Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

One of my favorite memories from growing up is Halloween.  Not the costumes, but the pumpkin carving.  Every year, we would carve pumpkins and my mom would soak the seeds and bake them for us with some salt. Not only are they delicious, but these seeds are high in zinc and magnesium, as well as being a decent protein source.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds
sea salt
optional: curry powder, lemon pepper, etc.

Place the seeds aside when carving your pumpkins.  Soak them in water with a sprinkle of salt for 30 minutes to overnight (this makes them easier to separate from the pulp and increases the nutrient availability to your body).  Separate the seeds from the pulp.

Preheat your oven to 325.  Lay the seeds on a cookie sheet.  You can oil the sheet, or use parchment paper or a silicon sheet if you wish.  Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  As an option, you can experiment with other flavors like pepper, curry powder, lemon pepper, or anything you like.  You could even do parts of the sheet in different flavors.  Make sure the seeds are in a single layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.  

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bee Sting Natural Remedies

This is a yellow jacket.  I was stung by a bee.  I was so shocked that I didn't take a photo.  One minute, I was sitting on the edge of the pool having a conversation.  The next moment, I looked at my inner arm and a bee had stung me and was flying away.  OUCH!  I took the stinger out right away, then doused the area with white vinegar.  It hurt, but nothing fabulous.  I have been stung before, and done this, then totally forgotten about the incident.

The next morning-- OUCH!  And itch!  And tight.  And red.  And it now covered an area about 8" long and 5" wide.  And it was swollen.  

I put some lavender and maleluca (tea tree) oils on it.  I went to my Bikram Yoga class and the sweat took my mind off of it, but it was still angry after class.  Later in the day, the itching got worse, so I tried the baking soda compress a yoga buddy suggested.  This was the first relieving thing I had done.  

But then the water dried out of the baking soda and it flaked off and I was still swollen and itchy.  It was hot, too.  I spent the rest of the evening with my cold pack and frozen popsicles, which were highly satisfying.  Another friend told me I must use Bendryl because I was having a severe reaction.  I continued with the ice and a Benadryl backup plan if it grew or if I got short of breath or dizzy. Then I finally tried peppermint oil, and only because I was sitting at a table with a bottle of it on the table and the label said, "cooling" and my arm was HOT.   Ahhhhh... It was really cooling.

I woke up the next day and it was still hot and swollen and I iced and used peppermint oil.  I saw a friend at school pickup who works in an ER I showed it to him and asked if I was okay.  He told me if I was breathing, I was okay, but should probably take Benadryl or call my doctor if I was concerned.  Someone else had suggested Purify by doTerra, which I happened to have because I had made a great bug repellent with it this summer (I forgot to post about it- here are some similar posts).  It is a mix of lemon, lime, pine, citronella, malaleuca and cilantro.  I spent the afternoon with Purify and Peppermint on my arm and the tingle and smell were so cooling and soothing to me that I stopped icing and the redness started to dwindle, as did the swelling and pain.  Right before bed, I iced it and put some aloe on it, which had been my cure-all for skin items in the past, and I seemed to have forgotten to do.

The next day is today and I woke up itchy and iced it and re-applied the Purify and Peppermint .  I have been using the Purify and Peppermint all day and have been watching it get smaller and less red.  It is down to less than 2" by 2" and is slightly annoying rather than totally consuming.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Essential Oils "Lice Away," "Focus Blend," and "Cootie Spray" by Nurse Freckles

This is information written by Nurse Freckles HERE. I am re-posting so I don't forget the recipes!!

Lice Stay Away Spray: I am sure at some point we have all received that letter that a child in school or day care has lice and you instantly start itching, my legs are tingling right now thinking about it! AHHHHHHHHH

Focus Blend:
Focus for any child at any age is important; we want those little sponges to soak up as much as they can while they are at school.  You can make a very simple mixture in a roller bottle to help them wake up and keep them focused while at school and after school for homework.

