A Few of My Favorite Things

Just wanted to share a few of the things I’m hyperfocused on right now!

Baked Oatmeal
Better yet, baked oatmeal in my adorable single-serving Le Creuset dish.
Click the picture above for credit to the recipe. I didn’t make it up. I’m simply a recipe follower, but I have to pass it on. It’s so simple to make.
•Preheat oven to 375.
•Mix in one medium bowl: 1 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1/2 cup milk, 2 TBSP creamed wildflower honey (or whatever honey you have), some chopped nuts (if you want- I love the texture and taste of the nuts but I’m not picky about what kind. I pick a handful of nuts out of my trader joe’s trail mix and chop them up), and 1/2 a cup of berries of your choice (or I have even used dried fruit which is good too).
•Put into an adorable little dish (greased) like I do or grease a muffin tin and fill the cups (as it doesn’t rise).
•Bake for 20 min. Then broil the top for about 5 min so that it has a nice crust.

It tastes so yummy. 20 minutes can be a long time to wait for breakfast. I suggest to double the recipe so that you make all 12 of your muffin tins. Then eat some, refrigerate some, or even freeze some. Then you have breakfast for a couple days. Re-warm in the microwave and drizzle the top with more honey and chopped nuts. Or skip the broiling step if you have a toaster oven and toast them to re-heat/crust the top. I also read that some people had a hard time keeping them together when they’re made in a muffin tin. I learned it’s when the fruit is on the side. When I make them in muffin tins I don’t add the berries when mixing. I fill the tins and then push in the berries so that I know each bite has some fruit and I can make sure it doesn’t touch the sides (so it can hold it’s form). Any which way, just make sure you let them cool before trying to dig them out.

Listen people. This is amazingly good and healthy. Gotta love that.

Blogs
These are 2 of my favorite blogs right now:

My Crazy Life as a Farmers Wife : I want to be this woman. This is my goal. Well, minus the wheat and potato farm. I try to stay away from either of those 2 things as much as possible…but that’s another story. 😉

Keeper of the Home : This site is a constant of mine. It has so much good natural health information. I’m pretty much convinced this gal knows everything.

Natural Cleaning/De-toxing the House
I’ve been doing a lot of reading/documentary-watching on the daily toxins we come in contact with. You all know how we’ve been trying to eat cleaner- staying away from toxic GMO’s and factory farmed animal products but what good does that do if I wash my clothes in toxins, my hair, rub it on my body, and clean my house with them?

Not very much good that’s for sure. We are a family full of tummy problems. Toxins are very hard for the body to get rid of. One of the ways it does this is by making more fat. Toxins are not water soluble, but fat soluble. Our family also doesn’t have a lot of extra fat to absorb the effects of toxins. Instead, it goes straight to destroying the balance of our gut flora and digestive system (which is more than just your colon and intestines- it’s your liver and kidneys too).

This movie is extremely helpful. What I like about this film is that it doesn’t just give you the food industry is gross speech, but gives you ideas of what you CAN do to be in control of your health. I highly recommend it to all. The first half does address obesity but the second half is very important to people of all sizes. Click the image to watch a trailer.

Buying organic or “green” laundry soaps, cleaners, beauty products can be expensive and we’re on a tight budget. Oddly enough, making your own “green” products is relatively cheap and easy. Read more about what to do from the Keeper of the Home blog I referred to earlier: Spring Clean the Toxins. She has lots of ideas but here is the recipe that I use for my All Purpose Cleaner. It works so incredibly well. Also, I started using a microfiber cloth on cleaning days (or a couple- when you’re done, wash them so they’re ready for next week). They pick up so well. On the day to day spills I still use paper towels but this helps. Instead of putting in a drop of essential oils, I just by the lavender castile soap from Whole Foods (the 365 brand). It smells so good. You’re only using a 1/2 tsp per spray bottle made so it lasts…FOR-EV-ER. My mother-in-law is working on the making of beauty products, whew. One less thing for me to obsess over. 🙂

