Fighting it

It’s that time of year again for me. I’ve been arming myself in the battle against Seasonal Affective Disorder. Although I have not become depressed, I can feel it grabbing my brain and pulling in different directions. It has been difficult for me to focus and get normal activities done. I also feel myself withdrawing from everyday contact with others.

Art Every Day has become a great challenge. I’m glad I knew this going into the month though and have allowed myself permission to ride this wave of disorder. I am celebrating even the tiniest sparks of creativity. These sparks have been a healing balm for me. In the past I would have just fallen to pieces. Now I turn to my art journal, or I make pickles.

Although I’m not commenting much right now, I’ve truly been enjoying the creativity that is going on this month in the blog world with Art Every Day Month, NaNoWriMo, and NaNoBloMo and all the other NaNo***Mo’s. Good stuff.

amanda ∞

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Fermented Green Tomatoes

When my family gathered at my grandparents for family dinner, the meals were enough to give me a life-long pursuit of delicious, made-from-scratch food. My favorites were the pickled fruits and vegetables that accompanied the meals, cucumbers, beets, watermelon rind, and (my mouth is watering) green tomatoes. My grandma pickled the traditional way with vinegar.

Since learning to ferment vegetables, pickling them without vinegar, I experimented and came up with the most delicious, fizzy recipe for Pickled Green Tomatoes. We opened a jar yesterday and were WOWed by the flavor and texture.

Since the tomatoes are fermented rather than pickled with vinegar and heat, the contents of the jar are full of lovely, little, living organisms, mostly lacto-bacteria. My daughter had the bright idea of viewing these little organisms under the microscope. Let me just say they are cute and wiggly and very tiny.

And let me also say, YUM!

This is the perfect time of year to pickle green tomatoes as the last tomatoes linger on the vine. The perfect tomatoes to use are still smallish and very green. If they have started to turn, they do not taste good pickled. They taste downright awful. I found this out last year. Bleck.

These tomatoes were prepared today. They are bright when first placed in the jar, but will soften in color as they ferment.

Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes 1 quart

7-8 small green tomatoes, freshly picked from the vine
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons fresh dill, snipped
(OR 2 tablespoons dried dill weed
OR 1 tablespoon dried dill weed and 1 tablespoon dill seed)
1 tablespoon sea salt, preferably Kosher
4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use and additional 1 tablespoon salt)
2-3 cloves garlic (do not mince or crush)
filtered water

Wash green tomatoes well and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Add all the ingredients except the water to the jar, stuffing the garlic in the holes. Add enough water to fill jar, but leaving at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly. Shake to stir ingredients. Keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. For best results, allow to ferment for at least 1 month. When the jar is opened, the liquid will fizz. This is a good thing!

This recipe was adapted from other recipes found in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon.

amanda ∞

Lesson repeated

This morning I woke up feeling very gray, not even blue. As I made my way through my melancholy day, my son and I really had a lovely time. He beat me again at another game of Heroscape, but I did triumph in Battleship. As the evening comes to a close, I finally figured out why I am not my chipper self. I haven’t been going to bed on time. I’ve stayed up late every night this week working on my art journal. I often stay up when my husband is out of town, but not this late. Although I had a productive and fun time with my late nighters, tonight I’m off to bed at a decent hour, being mindful of the lesson I’ve learned so many times before: Take care of myself physically and emotionally! This week I’ve only taken care of myself emotionally, but without the physical part, the emotions run out pretty quick too.

The boy and I ate cheese and chocolate this week. We also ate lunch at our favorite restaurant, You Say Tomato. For dessert yesterday, we split this:

and today we went back just for a treat because they made my son’s very favorite chocolate cake:
I wonder if that had anything to do with him calling them early Tuesday asking if they had any made.

I’ve really enjoyed working in my art journal and am finally finding the merge between my written journal and my art. Kira has encouraged us to take our art journals out and about, and not to just work on them at home, so I packed my sweet little cigar box with essential supplies. (My dad fixed up the cigar box for me. It used to be my grandpa’s ~ makes it even cooler.) Tossed it in my messenger bag, and worked on my art journal while we had lunch at You Say Tomato. It was so fun! So I had to take it with me again today.

