Monday, June 22, 2015

Life Changer

I am 38 years old and never lived anywhere but Alaska.

We moved to Washington state 3 weeks ago. What the heck?

We sold. A lot. Including our animals. I finally got everything just right in the yard, fencing, apple trees, berry bushes...then poof, we leave.

Everyone asks me how I feel about this, am I sad am I excited? I don't get depressed or excited easily. I am at peace about it and trying to wrap my mind around it. I know myself well enough to know that I will be fine here. I will adjust. God wanted us here for His own reasons, we aren't sure of all of them but think we may have some ideas of why. It has been a hard journey that we started in February, really considering it. Many things have gone wrong but more things have gone right to make it possible to move.

We moved mainly because there is a new parish starting in the small town of Goldendale, WA. My husband is a deacon and our parish in Alaska had grown to a nice size where we weren't needed like we used to be. (Wanted sure, but not needed.) Leaving our parish was extremely difficult and more-so considering the history our parish had with people, especially clergy, moving away, we know the abandoned feeling all too well. This time it was us that was doing the abandoning. That was really terrible.

There isn't clergy here in this town to get a new parish up and running, and when presented with this as an option for us vs staying in Alaska it just felt so right for us both. Once the decision was made, the kids were told, our families were told, tears were shed...the work of moving began.

Moving=horrible.

If you have moved you know. If you have tried selling your house you know. If you haven't, read up on it on the internet and learn what you can, then hang on for a bumpy ride. If you have any money in savings, it will go bye bye. If you have a credit card, it will get maxed. If you're moving because God wants you to, be prepared for a lot to go wrong. Get into the back of God's car and just sit back and watch the drama out the window. He's in control, let it go.

My husband can keep his job and work at home like he has for the last 14 years. My business didn't sell, so I'm attempting to run it from here. My sister was looking for a work-at-home job and as she's the best worker I've ever known, I was happy she was willing to work for me. 

Our house is still not sold. I don't know if it will. It was supposed to close June 2nd and they buyer's house still hasn't closed and we aren't sure ours will go smoothly now either after theirs sells... I'm thankful that we got plane tickets out of Alaska because I'm sure our car would have broken down had we tried driving. Either that or the nine of us would have killed each other on the way down. A 3 1/2 hour plane ride was definitely worth it.

When we got here most of the active parish was very sick, one boy had mono, another two families had whooping cough. Another has a simple surgery then gets sepsis and almost dies. What?

God did provide us with a beautiful rental house here. It's one of the old Victorian houses in the town and rent is very reasonable. Someone put in a very pretty yard and nice fences all the way around. There is even a koi pond with fish. I have always wanted a Victorian house and this way I get to have my cake and eat it too. I get to live in it but not be responsible for the major work that goes into owing one.

I don't have time to mess with a lot of pictures tonight but I've been posting some on Instagram: https://instagram.com/akmamaof7/
 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Canning Beans My Way

This is NOT the proper canning method recommended by extension service or Ball Blue Book, but it is what I use.

I presoak the beans in their individual jars the night before and I do not cook them for 30 minutes recommended time. This is much faster (for me) and gives me perfectly non-mushy beans (at least for the chick peas, my current favorite beans to can so I can make my hummus.)

 1/2 cup dry beans per pint, 1 cup dry per quart.
Soak in water overnight. I like it in the jars but you can do this in a bowl to make the rinse faster.
Rinse beans the following day.
1/2 tsp salt per pint, 1 tsp salt per quart
pour boiling water over rinsed beans and salt, secure lids, place in pressure canner

Can using following proper canning procedure, this is a VERY quick step-by-step:

2 inches of water in the pressure canner, hot jars in, lock on lid, heat up, let steam vent for 10 minutes, put on 10 or 15 lb weight depending on elevation, then start timer...

1 hour 15 minutes for pints (75 min)
1 hour 30 minutes for quarts (90 min)

Turn off heat, let pressure go down to zero, remove weight, remove lid (carefully! hot steam!) remove hot jars with jar lifter and put onto a dish towel on the counter, if using tattler lids, CAREFULLY tighten down rings, DON'T do this with metal non-reusable lids. Let cool completely, if using tattler, check for no seal. Any that did not seal I will use right away for hummus.

Beans on right just came out of canner, on left are ready to go in.


If you love hummus like I do then you will love the GoRemy Hummus: The Rap or maybe their new one, All About The Paste. But I really dig their Falafel Song, but don't use canned beans when making your Falafels! Only soaked overnight, see the recipe here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Steph's Cheesy Grits

I have never thought to propose to another woman, that would be weird.

Until now.

