Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Boxcar Houses

My parents had a back issue of Reminisce magazine at their house. While flipping through it, I fell upon an article about a family of 4 living in a boxcar. I could not find the photo used in the article, but this is quite similar. Back during the depression, the daddy of the family worked for the railroad. The family was given a boxcar roughly converted into a house and they moved along the line as the work progressed. Actually, the article was really about the boy's obsession with the hobos until an incident frightened him away from hobo camps. Instead, I was drawn to the family living in a boxcar GRATEFULLY!

You know, really, I shake my head at people today, myself included! We're so prosperous!

My furniture doesn't match, but I have plenty of furniture and my house looks homey.

We only have 2 bedrooms, but at least we have bedrooms!

We only have 1 bathroom, but at least we have a bathroom, and pretty nice one at that!

My stove is only apartment sized to fit in my kitchen, but I have a stove that doesn't require constant maintenance to keep running.

I sometimes wonder how we're going to fit in our little cottage, but I've got a lot more space than a boxcar (not to forget better insulation, running water, electricity, etc).

This certainly makes me even more thankful for my little cottage.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Well, it seems I do NOT have milk fever. The treatment has not resolved the symptoms. I most likely have labyrinthitis that was triggered by an upper respiratory infection I had 2 weeks ago. I can try an antihistamine, like Claritin safely with breastfeeding, but I should keep an eye on baby, and my milk supply. Unfortunately, this may be an end to breastfeeding my baby boy. I'd try to suffer through it, but it could take up to 3 months before I recover on the meds and I could possibly NOT recover if I don't treat it. Also, because of the dizziness, I should not drive. We'll see.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Milk Fever

I haven't been blogging because I've been ill. For a while now, I've been suffering from dizzy spells, headaches, feeling very sleepy and not feeling like myself. I've been very moody, short-tempered and feeling like I am unable to shake my sour mood. It takes effort to get up and do anything.

I wasn't really sure what was going on. In some cases it seemed like my blood sugar. I wondered if my iron levels were low, but I do get plenty of iron. I wondered if my vertigo was just acting up as it tends to do when I feel stressed out. It could be a mix of blood sugar and the vertigo.

Then, my oldest brother called me today to see how I was doing. I told him my symptoms and my puzzlement at them and how I was planning on calling the doctor. I told him how I don't look forward to going to the doctor because of the gamut of tests he'll put me through. I have 3 children and no babysitters this week, so it would be a pain to get the lab work done. During the conversation, I mentioned that maybe I'm dehydrated because I'm still breastfeeding and the weather's been so dry.

"You're still breast feeding," my brother asks. "Do you watch All Creatures Great and Small?"

I responded, "yes."

"It sounds like milk fever," he says. "I read all his books, too and I remember them discussing milk fever and the low calcium levels in the cows."

I confirmed that my calcium levels are probably low and that the thought did come across me earlier in the week. I haven't been drinking milk because it's pricey and I've been saving it for my children. Also, my milk wanes greatly as my period nears and that is said to be helped by taking a calcium-magnesium supplement. We also discussed how you need vitamin D to absorb calcium and it is January in the frozen northern tundra, so I'm not getting a lot of sun exposure.

Milk fever!

We nearly laughed about it and I decided that it wouldn't hurt to try treating myself like a milk fevered cow.

He also told me about one of his college professors having vertigo treated successfully with B vitamin supplements.

So, this evening, I took a B vitamin supplement, my cal-mag and a vitamin D. I feel better, but the true test will come in the afternoons of this week. The afternoons are when I feel the worst.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wii Fit

Hubby got me the Wii Fit!

So, I tried it out today.

For an hour!

And was disappointed that it said I only burned around 150 calories! I spent an hour of my day working out and only burned 150 calories?! C'mon!

Granted, the Wii started me off slowly. After all, the Wii says I'm fat and my Wii age is 46! *rolling my eyes* My size 4 jeans need a belt and the Wii says I'm fat. LOL! Ok ok ok, I'm out of shape. I know that. For my size, my BMI is in the high end of the normal range. I'm just one of those petite people who's "fat" is other people's "skinny." Anyhow, the Wii warmed me up, but I didn't break out in one tiny little sweat. I didn't gulp for air. I need something a little more high intensity. And then the Wii gave me a little guilt trip for missing yesterday. I was at church, Wii! Yeah, I'm yelling at the Wii.

Anyhow, it wasn't all few calories and fat. I really like that the Wii has the balance, stability, core strength improvement in it. I found that doing the yoga poses on the Wii balance board made the yoga more intense for me. When I do the poses on my own on the floor, I don't find them too challenging because I naturally shift my center of balance to make it easier. But on the Wii balance board, I have to maintain my center of balance within their parameters and it's a challenge for this balance-impaired person!

