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Monday, January 31, 2011

What my fridge looks like lately...

 I know it seems like I am going above and beyond making sauerkraut, cream cheese, yohgurt.
Especially when I could be buying it at the store and saving myself some time.
Honestly, it doesn't take that long and it fits into my schedule.
Because things have to ferment, soak, culture, it is a process over several hours.

 It also brings in a bit of excitment into being a stay at home mommy!
It has brought a spark back that I thought I had lost and wasn't sure when or how I would get it back.

It's funny, the more I get into Nourising Traditions, the more I talk about
what I have made or am going to make. The more my family tells me you
are more and more like Sarah. I will take that as a compliment thank you!
I am also not asking others to do this or live this way. But neither am I going
to stop eatting at dominos, eat a cheese burger from Mcdonalds, etc. BUT,
I will be more careful aboutwhat I am putting in my mouth and is it worth it.
Is how I will feel afterwards worth it, will my body think it's worth it.
It's a life style, a choice, nothing more, nothing less. One I'm willing to teach
but not one I'm going to force on someone else. I'm very proud of my fridge
these days because most of what goes in it I made, fermented, cultured, or marinated.

 Top shelf from left: Black tea brewed from regular lipton tea bags, sauerkraut that has been fermenting for about two weeks now, organic, non-homogized whole milk (used for making yohgurt) I didn't milk the cow for this, although I would if I could, but I can't so I don't. :)

Middle Shelf: Marinating beef roast that I am going to use for faijtas or sandwhiches, fresh cream cheese (tastes amazing!!), Whey, and homemade yohgurt. The yohgurt makes super yummy smoothies, juliouses, yummy mixed with fruit! Way better than store bought.

Why do I do this? For two reasons, probably more, but two for sure. Number one I know what goes into it to the best of my ability and I also know what is not in our food. Number two, because it is budget friendly, and I have to strive to keep our grocery budget as low as possible. Number three, Mark has been dealing with stomach issues for as long as I've known him and it's getting worse. He also suffers from severly painful joints which prohibits him from sleeping and working like he should be able to. My goal is to feed our family for as cheap, as healthy as possible.

Eatting her curds and whey

 Mark laughed when he saw this picture.
He said it looks like white poop and he's kinda right.

The whey beginning to seperate from the yohgurt. 

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to find this set up 
at fleet farm.  

 The final product, cream cheese and whey for fermenting.

 Beautiful whey.

Churds and whey!

I have been on a search for making things from scratch less complicated, with less steps, but it didn't seem possible. Then I was told about nourish traditions, a cook book/traditional food guide. It is way more than a cook book, it is also a guide in teaching you what fats do what, why they are good or bad for us and what we should do differently. Honestly, there are usually very little steps but the rewards and tastes are awesome. The trickest part is learning the taste, the smells, the textures of things. Culturing such as keifer, making whey with a by product of cream cheese, these things for some reason have been intimidating to me. Slowly but surely I'll catch on and then I'll be able to teach others! The cream cheese tastes AMAZING! The whey, well it will be a bit before I can tell you how the whey is going! Oh I didn't mention that got whey with a by product of cream cheese by making my own yohgurt...but that will be a post for another day!

Friday, January 28, 2011

On a day like this...

On a day like this oh I need the Lord to help me! Today the weather is inviting me to snuggle under my covers and not come out till tomorrow. So what does a mama do when she is tired, her bed is beckoning her back, her bodies engine won't turn over, and her emotions are running amuck. Well, it depends, it depends on if the kids are picking up my mood or if they are amazingly calm despite mama's emotional tiredness. It depends on a lot of things. This morning however God gave me a wonderful early gift. Maddie is resting on her bed looking at books and the twins are in their beds attempting to take needed naps. Some mornings all a mama can do is pop a movie in and be thankful for it. Some mornings I can overlook my tiredness and push through it anways. What I have learned on these tired days, is to rest, it's my bodies, mind, and spirit saying rest. I know that when I choose to lay low instead of pushing the kids, myself, and making all of us crazy. I will eventually somehow by the grace of God get everything done, sometimes that say day, sometimes two days later. Remembering there is a far greater calling than dusting, cleaning, and eatting. Those are important, don't get me wrong, they need to get done. But the greater calling is glorifing God, spending time with him so he can give me energy to do what needs doing. The greater calling is an eternal one!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homemade Yohgurt!

