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For the past year, David and I have been house hunting. We love our little home, but we desire a different layout, a different town, and c...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Neighborhood: Nature in the City

A recent post on FIMBY by Renee Tougas about lifestyle choices got me thinking about my life, my choices, and how that is reflected in my story. I have spent the majority of the last 12 years living in urban environments. Some have been very urban (North Philadelphia) while others, like our current home, is tucked between "the city" and "the suburbs". David and I also have a penchant for traveling to cities rather than roaming through farm land. This was evidenced as we just returned from a getaway to Minneapolis/St. Paul and while there talked about places we'd like to go in the future-- all cities!

On one hand cities offer so much to do, concentrations of culture and food. Yet, I don't think we consider cities a place where nature blossoms--at least outside of zoos and city gardens. With the advent of spring, I have been reminded how much nature is available in my backyard- despite not having a wood or creek or field.

In our neighborhood, we have squirrels a plenty. They can be bothersome to vegetable patches and bird feeders, but they are also hysterical to watch chasing each other. There is also a resident chipmunk who I saw skittering down the sidewalk just last week, little tail bolt upright as it dashed from our neighbor's bush to a hole in our mulch. A less desirable animal is a groundhog who seems to hide under our neighbor's sheds. Last year, Mr. Groundhog ate all of Patty's sunflowers. We're hoping to live trap him and remove him from our area, but he's proven crafty. A far more beautiful and arresting animal is our neighborhood red fox. I am personally tickled to have such a lovely beast to share our little scrap of earth. We saw the vixen early one morning. The sun was rising, the mist slowly dissipating and her gorgeous coat of rust trollopping across our backyard. Foxes are wonderful creatures to have in a city. We are on the look out for her return.

This evening with the damp and rain we witnessed a robin pull a worm from the ground, divide it on our patio, and eat one half. Than a male and female cardinal came and pecked at the leftovers. All we had to do was stand at our kitchen window. Meanwhile, if you look out the bathroom window at our rose and clematis arbor you will see a small nest lovingly built by mourning doves. We can't wait to hear the peeps and calls of the chicks when the hatch. There is also a pair of woodpeckers that reside one street over. We hear their pecking in the late afternoon rhythmically tick-ticking the passage of time.

We have vegetable gardens that are being planted and produce that will be shared among neighbors as spring gives way to summer bounty. And of course, we have flowers. Our next door neighbor has gorgeous tulips and daffodils everyone enjoys viewing in early spring. As the forsythia turn from yellow to green the azalea bushes are ablaze with pink, white, and red blooms. Roses are being watered and hydrangeas heavy with green buds patiently await warmer days. Color, texture, fragrance  fill my neighborhood each season of the year. Holly bushes in winter; hosta and lily of the valley every spring; summer holds hibiscus and rhubarb; and fall the yellow ginkgo and the flame red of fire bushes. It's a delight to the senses. It's also a testimony of time, of tending. Patience from past growers and the continued diligence of current owners. I live in a beautiful place.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Iodine- Dietary Supplement

Back in January, I started taking Iodine. I spent the month of December preparing my body for this new supplement. This involved eating fairly clean. Yes, it was tricky hard at the holiday season but since we have gone gluten free cookies weren't really in the house to tempt. I also took a bath with epsom salt and geranium oil twice a week. Daily I rubbed geranium oil on my liver. Geranium is a detoxifying oil. While I didn't feel different, I did experience a quivering liver. Yes, that sounds very weird and it felt like the fluttery butterfly feeling when pregnant, but it didn't hurt.

Once a month of prep occurred, I started with 2 drops of Lugol's 5% Iodine. I take it first thing in the morning with warm water, 1 Tbl apple cider vinegar (Bragg's), 1 teaspoon raw honey, and 1 teaspoon complete Vitamin C. After a week and a half, I increased my iodine by one drop. Nearly 5 months in and I'm up to 5 drops and have ceased increasing.

Benefits I've noticed with Iodine supplementation-

  • Sleep - I sleep really really well. After having my children it became very hard for me to wind down and sleep. Since starting Iodine, I sleep like a rock. If I am awakened, I can easily get back to sleep. No more laying in bed for hours on end staring at the ceiling. 
  • Fat - It melts away! I realize that sounds too good to be true, but honestly, I've watched as I've gotten trimmer and leaner and all I've changed is my diet. 
  • Allergies - I'm generally a Spring allergy sufferer. So far this year I've had very little trouble. I attribute this to the apple cider vinegar and local raw honey every morning. Still, it's been glorious to not be sniffling, sneezing, and runny eyed.
  • Energy - Who doesn't want more energy? I have found that not only do I not have as many daily dips in my energy, but I also have a clearer head to think through more than menus, routines, and how to survive until bedtime.
  • Headaches - Spring is generally a time where I physically respond to the consistent barometric changes with nasty headaches. I have only had one dull headache this spring and while I took some ibuprofen I only needed one dose, not 3!
  • Fewer Aches - I had started noticing with each birthday that my bones ached a little more. While I still have some muscle stiffness, my bones no longer hurt. Makes keeping up with the kids a whole lot easier!

If you're curious in trying Iodine, I'd recommend reading Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It by David Brownstein, MD. You can also check out this PDF which is kinda like a cliff notes version of the book. Overall, my experience has been beneficial and rewarding. We've also started giving the girls a 2% solution. They sleep better and less lightly than they have in the past. For those that have walked with us through sleep issues, you know that is one little miracle we'll take without question! :-)

Note: If you are allergic to shellfish, be careful with iodine supplementation. You may have a similar aniphylactic reaction. And it goes without saying that checking with a doctor before starting any supplement treatment is wise. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My Favorite Recipes

The doctor prescribed adventure of being gluten-free and dairy-free at first sent me into a tailspin. While we had been eating healthy and balanced meals, we weren't eating what was necessary to heal our Pickle. As we changed out of necessity we've noticed that each of our bodies has preferences.

  • David- really likes (and needs) his protein. Hard boiled eggs are a staple.
  • Kristin- I'm sensitive to gluten. I can eat it, but get bloated and cranky quickly.
  • Sweet Potato- lower glycemic foods have helped tremendously with mood swings.
  • Pickle- truly is sensitive to gluten and non-homemade/organic sauces.

Coming up with a meal that was satisfying and met the unique challenges of cooking for kids has taken time, perseverance, and a bit of creativity. Dinners and lunches have proven to be the easiest. Snacks, breakfasts and desserts are where I find the most struggle. Several of you have asked how I do it or what recipes I love most. May the following help you regardless of your kitchen challenges.


Main Dishes-