Cootie Spray:
Every time I send my kids to school or child care they almost always come home with a runny nose at some point.  Playing with other kids who sneeze and cough all over each other, putting random toys in their mouth that every other kid in the place has been sucking on already OR my kids favorite pass time picking their noses, any way you slice it, it is a cesspool of germs that they are carrying right back into our house! So for everyone’s health this is a really easy and non toxic hand sanitizer to make!
Good luck out there my peeps fighting the good fight from cooties and lice!
If you are looking to read about the differences in grades of essential oils go here, and safety here.
Disclaimer: This product does not intend to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent  any diseases.
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Kids' Art Idea: Painting Pumpkins!

If your kids are anything like mine, the moment they see a pumpkin at a store, it is game on.  They want pumpkins everywhere.  Trader Joe's? Pumpkin.  Farmer's Market? Pumpkin.  Target? Pumpkin.  Orchard Nursery? Pumpkin. I can't seem to go anywhere without a pumpkin display.

BUT-- it is also Indian Summer in Northern California.  That means you can't actually carve a pumpkin until a week out, at the most, from Halloween. It is (usually) in the 80's and 90's through late October so you never know what the weather is going to be on Halloween.  

So-- to keep those pumpkins fun (and not rotting from being carved too early), one good activity is painting.

Yes!  Paint those pumpkins.  You can paint them plain, or with faces, or dots, or multi-colored, or???

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recipe: Kim Chee

1 head napa cabbage, shredded
2 bunches red radishes or 1 large daikon radish, diced
4 carrots, diced
1 red onion or a bunch of spring onions with greens, diced
1 head garlic, peeled and smashed
1 small hand fresh garlic, peeled and diced small
3-6 fresh or dried red chilies, diced small
2 T red boat fish sauce
4 T sea salt or pickling salt

Combine ingredients.  Pound.  I like to use a meat mallet straight up and down, but you can use whatever works (there is actually a cabbage tamper made for this job).  You are trying to allow the salt to help the cabbage release its juices.

Let sit with a clean dish rag over the bowl for 1-3 hours.  Pound again.

Move into a fermenting crock or wide mouth mason jars.  This recipe fits a one gallon crock or two quart sized mason jars.  Fit a plate over the veggies in the crock, or a glass jar weight in the mason jars, then weigh it down with crock weights (or homemade crock rocks) in the crock, or a ziploc bag filled with brine (1T salt to 2 c water, dissolved) in the mason jar.  You need a weight because the veggies need to stay completely submerged in the liquid.  The plate then weight keeps them all tucked in.  You use a brine bag in the mason jar because it is hard to find a weight that fits (though you could find a rock, I'm sure, and clean it) and the bag could break so you would want brine, not water, to enter your fermenting food, if this were the case.

Move to an out-of-the-way spot in the kitchen (the cupboard or counter is fine) and cover with a clean cloth.  You can check it every so often (daily or less) to make sure the veggies are still submerged.  Taste it after a week to two weeks and move it into the refrigerator when the taste is satisfactory.  When moving it, change it into two mason jars with closed lids.

Will keep in the fridge for a year.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kids' Book Review: It's So Amazing!

This book, It's So Amazing, is so amazing!

It says the book is for ages seven and older, and has sister books for younger and older kids.  I read it to my older son when I was pregnant beginning when he was just under two and a half years old.  My younger son is now three years and three months old, and he is interested and engaged in the book (which is not the case for every book, as it was for my older son at this age).  I chose this book instead of the book for younger kids because I wanted more detail to answer their questions.  I also use the drawings as a jumping point for me to explain things, rather than reading all of the words.

This is a great book because it talks about how boys and girls are different, and what our body parts are called, and how they change throughout our lives.  I think it is important to give kids the words for the things they notice and are curious about and to normalize them.

It also discusses love and sex, and what eggs and sperm are, and what happens as and after they meet.  The kids love the real-size images of a fetus and fetus to-be.  The page with the actual birth description has nice images for explaining how a baby comes out of a mommy.  It even touches on the different gestation periods of different mammals, multiple births, adoptions, preemies, and "not-nice" touches.

