Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve pajamas were opened and slept in.

Many beautifully wrapped and carefully chosen presents were unwrapped.

Cinnamon rolls (gluten-free) were devoured (without a chance for a single picture to be taken) even though they had no icing!

Much family fun and happiness was shared; it was a lovely day.

Gifts have been enjoyed all afternoon: 
David has been assembling Lego sets,
Joel has nearly mastered the Eukelele, 
Sarah and I tried on clothes and watched a movie, 
Mom has been scanning old film pictures onto the computer with her new converter,
Daddy has been working on the "Useless Box" that he received,
Nana has sat comfortably on her new seat cushion and enjoyed the eukelele music.

It's been a wonderful Christmas! (In spite of the devastating lack of snow - again!) 

My nativity
 I am so thankful for my Savior, who became Flesh and dwelt among us. He lived a perfect life, and became sin, that we might become His righteousness. Someday, He will come back for us, and we'll live with Him in heaven forever! That's what we celebrate! Merry Christmas, everyone!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Music Rant

This could be a rant about how much I hate the popular song "Last Christmas"... but it isn't (I'll spare you). I bought myself a book of my favorite Christmas tunes, and I found myself making mistakes with "O Little Town of Bethlehem." At first I thought it was just my sight-reading skills deteriorating. Then I realized my problem.

Any other music geeks see the issue? The G-sharp automatically ends at the measure bar, but for some reason, they put a natural in the next measure.

Since that natural happens to be in the same third with a B-flat, it kept tricking me into cancelling the B wrongly. Why do they have rules about accidentals ending with bar lines if they're just going to give little "reminder" naturals? It's so confusing!

So I got out some white-out, and fixed it. Mostly because I was starting to ignore all the naturals, and there was an actual natural cancelling a B-flat near the end of the piece. It just got too annoying and confusing.

See? G-sharps, then unnecessary G-naturals, and then a REAL B-natural. Mind-boggling.

Fixed. Enjoyment of my new Christmas music is saved. Happy December everyone!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thankful Thursday

We usually spend Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle's lovely shore house. It's right on an inlet, water views out the back, and a big farm garden with chickens. We arrived late last night so that we could be here this morning to help with meal preparations. 
Granddaddy and 4 of his grandkids
I'm thankful for a quiet, beautiful day with my family, my aunt and uncle, and that my Granddaddy and his wife were able to join us. 

The table set for 10.
 Delicious dinner: turkey, venison, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry chutney, apple cranberry casserole, asparagus casserole, gravy, dressing and rolls. 

Yummy venison!
I'm happy that we suspended a few GAPS rules for the meal, we skipped the dressing and rolls since they are extremely high gluten, but we had a little of the potatoes. The cranberry chutney was a fermented recipe that we tried just for Thanksgiving, and it turned out better than I expected!
Chicken feathers!
I'm also delighted that the two GAPS-friendly desserts I made turned out well. The pumpkin bars were very yummy, and the pecan pie was pretty good too, but unfortunately it got a little overcooked. I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy digging in!
Everyone except Joel around the table... Joel took the picture.
 Then we made a trip out to move the portable chicken coops to new ground and collect eggs. I have been wanting to get chickens. In the barn, there's a new batch of young chicks staying warm. When we got back in, Sarah and Joel were playing chess. We played lots of chess. It was such a nice day!

Everything was so yummy, and I think I enjoyed it all the more because I managed not to overeat. Nothing ruins a pleasant meal like feeling gross and disgusted with yourself afterward because you ate too much. Thanksgiving has become a holiday we stuff ourselves, and then tend not to think of all we have to be thankful for:

Roofs over our heads - when some are homeless.

Food sufficient for the day - when some are starving.

Nice clothes to wear - when some wear rags.

Shoes on our feet - when some have none.

Warm places to stay - when some are cold.

Beyond all that, we have so many (unnecessary) possessions. We should always be thankful, not just on Thanksgiving. And more than thankful, our abundance should inspire us to share what we have with others, because some other things that we as Christians have are these, and no matter how much you share them with others, you will still never run out:

Unmerited forgiveness - forgive, as you have been forgiven.