Deck Gardening
I have a brown thumb. I have never been able to keep plants alive. That may be an issue in my aspirations to become a farmer. I also currently live in an apartment…which means I have no land of my own. So, I’ve decided to practice in containers on my deck. I’ve started out very, very small (since I don’t trust myself yet) and have been obsessing over these plants. Most mornings you can find Kadence and myself on the deck talking to the little tomatoes (which we got so excited about when they showed up). I’m going to take a few boring minutes to document what I’ve learned from this year so that next year I have a place to go to remember…
Dear Jennifer (I only refer to myself as Jennifer when I’m in trouble): This is too many plants for this container. 1-2 plants per 5 gallon container not 5 plants in a 5 gallon container. Somehow tomatoes are growing but you have lost a lot of foliage to yellowing of lower leaves- you will most likely get more tomatoes if the plants have more space and aren’t competing for nutrients from the soil. Your saving grace has been this website with it’s plant brews. The tomato plants act all happy when they get one of these concoctions…lucky you, but don’t do that again next year. Give them space.

Dear Jennifer: The herb pot is a fabulous idea. Saves you so much money- $3 for a fresh herb? Pssh. No more. Plant more basil next year. You use it a lot. The salsa deck garden idea (tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapenos) was a cute idea but not very practical. Cilantro loves sunny but cooler weather. You had cilantro coming out your ears during the cooler weeks of spring. But once it turned 80, the plant began to bolt. Once it bolts (as pictured) and flowers, the leaves turn bitter. Cilantro doesn’t like warm soil. Nothing you can do about it. Part of nature. However, tomatoes and jalapenos aren’t going to be ready until it’s hotter. That means the cilantro season and tomato seasons don’t coincide. Next time plant the cilantro in the fall when the tomatoes and jalapenos are done (and canned), then make salsa and can it. Or do both Spring and Fall but freeze your spring harvest. On a side note, the Lavender is lovely…haven’t done anything with it yet but I have grand intentions of trying to make my own lavender essential oil…I’ll let you know how that goes.

Dear Jennifer: This is just humorous. This little pot is not appropriate. You need another 5 gallon planter for 1-2 jalapeno plants. This is most likely why this is the lone pepper. Once he is fully grown and harvested, you are going to attempt to re-plant the plants in a bigger container. Good luck. Hope you don’t kill the plants. Don’t do that next year. You did, however, learn a very good tip when your flowers were dropping (instead of turning into peppers). Put 1 TBSP of Epsom salts into a spray bottle. Fill with warm water and shake it to dissolve. Spray the leaves and flowers. It changes the PH balance of your plant. Not sure exactly what happened there but your plant was much happier after you did this and began to actually grow this lone pepper.

Other than these mistakes it has been a fun adventure. Trust yourself and your ability to google problems, and plant a lot more next year. Like, can’t even walk on the deck more. 😉

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Come along with me-

So this is how I thought the whole blogging thing would go:

1. Jen gets a hyperfocus.

2. Jen creates draft as Jen goes along in it.

3. Jen publishes post once hyperfocus is finished.

One hyperfocus {and a bunny trail} into it and I already don’t like that format.  Too much Jen.  Besides you are brilliant, funny, and helpful.  You could help me in my hyperfocus.  I’m gleaning information from someone.  It might as well be you.  So this is your formal invitation to come along with me.

Current hyperfocuses:

Currently reading –

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

I’m going to be honest with you.  I’m 3 chapters in and it hasn’t really captured me.  I’m going to give it a few more chapters before I throw in the towel.  A friend of mine has this curse where she has to finish a book even if she hates it.  Not me.  If it doesn’t push that button then I have no problems returning it with a bookmark still in it {bookmark=random piece of scrap paper near me at the time}.  I haven’t seen the movie.  Have you read this or seen the movie?  If so give me some encouragement to keep going.  Or save me some time by telling me to scratch that idea.  Or join me and we can be a bloggy bookclub!

