Hippie Is So Five Minutes Ago

A hippie in the making; Caera has it all.

I learned a new term today. Crunchy Mom

According to the Urban Dictionary, Crunchy Mom is a member of an increasingly growing group of moms who are neo-hippies.

Meaning a mom who breastfeeds her children, raises them herself, uses cloth diapers or a sling, and horrors upon horrors, home schools her children.

Although my middle daughter, Sarah, used a hospital, she chose to go with a mid-wife. She felt the care was more personal and met her needs.

Why is just being a mom so looked down upon? Doesn’t society realize that children raised by a parent instead of an underpaid, overworked “caregiver” are much better adjusted and behaved?!

I was ahead of my time. Long before the term crunchy mom came on the scene, I breastfed my children, was a stay at home mom and home schooled them. I think they look pretty happy and well-adjusted.

My mother breastfed all four of her children (economics and in the 50’s that is what normal women did). I breastfed my girls and they in turn fed theirs the same way. The only exception was that my oldest was allergic to everything and I caved to society and started her on formula – might she have been healthier if I hadn’t?

The Urban Dictionary goes on to say that you may be a crunchy mom if:

…bake all your own bread
…make your own jam, jelly, pickles, applesauce, etc.
…gave birth at home — by CHOICE! (With a midwife, doula, or unassisted!)
…prefer to teach your children yourself at home instead of letting the public or private schools do it for you.
…grow your own food as much as possible, and buy the rest at farmer’s markets or health food stores.
…are vegan or vegetarian.
…choose not to use birth control.
…don’t wear a bra or shoes.
…don’t use shampoo or soap, but instead maybe sea salt or a variety of other things.  (make your own instead of the chemically based products)
…had your placenta chopped up for an anti-depressant pill or smoothie.
…have no television in your home — and actually read BOOKS for entertainment!
…grind your own grain to make your own bread with (did you know that wheat looses about 90% of it’s nutrients within 7 days of being ground?)
…don’t cut your hair or wear pants (not going around half-naked, but wearing skirts! Silly people! Get your mind out of the gutter!)

Some of the above mentioned traits are due to religious beliefs, others are hold-overs from the 70’s, but most of them are about being healthier and happier.

Who knew being a mom would be considered radical.

When my oldest granddaughter, Isabelle, got cancer, her mom, Rebekah, didn’t have to take a leave of absence from work, because she chose long before to raise her own children. And she didn’t have to make countless trips to a school to get missed assignments because Isabelle is home schooled. It made the stress of the disease much easier to deal with.


Weekly Photo Challenge 1: Urban

Well, I am attempting to join into the Weekly Photo Challenge; and what would the first challenge be for this country girl? Urban; we are supposed to show what the city looks like in our neck of the woods. Well, my neck of the woods looks like, well woods. You got it, I’m a country girl and although we do have some pretty awesome “urban” areas about 25-30 miles away, I don’t currently have any city shots loaded on my new Mac. (I had over 11,o00 on my pc, but it died and took those photos with it) Not to worry, I do have them all backed up, but they are just not on this computer. And, considering I’m dedicating this week to cleaning my horribly messy workshop (wood, not photos), I don’t have time to look through thousands of backup discs to find city pics. Besides, I’m getting in on this kind of in the middle, so I will we will have to “make do.”

So, I figured I would show you what it looks like around here, just southwest of OCK, OK.

wherever you go this time of year, you can always see row after row of round bales. My favorite time of day is sunup.

Barbed wire and hay pretty much sums up my “urban” area.

The big attraction to my Urban area are the country roads, and more specifically, what artistic treasure I can find on it. Also, my grandchildren are often with me when we visit a local park, sporting event or the sprinkler in my front yard .

I love this old forgotten home surrounded by equally forgotten wild miniature roses.

Our little city recently installed a really cool “urban-like” playground. My second grandson, MacKenzie, shows everyone how “its” done.

Children don’t care about the game, just how much popcorn they can hold in their baseball glove.

