A Mother’s Wishlist

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// that I make time to nourish my body through food, movement, creative outlets // my children hear love in my voice. always. // that I stop apologizing for what I feel // I make things both useful and beautiful with my own hands // a heart brimming with gratitude // a house filled with less things and more grace // that we live somewhere new, for a little while // that we nurture a sense of adventure and curiosity // that I react less and embrace more // and some new pillows would be nice, too.

-b.e.

 

We need more good words.

I am tired.

Tired of whining, complaining, back-talking, yelling, screaming, kicking, fighting, and one-way conversations.

I am referring to my 5 year old, but I am not thinking of him alone.

It seems like all I can see lately is negativity around me.  I see it on my social media feeds. I hear it from my friends. And I feel like I am adding to it also, and my heart feels heavy and dark from it.  Even my husband has noticed my negativity.

I am at a point in my parenting where I need to make some adjustments.  My children are growing and weaving their way through stage after stage and I am barely able to catch my breath as I try to keep up with them.

And I am finding something that I think is a huge barrier to helping these fierce beings grow into loving, compassionate, understanding, and generous humans.

Bad words.

Not the four letter kind that we wouldn’t dare mention.

No, something I consider much worse.

The name calling, labeling, pigeon-holing, dooming, defining ones that cling to us and can become intertwined with who we believe ourselves to be.

And I am guilty as a parent of doing this to my children.

I know I can ache like the rest of you mamas can when someone hurts your child, whether intentionally or not, with words or deeds.   I know what it feels like to watch my child do something they shouldn’t and receive a natural consequence in return – but I wish the person inflicting it had chosen a different route.

It is easy to be indignant when I am not the one at blame.

But I see myself letting this same attitude creep under my skin and come out in ugly roars when my children test and prod and push my buttons.  When they repeatedly (how many times do I have to say it?) make the same foolish mistake again and again and I have to step in and muster up whatever mother-wisdom I have and discipline and watch them suffer through the consequences of their choices (usually with loud protests).

So many times I catch myself speaking so many bad words that are not speaking truth into their lives and are simply used as a shortcut to get what I want at that moment.

Words cut deep and leave very real scars.  And when we are careless with them, if we don’t catch ourselves, we can continue to become more and more insensitive to what we are doing, what we are creating, what we are leaving.

My social network feeds are full of them. Labeling people on one side of an argument in the same way those in opposition label them. Jumping to conclusions about the way people think and how they came to an understanding of something. Maybe we don’t outright yell it in their faces, but some times passively stating it can be even worse, perhaps causing more people to begin to believe the words are being spoken about them.

Because in a world where there is so much noise and so many questions about who we are and so much insecurity as we are told who we should be and what we should believe, how many are questioning themselves and fearful that maybe they aren’t who they think?  Or they should start thinking of themselves as different?

I believe strongly that when someone is sent the same message about themselves over and over again, they will start to believe it. If I continually tell my child that he is obnoxious and always too rough and never listens, what words will he cling to?

I am not saying that there is no bad or evil in the world.  I’m not saying to pretend like there is nothing wrong ever.  There is abuse that must be spoken out against, injustices that must be heard, issues that we must have conversations about, disagree about, and wrestle through.

But where are the good words?

Not the superficial ones to get out of a conversation with someone you “know” you don’t agree with only to turn to those who do and further label and degrade that person in opposition as someone who clearly can’t think for themselves.

Where are all the good words?

The ones that inspire, motivate, and invite us into truth. Even if we don’t always know what that means at the moment.  The ones that cause pause and reflection. Or even if they don’t.  Is a good and truth-filled word a wasted word?

I am choosing to speak more good words.  Not just to your face, but behind your back too.

I want my children to see not only that they are worthwhile, but to see the good in others affirmed, that their hearts will also learn to reach out and share good words with others.

Jesus did not go on about the women’s adulterous act.  He simply said to sin no more.  He did not define her as an adulterer.  He defined her as a valued, forgiven, and loved co-heir and daughter of God.

If the good news we bear on our hearts and lives is not evident, then who are we really representing?

They will know us by our fruit.

They will also know us by our words.

“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

– b.e.

recipe: gluten free bread

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Recently, I decided to give up gluten again.  I did this back in September for a few weeks, but then got back into the habit of buying bread again.  My reasons for giving up gluten have nothing to do with losing weight or jumping on some health fad bandwagon.  I definitely was very skeptical of why anyone would be “anti-gluten” in the first place.