This page is from lunch yesterday with some tweeking when we got home:

And this one is today’s:

Well I’m off to get a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams, ya’ll.

amanda ∞
 

 

Weight Loss

So someone passed on to my family this weight loss program. It’s called the Stomach Flu. The only one seemingly unaffected is The Boy. I’m so glad for that. Otherwise, who would take care of the rest of us? He has been such a great help, but I’m sure he is ready for us all to be well. Back to resting. I hope to be feeling normal be tomorrow.

amanda ∞

New Year’s Resolution

New year resolutions, I am not one to set them, but have found myself pondering and praying about God’s directions for me. This fall I spent extremely too much time on the computer. I am sure I wasted days. This is not what God has prepared for me. Last spring, God began stripping responsibilities and duties from me to be available for His direction. Rather than praying and listening, I have been filling my “still time” with mindless computer time. Rather than playing games with my son or playing the piano, I have been pouring this beautiful gift of time down the drain. As a result, my family became less intimate this fall. As I sat staring at the computer screen, everyone else quickly learned to piddle away their time as well.  To guard this precious gift and to allow myself to live more fully as God directs, goals and disciplines must be set. I must choose to do these things.

  • I will not wander aimlessly on the internet.
  • I will not play computer games.
  • I will minimize Outlook so as not to be continually scanning for new emails.
  • I will continue to exercise regularly and will make an effort to add exercise time to my routine.
  • I will continue to focus on feeding my family nutritious food.
  • I will take my vitamins.
  • I will drink lots of water.
  • I will not drink alcohol.
  • I will monitor my coffee intake.
  • I will continue my daily Bible reading and will seek more time in God’s precious Word.
  • I will call, at minimum, one friend each week.
  • I will look for opportunities to be quiet with God throughout each day.
  • I will have conversations with each child individually each day.
  • I will frequently remind my husband to take me out.
  • I will pray for artistic inspiration.
  • I will do my best with household duties without comparing my life and choices to others.
  • I will be of good cheer.
  • I will give thanks.

I notice 3 distinct reasons for these goals as I list them. One is to guard my mind from becoming complacent; two, to keep my body (and my family) in good condition so that I am available; three, to build on relationships with family and friends and anyone God puts in my path. I do all of these things to develop a greater intimacy with my Father. Whenever one of these areas is lacking, I tend to loose touch with the One who created me.

So I suppose if I were to have a New Year’s Resolution, it would be: To let nothing hinder me in my passionate pursuit of a deeper relationship with my Father, not even myself.

amanda ∞

Stuff

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (16) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;(17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

I’m feeling melancholy today. I am praying the above for myself today. If you’d like me to pray this for you as well, let me know. Your name will be added to my lips and mind.

Yesterday I didn’t take my vitamins. I hate taking vitamins, but am realizing that I can’t do it at whim.

I do rejoice because today we are serving lunch to my favorite ladies. The menu:

Ham and Bean Soup (made with a delicious smoked ham bone from my father in-law)
Rosemary Potatoes (from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, the best ever)
Crackers (because I didn’t get cornbread done)
Mississippi Mud Cake (made by the famous pastry chef in my house, my daughter, by request of one of the ladies whose birthday is tomorrow)

Serving others is always good for my heart. Now I’m off to take those blessed vitamins.

amanda ∞

Art Every Day #26 – Mustard & Cereal

Thank you all for the encouragement. I’m feeling great again. The vitamins really did the trick. I’m also watching that I get enough rest, excercise, and nourishing foods.

Today my creativity was excercised in the kitchen. I made some delicious hot mustard.

The recipe from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook is my favorite. It calls for 4 oz. of dry mustard. To spice things up a bit, I use hot dry mustard for half of this. The end product will make our eyes light up and our nose hairs curl. Quite delicious! This recipe is a lacto-fermented product with the lacto-ingredient being whey. After sitting on the counter for 3 days, it will be ready for the fridge or our mouths.

Another delicious creation from the kitchen is a 5 grain cereal, also a recipe from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.

The cereal is coarsely ground wheat, rice, millet, split peas, and oats. The recipe makes 10 cups of cereal. After soaking overnight and cooking, one cup of this mix will serve 4 people for breakfast. After adding a bit of butter and milk, the cost for this ORGANIC breakfast is less than 20 cents per person. Organic cereal does not equal expensive unless the cereal eaten is precooked and comes in a large cardboard box. This is truly art!

amanda ∞