The sacrificial love of Jesus our Savior - love as He loved us.

The grace and mercy God has showed us - extend it to others.

Hope of eternity - always be ready to give an answer for the hope within.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Won A Giveaway!

I have never won a giveaway before ever. I was very excited to win Delvalina's lovely giveaway in honor of her graduation, and I have been eagerly awaiting the package in the mail! Today was a very cold, gray, rainy and terribly dreary day, and the package came at the perfect time to brighten my day!

A wonderful necklace, and charming bookmark! And beautiful flowered stationery. Delightful!

The bookmark is adorable, I put it in my Bible right away. I follow Professor Grant Horner's Bible-reading system, and I had been wanting a new bookmark for one of the single books (Psalms, Proverbs and Acts). I think it will either be my Psalms or Proverbs bookmark, but I'm not definitely decided yet. By the way, if you haven't heard of Prof. Horner's system, you should definitely check it out! I'm finishing up my second year (my 2011 New Year's resolution was to try the system for a month, and I loved it so much, I didn't stop!) so I have read the whole Bible at least twice since then, and many parts more!

The necklace went nicely with what I was already wearing today, so I put it on, and wore it the rest of the day. I'm so thrilled with it! Mom noted that it suits me very well, it fits perfectly with my style. It's also adjustable, so it will be very versatile and I will certainly be wearing it a lot!

I'm so grateful for these lovely giveaway gifts, and especially thankful for my sweet friend. Thank you so much, Delvalina!

I know I haven't been posting much lately, but I hope to post more in the future! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for a beautiful day... very cold and crisp.

I got to sleep a little extra, and I'm so grateful to feel well-rested.

My sister and I cleaned out and organized our (way too big) closet. 

I got the house to myself for a couple hours in the afternoon while the guys were at swim practice, Dad was at work and Mom and Sarah went grocery shopping. 

I used the quiet time to practice the piano for an hour, and then made fresh veggie juice. I had two glasses myself, and everyone else had some when they came home.

Spent the evening babysitting three really fun, cute kids, playing things like "horsie," building with those big "duplos" (legos), "cooking" in the play kitchen, and then putting the younger ones to bed. 

When I got home I had a late dinner, salad and baked chicken. It was delicious!

Now I'm listening to one of my brothers playing the piano, while my other brother and sister chat on the couch. We're getting ready to have our family Bible study and go to bed.

I'm thankful for my Savior and my God!


Friday, November 8, 2013

The Paradise: Season 1

The latest new show on Masterpiece is a series called The Paradise based on the French novel Au Bonheur des Dames by Émile Zola. It's 1875 in Newcastle, and small-town girl Denise (Joanna Vanderham) has just arrived, hoping to work in her uncle's drapery shop. Due to the intense competition he's facing from the department store across the street, he can't afford to give her a job, so Denise goes to work for the new competition: The Paradise. John Moray (Emun Elliot), owner of The Paradise, is a smart, good-looking young man who started as a draper's boy and worked his way to where he is now, running a beautiful, large store with many employees. Denise works in ladies' wear under the strict Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire) with her two roommates, Clara (Sonya Cassidy) and Pauline (Ruby Bentall). 

Denise, newly arrived from Peebles.
I was afraid it was going to be too much like Downton Abbey for me to really enjoy it, but so far I have been delighted! It is like Downton in the lovely costumes and hairstyles, and the fashion being earlier is more to my taste. It also reminds me some of Larkrise to Candleford, perhaps because Ruby Bentall also plays Minnie, and Laura (Olivia Hallinan) appears as a guest in The Paradise episode 2. But really, The Paradise should be compared to neither of them, because the tone and feel of the show is completely different. The Paradise is so much more light-hearted and cheery in general, despite some sad/mysterious circumstances and the occasional darkness. I hope it continues that way through the last two shows of the season. 

