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.


Refined Sugar Free Raspberry Oat Bars

These are the "Nutrigrain" bars mother nature intended. Feed them to your family with guilt-less pleasure. They are free of high fructose corn syrup...which creepy enough contains mercury! I don't know why the mainstream media doesn't broadcast things like this...oh wait maybe they just want us all to become brain dead by consuming high fructose corn syrup in large doses. It is frightening.

This recipe is adapted from a great cookbook Country Beans by Rita Bingham. I like many of the recipes in her book. Her big idea is to always combine beans with a grain to create a complete protein. Inspired by Rita, I keep bean flours on hand in my freezer to add in whenever I think of it. This is by far one of our favorites from her cookbook.

Raspberry Oat Bars

for crust and topping...
1 3/4 c rolled oats
1 1/4 c whole grain flour mix
1/4 c white bean flour (or just substitute whole grain flour)
1/2 c chopped nuts
3/4 c melted butter or applesauce (go for the butter)
3/4-1 c unrefined sweetener
(I like brown rice syrup, use 1 cup. Her recipe uses honey..I think it is too strong)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t real salt

for fruit filling...
2 c fresh or frozen berries (I use a frozen mix, from Costco)
1/2 c sweetener (I like agave, xylitol is good too.)
3 T water (omit if using ultra gel)
2 T cornstarch 0r 4-6 T ultra gel
Juice from one Lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, flours, nuts, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and sweetener, mixing until crumbly.

Reserve 3/4 c mixutre; press remaining onto bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.
Bake 8 min.

Combin berries and sweetener. Bring to a boil; simmer 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch, water and lemon juice. Gradually stir into berry mixture; cook and stir about 30 sec or until thickened.

Spread over partially baked crust. Sprinkly with remaining oat mixture. Bake 15-18 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Just say no to high fructose corn syrup. It is worth whatever hassel you might incur. This is your family! Do a google search on "high fructose corn syrup mercury" you will find alarming information. Articles from the Washington Post, USA Today...and Nutrigrain bars were one of the foods tested.


Easter Dress Update

Here are some pictures of how the dresses are coming.

Ellery's still needs a zipper, and all the roses on the bottom. It is so time consuming making the roses, I am putting it off until I finish Callista's. My fingers were raw after making all those flowers and hand sewing them onto the collar. Multiply the collar 15x...it is going to be a project!

Pip's is coming along. The bodice is finished, all I have left is the skirt. It will probably just take a couple more hours.

I told Brent, if only I could make a practice dress, the next would be perfect. Because I don't follow a pattern for many parts of the dress there is a lot of trial and error involved. On these dresses I changed the neck line,added collars, adding roses on bottom and switching to an invisible zipper, altered ties, and changed the way they did the lining. The basic pattern I am using is Simplicity 2767. I begged Callista to let me do the bubble skirt on her dress, like the peach one below, but she wanted nothing to do with it.



Wednesday brought an unlikely turn of events. The PTA president called and wants to nominate me for her position next year. Wow. She apologized multiple times...knowing how little my children are and how involved I am with the children in our church...however, she felt the Lord prompting her to talk to me. This unearthed a slue of issues for me.
  1. Newbie-I have never been to a meeting (they hold them at 11 am, virtually impossible for me), although I am a member...so I just waltz in and take over...seems odd and presumptuous...
  2. Homeschool-How does this impact my ideas about homeschooling...how would that sit with the rest of the members...she felt it would not be an issue at all...
  3. Political-In our 1/2 hour conversation, it was clear to me this would be an extremely political position...we have a new principal this year and an established, resident PTA...
I spoke with the principal on Wednesday. I continue to be impressed by him. He has a broad vision for the school. He is demanding and extremely involved. However, his approach appears to be gentle and positive.

Our little neighborhood school needed a turn-around badly. Enrollment dropped for 6 years consecutively. Only in the last year has it begun to rise again.

If I could help make a difference, the idea is both daunting and intriguing. One major factor in purchasing our home was being across the street from the park and school. This is where I am raising my family. Possibly if I were very involved with the school, and influential in its direction I might feel more comfortable with my children there for a full day.

Is this the direction the Lord wants me to take? I recently read a quote from Robert S Wood, a leader in my church,

“For too many, responsibility seems to end with hand-wringing and exclamations of dismay. Yet talk without action accomplishes little. We need to be vigorously engaged in the world. If our schools are inadequate or destructive of moral values, we must work with fellow members of the community to bring about change. If our neighborhoods are unsafe or unhealthy, we must join with the civic-minded to devise solutions. If our cities and towns are polluted, not only with noxious gases but soul-destroying addictions and smut, we must labor to find legitimate ways to eliminate such filth. … We have the responsibility to be a blessing to others, to our nation, to the world” (“On the Responsible Self,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 30–31).

