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.


Traditions for Grandmas, Moms and Granddaughters

Holidays are ripe with traditions. The sweetest can be just beginning. For our second year, Grandma treated the girls to an afternoon of the Nutcracker.
We began with a Sugar Plum Tea Party. Callista danced with the the ballerina's...
... and cowered from the Nutcracker.
Ellery posed proudly with the Mouse Soldier...
and Nutcracker...but was far too shy to dance...go figure.
Callista kept a running dialogue during the entire performance. She loved to call out "passe," "arabesque" and of course "pas de chat" mommy!


Putting God back into Thanksgiving

I appreciate the stories of the Pilgrims and Indians sitting down together to feast and celebrate a bountiful harvest. This is what Ellery is taught in school. I wonder why as a nation we can't tell the whole story of Thanksgiving. It is so much deeper and richer. Really it is what America is all about. We are "one nation under God."

Abraham Lincoln actually declared the first official Thanksgiving in 1863. Our great nation was in the middle of a heart-rending civil war. This was his call for Americans to remember the God that gave birth to this Nation, and to whom we have always pledged our loyalty.

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

by the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverance's and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

A. Lincoln

May we all remember God and turn to Him this Holiday season.

It's Turkey Time! (The Vegetarian Way)

Turkey, turkey, turkey. Is that all Thanksgiving is about? Come on. We vegetarians must compensate somehow. So I compensate in cuteness and creativity. We have had a lot of turkeys around here this Thanksgiving. Starting with our Halloween Candy Turkeys. Followed by our kid friendly "Appletizer" Turkeys. Finally, these Turkey Rolls.
These turkey rolls are a time commitment. I admit it up front. But the presentation is amazing. I saw this idea in the newspaper a couple years ago. It has now become a tradition demanded by the family.
The real plus... Make them now and freeze them uncooked with some greased plastic wrap on top. Just take them out a few hours before and cook to perfection. The photo below is the uncooked version. They rise beautifully.
Turkey Rolls...Really Not as Hard as they are Cute...

Favorite roll recipe
(White doesn't seem earthy enough for these. But if your family insists I suppose you could make them white. Sigh.... If you are not into making rolls the lady in the newspaper used Rhodes Rolls. Cheater :)
Assorted Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, flax)
Slivered Almonds
Pretzel Sticks
1 egg (beaten)

Flatten and place one roll on a large greased baking sheet. This will be the body. Cut a narrow piece out of the remaining roll to be used as a head and neck.
Flatten large piece slightly and cut about 10 long slits to form feathers. Place next to body. Roll narrow piece into a rope shape and place on the other side forming a slight curve.
Brush with egg. Place peppercorn on head for eye and use a slivered almond for a beak. Decorate body and tail with seeds and nuts.

Let rise 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. After baking, insert pretzels for legs.

Because these are an intense project, I just make one per person.

The rest of the rolls I make into crescents. Easy and pretty. Roll your dough into a big circle and brush with butter.

Use a pizza cutter to cut as shown below. Roll into crescents. Let rise.

I cook these ahead of time and then freeze. When feast time arrives we place the turkey rolls on everyone's plates, and then fill a basket to brimming to pass with the crescents.

"Appletizer Turkeys" Variations on a Theme

This might be the last Turkey themed post, but I won't make any promises. Ellery and I had to come up with something to bring to her class feast today. I am confident the kindergarten feast will be sugar and refined flour laden. I had to fight back.
So we varied our Halloween Candy Turkeys, into something I actually wanted my kids to eat. Isn't it amazing all the variations we can create on a theme. Enter the "Appletizer Turkeys."

My kids aren't bored with this yet. Astonishing. I think for the big feast day we will make some "wings" with olives and pickles and maybe even some broccoli!

Here they are....we made one for each table at school.
....And isn't that a cute little Indian with those delicious Turkeys?


Homemade Tootsie Rolls

I try to have no refined sugar around the house. I can't hope to control what happens at school, church and with friends, but I can control what happens in my house. To some degree anyway.

So rather than have my children go wild every time they are around sugar, I try to have lots of fun sweet things available to them. One of our favorites are homemade tootsie rolls.

The girls love to make these with me. Twist and snitch. Wrap and snitch. You get the idea. The cooking part is so simple. The pulling, twisting, cutting and wrapping takes some time, but we get lots of chit chat in.

Today we made 3 varieties. Peppermint, chocolate, and a twist.

Homemade Tootsie Rolls

1 c honey
1 c powdered milk (not instant)
1/2 cup powdered cocoa (unsweetened)
1 t vanilla

If making peppermint, omit cocoa and add 1 t peppermint oil

Boil the honey until 255 degrees. This is the hard ball stage. Be careful not to overcook or you will have to suck instead of chew! I use high heat and it takes about 5 minutes. (A simple candy thermometer can be bought at any grocery store for under $5) Try to keep the thermometer in the middle, and not touching the bottom of the pan. Keep the kiddos away for this part.

