Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Get More In Your Day- Movement

This week has challenged me; I am a mover. Anyone who knows me understands that sitting for hours is not conducive to my personality; even at my desk I am moving thanks to my stability ball 'office chair'. The problem this week? I am in a master specialist training requiring me to sit through several hours of lectures. It made me realize, many people do sit for hours on end be it work, choice, or physical restriction (often times I hear people do not realize they have sat for a long period due to distractions/entertainment).

Chatting with my fellow students during meals, I discovered not only are people often not moving, they are challenged with ideas to get moving more. Concerns over opportunity, safety, and the all out interest, or lack of, seem to be common. I love a challenge. It's time for some creative movement that is safe, flexible with our schedule, and not mind numbing.

My personal 'move it more's' challenge:

On the job:

* Parking lot
   Many of us have heard to park farther from our destination- that's fine, but let's take this a bit further and spread it throughout our day.
   I say, walk the parking lot! Every time I take a convenience break (potty) I take a stroll around the parking lot. This hint of sunshine and fresh air offer a wonderfully stimulating brain break.

* Stairs
   I didn't have stairs available to me in either of my locations, but if you have them use them. Stirring the cardio system is excellent for mental clarity and focus.

* Stability ball
   Stability balls offer core strength and gentle movement without being disruptive to the office environment. If you have a private office, gentle stretches can also help with long hours of desk time. (more to come in another post) My stability ball was not with me and I could tell; shoulders and back were sore and stiff after hours of sitting.

Once the day is over:

* Stop off at:
   The gym: Stopping off on the way home is much easier than leaving once you have arrived home.
   A park: Frugal and easy, parks are all over the place. As long as it is still light outside, a brisk walk is quick and easy.
   Trails: We have a few trails in our area and some subdivisions have walking paths. They are great.
^^^^I keep a spare pair of shoes and some 'walking clothes' in the car just in case I am not dressed for a walk.

* Play
   If you go home to children or a dog, play with them! Ben was very eager to walk, fetch, tug, and play with me when I made it home. Play is an excellent way to move and to enjoy our family.
   No pets or kids- play anyway. Shoot hoops, toss or kick a ball at a net, visit a batting cage, maybe even just swing a little while- it's fun!

* Garden
   My garden chores are never done, offering me an opportunity for some movement every time I visit it. Walk through, pick a weed, pluck some pests, and water it- all great moving activities.

So what's the point? We could all use more activity in our day, and our schedules don't make it easy. This month my focus professionally and personally is to find more simple, effective, safe, ways to get moving and share it with others.
Did I do all of these things? You bet. I promise not to share it unless I have done it!
What's your way to get more movement in your day?

Monday, September 28, 2015

For the Love of a Girl- Doc and Miss K

From the first moment they met, Doc knew he loved Miss K. This tiny human stole the heart of a giant long-eared grump.
For the love of this girl
paces the fence waiting for her to visit his pasture;
announces her arrival with what seems like enthusiasm- if a donkey can be enthusiastic.
For Miss K, Doc
withholds his nibbling habit
for the tender brushing fingers of her tiny hands;
allows mushy girl kisses to command his mighty presence.
Not only has Doc become rather mushy with her, but he even caved in to nibbling dried leaves instead of his preferred 'fresh green' leaves (though he does spit them out when she isn't looking).
He has been seen fretting over her as she climbs the slide, 
or works the garden.
Jealousy has been suspected when he sees her
petting Ben, 
or chatting with the goose.

Yes, it is quite mind boggling how such a determined beast can be brought to gentle grace by a tiny bundle of giggles and curls. 
He is the first to announce her arrival and the last to tell her goodbye.
He is the first name she calls when she gets here and the last visit she makes before going home.
For the love of a donkey, Miss K sneaks carrots and apples from the fridge- and talks everyone into a walk outside.
For the love of a girl, Doc humbles himself with gentle love and grace.
I'm just waiting for the day she finally gets him to 'sit' on command (she is working very hard on that one). 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Whole Living"- a New Direction

As a life long learner, and a nutrition educator, I have been furthering my knowledge base in nutrition, gardening, and agricultural practices- with a focus on frugal, practical, and functional. My life is in a season of change bringing with it a need for re-focusing- but in what direction? When your passions are many and somewhat broad, it can be a challenge to really zone in on a specific area of study or expertise. During a recent conversation with some youth, my mind was stirred at their questions, their direction of conversation, and their interaction with me.

While many are specialized in specific areas of study and knowledge, there is a need for someone to pull it together and be unique in their path of education. My chosen direction is 'holistic'- whole. It is time to gather the pieces of my knowledge base and blaze a path that meets a need often overlooked; holistic living, or whole living. Helping the average person worth withing their environment, utilizing the whole life, to move in a healthy direction physically, mentally, spiritually, and environmentally.