Both boys, 3 and 6, are interested in this book.  The younger one thinks it is interesting that boys won't have babies inside them, and that they will always have a penis, and never a vagina.  The placenta, umbilical cord, and birth process are also interesting.  He wanted to see his baby pictures after reading it, then his brother's, then mine and his daddy's.

My older son likes the differences between the gestation periods of different animals, and loves the page with the fetus (and fetus to-be) at different stages and sizes.  Both enjoy learning that they will hit puberty someday, and seeing how their bodies will change.

This is an excellent staple for a young child's library.  It has given us a great framework for many discussions and helps the boys understand human bodies a little better.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Growing Trend of Home Winemaking in Lamorinda


Three years ago, Liz Kelly's daughter was born and she joined Muir Mommies.  One of the many benefits of the group was that husband Tom, who had recently been learning more and more about wines and wine culture, met another dad with a shared interest in wine who had been making it himself for several years.  

Time passed, and Tom decided to partner with his new friend on making his next batch, a Syrah.  The barrel is stored in his friend's Walnut Creek Garage, and is almost ready for bottling.

"He has a chemistry background," Kelly said, whose background is in product management and marketing, "which is incredibly useful for serious home wine making, especially during the fermentation.  We can take samples, and send them off, and he knows how to read the results and we can make changes."

Kelly has recently received a wine certification after finishing a 12-week course in San Francisco.  

"The program is set up for people who want to do wine education, and I want to do that: help educate people about world of wine- it is so infinite- there is no way anyone could know everything about it- and that's what is so fascinating," said Kelly, who starting educating himself when they moved to the bay area.  "The class got pretty deep on all wine regions of the world.  They are so different, with different grapes, styles, and processes."

Even with this new education, Kelly emphasized the importance of scientific knowledge in winemaking.

"Unless you go in, studying the science behind it, you are at a disadvantage," he said.  "You test [the wine] -- and things can happen, and if you know how to read the results, it's really helpful."  

When making their wine, Kelly and his friend researched their grapes, and purchased theirs from a vineyard on the Russian River.

At the Russian River vineyard when Tom Kelly's grapes were being picked last fall. 

"We rolled up in my truck, looking for a half a ton of grapes," Kelly said.  "Typically most commercial wineries won't sell grapes to someone that small.  We were one of 15 or 20 ventures buying from them- and everyone gets the same short notice they are picking- and his staff of pickers goes through the field and you can go with them- or wait- while your buckets are filled."

They chose to buy grapes from that specific vineyard on the Russian River because, "it's impossible to make good wine with bad grapes.  Most of the magic happens in the vineyard."

Anne Cole, second from left, at their First Crush.  
Another Moraga resident, Anne Cole, can be found in her air conditioned shed with her barrels of aging wine.  That is, when she is not teaching group fitness at 24 Hour Fitness or with her children or partner David Eikel.  Eikel is also her winemaking partner and, though she lives on a vineyard, they buy grapes.

"I also have a vintner." Cole explained a vintner is a mentor for winemaking.  She said that when she and her ex-husband bought they property, they intended to make wine, and she started learning then. 

But last year was her first year actually making wine, and she bought 1,400 pounds of grapes and has two barrels that are nearly ready to bottle.  She is going to name the Syrah Damn Good Cookie and the Cabernet Sisters of Steel in honor of her girlfriends from her group fitness Bodypump class who helped her with the press and bottling.

"You are the most popular person on the block when you are making wine," Cole said with a laugh.  "The alcohol is already present." 

Additionally, Cole said she loves caring for the grapes, tasting the wine and noticing how it changes in the oak.
Cole and Eikel doing their First Crush.
Her vintner is Christopher Lynch, whom she met because their children are classmates at Bentley.  He explained they use semi-neutral, or slightly aged, oak barrels because they don't want too much of the flavor of the barrel to get into the wine, though it depends on the variety of wine you are making.

