the temperature, but not back to where we'd had it before. He'd merely turned it up one click, to just below Warm. We were living happily at two notches below where we'd begun!

Days Eight - Today
And that's where we've stayed. The baby's diapers have been clean (that was one of my big worries, going with cooler water, but so far so good. No stink, no rashes). My three year old's baths have been comfortable for her (still plenty of warm water to splash onto the floor). My showers have been hot (granted, I'm not in there for much more than ten minutes, but that's just how it is when you have small children who wait until you are in the bathroom to decide they really really need you right then). 

If the diapers begin to seem dirty after their wash, or when the girls get older and need showers in the morning then I could see us moving the thermostat back up a click or two. But for now it seems we've found our perfect minimum water temp. Perfect because I haven't noticed a difference at all. I do hope we notice some savings when we get our next electricity bill, though. Not bad for an experiment I'd thought failed!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Thomasin's Test Kitchen: Laborade Edition

While I was laboring with Ilse (I know, I know. I haven't posted the birth story yet. I'm working on it. Promise), my doula made sure I stayed hydrated and energized by giving me sips of various drinks including lots of water, an almond butter-berry smoothie, and--perhaps most refreshing of all-- laborade. I was planning on posting this review of laborade recipes, oh, five months ago. But you know time... So, here we go, five months later than planned but hopefully still interesting.

The idea behind laborade is that it provides quick calories to provide the laboring woman an energy boost (fruit juice and sweetener), prevents dehydration (liquid and salt), calms your stomach (baking soda), and helps muscles relax (calcium & magnesium). Keeping the drink slightly sour can be helpful to increase saliva production and avoid a dry mouth.

I'd planned on testing several different laborade variations before I had the baby and then making a batch of my favorite while I was in early labor. But because I am a terrible procrastinator, I didn't test any recipes beforehand. And then labor started and I was more focused on laboring itself than I was on making beverages.

Thankfully, when my in-laws came to pick up my firstborn, my mother-in-law kindly made a batch of this first recipe. The lemon and honey mixture reminded me the hot water/lemon/honey mixtures my parents had us children drink if we were ill when we were young. Turned out to be very soothing to me, having that familiar taste during the hard work of having a baby. Comforting.

     Lemony Laborade from

  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1-2 calcium tablets, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
          Blend/mix well. Chill

I then made this second recipe about a week after Ilse was born and found I liked it even more than the first, which surprises me since I'm not an apple juice person (Hot cider = happy Yes, please! Cold apple juice = indifferent Thanks, no). But using the apple juice as a laborade base was delicious.

     Apple Juice Laborade  from
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 2 crushed calcium tablets
  • 1-2 fresh-squeezed lemons
  • salt to taste
  • honey to taste
          Blend/mix well. Chill

Of course, the internet is full of other laborade recipes I still mean to try.  This one sounds particularly interesting because of the molasses (I love molasses):

     Molasses and Lemon (or Vinegar) Laborade
  • 1 qt pure water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (could substitute apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
          Blend/mix well. Chill

Kimarie of The Cardomom's Pod makes gallon-size batches of laborade for her children (kind of a homemade Gatorade). Her recipe uses lime juice for taste:

      Lemon-Lime Laborade
  • 1 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 2 Tbs lime juice (can omit, but is the key to great taste)
  • 2/3 - 1 cup sugar (or 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • water to make 1 gallon
          Blend/mix well. Chill

And these last two sound interesting because they use different fruit juices than most laborade recipes. The first uses pineapple, orange, and apricot (yum!) and the second is Bloody Mary -ish with its tomato juice/tamari mix. I could see either one sustaining a laboring mom.

     Apricot/Pineapple/Orange Laborade  from
  •  1/2 cup apricot nector
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
          Blend/mix well. Chill

     Tomato Juice Laborade  from
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 dashes tamari
  • juice of 1/2 lime
          Blend/mix well. Chill

Perhaps you've tried a laborade variation yourself? Care to share the recipe and your review? I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nobler Modes of Life

It's not exactly what Tennyson had in mind, but once again I am using this time of year to set some goals for myself. I suspect some of my former Resolutions smacked of too generic to be useful. Be Healthy is less  helpful to me when I'm deciding between doughnuts or hopping on the elliptical than if I'd promised to eat only homemade snacks for next twelve weeks.