After a bit of research (see notes at bottom of post if interested in reading more), I have felt a little guilty ever since I started giving my family wheat again.  Especially overly processed breads.  How can something that takes just a few ingredients in my home require such a long list in the store?   I tried my best to only buy sprouted grains for a while, but even these products have additional gluten protein listed as an ingredient.

In my personal experience, gluten free bread generally tastes like cardboard and the ingredients list usually contain some sort of compromise for what we normally will buy.  We don’t buy many pre-made food items anymore, simply because it is nearly impossible to find them without tons of unnecessary and unhealthy additives.  The more you learn about what is actually in commercially prepared food, the smaller your choices get, and you quickly learn that “Gluten Free” does not necessarily mean you are getting anything more nutritionally beneficial.

I haven’t had bread in almost 4 weeks and we have had no wheat products in the home during that time.  I have been sort of playing with alternatives, but they always come out like dense bricks and I give up.  We end up eating brown rice tortillas or tapioca spring roll wrappers when we really want something to hold some sandwich-y ingredients.

After this week, that will no longer be the case.

I tried out a recipe with my fingers crossed and came up with something way better than any store-bought GF loaf of bread I have ever tasted.

It is springy and light and soft and delicious and is made with ingredients easily found at our local grocery store.  We gluttonously ate almost an entire loaf during dinner and the kids are so excited about having sandwiches for lunch again and toast in the morning.

After my first success I made a double batch and put one loaf in the freezer.

The recipe is adapted from one  I found online from Land O’Lakes.  My flour blend is a little different and I traded out a few other ingredients, also.  The result Perfect bread to have with dinner, for toast, or sandwiches during the week.

We decided that if I can bake up this bread in under 2 hours which is delicious fresh out of the oven and after a few days, then we can live without gluten.

There is a learning curve to gluten free flours, but once you learn how to work with them, you can bake virtually anything.  It isn’t exactly the same as wheat, but it can be a pretty delicious alternative anyway.

Some of the flours are a little more expensive, I won’t deny this.  Since we are used to not having bread as an everyday staple in our diet though, it will be enjoyed occasionally.  I still believe filling our plates with as many whole foods while keeping properly prepared grains in moderation is the best way to go at this point.

I hope you will enjoy this bread as much as we do!

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Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread (adapted from this recipe)

Makes one loaf (doubling the recipes works great for two loaves)

First you will have to make a flour blend.  This is what I used, but you can definitely switch out some of the flours if you have a different gluten free type you prefer, but I can’t vouch for the outcome.  If you try it with a different flour, I’d love it hear what you used and how it turned out!

This is the basic blend (You can make as much as you like and store in a bin for other baking needs.  It works as a pretty good universal flour replacer):

1 cup brown rice flour (sprouted is even better if you can get your hands on it)
1 cup sweet sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp. xantham gum

Measure all into a big bowl and whisk it around.  Save the leftovers in a dry, airtight container for next time you are baking.

Ingredients:

1 c. warm milk (I used almond milk, I’m sure any kind will work fine)
1/4 c. organic raw sugar
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

2 1/2 c. GF flour blend
1 tsp salt

1/4 cup melted coconut oil (the original recipe called for butter, I didn’t have any.  I love coconut oil and it turned out great, but I’m sure butter is fine too)
2 eggs (I have not tried this recipe with a vegan egg replacer.  I imagine it would work, but it most likely won’t be as rich or have as springy as a texture.)

1.) Warm milk (90 – 110 degrees).   Pour over sugar and stir to dissolve.  Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit 5 – 10 minutes until slightly foamy layer forms.

2.) Place flour and salt in bowl of stand mixer.  Mix to incorporate salt evenly.

3.) Pour milk mixture into flour and begin to mix on low speed.  Add melted coconut oil/butter and eggs.  Gradually increase speed to high and beat until smooth, about 1 – 2 minutes.

4.) Scrape down sides of bowl and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap.  It will be a thick batter.  Let sit in warm place for 1 hour (I preheat my oven to 100 degrees and then turn it off and place the bowl inside).

5.) After 1 hour, stir batter and pour into one 8 x 10 greased loaf pan (I grease with coconut oil.  Make sure you oil the bottom well or use parchment paper if you want it to come out easily and in one piece).  The original recipe said to let it rise for another 30 minutes.  I actually skipped this step and put it straight into the oven and it rose pretty well.  Next time I will probably let it sit in the pan before baking.

