Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Delish Pumpkin Soup

After going to the Farmer's Market on Monday and Rich's Farm today (to pick out pumpkins), I found myself with lots of fresh vegetables! Today, I thought I would make a big batch of soup and freeze the left-overs. After much debate, Angelo helped me to decide which soup to make by picking up a pumpkin at least 3 times and saying "Can we make pumpkin soup?" Well, pumpkin soup it was!

I adapted this recipe from Ultimate Vegetarian (Parragon Publishing 2003) (Here is a picture of what the book's soup looks like. Mine didn't photograph well ...):

I doubled the recipe. This fed two adults and a toddler tonight and looks like we have enough for two more dinners (for all of us) and a lunch (for one of us- maybe enough for Angelo and I to share).

About 6 lbs. of "pie pumpkin" (one medium small and one small)
4 small or 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
About 6 TBSP of butter (you could use olive oil)
1 1/2 medium Onions
About 3 cloves garlic
About 7 cups vegetable stock (or at least 4 cups veg stock plus the remaining amount in water)
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp orange zest (I used a tiny grater instead of a zester) (optional)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

1. peel, remove seeds and cut pumpkin into 1 in. cubes
2. melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. add onion and garlic an fry over low heat until soft but not colored.
3. add pumpkin and carrots and toss with onion 2-3 min.
4. add stock and bring to boil over med. heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add ginger, lemon juice, orange zest, bay leaves and cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 min., until pumpkin is tender.
5. Calls for discarding orange zest, if using, but what I used was so small, I left it in. Discard bay leaves. Cool soup slightly then press through a strainer or process in a food processor until smooth. ... so they say. I used a potato smasher and just smashed in the pot until I got a consistency I liked and it was really easy and pretty fast. No transferring from pot to food processor and back again.

I served it over garlic rice (recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking):

2 cups long grain rice
6 cloves garlic, lightly mashed and peeled
5 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt

wash rice in several changes of water. drain. soak rice in 6 cups water for 1/2 water. drain thoroughly.

heat oil in heavy 2 quart pot over med. flame. when hot, put in garlic. stir and fry until garlic turns med brown color. add rice and salt. stir and fry another minute. add 2 3/4 cups water and bring to a boil. cover tightly, turn heat to very, very low and cook gently for 25 minutes.

I also have a pot of vegetable stock cooling on the stove, using the peels, ends and greens from this soup. It is so easy to make! Try it and you'll never buy pre-made veggie stock again!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tomato Canning Feminists

Before I elaborate on the tomatoes, I just want to give a little update on my second detox attempt. It will be short, because I had no major symptoms. It went well. Don't go to Wine and Jazz festival and then up your detox efforts the next day and all should be well. :)

I'm currently reading "Radical Homemakers; Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture" - "Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises-drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities.In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires.Radical Homemakers is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act, and who have centered their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism, where domination and oppression are cast aside and where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude.Radical Homemakers nationwide speak about empowerment, transformation, happiness, and casting aside the pressures of a consumer culture to live in a world where money loses its power to relationships, independent thought, and creativity. If you ever considered quitting a job to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, can green beans and heal the planet, this is your book."

This book has spoken to me in so many ways, and I'm barely into part 2. I've known for so long that "working for the man" didn't make much sense to me. You work and work and work and don't have time to clean your house, do the laundry or cook from scratch. You also don't have the energy to put into personal relationships or build community bonds. (Even though I've not worked for an employer [except for contracting with WVU for classes here and there], I still am feeling the demanding requirements of teaching weekly.)I'm more inspired than ever to:

1. Plant a garden

2. Sew clothes and toys for Angelo, re-usable shopping bags, baby wipes, cleaning cloths, napkins, and any decorative home items we might "need"

3. to dye/re-dye/tie-dye stained clothing to extend its life

4. Frequent thrift stores even more for art/craft supplies, clothing, dishes, books, etc.

5. cook more from scratch (including making all sauces, crusts, mac n' cheese, and any other "convenience items" we used)

6. make more of an effort to make the local farmer's markets. (Morgantown and Cheat Lake) Last year, we did a CSA, but the schedule was difficult to adhere to.

7. use cloth training pants for Angelo at least part of the time.

8. find a source for raw milk and make our own yogurt

9. find out how and make our own flower essences

12. Weave!!! I love yarn!!! (and have a ton of it)

11. Frequent libraries more(for free books to learn more skills, story hour to take advantage of social and enriching activities for Angelo and used book sales for cheap used books for more skills and art supplies)

12. Barter belly dance lessons, Reiki, Occupational Therapy evaluations for puppy sitting, baby sitting, photo developing/printing, ...