At least it's fun. I like that it keeps track of my progress. There aren't many workout programs that keep me interested for an hour straight AND make the hour fly by.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

7 Months and Counting

Still breast feeding! I'll admit that it is getting harder and I think about giving up. So far I'm taking it one day at a time. It's getting harder because it wanes quite severely just before my cycle starts and overall I don't achieve great let-downs. My baby eats 3 meals a day of solids like he hasn't eaten in days. He's up several times a night to eat.

I do have Cal-Mag supplements I'm taking. They're supposed to help with the waning. Mother's Milk Tea is back on the daily menu, too.

Friday, January 14, 2011


No, not THAT Buckwheat, although, he is perfectly adorable and I just want to hold him and listen to him talk!

A few years ago, I was given a prepared package of "buckwheat pancake mix." It was discusting.

A couple weeks ago, I was in a store that had buckwheat noodles for a good price. I figured I'd try them as a substitute for spaghetti noodles. Expecting the same revolting taste, I was completely surprised at how good they were! My kids loved them, too, even preferring them over the usual spaghetti.

Now intrigued, I looked up buckwheat as was pleased to read up on how healthy it is. It's gluten-free and LOADED with nutrition.

So, I ran out and bought a small bag of organic buckwheat flour. I made buckwheat berry pancakes with no sugar or sweeteners in the batter and was floored at how tasty they were, even slightly sweet! I made a gluten-free fruit and veggie cake out of it (and arrowroot flour) and it was so good! I added some to my buttermilk biscuits and had to remove the bowl of biscuits from the table because I gobbled up 3 in a row and would have eaten more had I not! I am in LOVE with buckwheat!

I'm guessing that prepackaged mix was rancid and that is why it tasted so bad.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Year With Bettina Week 2

Bettina is proud of her thriftiness and cleverness when it comes to cooking. As such, steak is a rare treat for her husband. I did find a steak recipe this month and tried it out.

What's interesting about going through this antique cookbook is how different things were culinarily (is that a word?) back then. Again, I have no pictures because my camera's battery needs charging and, frankly Bettina's recipes aren't very pretty. Presentation as well as flavor is very popular and important now. Back then, the presentation must not have been so popular.

Tonight's dinner: Swiss Steak, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Carmel Custard

1 lb. round steak two thirds of an inch thick
5 Tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon onion
2 cloves
1 Tablespoon bacon fat (I used coconut oil)

Wipe the steak with a damp cloth, trim the edges to remove any gristle, and pound the flour into the meat, using a side of a heavy plate for the pounding. This breaks up the tendons of the meat. Place the bacon fat in a frying pan and when hot, add the meat. Brown thoroughly on each side. Lower the falm. Add the bay leaf, salt, pepper, onion, (cloves-this was omitted from this part of the recipe. My guess is they didn't have a very good editor.) and water. Cover with a lid and allow to cook slowly for one and a half hours. More water may be needed if the gravy boils down. Pour the gravy over the meat when serving. This recipe is good for the fireless.

I loved the flavor of the bay leaf and cloves. However, the idea of cooking the meat for 1 1/2 hours didn't sit well with me. Then again, you're talking to the lady who cooks her steaks so they're still bleeding in the middle. 1 1/2 hours for a 2/3" steak?! I refused to cook mine that long. As for the gravy, it wasn't much of a gravy at all and not very appetizing. The flour clumped on the meat and in the broth instead of making a nice, rich gravy. I gave it to the dog. But, like I said, I loved the flavor of the bay leaf and cloves.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 good-sized sweet potatoes
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Wash the potatoes and remove any bad places. Add the water, and cook gently until tender. Drain, and peel while still hot, by holding the potatoes on the end of a fork. Mash with a spoon or a potato masher, adding the salt, butter, milk and paprika. Beat on minute. Pile lightly in a buttered baking dish and place in a moderate oven about twenty minutes until a light brown.

My sweet potatoes didn't have the nicest skin, so I just peeled and cut them up before cooking them. I'm not sure why Bettina, in all her kitchen know-how, doesn't do it my way. Perhaps keeping the skin in tact while cooking improves flavor or retains more nutrients. Personally, the idea of trying to peel a hot sweet potato on the end of a fork with 1 or 2 little ones at my elbows wasn't up my alley. For the paprika, instead of grabbing my usual paprika, I tried a sweet smoked paprika I had on hand. All in all, I really liked the sweet potatoes. My kiddos only nibbled at it. My son wasn't thrilled with the flavor. My daughter was just being objectionable. She gets this look in her eyes when she simply wishes not to obey. I found out later just how objectionable she was. After she went to bed, the green bean I fed her remained hidden in her mouth and she spit it out in her daddy's recliner! Ohhhhh....but that's another post. All in all, I really liked the mashed sweet potatoes. I think I'm the lone ranger on this one, though.