Listening to-

Storyboards by Sleeping at Last

This one has to annoy the poo out of Jon.  He has liked them for years {and that’s not an exaggeration}.  I didn’t really care for them before.  I thought it was “too mellow.”  Now I have kids.  “Too mellow” doesn’t exist anymore.  I crave mellow.  I have to be honest with you on this subject of music.  Everyone LOVES music.  It’s cool to LOVE music.  I don’t.  Ok don’t unsubscribe yet {mom}.  I like music and enjoy music but I LOVE quiet.  Jon is often confused when he comes home in the middle of the kids naptime and there is absolutely nothing on in the house {besides maybe the computer}.  No sounds.  No lights.  That’s the way I like it.  I also don’t get to listen to music in the car.  Kadence cried during every single car trip her entire first year {no matter how long or short the trip}.  She HATED the car.  Then on a magical trip to FL {a few months after her first birthday} we borrowed my mother-in-law’s portable DVD player.  And not one tear.  I almost cried myself.  I tore down those my-kid-won’t-watch-tv-in-the-car walls {correction I blew the walls up} and ran out and bought one for the car.  Result: Now it’s on every time we’re in the car.  I made my bed and am sleeping in it.  Sometimes, if they fall asleep, I turn the DVD player off and the radio on.  Unfortunately I spend the whole time trying to find a decent radio station {yet to find one in Stl that I fully like!}.  So anyways, I can’t really say I LOVE music because I choose not to listen to it most of the time.  I am enjoying this album, however, when I can’t sleep at night.  I just slip the earbuds in and listen to this “too mellow” album.

Hyperfocus side note:  Go ahead and buy the physical CD.  Their cover art is awesome.  They are always watercolor paintings done by Geoff Benzing.  I love them.  I want to buy one of his paintings.  But they cost monies and lots of them {rightfully so}.  Have you heard of Sleeping at Last?  What’s you’re “too mellow” music?  Do you watercolor paint?  Can you paint me a nature-y picture like these?  😉

Spiritually-

Some of you may have recently seen me post on facebook about the best explanation/teaching on the baptism of the holy spirit I have ever heard.  It was at a new member course at our new church.  It really stirred me to read more about it and so I am.  When I ever get to publishing this post please don’t annihilate me with your brilliance in theology.  I’m just a humble little nobody learning what I can.  Besides I stink at debating.  So if you want to debate I’ll give you my brother Will’s number.  After saying that, I do want to hear your thoughts.  And if any of you know of some good books {or sermons} on the subject, send them my way.

During the Day-

Kadence and I are doing a letter a week.  We are on D.  I’m having lots of fun coming up with activities.  Correction.  I’m not really “coming up” with ideas.  I’m gleaning ideas from lots of different websites and putting them together.  I feel inclined to post them.  It’s fun as moms to share what we do.  Maybe others can glean from my gleaning.  When I post these I will do my best to link them back to the source {as long as I remember where!}.  I have no interest in stealing other people’s ideas…just modifying them. 😉  This all came about because Kadence told me one day that she wanted me to teach her to read.  It’s really scary when your child asks you to teach them something and your brain flat-lines.  Especially when your kid is 3.  What the poo {you can see this is my exclamation of choice} am I going to do when she is older?  A lot of googling, that’s what.  Anyways, I just looked at her and thought…uuuuuuuh….how do I do that?  She already knows her letters by sight so I figured the next step was to teach her the sound they make {along with a little handwriting practice}.  I also ran to the computer and requested some books on how to teach a child how to read to be put on the BM.  😀  So if you come across any good activities for letters D-Z send them my way!  How did you teach your kid to read?

Movie I want to go see-

The Help.  This is another odd Jenniferian way.  I hate going to the movie theater.  My hubby talked me into letting him buy this giant TV and bluray player.  Result: I always want to lay on my couch, eat my preferred white cheddar popcorn, drink beer, while covered in my embarrassing {but brilliant} blanket.  Besides.  We could buy the movie for what it costs for Jon and I to go see it.  Nonetheless, I want to go see this movie.  I don’t feel like waiting.  So mom, jump on your chance to get me to go to the theater with you!  I want to read the book too.  Should I do that first?  Nah, it would probably be gone by then.  Have you seen the movie or read the book?  Did you like it?  Save me money if it’s not any good.

