Saturday, March 31, 2012

Make your Own Wheatgrass

This is on our windowsill from preschool.  It is an old strawberry container lined with plastic wrap.  There is a bit of dirt in the plastic wrap, and a handful of wheat berries that have sprouted.  We have been told to mist it daily.
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Friday, March 30, 2012

My Babies look the Same!

They are both 9+ months old in these photos.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Recipe: Leek and Beet Fritatta Muffins with Green Garlic

One of the best lessons of Baby-Led Weaning: make foods that baby can easily hold and manouever.  These not only fit that criteria, but are delicious.  Anything in a muffin shape are also easy to take with you and feed preschoolers or yourself!  No need to cut portion sizes later.

These are also a nice way to hide some leeks if you have an abundance, which we did in our CSA box last week.  Also, I LOVE green garlic!

Leek and Beet Fritatta Muffins with Green Garlic

6 eggs, cracked and mixed with a pinch of sea salt
1 bunch red beets, peeled and diced
1 bunch golden beets, peeled and diced
3 leeks, white parts only, cut into 6 lengthwise then sliced thin (basically just diced)
1 stem green garlic, quartered and diced
1 bunch green onions, diced and separated into whites and greens
2 cups fresh spinach, diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, diced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, diced
3 T fat (either butter or leftover chicken or turkey fat)

Saute leeks in fat in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  When they are golden/ translucent, add garlic.  Then add beets and whites of green onions.  Add spinach and cover briefly to allow to wilt.  Add herbs.  Remove from heat.

Temper the eggs into the vegetables by taking a scoop of the veggies and putting them into the eggs and stirring, then adding another scoop, then putting the egg/ veggie mixture into the vegetables.

Divide mixture into a dozen muffin cups (lined if not using a silicon baking tin).  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman

This is how describes the book: In THE BLOOD SUGAR SOLUTION, Dr. Mark Hyman reveals that the secret solution to losing weight and preventing not just diabetes but also heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer is balanced insulin levels. Dr. Hyman describes the seven keys to achieving wellness-nutrition, hormones, inflammation, digestion, detoxification, energy metabolism, and a calm mind-and explains his revolutionary six-week healthy-living program. With advice on diet, green living, supplements and medication, exercise, and personalizing the plan for optimal results, the book also teaches readers how to maintain lifelong health. Groundbreaking and timely, THE BLOOD SUGAR SOLUTION is the fastest way to lose weight, prevent disease, and feel better than ever.

I was planning on writing something about this book, then saw that, and thought I couldn't say it any better!  Here is Dr. Hyman's website, which he describes as having an abundance of information but I actually found a bit unwieldy. 

I think it is so important for us all to know that we can change our health based on how we eat.  But it is also so hard, especially when we are "addicted" to sugar and white flour.  Dr. Hyman also understands this, and his program is designed to help us overcome this and actually get healthy.  

What I find most interesting about Dr. Hyman is the amount of books he has that generally espouse the same thing.  But he markets them to different people.  He angles to those for an UltraMind, or UltraMetabolism, or UltraThyroid, or, now, for Diabesity.  He keeps saying his same message but marketing it to a different segment of the population.  I also find it interesting that he calls this nutrigenomics, or the science of customizing nutrition for each person, but then the recommendations for each customization are so similar.

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Too Big for Baby Enclosure

 Baby is now 9 1/2 months old.  We were at a friend's house and the cement outside was cold, and Baby wanted down.

Our solution was to set him inside the friend's baby enclosure.

He kept hitting his head on the soft bar, and touching this oddity above him.

 Needless to say, this lasted all of about 4 minutes (the activity).  But baby toys have such nice colors!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Forks Over Knives, the documentary

This documentary is billed as a film that can save your life.  I agree.  Especially if you have had little to no exposure to some of the new nutritionism books and studies, or the work of the Weston Price Foundation.
synopsis t colin campbell farm Synopsis

I also agree with his message.  With one caveat. You need to eat meat!  The film repeats that those who eat "a whole foods plant based diet" live better and longer and that could be misconstrued as an argument to be vegan. I wish that they would have had a bit more about the need to keep a little bit of meat and fish in the diet.

synopsis group at dinner Synopsis
How the message is presented is also really well done.  They use graphs and interviews, and the filmmaker even uses himself as going and trying this and having his own cancer risk go down as an illustration of how a "whole foods plant based diet" can be beneficial.