Carmel Custard

1 Cup milk
1 egg
4 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the sugar to a light brown syrup in a sauce pan over a hot fire, add the milk and cook until free from lumps. Beat the egg, sugar, salt and vanilla and pour the liquid slowly into the egg mixture. Pour into buttered moulds. Set the moulds in a pan of hot water and bake in a moderate oven until the custard is firm (about 40 minutes). Do not let the water in the pan reach the boiling point during the process of baking.

This recipe is a keeper! I've never made a flan-like custard like this. It was so good and so easy and fast! My son was interested in the sugar melting into a liquid. I just wish I had a mountain of whipped cream to place on top!

Ditch the swiss steak.
File the mashed sweet potatoes.
Keep the caramel custard on hand.

Homeschool Preparations

I've been mulling over preparations for homeschooling in our little cottage. My son is a very kinetic learner and a bit easily distracted. I've decided that I'm just going to have to move my daughter's play kitchen from the sunny porch to the basement play room and the porch will have to become the exclusive school room. I think having a separate space in the house for the sole purpose of concentrated education will be beneficial for my little man.

I've very nearly decided to give up his roll-top desk and use it as my teacher's desk. He has a hard time concentrating on his work with all those cubbies and drawers drawing his attention away. Also, it's hard for me to peer over his shoulder to and help him. He won't be happy, but it is what it is. Instead, I'm considering either a table or seeing if my neighbor will let me have a school desk out of the old one room schoolhouse on his property.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Binge and Purge

My apologies to those suffering from bulimia for the title of this post, but really, it's an accurate way to describe this phenomenon.

Christmas comes and we spoil our children rotten.
After Christmas sales come and we spoil them some more.
I'm also the familial dumping ground for toys that have been purged from other people's houses.
On top of all that, I live in a teeny house!

I've hit my limit. We've binged and now I want to purge. I feel guilty for the quantity of toys in the house, so I'm ready to purge.

I'll admit that this is hard for me. I have to convince myself that they'll not miss the toys and they're not going to suffer some sort of educational deficit or enhanced boredom should the toys leave the house. After all, my 4 year old is outside in the bed of the parked pick-up truck shoveling out snow. He did that yesterday and we outside for 3 hours! He'll probably do the same today! Is he really going to miss the talking drum he's never played with for more than 3 minutes at a time that someone got him at a yard sale? My daughter is not going to even remember to talking purse with oversized contents that I refused to buy her for it being rather silly, but someone gave it to her second hand anyway.

Before I had children I would proudly tell people that my kids are going to play with dirt, sticks and rag dolls. Ha ha ha, silly me!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

He Starts Kindergarten in September!

It dawned on me at the turning of the new year that this September, my oldest starts kindergarten. We will be officially homeschooling with all the legalities it entails! I also realized that I have to start NOW to be prepared. So much to do!

Arrange a curriculum!
Prepare a school room/area!
Buy the materials!
Submit my paperwork to the school district!
Arrange my schedule to include schooling!
Discipline myself to keep records!

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Year With Bettina Week 1

For some reason, blogger won't let me upload pictures. That's ok. I'll be honest and say that the final product of this week's Year With Bettina recipes didn't look very appetizing on camera. However, they were tasty and even my picky daughter ate dinner and announced a very rare, "Yum!"

This week's recipes come from the January chapters of A Thousand Ways to Please A Husband With Bettina's Best Recipes.

The main meat dish was Chicken Loaf

1/2 cup cooked chicken
1/2 cup ground, cooked veal
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspon celery salt
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 egg 1/2 cup milk

Mix the chicken, veal and breadcrumbs. Add the salt, celery salt, parsley, egg and milk. Mix thoroughly. Bake in a well-buttered pan thirty minutes in a moderate oven.

I used store-bought raw ground chicken and veal. Apparently, veal was cheaper back in the early 20th century. Here and now it's pretty pricey. I know many people have a personal preference to not eat veal, so you could probably substitute with more ground chicken. I didn't have celery salt so I just used celery seed. Also, since I used raw meat rather than cooked, I upped to oven temp to 400 degrees about halfway through baking and made sure it was cooked through. The end result wasn't very pretty to look at, but was quite delicious!

The side dish was Baked Tomato, Cheese and Rice

1 cup cooked rice
1/3 cup tomatoes
4 tablespoons cheese, cut fine
1 tablespoon pimento
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup cracker or bread crumbs

Mix the rice and flour, and add the tomatoes, cheese salt, paprika (and pimento...this was left out of the original recipe instructions for some reason). Add the milk. Pour into a well-buttered baking dish. Melt the butter and add the crumbs. Spread the buttered crumbs on the rice mixture. Bake in a moderate oven for twenty-five minutes.