13. Build community by inviting friends for potlucks, attending WV Sprouts meetings, letting them know about library and other activities I'm already going to.

14. Learn to make wine.

15. Discontinue all magazine subscriptions and look at online articles.

My last few Face Book posts have highlighted a couple inspiring quotes from the book. To sum up, family is really important to me and spending more time at home, nourishing our family, acting as a cohesive unit is my ultimate goal. I told my brother-in-law, Mike a few years ago, before we had Angelo that I "just wanted a peaceful life". These goals will definitely help me get there. :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

OK, Let's Try this Agian

So, you know when I said there was nothing major to report on the detox? Well, that nothing major was a headache and neck and shoulder soreness and it quickly turned into something major. I'm very sorry to say that I'm more of an example of what not to do for a detox than what to do.

Do not:
1. Assume a yoga sequence including sun salutations, many twists and bellows breath is not going to do much to detox. (I'd started this several days before starting the Detox tea.)

2. Assume that when you add lemon juice in hot water and diluted apple cider vinegar it will not do much for your detox efforts.

3. After assuming that your previous efforts were just going to wick off some water weight and do some light cleansing drink wine with guests (or by yourself) over the weekend before beginning or go to a wine festival (even if the samples are small there). Duh!

4. Decide that even though the timing isn't perfect (because your husband and only true support is out of town and you are the only one there to take care of a toddler and doggie) that "you've got to start some time". (It is true that timing does not have to be perfect, but I have to say this was my worst assumption.)

So, I stopped drinking the detox tea after a couple of days. I was cranky, mentally foggy and in pain while I was the only one here taking care of Angelo and Dana. I also had a gig on Saturday and knew I had to be recovered enough to perform. Now, I know what will work for me and what won't and am starting over today.

So, if you're going to detox after a long period of time,

1. Assume your efforts will release plenty of toxins.

2. Make sure you have support in your efforts (if not your partner, then your friends, neighbors, extended family)

3. Eat plenty of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits, drink a lot of water and avoid processed foods. Yoga Journal has a 3 day detox diet here: And more detox advice, as well as poses to incorporate here:

4. Find ways to relax as much as possible. Yoga is a great way to break a sweat (detoxifying in itself), help the detox process, as well as relax.

5. Know that your efforts will be rewarded by feeling lighter, cleaner and clearer in mind, body and spirit.

One of the ways I'm relaxing is editing some photos for collage sheets! I have several ready to go and am scanning more photos to have even more done and posted by tomorrow, ready to purchase. I'll be changing the Halloween art kit page, linked to the right to the collage sheet page. The Halloween art kit will be there, as well as Vintage/Antique girls, boys, babies, toddlers, ladies, gentlemen, mother and child, couples and whatever other categories I come up with from my collection. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let the Detox begin!

Now that Angelo has not nursed for 3 weeks +, I've started a gentle detox. Just some lemon juice in hot water in the morning, some Yogi detox tea (just picked it up yesterday, so on the second cup- yummy!), and cutting down on grains and dairy. Nothing major to report, but I'll keep you updated.

I'm also going to an art retreat in upstate NY!!! I'm soo sooo sooooooooo excited about this, I can't even begin to tell you. But, I'll try. It is in Greenville, NY in a rural Victorian inn with forest reserves and antique shops nearby. Besides as many art supplies as I can stuff into my two checked and 1 carry on bag will handle (I'll save a pocket for clothes and deoderant, but that's really not too important), I'm taking a journal to do plenty of writing (daily, which is plenty relative to what I do now) and a yoga mat, maybe even a blanket (though don't want to take up too much room so I can fit in more art supplies) so I can do yoga outside.

It is a self-directed retreat where breakfast, dinner and an afternoon snack are provided. They have converted the carriage house into the art studio. I think there are 13? 15? rooms, so I won't be crammed in there with a bunch of people. I'll be free to just make and make and make as much as I want!!! That will go reallllllly far with detoxing my mind and spirit.

I was nervous right after we booked it, of course, because it will be a whole week away from my babies and I've not been away by myself even overnight since before Angelo was born. But, I got over that and am just so so sooooo excited!!! I leave in less than a month!!!

Don't want to write too much now since Angelo is finally asleep and it's just me and the kids here until Friday when Eric gets home from Charleston. Lots of people out of the office and he was called in to cover. So, I'm going to take advantage of this time and glue some stuff! :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weaning after Extended Breast Feeding

As I said in my last post, I am in the process of weaning Angelo. I guess I'll consider him officially weaned once he does not ask to nurse, even once, for ... I don't know, a week? A month? We have now not nursed for over 2 weeks and the process has been much much harder on me than on him. I didn't expect myself to be so sad, but I've talked to someone who gave me a lot of insight and done some soul searching to figure out how to work this out for myself.

