Thursday, March 24, 2011


Friends joked that we should spell his name "iVO" to be en vogue with the times and the almost simultaneous unveiling of him and the iPad. Well, here are a few pics of iVO from my iPhone.

I love this next one because I'm trying to pose while Ivo is excited that he got hold of a knife while I was distracted :)

and, a defining feature of my last year: harried, public breastfeeding
As you can see, the iPhone camera has a LONG way to go! And, yes, it's a 4. The iVO is simply the cutest, happiest, funniest...


We finally did some gardening. I've been dreaming of gardening at this house ever since we moved in, but last year I was too busy growing Ivo to do it. As I hacked at the weeds and blackberry root brains, all I could think about was sin in my heart. I imagined God doing the hard work of yanking all that stuff out. I thought about how He removes branches that don't produce fruit. I imagined my little seedlings getting choked out by the weeds and seed falling on rocky soil. Never having gardened as an adult, it was truly a joy to experience the beautiful object lesson that it is. Time after time Jesus (and Paul and the other disciples) speaks in organic, botanical terms about our hearts, the Spirit, his words, and his kingdom.

It. was. SO. COOL.

And, I even got a garden out of it. I wish I had "before" pictures... oy, what a mess!

Health Spa Vacation for < $10

Need a tropical vacation? You especially do if you live in Seattle! The last few days have been gloriously warm and sunny, but a couple weeks ago it was SO cold and misty/raining non-stop. I usually don't get too down about the weather, but the fact that we didn't get our usual (10 years in a row, at least) week or two of sunshine in February meant that we went a LONG time in the cold, grey dark!

I went to Maui on my honeymoon, and I dream of getting back there ASAP on a weekly basis. I was especially jonesy for it when I saw coconuts for sale at my neighborhood grocery store during the chilly grey. Thus we arrive at...

Requirement #1: Fresh Coconut, $3.00

Meanwhile, chia seed has apparently been pretty trendy lately as health foods go. I didn't know this when I bought my bag. What I did know was that the raw/vegan newsletter I receive suggested chia pudding as an energy boosting snack. I also knew that Brendan had brought it up as a backpacking food. So, when I saw a bag of them, I figured we'd give it a try.

Requirement #2: Bag o' Chia Seed, $5.00

A bit about chia seed:
Yes, it is the same thing you use on a Chia Pet. It is also full of soluble fiber, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids. It has a very mild flavor, which makes it a good base ingredient for puddings because you can make it taste however you want. I'll tell you the truth: it tastes like "health food," but unless you've already conditioned yourself to dislike such things (by over-sugaring and over-fatting and over-salting everything), you will like it! Ezra liked it and asked for more. The texture is like small, a little bit crunchy, tapioca. If you hate anything gelatinous (or even hate the word gel-a-tin-ous), you are highly likely to hate chia. But, try it anyway (aka MAN UP).

Requirement #3: Homemade Almond Milk, $1.00

Here's what you do:

First, watch this:

Then, crack open your coconut. We followed these instructions, and it was truly easy. Pour the coconut water into a glass. (If you're like me, the obsessed new owner of a soda stream, carbonate the coconut water and give it a drop of pure vanilla extract and a twist of lime.

Shred some coconut meat.

Mix one part chia seed, your shredded coconut, and two parts homemade almond milk. You could also use the coconut water as part of your liquid if you don't want to drink it. Coconut milk as the liquid is positively decadent.

Stir it and put it in the fridge, covered.

A couple hours later or in the morning, for breakfast, stir chia pudding and EAT IT.

Brendan and I both felt GREAT during the day that we ate our chia pudding. Brendan even reported feeling extra energetic for his bike ride into work. Chia seeds are like a facial for your insides (little bit gross? maybe, but it's a good thing... I promise), and the oils from the coconut are good for everything from (supposedly) your thyroid to your shiny hair.

To make this treat especially sunny, do what we did and go ahead and make it a chia pina colada by adding some diced fresh pineapple (adds another $3.00, if you're a good shopper). Now you've got tons of vitamin C in there!

It's ok to sprinkle a little sugar on it or stir in some agave, honey, or brown rice syrup for a little sweetness.

Do a good google search, and you'll find a zillion other recipes for chia. That's good, because you're likely to have lots left.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thank You for Your Concern

No, I wasn't drunk, though I realize that the post had a drunk dial feel. I was really just all emotional from looking at a year's worth of family photos and seeing the new babe.

And, you know me; I'd tell you if I was ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No business...

I've got no business posting at this hour...

I should be asleep...

and I've had one big glass of wine which, since Ivo, is ENOUGH.

But, I'd just like to say:

I LOVE the Richards new baby Levi.