"You could [age the wine] in a glass carboy," Lynch said.  This is a five gallon growler style jug with an airlock. "I started with those when I started making wine eight years ago in my basement in Oakland, but moved up in the world to barrels because they let a little air in and a little air out.  This improves the flavor as well."

Lynch's business is helping home winemakers start making wine.  He calls it Temescal Creek and charges a flat fee to mentor you in your winemaking cycle for a year.  This includes the grapes and equipment, as well as his knowledge.  

"And I prefer to be called a Garagiste," Lynch said. "It's the garage winemaking [yeast] movement."  With a French accent, it is a word play on garage-yeast.  Lynch continued,  "We make wine in the garage.  The garage is a good temperature for fermentation, punching the cap, and then pressing the wine.  I store wine in my basement since that temperature is more consistent.  Though you could store it anywhere." 

In addition to being a winemaker, Lynch studies oenology and viticulture at UC Davis.  Lynch recommends a chemistry for winemakers class for any budding winemakers.  The Lamorinda Wine Growers Association is another resource.  Though Lynch's best advice?

"Call me.  I'll do it with you."

In addition to the DIY appeal of making wine at home, Lynch's student Cole says she wants to be able to control what's in the wine.  

"My wine is natural. I don't want chemicals or additives in it," Cole said.  "Producing a natural product is important for me.  For example, there is sediment on the barrel because it's been sitting for a year.  I won't filter the wine- the tannins in the bottom are good for the wine- they are tasty- some people even put them on cheese."

"I am also making a by-product - sugar scrubs - from my wine. It smells like the grapes- not alcohol," said Cole.  "I also want to dry the skins with the seeds and make flour."

Cole said winemaking is fun and that everyone should try it.  Her kids, 9 and 11, help by pressing, helping to top the barrels off, and helping to put nitrogen on top of the wine in the barrels.  They also punched the grapes while fermenting and will soon help with the bottling.

Tom Kelly after they finished pressing the grapes.
Kelly thinks that when his daughter, now 3, is older, she will be able to help by stirring the barrel and pushing down on the grapes. 

"It's a cool experience," said Kelly of winemaking.  "I want to keep doing it."

"Some people paint," said Lynch, who has continued to make his own wines in his basement in addition to his vintner duties.  "This is my art."

As an urban vintner, Christopher Lynch labels his wine by hand.

HOW WINE IS MADE AT HOME (THE STYLE OF WINE WHICH IS AGED IN A BARREL AND MADE AFTER PURCHASING GRAPES)~my summary,with many thanks to Christopher Lynch, Anne Cole, Tom Kelly and ye olde Internet~

  1. Decide on what kind of wine you are making.
  2. Order your grapes in July.
  3. Pick up your grapes between September and November.  The exact timing depends on the vineyard.  As harvest gets closer, the vineyards are measuring the grapes for sugar content and acidity daily.  They will give you one to three days' notice.
  4. Use a crusher/ de-stemmer to take the stems out and split the grapes. *Note: you can rent or purchase all equipment at More Beer! in Concord or Oak Barrel Winecraft in Berkeley.
  5. If you are making a red wine, add the yeast into the bucket, and stir it.  Then punch it down multiple times daily for ten days (it will get bigger like bread when it rises).  This is called fermenting.  Then press it with a wine press. Barrel it for a year or more. Bottle it.  You can taste it or take samples to send away at any point (During fermentation, your samples will help you make changes.  When it is in the barrel, your samples will help you determine when it can be bottled). 
  6. If you are making a white wine, press before fermenting, and then continue otherwise.
  7. There are many ways to make a rose.  One is to let it sit for three to four hours, then press it and continue otherwise (since the color of the wine comes from the skin of the grape).  Another way is to bleed some off of a red a few weeks into its aging and bottle it as a rose then.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Preschooler Book Recommendations