Remove from heat and add vanilla (and peppermint oil and food coloring if desired). I get my peppermint oil at the health food store, so it contains no alcohol.
If making chocolate, mix the powdered milk and cocoa together. Then add to the honey and vanilla mixture. Stir well
Pour out onto a greased surface and let cool.
After 15 minutes, it should be cool enough to handle. Put a little butter on your hands and pull the candy for a few minutes. Pull and roll into long snakes. Cut with scissors into bite size pieces or twist 2 different flavors together.
We were feeling the Christmas spirit so we made a few candy canes.
I had 7 little helpers today with the children's friends over. And even with all those little hands we still ended up with over 200 candies. (1 batch peppermint, one batch chocolate)
Don't be fooled by the carrots. Yes, she was eating carrots at this particular moment, but only after she had eaten herself silly with tootsie rolls!

Why I love these:
  • They are so yummy!
  • My kids think they are the best treat in the world, and I make them tiny, so it doesn't wreak havoc on their blood sugar
  • No refined sugar
  • I know exactly what is in them
  • The neighborhood kids think I am cool, because I make candy
  • Easy.
Experiment with all sorts of flavors. We also have made them with orange oil and they were great.


A Slight Shifting of the MayFiles

Passion. I have a lot of it. And for my passions, I get intense, driven and focused. I freely admit, my family thinks I am a bit overboard. Maybe even fanatical. But here they are in no specific order...

...My Family
...Eating whole foods
...Eliminating Refined Sugars
...Self Reliance

Lots of my friends and acquaintances become intrigued. Probably because of my intensity. Since my Cap Trappers seem to have hit a huge brick wall...which you probably deduced from the complete absence of mention for months...I am refocusing The MayFiles to document my passions.

I pursue this course with hesitancy. It hints of narcissism. But it also speaks to my Journaling passion. I want my children to share my passions and explore their own...so I am building a guidebook. It should be a fun journey.

It will be even better once I get my camera working again!


Tricky Tom Turkey

After battling a mutant camera for a full year, I finally bought a new one in July. A Casio Elixim Z-100. I was so excited about it. Tiny...perfect for throwing in my purse. Camera troubles no more. That is until it broke. The zoom no longer functions. So today I sent it in to Casio. Perfect timing for the holidays. I will be crushed if it is not here by Christmas.

Today I had a cherished mothering moment. In Ellery's classroom as I sat cross-legged during "rug time" guess who came and snuggled right into my lap? My little Ellery. The moments are ticking away until I inevitably become "untouchable."

I just love every minute with my children. She giggled and looked up at me with sparkly eyes as we listened and praised all the "Tom Turkeys" disguised cleverly to hide from the farmer on Thanksgiving.

Ellery's tricky turkey turned into a stinky skunk!
The Awakening

That is what I would call it. It happened after my sweet Emmett was born. It has consisted of cherishing and relishing each moment, and suddenly not wanting them any bigger.


Little Ballerinas

I am pretty good at a few things. But one thing for which I have no natural talent or affinity, is dancing. A few classic examples.

I was a lost cause even to my beginning Social Dance teacher. BTW, I took the class with Brent. He matched me step for step. Not such a good thing.

Middle School...
My childhood best friend tried to teach me the "Roger Rabbit" for hours one night she slept over when we were 13 years old. I wish I could I remember the music we used. Probably NKOB.

Elementary School...
In fourth grade, Ballet was "the thing" to do. At my pleading my Mom enrolled me in a class with my friends. I remember being in class a few times, completely overwhelmed at my inability to perform. The teacher even spoke with my mother, encouraging her to move me down. The problem: What fourth grader wants to dance with second graders. Mine was a short lived ballet career.

Callista could possibly have some talent. She can at least jump/leap amazingly high. And she loves it. (I loved making their tutus. While I don't dance, I do love to sew and I do love tutus and bows.)
Ellery cried every day when it was time for dance. But as the oldest in the class, she was the star. At least she had that going for her. I think she got all my natural ability though.

A little family photo after the recital.



You would think I was starving the little man at how he maneuvers around scrounging for food. Trust me. He is not neglected.


Vinegar Juice?

This afternoon Callista and I were enjoying a bowl of hot steamed spinach. Complete with balsamic vinegar. After the final spoonful, a pool of vinegar remained. My crazy little Pip insisted on "drinking the juice." I tried to warn her but she was undaunted. A full swallow proved overwhelming, so she forged ahead using a spoon.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. This is the same child who drinks vegetable V8 juice, olive juice, and pickle juice like they are KoolAid. But don't be fooled, she can put away candy with the best of them.


