Category Archives: Homemaking

My Whole30 Experience

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Y’all!  I did a thing!  I completed Whole30 last week, which is HUGE for me!  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Whole30 is a 30 day diet that emphasizes whole foods and the elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. It’s very similar to the Paleo Diet.

I feel like you need some background to understand how significant it was for me to start and stick to Whole30.  I’ve struggled with food my entire life.  I never ate healthy as a kid, and in high school I counted my calories to make sure I stayed a certain size and often ate way less than I should have.  In college I gained an insane amount of weight due to severe stress and depression.  I’ve dieted more times than I can count in the 13 years since I gradated high school.  I’ve done weight watchers and my fitness pal more times than I can count.  Since Chad and I got married almost 10 years ago we have struggled together.  If one of us is eating well, then the other is too.  If one of us is eating terrible, then the other is too. So we decided to do this together.  And he has been such an amazing support!

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My #1 cheerleader!!!  (Ignore the crazy hair and no makeup…we were outside planting ALL day!)

I believe 110% that food is medicine and that is affects us emotionally and physically.  I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in the 7th grade.  I also have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and am struggling with infertility.  I am also beyond tired ALL. THE. TIME. When I started Whole30 I weighed more than I have ever weighed in my life and felt awful inside and out. Something had to change.  I couldn’t keep living on this horrible rollercoaster of yo-yo dieting.

I struggle with not eating enough fruits and veggies and living on things like cheese, sour cream, and peanut butter, which is why I thought Whole30 would be perfect because I wouldn’t be able to eat those things any longer. And for the love of cheese fries…we raise our own meat and produce!!!  I have no excuse not to eat healthy most of the time!

During the 30 days I cooked a lot of new recipes.  I tried things in soups I probably would not have done before, like kale.  I tried cauliflower rice, arrowroot flour, coconut aminos, and ghee.  And I liked it!  After the first week I really started to feel better.  I meal planned like crazy.  I made soup on Friday night so we could take leftovers in our thermos for farmers market the next day.  It’s almost impossible to eat out on Whole30.

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Chicken & Bacon Alfredo Casserole (made with Primal Kitchen dairy free Alfredo Sauce)

The hardest part about Whole30 was finding food that didn’t have added sugar or other additives.  Bacon, salsa, breakfast sausage, ketchup, barbecue sauce, guacamole are just some examples of foods we had to look real hard to find without sugar in them.  And eating a burger without bread and cheese is hard, but I learned to use the lettuce as a bun. Instead of tacos with cheese and sour cream we made taco salads with extra greens and sugar free salsa. If you want it bad it enough it can be done.  We did make a shopping trip to Sprouts every week when we went into town for deliveries.  They have a lot of Whole30 options and a great produce section.  We love their fruit! I also learned that I really love kombucha and sparkling waters!

During the 30 days I lost 14.6 pounds and felt so much better.  After doing some research and listening to some of the “Food Freedom Forever” book by Melissa Hartwig (who created Whole30), I decided to extend it to 45 days before I gradually add food back in.  I felt like I needed a little linger to truly cleanse my body.

It’s important to add food in slowly so you can see how your body reacts to that particular food.  Chad decided to go ahead and add foods back in and he’s still feeling great.  I will have to be more careful with my foods because of my PCOS. Before Whole30 I was jittery and/or nauseous 75% of the time.  That has almost gone completely away, as well as most of my headaches.  I also gave up caffeine, which was probably the hardest part because I love coffee, but I put so much sugar in it and wanted to see if cutting out the caffeine made me feel better.

My hope and desire is to continue to eat Whole30 most of the time.  It’s going to be hard, but I know it will be worth it.  I know how I feel after I eat a greasy hamburger or a bowl of ice cream.  And I want to set an example for my daughter.  She will never learn to eat healthy if we are not doing it too.  But if the family goes out for pizza it’s okay to have a slice.  If I’m at a birthday party with chocolate cake, it’s okay to eat a piece.  I just have to ask myself if I really want it and if it’s worth it.  If it is then great, no harm done and no guilt.  It’s the constant junk food and lack of healthy nutrient-containing food that is harmful.

