Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Some Cuteness for Grandma Colette

Sarah and Andrew like to dress up in their police officer costume. Here they are with the costume split between the two of them.

Here's David doing some cute baby talk. He's babbling so much nowadays.

I think Sam has asked me about five times so far today, "Is it October yet?" He's really looking forward to you and Papa Mac visiting.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homemade Sausage Seasoning

Since we don't produce our own pork yet I still have to find an outside source to purchase it. Obviously, with our GAPS diet, I'm not purchasing sausage from the store. However, I'm also not even able to purchase it from our local butcher because of the seasonings that are used. I don't trust that the seasonings are GAPS-friendly, so I choose to make my own sausage seasoning. Actually, it works out better because I can get plain ground pork from our local Mennonite butcher cheaper than purchasing ready-made sausage from the same business.

Our family likes the following recipe:

6-1/2 Tbsp. sage
2 Tbsp. sea salt
5 tsp. pepper
5 tsp. red pepper flakes
5 tsp. fennel
5 tsp. marjoram
2-1/2 tsp. ground mustard
2 tsp. garlic powder

Place all ingredients in a small jar and shake until well blended. This recipe makes enough to season about 10 pounds of ground pork. For each pound of pork used, add 1-1/2 Tbsp. of sausage seasoning. It is a bit on the spicy side, so if I were going to alter the recipe I would definitely put in fewer red pepper flakes instead of more!

Monday, August 29, 2011

YouTube Video Recommendations

In the past Shawn and I have enjoyed watching some BBC television shows that recreate life in different time periods. Each series has actual archaeologists and historians living the life of that time period for a full year. These shows are available for free on YouTube. So far we have watched Victorian Farm, which is about life in the mid-19th Century.

We've also watched Edwardian Farm, which is about life just after the turn of the 20th Century.

We have enjoyed both of these series immensely. They're delightful to watch while being educational at the same time.

We've also been wanting to see a third series that was made using the same historians/archaeologists, but it hasn't been available on YouTube. Well, this week Shawn just happened to check again and we were excited to find that it's available! So, we're now in the process of watching Tales from the Green Valley. It is about life in the year 1620.

I can't recommend these enough. What's especially nice is that these are made with actual historians...professionals that are enthralled with life in the past. Other shows that we have watched have had more of a drama-filled "reality tv" feel to them and we just simply do not care to watch that kind of show. This is a wonderful change from the norm. If you do get to watch them, let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Fix To Blogger Troubles

I posted earlier about my technical difficulties with Blogger. In order to publish a new post I had to first save it as a draft and then publish it from a separate page. I wasn't able to edit my posts. I also wasn't able to comment on my own posts.

Well, Shawn and I figured out the problem. Apparently Internet Explorer doesn't work well with Blogger. If I use Google Chrome I can do everything I need to with Blogger. So, in case anyone else has the same problem...switch from Internet Explorer and see if that helps!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Canning Applesauce

I don't like canning. However, I'm very grateful for all the yummy fruit we have growing in our orchard and I refuse to see it go to waste. So...yesterday I canned.

We still have more apples to pick, but here's the first picking from one of the trees.

Those are some of our pears in the jars. I ended up with 18 quart jars of dehydrated pear slices. Also, see that beautiful apple! That's the biggest apple that we harvested this year. It was too pretty to turn into applesauce, so it was set aside for eating fresh.

As much as I dislike canning, I will admit that this year was easier than last year. Over the past year I have acquired several tools that made canning easier. Last year I used my big pressure canner as a water bath canner. However this year I was able to use a real water bath canner with a rack and that made it much easier. I also acquired a handy apple peeler/corer/slicer since last year. It made things go so much faster!

I had to fiddle with the appropriate thickness for the peeler blade, but once I got everything set correctly it was a little bit fun to use this tool.

First you just push the apple onto the three-pronged rod and spin the handle. The apple is then peeled, cored, and sliced all at the same time.

Then you just slide the finished apple away from the core.

The kids loved the sliced apples. Sarah kept calling them "yo-yo apples."

From that basket I ended up with 13 pints of applesauce. (In the back is some salsa that I'm fermenting for Shawn.)

Whooo, I am so glad that's done! I wish I would have taken a picture of my kitchen after the canning process was finished. It looked like a bomb had gone off. Just one of the reasons why I dislike the canning process, but really like the feeling after it's all said and done.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Resource For Autism Information

This morning I checked my email and had a request to make this online resource available to those that check my blog. I'm not a user of Twitter so I don't know how exactly this works, but I was impressed with the amount of links available and the descriptions of the links. I do hope that a visitor to my blog might find some help through this link:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Recently I read the book Surviving Off Off-Grid by Michael Bunker. In his book, Mr. Bunker urges readers to look at the benefits of living an agrarian life free from modern "conveniences." I especially liked that he used Scripture to point out why an agrarian lifestyle is pleasing to God.

I don't think anyone would be too surprised to find out that I'm drawn to an agrarian lifestyle. Perhaps I get that from my Dad. He farms. However, he farms for a living which includes things like combines and tractors that cost more than our house! I'm still interested in working the land, but on a much smaller scale than my Dad. I'm not looking to feed the entire world. I just want to produce enough from our land to feed our own family. I strive to be self-sufficient. For those reasons, it shouldn't be surprising that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm all set to start up a Christian Agrarian Separatist community now. Mr. Bunker's book is very motivating.

I just want to casually mention...the home closest to our property is for sale. Anyone want to buy it and help start up a Christian Agrarian Separatist community? We're good neighbors...I promise!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

GAPS-Friendly Spanish Squash

I recently stumbled across a yummy recipe on Of course I changed it up a little bit to fit our diet. We really liked it so I thought I'd share it today.