Moray, looking dashing in his office.
 This isn't meant to be a full-fledged review, but I did want to make sure all my lovely "period drama" readers didn't miss this show! I am surprised by how much I am enjoying it, and how eagerly I look forward to each new episode. Right now, for a limited time, the first 5 episodes are available to watch in full online here, and the 6th, which aired last Sunday, will probably be available soon. The 1st episode may be taken down when the 6th goes up, though, so if you want to jump in and catch up, you may need to hurry! The content so far has included some kissing, an allusion to an unmarried couple spending a night together, some mild violence (a punch, a slap) and references to a tragic death.

Pauline, Denise and Clara, Paradise shopgirls.
The accents, the costumes, the hair, the music, all the loveliness inside the store... this is a beautiful show, with a very enjoyable story so far. I'm loving it, can't wait for Sunday night!


Monday, October 21, 2013

A Dream Romance

You all know how much I love Jane Austen's stories. I could gush and rave over them for hours, and I do think they are all wonderful stories with really nice romantic endings and delightful happily-ever-afters. But if I could take one story and make it my own, out of all the stories I've ever read/watched, I would want to be "Anne of Green Gables." (Warning, spoilers ahead!)

I have some striking similarities to Anne - the sense of dramatic, overly romantic and excessively imaginative qualities all fit me. However, I am unnaturally happy with my red hair, and I am perfectly satisfied to be Elizabeth Ann - without an 'e.' No, there's a different reason that I would like to be Anne, more important than our common traits or the characteristics that I admire in her.

Of course, living in the early 1900's would be really fun, and Green Gables is a lovely farm in a beautiful place, but the main reason I would love to be Anne is because of Gilbert. He loves her so loyally, from the very first moment he saw her (as he claims in the movie, it's been way too long since I read the books) when she was newly arrived and first came to school. Unfortunately, he calls her "carrots" in an attempt to get her attention and incurs her wrath. And so begins the long grudge that Anne holds against him.

"Carrots" and mischievous Gilbert.
After breaking a slate over his head, Anne goes on to treat him with coldness and contempt. He is the recipient of her determined dislike for just a bit of teasing, but he continues to work for her friendship, apologizing again and again for that one little mistake that cost him for so long. He has the opportunity to rescue her from a bridge piling when one of her imaginative and dramatic adventures goes wrong, and she is not very grateful, but he pleads with her to forgive him and finally be friends. And to my relief, she does.

But once they are friends, poor Gilbert is "friend-zoned" by Anne, and she can't picture him as her romantic suitor. He doesn't fit her imaginative fancies: tall, dark, irresistibly handsome and melancholy (although I think he fits all but "melancholy"!). He is a faithful friend, and pursues her diligently, through misunderstandings and quarrels. He proposes, and she refuses him. In chorus with Diana, I say, "Oh Anne, how could you?!?" Again, he speaks with her, says he will wait for her, if she'll give him even the slightest chance and yet she just breaks his heart. A year later, he tries to move on and becomes engaged to someone else, but ultimately can't do it, and breaks it off.

At this point, I would be a weepy mess if I didn't know what happened.

Thankfully, Anne eventually realizes that she does love Gilbert, although it takes him lying on what could be his death-bed with scarlet fever. She visits him, he recovers soon after, proposes AGAIN and Anne finally accepts. "I don't want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls - I just want you."

There are so many wonderful things about Anne of Green Gables, but I think my favorite part is Gil. He is such a honest, sweet, loyal guy. I'd be thrilled to have a fellow like him in love with me (and I sure wouldn't want to refuse him twice first, like Anne did)! What girl could resist a man who so persistently and lovingly pursues her, forgiving her many flaws and frequent unkindness? He loved her so steadfastly, and was a true friend to her, no matter what. It reminds me of my Savior, and the selfless, sacrificial love He shows us. I already have my dream romance!

"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Linking up with Thankful Thursday at Grace Alone.

My morning routine begins with Bible reading, and my favorite place is on the front porch when the weather permits. It's getting colder, but it's not cold enough to send me indoors just yet. I take a blanket, wear my cozy wool socks and have a hot cup of tea to keep me warm. This morning, some lovely blue sky was peeking through the clouds that have been blocking out the sun for almost a week. I'm thankful for a beautiful, peaceful morning.

Late morning, getting brighter and clearer by the hour! Beautiful day.

