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.


Fruit Snacks Done Right, No Domestic Skills Needed!

Yikes...Or What Not to do...

I sat in the row behind someone in church a couple years ago. I watched as she fed her toddler to keep him occupied, something I do to, for better or worse. First she pulled out colored mini marshmallows. Followed by fruit snacks, fruit loops, laffy taffy, and finally a sucker. This family was visiting. I have no idea if this is how she fed her child every day or if this was unusual. Unfortunately, I think this is more common than not. If you have been that mom, don't worry. Don't look back just go forward and try to start making better choices for your children.

Healthy Convenience

I think the reason many people turn to processed, high sugar foods is their convenience. So I am here to offer you a convenient, easy, portable version of fruit snacks. Freeze dried fruit. They have absolutely zero additives or preservatives. They are cooled extremely quickly at a low temperature and in a vaccum. The moisture is removed but all the nutrition remains. I pack my basement full of this. At any given time we have open cans of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, peaches and bananas. Also available are apricots, mangoes, and pineapple. They are colorful, crunchy and delicious.

Buy in Bulk

By purchasing them in bulk, you avoid the extremely high prices of the natural food stores. I purchase mine from Honeyville or Morning Moos. I use the local Honeyville outlet, and the grocery store for Morning Moos when they go on sale. Provident Pantry also has a bulk line for sale at Emergency Essentials. The Provident Pantry line is a bit more expensive. But their bananas are freeze dried. The Honeyville bananas are actually dehydrated, sweetened, and have preservatives and oils. Avoid those. Individually, they range in price from $12-22. But think of the number of "fruit snack" packs you can make from just one can.

Enjoy and bring these anywhere. They aren't just for backpacking. They are for diaper bags, school lunches, hot and cold cereal and snacking.


Homemade Whole Grain Grape Nuts

When I did the bread and grain demonstration last week, I tried to share some interesting, simple recipes using whole grains. This is one I don't make all the time, because really Grape Nuts you buy at the store have very few additives...but I love that I know how and it is ridiculously cheap to do. If I couldn't get to the store...think massive swine flu outbreak...we could eat grape nuts to our little hearts delights.

Maple Flavored Grape-Nuts
6 c whole grain flour
1 c dry milk powder
¼-1 c pure maple syrup or desired natural sweetener
1 t real salt
1 c water

Mix dry ingredients. Add maple with electric mixer. (I add 1/4 cup, we like to sweeten when we eat.) Add only enough water to moisten. Mixture should be fine. Spread on 2-3 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Stir, Bake 5-15 minutes longer until desired color and crunchiness. Makes 1 qt.


Blender Pancakes: Take 2

This recipe of Whole Grain Blender Pancakes, is becoming my favorite Sunday morning treat. We devour our Mulitgrain Hot Cereal in the mornings during the week, but on the weekends we like to have something a little different.

This Sunday I was feeling extra lazy, I had no desire to go out to the garage for wheat, kamut, and spelt, so I decided to be creative. Instead of my traditional whole grain flour mix, I used a cup of my premixed multigrain hot cereal.

I blended as per the recipe, and we had awesome pancakes! This time, chock full of quinoa, millet, amaranth, rye, barley, kamut, spelt and oats.

It turned out so well I was toying with the idea of trying to add to my standard whole grain mix. I am also trying to learn about some new grains and seeds including teff and buckwheat. I have used a little buckwheat in the past, but I am ready for more experimenting. Interestingly enough, I got an email from a childhood friend, asking about gluten free cooking ideas. I am trying to learn more about it.

I highly recommend giving this recipe a try with the multigrain cereal. And give the waffles a shot...just remember to double the oil.


Little Runners in Training

"How was your run Mom?" "Did you just get back?" "When is your race?" A personal favorite, "Did you win a gold medal?" "Do you have to take a super, duper, cold, cold bath?"

With the marathon just 2 1/2 weeks away, last week we peaked and now we bring it down. Before my last marathon I was panicked about tapering for so long. The rest paid off on race day. But with missing 10 days of training while I was sick the week before last, I feltnervous. I told Brent Friday night, I needed a confidence run. Monday was my first day back and I felt great on my runs all week. But I needed a big, long, fast run under my belt, my "Hope to Hobble" of this training round.