Who needs a concrete SprayPark when grandma’s sprinkler is so fun. Owen and Ethan being cousins.

Another really cool thing about living outside of the city, is getting to visit all other cities have to offer, like the Natural History Museum in Norman or the aquarium in Jinks. Again, my grands always seem to take center stage in these shots as well.

My grands are a bit on the Hammy side. They love to pose for the perfect dramatic shot like this one at the Sam Noble Natural History Museum.

My grandson Ethan Danger was caught totally off guard when this puffer fish happened into the shot at the Aquarium in Jinks, OK.

And of course there are the sunrises and sunsets that are simply spectacular in the country away from city lights. Nowhere in a large metropolitan can you see and image of a sunrise unblocked by man-made structures and telephone wires! Don’t get me wrong, I love architecture and the art found in cities (especially doors and windows), but this is what my “city” looks like, I hope you enjoyed coming along with me for a taste of country.

Nothing but sky. 🙂

Okay, I acquiescenced and found one truly Urban shot. It was taken at sunset from my granddaughter Isabelle’s hospital room. Urban sunsets are pretty too. 🙂

Isabelle was in the hospital for over five months getting cured of cancer. This was one of her favorite sights.

Not So Humane

I had a thought last night.

If we spay and neuter all cats and dogs, won’t we one day run out of them?

I was thinking about this looking at my teeny tiny kitten who was neutered way too early by the Humane Society! Won’t this hurt him? Won’t it stunt his growth? He seems very frail and can’t even eat his kitten chow; I had to get him some kitten soft food, so he wouldn’t starve. The papers that came with his adoption claim that he is two months old. I’ve had a lot of kittens and this ones doesn’t look that old, perhaps five to six-weeks, but not eight. He doesn’t even play like most kittens at this age; in fact all he does is sleep and sometimes cry. He also is always trying to lick/nuzzle my nose or mouth looking for something to latch onto.

This was Thunder’s first photo on the way home from the animal shelter. He was so calm, he didn’t have to ride in his carrier. He was so tiny and after a week, still is.

According to catchannel.com, research shows that healthy kittens can be safely neutered at 6 weeks, or as soon as they weigh 2 pounds. Referred to as early-age, pediatric, or pre-pubertal spay/neuter, the procedure eliminates any chance of an “oops litter,” since female cats can become pregnant as young as 4 months of age.

At eight plus weeks, Thunder Bolt should be a ball of furry fury; instead all he does is sleep.

I was halted on the sentence 6-weeks or as soon as they weigh two pounds. Well, my sweet little ball of Thunder (I named him that because it was thundering and storming when we got him, and he is silver grey. Plus he was wearing a Thunder OKC blue collar), barely weight 8 ounces. So, even if he did meet the age requirement, he was certainly no where near the weight requirement.

I believe in being responsible and I understand why the shelters do this (because people won’t bring their pets back in even though they have already paid for it), but is it safe? Is it healthy? I have to say no, it is not safe or humane.

He is still wobbly like a new born.

The ASPCA website says this about this controversial subject: No conclusive controlled studies have ever been done to determine the best age to neuter dogs and cats. On the other hand, current research does show that spaying before the first heat prevents the development of mammary gland tumors. Since females can go into heat as young as four months of age, they should be spayed before then to receive that protection. Early-age, or pediatric, neutering is currently performed on animals who are six to eight weeks of age and who weigh at least two pounds.

Again, there is that two-pound rule. Granted a younger than six week old puppy may weigh two pounds, but not kittens. I’ve had him for about a week, and he just now may weigh in at two pounds (that’s two cans of soup). But he had been neutered well before we adopted him as there was no sign of healing on his little backside.

The ASPCA site went on to state: Unfortunately, despite the new studies, the controversy continues—and many veterinarians are still very hesitant to try pediatric neutering. Concerns about obesity, stunted growth, underdevelopment of secondary sex characteristics, behavioral problems and increased incidence of both lower urinary tract disease and urinary incontinence have been addressed in the veterinary literature and found to be unwarranted. Any differences that have been found appear to have no clinical significance, or occur regardless of the age at neutering.