Despite the rather gloomy weather, it has been a nice week, calm and a little less busy than usual. Today is one of my least busy teaching days, only 3 students. I'm so thankful for my wonderful students, and a job that allows me to be home so much.

I'm thankful for my family, who are all my closest friends. We don't always get along perfectly, but we're consistently improving, and it's so fun to have maturing relationships with my siblings who used to seem so much younger than me, but now are my equals in adulthood.

I'm thankful for fall, the crisp, cool weather and the yummy honeycrisp apples that are now available.

I'm thankful for my God, who gave us all the beauty in this world, showing us His majesty, and who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us, so that we could be saved and spend eternity with Him.

"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." -Psalms 90:14


Monday, October 14, 2013

Piano Is(n't) My Life

I suppose it's odd that I've never written a whole post about piano until now. I have mentioned before that I teach piano lessons and that I decided not to pursue a college degree in music. I'm studying with my own piano teacher in what I'm calling an "apprenticeship" to improve my teaching abilities, while continuing to learn new pieces myself. This, obviously, is counter to what our culture and society expects, and I suppose that part of the reason I don't like bringing it up is because when I am forced by polite and well-meaning conversationalists to explain what I'm doing with myself, I'm never sure exactly how they will respond. Mostly I get puzzled or blank looks and a confused "that's nice..." Rarely do I ever get the "What?!? You can't do that, you really must go to college!" but that's always what I am most afraid of receiving because it provokes me to rant about the lengthy thought process that went into my decision, and who are they to decide what I must do with my life anyway?!? Often, I am surprised by how encouraging people can be though, and I so appreciate the kind and thoughtful responses. I firmly believe that college was not the right route for me, but that does not mean that I think it's wrong for everyone! 

Piano and I had a sort of rocky beginning when I was 8. I liked it, but I didn't really like to practice much (I still think it's more fun just to sit there and play things I've already learned!) and I mostly just wanted to play outside with my friends and siblings. By the time I entered my teens, though, I was much more serious about piano. For the first couple of years of high school, I was planning on going to college, and I was so happy that I already knew exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I loved playing piano, but I didn't enjoy performing, so I definitely wasn't going to be an aspiring concert pianist. As a big sister, I liked to teach my siblings anything they would let me, so it was easy to decide that combining piano and teaching into a career would be perfect. I had my top choice colleges picked out, worked hard in math so I would be able to get a decent score on the SAT and made sure my piano teacher knew that I intended to go to college as a piano pedagogy major. But something happened in my sophomore year, when my teacher presented me with the college audition pieces she wanted me to begin preparing. There was this weird, cold, sinking feeling in my chest that I couldn't shake. It wasn't fear, it was just lack of peace. In Christian terminology I suppose it would be called "a check in the spirit." It wouldn't leave.

I began praying very seriously about college, and thinking about the possibility of skipping college. Until then, it hadn't even occurred to me that I might not attend college - everyone went to college, and I wouldn't be a "successful" homeschooler if I didn't prove to society that I could out-perform my public-schooled peers in the higher education system, right? Wasn't that actually the only way to become a real piano teacher? I had already begun teaching a few beginners piano lessons (it's pretty popular in the homeschool community to have high school students teach music, art, etc. to younger beginning students) but that was with the approval of my teacher, and she often gave me tips. She once told me that she believed it should be illegal for anyone to teach music without an appropriate degree, but then went on to assure me that since I was teaching under her guidance, and since I intended to go to college, what I was doing was okay. That was burned into my memory. 

The first decision that I made was to postpone my potential college entrance so I would have more time to make my decision. Taking a "super"-senior year was also popular in my homeschool group, and since my birthday fell in the right range, I could continue to compete on the homeschool swim team an extra year if I waited to graduate. The next step I made was to quit lessons with my piano teacher. I suspected that I wouldn't end up attending college, and since I didn't want to face her wrath for teaching without that degree, I left. I took a whole year off from piano lessons before I found a new teacher, and that's when my vision for a college-free future finally started to become clear. 

