t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


Evidence of the Errant Snowball...and a husband who needs to improve his aim.

Brent: Callista, why didn't you move out of the way of the snowball?
Callista: I was trying to eat it Dada.
What else can I say. The pictures say it all.I might mention there was a mirror right next to her to which she kept looking into and howling anew. There is a slim chance it enhanced the drama of the situation. Thankfully we have bandaids. I have only encountered a few injuries where bandaids don't soothe the little lambs.


Family Christmas Moments

Santa will enjoy those sugar-laden cookies given as a gift, we are doing our best to avoid!

Presents and love abound.

"There were four in the bed and the little ones said...Can't we please go down yet?!!"

Awaiting the real gifts of the season...the looks on their little faces in the morning.

Spinach Salad with Chicken and Caramelized Onion Dressing

I used to struggle finding the perfect gift for a friend. Until two months ago, an older and wiser friend of mine gave me a brilliant idea. A delicious, home-cooked, nutritious, whole foods meal (a lot of caveats there). Something I would love. Hint, hint to the husband. If he could cook. He is a man of so many gifts. But none in the culinary school. Ah well. So tonight, one of my friends is celebrating her anniversary, couldn't get out, and so we are bringing it in. A Spinach Salad with Chicken and Caramelized Onion Dressing.

Sometimes I find the best recipes in the newspaper. Odd, but true. I found this one a couple years ago and it is a favorite.

Slowly cooking the onions caramelizes them, and brings out the natural sugars. Pureeing allows the onions to emulsify and bind the ingredients together, reducing the amount of fat you need.
Spinach Salad with Chicken
and Caramelized Onion Dressing

2 T whole grain flour
1 t salt, divided
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast*
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 large oranges
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 3/4 c)
2 T finely chopped fresh ginger
2 T frozen oj concentrate
1/2 c water
1 T balsamic vinegar.
12 c spinach

*I substitute wild salmon or halibut for the chicken when cooking for myself.

In shallow dish, combine flour, 1/2 t salt and pepper. Lightly coat breasts. Set aside. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until well browned on both sides. Transfer to cutting board and slice into thin strips. Cover to keep warm. Do not clean skillet.

Remove skin and pith from oranges. Cut into segments. Set aside.

Return skillet to burner over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute until softened and lightly browned. About 5 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the oj concentrate and water and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly reduced.

Pour onion mixture into a blender. Add vinegar and 1/2 t of salt.
Process until smooth.

Arrange spinach in a large shallow bowl. Add the dressing and toss until the spinach is well coated.
Arrange chicken and orange slices on top.
Serve with fresh crusty bread.


One More Year

One more year. Mark it down as a blessing and a privilege. Cancer is an evil disease which steals too many loved ones far too soon. It carves deep holes in hearts and families.
One more year. We will take it. And in our Papa's own words... he is "better than in a long time." Good riddance to the blasted doctors, lasers, knives, and chemicals. Hello to living and relishing precious family moments. We love you papa. Thanks for an amazing Christmas.


A Wonderful White Christmas

Children filled our street. Laughter. A new puppy (not ours...whew) scrambled in the snow. Our little Emmett snuggled in a lavender Hello Kitty blanket on the 4-wheeler with his dad. Perfect.
Nothing is better than waking up Christmas morning to fresh falling snow. Here are a few pictures of the children enjoying the day with their cousins.What a winter wonderland!Of course we had to include snowboarding. Check out the form. You can see the improvement in the last week alone.
...going.... ...gone.
Too cute Callista.


Holiday Candy Cane Bread with Agave Frosting

A scrumptious holiday tradition. Candy Cane bread. This is made using my Basic Whole Grain Bread Recipe.
Roll out dough into a long rectangle. Lather with butter, and sweeten with a dab of barley malt syrup and a sprinkling of sucanat and cinnamon. Use a pizza cutter or kitchen scissors to make 2-3 inch slits on each side. Braid.
Make the night before and refrigerate. Take out a couple hours before you want to eat to let rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Frost with Creamy White Whipped Frosting.

Creamy White Whipped Frosting

1/3 c cream cheese
1/3 c whipping cream
1/2 t vanilla
2-4 T agave nectar

Combine all ingredients in a metal bowl and mix well with a hand mixer.
Keep refrigerated and frost when ready to serve.


Christmas Nativity Pageant Script for Families

If you reached this post you may want to check out the updated version Pageant for LDS Families and Non-Denominational Pageant. I included the scriptures and made it a little easier to follow!

