Monday, March 31, 2008

Good Fats Part 2

We eat a lot of hot cereal at the Clark house. It's cheap, it's easy, and I'm a big fan of both of those (but you knew that already). Several nights a week, I measure out a bunch of steel cut oats and dump them in the crock-pot with 2.5 times as much water. I add 2 Tbs whey for added nutrition and set the appliance timer to cook my oats from 5-7 am on high. When we wake up in the morning and meander into the kitchen, breakfast is ready and waiting for us. Then I add some organic sugar, cinnamon, and a big spoonful of coconut oil.
Coconut Oil has been found to be one of the most healthful fats that people can eat, and it has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties. Populations in southeast Asia and the Pacific islands who use coconut oil as the primary source of fat often have less heart disease than people of other regions.

Here's what the yummy stuff looks like in my Mountain Rose gallon bucket (Trust me it's the best bargain I've found anywhere!):
We use coconut oil as a healthy substitute anywhere we would use butter. Remember the cookies I made once upon a time? (Hey, I may not bake very often, but when I do, it's healthy! Well, healthier anyway.)
So go ahead and bake those chocolate chip cookies you love, but make them with coconut oil. Your body will thank you!
And if you're baking, please come by so I can taste-test your creations. I'm a very skilled food critic.
Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Fling

Yesterday we had our first annual Spring Fling (big celebration for all the Spring birthdays between my sister's family and mine). We met at the park for what turned out to be a very generous brunch. I made a complete glutton of myself and thoroughly enjoyed the bounty. [Thank you, Jamie, for the giant cinnamon rolls. They were fabulous!]
We hired our friend, Angela, as a face painter. She's an impressive artist! The face decor was the hit of the party! We'll definitely be requesting her presence again at the Fall Party.

Daniel instinctively backed into a hug from Uncle Mike after getting his face painted. I sure do love that little boy! Isn't he the cutest?
Stephanie and Alex are such sweet siblings. (I told you homeschooled kids have great sibling relationships. Look at that love!)
Liddy Bitty and her adoring Daddy:
Ainsley, Jamie's middle child, was only too happy to smile for the camera. She was having such a good time.Jamie's littlest, Lillian, is the sentimental type. She always reads the sappy cards before opening the gifts. She has such a thankful heart.
Stephanie and Maya: best friends & beautiful butterflies! More good friends: Dan & Tracy (parents to Maya's best friend, Stephanie & Isaac's best friend, Alex). They came over to play games with us after dinner that night. But we never actually stopped talking to play a game. Sat on the couch the whole night solving the world's ills. Good times! Grrrrrr! Isaac wants to try out for the musical, Cats! but I'm not too keen on being a stage parent. I don't think I'll let him.
Did you know a slinky could also pose as a clown nose? This picture is so indicative of their personalities. I can still hear Chloe and Ainsley giggling when I look at this silly picture:Pretty pretty Princess Elena:Party animals:
While I was taking pictures of all the painted kids, Shannon, my stepmom, snuck over to Angela's booth and had her own face painted! After almost two hours of face painting and relaxing socializing, we decided to go ahead and open presents. Bubba & Nana (my dad & stepmom) gave the kids a zoo membership and Nealy & Pappy (my mom & stepdad) gave them: (Drumroll, please.)

Something from our favorite store, Vision Forum. . .What is it??? There sure is a lot of it!
A complete set of Jonathan Park CDs!!! Woo-Hoo!
Daniel was also thrilled about his new set of Kid K'Nex. I was pretty thrilled about that one too. I'm a big fan of "play quietly" toys! [Dad, remember when I was a newlywed and I swore I wouldn't buy loud toys for my kids?? You laughed at me back then. Remember? Remember?? Who's laughing now, huh Dad? Who's laughing??]Isaac got a set of cap guns with a fancy shmancy holster. He was giddy! I immediately reminded him, with a big smile on my face, that those are outdoor toys. He knows this, though. He always plays the good cop. Um, I bought these for him. [Nevermind what I said earlier, Dad. I take it all back. But I still don't buy battery-operated toys!
Well . . . there is that one thing. Oh forget it!]

It was a great party and we're all looking forward to the Big Fall Party now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coupon Up For Grabs

I just received this Vision Forum coupon and I'm not going to be able to use it this go round. (Much as I'm just dying to!!) If you want it, email me. Here's the details:
For four days only, Vision Forum is pleased to offer you a $25 coupon, good toward any one online order of $75 of merchandise or more. This coupon may only be redeemed online. Coupons expire at midnight on March 31, 2008 (CST).

The Lord's Prayer

I can't help myself. This is just too cute not to share:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trip to the Zoo

This morning I woke up late and was immediately reminded by my beeping phone, that today was free zoo day for homeschoolers. I quickly got it in gear, fed everyone, grabbed the camera and headed out the door. (I make it sound like that all happened quickly, don't I? I'm such a creative writer. LOL!)
The buddy system is very important for outings like this.
This is the most action we got out of the sleepy gorillas. So Elena took advantage and gave the big guy a big hug. He was so tame and tolerant.
Oops, I forgot to mention who we were with. My friend, Amber and her daughter, Hannah came with us. Hannah and Chloe stuck pretty close together all day. They're both very impulsive, so I don't know what we were thinking pairing those two together! They look cute and innocent in that picture, don't they?
This guy was really an entertainer! He clapped and waved and held out his hand like a beggar. When we didn't respond like he liked, he threw grass toward us.
Please don't turn me in, but I broke the rules and encouraged the kids to throw dried fruit to the funny chimp. (I wasn't going to get caught doing it myself, you see. If we got caught, I'd turn on my kids in a heartbeat. It was their idea! Their idea, I say!)
He was very appreciative of our criminal generosity. I think he signed "thank you, friend" before we left. The line up. There's seven kids there, right? There should be seven. (I know, because Amber and I spent half our time counting kids.)
Look at my beautiful butterflies! I sure do love those girlies.