I have always had my pets fixed; not just because I don’t want unwanted litters, but with male cats, it keeps down the spraying and wandering. I know the Humane Society wants to control the animal population, and in doing so, the amount of animals that have to be put down everyday, but I think we are trading one cruelty for another.

This is just my opinion.

In spite of it all, he is adorable and very sweet, but I can’t stop wondering if he is going to have problems down the line?

And again, I wonder if we will ever come to a day when there are no viable adults animals to reproduce offspring? Then we will have an over abundance of rats, mice and other pests!

I love reading Stuff I Tell My Sister, it makes me feel like this is my childhood, my adventure, my road trip . . . Paula’s latest road trip took me to my own repurposing adventures with bowling balls. I have started creating garden gazing balls with these durable castoffs; so naturally, I fell in love with her adventure. Plus, this gave me tons of new ideas to do with these heavy and lasting old balls. I was never a good bowler (cross-eyed and hand/eye coordination doesn’t bode well together), but my parents were avid bowlers. We had more trophies than balls, so I didn’t discover what a treasure these old things were until much later in life!
I hope you enjoy The Bowling Ball Man

Broken pieces of colorful poetry, glass beads and dozens and dozens on woman hours transformed this old bowling ball into a welcomed addition to my own garden.

stuff i tell my sister

When I remember to charge my camera battery AND don’t forget to grab the sd card, I love to snap pics on our journeys to where ever.  I also (and I think this comes from living on or near Route 66 most of my life) love to watch for “novelty” signs along the way.  If there happens to be a fruit stand, a giant teepee or a winery, I must follow the crazy signs through the boonies until we find the place.  We did some of these wild goose chases last week on hubby’s time off. yes, he is a good sport about this!  Sometimes, when you chase rabbits, it can change your life for that moment.  Other times, forever.  This day ~ our chase left us in awe at the hard work and imagination of this creator.  We also laughed.  A. Lot.  And that’s what made the journey worth while ~ Kudos…

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A New Perspective

We have all seen them.

Ribbons for cancer. Pink for breast cancer, gray for brain cancer, yellow for bone cancer and lavender for general cancer awareness.

This photograph of Isabelle and Rebekah was taken by Rick Carr, of Carr Portrait Arts for his Portraits of Hope project. Please visit and LIKE Rick’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/PortraitsOfHope

The one I wear is orange, for Leukemia, because that is what attacked my sweet granddaughter Isabelle Jade Ratclilffe a little over a year ago when she was just seven years old. The words, spoken through tears by my eldest daughter, were some that I prayed that I would never hear, “Isabelle has cancer.” That time was some of the darkest days for our family. My daughter Rebekah said it so precisely, “Christian and I have never slept so little, wept so hard, made more difficult decisions, questioned our faith so deeply, made such an effort to smile and laugh or worked so hard to keep our family together. But we also have never felt so loved or supported by so many. Family, Friends and people we don’t even know. We almost lost her twice. But she held on. She was stronger than the two of us combined. This year has been a long journey of downs, ups, downs and ups. Only 1 1/2 years to go and she would say “most” of the scary is behind us.”

I took this a couple months before she was diagnosed with AMPL. Notice her red eyes? This was her second eye infection in two months. She also had strep throat twice that winter, but other than that, she didn’t have any symptoms until the week of her diagnosis. She had a fever that wouldn’t go away even with treatment. We are so thankful to a very astute and attentive pediatrician, Dr. Costa, that caught her illness with very little symptoms. The cancer was so aggressive that she had to have several units of blood and plasma before they could do her first biopsy. But she never lost her smile.