I had been pondering this quote for a week, before this phone call...wondering if I was being too isolationist.

I am still seeking more information and more guidance from the spirit as I approach these decisions. I don't think I could do both...homeschooling and PTA president. It is still unclear if this is really an option. Most people run full steam away from something like this. That, however, has never been my style.


Baking with a Temperature Probe

My biggest battle with my bread for 5 years was figuring out when it was done. I seemed to always have a raw loaf, or one overdone...of course it doesn't help when you are cooking 6 loaves in one oven! Three months ago, at my sisters advice I purchased a temperature probe. What in the world took me so long to do this? It is an amazing gadget. I paid $20 for it at my local kitchen store. I simply set the desired temperature (for my bread below, I like 184 degrees) and insert the probe. It beeps when the temperature is reached.

I put the probe in a loaf. It is a bit consuming the last 10 minutes of bread making, because my front loaves are done almost a full 10 minutes before my back loaves. But every loaf has been baked to perfection. And to think I battled this silly problem for so long.

I'm sure all you other bread makers may have known about these before but if you haven't it is a worthy investment. I think they get pretty fancy with wireless sensors you can wear around your house...if I ever move into a "McMansion" I will keep that in mind. Mine is a brand called CDN, model TSP572. It also works perfect for my tootsie rolls and meat.


Homemade Whole Grain Pita's

Sometimes homemade bread seems a bit thick for a sandwich. Our solution, we make our own pitas. I found a recipe on the internet and adapted it to our tastes.

Whole Grain Pitas
6 cups fresh ground whole grain flour
3 t real salt
2 T raw local honey
4 t yeast
3 c warm water
4 T extra virgin olive oil

Mix all dry ingredients. Add wet. Mix until dough is no longer sticky, and forms a ball. You may need to add a little flour or water depending on the moisture of your dough.
Knead for 15 minutes by hand or 5-10 minutes in your bosch or bread machine.

Put into an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for 2 hours.
You can refrigerate this overnight if you get busy...I often do.

Preheat oven to 400-500 degrees.
Roll dough into small balls, walnut size for mini pitas, fist size for larger.
Let rest on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
Place pitas on cookie sheet on bottom rack of oven.
Cook for 3 minutes. Pita's should poof.

Walnut sized dough balls resting, ready to be rolled out.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake on the bottom rack of your oven on a pizza stone (if you have one), or an upside down cookie sheet. The oven should be very hot, between 400-500 degrees, depending on your oven. I use 500 degrees. Cook the pita's for 3 minutes on one side. Serve hot with butter and honey or let cool and cut in half with a pizza cutter.

If some of your pita's don't "poof" don't panic. Slice with a pizza cutter and use a fork to work open, it just takes a few seconds. I store them in baggies in the freezer and pop them in the toaster to warm before we fill them with peanut butter and jelly, tuna, cheese, cinnamon and xylitol...whatever. I like to make them mini. My kids love the "little pocket bread."


Look a Human!

Yesterday Ellery looked over to this scene...her comment...

"Mom, Dad, Look! Mr. Emmett is sitting like a human!"

I kept chuckling at random moments during the day, whenever this came to mind!


Moab Half-Marathon

We enjoyed a little get-a-way to beautiful canyon country this weekend. I haven't been to Moab since we added chitlins to our family. Moab served as a former pit stop for Brent and I on our way home to Colorado. A few hours was all we neede to ride the infamous Slickrock trail.

Some random person riding Slick Rock...I just snagged this off the internet.

We camped once at the base of Lions Back. That was crazy! Not something I am ever interested in trying. I think it is a 24 point turn at the top.

A first-hand view descending Lions Back. FYI...it is closed now...too many accidents.
It doesn't look dangerous does it? We did not take this picture!

Our days of gallivanting on our mountain bikes from one trail to the next are over...now we deftly maneuver car seats and polly pocket strewn floors.

This weekends adventure consisted of me running a half-marathon race with the cutest support crew ever. The kiddos loved the pool and the park. I think the almost saw me run by at the end....they were moving locations...

I finished the race with a time of 1:35.10, or 7:14 minute miles. One minute faster than my last 1/2 marathon in August, on slower course, so I felt good about my time. I placed 5th in my age group out of over 400 women. Not too shabby.

The peanut gallery in the back of the truck, dancing to Rascall Flats cover of "Life is a Highway."

According to Brent, no squeaking was heard the entire morning from "Squeaker." He is quickly acquiring a new nickname...not from lack of goo, but from the persistant squeaks escaping his cute little person.

A New Haircut

Friday I took Ellery to our neighbors salon for an exercise in freedom of choice. There are so many things when she is so little I chose. But this was her choice. I gave her full reign.

The verdict is in. Darling.


A Homeschooling Adventure


The word conjures up different images and ideas for different people. I think in our society, often negative. Over the years I have been guilty of stereotyping myself. Often I thought of socially awkward children. Admittedly, I knew some. As a former public school teacher I was a firm defender of "The System," of which I was a part. I felt, a good part.