Lydia was jumping up and down and squealing: "The penguin swim to me! He swim to me!!"
Elena was more interested in the penguin mating practices. She's all about the romance.
It was a great day at the zoo. The End.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Main Man

This is the love of my life with one of my blondies. Can you guess which one?
May I take this opportunity to tell you how much I love this man? Kyle is my main attraction, my better half, my significant other. And he's so darn good-looking!
He does a lot for me. Have I told you all that he does for me? Once a month, I lead a Charlotte Mason book club. Once a month, I participate in an all-day Scrapbooking Saturday (10-10) with a bunch of my friends. He never complains.
Once a week we have breakfast for dinner. Kyle makes the best blueberry pancakes and the fluffiest waffles. Everyday, I come downstairs to breakfast that's prepared for us. I never have to make breakfast.Now you understand my secret, don't you? I have a man who loves me!
And did I mention the label maker he got me? Oh, and the crock-pot he bought me this past Christmas? (Now I have three and yes, I use them all.) I'm so blessed to have my man. Ain't he great?

Monday, March 24, 2008

You Picked A Winner!

You voted for your favorite kefir smoothie recipe. And the winner is. . .

Kefir Pina Colada
2 cups kefir
1/2 cup diced pineapple, frozen
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup coconut cream

Blend well. Garnish with a slice of pineapple. Enjoy!

Congrats, Jamie! Your smoothie sounds delicious! You won a $10 Starbucks gift card!

Oh Happy Day!

Our Mountain Rose shipment has arrived! Woo-Hoo!! Another gallon of coconut oil, a big bag of Wild Cherry Bark (Daniel needs that for his yucky cough), and a bunch of Echinacea. The next cold anybody gets, we'll nip it in the bud!
I'm going to go boil up some tea with the Cherry Bark and put a big spoonful of yummy coconut oil in our oatmeal.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We Have a Winner!!!

The giveaway is over! And we have a winner!

Faith has just won a $50 Vision Forum shopping spree .


Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Why & How of Kefir, oh and A Contest!

The exceptional nutritional content of Kefir offers a wealth of healthy benefits to people in every type of condition. More than just beneficial bacteria, Kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help your body with its natural healing powers and maintenance functions.

Around the Clark household, we drink kefir smoothies almost daily. Here's one of our favorite recipes:

You'll need:
a handful of strawberries
4 or 5 large peach slices
1 banana
about 3 cups of kefir

Pour the cold kefir over the fruit.

Then blend to your heart's content.

Look at that pink goodness! Yummy!

Now for the Contest: what's your favorite kefir smoothie recipe?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Miss Her

This family picture was taken three years ago, when Stacey and her daughter Mariah were part of our family. Stacey was 16 and pregnant when we met her. She was one of the inner city kids who attended the Youth With A Mission meetings every week for a free meal and some discipleship. She grew up with an abusive grandma and wanted better for her soon-to-be daughter. Her grandmother intended to disown Stacey after the baby was born.
When Stacey went into labor at 4am, my good friend Gretchen drove downtown to take her to the hospital. (Her family refused to take her.) Stacey and her newborn daughter moved in with us when Mariah was two weeks old. She and Mariah were precious additions, but it was very hard for Stacey to learn to live in a normal family. As much as she wanted a better life for Mariah, Stacey admitted to me in a letter just before leaving us (10 month later): "I love you guys and I'll never forget all you've taught me, but I don't know how to live like this. I don't know how to be in a normal family."
She broke my heart.
We continue to have contact with Stacey, but it is nothing like I had hoped. I looked forward to raising our girls together. Mariah and Lydia are 6 months apart. They would have made beautiful "twins". Elena and Chloe loved Stacey like a big sister and they still love to get calls from her.
Stacey played a very important role in our family and I'm so grateful for all that she taught us. If it hadn't been for her, we would have never met our miracle son, Pedro, her cousin. Stacey and Pedro grew up in the same house. What very different outcomes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kefir Tutorial

Kefir is so good for you; just brimming with gobs of healthy probiotics. And we all love our kefir smoothies. Kefir is so simple to make, I thought I'd share.

These are kefir grains: We affectionately refer to them as kefir "brains" since that's what they look like. You'll need to google to find a local source. They are live, so it's best not to have them shipped to you. And you can't buy them in stores. The grains multiply, so most people are willing to share them for free. Other than (preferably raw) milk, the only other thing you need to make kefir is the brains, I mean: grains.

I've just plopped my kefir grains in the bottom of a big glass jar. Then hubby poured raw milk over them so I could take this picture.
Then I cover the jar with saran wrap.
And put it in a cool, dry place: my cabinet. And I abandon the milk to culture in privacy for 24-48 hours.
I personally like my kefir thick, so I like to let it culture until I can see the whey separate from the kefir. Then I'll pour the whey off the top and into my jar labeled "Whey" in the fridge. (My loving hubby gave me a label maker for my birthday two years ago. He knows me so well!) I use the whey to boost the nutritional value of a bunch of foods, but that's another post.
So, now that the kefir is done culturing, I pour it over a strainer.
This is all I'm after: my kefir brains:
I plop them back into another jar to make more kefir or I'll cover them with milk and put them in my tiny jar labeled "Kefir Grains" in the fridge. (Thanks again, Kyle, you're the best!)
Everything that made it through the strainer is kefir, which I'll store in plastic bottles in the fridge. I'll use that beautiful kefir to make deliciously healthy smoothies. That's also another post, no . . . contest. . . coming soon.