This is worth seeing, and worth showing to those you love!

Check out more about it on the documentary's website.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Spring!

Tree planting time!
And the chicks are getting to be teenagers (pullets).  This is a bad photo because they run away from me all the time~ I can't get any closer!
Here are the asparagus and the winter veggies... plus some peas in the corner. We picked 3 peas today!
The grape hyacinth are up.
And the blueberries are blossoming.
The first iris!
Even the little fig tree is getting leaves.  I took this cutting from my neighbor's tree two summers ago.  It lived in a vase for a year and went into dirt last year.  Maybe we will put it in the ground later this year.
Here is the new tree about to go in.

Happy Spring!
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pattern Review: Easy Linen Shirt from Sewing for Boys

This is another cute and easy project from Sewing for Boys (the book).  I made this for my large 3.75 year old (he is growing out of his 4T clothes these days) in a size 4/5 out of the bottom of my neighbor's curtains. Love upcycling!  And love this fabric.  It feels like linen but is a bit thicker. I love how neutral it is (especially since I tend to the, uh, wilder side in pant fabrics).

I liked how easy it was to make.  The directions glide you right along.  I only got stumped on the seam finishing in the recommended way: they guide you to an appendix then I had trouble sorting out how to do the recommended finish by following the directions in the appendix.  I love the detail along the front of the shirt.  I also love how all the seams are meant to be enclosed.

I did not love the fit (again- haven't had great luck so far in the book, actually).  The body length and width are right, but the sleeves are a bit long.  My son actually thought the whole thing was a bit big, and kept poking at the space at the open neck until we put a t-shirt under it.

All in all, like it.  Will make it again.  Recommend it.
The pants are the Treasure Pocket Pants from the book.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's Hummus Time!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Pattern Review: Asymetrical Hipster Hoodie from Running with Scissors

Nice job, Ms. Running with Scissors.  You say this is your first pattern-for-sale and I liked it a lot.  It is called the Asymmetrical Hipster Hoodie (here is the Hoodie Pattern) and it is adorable.  I started by making two: one for the little guy and one for the big guy.

They are both upcycled from old shirts, a Logitech shirt, a friend's old pink hood, and some new Michael Miller knit fabric.  I didn't do the sleeve hem on either one because I cut the sleeves from the edge of the old shirts, keeping the original hems.

The pattern itself was a huge pain to cut out after printing, and that was my biggest beef with the whole thing.  It took a lot of desk space to lay it out, then match the pieces, then there were a bunch of little pieces that weren't marked, so you really did have to lay the whole thing out before cutting, as she states.

But her directions are clear and the shirt is fairly quick to stitch together, and it is adorable.

I added piping in her contrast band, and like how it looks.

This one is the 18-24 mo size and it fits my 9 month old, who is currently in size 12-18 month shirts.  It was even a bit tight over his noggin.  The hood stitching directions could have been more clear, and I ended up sorting out that both of the longer hood ends should end up in the seam itself, otherwise they end up showing.

The larger one is size 3T for my 3.5 year old.  I lengthened the arms by about 4" when making it (I decided to do this by holding the pattern up to his arm and seeing where it cut off on him).  He thinks the pocket is nice, and likes the piping.

I think the pattern is cute and useful, and easy enough to follow and use.  I just need to watch the neck width, which she reminds you of in the directions.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Short Sleeve Raglan Tee as Upcycled Long Sleeve from Sewing for Boys

These are both made from old man's shirts.  I love upcycling and haven't done much of it lately.  Making the first shirt reignited my interest.

I made these both using the short sleeve raglan tee pattern from the book Sewing for Boys.