My new piano teacher was recommended to me by a friend, who mentioned that this lady had not
attended college either. When I contacted her to ask if she would take a new student, I mentioned that I would like to have a sort of "apprentice" relationship, and learn from her about teaching piano as well as studying pieces with her. I told her that I already had some students of my own, and that I was considering not going to college for music, but that I loved teaching piano and wanted to continue learning myself. She accepted me, and we began my "apprenticeship" almost immediately.

At that point, I had not completely decided that I would forgo college. It seemed easier just to pay for those 4 years and that official sheet of paper, fulfilling everything society expected of me, and then continue with my piano teaching unhindered, and with a conscience unburdened by my former instructor's opinion of degree-less piano teachers. I didn't want to drop my piano students to attend college, however I knew that if I did go to college, I would have to be completely focused on school, at least at first. I still wanted to go to college, to avoid the effort of going against the current and experience the whole new world of college but that cold, "wrong" feeling in my heart still weighed on me, and I was becoming more and more convinced that I wasn't meant to attend.

Finally, as my "fleece" (Judges 6:36-40) in my senior year I began to pray that God would use my own students as a sign. If He wanted me to go to college, he was going to have to make all 6 of them quit. If He continued to let me have students, I was going to believe that was His approval for my teaching without a degree, and I would continue teaching until (and if) He ever gave me a new direction. Most of all, I wanted that weird, cold feeling to go away, and for peace about the right decision to fill my mind. 

By the end of my senior year, none of my students had quit, and I realized that I did feel peace about staying home and apprenticing with my wonderful new piano teacher. She is such a sweet Christian lady, who encourages me in more than just musical pursuits, and I never fail to leave inspired and invigorated by my lesson with her. Each year, my own studio has only grown in number of students, and I feel such delightful confidence knowing that I am doing what God means for me to do. Without the burden of classes, papers, exams and studying, I have had time to be part of my family, to learn more about health, cooking, money management and many other responsibilities that go into a household, besides continuing to study piano and enjoying the part music has in my life. 

I don't mean this to be an attack on those who did attend college, and I hope those who did choose college don't feel that they must reprimand those who make different decisions. We are all different people, and God has different plans for all of us. I love piano, and greatly enjoy teaching, but piano just isn't my whole life. I always want God to be my focus, and college isn't part of His plan for me. This turned into a extremely long post, but this is my entire heart on the subject, and I am relieved to have it all said. If you made it through this whole post, I am impressed!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The GAPS Diet: What I Learned

We've officially been on Full GAPS for two weeks now. I am really glad that we eased into it earlier this summer, because the only thing my brothers have been really complaining about is the restriction on chips (no corn allowed). Now that we're back to our "normal" diet, the main points I took away from the strict Introduction were these:
Scrambled eggs, spinach, kimchi and cheese sauce.
1. Eat lots of cultured, fermented, pro-biotic rich foods. I have been trying to include our raw yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, kimchee juice or kimchee into almost every meal each day. 

2.  Make your own stock/bone broth. It was easier than I thought, and so much more nutritious than buying! (Probably cheaper too, though I haven't calculated the price.) This winter, when we're making soups more often, I plan to continue making our own stock rather than buying the preserved, carton-packaged (albeit organic) varieties. Mom and I made about 7 quarts (some we froze) with about 15-20 minutes worth of prep time (chopping vegetables) and then the stock just simmered on the stove until 5pm. We made chili with a little less than two quarts last night, and it was great!

3. Listen to your body. Okay, so this one wasn't specifically learned by the GAPS Diet, it's something I already sort of knew, but after the cleanse of the Intro Diet, I felt more in tune with the specific nutrients and foods that my body wanted. Your body is designed to desire the foods that will give you the nutrients you need. Our problems start when our bodies' requests for nutrient-dense, healthy foods are drowned out by the screaming demands of sugar addiction and other cravings. On Full GAPS we are still strictly avoiding processed sugar (honey is allowed), and we're completely off grains and starches (no rice, oats, corn, potatoes, etc.) so I feel confident that what I want when I'm hungry is actually the best thing that I can eat at that moment. I actually have no cravings!