This was taken after her first round of chemo; she got a condition called mucusitis so bad that she couldn’t swallow, close her mouth, eat or talk. She had to be fed through tubes and was kept under morphine for over three weeks. She still doesn’t have all her tastebuds in her mouth and doesn’t like the way any food tastes to this day. This was the first time she went to the ICU. Her second trip to ICU was because she turned sepsis rather suddenly; the doctors said that if she had been at home, she would not have made it back to the hospital. Thank you God for taking such good care of her.

Until that moment, I had always noticed cancer awareness campaigns, Relays for Life Rallies, Race for the Cure and so many others with understanding, but not commitment. Both my parents and my mother-n-law succumbed to cancer. But nothing affects us like the fate of a child. Perhaps it is because of the seemingly injustice of it; their life is only just begun, why should they get this horrible disease? I’m not saying I didn’t

Isabelle on one of very few stays at home during her treatment. Out of over six months, she was only home for around 40 days – not all at once. Through it all, she never lost her smile or her will to live.

care about research campaigns; I’ve organized a bike-a-thon for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and still am a supporter, and I’ve also walked is a couple of Relay for Life Rallies. But when my sweet granddaughter asked for me to join her team – Team Isabelle – for the CureSearch Walk for Children’s Cancer in Oklahoma City, OK, there was no way I was going to turn her down.

Isabelle is one of the lucky ones. Scientists found a cure for her very rare type of Leukemia (AMPL) in 1985; before then, children with this type of cancer almost always died.

This is one of my favorite photos of Isabelle taken by her daddy right after she awoke from her morphine coma. What little hair she had left kept getting in her airways, so her daddy used his shaver and got rid of it. She has a very pretty little bald head!

But their are still so many others who are not as fortunate. During Belley Dancer’s nearly seven-month stay at Children’s Hospital, she witnessed many children who did not make it out of their fight. One friend in particular finished her treatment the same time as Belle; Mady had AML, similar but more aggressive than Belle’s. After her first post-treatment biopsy, her parents heard the worse news possible; her cancer had returned. The next coarse of action was stem cell transplantation. Unfortunately, this 11 year old child never made it to her transplant; the massive doses of chemo to get her body ready for the transplant put her into sepsis, and she never recovered.

Mady and Belle were cohorts in crime and fun. On this day, they “stole” the nurses badges and were pretending to be in charge. Rest in Peace Mady.

For every Isabelle, there are hundred’s if not thousands of Madys. The only way to stop this demon called childhood cancer is to make bigger and better strides in cancer research. And in order to do that, it will take many dollars. That is where people like you and me come into play. We may not all be brilliant scientists, but we can walk, donate money and even hold the hand of a child.

The 2012 Oklahoma City CureSearch Walk raises funds for children’s cancer research. Clint and I have a goal to raise $500 for this event. With your help, we can surpass each of our personal goals.

CureSearch Walk celebrates and honors children whose lives have been affected by children’s cancer, while raising funds for clinical trials research sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and conducted by the Children’s Oncology Group. This group of medical professionals treats more than 90% of children with cancer at over 180 hospitals in the United States. These experts provide world-class care in communities across the country.

Isabelle’s Sucky Thing. Even when she awoke from the morphine, she still couldn’t swallow or close her mouth or talk. The “sucky thing” tube was never out of her mouth. It swallowed for her and helped get rid of the lose skin coming off her tongue and inside her mouth, so she wouldn’t choke.

Every day, 36 children are diagnosed with children’s cancer – 7 of these children will not survive. That is 13,140 children who suffer through a very horrific disease every year; of that number, 2,555 lose the battle. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children. Although the cure rate is now 78% – up by 40% in the last 20 years – it is not good enough. Our goal is a 100% cure rate.

One of Isabelle’s last weeks in the hospital. She thought she would be in for Christmas, so she wanted a party complete with Dirty Santa Gifts. As it turned out, she was released a few days before Christmas and hasn’t had a hospital stay since. Her face and her daddy’s repeats what her t-shirt says. JOY

So on September 15 at 8:30 a.m., Clint and I and most of our entire family will meet at Children’s Hospital to walk for a cure. We will be wearing orange t-shirts in honor of Isabelle or at the very least, orange ribbons.