I love how the green one turned out, and the white one is cute but way too small.  The blue one fits, but is a bit tight in the arms in loose in the neck.

I have modified the sizing, though, and am still working on it.  I made these for my big 3 1/2 year old.  The green and white are in size 2/3 with an extra 4" added to the bottom length.  I chose that size and adding length to the bottom because I have made a few other projects in the book and the tops have been wide and short.  My modified size was too tight in the arms and good on length.  So I went up a size with the blue one and it was still too tight in the arms and the length was ok (I added 2" to the pattern) and the body was a little narrow.

The white one didn't fit over his head.  The green one did, but you can see that I kept some of the original details of the green shirt.  It was a biking shirt with a zipper in front and pockets in back.  For the collar of the blue one, I kept the original t-shirt collar and stitched it onto the shirt.  I could have (should have??) taken it in a bit, but I wanted to make sure it would fit over his head.  He doesn't mind that it is a bit loose but I want to do a better/ sharper job next time.

One of my favorite parts about upcycling is keeping some details from the original shirts.  I love how the upcycled aspect of the green one turned out.  I kept the sleeves as sleeves, and the back bottom as the bottom, so it didn't need to be hemmed at all.  The pattern actually doesn't call for hemming, which I don't like the look of, so it is convenient to use pre-finished pieces.  

When making the white shirt, I wanted to keep the bottom hem as well, so the pattern of the shirt ended up on the sleeves a bit as well as the body.

In making the blue one, I also tried to keep the bottom hem, so the pattern which was originally on the front and back of the t-shirt ended up on both sleeves.  I really like it there, and I like how the sleeves go to the neckline because it pulls the pattern of the original shirt up much higher.

As far as the pattern itself, other than my sizing issues, I found it easy to use.  It was marked "beginner" and I found it mostly easy.  I don't like exposed seams, so I did them in reverse.  I found the stitching in the tunnel of the arm difficult, so I didn't do it that way.  I instead reinforced my seams my finishing them in my usual way on the inside (with a zig-zag as a faux serge).  

The collar is easy enough as well, which really does make this mostly a beginner-suitable project.  I really wanted to make it in a smaller size for my 9-month old, and was a bit miffed it didn't go below size 2/3.

 All in all, this was a fine project.  I may try it again, for lack of a better t-shirt pattern.  But I do need to modify it to fit better.  My next pass will have wider arms and a shorter collar. I will keep the additional 2" length.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Bikram Yoga Journey (Including through Pregnancy)

"You never forget your first Bikram Yoga class," is what they say. I wholeheartedly agree. My first class was the beginning of a life without back, knee, elbow, or foot pain, and with increased overall health and vitality. That class took me out of the gym and the chiropractor's office, and into a hot and humid room four nights per week.

How fitting that my first class was on Valentine's Day two years ago, and I remember so many details of the first class and first week: how I wore a tank top over my sports bra and took it off because the heat trumped modesty, and my nonperfect figure was in good company. I remember being motivated to stay and practice not by the skinny lady in front who could stand on one leg while touching her head to the other knee mid-air but by the grey-haired couple next to me in the back row. I thought the breathing exercise at the beginning looked silly, but the entire room was participating, and with gumption. I jumped right in. The teacher kept calling me by name and correcting me, and I bumbled along.

After class, other students congratulated me. I felt amazing. I am sure I was glowing.  

Then I woke up the next day and couldn't walk.

Nor could I walk the day after.

The teacher had said to come back the next day, but I couldn't fathom it. But I had paid for my unlimited trial period, and wanted to at least try one more class.  Four days had passed, and I went back.

"Teacher," I said. "My sciatic nerve pain was immense after my first class. This is my second and final try. Please help me do this properly, and be able to walk, or I can't come back."

He was amazing. This time, he encouraged me to take it easy for that class, and the next few classes. He pointed out where my alignment could be improved. I made it through, and could walk the next day. I was hooked.

I learned that Bikram Choudhury was a yogi in India. He learned from a renowned guru and together they saw patients and cured them of illnesses with different yoga poses. Their practice got so popular that they couldn't keep up. Bikram started seeing multiple patients at once,  realizing that many illnesses could be cured by the same postures.