I miss all of you that I should be missing TERRIBLY.


I'll talk to you later.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Housekeeping

I grew up surrounded by neat freaks. My mom, dad, and sister are all GREAT at being organized and keeping things clean. I never realized until recently exactly how much the immaculately organized and disinfected environment in which I was raised has affected me. I'm not saying they are OCD or anything; they just have high standards AND the ability to meet their own standards. To my mother's credit, even though she kept the house so lovely, I don't remember it ever feeling like it was a place where we were not allowed to live and play and make messes. That is an amazing accomplishment. They never seemed stressed out that I was going to "mess up" all their work. HOWEVER, I was and still am continually called out for being the one who is messy... Messy Bessie, to be exact.

Here is my dilemma: I have inherited the high standards and know how pleasant it is to live in a very clean, well organized home, but I did not get the genes that supply that innate ability to meet the high standard. I am not saying I don't know how to do it; I just REALLY suck at it. My mom made sure we knew how to keep things nice. 6 days of the week we labored and did all our chores. Mine were something like this:

M: clean the bathroom (toilet, bathtub, sink, fixtures, baseboards, sweep, mop, clean towels, etc.)
T: Dust living and dining room furniture
W: Vacuum everything but Mom's and Whitney's room
Th: Clean my room (change sheets, dust, vacuum, organize)
F: Sweep the garage
S: Do all your own laundry- including your own color-coded bathroom towels.

In addition to this, Whitney and I cleaned the kitchen every night which included loading the dishwasher, hand washing some stuff, cleaning the counters, table, and cleaning the sink with Comet.

Yes. I'm serious. No. I'm not exaggerating. Yes. Until the last couple years, I thought all decent families have houses this clean. No. I'm not complaining! Yes. I absolutely plan to do this with my own children just as soon as they're ready. (I remember Whitney using a step stool at the washing machine on her laundry day.)


You see my dilemma, right? Do you think I'm able to get all that done each week at my house? HECK, NO! Do you think I get all that done in a month (particularly the floor cleaning...)? HECK, NO! So, I have existed in a miserable state of self-loathing for my inadequacies- especially since finishing school and being a "full-time, stay-at-home mom."

My other compromising factor is that my husband is almost NOTHING like my father, except that he is a wonderful, loving, God-loving man. But, I have to beg for Brendan to notice messes. My dad is practically programmed to make them disappear.

Brendan is often kind to mention that I don't know what my parents' house looked like when I was 2.5, and my mom never had two children under 2 at once. Still, I don't want to set myself up to expect to be able to accomplish all that my mother did when the kids are older.

2 things have helped me in my state of dilemma:

#1: Housekeeping Service
Yes. I have had "maids." Yes. That makes me feel like a spoiled white girl. Yes. I had to convince Brendan. I'm not sure what has possessed me to so publicly reveal this (not that it is a secret), but I think I just want other moms to know that it's ok! When I was 9 mos pregnant (broken foot and all!), I got to have cleaning twice a month- my baby gift from my mom and Brendan because they knew how much that would help me. By the time Ivo was a month old, I begged Brendan to let me keep having the cleaning once a month. That way, I could know that at least once a month, my home was how I want it. And. YES. Coming home after the cleaners have been here is AMAZING. It is not as expensive as you might think, and it is COMPLETELY worth it. I have never been one to spend money on stuff (clothes, jewelry...), so my spending money has been reserved for this once a month cleaning. Of course, this also implies that Brendan and I have been greatly blessed to have some spending money- a gift from God for which we are continually thankful and a little bit shocked.

BUT, I'm experiencing an inner revolution that has lead to the cancelling of the housecleaning service. Some of that is that Ivo is older and therefore sleeping well, so I have my energy back. But mostly it's due to...

#2: Life Changing Realization: It is OK
It is OK...
to not have a house as clean as my parents. They are special.

It is OK...
because no one expects that from me but me.

It is OK...
because God didn't give me that gift. He gave me other stuff, and if I spend all my time trying to clean my house to live up to this standard that only I carry, then I'm not able to use the other things.

It is OK...
because needing grace is good. If I could truly "do it all and have it all" as some brands of feminism suggest, I wouldn't need God. And I like needing God. I also would have the "right" to judge other's who don't do it all and have it all. And I don't need that... REALLY, don't need that.

Today, I looked around the house and as the freak-out session began to well up within me at the sight of my cluttered bathroom counter and toys on the living room floor, for the first time, I comfortably said to myself... "WHO CARES? Brendan? Nope. Ez and Ivo? Nope. God? I don't think so. It's just you! And do you really care? NOPE! I know I can clean that stuff up if I want to or need to. But, right now, today, it's FINE for that stuff to be out. It's not unsanitary. It's not dangerous. It's FINE!"

