One young Catholic family on a Journey towards Intentional and Communal Sustainability. One Artist, one full time Mama and two babies, we'll tell you about all our successes, and failures, as we try to make it in our overly Consumeristic society on just the bare necessities.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Doctor of Love

Recently Pope Benedict XVI declared that we are soon to be honored to have two new saints declared doctors of the Church. The two saints are St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard. I must confess, as much as I am excited about having new doctors, I am ignorant as to who they are and what they've written. Though I suppose that part of the point of naming these saints as doctors is to encourage the faithful to explore their writings and teachings after all.

As I got to thinking about how I knew so little about them I also began to realize how little I know about the 33 doctors we currently are blessed with. I know that the doctors have each given some new light to mysteries of God and of the Faith, as such they have been bestowed with titles such as The Doctor Grace, in the case of Saint Augustine. Some are much more particular like Saint Bede the Venerable who is the Doctor of English History (though his contributions to philosophical and theological study are certainly well beyond the bounds of either time or geography).

In my search to find more charisms and therefore, titles, of the doctors I found that St. Therese of Lisieux is not only the Doctor of Confidence, but also the Doctor of Love. Having heard this I couldn't help but to come up with the following design for a T-shirt and sticker:


Keep in mind that imagining the text being narrated by Barry White helps really active that double entendre hinted at by the rockin' 70's font.

Being that I am still in the (albeit final) stages of printing up the Communion with ROME gives me Extraordinary Form shirts and stickers I am not yet in the active production of the above design. However, don't let that stop you from voicing your opinion.

Is this a shirt or sticker that you'd like to exist? If they were to exist would you buy them? Did you know that St. Therese is the Doctor of Love or did you just think that was a title reserved to KISS fans trying to impress their old ladies? If St. Therese is the Doctor of Love is it too much of a stretch to call her the O.G of Love (I know space cowboy would be too much)? Feel free to add any other mildly outdated musical allusions as well as you comment below...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy First day of Summer!

And Happy Birthday, Kum Dwain!

 "Kum" and "kuma" are Slovak for "godfather" and "godmother", according to my father-in-law, whose parents were from Slovakia. 
 Kum Dwain is Charlotte's godfather, and also, of course, a good friend.
 Our newest art project, lately, is painting.  This is another nap time activity, when I don't have to worry about Beatrice getting into it. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Best homemade play-dough recipe EVER! - Perfect Playdough by Grammie Shelley

BEST play dough EVER!  So smooth and elastic!
Ok, I almost never had store bought, brand name, Play-doh growing up.  But I was never sad.  Why?  Because my mother mastered the art of making homemade play dough, and I can honestly say that she is absolutely the best play-dough maker I've ever known.  Maybe the 4 kids plus all the pre-school teaching she did over the ages had something to do with it, but she'll be the first to admit that it was partially selfish.  She used to have bad arthritis in her hands when we were younger, and kneading the warm play dough was like heaven to her joints.  But beyond that, we were all thrilled with the best play dough on the block!  Even better than store bought because it didn't have that weird chemical smell.  Sure, it only lasts a couple of days, a little longer in the fridge in a plastic baggie, and is always best the first day, but since Mom made it, we could have it almost whenever we wanted!
Stir over medium heat.  It looks like goop, but it'll get there.

Keep stirring until it starts to clump into a ball, and clean off the sides of the pot

My trick- knead the oil into the dough right out of the pot- it's hot, so if you can't handle it, you can mix it in in the beginning.

Really- just buy the cheap stuff, but I only had the good stuff on hand

I actually added about a teaspoon more to get the color.  Add with a drop of oil to help it incorporate better

Grammie Yellow Play Dough!
 Charlotte has been asking for Play Dough a lot lately.  I don't always make it for her, partially because it calls for white flour, and I usually only have whole wheat sitting around, and whole wheat play dough is both ugly and course.  But when I do, I LOVE the result!  Today, because it's too hot to play outside, and so hot that we've actually broken down and turned the AC on (something I only do if it breaks 95 or I absolutely can't stand it), I'm making it for her.  And it will be her favorite color- Yellow- without any crazy ingredients or chemical food coloring. 

I hesitated before posting this not because of anything in the recipe itself, but because my mother's recipe is her own, and it's so perfect it really should be secret.  But then I realized that there's no reason to have a "secret recipe" for play dough!  Everybody should be able to give their kids the gift of the Perfect Play dough!

So in honor of my mother, Shelley, I am letting you in on the little secret, and I hope you all enjoy it!

Grammie Shelley's Perfect Playdough
2 cups flour
1/2 c salt
1 1/2 c water
4 tblspoons cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil.
You can add more water or flour at anytime.  Cook over med. heat until it forms a ball. Cool, and knead when cooled. 