Cooking-

I’m on this fish kick.  I’ve always loved fish {well at least in my adult life} but I’m on this kick of trying all kinds of new fish recipes out.  I also desperately want my dad to teach me how to clean them.  I mean I live on a lake for goodness sake.  Buying fish at the store just feels…stupid.  I want to post my fish recipe journey along with the smelly business of cleaning them and the crazy awesome health benefits of eating fish.  Now that it’s not so hot we can do more fishing too!  My goal is to make a dinner that my brother Tommy likes.

There you have it.  A little glimpse of what’s happening.  Join me?

La Belle au bois dormant : The Sleeping Beauty

Released from Disney on 1.29.59

We’ve been watching a lot of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  It’s Kadence’s favorite movie and she loves the music.  If you ask her to sing to you, 90% of the time she chooses Once Upon a Dream {the other 10% she sings Deep and Wide}.  The movie is beautiful.  You know, it took Disney 6 years to make this movie {as Walt tells us in the bonus features of the 50th Anniversary Edition} and 6 million dollars.  It was a drastic change for them to move from 35mm film to make it widescreen.  Basically the artists had to make their paintings larger and more detailed.  They wanted to make it look a lot different from Snow White and Cinderella so they decided to go with a medieval feel – it has much sharper features than the more rounded ones of SW and Cinderella.

The illustrations in Sleeping Beauty had "harsher" and sharper features than the soft rounded look of Snow White {Disney's first sleeping princess}.

Eyvind Earle, the film's color stylist, painted most of the film's sets himself and was given quite a bit of creative freedom, which was unusual.

But as beautiful as the movie is that’s not what even caught my attention.  It was the music, which is so classical and different from Snow White {Kadence’s previous Disney princess obsession} that got my attention.  In the bonus features, it plays a special that was aired on TV by Disney the day after the movie was released to theaters, “The Peter Tchaikovsky Story.”  We normally turn it off at this point but because I was so captivated by the music I wanted to hear more about Tchaikovsky.  The feature was definitely Disney dramatic but the hf {hyperfocus} button was pressed nonetheless.

Immediately I wanted the music from the movie. Most of the music in the movie was based off of Peter {Pyotr} Tchaikovsky’s Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty {first performed in 1890}.  Tchaikovsky {1840-1893} was a Russian composer that is perhaps best known for his music in ballets, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker.  I decided I wanted Tchaikovsky’s composition {instead of Disney’s even though Kadence and I thought they did a good job} so I downloaded this CD from iTunes.  I also love pure piano music and found out that much of Tchaikovsky’s ballet was transcribed to a piano duet by the Russian pianist, Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1890.  And check this out.  He was 17.  SEVENTEEN!  Geesh.  It never ceases to amaze me how young geniuses start genius-izing.  His piano arrangement of Once Upon a Dream {Opus 66a V. Waltz} is the best and was disgracefully made into my ringtone.  You’re welcome Rachmaninoff.  After listening to the CSR Symphony Orchestra CD for about a week straight I realized hadn’t relieved my hyperfocus, so I requested Tchaikovsky: His Life and Music by Jeremy Siepmann to be put on the Bookmobile.

I can’t say enough about this book.  Written so well I can feel Jeremy Siepmann’s own hf on the subject.  He began his hyperfocus of all things Russian as a teen.  It started with Russian literature, leading to the Russian language, naturally then to Russian history.  It wasn’t until later in life that it led to Russian music and Tchaikovsky in particular.  He attributes this late interest to his not becoming an “opera man” until his late fifties and discovering Eugene Onegin and opening the doors to all things Tchaikovsky.  The way he writes, shows evidence of his hf which is very refreshing.  Many biographies can be boring as authors try not to speculate or draw in between the lines where facts are lacking.  The result can be a very boring view of the person at hand.  This isn’t the case in this book.  He makes it an enjoyable as well as informative read.  How he portrays his book is shown in the preface in this quote:

“It {this book} is not an act of revelation, nor does it masquerade as a work of imposing scholarship.  It is envisaged as an introduction to both the man and his work, but it is also approached as a story.  Its intended readership is emphatically non-specialist.”