I’m excited to see where this takes Chad and I.  I know we can be better people inside and out when we choose to eat the food God has given us to fuel and heal our bodies. 

I have several recipes I plan to post over the next few weeks that have become some of our favorites after doing Whole30. Stay tuned for those!

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Chicken chorizo (from our farm), red potatoes, eggs, & green onions

Where Does the Time Go?!

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(Written on Wed. April 6)

Today I am frustrated and overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point that it’s 10:30am and other than getting up for 30 minutes to help Chad move chickens I just got out of bed. (It was nice and very much needed to snuggle with Eden all morning!) The dishes are overflowing and the laundry has been in the dryer for 3 days with more falling out of the full  dirty laundry basket. I have 2 egg baskets full of eggs waiting to be washed, packed, and labeled.  Ahhhh!!!

I thought I was finally figuring out how to get everything done with a baby in the house: keeping the house clean, cooking a good healthy dinner every night, washing diapers, making Eden’s baby food, washing eggs daily, plus all the random things that come up, and helping Chad around the farm whenever needed. For a couple months I even felt like super mom.  Eden and I were up and ready by 8 everyday and I felt like energizer bunny getting everything accomplished. Chad was sick from work last Wednesday, so he was able to see everything I do in a day from his spot on the couch. I asked him at the end of the day what things I do that aren’t necessary because often at the end of the day I feel like I need way more time to get things done or like I haven’t accomplished much, and that’s without sitting down other than to feed Eden or myself.  He said he couldn’t think of anything I did that didn’t need done and he knows I do a lot around here. Folks, I didn’t even sweep the floor that day, and I normally sweep the floor a couple times a day! I keep asking myself what am I doing that I can cut out so I have more time for more important things. Or what can I rearrange in my daily routine so I have more time. My in-laws think all I do is clean my house all day. I wish I had the time to clean it like I would like because I can’t tell you the last time it’s been dusted. Yes, I am border-line ocd, but my house is not immaculate. I just like things picked up and because we live on a farm (and have a cat that sheds and gets litter everywhere) and everyone is in and out all the time there is a bit more upkeep. Now I can tell you that yesterday was the first time my floor got swept in 4 days and I should have taken a picture of the nasty pile!

It’s ironic that I feel this way because several times this week there have been articles on my Facebook news-feed about “to-do lists” or “what it really important in life” and that it’s okay to neglect things sometimes and spend time with your children.   I told Chad before Eden was born that I did not want to be that mom that was too busy for her children. If they need me I want to be able to stop what I’m doing and snuggle, read a book, or just listen. They are only little once and the dishes can wait.

I think my exhaustion and overwhelmed feelings are a blessing in disguise because my lack of motivation this week is causing me to spend more time playing and snuggling with Eden. (I’m going to blame getting up at 4:30am on Saturday for our new farmer’s market schedule for my exhaustion too! )

So mom’s out there I’m starting to get you. Moms working outside the home and inside the home are all superwomen, even when we don’t get it done or have it all figured out. It’s okay to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. And it’s definitely okay to neglect your house and laundry to read a book to your child. I don’t know where the time goes nor do I have it all figured out yet. But I know it goes too fast, so I want to make the most of every second.  I wouldn’t trade this life for anything in the world.  Even on the overwhelming and redundant days I would rather wash eggs and diapers a million times if that means I get to do those things with my little Eden girl.

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Making Chicken Stock

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Making Chicken Stock

 

I started making our own chicken stock a few years ago when we started raising our own pastured chickens.  Sadly, making your own stock or broth has become a lost art, especially in the younger generations such as mine. I’m a prime example of someone who had no earthly idea how to do it. I just picked up a can of broth at the grocery store when I needed it and did not think any more about it. I didn’t think about the factory it was made in, the workers who worked in that factory, what ingredients were in the broth, or the treatment and origin of the animal used to make the broth.  It’s insane to see the difference between store bought broth and homemade.  It’s darker and thicker, and not watery like grocery store broth.  My brother-in-law (who is not a health nut AT ALL swears by this broth when he’s not feeling well!)