  • The fishermen and the turtle - lovely story set in Aztec time with beautiful illustrations
  • The ox cart man - another timeless tale, nice word repetition
  • Dick and jane: we play outside - many stories inside a larger book. This one has grown with us- we started by not saying the works- just telling the story, and my older son is now learning to read and I say the words now but the preschooler still likes the story
  • My first Spanish number book - another one where you can read the words or not- and they can "read" it to themselves as well.  Good introduction to number concepts.
  • The lion and the mouse by jerry pinkney - no words- only beautiful illustrations for a fable worth telling
  • Diggers and Dump Trucks
  • Ships and boats
  • The king the mice and the cheese - one of my favorites from childhood my children also love. 
  • Click clack moo - nice word rhythm and a funny story. imaginative and cute.
  • Caps for Sale - another I loved as a child my children also like.  can stand for an enthusiastic reader.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - imaginative within a familiar context.
  • Blueberries for Sal 
  • The Little Lamb - real photos instead of drawings.

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    Friday, September 12, 2014

    Kids' Project Idea: One Sheet Plywood Boat

    We were looking for a boat that we could build ourselves and came across and his great video.

    As you can see, it takes him ten and a half minutes to make a boat.

    I did not quite explain the subtleties of camera cutting to my older child (now 6), who watched this with me and decided this boat was something we could do.  We are good at rough carpentry, and not that great at finish work.  This looked like it was just up our alley.

    So we made a materials list and went to Home Depot.  We managed to get help loading the sheet of plywood both into the cart and onto the car, so we were off to a strong start.

    We encountered some difficulty when it took me over an hour to clean silicon caulk off my hands (I missed that part of the video where he says to wear gloves, and I am not great at caulking to start with).  But we perservered, and even set the trim.

    My son noted that Gardenfork was a lot quicker at this boat building business than we were.  I then explained video cutting and time lapse and saw the light bulb go off in his head.  We let the caulk dry and called it a day.

    Priming was messy business with three kids around (we babysat a neighbor kid that afternoon), and I lagged in motivation to do the final coats.  The boat sat for a week.

    Then we got too annoyed at it in the driveway and did a coat one day.  Then another coat the next day.  Then we did touch up paint.  

    Then the stickers my son made went on~ one said the boat name and the other two were the registration tags~ and we added hooks for the deck hands and the rope.

    Then he had to design and make a rolling cart to move the boat.

    And it worked to get the boat to the nearest body of water.

    And it was deemed seaworthy!

    The little deckhand did his job.

    And it was even sturdy enough to be a stand up paddle board.

    This was a fun project.  It was a bit slippery inside for me when it was my turn for a ride, but I went barefoot.  Those tub strips for babies might be a good addition.

    The boat got a little scraped up on the pool edges, so we have some tires laying around and are going to make some bumpers for it.  I also need to talk him out of trying to get it to a reservoir/ lake and using it there.

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    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    Chapter Book Recommendations as Child Gets Older (non-reader in Kindergarten)

    1. Anything by Shel Silvestein or Dr. Seuss merely for the language and rhythms
    2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
    3. Snow Leopard (Jackie Morris) 
    4. Treasure Island (RL Stevenson)
    5. The Ramona series (Beverly Cleary) 
    6. The Little Prince (St. Exupery) 
    7. James and the Giant Peach + others by Roald Dahl
    8. Mr. Popper's Penguins - A real classic for a child!
    9. How the Elephant Got its Trunk.   
    10. Diary of a Worm
    11. OOPS!  (Alan Katz)  
    12. ANYTHING by Judy Blume;  The Fudge series 
    13. Stuart Little
    14. Indian in the Cupboard books
    15. Winnie the Pooh
    16. The House at Pooh Corner
    17. Charlotte's Web
    18. Magic School Bus Series
    19. Magic Tree House Series
    20. The Lemonade War
    21. My Father's Dragon Series
    22. The Borrowers
    23. Nate the Great
    24. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    25. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    26. The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)
    27. Pippi Longstocking
    28. Mary Poppins
    29. Swamp Scouts - good but LONG
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid Magic School Bus Books Pin It


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