6.) Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and let bake 25 – 40 minutes until golden brown and hard crust forms.  For the last ten minutes, I turned up the oven to 400 degrees and it came out perfectly.

7.) When finished baking, remove from oven and let sit at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan.  Once removed, allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.  Unless of course you love to have hot bread straight out of the oven and don’t care how your bread looks.

8.) Enjoy with dinner, as toast, or with your favorite sandwich fixings!

– b.e.

further reading:

What’s Wrong With Our Wheat? – Informative article about the difference between traditional grains and our modern, commercialized grains of today.

Against all Grain – Great blog full of grain free recipes.

Food Renegade: How To Eat Grains – this is an informative article on the benefits of traditionally preparing your grains, how to do it, and why you should.

Wellness Mama: How Grains are Slowly Killing You  This article actually shows the dangers of consuming all grains, not just wheat and gluten protein.  Being vegetarian, not eating grains at all is difficult, and I am not completely persuaded it is necessary.  I try to soak and/or sprout all of our grains to help reduce the anti-nutrients and ease digestibility.

Caveman Doctor: Grains Part III: Lectins – article about lectins and the negative health effects

Food Renegade: Is Pressure Cooking Healthy? – Interesting article on how to destroy lectins further, while maintaining nutrients, by pressure cooking

seven years since we said, “I do”

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/1.sunshine and coffee by the water/2. waiting – my view /3. new artwork /4. Indian for dinner / 5. “tsunami papers” by tracy lang / 6. 7 years/

 

Today marks seven years married to my best friend.

And the crazy thing is that we love each other and actually like each other even more today than the day we got married.

We still stay up way past our bed time dreaming and talking and giggling like we’re 12 year olds at a slumber party.

We look around at our life and our kids and wonder when we grew up and who gave us permission to be parents.

We look at each other and see more beauty and depth in each other as our skin gets older and more tired and even though we are still so young and have so much to look forward to, we are beginning to feel the years and the change they bring and respect them.

We see the things that inspire and drive each other more clearly now and find so much joy in encouraging each other to pursue it.

I don’t know why I am so blessed and I can’t imagine living life with anyone else.

blog1– b.e.

Hailey’s birth story

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From womb to world is an incredible journey no matter who is experiencing it.  

As I began to write this post, I found out that one of my dear friends just had her first baby.  She was at our home with us during Hailey’s birth, so it seems fitting to share this on the day her little one was also born at home in the water.

I love birth stories.

I love how they are unique to each person, and yet so many of the same things resonate within us and between us.  Even between the births of my two children I find that they were so very different, and yet a sameness remains.

I remember that when I was in labor with Shea it was quiet and dark and peaceful.  Even though it took much longer, it went by so much quicker.

Hailey’s birth was bright and full and busy and seemed to take forever (to me, at least).  In labor with Shea, I spent most of my time alone with my thoughts and I remember praying constantly, a place to land between contractions.  With Hailey, I was surrounded by others, and met happy and anxious eyes every time I was able to look beyond the pain.

Both were good, but so different.

This is what I remember from Hailey’s birth.

I woke up at 5am on July 4th from a contraction.  After weeks of having braxton hicks and wondering when I would  go into labor, I finally remembered what “real” contractions felt like.  I went back to bed and was able to sleep for a little while, knowing that it might be the last sleep I get for a while.  I called my midwife at 8:30am, positive I would be having a baby later that day, although contractions still varied from 5 to 7 minutes apart.  

I took a shower and started getting ready for the day.  We cleaned a little and started making plans for childcare for Shea and I called my friend, Amber, who was planning on being at the birth.  My midwife kept checking in with me every hour.  She had an appointment we decided she could keep – I was sure I would be a while.  I bounced on my exercise ball and watched Netflix.  Amber and my sister-in-law, Hanna, arrived.  We sat around, ate some snacks, and took a short walk outside.  My midwife arrived around 11:30 or…maybe it was 12:30?  I can’t remember anymore.  I was about 7-8 centimeters dilated at this point.  I honestly didn’t think I would be that far along.  Things definitely hurt at this point, so I was glad to hear I was getting close. 