4. Make meal plans. I sort of did this during the week we did Intro Diet, but we did not do it last week or this week. It's hard to implement because Mom and I often share the task of figuring out dinner, so we really need to do meal planning together or it doesn't quite work. I like the idea of meal planning, and when we take the time to sit down together and try to figure out some ideas it usually goes pretty well. It's just hard to find the time. If I ever have my own home, meal planning is definitely something I would need to keep myself organized. There's nothing worse than dinner time coming around and you suddenly realize you have no idea what to cook, and there's nothing ready to throw together (Oh dear, I forgot to thaw some hamburger meat!) and hungry family members will be complaining soon...

It's also really difficult to figure out healthy meals that the guys will want to eat. Like typical guys, they could happily eat pizza, hotdogs, any kind of chips and dip (queso is their latest favorite), potato chips, hamburgers, anything fried, and all kinds of dessert. They ate everything we fixed pretty well during the Intro Diet (probably only because they knew it was limited to one week) and I was hoping that it would magically fix their taste buds and cravings for sugars, starches and everything grains. I guess it didn't yet, because one guy in particular been complaining any time that we have stew or soup that it's "diet food" but he can't come up with anything he wants to eat that doesn't include pasta or chips. Finding healthy things that guys want to eat might be the most difficult challenge I've ever faced.

So my fifth and final tip: never give up. Becoming healthier is a long, slow process... and I'm pretty sure you never really reach an arrival. There's always new things to learn, new things to implement. Being as healthy as I can is just another part of life for me, and some seasons in life are just healthier and easier than others. Try to have fun with it!

I am terrible at that, but I am trying to take my own advice. I tend to go overboard and get too strict with things like this. Healthy eating doesn't do you any good if you undo all the good by stressing and being miserable yourself. I keep reminding myself (and others in my family help remind me too) that I need to lighten up. Don't get discouraged by slumps, and enjoy the journey. It's taken longer than I hoped (I tend to have unrealistic expectations) so if I treat is as something I have to "survive" through, I might sink into despair, but if I enjoy it, and don't impatiently look for the end when we can go back to occasional (sprouted, soaked or soured) grains and such, then it might just be pleasant.

I think it's definitely been a great experience. I feel great, I think this has helped my digestion a lot. I didn't think I had much to fix, but I've noticed a lot of improvement in how I feel after meals. Satisfied, but not sort of heavy or bloated, which was a feeling that I had begun to associate with fullness. I feel like I digest my food much more quickly, and don't need to eat quite as much. I think this is mostly due to including plenty of cultured pro-biotic foods, and I plan to continue that, dare I say, for the rest of my life!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Surprise Basket Day

Yesterday morning I got a surprise free day. All five of my piano students for the day cancelled (for various reasons) and after a brief grocery trip to Whole Foods, I had the entire day free. What does one with a free afternoon on a very cold, gray, somewhat wintery October day? How about make a basket!
My first egg basket!
 My mom has made many baskets, and I had been asking her to teach me for several years... since I was 6, in fact. She put it off then because I was much too young to handle the work (as I clearly understand now) but I have been capable of learning for many years, and we never really found a good chance - until yesterday!

In her box of basketry supplies, Mom just happened to have all the materials I needed to make this cute little basket. I began at 3:30pm in the afternoon (after making some GF zucchini bread) and finished in about 5 hours, with a few breaks. It was supposed to be flat bottomed, and it's not quite flat, as you can see from above picture. It also isn't shaped quite as prettily as it could be, as the sides are a little lumpy. I also left out a few pieces....

These two sets of ribs just didn't want to fit...
I had a great time making it though, and I'm pleased with how it turned out, considering it's my first. Mom said I can also try soaking the whole basket again, and reshape it a little now that it's completed, and I may try that. Basket making is so much fun! Next on my list is an herb basket.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

GAPS Intro Diet

I know, it's been a dreadfully long time since I posted anything! I have some post ideas, but I've been so busy with getting back into the rhythm of life since summer ended that I haven't had time to actually finish any posts. So today, I'm going to give you a rambly sort of review of my most recent health experiment: The GAPS Diet. 