First of all let me say YUMMO!!!! For the first time ever I made my own yohgurt. I was completely intimidated and not sure it would be worth my time but man oh man, it was worth way more than my time! My crockpot did most of the work with only a few helpful stirs and a few other steps. Next time I make it I will sure to post pictures!!! Hurray!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fermenting is one thing...whey, kefier, and culturing is a whole nother matter!

Fermenting to me isn't hard. For right now it's follow a recipe. To me it's not hard to chop up veggies, throw in some spices, and wack the heck out of it to get the juices flowing. Nope no problemo here. However, mention the word keifer, whey, culturing that's a different ball of wax! It's tricky knowing when something has sat long enough, what part do I use, and what part do I put back, and how much do I put back, and what do I use it with? Whew! Craziness. But I know like all other aspects of cooking and baking and fermenting, culturing is all about timing, quantities, and knowing what it is suppose to look like, smell like, taste like, feel like. It's intimidating. But I know like with all things it's a process and will be conjured and will be learned all in due time. I'm an all or nothing person, this is both wonderfull and frustrating because it helps me hang in there and get things done, accomplish hard things, it's great for endurance but not so great in the short term. In the short term, if my baked beans, that I have never tried before, doesn't turn out I get super frustrated and hard on myself. That's why I have Mark to remind me I have never made homemade baked beans and to suggest helpful hints (he tries to have helpful hints and I try to smile and graciously accept his helpful hints) :)

I'm excited to enter into this new journey of cooking, baking, fermenting, and culturing. Now it's a matter of praying for the sources to come and praying over the sources I do have avaiable but may not be the best for us chemical wise, fresh wise, etc. I'm excited to pray and give it over to God and let him bring what will come and trust him with all aspects of it!

Cooking and Baking isn't a chore

God has given me a love for cooking and baking, it's something I learned to do by watching my mom and by working beside her. It's something that was fun to do on cold blizzarding days in Colorado when you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. I love making things from scratch and the more cooking I do the more I learn that the more fresh things are ginger, garlic, herbs, spices the tastier and better the meal. The flavors are succulent, the broths are nutrious, and it's all around good for everyone.

Mark has been dealing with walking pnemonia and strep throat, as well as having the stress of working, going to school, and caring for a family. I am learning the value of broths. Broths are directly absorbed by the body and does not have to go through the process that solid food does. So the nutrients and good for you stuff in the broth does a world of healing! Mark has stomach trouble as well and I'm hoping the broths will aid in his all around health.

I made homemade sauerkraut and Mark and I both like it so far. I was raised on canned veggies, pickles, olives, cabbage, and such. Mark was also but he is not a fan of sour food. But he does like sauerkraut. Fermented veggies and food is suppose to help digestion and allow the food we eat to draw out the nutrients and digest food easier and better. I'm hoping to make a fermented salsa,  which is really just salsa. I'm hoping to create enough fermented food that we can have verity and still get our digestion in order.

I'll be posting or trying to post my successes as well as my not so great cooking, baking, and fermenting journey!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Days like this

I hate days like the one I'm having today. Days when I have more emotions and hormones flowing through me than my kids, my husband, or I can keep up with. It's days like today when it's best that everyone lay low from me and wait for it to pass. The kind of day no matter how hard I try the only thing that results from my trying is tears, tears, and more tears. The kind of day where I cannot be strong any longer and I look for someone, anyone to be strong for me. It's wonderful when God sends it in physical form of a friend or family, but sometimes it is simply me crying it out and then letting God hold me and be strong for me. Sometimes it's simply trusting that whatever is going on inside of me at the moment is something God is big enough to handle and will sort it all out in due time. Sometimes I understand it as I wade through it, other times at the end of the day and perhaps the end of my life I will still not know what some of these days are about. Days where I feel under appreciated, unloved, and used. Days when I have to remember what it is this life is for. To glorify God, to love him with all my heart, soul, and mind. That is my purpose, that is what life is about. It's not about me, though days like today I wish it were. Days like today I wish someone would hand me a HUGE gigantic box of chocolates, all the movies I could possibly want to watch, and then post a sign on the door saying please leave alone and I will let you know when you can enter. A whole day or days to let myself catch up on thinking and doing. Even better to have a flat screen tv in a bathroom with a HUGE bathtub with bubbles and chocolate. Time to reflect that I really do not only love my kids and husband but that I really do enjoy them. I forget that I enjoy them and have fun with them. Much of the time I am so busy keeping everyone in clean clothes, fully tummies, and clean bodies that I rarely have time to stop and realize that they are wonderful and a blessing. I'm thankful that I know the truth of scripture, I am thankful to a God who reminds me of what is important. But I do wish someone would hand me a day off card from everything and with that card would come a don't worry about the laundry, dishes, floors, toilet, bed they will all be done when you are done relaxing and having a day to yourself. Wouldn't a day like that be amazing!! I smile thinking about such a day.