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Since I wanted to give birth in the tub (although, I didn’t really want to labor in it), my midwife suggested I got in at this point, because she was worried my water would break outside of the tub and I would not be able to physically move after that point.  I didn’t really think this was much of an issue, but the tub sounded good.  Looking back, I do wish I hadn’t gotten in quite so early.  I think it may have slowed things down, and maybe I would have been able to get Hailey out sooner if I had been in a more active position (such as rolling/bouncing on my exercise ball).  Anyway, they filled up the tub and I climbed in.  It felt so good.  But then came what felt like an eternity for our baby girl to come out.

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I sat in that tub, and I sat, and I sat, and I sat.

It seemed like just a cycle of the following for the next couple of hours:

Breath through contraction.  Grip my husband’s hand a little tighter.

Rest.

Give a courtesy laugh to something my husband says to try and make me laugh.  

Breath through a contraction.

Look around at all the faces in the room and think how bored everyone must be, but probably thankful they are not the one in the tub.  

Sit.  Breathe.  Think to myself, “wow I really never want to do this again” at least 20 times.  

Finally, a POP!

My water broke.  From how things went with my previous birth experience, I was expecting to be able to push this baby out in a matter of minutes.  Instead, it took much longer.  Maybe another hour, I don’t know, but it felt like a really long time.  For some reason I could not wrap my head around pushing her out.  I would try, but I always held back a little.  It is possible that she was in a bit of a funny position and things just didn’t feel right.  Maybe if I had been moving more, she would’ve been in a better spot and pushing would have felt more instinctive.  Who knows.

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After a while, I finally seemed to understand that I could just bear down and push and after that, her head came out.  I didn’t realize until after watching the video that her head was sticking out of me, under the water, for a good 3 – 5 minutes before I got the rest of her body out.  My midwife unwrapped the cord from around her neck one or two times (it is hard to tell in the video) as Hailey came out and placed her on my chest.  I was completely oblivious to the fact that she didn’t start breathing immediately, but it was only a matter of seconds after laying on my chest that she let out her first cry, and her birth was announced at 5:07pm.

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Below is a video of the actual birth of my daughter.  My husband put together all of the video taken that day, so the first part is just contractions, and may seem a little long.  I hesitated for a while to share this, because I was concerned about the nudity.  Now, I have come to see that birth stories are so important to share.  Not only are they an important and empowering part of any woman’s life, but maternity care in the US and in many places around the world needs to change, and a little nipple (which men have too, but they don’t seem nearly as useful) is not a good enough reason for me to stop my story from helping somebody else.

Disclaimer:  This is footage from a birth.  There is nudity.  Please keep this in mind before you choose to watch.  I am choosing to post this in hopes of sharing the raw beauty that is bringing a new life into this world.

-b.e.

all images in this post were taken by Hanna Salas of Hanna Kay Photography.

merry christmas: our year

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We decided we would try something new (and less-stressful, simple, and eco-friendly) and share a digital Christmas card this year.

We also thought it would be fun to give a short little update on our past year.

In some ways, it seems like not that much happened.

There weren’t that many big events (other than a wedding and moving), but so much change took place in our lives.

So, some highlights from our year:

In February, we observed Lent as a family.  I was pretty sure this was going to be the hardest thing ever and I wouldn’t make it very far.  This was the first time that I had ever done any sort of fast, and it was a catalyst for many lifestyle changes – after doing something for 40 days, some things stuck and continued to change and evolve as the year went by.  Mostly, it was a disruption in our daily habits which led to us looking a little deeper at the everyday choices (even the smallest ones) we make and how or why and if they should be different.

At the end of March, we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary and a couple of days later found out that our landlord was moving back into the house we were living in and that we had 30 days to find a new place to live.  We were extremely blessed by the house that came available just up the street from where we lived.  After a busy month of painting and cleaning, we finally moved into our new home in May, and love it here!  We are still within walking distance from the dock and beach, have lots of yard and woods for the kids to play in, and a cozy and bright house.  1186055_10151756268753895_99404326_n

We also were given our sweet puppy, Kaia, from a nearby friend.  She was a black lab mix and the sweetest dog.  After a few months, we realized between the kids and her, we couldn’t give her the attention she needed.  We loved her and were thankful for the time we had her.  We found a great new home for her, and although we miss her at times, we know it was a good decision to give her up.

My sister also got married in May.  I had the joy of being her matron of honor,
and Shea was in the wedding party, also.