That is how I feel about this entire post.  I don’t pretend to now be an expert on the subject now and the deeper I get into Tchaikovsky the more I realize how little I know about music.  But I think Tchaikovsky was a bunny trail that had to be chased off the path of Sleeping Beauty and so I do that here.  To keep this particular post from being long and hard to read, you can continue the topic of Tchaikovsky and my regurgitation of Siepmann’s book in it’s own post cleverly titled, Tchaikovsky.

My research on Tchaikovsky’s ballet naturally led me to the French author Charles Perrault and his book “La Belle au bois dormant” {translated: The Beauty asleep in the wood}, Sleeping Beauty, which is the story that the ballet and Disney’s movie is based off of {published in 1697}.  According to Wikipedia, Perrault basically laid the foundation of the genre, the fairy tale.  He was pretty much the first to publish folk tales {perhaps you’ve heard of his work, Tales of Mother Goose?} which is where Sleeping Beauty comes from.  So of course, I requested The Complete Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault from the Bookmobile as well.  This explains a lot of the odd ending in Tchaikovsky’s ballet where they’re celebrating at Aurora’s wedding and characters like Puss and Boots and Little Red Riding Hood are seen dancing.  They’re all from Charles Perrault’s Fairy Tales.  Can I also just say that there seems to be a pretty strict rule to folklore.  I mean, you and I can’t just write down some stuff that we heard from some peeps and call it folk lore.  Folklorists take their work seriously and although I don’t fully understand the different levels of folk lore I can trust that those who do have put all of Perrault’s and Grimms fairy tales to the fire and they’ve come through.  I’m not saying they’re true stories but that they are truly stories that have been told for centuries.  That whole genre of folk lore and fairy tales is a bunny trail for another day {I had no interest in figuring all that out}.

Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty, as to be expected, is quite different from Disney’s version.  At first they are small differences- 7 fairies come to bless the child {rather than Disney’s 3}, the fairies don’t raise the child as their own {like in the movie}, the princess isn’t named in the story {she’s named Aurora by her parents and when the fairies are raising her in secret she is called Briar Rose}, and she sleeps for 100 years {versus what seems to be less than a day in the movie}.  When she is awaken by the prince, she and “the king’s son” are married, just as in the movie.  This is where the movie ends finishing in Disney’s normal happily ever after.  However, this is where Perrault’s fairy tale takes a very odd twist {one that I’m quite thankful Disney left out!}.  In the story, the prince keeps her hidden at her castle after they’re married for two years, during which they have two children; a girl named Dawn and a boy named Day.  It mentions that he hides them because he is afraid of his mother {although she was always good and loved him} because of rumors that she was born of Ogres and was always keeping her desire to eat children at bay.  So his father dies and the prince decides to bring his queen and children to join him at his kingdom.  I guess he decided to trust his mother because at one point he has to go away and asks his mother to look after his wife and children for him.  No longer able to keep her hunger at bay she asks the chef to cook Dawn for her for supper.  Scared of her, the chef goes off to do her bidding but can’t do it in the end.  So he kills a lamb and covers it in his most delicious sauce and hides the child.  His deceit is successful.  The next night she wants to eat Day and the chef continues his deceit with a baby goat {I know it’s called a kid but I thought that would be confusing}.  He pulls that off as well and so the next night she decides she wants to eat the young Queen {although she’s really not young seeing how she went through a 100 year sleep, but ya know…}.  The chef isn’t sure how he’s going to go about deceiving her so he goes to kill sleeping beauty but tells her before hand what’s going on.  She says she wants him to do it so she can be with her children {she thought them dead because she couldn’t find them}.  That makes him sad so he takes her to the children and decides not to kill her and to deceive the old Queen with a deer.  It’s all successful until one day the old queen hears Day crying out in the cellar {and it let’s us know he was crying because he was being punished by his mother for something bad he did} and then the voice of the young queen.  So the old queen goes and makes a pit of vipers and dragons and is getting ready to throw the chef and his wife and sleeping beauty and her children into the pit when the king {son of the old queen} happens to show up just in the nick of time.  The old queen throws herself in the pit instead so that she doesn’t have to explain herself.  …So although this story also ends on a happy note, I’m quite thankful that the whole eating of children is left out of Disney’s version.  The bad fairy is bad enough without needing to add on a second villain for Kadence to be scared of.  I’m curious, though, how the Sleeping Beauty ballet is done- if it includes this part of the story or not.  I do know it was a 4 hour ballet in the beginning so it very well could have.  Make it known that if I hear of this ballet being done anywhere somewhat near me, I will do all in my power to get to see it!