Living Lithe

Brent and I make a point of not being afraid to change. To be flexible and open to new ideas. It keeps my mind nimble and lithe. So here is how my brain has been twisting and flexing the last couple months....

They are Only Young Once

My little Ellery is set to enter first grade next year. The idea has been troubling me. Turning my six-year-old over to strangers for eight hours of her day, during her most malleable years distresses me.

According to The Family: A Proclamation to the World (the LDS churches' statement on the divine role and purpose of families)

"Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."

While she is so little it is something we feel we need to try. If it doesn't work we go from there. Clearly, I want her to be excited and happy. I spoke with the principal of her elementary school and he was very accommodating and supportive.

Ellery is excited to learn piano, cooking, gardening, sewing, reading, math, spelling...I am going to take a wholistic approach. Interestingly enough, in college, I was a research assistant for one of my education professors. Our research focused on intrinsic learning and problems with the way schools are set up with bells, grades, and extrinsic motivators. It seems I am coming full circle now.

Not Afraid to Fail

I am also a realist. With three little children at home, it will be challenging. We'll see how it all works out. I have spoken with her principal. He was very supportive. His quote was "Of course I am possessive of them, we want them here all day... (then he caught himself)...but of course we are here to support the family and not the family to support the school." I responded "Certainly you understand I am possessive of my own child and want her with me." Communication will be key.


So the Speed Work-Outs DO Pay Off

Last week I was moaning to Brent...it just isn't getting easier. All these hills, 800 repeats...I felt like I was on the BYU track team and dying to keep up. I wasn't feeling any improvement. The big test came on Saturday. The Rex E Lee 10K Run at BYU. My first 10K since July.

Being the odd bunch that my wonderful running partners and I are, we ran 4 miles down to the start. At gun shot, Melody and Marie were a blur in front of me...speeding away in their Sojourners jerseys...(I can't get myself to join the team...)

I actually felt great and came in at 42:06...my fastest time by 6 minutes! Apparently the speed work-outs and hill repeats, and tempo runs are doing something for me. The time put me at a 6:48 minute mile. In High School I thought a 9 minute mile was the fastest I would ever run.

Bring on middle age!

I ended up placing first in my age group (hence I look the coolest in the picture up there because I have a blue ribbon, but I wasn't nearly the coolest because Marie was 2nd overall 38 minutes and Melody was third 39 minutes!) and sixth overall in the women.

Then we ran home.


Do These Have Sugar in Them?

My sister-in-law recently recounted to me the following:

Christy: Callista would you like a roll?

Callista: Yes. Umm do these have sugar in them? Because we don't eat sugar.

The funny thing was, it was a roll, not candy or cookie, she was being offered. And Callista was serious.


Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Lot to Drink

When I taught Earth Systems, one of the systems we spent a good deal of time investigating was the water system, or the hydrological cycle. Our water system is a closed system on this earth. That means, we never have more or less water on the earth it simply changes forms.

Despite the fact there is plenty of water we often experience shortages, based on where we live, the greater climatic cycles, and pollution. It is disturbing to me as I read about the hormones, antibiotics, flouride, and other poisons in our water. Our naturopath had us drinking only bottled spring water. We tried that for a while, but it feels wasteful with all those bottles. In addition, I don't know how much the label of "spring water" can be trusted. We have a small Britta carbon filter, but that doesn't solve the problem of our showers, cooking water etc.

We also can't rule out, in these tenuous times, the risk of contamination, unintentional or intentional.

All this taken into consideration we are installing a purification system for our entire home. It includes 3 steps. There is an advanced carbon filter, a UV light, and a water conditioner. The conditioner softens the water without salt, and without removing the beneficial nutrients in the water.
The drawbacks of this system are that it does not filter out heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury etc. To do this we need a reverse osmosis system. Reverse osmosis purifiers, pull EVERYTHING out of the water. Unfortunately this makes the water nutrient deficient and extremely acidic. Not good. In fact I have been reading some very interesting things about the benefits of alkaline water.

We are debating about installing a reverse osmosis filter and alkalinizer under our kitchen sink in addition...I don't know....sometimes it is difficult to know when it is enough...when my family is protected enough...often I think if I just stopped reading and researching and lived in a shell life would be easier. But easier isn't better.


Buried Treasure

Digging for treasure. On these Winter days, that tease and torture our senses with Spring, we create any excuse we can to get out of the house. I think the girls found a horse and multiple acorns on this particular hunt.


What am I Thinking?

Yes, that is me, sitting in a bathtub full of ice. I make this look like a lot more fun than it actually is.
Yes, there are a few stray farm animals in there with me, and a giant bald head keeping tabs on me. Remind me again why I run 16 miles on a given day?