Charlotte's Star!
 My suggestions:  Add the oil in at the end, when you're kneading it, instead of when you're cooking, unless you're worried about oil stains on furniture, which I never am.  Use a vegetable oil, but other than that, it doesn't much matter which.  Also, to color the play dough yellow, add about 2 teaspoons of Tumeric when you're kneading.  Add more if you want, but if you're kid likes to eat it, keep it low or it will be extra spicy.  It makes the most beautiful, south of France yellow. 
She tried it, and I didn't worry because everything is healthy, let alone non-toxic!  Also, yes, she's sitting in a tupperware shoebox.
As a fun aside, Grammie Shelley, myself and Charlotte all have something in common- Yellow is all our favorite color!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vitamin A is for Awesome Sun Protection

Alright, I'm a redhead.  You may not see it, you may not believe it, but it's true.  Since moving to Colorado, my hair has gotten less red (probably due to less humidity making is smoother which means that less light catches the red in my hair) but, trust me, it's still there, and even if my head isn't a fire engine, my skin still knows that i'm a red head.  AND even if my children aren't full blown redheads, that doesn't mean that at least my eldest has inherited my fair skin.  Oh, and did I mention that Colorado is one heck of a sunny state?  And like a mile closer to the sun then most of you?  Yeah 300 plus days of direct sun can be tough. Oh, and I've already had one mole removed when I was 16, and one aunt so far has been diagnosed with Melanoma. So when I got this email from our Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Jacob Schor, that we sometimes frequent, I took note. (warning: it's very clinical, put your thinking cap on!)
we love playing outside!

Worried about melanoma risk?
New research shows women who take vitamin A lower their risk.

In the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Maryam Asgari reported that women taking vitamin A have a 73% lower risk of getting melanoma than women who not taking it.  The effect was less in men, a 17% reduction in risk, which was not statistically significant.

Asgari works for Kaiser Permanante in Oakland, California while her coauthors, Ted Brasky and Emily White, are from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.  Together, they analyzed data collected from the the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study.  This VITAL cohort study is a large project that has tracked the vitamin and supplement intake of 69,635 adults living in 13 counties in Washington State for years. Health data on the participants has also been compiled over time. Scientists now evaluate the combined data looking for associations between vitamin intake and health.

Asgari, Brasky and White looked for an effect because vitamin A controls cell differentiation and proliferation preventing cells from becoming cancerous: in a test tube, vitamin A prevents melanoma cells from growing.

The benefit seen in the data is worth repetition: Asgari reported that women taking vitamin A had about a quarter of the risk of getting melanoma as women not taking it.

Neither vitamin A taken in from food nor beta-carotene from food or supplements appeared to lower cancer risk in this study.  The low doses found in common multivitamins had no measurable impact either.  Benefit was only observed in those taking vitamin A in pill form at doses greater than 4,000 IU/day.

If members of your family have been diagnosed with melanoma or if you have fair skin or red hair, or have a history of multiple severe sunburns, you could be at higher than average risk of melanoma.   If you are, you should talk to your healthcare provider about taking a vitamin A supplement.

High doses of vitamin A taken over extended periods are potentially unhealthy. High doses are typically defined as 250,000 IU in a single dose or 50,000 IU daily over time.  Reactions vary and some people respond negatively to smaller amounts as low as a single dose of 20,000 IU.  Birth defects have been reported in infants whose mothers took doses of 40,000 IU/day during pregnancy.

It is common to use beta-carotene as a substitute for vitamin A as it is considered safe in high doses and will be converted to vitamin A in the body.  Unfortunately Asgari’s team found no protection against melanoma in people taking beta-carotene supplements.    If you want protection against melanoma you need to take real vitamin A.

Vitamin A doses up to 10,000 IU/day are generally considered safe to use so if you want to lower risk of melanoma you should take a daily dose of vitamin A, more than 4,000 and less than 10,000 IU.

Link to full text of the study

So, Vitamin A, huh? Well, I don't take supplemental Vitamin pills, for many reasons, but mostly because I try to get all my nutrients from good, whole, nutrient dense foods instead since it's easier to absorb those nutrients.  Especially since I have little ones around, and want to keep overdose possibilities to a minimum.   So, where can you find Vitamin A other than in a supplemental vitamin pill?  (Oh, and I mean actual Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, not Beta-Carotene, which is the vegetable source of Vitamin A, in that it helps your body make it's own but doesn't provide the same benefits as the actual Vitamin.  Retinol is the form of vitamin A absorbed when eating animal food sources, is a yellow, fat-soluble substance. )

Good Vitamin A Sources:
Pastured Eggs
Pastured Meats, especially red meat
Grass Feed whole milk. (NOT fat free- Vitamin A is fat soluble, so the less fat, the less VitA)
Grass Feed butter. You know it's grass fed because it's YELLOW, not white!  
Cod Liver Oil
Liver (which has the most, by a long mile)

So this summer, along with an all natural mineral based sunscreen, we will be adding more liver and will be re-adding Cod Liver Oil to our diets to try and keep our kiddos skin  (and mine) good and white.  (Edit, ok, Vitamin A isn't going to prevent sunburn, but it will prevent excess damage from the sun.  Don't forget your sunscreen too!)  And to keep us away from the dermatologist!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Communion with ROME gives me Extaordinary Form

As you may know, Pope Benedict XVI just recently offered the Society of Saint Pius X a personal prelature if they come back into full obedience with Rome. In hopeful expectation of the continuation of Christian Unity I am offering this bumper sticker and t-shirt design.