I haven't posted much on the "health nut" front lately, mostly because I've been trying to get my mind around the GAPS Diet, and I still don't completely understand it, but we took the plunge and started the Introduction diet last week anyway. I have heard a lot about the GAPS diet, and always thought that it was unnecessarily strict, considering how healthy our family usually eats and our lack of serious health issues. But we do have a few stubborn conditions that need to be resolved. After kind of following the Full GAPS for most of the summer, we decided to just have a quick go through the Intro diet to see if it would give the extra kick we need.

For the first day (stage 1), we made chicken broth, and then made soup from the broth. The broth is to be drunk warm with probiotic food (fermented veggie juice or fermented dairy like yogurt, sour cream or kefir) and the soup to be eaten with more probiotic food mixed in. Besides that, we can have ginger, mint or chamomile tea, and that's it. The soup was very tasty, but I don't much like drinking chicken broth. I'm not a huge fan of chicken anyway, and drinking chicken "tea" just wasn't as appealing as my green tea with milk and coconut oil. *sigh*

We moved very quickly through the introduction stages (meant to take longer for those trying to heal serious issues like Autism or ADHD) and went to the second stage on day 2, which meant we got to mix raw egg yolks into our soup, and even make a stew and a casserole out of more meat and veggies. We did the second stage for just two days before we went on to the third stage. Technically you're supposed to wait for die-off symptoms to subside before moving on, but our die-off wasn't too bad, and we were determined to get back to "normal" by Friday because our farm order is coming in, and we want to drink our fresh milk... which I consider to be GAPS legal since it's raw. 

Third stage we added avocado to our soups and casseroles. We may have been on a diet, but we have had some delicious food this week, let me tell you! Finally scrambled eggs and almond flour pancakes were added back. Fresh-pressed vegetable juice, steaks, salads and some cooked carrots, onions and leeks were dinner last night. Today we can have raw fruit again! We did find the order of adding foods back sort of strange, but the idea of this diet is to eliminate fiber, starch and sugar, while eating copious amounts of healing broth and probiotic foods to heal the intestinal lining, and then those healthy foods can be eaten again. (To learn more about the GAPS Diet, go here.)

Tomorrow we'll move to Full GAPS, which is almost normal for how we've eaten over the summer anyway. I hope that we'll achieve recovery of the main health issues we were hoping to address, and I plan to do more posts about those soon (if I can find the time, and if anyone is even interested...hehe!)

If you're thinking that I really am crazy, well, I might agree with you. My brothers certainly do, they are tired of me coming up with new health schemes and trying to fix things. They wonder how we could possibly eat healthier than we already do, and then I find something like this to try. But really, how healthy can we be if we still have problems with things like psoriasis? There are always new health things to try! And sometimes you might land yourself drinking chicken tea and eating soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but in pursuit of health, I still think it's worth it. I feel great now that I'm past the die-off and detoxing phase (that can be pretty weird and uncomfortable feeling) and I've lost a few pounds that were sneaking back up on me. 

I'm so excited to have raspberries, blueberries and yogurt for breakfast this morning!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Elegant Blogger Award!

I'm so honored to receive the "Elegant Blogger Award" from Hamlette and Melody!

The rules:

  • When you receive the award, link back to and the blog that nominated you: Hamlette's Soliloquy and Regency Delight.
  • Display the award button in the post 
  • Answer all of the 12 questions given in this post (do not make your own questions) 
  • Nominate 8 bloggers (see below)
  • Notify them that they have been awarded.  

The questions:

1.  What made you start blogging?
Way back in 2008 (haha) my sister and I had a group of friends that were into blogging (and shunned Facebook) so we decided to get a blog so we could be part of that sphere. I loved it so much that I continued, despite most of them eventually giving up on blogging, caving to Facebook and moving on in their lives. I love to write, and this is a great outlet. Blogging helps me to get my own thoughts in order. If my posts are interesting or helpful to others, that's a nice bonus!

2.  What is your fashion style?
I guess I would label my fashion style as simple and classy. I like cute dresses, pretty tops, all kinds of sweaters with skirts or dark jeans, and I have a collection of boots for the fall. In the summer I mostly live in flip-flops or flats. Heels and I are not such great friends.