There are two ways to help: You can go to www.curesearchwalk.org/okc/isabelle and join Team Isabelle and set a personal goal yourself or you can visit Clint and mine’s page at http://www.curesearchwalk.org/faf/r.asp?t=4&i=1027299&u=1027299-364841174&e=5981106724 and support our efforts. Please donate today and help make a difference.

This was taken about seven months before she was diagnosed; was she already sick? We may never know, but perhaps further research can detect childhood cancer earlier thus saving more lives.

Thank you, and God Bless you and your family.

The Art of Healthy Bread Making

Okay, I’ve been having fun with this whole bread making thing – you were right Dr. N.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and nuts made with whole grain starter dough. Yummy and healthy!

But in keeping with me – I’ve already been playing around with the recipe. I took the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and changed it to a whole wheat version, and this morning I adapted the sticky bun recipe to make a cinnamon, raisin (because everything is better with raisins) and pecan loaf. Here’s what I did.

I used about 1 1/2 lb, or a cantaloupe size of the Master Recipe (see below), floured it enough to stretch the four sides to tuck into a ball (this is a misnomer, as whole wheat dough without added gluten won’t stretch)

I then placed it on a well-floured board (I put some whole wheat flour in my coffee grinder to make it softer) then rolled out the dough (flour the top) to 1/8″ thick.

Next, I lightly misted the top of dough with a butter substitute (Its what I had, but you can use olive oil). Then I sprinkled the top with a mixture of: 1 heaping tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 cup splenda (sorry Clint is diabetic and can’t use any other type natural sweetener and “natural sugar in the raw is still processed). I added about 1/4 or more cup raisins and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. (I toasted them in a small skillet on the stove top)

Starting on short side, I rolled up the loaf, replacing any lost nuts or raisins – didn’t want to lose even one! Finally, pinch the ends shut and slash the top.

Here is what the rolled up loaf looks like; sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the pre-rolled, cinnamon, raisin and nut covered dough. Oh, by the way, I got my pizza peel on sale at the outlet mall in OKC on sale for $6.40 – They had extra large wooden peels for under $10 as well. I didn’t need one that big, so I opted for the BBQ variety, which is smaller and lighter. The only problem is that the holes make it hard to get any cornmeal on it. I guess I could sprinkle some on the stone right before I put the loaf in the oven or try it without the cornmeal at all.

Move loaf to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let set or rise for 60 minutes. The book said you can also use parchment paper; I haven’t done this yet, because the stuff is expensive and not exactly eco-friendly. But seeing how the cornmeal is ruining my stone and smells horrible when it burns, I may give it a try next time.

Twenty minutes BEFORE bread is ready, preheat oven with a pizza stone and an empty broiler pan at 425-450 degrees (I started with 425 as my oven burnt my last loaf at 450). Put the broiler or a sided baking sheet below the rack with the stone on it. Even if your oven is not completely pre-heated (for those with dinosaurs), slide the loaf from the pizza peel to the stone, and immediately add one cup of hot water to roasting pan – close door quickly, trapping steam. Cook for 25-30 minutes; adjusting for your oven. (I actually took this loaf out at 23 minutes)

Fresh out of the oven! (and yes, I do realize that I forgot to slash the top of the dough; I’m not sure what that part is for, but it still turned out well.)

Let cool and enjoy.

From: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertberg & Zoe Francois

Master Recipe – makes 4 1-pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water (just above body temp)

1 1/2 Tbs granulated yeast (2 packets)

1 1/2 Tbs kosher or other coarse salt

6 1/2 Tbs whole grain wheat flour

Add 2 tsp vital wheat gluten + 1 1/4 tsp water per cup of flour (my first batch I left out this step and it turned out dense but good but I did add extra water)

Add yeast and salt to warm water in 5 quart bowl with a resealable lidd (not airtight). Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

Mix in all flour at once – kneading is not necessary. Be sure to measure with dry measure cup; gently scoop up flour, then sweep the top level with the back of a butter knife. Do not tamp or shake down so as not to throw off recipe. Mix with wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform. If the mixing becomes too difficult, mix with wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead!

Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow mixture to rise at room temp until it begins to collapse or flatten on top. You may not notice this using whole wheat flour, but approximately 2 hours, depending on room temp. Longer rising time up to 5 hours will not harm the results. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period, but fully refrigerated wet dough is easier to handle and less sticky. It is best if stored in the refrigerator over night or at least 3 hours.

Baking Day

Sprinkle the surface of refrigerated dough lightly with flour (I used WW flour that I re-ground in my coffee grinder). Pull off a 1 lb. piece of dough (size of a grapefruit). If needed, you can cut it free with a serrated knife. Hold dough in hand and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to hands. (Sorry, with WW dough, it will stick). Pull or stretch four corners and tuck under to form a ball. The final product should be smooth and cohesive. (WW is not that smooth.) Transfer loaf to a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal.

This is how slashed dough should look. You can also use parchment paper instead of cornmeal. I will try this next time to keep from having burnt cornmeal smell in the kitchen. (photo from http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com

Dust and slash. Dust the top liberally with flour and slash a 1/4 inch deep cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top using a serrated knife.

Let rest for 40 minutes.

20 minutes before baking, preheat oven at 450 (I burnt my first loaf so lowered to 425), with a pizza stone and empty broiler pan under the rack with the stone.

When timer goes off, transfer loaf from pizza peel to stone and immediately pour 1 cup of hot water in broiler pan. Shut door and cook for 30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. The cornmeal will burn, so try not to open door too soon or steam will escape.

When you remove bread from oven it will audibly crackle, or “sing”. (mine didn’t do this as I cooked it too long.

typical artisan bread, from http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com – this one was made with white flour

It says to let cool completely on wire rack, but I was in a hurry the first time and cut it about 5 minutes out of the oven and it was good.

The remaining dough can be stored in refrigerator for up to 14 days. The older it gets, the more of a sour dough quality it will gain. When depleted, don’t wash the container and remix the next batch. The container will retain the “sour dough” quality as a starter for the next batch.

Weekly Photo Challenge: FORWARD – A Journey Well Worth Taken

This week’s photo challenge is FORWARD. As I’ve struggled to figure out what this means (more specifically to me), I came up with how MY life is moving forward. The biggest forward event for me has been the loss of a whole ME! I struggled with being overweight most of my adult life and recently (two years this month) lost around 175 lbs. So, I decided to repost this entry about my journey to a healthier me in this week’s challenge. Sorry it is more words than photos, but then again, I’m a writer too.

As many of you that know me, you know that I drastically changed my lifestyle about two years ago; and for my efforts I lost around 160 pounds or basically a whole person! (Bowing for applause and accolades now) I did this with a number of lifestyle changes, the biggest one being the way we ate. I say we, because my husband Clint joined me on this change that affected both of us. We began by getting rid of all processed foods and foods with any typed of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. We switched to a very high protein, lots of fruits and vegtables and no white anything diet. No white meant potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or anything else made with starch, this also included all manner of starchy vegetables. We also joined the YMCA the same day of our first visit with Dr. Lana Nelson and a nutritionist at Journey Clinic*. Although both of us had tried all kinds of diets and workout plans; we began this endeavor with a sort of passion that could be associated with a “last chance” or else attitude.

I had reached an all time high of 315 lbs at this point

After I had lost over 70 lbs; I underwent some pretty major surgery. I was grossly overweight as you can see from the beginning photo, and I had been on every type of physician and drastic diet out there. If you can think of it, I have done it, including a 20 day fast with nothing but water. The problem was not losing the weight, it was keeping it off. Every time I lost weight, I gained back double. My metabolism was shot, I had developed a heart condition after the Phen/Phen diet (corrected only with surgery) and  had the energy level of a snail. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, in fact, I talked Clint out of it. But for me, with my history, I knew I needed the extra help that came with weight loss surgery.

this was a little over half way through my journey.