The summer went by quickly.  Jeremy has been working for a window washing company for the past year and a half now, and with all the sunny weather, he had plenty of hours.  We got out to the beach as much of possible and took a lot of walks.  We also started our first garden.  We had a pretty good amount of zucchini and tomatoes, and some beans.  We are already looking forward to next season to see what we can do better.

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In July, Hailey turned 1!  We had a simple backyard family party for her.  She mostly tried to not make eye-contact with anyone and clung to me as much as possible.  She is almost 18 months now and is saying so many words.  She copies everything her big brother and mommy does and especially loves to take care of her baby dolls.

I formed a small preschool co-op with a few other moms in September.  This has been a great outlet for Shea and Hailey to interact with others and do some fun projects.  I have enjoyed getting out of the house and spending time getting to know the wonderful moms who are a part of this group.  It has also been so fun to continue planning and teaching little ones.

Shea turned 4 at the end of October.  He has recently learned to write
his name and has a love for WP_002065books.  While he isn’t quite reading yet, he especially loves listening to Beverly Cleary books (we have read all the Ralph books and have moved on to the Ribsy stories) and the Magic Treehouse series (which we get on CD from the library).  We are amazed by how much these little ones are growing and what they are learning to do (and say) each day.

In November, I launched my Etsy store, a simple aesthetic.  I have been working on it on and off for a couple of years now, and it is so exciting to see it up and live!  I am working on more items and hope to be able to have more time to promote it in the new year.

Fall flew by and we can’t believe we are already in the midst of advent!  We have been celebrating simply with our family this year (you can read more about it here) and are looking forward to celebrating Christmas with family and friends this month.

Wishing joy and peace to you this holiday season!

– The Ellis Family

rhythm and drive

Often I find that when my head at last hits my pillow at night, my brain becomes most active.

Finally, all is quiet and still.

I can hear the dim hum of the fan near my daughter’s bed.

My son tosses about, occasionally hitting the wall with a leg or an arm.

I hear the deep and steady breathing of my husband.

As my eyes adjust to the darkness, I can see the trees out of our large windows, glisten in the moonlight and the occasional headlights bouncing along as a car drives by.  And I think and reflect and make plans (oh, the plans!) for the next day, or week or whatever.  Usually these have to do with things I want to do better.  Tomorrow, I will wake up earlier and do such and such before the kids wake up. or I will work out or  I will show more patience. This dialogue can go on for quite some time, mixed with prayers and attempts to process life.  I run circles in my head of the same thoughts again and again and again, as if I can somehow will them into reality.

Then I drift off to sleep.

And the next night, I wonder where all my ambitions went and I begin the same loop of thoughts as the previous night, hoping something will stick this time – longing for a change to this rhythm and a new drive to keep it alive.

Rhythm and drive.

These two words bring the humble image of a monastery to mind.

My husband and I have always been drawn to the ways of the monks and christian mystics, who live their lives to a certain cadence.  They stop what they are doing to pray at certain times, to bring themselves back into awareness of communion with God and each other.  They have an intentional rhythm in their life, and they keep to it, because they see the importance of it.  They are driven by their love for and devotion to God.  

Our family has started to practice this in a few ways on a seasonal basis, like observing certain traditions such as Lent and Advent.  Lent was really a groundbreaking thing for us to do as a family last year, and we have been looking forward to it again this coming year.  I imagine I will be posting on this soon, because it truly was a huge catalyst for change in our lives.

Those traditions happen only once or twice a year for us.  Afterward, we find ourselves in a “high”, excited and determined to remain in this new rhythm.  Soon, however, this excitement wanes, and we are back to our old busy and self-centered habits.  This is the very reason for these traditions; we need something to physically change in our lives in order to be brought back into a better rhythm.

But.

I am left wondering.

Is it possible to keep this connection in the “every day”, before losing sight of what is important?  Before I end up in a different rhythm, one defined by reactions and defeat and praying the same thoughts about changing the same things every single night?

I have many thoughts on this, which I will share soon.  One practical thing I am challenging myself to begin doing is having a regular “quiet time” each day.

My children already have this as a regular daily routine.  My 16 month old daughter naps for 2 – 3 hours and my son takes at least a 45 minute rest time (most days it is longer) after lunch.  They do not always want to do this, but I know they need it and so, it happens. What do I do in this most sacred of times during a mother’s day?  It varies from day to day.  Some times I work out, other days I write, do housework, sew for my shop, or mindlessly waste time on the internet.  There is no real rhyme or reason to it.  Then I ask myself at the end of the day, Why am I so exhausted?  How did I not find any time to be still?  To breathe, to reflect, to pray, to re-connect?  How much better would my day have gone if I had?  How much better would their day gone if I had?