A friend of mine recommended the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook a few years ago, which challenges the American diet full of processed and additive-filled food. It explains the many benefits of adding homemade broth to your diet. It is known for aiding the digestive system, used to heal and prevent the flu and cold, and protection from a variety of health problems. Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions, states, “Properly prepared meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into broth.” It’s not only extremely healthy, but perfect to eat plain or add to soups and casseroles. It’s the perfect example of food being medicine!  Some even say it works better than Tylenol!

If you are not able to purchase frames and feet from our farm, you can use a whole chicken.  Our chicken is sold in several locations around the state of Oklahoma so feel free to contact me on where to find them if you’re interested.

Because our processor packs our frames and feet in large packages I had to moderate the original recipe.

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1 pack of chicken frames-necks are included (5lbs.)

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1 pack of chicken feet (3lbs.)  The feet add extra gelatin to the broth, which adds even more nutrients.

Here’s what I use:

  • 1 pack of frames (ours are 5lbs.)
  • 1 pack of feet (ours are 3lbs.)
  • Cold filtered water (I fill the pot I’m using 3/4 full)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bundle of carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley

I use my big canning pot right now.  I’m hoping to invest in a stainless steel stock pot soon. IMG_1289

You place all the ingredients (except parsley) in the pot. Let it stand 30 minutes to an hour and then bring it to a boil. After an hour remove any scum that rises to the top. Then reduce the heat and simmer. I let mine cook for 24 hours. The recipe says 6-24, and the longer you cook it the richer it will be.  10 minutes before it’s finished you add the parsley.

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I let it cool for a few minutes when it’s finished and then use a large slotted spoon to get out the large pieces.  Because our pot is so huge I have Chad help me pour it into a large pot through a strainer to make sure I only have the liquid broth.  I give all the chicken and veggie parts to the barn cats! After it has cooled, I ladle it into jars I’ve recycled.  When freezing in jars you have to make sure to leave plenty of room at the top so the jars do not crack, since liquid expands in the freezer. One pint of broth is 1¾ cups if using it for a recipe.

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I love the nice rich dark color it produces!

There you have it! I was really overwhelmed the first time I made broth, but it’s actually really easy. I encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. You will feel so good about yourself for accomplishing such an old tradition and nourishing your household!

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Book Review: Radical Homemakers Part 1

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Since Eden was born over 7 months ago I have not made time to read anything. It’s been hard to find the time, honestly. But I am one of those people who think reading is crucial for keeping our minds sharp and continuing our education throughout our lifetime. I ordered three books based on things I’m currently passionate about: homesteading and homemaking and being a mommy.

Unlike my husband, I do not retain information well at all so I thought if I wrote about what I’m reading as I go along it might help me remember things better. Plus, you may want to go out and purchase the book too!

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The book I’m currently reading is “Radical Homemakers,” by Shannon Hayes. I’m only about a third of the way through it and my mindset has already radically changed. It’s not about the homemakers most of America tends to have in their head where the woman slaves in the house and kitchen all day (in her apron, of course) and her husband comes home from his job and sits in the recliner with his beer while she serves him the rest of the evening. It is not about that at all, but the book actually emphasizes the equality between men and women, and that men can be homemakers too.   Hayes states, “But as I spent time with happily married Radical Homemakers, egalitarianism was a resounding theme in their discussions of their domestic lives. In these households, men and women share both authority and responsibility.” Radical homemakers are helping to bridge the gap between men and women and create equality between men and women in our world.

The first half of the book is mainly history of how we as Americans ended up consumed with money: both attaining it and spending it. Basically, if we radically change our mindset and lifestyle we can quit our jobs and go back to the basics by living off the land, cooking our own food, trading with neighbors, and making our own medicine from herbs we grow. Yes, you will have way less by society’s standards, but you will have so much more: a life family focused and fulfilled instead of empty because all you do is work and buy things. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “Give us wealth, and the home shall exist. But that is a very imperfect and inglorious solution of the problem, and therefore no solution. Few have wealth, but all must have a home.” I’d rather my home not just exist, but thrive!