It hasn’t been easy, my digestive system is not the same, and I have issues with keeping Vitamin D in my body now even though I’m a fan of  sunshine,  I also have to have regular Vitamin B12 shots and take other suppliments. Also, I started having more trouble with dairy then I had in the past. I always had an aversion to ice cream and yogurt, but now milk was giving me major problems. And, seeing how the main portion of my high protein diet (I was required to get 85 grams a day) came  in the form of a whey based protein supplement, I was not meeting my daily requirements for post surgery eating. Plus, I was also having issues with any kind of meat. But overall it has been worth it. I lost a total of 150 pounds after the surgery, and I also lost my asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic headaches, insomnia, sleep apnea and a host of other things although I did gain Rheumatoid Arthritis  – I’m not sure if the surgery brought on early onset, but I will trade one problem for multiple ones. Clint drastically lowered the amount of insulin that he had to take daily because of Type I Diabetes. Overall, we were healthier, stronger, had more energy and got to buy new clothes!

This was taken February 2012; since this photo I’ve lost another 10-12 pounds, some of it since I yet again changed my diet.

This was taken Christmas 2012. Me with baby Chloe.

This was taken Christmas 2012. Me with baby Chloe.

Due to my problems with dairy and meat, my wonderful doctor, Lana Nelson, asked me if I would be a part of a Beta test group for plant based eating., I said yes. Little did I know how it would drastically change the way I was eating or how I looked at the food industry.  I was already having problems with dairy foods, and I didn’t really care for meat that much anyway, so I said sure. I first became interested in the whole food diet after watching our son-n-law, Christian, shed 95 pounds in six months. His was a bit drastic even for a vegan. But his research and choices intrigued me – Clint was a harder sell. Even so, recently, six weeks ago to be exact, Clint and I undertook yet another lifestyle change to further enhance our health. We are now eating plant-based foods only; for the rest of the world, we are crazy hippie vegans! Actually, I have no qualms about eating beasts of the four legged variety (notice I said legged – I never ate anything with a fin, flipper or exoskeleton in the first place. In other words, anything that swims in a body of water filled with their own bodily functions!)

Clint didn’t need too much persuasion to be a part of the test group as well, because he wanted to lose a bit more weight and everything is easier when a family does it together. So we went to our first class and found ourselves amazed and appalled at what we learned. The research is compelling to say the least, and it is not just one way-out-there doctor in California providing the data, but dozens if not hundreds of doctors (all respected in their fields) that have discovered the truth about what we (mostly Western Civilizations) eat. Between the classes and a number of videos** that we watched, we found out that we have been lied to by the food industry and more importantly with the backing of our own government, all for the sake of a buck or more likely billions of bucks.

To say I was angry was an understatement. To discover that the foods that have been deemed necessary for “healthy” living are actually at the root of some of our more deadly diseases. I’m not talking fast-food, as anyone with an ounce of sense knows that the high-fat menus at eating establishments can cause obesity and other health problems. I’m talking about the food pyramid that is taught to every grade school child through adults learning about nutrition. The lies are backed by our own US food and drug administrations – could it be it is because meat and dairy lobbyist not only sit on these boards, but pay large sums to government programs?