Here is the Christmas Nativity Pageant Script I came up with to include with the Children's Nativity Costumes. It was always so haphazard in my family. Someone flipping through the scriptures last minute trying to piece together a cohesive story...I like the idea of having it written out and referenced in the scriptures. Feel free to use or adapt to your needs.

The Christmas Nativity Story

Cast of Characters





Samuel the Lamanite (Book of Mormon Prophet)

Nephite Crowd (Book of Mormon Civilization)



Wise Men


Scripture Reader

Stage Director


King Herod (opt)



Shepherds Staffs

Gifts for Wise Men

Doll for Baby Jesus

Tin foil rocks and arrows


New Testament

Old Testament

Book of Mormon

Hymn Books (if needed)

Piano (if available)

Manger (doll crib or box)

Towel/ball to stuff Mary’s tummy


President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Christmas Devotional 2008

In our modern world we often think of giving and receiving gifts when we think of Christmas. Although this can be part of a cherished tradition it can also detract from the simple dignity of the season. And distract us from celebrating the birth of our Savior in a meaningful way…The most memorable Christmas’s can be those that are the most humble…It doesn’t take expensive gifts to make Christmas meaningful… The simplicity of that first Christmas foreshadowed the life of the Savior…His life was a model of modest nobility…Though he was a King he cared neither for the honors nor for the riches of men. His life, his words, his daily activities were monuments of simple yet profound dignity. Jesus the Christ, who knew perfectly how to give, set for us the pattern of giving...Through our simple acts of kindness, charity, and compassion, may we fill the world with the light of his love and his healing power.

President Henry B. Eyring Christmas Devotional 2008

[By playing the parts in this pageant may each of us] learn something about the Savior. And why we love him and how we honor him.

The Pageant Narrative

Narrator: The Savior’s birth was prophesied around the world. In the Old Testament, Isaiah foretells of the Messiah.

Scripture Reader: Read Isaiah 9:6

Sing: “Joy to the World”

Narrator: Prophets in the Americas also told of the Savior’s birth. Samuel the Lamanite was scorned and rejected by the Nephites. Unafraid, he stood upon the wall and testified with prophetic power to a disbelieving crowd.

Stage Director: Samuel stands on a chair. Pretends to prophesy, the rest of cast sits on ground and tries to hit him with tinfoil balls. They cannot hit him.

Scripture Reader: (Book of Mormon) Helaman 14:5,8; 16:1-3

Narrator: Mary was a chosen vessel of the Lord. She would be the mother of Jesus. The prophet Nephi saw Mary in a vision 600 years before she would become the Savior’s mother. The angel visited Mary and helped her understand her divine mission.

Scripture Reader: (Book of Mormon) 1 Nephi 11:1, Luke 1:26-28, 30-31, 37-38

Stage Director: The angel speaks to Mary.

Narrator: By visiting Mary, and also Joseph, her soon to be husband, the angel comforted and prepared them for the difficult journey ahead.

Scripture Reader: Matthew 1:20-21

Stage Director: The angel speaks to Joseph

Scripture Reader: (read slowly giving children time to enact) Luke 2: 1, 3-7

Stage Director: Mary is pregnant and she and Joseph knock on innkeeper doors. They are rejected. They move to a manger and hold baby Jesus doll.

Sing: “Away in a Manger”

Narrator: President Thomas S. Monson said: “No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been. Today lovely homes provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms, but no room for Christ. Do we experience a pain of conscience, when we recall his own words “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”…Each of us must make time in our lives and room in our hearts for our Savior.”

Scripture Reader: Luke 2: 8-14

Stage Director: The angel stands on a chair and speaks to the Shepherds and lambs. The shepherds act afraid.

Sing : “Far, Far Away on Judea Plains”

Narrator: These shepherds visited by the angel watched the most sacred lambs. These were lambs without blemish, to be offered for sacrifice. President Eyring teaches, “The lambs were following the Shepherds to honor the baby Jesus, born to be the infinite sacrifice. The priceless gift of Heavenly Father to all his children…”Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” The Savior, the lamb of God, was the greatest gift ever given.

Scripture Reader: Luke 2: 15-16

Stage Director: Shepherds and lambs come to see the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They kneel down and worship him.

Scripture Reader: Matthew 2: 1-2

Sing: “We Three Kings”

Scripture Reader: Matthew 2: 7-12

Stage Director: Wise men pretend to speak with King Herod (if using as character). They follow the star to Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. They present him with gifts.

Narrator: President Monson counsels us: “Jesus invites us to give of our selves. Behold the Lord requireth the heart and a wiling mind…As we exchange gifts at Christmas may we remember, appreciate and receive, the greatest of all gifts, the gift of our Savior, and redeemer, that we might have life eternal.”