Being a mommy is hard...

I love my kids, I even love being a mom...most of the time. Their smiles will melt the coldest hearts and their snuggles melt my heart. Being a wife and mommy is the hardest thing I have ever done. It demands me to be completely selfless and giving. I can choose not to be selfless and I can choose to not give and give but all that does is unsettle the kids, piss Mark off, and when I am done with my hissy fit I am left with shattered kids and a wounded husband. It is so hard to pour out day in and day out, especially when it feels like my husband expects me to keep doing what I do day in and day out without a break, because in his eyes he doesn't get a break. Work is not a break he tells me and I'm sure it's not. I have worked outside the home and I understand it, but there are some mornings I would give anything to do a different job than feed, change diapers, homeschool. But at the sametime I wouldn't trade being a stay at home mom. To give my kids the security of having mommy at home, giving them the security that I will be there to comfort them, read them a book, teach them to make cookies, listen to frustrations, watch them succeed. Teaching them to love Jesus, teaching them to fear God, teaching them to complete a task well and to work hard. Watching their personalities unfold. But being a stay at home mom also means dealing with the frutrations of babies not eatting what you made them, Maddie wetting the bed for the third night in a row, making meals on a budget. It means sitting on my couch and watching as traffic and live goes by.  Once upon a time I was a wild, carefree, do what comes as it comes girl. Once upon a time I was adventurous and thrill seeking. Now I'm a mama wondering how I can incorporate my kids into do someo f the wild and carefree things I use to...key word "use to". I am thankful for Jesus who knows my heart longs to be elsewhere, for a God who created me the way I am and knows exactly how I work and what I need best. I am thankful He loves me and comes and ministers to wounded hearts like mine. What I think is wounded really ends up being tired.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


November 5th, 2005 is my anniversary, the day Mark and I set out on a new journey. We thought we had it all planned out and new exactly where we were going. If you have ever heard the phrase "if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans". Well that would pretty much describe us. We were only going back to Minnesota for a year, two years at the longest. Just long enough for us to spend time with my family and then hit the road again. We had no plans for were we would go next, but anywhere but Minnesota. Like I said; "tell God your plans". I don't think God laughed but he definately threw us on a different path. I say threw, not placed or suggested, but threw. Because six months after we were married we found out I was pregnant. Getting pregnant six months after we got married was not part of our plan. I neither wanted to be pregnant and I certainly did not want the responsiblity of having to get up at all hours and loose complete independance to a kid. But along came Madeline Grace Russell December 15th, 2006. I was pregnant when we celebrated our 1st anniversary. Maddies first year was the roughest year I had ever had. Post Partum hit me like a ton of bricks and on top of it Maddie was colicky. Looking back now I'm pretty sure her tummy problems were environmental and from the stress of me struggling to want my child. I remember holding Madeline and crying because while I loved my daughter, I also struggled wanting my daughter. I honestly have loved Madeline from the moment I knew I was pregnant. As freaked out as I was and as much as I didn't want to be a mommy I thank God that he gave me a love for my daughter. In the middle of my pregnancy God told me that I was going to have a girl. I knew without a doubt that God had indeed told me it was a girl. So I started buying girl clothes and everyone whispered, what if it's a boy. I said it's not and her name is Madeline Grace and we'll call her Maddie for a nick name. God was right it is a girl and her name is indeed Madeline Grace! I believe God told me it was a girl so that I would begin bonding that moment with my daughter. Someone once asked me if I loved being a mom and I said no I don't. I didn't because I knew exactly what I would do if I didn't have my daughter. I knew where and what I would be doing. For one I would be sleeping! Two I would be off on some wild and exciting adventure, not rocking a crying baby that wouldn't stop crying. I would be on some awesome incredible mission serving God, not waking up at 6am because my daughter was awake. But I have to tell you and I often wonder if this was God's way of waking Mark and I both up and saying grow up. Not only making us grow up but deepening my relationship with my family and deepening my relationship with God. Because I have had to lean on the everlasting arms of my God and my saviour! I remember holding Maddie while feeding her in the middle of the night and crying because that was NOT what I wanted to be doing. I would also cry because I knew there were moms all over the world who would love and whos arms were aching to have the blessing I was holding. I felt guilty for not wanting to be a mommy, for not wanting to comfort my crying baby. There were literally times when I didn't care if Maddie cried. There were times I cried because I did care she was crying but I didn't want to do anything about it. That first year of Maddie's life was wonderful and awful at the sametime.

