Sunday, December 28, 2014

Me and My Baby Weight

What new mom doesn't talk about their baby weight? We're women, we talk about everything. But, how many of those new moms are just glowing and back in their skinny jeans in a matter of a couple months? Not really any I know. So, here I am coming up on the 3 month mark with my little Happy Boy and except for the 30 pounds I lost in the two weeks after his birth I have lost nothing. In fact I even gained back a couple. After I had Mini Me I had obviously never had a postpartum body before and much to my disappointment nothing went back to how I remembered! Despite breastfeeding exclusively and eating fairly well I was stuck at a rather uncomfortable 180 pounds on my 5' 7" frame. After Mini weaned herself at 10 months I finally found my will power and started to lose the weight by cutting out all gluten and sugar as well as walking faithfully. In about 6 months I was down to 155, 10 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight.

This time around I would like to try losing all my pregnancy weight plus about 10 pounds like last time but while breastfeeding. My supply seems to be much less finicky than before so I am feeling confident I will be able to accomplish my goal without effecting it. I certainly have enough fat to fuel production! But, I have more than just weight loss as my goal. I would like to...

Increase my energy. This is probably even more important to me than the weight loss. I have really struggled this time with fatigue and constant ups and downs. My mood has not been awful but it certainly has not been as even as I'd like it to be. So I would like to find a natural way to get some decent energy! Right now I am a major coffee drinker (BAD!!!) and sugar eater (WORSE!!!). Combine these and no wonder I have this issue.

Slowly detox. Now, before you jump on me about how I'm going to dump a bunch of toxins into my milk let me just say that I have concluded through research that I can absolutely detox without it effecting my milk. Done slowly and carefully detoxing can help jump start a very tired and overloaded body which is precisely what I have! Mainly I will be reducing the toxin intake and increasing toxin elimination by eating whole, unprocessed foods, drinking lots of water, drinking supporting herbal teas like milk thistle and trying out some gelatinous foods like chia seeds.

Regain my clear skin. Before having Happy Boy my skin looked great! Now it's dull and I'm getting breakouts! Enough said.

So, the big picture is I would like to regain my health and continue to breastfeed while doing it. It's going to be hard but when I think of how good I will feel again it's motivation for sure. I will elaborate more on the actual weight loss once I start losing some!

Til next time.

Canning My Own 'Convenience' Foods

For me canning is somewhat romantic. It gives you pause to think of simple or weighty things as you wait for things to boil or gain proper pressure. It gives you the comfort of an exact routine each time you fill a jar and prep it for processing. And, it praises you with clear vessels showing you beautiful food waiting to be enjoyed. Yup, for me canning is just something I enjoy. Since I didn't can at all this summer I was feeling a bit bummed like I missed out. Well I was reading an old cookbook my mom gave me a few years ago in my renewed quest of simpler yet tasty food, and I ran across instructions for canning dry beans so that they are ready just like store bought canned beans. So I wanted to give it a try as well as get some stock in the pantry ready to go.

I started with stock. We are slowly getting our chickens butchered so I had a carcass from one bird I roasted and one I had stashed in the freezer from a previous chicken dinner. I put them in the really big stock pot with onions (skin left on for color), celery, carrots, bay leaves and peppercorns, covered with water and set on the wood stove for several hours. I them strained it and left it in the fridge to cool overnight so I could skim the fat off the next morning. I then returned the stock to the big pot and the wood stove to come to a boil while I got everything ready for the canner. My husband's bosses were kind enough to lend me their pressure canner for my projects! I have yet to get my own but, one will be coming my way as a housewarming present from my grandparents, I just need to pick it out. Anyway! Stock is just about as simple as it gets. You just heat it to a boil, pour into hot jars, seal and process. I ended up with 10 quarts plus a little more which I just poured into my moose stew. I will caution you from using too many herbs or flavorings in your stock if you are going to can it because canning will intensify the flavor. One quart jar is equivalent to one standard box of stock minus the MSG, plastic lining and mystery ingredients. I hope to get a good stash of beef stock put up before I return the pressure canner. We have a ton of moose so I often needs beef stock to make stews and quick gravies to accompany steaks. I could make stock from the moose meat but I just can't bear to boil that beautiful meat to death!