I don’t want to get into a political debate here, but here are just a few things that really stuck out from what I’ve learned in the last six weeks. Number one, you don’t need meat to get protein. In fact, Americans eat way too much protein – by about 18%. It has been proven that we only need about 2.5 % daily requirement of protein, and fruits, veggies, grains and legumes have more than enough to live on. In fact, legumes and broccoli have boo coos more protein per 100 calories than three ounces of the leanest cut of steak without the fat or cholesterol. Oh yeah, another thing, the only way to get cholesterol is by consuming animal based food. Our body makes what we need and anything added contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. The next question people ask me is where do you get your calcium? Uh, plants. Again, plants have plenty of calcium and our body, if properly maintained makes what it needs. Dairy’s a tricky subject, because honestly I love milk and especially cheese. But it has been proven that countries that consume dairy products have higher incidents of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer. The calcium in dairy products actually leach calcium out of our bones causing them to become brittle and prone to disease. The definition of milk is a liquid produced by the memory glands to nourish the young. Most humans stop producing the enzyme needed to break down milk by the age of three. That is the reason so many people are lactose intolerant – we weren’t meant to consume it after a certain age. Now, like I said, I love cheese, as do most people. There is a reason for that. Dairy contains something called casein-morphine, a natural sedative that calms and soothes crying babies. Is it natural, yes. Is it still a drug, most definitely, and it is addictive. The reason we become addicted to cheese is because it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. Also, meat and dairy foods are chalked full of antibiotics, hormones and genetically enhancing drugs.

My “famous” homemade salsa. I make it fresh and by the gallon. we eat it on veggies, with whole grain chips, and as a salad dressing.

Another misnomer that I had was to eat a whole foods diet was expensive. This is not true. Yes, organic vegetables are higher and some of the special grains can be costly, but the fact is you don’t eat nearly as much food because your body is more satisfied. What I have found is that we are spending less money on whole food items and most everything can be purchased at Crest or Walmart. We have visited Whole Foods, but have found better prices at Sunflower Market. And, although we can still eat out if we are careful, we eat at home more often now.

This selection of food cost under $60 and some items will last longer than one week. Disclaimer. I bought the Agave Nectar before I found out is was processed just like High Fructose Corn syrup. Although it is plant based, it was processed with heat and chemicals stripping it of all nutrition. The best natural sweetener is a pure Maple Syrup.

The best way to make sure you are getting organic vegetables is to grow your own. But that is not practical for everyone. The second best way is to become an “localvore,” meaning to shop at your local farmers market or nearby truck farm. In any case, be sure to ask questions about how it was planted, what pesticides or fertilizers were used. I recently discovered an organic farm called Sunrise Acres*** not a couple miles from my home. I went last week, but all they had left were peppers, okra and tomatoes. They will have squash in about three weeks and will be planting fall crops. I also bought my own herb plants for a herb garden.

These beautiful peppers were purchased at a local truck farm. The small yellow ones are called Yum, Yums and they are! The jalapeños are called Fool You because although they taste like jalapeños, they have no heat – perfect for me!

I created this herb tower by repurposing some garage sale finds and a piece of rebar. Can hardly wait to harvest!

This diet is taking some getting used to, unlike my first diet, I am eating bread, it has to be whole grain, but it is bread. I still feel guilty. Also, whole grain pasta and rice is back on the menu, as are potatoes. Because of my reduced stomach pouch, I have to be careful with these and remember to take small bites and eat slowly. Not something that I always accomplish. But I can say that for the first time in my life, I am eating and liking beans and veggies. My tastes have changed – they are enhanced somehow. I even ate mushrooms for the first time on my veggie pizza; my daddy would be so proud. But the biggest change is that I have tons more energy. I’m not experiencing some of the changes in my health that others because I was already off junk, processed and fast foods. But I have noticed that my hair is no longer oily. I have also developed a love of cooking and am even making my own whole wheat artisan bread (look for my next post the Art of Bread Making).  I also have several recipes posted on this blog under Yummy for Your Tummy.

I’m not sure if Clint will stay with a totally plant-based diet, he really misses steak, so he will be more of a flexiterian. But I probably will keep at it and look forward to the next round of classes called Living. If you are interested in learning more, visit http://www.journeyN2.com to listen to some of the lectures and get meal plans and recipes, you can also check out the videos mentioned below. These classes will be offered to the public in the future.

* Journey Clinic,   Dr. Lana Nelson, DO, 405-735-2049, Moore, OK , http://www.journeyN2.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ** Knives Over Forks and To Your Health                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ***Sunrise Acres, 405-392-2680, Blanchard, OK

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