Now I understand why men propose to women who can cook. There is so much joy in eating good homeade food, something like Stephanie's Cheesy Grits could move one to ask her to marry you. I did ask her to marry me, but she declined.

I think the secret ingredient is the bacon or ham that are not mentioned in the title, but this pot of goodness really hits the spot on a cold Sunday afternoon...or on Pascha at 2am. This dish has become a break-fast tradition in our small parish. This Christmas Steph will be gone and I just don't know what I will do without her grits. Perhaps I can make them...but they just don't taste the same.

 Steph's Cheesy Grits
 8 c salted broth, my homeade broth usually needs more salt
-heat until bubbly-
2 c polenta
-whisk into broth, stir a lot for about 20 minutes until it's thick and no longer crunchy-
about 10 drops Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 stick butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c sharp cheddar or other cheese (more if mild)
1 lb cooked, cooled and broken up bacon or diced ham
-serve immediately, Steph puts hers in a crock pot and keeps it warm until after the church service and we indulge after 40 days of fasting-

Cheesy Grits looking dapper

Missing you, Steph. Come home soon.
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Overwhelmed


Overwhelmed by the beauty of this place.
Overwhelmed by the work to be finished.
Overwhelmed by the kindness of children.
Overwhelmed by the selfishness of others.

So much pain. The priest who left us, took his wife and beautiful children...left.
So many temptations.The boy whom I met, who was sweet...killed himself...left.
So much sickness. The woman, whom I love, who left her family, left her four small children, her sick husband....left.
So many snares. The other woman, whom I love, who left her husband of 35 years....left.
So much sickness, so much pain. So much.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stock season

'Tis the season for making stocks. These recipes were created by what I have on hand and what my garden and freezer are spewing out at me:

Vegetable Stock 
yields 7 quarts

basic stock ingredients:
2 large onions quartered, skins on
6 ish medium carrots (and or zucchini or squash, something sweeter)
6 ish celery stalks and leaves
small bunch fresh parsley
1 Tbl peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Optional:
2 sprigs fresh thyme
~20 leaves of beet greens
~20 leaves of mustard greens
~20 medium kale leaves and stems
some people don't recommend kale or cabbage, but others said some was ok, and to balance it out, I was pleased with the flavor.
salt optional, not recommended in stocks where you will salt your dish later
8 quarts warm water

Let simmer an hour or two. Most broths I leave overnight but I didn't see anyone doing that with veggie broth so I only did it for a few hours. Add salt and use in soup or can in quart jars at 10 lbs pressure for 35 minutes.

Beef/Pork Stock

Make this the same way, just with bones. I'm making mine now, it will simmer overnight and I will can it tomorrow. I read that you can substitute squash for carrots and I have a monster zucchini and not as many carrots this year, so I added a bunch of zucchini my beef/pork stock.

Turkey Stock

Later this week I'll make the turkey I pulled out of the freezer yesterday (yes I cleaned out the freezer, thus the stock making rush). I'll combine my turkey bones and my chicken bones that are frozen waiting for stock and can that up as well. I go through a lot of canned stock. I may even make a shrimp stock as my fish head stock failed earlier this year when I burned the veggies when I was just starting.


 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cabbage Rolls


The main reason for this post is to keep tabs on the cabbage rolls I made today. Also to show off my produce because it's so pretty and I love looking at it. The kids picked this on Friday for me. I made my Yum Lentil soup and sauerkraut and ate a bunch of celery with peanut butter, good celery!

It's hard to see it but in the back right is a very large cabbage. My husband loves cabbage rolls and I wanted an easier recipe. I found this one and liked the looks of it because the rice goes into the meat with out pre-cooking it. I was afraid she didn't add enough liquid but not only was my rice cooked (I used white rice) but there was some liquid still in the pan. Very delicious! I also used tomato soup instead of the canned tomato puree, because that's what I had. I did lesson the salt too. I also used a can of mushrooms in place of fresh. I did double the recipe, I pretty much have to on everything now, and I used one Savoy cabbage to roll for one pan and a regular cabbage for the other. I LOVE savoy cabbage leaves!!! They are perfectly perfect, come apart easily, and have fewer slugs. Yay!

Just a portion of what our garden grew this year. New for me: celery, music garlic, green beans, multi colored carrots.


Our 40 day gift

Mental Retardation

After having a baby it can feel as if your world is coming apart. Like you just can't handle things. And, well, frankly, we can't...and we shouldn't have to.

I just had my seventh child. And yes, things are easier for me because I have older kids and teenagers to help with chores. But as I get older (I'm 37) the hormones go more and more crazy and I seem to be able to handle less and less with each child. My postpartum silliness kicks up and it is not fun.