3.  What is something none of your followers know about you?
Oh, that's hard because, like Melody and Hamlette, people who know me very well follow my blog. I really can't think of anything. Okay, I like twirling my hair around my finger, and I'm a little obsessive about completing tasks, sometimes I get into a frenzy trying to finish things in the most efficient amount of time.

4.  What are some of your blogging goals?
To keep improving my writing... and... keep enjoying the process, I guess. I like connecting with all of you wonderful bloggers, too!

5.  Where is your favorite place to shop?
For clothes, probably TJ Maxx right now. They have some cute things that fit my style pretty well, and if you shop the clearance racks, it's not too awfully expensive. Goodwill used to be one of my favorites, but I've had difficulty getting some overly-strong detergent smells out of recent purchases, and it's so hard to find your size in all those racks! I get almost all my sweaters from Target, though, just have to wait for the sales!

6.  What would your ideal amount of blog followers be?
I never really thought about it. I'm delighted that I have as many as I do already, and I certainly wouldn't be against having more, but I'm not desperate. Perhaps I am at my ideal number for right now.

7.  What are your talents?
I am very good at tripping up the stairs. Haha! I suppose I am talented at the piano. A couple of my teachers have thought so, Nana and my mom both think so, and I guess I really must be if I can fool all of them with my regrettable lack of practicing! "You will never play really well, Miss Bennet, unless you practice more!"

8.  Are you a leader or a follower?
I don't know, I guess I can be both, depending on who I am with at the time.

9.  What is one of your favorite quotes?
"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

10.  Do you have a favorite book or series?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen usually has top spot. Sometimes, Sense and Sensibility steals it a little. I love Jane Austen's stories. 

11.  Out of all the synonyms for elegant, which would you describe yourself with?  (smart -- stylish -- dressy -- graceful -- dainty -- fine)
Oh dear, I don't know. I don't think I'm particularly smart in either the intellectual or chic way, I wouldn't consider myself particularly stylish (although I do enjoy my own sense of style), I'm generally not too dressy unless I'm working or going to church; definitely not graceful, as previously mentioned I regularly trip going up the stairs; dainty isn't even close; and fine, well, that's sort of like dressy, isn't it? I do like to pretend that I am dainty and graceful, though.

12.  What is your favorite flower?
Black-eyed Susan's were on a painting in the hospital where I was born, which Daddy says reminds him of my birth, so I've always thought of them as my favorite. But really, how does one choose a favorite flower? They are all so beautiful! I generally tend to lean more toward delicate, frilly, "feminine" sorts of flowers, though, when I'm buying them to arrange.

Now to tag people... while I was taking my sweet time answering these questions, my list of "people to tag" shrank a little (as they were tagged and completed their posts already), so I'm just going to cheat and only tag the six that are left.

Miss Elizabeth
Miss Elizabeth Bennet


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Things I Love About The Seaside

the pinks and oranges of the sun rising over the ocean

breathing deeply of the crisp, salty sea air that blows through my hair

walking down the beach, collecting shells

watching the little sandpipers run in and out with the waves

the sun reflecting off the water and warming my face

getting the paper and working the crossword

running straight into the ocean with abandon

bobbing with the swells to keep my head above the water

lying on a beach towel in the sand sunning and reading a good book

damp sand between my toes

chasing a frisbee down the shore

finding shark's teeth

relaxing in a float on the ocean when the surf is calm

beach photo shoots with my sister

watching my brothers do hand-stands and frisbee tricks

family walks to the pier for dinner at our favorite beach restaurant

playing pool at the pier house

late-night beach walks, sea sparkle glowing with every step

the rich darkness of the night, stars lighting the sky

the orange lights of the pier reflected in the deep blue ocean

snuggling into a soft sweater against the cool evening breeze

that lovely feeling of relaxing tiredness after a day of playing on the beach

playing games late into the night

eating ice cream and watching a favorite show

a crescent moon shining on the sea in the wee hours

the soft crashing of waves outside while I sleep

I think I'd be happy to live the rest of my life at the beach....