So, I exercised. I journaled. I cleaned the kitchen (because I DID care, and it wasn't sanitary...).


And, I reserve the right to save my spending money for housecleaning every 6 mos or so just so I can know the floors are getting a good cleaning and that the grout has been scrubbed.

So, what's the ridiculous standard you can't meet or let go? It's all idolatry you know...


Heartsy is etsy's new groupon-esque endeavor. Visit this link to sign-up, and then vote for Bethany's shop CityThistle to be a featured shop!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dulse Salad

Dulse is a deep red sea vegetable (aka: seaweed), and I was able to find it at PCC in a dry form. It has VERY high iron and mineral content - something I need a lot of ever since my pregnancy with Ivo. 1/3 C has about 19% of your daily iron requirement!

As with all these new raw foods adventures, I'm using Feeding the Whole Family as my inspiration. Though I still stand by every glowing thing I've ever said about this WONDERFUL book, the Dulse Salad with Lemon Tahini dressing just about made me barf!!! It takes a LOT to do that to me.

However, that was no fault of the dulse. In fact, I found the dulse pretty mild in flavor and can see how it would blend well into almost any salad. My problem was with the massive amount of red onion the recipe required. Actually, I only included 1/2 of what the recipe asked (one WHOLE thinly sliced red onion).

So, here's what my version of the recipe included:
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
2 large, chopped celery ribs
~1 C of dulse, soaked in cold water and thoroughly rinsed
toss veggies with 1 (maybe it was even 2) tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar (b/c I didn't have br. rice vinegar) and a pinch of sea salt

The dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp Tamari (LOVE this stuff... it's soy sauce, but better... we'll talk about it later)
1/3 cup water
(It was also supposed to have olive oil, but I was running low and left it out. No biggie- it was still really tasty dressing)

Ms. Lair recommends chilling the veggie mix for 1 hour and then serving it on a red lettuce leaf with the dressing on top. I chilled it for about 2.5 hours then tossed it with my baby greens mix from my produce delivery box and some of the dressing.

Our first reactions were, "Wow, this is really good!" Then we both started saying, "whoa, too much onion... whoa, this is giving me heart burn." Then, Brendan finished his, but I choked down one more bite, and then had to consciously not vomit the whole thing back into my plate. WAY. TOO. MUCH. ONION. On a positive note, I feel like I for once ate enough raw onion to maybe experience some of it's reported antibiotic properties... too bad I will try to NEVER do that again.

So, next time- less onion! more celery! more vinegar! I'll let ya know how it goes.

Moral of the story: If it seems like something in a recipe is going to be gross to you, it probably is going to be gross to you. If it's something you've never tried, do it anyway. If it's a well known quantity, then having it in a new recipe probably won't magically make it good. For example, eating 1/4 of a raw onion will probably taste like eating one quarter of a raw onion!

As for dulse, I'm ALL about it, and I'll definitely buy it again. I'm eager to try toasting it and grinding it into flakes to make a sprinkle-on, salty, veggie-booty-esque additive. Cynthia recommends doing this for baby food. Great idea!

Almond Milk

Totally Easy.

I adapted our recipe from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. Seriously, if you don't own this book yet, just buy it!!! It's worth the money.

We started with the standing blender, but our crappy blender didn't do too well with step one:
blend 1/2 cup almonds and a few tablespoons of water into a paste.

We had success with the hand-blender and then transfered the paste to the blender with:
1 tbsp of brown rice syrup and 2 cups of water

Blend until combined. You can strain it through cheesecloth (which I would do if I wanted to put it in coffee or something), but we're just using it for cereal, recipes, oatmeal, chia pudding, etc.

And, yes, we did the math- it's WAY cheaper to make than buy, and you're in charge of the additives.

I WOULD make it again.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A little inspiration

After chatting with Beth today, I've decided on one pretty safe topic to blog about: our attempts at raw foods recipes. Brendan and I are both totally into it, and imagining the blog post will help inspire me to keep trying new things. Tonight, we made almond "milk." (Yes, you can write it "mylk," but that reminds me of the hippie trends I don't like... "wymyn-" that's all I'm gonna write.)

So, pics, recipe, and opinions soon to come!

Other topics I'm considering:
Why yoga is not just "ok," but GOOD for Christians...
My own bloopers reel (with the spazzy children I have- you can only imagine!)
Laundry date night: best relationship invention ever

Off to stir my chia seed pudding (oh, yeah! Get REALLY excited!!!)

6th Day Speech

Here's the speech I gave at the 6th Day Dance fundraiser last night. You can visit us at for more information.