Apple "Pancakes"

My friend is seeing a nutritionist to lose a bit of the "baby fat" we all unavoidably struggle with. She gave me this recipe I love.

Apple "Pancakes"

4 egg whites
1/3 c rolled oats
1 apple (banana is great too)
dash of cinnamon

Throw it all in the blender and mix well. Pour into a pan and cook as you would a pancake.

You can either make one really big one, or a few smaller. If in the mood, put a teaspoon of pure maple syrup. I don't recommend sugar or "sugar free" syrups. Go natural. Delicious. High in protein and fiber. As a vegetarian I need all the protein I can get. I also have begun to cook with cast iron. It is heavy, and a little less convenient but you can actually pick up trace minerals like iron. A mineral crucial for runners and veggers like myself.



Vote! Vote! Vote!

I know this picture is gross, but it is proof of me performing my civic duty this morning. The wait wasn't too bad. An hour and fifteen. Who did I vote for you ask? I have to admit, I wrote in a candidate for president.
I am definitely opposed to Obama and redistributing wealth.
However, I feel like McCain is not much different. Bailout after bailout.
Barr, the Libertarian, had too sketchy of a personal life, and I was not into cutting funding for the military. I also am adamantly pro-life.
McCullough, the Constitutionalist, had a great platform, except for his stand on imposing huge tariffs on imports. It would put my husband out of business. I can't in my right mind vote for someone who would kill the bread winning business.
My other votes of local interest were across the board. Some mainstream, some not. I did vote for Lorie Fowlke for Congress. I did so with reservations. I attended a meeting with her on Sunday. I was concerned about her unwavering support for Alpine School District. Especially since a group closely affiliated with them is major campaign contributor. The campaign funding gets so ethically fuzzy. I don't like that.
One school board position I didn't vote on because I didn't feel I had enough info to make an informed choice.
It will be an interesting day. I am praying our new President and Congress will be tempered by the mantra, "moderation in all things."



A conversation between Ellery and me as she browsed through the Pottery Barn Kids catalog we received in the mail, en route to ballet.

Ellery: Wow Mom, this doll house is really cute. I wish I could have it.
Me: It is so pretty. I saw it too. (It has chandeliers. Can we say over-the-top? In all honesty, I would have adored it when I was little.)

Ellery: How much does it cost? (Pat myself on the back. She thought to ask. Even a 5-year-old could see this doll house exuded exorbitance.)

Me: I will look when I am not driving. But I think it is pretty expensive.

Ellery: Can you look now? (As we turn onto a residential street.)

Me: I will look when we stop. (We stop, waiting to turn left at a light.)

Callista: Mom go. Why are you stopping? The light is green. (Good thing I don't listen to my little backseat drivers.)

Me: (I finally bring myself to look at the price.) Ellery that dollhouse is $700. (Holy cow I am thinking.)

Ellery: (Gasps) Wow that is really expensive.

Me: Yes that is a dollhouse only for people who are very, very rich. We are not very, very rich.

Ellery: Yeah. We would only be that rich if dad worked on Saturdays and Sundays too.

There seems to be a bit of "fuzzy math" in our family. Don't mind the political allusion. Tomorrow is Election Day.


What to do with Halloween Candy: Think Turkeys

What to do with all that HALLOWEEN CANDY? Isn't this the question plaguing good mothers all over America? Here is my answer. Ring in the Thanksgiving season with these festive candy turkeys.
This had to be a stroke of brilliance on my part. Usually a couple weeks before Thanksgiving I buy some gum drops or colored mini marshmallows and we make these fun turkeys. But this morning while pondering what to do with all the Halloween candy, I thought why buy candy in a week or so, when we have candy coming out of our ears right now. The girls loved cutting up the candy bars and squishing them on toothpicks to make feathers. We also used the skittles, dots, licorice, suckers, airheads...anything we could squish and maneuver onto a toothpick or stick to the apple. Girls had a great time. The vast majority of the candy is gone.
Because I am such a nice mom, they get to eat a feather a day. Snicker, snicker. Three skittles is a whole lot better than a whole bag full.

A "Little" Pilates

I try to talk as much as I can about exercise with my children. It is important part of both Brent and my life. But more important than talking is that they see me doing it. One of the reasons we hauled them down to St. George for the marathon. One of the reasons I do pilates on our rug in the morning while they watch PBS cartoons. This morning the girls decided to join in.

Their favorite move: Rolling Like a Ball. They have also been seen attempting the Seal Puppy at times (always a treat).