So here, rather than more generic resolutions, is my obscenely long and likely not-totally-doable list of Goals for 2012. (I'm hoping that by hitting the "Publish" button on these I'll be more likely to fulfill some of them than if I'd kept them to myself.)

Create/Media/the Arts

  • finish knitting Ilse's baby pants by end of January
  • blog 102 posts (2x week) on Palingenesis
  • blog 24 posts (2x month) on Wellcookbooked 
  • get a spiral planner to plan blog posts  done!
  • read more poetry---at least a few poems a week
  • write a poem a week (used to write one a day. I can do this!)
  • see a play at a local playhouse
  • join Twitter and figure out what it's all about
  • use Pintrest at least 1x week
  • revamp the Palingenesis blog's design
  • schedule evenings for TV and other nights for projects/writing/reading (default in 2011 was TV). Discuss with Justin and figure out by January 15th.
  • frog the sweaters by my bed
  • knit socks (one pair for me, one for Justin)
  • knit handwarmers (one set for me, one for Justin)
  • set-up sewing machine in place it can be kept out and used 
  • make Advent calendar (by July)
  • use my lunch break for creating or reading novels vs. net surfing
  • make flannel mennorah for Hanukkah (by October)
  • participate in 2012 NaNoWriMo
  • at least one carnival post a quarter
  • try at least 24 new sauces or salad dressings in 2012
  • re-read Arthurian legends/novels
  • knit wool diaper cover for Ilse
  • read a classic a quarter
  • make the girls a puppet theatre


  • Ilse and I move into Uli's room/futon  (3/12)
  • go through my clothes boxes in Uli's closet and donate unused
  • go through downstairs bookshelves and pull books/magazines to donate; rearrange the rest (3/12)
  • follow Martha Stewart's housekeeping schedule for a month and see how it goes
  • plant the garden with herbs/veggies, keeping in mind savings/usefulness
  • pack decorations (spring/autumn/winter holidays) into easily-findable containers in basement
  • brush dogs at least 2x month
  • brush Lucy at least 2x month
  • decide what to do about Lucy (find new home?)
  • take dogs for runs in the AM when weather permits (2x week)
  • make another batch of deodorant using arrowroot
  • weed through our children's books, pulling the non-literary type (3/12)
  • switch to cloth dinner napkins (1/12)
  • lay out clothes the night before
  • keep birdfeeders filled
  • create chore charts for Uli (bedtime and downstairs)
  • organize linen closet (make sure everything smells good!)
  • pick paint color for hallway
  • hang pictures in Uli's/Ilse's room
  • find way to keep top of microwave clutter free
  • keep top of fridge clutter free

  • celebrate vernal & autumnal equinoxes/equiluxes--look up traditional celebrations
  • get snapshot/photo of entire family
  • start eating breakfast with Uli/Ilse at table
  • Passover at my house this year
  • celebrate solstices--look up traditional celebrations (winter = the burning/releasing old with pouches of tobacco)
  • one night (first? eighth?) of Hanukkah at my house this year
  • light a candle during meals at home
  • print out some photos in "hardcopy" vs. keeping all on computer

Nutrition/Foods & Health/Fitness

  • jazz up lunch (at least two delicious and nutritious lunches a week)
  • snacks are limited to the homemade (if I want fries or cookies I'm welcome to them, so long as I [or my husband] has made them at home)
  • kick the coffee habit! Reduce to one cup a day. Switch to black tea for less caffeine.
  • exercise DVDS 2x/week (mornings)
  • sit/squat for one meal a week (coffeetable)
  • find a healthy whole grain bread both Justin and I can agree on (2/12)
  • bake a loaf of whole wheat bread at home (Laurel's Kitchen)
  • grow and glean items for homemade teas
  • elliptical 40 mins week (whether 10 mins at time or all in one day)
  • in good weather:  back to walking in the evenings with the girls
  • find good peanut-free Pad Thai recipe
  • find raw milk supplier
  • eat only organic for one month
  • sign-up for CSA! (use PPlus reimbursement)
  • work up to sitting on heels comfortably
  • try meditation (spring?)
  • start a Montessori school fund for the girls
  • bike to work at least one time in 2012!

OK. That seems like kind of a lot. But I have a whole 365 days. Surely some of the above can be accomplished. And more. I just need to get  to it. 

How about you? Have you made resolutions/goals for 2012? I'd love to hear them!

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