Wednesday I canned the beans. I had recently bought an assortment of dry beans for the pantry since I am restocking (more on that later), so I canned a pound each of navy, pinto and garbanzo beans. I soaked them all overnight so they were fully re-hydrated yet not softened. Each pound filled a bit over 3 pint jars so I made a combined jar of pinto and navy beans. The garbanzos got cooked and went to the chickens because I forgot about them and they cooked unevenly (my bad). I chose to can pints because they hold about the same as a standard can which I thought would serve my pantry better. I am not to going to give instructions on how to can beans but there are plenty of resources which I used available either on the internet or in books. From the looks of things from the outside of the jars the beans might be slightly mushy. I read after the fact that softened water can cause this which is what we have. It might also be because the pressure was higher for a bit while I was trying to find the sweet spot for maintaining the proper pressure.

I would really like to try canning soups and things like baked beans as well in the future. Why bother? Well, right now we have about 300 pounds of moose and deer in the two deep freezers in the basement and the upstairs freezer is a drawer style in the fridge that always seems to be packed with odds and ends. Needless to say I do not have much room for stock and ready made items. Also, I am not real good about remembering to take things out of the freezer ahead to thaw. When I want some stock it's nice to just pop a top like the store bought stuff. Just way better.

So the kitchen has been busy! Not only with canning but I also made venison jerky and was on a quest for the perfect gluten free cinnamon roll. Add in making 3 meals a day and I have pretty much been spending all my time not nursing the baby in the kitchen. And, sometimes I nurse the baby in the kitchen. I have food prepping problems...

I'll be sharing about my pantry and how I am trying to both simplify and stock it up soon. In January I will be giving the Pantry Challenge another go to encourage me to use up bits that have been hanging around too long or are just hanging out because it's easier than figuring our what to do with it. So, I will try to blog daily on the challenge to share how I make it work beginning January 1st!

Til next time!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Life as a Family of Five

Puzzle Boy's favorite job holding his baby brother.

Well, 7 if you count my parents in the same house. I do feed them! Happy Boy is now 10 weeks old and growing at an amazing rate! He is now about 13 pounds and fitting into 3-6 month clothing. What can I say? The kid loves to eat and I get to take full credit for that heft on his thighs.

7 weeks old

Logistically 3 is not that much harder than 2. Obviously there is more laundry and newborns will sleep deprive you whether they have older siblings or not (although 'sleeping when baby sleeps' is impossible with older kids). I have just started getting back to some little extra projects like...

Making fire starters from egg cartons, shavings and paraffin wax.


Making a new recipe of laundry detergent that makes 12 quarts of concentrate.

This is how I managed to make said laundry detergent.

Honestly Happy Boy is such a good baby that if not for the other two hooligans I would probably get a ton done everyday! Mini Me is blossoming into a preschooler as she just a few months away from turning three. She is talking a lot and enjoys being a 'big girl' including helping Mommy with everything from laundry to cooking. Puzzle Boy will be turning 7 (!) this week and will soon be transitioning from being homeschooled to public school which I will elaborate on after the transition is done. I will say that it was a heart wrenching decision but I am now making peace with it and Puzzle Boy couldn't be more excited for this new experience.

One thing about having 3 children that I find amusing is the comments from strangers when we are out, especially in the grocery store. If I had a dime for every "You have your hands full!" I could buy them some manners. Now I am sure some are just remarking but it makes me realize that 2 children is still the accepted normal. But, I enjoy just flashing a smile and replying with a hearty "Gladly!" and moving on.

Being winter I have found it is really hard getting out to the animals with a baby in the house. Ashamedly I will admit my dad has been doing a lot of my chores for me for which I am most grateful. We haven't been getting any eggs since we have been letting the chickens free range so I am assuming that they are laying eggs in inconspicuous places. Once we have butchered all the roosters we will clean out the barn and stall, make new nesting boxes and roosts and I will then let the hens out around lunch time everyday so that they can free range but also hopefully lay their eggs in the barn! I would really like eggs from them again seeing as that is what they are for.

So all in all Montana Man and I are exhausted from our life and caring for little brood but are happy to do so. I am so looking forward to Christmas as this will be the first year that we will be staying home and celebrating just us. Until then I will be getting the house decorated and creating the perfect recipe for gluten free cinnamon rolls which I will be sharing. December is always a busy month around here because of Puzzle Boy's birthday and the holidays but also because I always feel compelled to 'wrap up' the year. Next year I would truly like to get all my projects out of the way so we can spend the month of December only doing things we want to do. We'll see!

Til next time.