I need this.  My bones are crying out for it.

It is important for my children to rest midday because they are young and need more rest for their developing bodies. I also hope to instill in them the value of slowing down and resting each day, so that they may choose to make this a habit as adults.

Because who have we ever met who does not seem to be asking for more rest and peace and quiet, whether their words or only their eyes speak of it?

So.  I am going to start joining my children in their “rest time”, for at least 15 minutes before I even think about the mound of other things I want to accomplish.

I just keep reminding myself that those things will still be there once I have caught my breath.

– b.e.

monday morning faces

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As I’m collecting my thoughts and forming words for an upcoming post, I find myself in awe of the little family I am part of.  It is amazing to be able to wake up to these faces every morning.  These kids can sure be crazy (as probably many onlookers can testify to), but I wouldn’t trade the crazy for anything (most days).  They are behind so much of what I do and who I am.  My children are what cause me to grow in so many ways.  I can’t imagine life without them and hardly remember life before them.  Trying to keep this in mind when my patience wears thin and my eyes are tired and things feel hard.  Because they are so worth it.

More soon.

– b.e.

homemade almond milk

The way my family has begun to think about food and what we allow in and on our bodies has been a big part of this process of simplifying.  It was really the catalyst for much of the change that we have seen take place in our lives.  It has changed so drastically in the last year (and continues to change as we grow and learn), and has become such a passion of mine, that I imagine I will write many posts in this category.

Since last summer, we have reduced our dairy intake (other than eggs), and while we never drank much milk in the first place, we have started to rely on non-dairy milk for baking and cooking.  We began by buying soy, until we read about the dangers of it.  Then switched to almond  milk.  Then, I began to investigate the ingredient carrageenan (which is found in virtually every commercially made almond milk, save a few, which have other unnecessary additives) and after researching it, have eliminated it from our diet (which isn’t easy, because it is in many processed foods).  For more information about carrageenan, please see links at bottom of post.  I thought that homemade almond milk wouldn’t taste anything like the store bought stuff and be expensive to make (most of the recipes I looked at online don’t seem to have a very high yield for the amount of almonds used – although there are a ton out there), but my entire family is happy with this almond milk in everything from oatmeal to homemade hot cocoa.  It has been months since I have had “real” almond milk from the store, so maybe this isn’t as close in texture and taste as I think it is, but even so, our homemade version tastes so good to us, I see no reason to ever go back to store bought.

It’s so simple, I thought I would share my process with you.

*I have a pretty large blender which makes this take no time at all, but before I had my ninja, I used a 4 cup food processor and a 6 cup blender.  You just do the same thing, but with 3 cups of water at a time.  I would run it through 3 times with the same batch of almonds, see below for more details.

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Grab a cute kid and an empty jar.

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Measure one cup of almonds. I weighed it because I was curious how much I was paying per batch. These almonds cost me $8 per pound and one cup weighs in at 4 oz., making this batch come to $2.00 and makes about 3/4 of a gallon. Compare to the price at our local grocery story of $2.79 for half a gallon of processed and additive laden almond milk.

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allow the almonds to soak for 12 – 24 hours (don’t skip this step!)

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I add 6.5 to 7 cups of cold water to my blender and then add the almonds. I also put in a splash of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of honey (optional)

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Blend on high for 2 or 3 minutes, depending on the strength of your blender. Before I had my ninja, I used lower-power blenders and food processors and let it blend longer. When you are finished, you will have three visible layers – the almond meal settled on the bottom, the milk, and the foam. Some recipes say to scoop the foam off, I leave it. Up to you.

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Pour milk through a mesh sieve into a bowl. Alternatively, use a nutmilk bag or cheesecloth if you want it to be almond particle free. I don’t like to deal with it and we don’t mind our milk with a little bit of pulp (a regular sieve won’t get rid of the tiniest pulp, but we don’t mind it).

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Squish the milk out of the almond meal and then return it to the blender with another 3 cups of water, honey and vanilla and run it through a second time. I like to get every last bit of almond milk I can. I put it through the sieve into the bowl again with the first batch before putting it into my jug.