So come to find out there’s more than Disney’s version of Sleeping Beauty from Tchaikovsky’s version of Perrault’s version of The Sleeping Beauty.  Thrown in the middle there was a version {Dornröschen “Briar Rose,”1812} from another folklorist known as Brother Grimms (which is made up of brothers Jakob and Wilhelm from Germany).  So why not throw Household Tales by Brothers Grimm on the BM {no- that’s not bowel movement.  I just got tired of typing Bookmobile}?  So I did.

My brother Thomas {pushing Greg}, sister Caris, and our cousin Serena .

But before the book came in I got to go on a short antique shopping trip with some fam.  I saw the book section and immediately went searching for some of these original fairy tales.  Unfortunately I spent most of my time doing that and didn’t get to see the other wonders the store held.  But joyfully I found this book:

Stories and Fables - a 1974 release from Childcraft.

This book has many different fables and fairy tales from different authors and includes Brothers Grimm’s version of Sleeping Beauty.  Both this book and the one I received from the BM end the story at the wedding, just as Disney does.  They have 12 fairy godmothers and a bad fairy versus Disney’s 3 or Perrault’s 7.  In this story she’s given a name, Briar Rose, which is where Disney must have pulled Aurora’s second name from.  In this version she also actually sleeps out her 100 year sentence and everyone in the kingdom sleeps with her until a prince hears her story and goes looking for her.  The briar {which is flowering with roses at this time} opens up for him to enter and thus he finds her and the sleeping kingdom. Can I just take a moment to say that the “illustrations” in the 1974 book are sometimes creepy.  Some of them are just illustrated but some of them are photographs of people dressed up or even more disturbing, little dolls dressed up and photographed…

An odd little photograph with real people...

This is from Goldilocks and the Three Bears but it shows the creepy doll photograph "illustrations" I was talking about...

So there we have it, the appeasement of my hyperfocus on Sleeping Beauty.  Be sure to check out it’s bunny trail on Tchaikovsky because it really was the highlight of my investigation.

So let’s do a quick little time line including origin so that we can have it laid out neatly {or as my friend Danielle would say, let’s draw it out}.

  1. 1697 • The Sleeping Beauty by Perrault • France
  2. 1812 • Briar Rose by Brothers Grimm • Germany
  3. 1889 • The Sleeping Beauty Ballet by Tchaikovsky • Russia • completed in 1889, first performed in 1890
  4. 1890 • Transcribed into piano by Rachmaninoff • Russia
  5. 1959 • Sleeping Beauty by Walt Disney • United States
  6. 2008 • Disney star Emily Osment disgustingly destroys the song “Once Upon a Dream” in the 50th Anniversary Edition bonus features – sorry, had to throw that in there.

There you have it folks.  There was my 2.5 week obsession on Sleeping Beauty.  I’d like to end by showing you my very own Sleeping Beauty.

This was from June 2010 - She's not still in diapers!