 The design features a vintage strongman, wearing a Roman collar, lifting a dumbbell and the text reads, "Communion with ROME gives me Extraordinary Form!"

These stickers and shirts are also a great expression of solidarity amongst Catholics who love the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Please tell your friends and family about these designs, 10% of sales will go to the Church.

You can view and purchase stickers and shirts at my Saint Roch's Studios Etsy shop.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vegetable Beef soup with homemade noodles

I was a little strapped for time and meat tonight, and it so happens that I haven't been so good about planning our meals lately.  But what evolved was wonderful!

Vegetable Beef Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles
1 quart jar chicken or beef stock.  I had chicken, so I used chicken
2 lbs organic hamburger
1 medium onion, cut up roughly
2 cloves garlic, plus some garlic greens from the garden
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
large handful of purple garden kale
2 cans (or jars if you were good enough to can your own last year) diced tomatoes.  Or fresh, but it's not that hot yet!
Lots of thyme.  I don't know how much I used.  My sister in law gave me a packet of organic thyme that she used for 1 meal and barely touched.  I used maybe half that package tonight.  It was a lot.  I like thyme- a lot.
salt and pepper

Saute the onions in butter until they're just starting to be see-thru in a separate skillet.  Add a pinch of salt, stir a bit, then add the hamburger
Saute until brown with the garlic, crushed
Chop up the kale and throw on the hamburger at the very end, and lid it, so it just wilts a little.
In the pot simmer your stock, and some extra water if necessary.
Add carrots and celery and let simmer for a little while.  Then add the tomatoes.  Bring it back up to temperature, then de-glaze the hamburger skillet with the stock.  Once all the goo is deliciously in your stock, transfer the hamburger goo to the pot and wash your skillet.
Add the thyme and salt and pepper.  Then bring it to a bubble, but not boiling, to add your noodles.

While it's getting to that nice and hot, make your noodles.  This is super easy!  I'll tell you what I did, but honestly, it's all about taste and trial and error, and it's pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to get wrong.  I prefer homemade noodles BY FAR to store bought for things like soups and stews.  Spaghetti can be store bought for tomato sauce- which is rare- and quick lunches for famished toddlers.

1 cup of whole wheat flour, plus some.
1 egg (Val's egg made the noodles such a pretty yellow!  store eggs make them pretty white/brown)
about 2 tbsp olive oil- just add it slowly, you may need less or more
about 3 tbsp milk- again, add it slowly and judge it yourself
Some gluten just for kicks and to make it more doughy- just a sprinkle
White flour, or in my case I used rice flour, for rolling.  I had rice flour.  I did not have white flour.  It didn't seem to make a difference.

On a clean counter or large cutting board, build a hill of flour and your gluten sprinkle, with a nice little volcano in the middle.  You COULD do this in a bowl, too, but then, hey, what's the fun in that?  Extra dishes?
Crack your egg in the volcano.  Or if you're picky, in a bowl and mix it with a little milk first.  But it doesn't matter
Mash it a lot with your hands, adding oil first, then milk as needed, until you start to get it all to stick together.  Keep going.  Then Keep Going. It doesn't take long, maybe 10 minutes total- it took me 8 minutes tonight to go from start to perfect dough, and then about 2 minutes to roll it by hand.  WAY faster than boiling water at high altitudes.  Or is it that it boils faster here?  hmmm.. I can't remember, but it always seems to take too long!
When your dough is nice and NOT crumbly, go ahead and pull out  your rolling pin object (which is often a mason jar if my artist...ahem....husband has stolen my rolling pin again.  He's stolen 2 in the past, but I'll give him credit- I've had the same one in the kitchen for almost a year now!)  Roll it, flipping and turning it, on your counter or cutting board, and don't worry about the shape.  Just get it to about 1/8 inch thickness.
Pull out your pizza cutter, or fancy pasta cutter if you're one of those people- but then you're not reading my amateur guide to pasta, are you?  (Melissa!)  Use that pizza cutter to cut whatever shape you please, just uniform-ish if you can so they cook at the same rate.  They WILL grow in the pot, just like store noodles.  You can twist them, bowtie them, make them long and skinny or short and fat, I don't mind and won't tell!  Just enjoy!  I like making mine simple rectangles about 1 inch by 1/4 inch or so.  Easy to manage with a spoon, but bit enough to be a real bite.  Another option is just to make a whole bunch of tiny, tiny noodle pieces for your soup.  There's an Italian name for this.  I don't know it.  Make it up if you must!

When your water is nice a bubbly, but not boiling over the sides, add your noodles.  They take anywhere from 3-7 minutes to cook. Lightning fast!  See, making your own noodles may be messy, but honestly, it's WAY more of a toddler pleaser in so many ways!  Oh, and if she's in the mood, she can help too!
Valentine, the chicken, who gives us delicious eggs that I don't mind my children eating raw because I know they're safe!

Tonight, Bea helped.  By eating tiny pieces of raw dough that were in the wrong size/shape.  Yes, there's raw egg in there, and raw milk for that matter.  Do I care?  NO!  Because I know the chicken and the cow!