Sing: “Silent Night”

How to Make Your Own Children's Nativity Costumes

Holidays are ripe with family traditions. Two favorites include making a homemade gift for a sibling on each side of the family, and reenacting the glorious events surrounding the birth of the Savior on Christmas Eve. This year, both came together in a gift for my brother-in-law and his family. I made them a set of Children's Nativity Costumes.

Two years ago I made an adult and children's set for my mother. It was expensive and labor and time intensive. The results were gratifying, but I wasn't feeling ready to try the feat again any time soon.

This year my brother-in-laws wife mentioned if I might be able to make them some costumes... I guffawed inside...she doesn't sew much...I don't think she really understood what she was asking. My plans were different for their present.

But I also love to give people something they really want. I was torn. Then came my brilliant plan. (Hopefully you aren't reading this Christy, it will spoil the surprise!) Create my own simplified patterns, using pillowcases.

I made the most adorable simple Christmas dresses for my girls this year, using the pillowcase concept. (I didn't actually use pillowcases, but the idea.)

Doing this I was able to create a full set of 6 costumes and a Nativity Pageant script, for under $30 and not an unreasonable time commitment.

Children's Nativity Costumes
Various Pillowcases with colors and prints fitting for the characters
(Shop for these at a discount store like TJ Maxx or Ross.
I got 6 sets for $5 each and a brown bed skirt for $3)

Artificial Shearling
(Available at a fabric store)
Sewing Machine


Ribbon/Trims (If desired)


How To:
I will go through step by step my angel costume. Repeat for all the desired costumes eg. Shepherds, Joseph, Mary, Wise Men, King, Innkeepers...

1. Fold your pillowcase in half lengthwise (hotdog way...spoken like a true school teacher).
2. Cut armholes on edge side. The open end of the pillowcase is on the bottom. You are cutting on the top.
3. Unfold pillowcase. You should now have two identical armholes.
4. Cut off the top edge of the pillowcase (the closed side). Cut along fold. You will use this piece to make ties.
5. If desired sew trim along the bottom of pillowcase. I just used some wire ribbon from the craft store I got for really cheap.
6. Cut a slit on each side of the pillowcase. This allows for more movement when on. It also allows an adult to actually wear the costume (it is short of course, but the idea is clear).7. Turn edge over twice and sew a 3/8 inch seam (this will hide any unfinished edges). Your finished slit should look similar to the one below. I make my slits about 6 inches.8. Fold the tie piece you cut in Step 4, in half lengthwise (hotdog). Sew along one end and the edge. Leave one end open to turn inside out.
9. Use a pencil and turn the tie right side out.
10. Sew open end shut. Iron flat.
11. Fold the edge of the armholes over twice. Sew 3/8 inch seam.
12. Fold over the top of the costume twice. This time creating a casing about 1 1/2 inches to thread the ties through. Sew along edge. Repeat on the back.
13. Thread ties through. Tack the tie in place in the center by stitching a few times.
14. Tack a ribbon in place on the back of the costume to tie the waste. Cut another piece of ribbon for a halo/headband.
15. Try your angel costume on a perfect angel.I had to make this darling sheep costume after listening to the talk given by President Henry B. Eyring at the Christmas Fireside given by the leaders of our church earlier this month.
His thoughts on how the precious little lambs followed the Shepherds to honor the baby Jesus, the infinite sacrifice...a powerful message for each of us.To make this simply cut a small piece of shearling and sew over the edge. Sew a strand of ribbon on both side and attach a tail.
I will wait until after Christmas to post pictures of the other costumes...so I don't totally wreck the surprise for Christy if she reads this!


Dark Chocolate Fudge: Healthy, Raw, Free of Refined Sugars

Nothing says the holidays like a delicious piece of melt in your mouth fudge...and the chocolate smeared, blissful face of your three-year-old.
This is a fabulous recipe for healthy fudge. Not low calorie...but delectable. This dark chocolate fudge is both raw and free of all refined sugars. It is chock full of healthy (albeit expensive) ingredients. We are packaging pieces of this for Great-Grandma and Mimi (grandma) for Christmas from the kiddo's.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Fudge


¾ c cocoa powder

¾ c fine almond flour

½ c pure maple syrup

¼ c virgin coconut oil

pinch of sea salt

Blend raw almonds in mixer until fine powder. Combine all ingredients and mix.

Cover and chill 1 hour or more.