He went about creating a series of postures, when done properly and sequentially, work to strengthen and heal every bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, and system of the body. When performed daily (except Sundays), this 90-minute open-eyed moving meditation is good for everyone and for every ailment - past, present, and future.

He copyrighted his brainstorm and started classes. They were so popular that he taught his series to other teachers, and they say his exact words ("the dialogue") in a room heated to his prescribed temperate and humidity (105 degrees and 40% humidity) and designed as he specified (carpeted with lines across it and mirrors in front). Supposedly you hear what you are ready to hear when you need it. The heat helps open your body. The carpet keeps you stable. The mirrors and carpet lines allow you to be your own best teacher and correct yourself. Repeating the same postures allows you to try your best, in the correct way, to get all the benefits of each pose.

I also learned that if you can't commit to daily practice, it is recommended to go daily for 60 days, then back off to as often as possible, but at least three days per week. For me, four days per week keeps my back pain away (I have a herniated disk at L5/ S1 which happened after the birth of my first), and I haven't thought of my knee issues (multiple ACL and MCL tears) or foot or elbow pain in ages (I used to ache on the outside of one foot after running, and my elbow clicked).

I continued my practice while pregnant with my second, who was born naturally at the hospital after a three hour labor (for reference, I kick boxed then did the elliptical, weights, and prenatal yoga with my first, who was born naturally with a shot of morpheine and an eight hour labor). I was at Birkam Yoga the day before delivery, and back in class ten days later.

For prenatal Bikram Yoga, Bikram's wife Rajashree developed a series of postures which modify the regular series and is to be done for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. She developed these in conjunction with an MD. All the teachers are versed in the modifications and there is a DVD to watch to learn them.

When I got pregnant, I had been practicing at Bikram Yoga Walnut Creek. I had been practicing for almost a year, and enjoying the studio and my practice immensely. The studio is clean and convenient, and the teachers are knowledgeable and helpful. They start and finish on time, and are always available before and after class.  They follow Bikram's protocols and I felt myself improving under their guidance. The other students are serious about their Yoga practice, but friendly and nice to be around.

I told the studio owner I was pregnant and she was enthusiastic and helpful. She established that I had been practicing long enough, and allowed me to continue coming. Between her and the other instructors, I learned the modifications and was able to continue four days per week. They had me sit by the door (it's cooler there), and I feel like they kept an eye on me.

The hardest part about practicing while pregnant was modifying the floor series. This is the part where the modifications look completely different than what the rest of the class is doing, as they are on their bellies for this part. Part of the healing and motivation of Bikram is in moving in sync with the class. In doing something different, the dialogue didn't apply to me, and I had to think about my actions rather than following the directions.  As such, the difficulty of this section came from moving out of sync rather than the motions themselves.  My heartburn was also a bother, but about mid-pregnancy I changed my diet to remove acidic and spicy foods, and this made it easier.  

I didn't have an issue with the heat or sweat while pregnant, and kept reminding anyone who questioned me that people have babies in hot climates.  From my research about pregnancy and exercise I had done with my first pregnancy, namely reading the work of James Clapp, I knew that exercise was essential, and that I had to do what my body would consider "hard" at least 3 days per week for at least 30 minutes per session to reap the benefits.  Clapp also says that it is not exercise that can be bad for you, it is dehydration.  The Bikram teachers also told me to drink lots and lots of water.

When my baby was born, I was so grateful for my practice.  I am actually grateful for it every day, since going to Bikram Yoga allows me to have full reign of my body so I can keep up with my babies!  
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tutorial: Adding Pockets to Vest

This is the Kwik Sew 2911 vest modified to use a hood instead of a collar.  It is size 3T and has gotten a LOT of use.  It has fit from about 18 mo and my son is almost 4 years old now.

At the time I made it, he had no interest in pockets.  So I didn't add the pockets from the pattern.

But now items without pockets get a lot less use than those with pockets.