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when you are finished, you will have a nice big bowl of almond milk and a tray of almond meal. As I pour it into my jug, I put it through a smaller tea sieve that I have and get out most of the remaining tiny pulp (NOTE: do this into a bowl or measuring cup – it will make a mess if you try to do it straight into a jug – learn from my mistakes!). I then stick my almond meal in the toaster oven on 180 – 200 degrees until dry (OR stick it on top of our wood stove when a fire is going – just don’t forget about it and let it get to dry!) and then store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator or pantry until I use it.

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And there you have it! Over half a gallon of almond milk (I actually got this 96 oz. jug fuller last time I made it), additive free and for much less than buying the processed stuff. I use this in everything from fritatas to baked goods to in our morning coffee, even in our mashed potatoes!

Hope you enjoy!

– b.e.

Links and resources:

Useful information regarding non-dairy milks:

Empowered Sustanence – Non-Dairy Milks: Think Twice Before You Buy

Some informative posts about carrageenan:

Empowered Sustanence – Carrageenan: The “Natural” Toxin in “Natural” Food 

Whole Green Love – Carrageenan: Dangerous, Sneaky & Commonly Used Food Additive 

A report by the Cornocopia Institute on the facts about Carrageenan and why it should be removed from our food

fall and new perspectives

 
haileyfallThere is something so thoroughly satisfying about fall.  Fires in the wood stove, tea with loved ones, sweaters, scarves, little ones so bundled up they waddle around in an attempt to walk.

 I am thankful today for my warm house, my beautiful and healthy children, and support from those around me.  I just opened up my new shop late last night (or early this morning, depending on how you look at it) on Etsy – something that has been in the making for nearly two years now, but kept being interrupted by life.  Perhaps a better way to see it is not as being interrupted, but rather “punctuated”.

Punctuation is what guides and defines a piece of writing.  Although I make no claims to being an excellent writer or heeding most “rules”, I can at least apply enough grammatical sense to take my jumbled words and give them a meaning.

In the past two years since I began to dream about starting my shop, many things have changed in my life – tangible things like having a second child, job changes, and moving, but also things that tend to go unseen like conviction, focus, relationships, and habits.  Some of these delays in starting my shop caused me to feel like I was failing and I would only ever talk about my dreams and never pursue them.  In the end, I found that these delays helped me to hone in on what I really wanted to do and I gained a greater desire to do it.   So in many ways, even the things I choose to make and share with others  are only what they are today, because of the way my life has been “punctuated.”Photogram-20131028082654

One of the ways I proofread myself and try to figure out where to put punctuation is by reading what I have written out-loud and placing the (hopefully) appropriate dots and squiggles to help convey how I am saying what I am writing.

My husband and I find ourselves doing this with our life.  We will have long conversations reflecting on seasons of life we have gone through and try to see what we have learned through the experiences and situations we endured.  Sometimes we decide these things as they are happening, but many times we find these moments hidden under emotions and perceptions when something in us we hadn’t noticed before was defined, and a little period or comma or underline is seared into our memory.  And even this may change as time passes and we reflect once again, or we understand ourselves from another person’s point of view.

Although I don’t remember exactly when this happened, I often think about this one defining moment I remember from childhood, because it caused such a changed in the way I acted in order to be perceived in a certain way.  I  was at a church function at our family’s church.  There was one little girl who was about my age (around 7 or 8) who was so very shy (and this is coming from me!) she would not even play the group games without holding one of her parent’s or an adult’s hand, and she cried about everything (from my perspective).  In my mind, I never wanted to be that girl.  So, the solution I came up with was to purposefully stop myself from crying whenever I got hurt, no matter what, but especially if it was insignificant.  I wanted to appear strong.  I wanted to be strong.  So anytime I would get hurt and people would come over and ask if I was okay, I would fight tears and never allow them to sympathize for long.  I was FINE.  Later on in life, I found that this made it harder for me to empathize with others who were hurting in “small ways” and also to allow others to see my own weaknesses and accept help and actually be of more help to others.  Maybe I was perceived as “strong” (not so sure about this), but in the end, I only created more distance between myself and others.

I am now slowly re-writing the words from my childhood mantra of “I am strong.” to something new; something defined only as I live life, look back on it, and look forward with a new perspective.

I wonder so much what messages my own children will gather about themselves as they grow older and use to define who they are and how they fit into this world.  Do you have any defining moments in your life that stand out to you?  Have you ever looked back on them and had your perspective change?

-b.e.