2 ¼ c cocoa powder

2 ¼ c pure maple syrup (can substitute 1 c with brown rice syrup)

1 c virgin coconut oil (I buy mine in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is much more affordable)

Blend till completely smooth. Pour into chilled tart crust. Lift: drop to release air bubbles.

Store in freezer to keep firm.

Cute little girl with a chocolate mustache is not included in the recipe. Make your own. It's fun. Trust me!


Easy Teacher and Friend Gifts: Rice Bags

Few things compare to snuggling up to something warm and cozy. If a husband, baby, or cute little one isn't available, the next best thing is a rice bag. We fell in love with these last year. I saw one at my friends and ended making them for every member of my family. Our rice bags have become my children's "lovey" toys. Bedtime is traumatic without them in the winter. Thankfully they can usually be found stuck between the bed sheets and the end of the bed.

Handmade rice bags make a perfect gift for teachers and friends. The best gifts are always the ones we want and use ourselves. Ellery and Callista wanted to make them for all their friends. We like to add a personal touch by embroidering their names, but it isn't necessary.

Simple Rice Bag Gifts
Fabric Scraps
Sewing machine
Rice (or wheat or groats)
Essential Oils (optional)
How to:
Gather fabric scraps. Ellery and Callista had a great time picking out the perfect print or pattern for each of their friends. Cut into desired shape and size. It doesn't matter. We make rectangles because they are easy.

Embroider names if desired. Turn fabric inside out and sew along 3 sides. Leave one end open to put rice in.Add a few drops of essential oil to your rice. I like lavender and chamomile. It only takes a few drops. Brent thinks warm rice smells like "cat urine." Extremely unappetizing. I don't mind the smell, but the oils add some aromatherapy which is nice.
Fill your rice bag about half full. Don't overfill. Turn under open edge and sew shut. Be sure to reinforce the corners.
That's it. Easy. A large bag like the blue one shown above uses about 10 cups of rice. The smaller children's bags use about 5 cups. Heat in the microwave for 2-6 minutes.
Happy cuddling.


Multi-Grain Granola

This granola is like eating candy, it is so delicious. It is also packed full of good grains/seeds and natural immune strengthening honey. Enjoy it plain as a snack, or warm or cold with milk. Measurements are approximate, feel free to indulge in creative dumping. For info about these grains, if they sound a bit crazy check out my whole grain post.

Multi-Grain Granola

4 c rolled oats
2 c puffed brown rice*
2 c puffed millet*
2 c puffed kamut*
1 c sliced raw almonds
2 c chopped raw pecans
1 c raw cashews (opt)
1 c raw sunflower seeds (opt)
3 c unsweetened large flake coconut*
1/2 c flax seed*
1 1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds*

In a saucepan, heat:
1 1/2 c unrefined, virgin coconut oil* (do not substitute)
2 1/2 c honey
1 1/2-2 T vanilla
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
2 t sea salt

Add any combination:
Raisins, blueberries, cranberries, apricots, dried apples.
My favorite is dried apples.

*All these ingredients should be available at your local health food store.

Pour warm mixture over oat mixture and stir until moistened. Line 3 cookies sheets with parchment paper. Spread mixture evenly on sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes until just golden (do not overcook). Stir occasionally. Remove from oven and cool. Store in an air tight container.
Makes about 30 cups.


First Snowfall

Finally Snow! The girls waited all day Saturday for the first flakes to fall. It was a disappointment. As a few flakes blustered around in circles outside, the children twirled in a frenzy just inside. But despite their witchery no accumulation. What would you know this morning we awoke to snow!

The first fallen snow is always my favorite. In fact, at 5:35 am, gazing at the winter wonderland, I had the following text conversation with my running mate:

Me: What do you think
M: It might be pretty slippery...You wanna brave it?
Me: Ok
M: Do you know how cold it is...
Me: Nope
M: I think its just us...You wanna try going later?
Me: When were you thinking?
M: I don't know...I just looked outside and it looks yucky :)
Me: Be brave lets just try
M: Ok...see you in a bit

I have to admit, part of my enthusiasm stemmed from the shear desire to use my brand new running jacket. I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to exercise gear. And the most amazing place to buy: TJ Maxx. I can't keep Brent away. He discovered the store and calls it his "secret." It is quite cute he seems to be constantly showing up with track suits for Emmett and sweatshirts for the rest of girls.

My jacket was awesome. Despite the frosted eyelashes, the run was great. I loved coming into my cul de sac at 7 am and seeing all my neighbors out shoveling in the quiet streetlight...

...Back to the children...and the biggest "Kid" he finally has a child old enough to snowboard. The gear has just been waiting for her body and guts to catch up! Both, at long last have.