So I needed to add pockets.  Here is what I did:

  1. Find your material. You only need two squares, each measuring the width of one side of the vest and a third as high.
  2. Cut them on a curve.

3. Add foldover elastic as binding to the end where the hand will go in.  You could also use binding, or hem it.

4. Pin the pockets to the vest front.  Turn under an edge, and stitch the curved and flat ends to the vest front.  Make sure you backstitch a few extra times, as the opening gets a lot of wear and tear.

5. Voila!
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Baby Food: Onion Soup

I made "onion gravy" and the baby LOVED it (it is in the cup holder).

It is really just onion soup: caramelized onions boiled in bone broth then pureed.  He goes crazy for it. It's quite amazing.  His hands and spoons dip right in...
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nursing Reminder Tools and Baby Timer Review

Some breastfeeding mothers can tell which side they are on without an external reminder.  I am not one of those mothers.  I know the importance of switching sides, and starting each nursing session on the other side (keeps milk production balanced).  So I need a little help.

I use a thick band ring (like this or this) I have that I switch from side to side.  When I nurse, I choose the side with the ring on my hand.  When I start nursing, I switch the ring to the other side.

Other moms have other methods of keeping track of where to begin.  You can clip a safety pin to your bra, or these pretty mama jewels.  You could also use any bracelet, or the ones made for this purpose.  There are a number of rubber bracelets on the market for this.  They come with sliders on them for marking the time and you switch them from wrist to wrist.  The trouble is they are rubber, and, for me,  I don't want things on my wrist, especially for a number of months/ years, and especially a thick rubber bracelet.  I love my ring on my hand from side to side.  On my left hand, my index finger is the same size as my right hand ring finger.

I also use the Itsbeen Baby Timer to help me track baby.  I use the baby timer to count up, although it also has a feature where you can set it to flash or buzz an alarm after a set amount of time has passed.  I find it incredibly useful to know how much time has passed since baby started nursing, or fell asleep/ woke up, peed, or pooped.  It is set with buttons for sleeping, feeding, diaper, and wildcard.  When I pumped the first few weeks, I used the wildcard "*" button to time the length of the pumping sessions.  It was great for that purpose as well, because the lights were always visible.  There are smart phone apps that have baby timers, but the screen goes dark after a few minutes.  With Itsbeen, you can always see the time moving.  Another feature I like is the little light that goes on but lights it up in blue.  This is nice at night because it isn't too bright.  It also has a clock, although sometimes, and especially at the beginning, how long it has been since something happened is far more important than where you are on the 24-hour clock of a day.


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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tutorial: Long Sleeved Pullover into Sleep Sack

Measure up old pullover (this one is a size too big) against the right sized sleep sack.  The  yellow Cal fleece here is a remnant; I was measuring it to see if I had enough.

Right sides together, stitch extra fleece into a tube the same width as pullover.  Cut off extra.
Right sides together, stitch tube to pullover (in this photo, I turned the pullover inside out and tucked the fleece tube inside of it).
Make another tube.  Cut pullover and stitch tube to both sides.  This is just to make the pattern repeating (it is for fashion- not function).

Turn inside out and stitch bottom closed.  You will now have a closed sleep sack pullover.

If you are afraid of zippers, you could use a toggle and make a casing and thread it through, or use elastic.  I think this would only work with babies who aren't pulling up, since they may be more likely to keep their feet in.  I decided to do a zipper because we are used to using zippers and they aren't that hard.  I wanted to make sure my baby's little feet will stay warm at night!
Choose a separating zipper that is at least 3/4 of the length of the sleep sack, and preferably longer.

Cut the sleep sack down the middle in front as long as the zipper. 
Right sides together, stitch the zipper to both sides of the front.  As you stitch, make sure the  horizontal lines match up and the top matches up.  Do one side, the the other, then the bottom.

Set your stitch length a bit long (I use 3.5) and topstitch the zipper into place.
Cut little triangles to use to soften the top edges of the zipper.
Stitch the triangles over the top of the zipper to protect baby's neck and chin from the zipper's edges.
All done!
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