I used cooked brown rice and canned stewed tomatoes, drained. I also used cheddar cheese. I didn't have to bake for the full 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven, but I do have a small, apartment sized stove, so most things I cook don't take as long as they would in a larger oven. When mixed together before baking, this dish looks discusting. I was really worried how it would turn out. When I pulled it out of the oven, it looked much better, but slopped on the plate it didn't look too good. But one bite and I found it to be quite tasty! My picky eater daughter gobbled it right up, too!

Dessert was Tapioca and Date Pudding

4 Tablespoons tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cold water
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar
8 dates, cut fine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla

Soak the tapioca in cold water for ten minutes. Add the salt and boiling water and cook in a double boiler until transparent. (About 20 minutes.) Add the sugar and the dates cut fine, the lemon juice, egg-yolk and vanilla. Remove from the fire and add the stiffly beaten egg-white. Pile the mixture lightly in glass dishes and serve cold.

This is another dish that looked very unappetizing. It isn't pretty at all and I don't think glass dishes would improve the look, either. And at first taste off the stove, I didn't like it. I thought that perhaps it could do without the lemon juice and be much better. But after it cooled, it tasted so much better! I liked it. My daughter ate a little of hers, too.

So, that was dinner with Bettina tonight. I did add some steamed mixed veg to balance the dishes out better. I found her portions generous for the 2 they're supposed to serve.

Oh, and for a bit of fun, here's Bettina's January poem:

Simpler meals and wiser buying, -
More of planning, -less of hurry,-
More of smiling, -less of sighing,-
More of fun, and less of worry,
In this New Year's Resolution,
Trouble finds a swift solution.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Postponed Bettina

I had a last minute appointment arranged with a chiropractor this late afternoon and ended up eating dinner at the babysitter's house, so my Year With Bettina is postponed until tomorrow.

Children Are A Blessing DVD Giveaway

Generation Cedar is giving away a copy of Children Are A Blessing DVD! To enter, click here!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Book For Every Christian's Bookshelf!

Read my review of this excellent book HERE!

Wood, Paint, and More

The New Year is certainly proving to be a busy one already! I started it off with tackling the living room. We never painted it when we moved in and the previous owner's paint job has taken a beating over the years. It's a slow process what with raising 3 young children in the mix. I really only can paint when my youngest two are asleep, which doesn't amount to a lot of time for me. But, most of the trim is done and it already looks so much better in there! I can hardly wait for it to be done.

Amidst all this painting, I received a dump truck load of wood and am expecting more. Hubby was away for work, so the job of moving the wood fell on me. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication and the wood was cut, but not split. It's also green. That meant I had some very large, heavy pieces to move. Thank God wood is round and can be pushed. And thank God we don't have any snow, but we do have a frozen ground, which made the task easier. And thank God the baby slept the entire time I worked.

Bettina is not forgotten, though, and I am shopping today for what I need to make 3 recipes out of her books for this weeks Year With Bettina. It looks like I have all but one ingredient in the house and that ingredient is ground veal.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Year With Bettina

Happy New Year to my online friends! Thank you for joining me for A Year With Bettina! Please allow me to introduce you to Bettina.

Bettina is a fictional wife to Bob in two fictional cookbooks/novellas from the early 20th century. One book is A Thousand Ways To Please a Husband With Bettina's Best Recipes by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron. The second book goes by the same title except she's pleasing a Family rather than just a husband. In the second book she is mother to a daugher, Sue and a son, Robin. There are a couple of other Bettina cookbooks as well, but they do not have stories attached and are simply recipes.

The stories are charming, even if Bettina is one of those perfect wives and mothers who has everything together and has no problem telling her girlfriends how it is done. I admit, she is slightly annoying at times, but endearing nonetheless.

The books go month by month, each month featuring several chapters of a continuing story along with recipes. The books are hard to come by and if you do find original copies, they are quite expensive. I was given the first book as a gift from my mother who secured a copy at a tag sale of some sort. I spent over a year looking for the Family book and finally found a copy I could afford in Britain from a bookseller going out of business and selling her stock off at a discount. Both are original copies. The Husband book is from 1917 and the Family book is from 1922. Thankfully, I know the Husband book is available on Google Books and I believe is even being reprinted (though in a less charming state. I have a soft spot for old books.)

I will be spending the year 2011 with Bettina in both of her books, sharing tidbits and trying out recipes to be featured on this blog. If you'd like to follow along, just look for "A Year With Bettina" labels and titles. I'd be ever so grateful if you shared on your own blogs about this. Bettina really is a lot of fun.