I had my sixth child six years ago. After her it was the worst of all. I was not mentally prepared for my absolute mental breakdown and neither was my husband. We determined after her that I needed more rest, more food, less people coming and going from my house and less of me "needing" to do things such as grocery shopping and errands.

After this little guy things have been better here at home. My husband anticipated my mental retardation (for the most part). My mother came to stay nearby for 12 days after I had him, making meals and taking little girls overnight in her small apartment. My midwife came a week after he was born and told me to spend more time in bed and less time trying to "do what I needed to do" and instead do what I did need to do and that was to rest and hold my baby. She reminded me that women basically turn back into teenagers, with all the crazy hormones that don't make sense, but with those hormones stays the responsibilities of being a wife, mother, homemaker, businesswoman, gardener, and cook.

The Gift

The 40 day churching prayers are said for the mother coming back to the Orthodox Church after her 40 days. In many cultures (many of them Orthodox or Catholic) they strictly observe the 40 days. No church, no town, not even baby check up appointments. Some have no visitors except their doula or helper that has been asked to come and help with chores in the home. I absolutely LOVE this tradition. Do I feel oppressed by it, like the church doesn't want me bleeding all over the place there? Heck no! I am so thankful that I am encouraged to stay in my bed, my nest, my safe place for that long. Because even if I feel that I might be able to handle going to church after three weeks, I'm probably wrong. Going to church, or anywhere, takes a lot out of you. And honestly, church takes a ton out of me. My husband is a deacon and has always served the church, so he has always gone two hours early. That leaves me getting the kids there alone. Even though we are spoiled and live next door to the church I still do have to be sure they get up, get dressed, hair brushed (sometimes) and out the door to get there semi-on-time. Then I just cross my fingers and hope they are somewhat behaved with out me there...my church family loves me... Just that is exhausting. And for the last 3 out of 4 Sundays since I had my bundle I've been a wreck those days. And I'm NOT EVEN GOING TO CHURCH. This is my last Sunday I'm staying home for my 40 days. Next week I'm on coffee hour duty with my sister and the regular church duties will be calling. I'm so happy to have been on forced leave of absence in just one aspect of my life.

There are some women who don't observe the 40 days. They say, "You can't tell me to stay home for 40 days!" and they go to church. Good for them. My priest would be just fine if I wanted to come back early...he's no dummy, he does NOT want to mess with me in my postpartum state of crazy. Most priests and churches don't enforce this, they would be nuts to in today's culture of woman who do what they please. But, really, give me a break. Women need this for their own sake. It's not to make them feel downtrodden or guilty because they had a baby. It's for their physical and mental health. It's been this way since Adam and Eve. There's nothing new here.

It's a reminder from the Church, who loves us and wants what is best for us, to take it easy. I appreciate this gift. Even if everything else in my life is insane and won't stop...at least my church understands that I need to stay home more often.

Take a step back

Postpartum mamas have a gaping hole bleeding inside of us, literally. We have afterbirth pains that stop us in our tracks and we scream quietly with pain. We have cracked nipples, sometimes accompanied by infections from feeding our babies. I typically have thrush as well and if you have had it, you know how it feels... Who wants to be wearing bras or leaking milk in public? Frankly, who wants to see us leaking milk in public? We should not just jump back into action. We should have a 40-day-wearing-pajamas-only period. We should have someone making us steaks and broccoli (yes my husband has done this a couple of times). We should be watching HGTV and crying at those people when they get a surprise home makeover because that is the best-thing-ever.

When people used to live as extended families the mothers and grandmothers would be there helping, shooing away toddlers, cooking the meals, tending the garden and on and on. It is sad that this is lost in our American culture. Single family dwellings are the norm now. Mothers and daughters rarely get along. Women are told they can and should do it all and then when they can't they feel like failures. Our American dream is dashed one woman at a time. Because it's a lie. It's a lie that women can do it all. Why should we have to? Why can't we be good at being mothers OR working. Men don't have babies, so they're not expected to be good at both. Why has that burden been placed on us? It's not fair. Cry me a river... So we mothers need to realize this. We need to say, "No, I can't pick up your kids on Tuesday, I just had a baby for crying out loud!!!" and not feel ashamed or guilty about that. My husband has helped me see this, to say no. For his own sake! When I go try to do everything for everyone who ends up pays the price? My family does. I'm grouchy with them, not my friends...and that's not fair to them.

Take a step back. Take a break. Force yourself. Procrastinate. Your baby, your kids and your husband all need you to do this. Don't worry, you can do it all...just do it all later.

My precious. 34 days old.
 
More info:

First 40 days as a mother

Ayurvedic Postpartum

Why Are America's Postpartum Practices So Rough on New Mothers?

Preparing for Birth: Freezer Cooking