If you’re reading this you are probably thinking this is nuts and completely unrealistic. But people are doing it! The second half of the book is actual stories from families who are living this way. The author (who also lives radically on her family farm) traveled across the country interviewing people who are radical homemakers. Some are single, married, have no children, and some have lots of children. There are a few families where both partners work from home and some where one still works outside of the household. (I can’t wait to get to that part of the book!)

Hayes points out that everything starts in the home. She says, “It is time we come to think of our homes as living systems. Like a sour-dough starter, the home’s survival requires constant attention. A true home is inhabited by souls who live, breathe, eat, think, create, play, get sick, heal and get dirty. It will wither in an antiseptic condition. A true home pulses with nonhuman life—vegetable patches, yeast, backyard hens, blueberry bushes, culturing yogurt, fermenting wine and sauerkraut, brewing beer, milk goats, cats, dogs, houseplants, kids’ science projects, pet snakes and strawberry patches. A living system cannot respect the hours on a time clock and requires the involvement of all inhabitants in order to thrive. When we can see our home as a living system, when men and women both play a role in its care, even if one of them goes out to a job for part of the day, we have taken the first steps to restore the important partnerships our Neanderthal ancestors innately understood. We will have moved toward creating a true Earth Community.”  Being a homemaker creates social change in our world.   In Shannon Hayes’ words, “…The work to heal our ecological wounds, bring a balance of power into out economy and ensure social equality starts with our choices about what to eat, what to buy (or, more importantly, what not to buy), what to create, and how to use our time and money. Indeed the major work of society needs to happen inside our home, putting the homemaker at the vanguard of social change.”

There are dozens of quotes I would love to share with you, but then I would have to copy the whole book here for you! As you can see, it is a radical way to live, and Chad and I are in the process of doing so. We are so thankful we have a handful of friends who are on this path of radical homemaking with us. Having a support system is crucial because this lifestyle does cause you to have to rely on others for some things. Sharing canning recipes, trading vegetables, and sharing tools to name a few. My hope is that one day Chad and I will not have to rely on a grocery store to shop. Joel Salatin (a renowned chicken farmer) talks about his wife grocery shopping. She traveled all the way to her root cellar where she kept the food she had preserved! If they needed something they did not produce themselves they either did not eat it or traded items with another farmer to get what they needed. Chad and I have already made drastic changes in the food we’ve been purchasing and consuming.  I genuinely believe the food we put into our bodies, the chemicals we put on our skin, and what we use to clean our house have an effect on our bodies physically and emotionally.

When it comes to food, Americans have stopped cooking and rely on fast food and preserved food full of artificial ingredients. Families no longer share meals together. Moms and dads work insane hours and give little attention to their children. And we wonder why 66% of America is obese and depression and suicide continues to be a severe problem.  Cancer rates have also increased over the years.  “Psychologist Michael Yapko observes that when societies achieve America’s standard of living, their rates of depression increase.  He found that in those societies where depression is less prevalent, there is less emphasis on technology and consumerism and greater emphasis on family and community.”  I believe this to be 100% true.  We think we need to work, work, work, so we can buy, buy, buy.  We need the latest iphones, cars, fancy houses, fancy clothes, go to big concerts, eat out at fancy restaurants, etc.  Most people I know who work full-time are miserable and would do anything to work from home and take care of their household full-time.  (And I know there are circumstances that no matter how hard you tried you could not quit your job right now.)  But there are many people out there who are not willing to change their mindset and live on less in order to do so.

Shannon Hayes mainly focuses on those who work in large cooperation’s.  I hope I am not sounding judgmental in any way during this post.  Though I am a homemaker, we have been blessed in ways that have allowed me to do so more easily.  Not to say, it is not hard.  Chad and I live very frugal lives to allow me to stay at home (I hope to write about our lifestyle more often on here).  Hayes also encourages those who work in a setting that promotes social justice and contributes to the community.  I have been very convicted from reading this book so far and if you read it I’m sure you will be too (even if you already work from home).  We all need to have a mindset that is family focused and less about having the nicest stuff and the world will be a much happier place.  We need to change our lifestyles in ways that promotes social justice and hinders large cooperation’s and the industrialization of our food.