I have already been doing this for years- I just never realized it.

So bear with me on this journey as I seek to pull the parts together and make 'whole';
for myself,
for women,
for children,
for families,
for those around us.

Let's see where this new road takes us, shall we?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Our Farm Boy's Cinnamon Rolls

                                                           Farm boy's Cinnamon Rolls

There's nothing like a delicious home made cinnamon roll. The tantalizing aroma of hot bread and sticky cinnamon filling teases the senses. Our Farm boy is well known for his delicious cinnamon rolls. Today, after many requests. we share his wonderful recipe- adapted from an Amish roll recipe we found many years ago. These rolls were fair entries, sleepover treats, and many a holiday breakfast. Join me in the kitchen - let's cook up a batch!

Farm Boy's Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
4 eggs
2 packets yeast
1 cup warm water
5 cups flour
One cup of brown sugar mixed with cinnamon to taste
enough butter to coat the dough (approx. 1 TBSP)
1 stick of butter
1 cup confectioners sugar

In a large mixing bowl - yes large, a big one, mix the potatoes and shortening until no lumps are found. Now stir in sugar and eggs. Dissolve the yeast in the slightly warm water before adding it to the potato mixture. (I use the liquid from my potatoes for the water or whey from cheese making) Stir in three cups of the flour, then knead in enough flour to make the dough smooth but not sticky. (I usually just knead this particular dough right in the bowl) Cover your bowl and allow the dough to rise one hour or until doubled in size.
 On a well floured surface (I use the kitchen table) roll your dough to 1/2 inches thickness. You want a long rectangle shape. Lightly butter the surface before spreading the cinnamon sugar mixture all over- covering every inch. Starting on the long side closest to you, roll the dough into a nice log. Cut your dough into two inch rolls and place them on a greased baking sheet. (we found that using dental floss helps the rolls keep their shape better than cutting with a knife) I generally get 16 to 18 rolls per batch. When they are all cut, cover them lightly and let rise thirty minutes while preheating your oven.
Bake your rolls for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. They should be lightly browned and "dry" looking- no gooey dough.
While they cool, mix with a mixer one stick of butter with one cup of powdered sugar. Frost the rolls when they are cool and serve at your own risk...warning...they are addictive!

Doesn't that sound good?
Of course, now I need to walk a dozen miles to work them off!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tasty Baked Quinoa- It's Healthy, You Know!

I don't know if you know this, but I'm a busy gal. You too? Well, then you understand the challenge of getting the chores done, yourself put together, and getting a healthy breakfast before you leave every morning- don't you. Thus the quinoa.
My fall back, go-to, make ahead breakfast dish is baked oatmeal. It's simple, filling, economical, healthy and rather easy to stir together. Having the oven preheating, I started stirring ingredients before actually gathering all of them when I realized- no oats. Yep. What do you do when you have already started and- no oats? Improvise.
Being one to never give up I scanned the shelves for a worthy substitute; sadly I haven't shopped in a couple weeks (hubby has been stalking the shelves for BlueBell, but that's another story entirely). I ended up with a bag of quinoa. Hm- challenging, to say the least.
 My first attempts at quinoa were rather flat and unflavorful disasters which caused my family members to write it off completely. Yes, I touted the amazing healthy benefits of this 'ancient grain'- the iron, magnesium, potassium- the Vitamin E and fiber. It wasn't until I decided to dump it in home made bone broth that we actually started liking it. 
So, with that said, the thought of putting this rather tasteless 'nutritional powerhouse' into my delicious baked oatmeal recipe seemed, well, sacrilegious.Not to be dissuaded, I picked up my bag of tasteless grains and set off on a quest to make them stinking delicious.

Cinnamon Baked Quinoa

You need:
3 cups cooked quinoa (see note)*
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk of choice (I used coconut)
1/3 cup liquid sweetener (I used agave)
   1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons oil of choice (I used coconut)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees; grease your 9"x13" pan with the coconut oil. 
Stir everything together in a bowl. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until center is set and top has nicely browned.
*Note: 1 cup of dry quinoa cooked in 2 cups of water at a simmer for 15 minutes yields 3 cups cooked quinoa (red, white or multi-colored).
Variations I like:
Use maple for the sweetener.
Add in dried berries.
Stir in chia seed or flax seed or both (I used 2 tablespoons)
Serve with fruit on top!

I really liked it- my family was slower to come around; still scarred from their first devastating encounter, I guess. Never the less, it is a great recipe that freezes well, reheats nicely, and is quite portable if you have to eat at the office (or in the car in a parking lot- don't ask). 
Maybe next time I can try oats with quinoa, or baked barley- even some psyllium husks. Okay, maybe that was too far!
Anyway, if you try it let me know what you think!