Four years. Maddie turned four December 15th. The twins turned 1 year old today (Jan. 13th) and I almost cried. I cried because for the first time in four years I could honestly say I couldn't imagine life without my kids. For the first time I am excited to be a mommy. There are many days when the thought of getting up is oh man I have to do this again. There are many days when my laundry piles up and I wonder if I will see the haul way floor again. But that is ok, because God has slowly, ever so slowly given me a love for my mission field.

I have to tell you that God knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he moved us to Minnesota. He knew the support we would need from my family. When we moved back from Oregon again God knew we would need to be here so we could have the support of my family when we got pregnant with the twins. Life is nothing like I thought it would be but it's everything I want.

The mission field I talked about and the adventures I wanted to take. My mission field is now Mark, Maddie, Naomi, and Titus. Now I get to take them on the adventures I want to go on. Raising my family, giving up and dying to myself to serve Mark is my africa, it is my mission field. In some ways this is me taking up my cross and following him. The life that I have is not the life that I wanted or dreamed about. There are aren't stables and ranch hands around. Instead I live in an apartment, in Albert Lea, while my husband finishes school and while we wait on the Lord to provide the rent and the gas for our car. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

I have been given a glimps today from a dear friend who reminded me what life was life four years ago and I have been able to glance and see how far Mark and I have come. There have been so many times he and I have wanted to throw in the towel and say see ya. But I am so thankful that early in our marriage by the grace of God we learned to forgive each other quickly. We learned to bit our tongues and to be submitted to the holy spirit and humble ourselves to each other.

Mark and I's love is so different than when we first said I do. Our love then was a romantic, wild, adventuresome love. Our love now is a committed love. The kind that says I don't care how mad I am at you, I'm sticking around. The kind of love that only comes from Jesus. It's amazing how romance is now Mark getting up with the kids and letting me sleep. Romance is coming home and finding Mark put the laundry away and put supper away and did the supper dishes. Nothing is sexier than Mark coming home filthy from head to toe from a long day at work. I have never been able to be so angry with someone to the point where it literally feels like someone is ripping my heart and soul out of my body than Mark can and no human can love me and comfort me like Mark can.

I am so thankful for the road and path God has lead me on. It's still not easy and there are times I look back and wonder what might have been, what might have been different. But I know God is in the midst of all things that happen to me. The question is not why God. The answer is God I trust you no matter what! I trust you even though I don't understand you!

Life still isn't easy and Mark and I still aren't "settled". Mark is finishing school and looking for jobs. But God has always taken care of us. He has deepened my relationship with him. He has deepened the relationship I have with my family. He has restored relationships that were broken. Mark and I are not on the path that we thought we would take or a path we thought we would like and love. But we are on a path none the less. A path I can assure you that we are not on alone. For my saviour walks everywhere we walk and he never leaves us alone. I am not far from his grasp and he catches me and loves me. He is so patient when I get frustrated at not wanting to die to myself and when I'm feeling selfish. He restores my soul and brings me help. Sometimes literally and sometimes it's simply a peace within myself. I cry and wonder how I will get anything done and then some how all the house work is done, supper is on the table, and our house is peaceful. Our house is peaceful because God is peaceful!