Basically, we need to go back to the basics.  And for those who desire to do so it can be done.  I believe it is a process of conscious choices, but choices that can be made if we’re creative enough.  I am so excited to continue reading this book, and I cannot wait to see where this journey of radical homemaking takes my family.

I know this is a long quote, but it sums up everything I’ve read so far.  I will leave you with this:

“We have lost the innate knowledge and tradition crafts essential to countless functions for our daily survival, with the end result being a disconnection from our communities and our natural world. So complete is this detachment that we are unaware of the ecological and social damage created by mass production for our daily needs. Screened from the production process, we buy chicken breasts without considering the workers in poultry factories who must breathe toxic fumes, or the loss of topsoil from irresponsible grain production. We purchase detergents and cleaners without considering the ingredients that might be poisoning our families and our water supply. We buy inexpensive clothing, never considering who must produce the fiber, weave the cloth and sew the garments for paltry wages, or what country must have its rivers polluted with dyes. No matter where we live, we expect fresh tomatoes in December and iceberg lettuce in January, regardless of the fact that it took more calories to grow and ship them than they deliver when we eat them.

This is not to say every homemaker should start weaving cloth and hand-washing their family’s clothes; with few exceptions, most of us will always rely on the broader industrial system for something. But for each daily need that we re-learn to provide within our homes and communities, we strengthen out independence from an extractive and parasitic economy. As we realize the impact of each choice we make, we discover ways to simplify our demands and rebuild our domestic culture.

When we regain connection with all that sustains us, we regain creative spirit.   We rediscover the joy that comes with using our hands and our minds in union to nourish, nurture and delight in our families; we tap the source of true creative satisfaction, the ecstasy that accompanies a home that lives in harmony with the earth’s systems, and the certitude of a life guided by principles of social justice and nonexploitation.”

 

 

I’m a Home Economist!

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Last Saturday on our way home from Stillwater Farmer’s Market (where we sell our products), I was telling Chad how much I hate it when people ask me what I do.  I normally go into detail about how I stay at home and take care of our 6 month old and I help around the farm as much as I can.  I just don’t  like saying I am a “stay-at-home mom.”  Unfortunately, it has such a negative connotation these days, which it shouldn’t!  Sadly, some people think stay-at-home moms sit around in their jammies all day watching tv.  Plus, I do a lot of things on top of taking care of Eden! Her pediatrician gave me a huge lecture one time because I said I “just” stay at home and take care of the baby.  She understood there is so much more to it than that!

During mine and Chad’s conversation about this dilemma I’m in, he came up with a new title for me.  He is a pretty brilliant man.  I am now the Ward Family Farm’s Home Economist.  I laughed real hard when he gave me this title.  He was so proud of himself and said he is going to tell people that’s what I do when they ask him.  But the more I got to thinking about it the more it made sense.  Webster says “home economics” is the theory and practice of homemaking.  And according to Webster a “homemaker” is one who manages a household especially as a wife and mother.  I feel like that is the perfect title for me based on these definitions. (I laugh inside though because in my super feminist woman power days I would have been offended if someone called me a homemaker!)

All of this is so silly.  Who cares what my title is and what anyone thinks!  But it matters to me.  I think it’s a pride thing (which I need to work on).  I went to a prestigious college and earned my degree.  And sadly our society judges you based on your career.  Well let me tell you I am very proud of the job that I have as a stay-at-home mom, homemaker, home economist, or whatever you want to call it!  I work extremely hard taking care of our child and our household.  I am going to be talking about some of the things I do here on the blog over the next few months, and I am really excited about it!

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Miss Eden helped me wash eggs today! (Egg washing is one of the many jobs I have.)

Meal planning, household budgeting, cooking, canning, broth making, cloth diapering, baby food making, cleaning and organizing, crafting, and lots more are topics I will be writing about.  I’ve been so blessed with a husband who understands the value of me staying at home to take care of our child and to keep our household nourished and in order.  I do not ever want to make a mother who works outside of the home feel like she has made the wrong decision by doing so because we all have different callings and circumstances.  This is just where I am called to be and what works best for our family right now.  I am excited to really start sharing this journey through motherhood, homemaking, homesteading, and farming with you!

Blessings,

Ward Family Farm’s Home Economist (ha ha!)