So, how did we do it? The whole process started a long time ago when I stopped letting him see my bare breasts during the day, because that made him want to nurse immediately. This was well after we started solids, but he was walking. I don't know exactly how long ago it really was. Gradually, on his own, he found enough things to occupy him during the day so that he only asked to nurse in the evenings when he got tired. But, at night, I couldn't say exactly how much he nursed because I was mostly asleep myself.

After being done mentally for months now, a few weeks before we stopped nursing altogether, I stopped nursing him for the only remaining session we regularly had during the day by lightly saying "no, it's not time to go to sleep". Then I offered to snuggle and read a book or something else that offered comfort.

The last time we nursed, I was prepared to start the weaning process "soon"- that night somehow by lessening the number of times we nursed. We had no commitments that weekend and could afford to lose sleep. I knew it wouldn't be easy, and was prepared to be as gentle as possible while shielding myself from the inevitable tantrums that lay ahead. This is just Angelo I'm talking about- do not assume your child will do anything the same way because every child is different. Our last session was not at all enjoyable, I'm sorry to say. I was so done mentally that I had no tolerance for his rolling around and switching side to side over and over (because my production was so low at that point), that I told him we would hug and were all done nursing. I've done this before quite a few times and he often threw a fit, but sometimes accepted the outcome quietly and snuggled in. There were times when I was under stress and my milk production lower than what he wanted that he said the "nursey [was] broken", and since I denied further nursing that night because he was having to work so hard to get milk, I told him the nursey was broken. That's what I told him for the next few days (nights) when he asked to nurse. The first two nights were extremely difficult for both of us. Me wanting to give in, but knowing I couldn't or we would never be done and I had to be and him wanting his biggest source of comfort, his easiest solution for sleep. But, the third night, he only asked to nurse once. Eric started taking him to bed before me, reading to him and snuggling him until he fell asleep. We have had many nights since when he has not asked at all and he sleeps for very long stretches at a time. I hope I don't jinx the whole thing by reporting that in fact now, he sleeps for about 8-9 hours straight and even has slept a couple times here at home for his nap! If you know what our nap time struggles have been, you know it has been a very long time since he has not slept in the car for a nap.

About a week ago, we had sadness when he asked to nurse and was denied (though I always deny kindly and acknowledge that he is sad and I'm sorry he is sad, and cuddle and tell him I love him very much.) I no longer tell him that "the nursey is broken" since it is clear to me that I do have milk to give him and don't feel it is right to lie. I just simply say no and hug him and if possible, find a distraction. I know he asked a few days ago to nurse, but the event was fairly insignificant. Now he usually announces that it is time to get out of bed now and go get an apple or play with trains.

I still respond physically to his cries, though am in less physical pain. There are many reasons for sadness with this process- different for everyone, but the biggest and most obvious being that it is an end to a very sweet and close part of your relationship. I already have been taking the opportunity to read to him more, pick him up a little more than I was and give him extra hugs and kisses. I planned some bigger activities for us to help with the distraction and then we happened to already have a beach trip planned, which helped tremendously. He was so tired from all the playing and new experiences that I didn't need to worry about him waking up. At least once he asked to nurse and my instinct said it was because he was thirsty, so I offered him water and he excitedly accepted. Another time, I suspected he was hungry and he was happy to take an apple instead.

I wanted to write out this process for myself and then someone suggested I write it out. I agreed it was a good idea. I wanted to do some sort of "ritual" to properly end the relationship and and then someone suggested I do some sort of "ritual". I agreed it was a good idea. I'd heard of people throwing parties and before I asked on the Mothering Face Book page for ritual ideas, and someone suggested a party or something special for the child. I agree that it is a good idea for other people if it seems right. But not for me. In truth, Angelo is still doing much better than I am. Then, Mothering suggested that I write a letter to Angelo and I agree that it is a perfect idea for me. So, I've started by writing to the people who read this blog. :) This is the link Mothering sent me It made me cry- a lot, but not in a bad way.

My friend JoAnna asked me in the comments to the last post how I'm getting Angelo through it to help her and her daughter. I was about to post the link when I saw her comment when I realized that I should start by writing out the process here. I've tried doing numerous searches for suggestions on gently weaning after extended breast feeding and had no luck. They were all very vague suggestions like "be gentle and loving" or to just let the child decide when it is right and let it happen "naturally". Sounds pretty vague. So, hopefully I've given enough details that my suggestions for being gentle and loving are actually helpful. If not, please ask for more details. Writing it out has helped me tremendously, so thank you! :)

I knew it was time to move on, I just had to listen to myself and do it. As it is so often important when mothering, follow your instincts. They will guide you the best way since they are coming from you. :)