It may not be the way I would have choosen, you lead me through a world that's not my home. But you never said it would be easy. You only said I'd never go it alone. When the whole world turns against me and I'm all by myself and I can't hear you answer my cry for help. I'll remember your suffering that your love put you through and I will walk through the fire if you want me to. I will cross over jordan, I'm gonna sing, gonna shout, I'm going to look into your eyes and see you never let me down. So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you. I will walk through the fire if you want me to.

Jesus I will go were you ask. Even being a mommy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Year and Nine Months Ago...

 His conspiring look that usually means his about to have a "great" idea...
 look Naomi is down there...

Noami giving Titus a peace of his own medicine. 
Usually  it's Titus picking on Naomi. Notice Titus is not enjoying his dose of medicine
BUT Naomi is smiling....hmmm.

 Omi enjoying her peas and noodles.

 Titus and Naomi figuring out Naomis' new toy from Grandma Russell.

 I'll pull Naomi's hair...great idea!

 My happy boy! Titus is our laid back, happy go lucky kid.
Anything daddy comes up with he is sure is a great idea!
 Sweet girl!!!
 Naomi demonstrating her lack of indoor voice skills.
Naomi and Maddie hanging out.

Titus is constantly using the exersaucer as a jungle gym.
He spends more time crawling through it than in it.

A year and nine months ago the thought of twins was well, there wasn't a thought of twins. There was the thought of having one more kid and then we would be done. God on the other hand had different ideas. Much different ideas than ours. Low and behold Naomi Abigail and Titus David entered out lives. Two interesting facts. One in the ultrasounds you could see Naomi and Titus pushing each other in the womb. Giving me a vision of what sin nature looks like before birth. Did they know that's what they were doing no, is it still sin and do they still have sin nature...yes. Secondly two days before I had Titus the doctor was concerned that Titus wasn't gaining weight  and they were going to monitor me every week to make sure he was doing ok. When the twins were born it was Titus who florished and was released from the hospital first and it was Naomi who took a bit longer to catch up. When I found out we were having twins my prayer was Lord you are giving us a double blessing, please provide a double portion. A double portion he has continued to provide. Not always when we thought we needed it or when we wanted something but none the less it was provided. Arms were available to hold babies so we could sleep, Maddie was a champion and continues to love on her brother and sister. She is amazing with them and the twins think her ideas are the best ever. Titus is sure Maddie hung the moon. I am honored God thought we would be a good candidate for twins but man there were times I wondered if he choose the right couple and the right timing. We cannot imagine life without the two of them. Titus is our trouble maker and he usually looks like he is about to get into trouble any second. He loves snuggles and giggles. He is good buddies with his daddy and loves to giggle and wrestle with daddy. Naomi is our all smiles girl and her whole face lights up with her big grins. She is our talker which usually comes out as screams and has not managed a indoor voice yet. She loves to dance and anything that is shiny or lights up is awesome to her. We are so blessed with our double portion and it's amazing that Thursday, January 13th will be our double blessing, double trouble  birthday! Happy Birthday Naomi and Titus! Mommy and Daddy love you dearly!
You are our double blessing!

Friday, January 7, 2011

My little girl isn't so little anymore

Maddie did a photo shoot for me today! I was excited to get the
pictures I did and I was excited at how they turned out in photoshop. Who knew I could be so creative!

My Daughter is truly beautiful! However, I am thrilled that she is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside!

Maddie turned four on December 15th. The things she wanted for her birthday were a scooter, a skateboard, and a snowboard. I would not have thought a four year old little girl would request such things but she did. Mark is looking forward to showing her the ropes this summer. Maddie is very tender hearted, who loves to play and love on her brother and sister. She loves spending time with her persons as she calls them, Grandma and Emmy. Emmy is her favorite person as Maddie would put it. Maddie loves to read and be read to and she has recently developed a love of playing games. Shutes and ladders, candy land, Uno, and slap jack to name a few of her favorites. Quality time is definately one of Maddie's love languages! I am so glad that God gave us Maddie! She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside!
We love you Maddie Grace!