My version calls for:
2 pounds of ground beef
2-3 Tbsp. of fat (tallow or lard)
3 yellow squash, sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced (I also added 3 small sweet peppers from our garden this time.)
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. In large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef.

2. While beef is cooking, place fat in another large skillet. When fat is melted and hot, add squash, onion, and green pepper. Saute until tender. **See note below**

3. When vegetables are tender, add them to the ground beef. Then also add tomatoes and spices to ground beef.

4. Mix together and cook for 5-10 minutes until tomatoes are soft and everything is heated through.

**This can easily be a one-pot meal. It's not really necessary to cook the vegetables separately. The first time I made this I cooked everything together in one skillet. It still tasted great. However, the squash got very "smooshy" when it cooked with the beef. By cooking the vegetables in a separate skillet, the "smooshiness" is avoided.**


This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blogger Problems and a Response to Pam

I have problems with Blogger. I can no longer edit previous posts. I can't even publish a post without first saving it as a draft and then publishing it from the "Saved Drafts" page. Also, I cannot respond in comments to anyone that has posted a comment to me. So...with all that said, I received an amazing comment from Pam in my previous post. Since I can't comment on my own posts for some reason I decided to make my comment to Pam its own separate post. Here's the comment from Pam:

Hi Janice,

What a fantastic coincidence. I'm visiting your blog to thank you for sharing your story and videos of your son Sam. I had learned about GAPS a few months before seeing your videos on Cheeseslave, but it wasn't until watching those videos and reading about your family's experience that I finally ordered the book.

Now we are on it as a family, and our 4 year old son, who has an autism diagnosis and seems(seemed) to share so many similarities with Sam, is emerging from the fog. He is 19 days on the diet. A month ago he wasn't conversational. Today he asked "why" questions, asked me how I was doing, shared and played with friends, told us all the things he wanted to do today, played with his younger sister, and kept us up to date on his feelings. And that was just today! We can get out of the car in a parking lot and not worry about him running off; he waits to hold our hands instead. The other day I noticed he was upset and when I told him he looked upset, he told me he was and what had upset him. He didn't tantrum. Instead, he showed self-control and expressed himself verbally. We still have a good ways to go, but my goodness, we are getting somewhere!

Even though we don't know you, we talk about you and Sam and how you have inspired us. Our family thanks you and Sam so much. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for having the courage to never stop looking for answers.

God bless,

Pam...I am so happy that you are finally getting to know your son! Isn't this an amazing time!?! Seeing that much change in NINETEEN days! I'm so excited for your family.

Before starting GAPS I remember several times when I asked God why MY child had to be created with autistic traits. I remember having a breakdown at my friend's home because I was so overwhelmed dealing with Sam's meltdowns and antisocial behavior. I remember sobbing, "I don't even know my own son!" I couldn't understand why Shawn and I were chosen to parent this child...we were so underqualified. I never thought I would ever look back and actually be THANKFUL that Sam was created with all his difficulties. However, whenever I get comments or emails like yours, it makes me very proud. Instead of Sam's difficulties being a trial for our family, I now see them as a path to help many other families.

Thank you for your comment and thank you for sharing your son's healing with me. I would really like to keep in touch with you. Please keep me updated as your son continues to heal. I'm so excited for your family!

Take care,

Oh...on a sidenote...if anyone can tell me how to fix my Blogger issues, please let me know. I'm getting really frustrated with it!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Awesome Email I Received

I received this in my inbox today:

Hi Janice,

I wanted to thank you SO much for posting the videos of your son Sam before and after GAPS. When I saw the before ones they were so familiar to me especially the body movements and perseveration. I had previously thought there was no way we could do GAPS due to him having food allergies to about half of the approved foods. Your videos were so amazing that I read a little more on it, realized those allergies may heal and started the next morning. I really did, :) I knew about making broth as something we had done in moderation in addition to so many other things to try and heal him. Other than that I had no idea what I was doing and stayed up late every night cooking and trying to figure it out until my book arrived. On the 2nd day, my son woke up a completely different child. No sensory issues, no hyperactivity, talking calmly and having 2 way conversation. It has been 12 weeks now and he is so much improved that nearly everyone notices the difference. We still have a long road to healing but I am so hopeful that he will fully recover.

Even better, I shared my journey on an online community called Gentle Christian Mothers and to date about 20 other families most from that board but several I knew elsewhere have started their journeys to healing on GAPS!!!!! From so many things, autism, food allergies, autoimmune disorders.... the list is just endless. So thank you from all of us for sharing your journey so that others can find healing. I often wonder how Sam is doing and hope that you post an update soon.


This message from Amy gave me happy tears. I love hearing that other parents have taken this diet seriously and seen healing in their children. Like Amy said, the GAPS diet can be helpful in resolving so many different health problems. I'm glad Sam's videos have been helpful to others. Oh...and I promise to get another Sam-post up soon. I should take some more video of him...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homestead Happenings

Recently our family met a wonderful couple at the Farmers Market. They were nice enough to invite us out to their homestead so the children could visit with their sheep and goats. We had a great time. It's so nice to find like-minded individuals that live so close! They're interested in organizing a group of locals that desire to live self-sufficiently and sustainably. It would be so, SO nice to have that resource available locally.

Also, we recently discovered that we have Passion Fruit (sometimes called Maypops) growing on our property. Shawn found this unripe fruit when he was out mowing trails. I love finding wild edibles on our property! Of course the fruit is edible, but I've also read that the leaves and vine make a great tea.

Finally, we've been **cough** fortunate to have acquired another kitten. Apparently someone dumped the little thing off at our gate. Also, we're not certain if it can walk or not since Sarah has decided it must be carried around everywhere she goes. So, this now brings our kitten-count up to seven. Anybody want a kitten..or two?