So Saturday I ran 20 miles alone. Something I have never done before. The solo part was unexpected, but it was actually amazing. I felt great the entire run. In fact, I finished and felt I had a lot left in me. I averaged 7:55 min miles, rising 800 ft in elevation on the way up the canyon and dropping the same on my way home.

I have been strategizing ever since for the race. I loved negative splitting at St. George (my second half was faster than my first). My plan was to go out at 8 min pace and pick it up at the half. But if I just went 20 at 7:55, I think I will start out faster. My goal time is 3:20, plus or minus a minute or two.

All this race talk makes the girls giddy. They love to come cheer me on. I doubt it has anything to do with the fact that a race often includes a hotel stay and swimming pool. Since last summer they have been begging to run a race. Results: we are now in training for the Ogden Kids 1 Miler. Being the gear junkies we are, this necessitated a Target run to procure the essentials, hot pink running skirts, singlets, and sneakers.

"Coach Marie" as I like to call her, told me a great story a while back. It struck a chord with me as a mother. I asked her when she knew she was fast. Her response. "My older brother was a runner. I loved attending his races, mostly because he always seemed to get free stuff. I told my mom I wanted to run a race. She said, 'Great Marie, but you can't run unless you practice.'" Her mother sent her out to run laps around the church parking lot. Of course, as is her pattern, in her first race she smoked the competition.

I wanted to embrace the idea her mom taught, if you want to participate in something you do it right. You practice. So on our overcast Saturday afternoon, the girls, clad their new gear, ran 2 laps at the park across the street.

We stretched, talked about pacing and perseverance.

Clearly we have two little runners in the making. If by 7 years old they change there minds...no problem...we will embrace something new to keep us healthy and active as a family.



Part 2: Boston

Riding the Amtrak

This was both Brent and my first experience riding the Amtrak. Amtrak. Another government success story. Bailed out and never profitable since. Nonetheless, we were impressed by the efficency with which they moved the train. We were an hour early (totally unnecessary) and almost missed the train, it came in and out so fast! We upgraded to business class, well worth the extra $100. I slept for the majority of the trip and Brent conversed with the submarine captain sitting across the aisle.

Savoring the Local Cuisine

One of my favorite things about this trip was the food. It seems every where I turned in NYC and Boston I could get a fabulous salad. Salad's with gourmet cheeses, nuts, and exotic lettuces.

Our first evening in Boston, we met a local lady wandering up and down the streets searching for food. She walked us to this great Italian restaurant Piatini's. It was run by a young Italian family, who spoke with thick accents and scoffed at the idea of fried calamari. We had an amazing arugula, lemon and basil salad. We actually returned for seconds the next day. It inspired a recipe creation this week. I will post it in a few days. Below is Brent, sitting on the little patio of the restaurant, looking up at the old Brownstones in Back Bay.

Amidst all this fabulous cuisine was a resounding failure to delight any senses. We sought an authentic experience on the water, with fresh fish. We were told by a different local, the No Name fish restaurant was the best in town. It was a culinary and aesthetic catastrophe. In the photo below, before dinner, I was still chipper, anticipating the best. All the workings were in place...right on the fish pier, overlooking the water, seemingly undiscovered...

My first clue was upon walking in, I was directed by a woman in jeans and a dirty apron to sit down wherever I wanted. Then our waiter, which it was very unclear if that was actually what he was, put down a couple paper cups and a "pizza hutish" water pitcher. At least over 70 years old, he walked as if he had been throwing fish from deck to pier for a good 50 years. His accent, completely unrecognizable to myself, led me to believe he had just stepped off a boat from somewhere. Over the course of the evening he actually became frustrated and a bit hostile when I questioned him about the menu. (The menu being a piece of paper with the words, "Salmon, Herring, Cod, Shrimp and maybe another word or two, typed on it.)

I ended up with a decidedly fresh piece of salmon, steamed on a piece of tin. Complete with a side of lukewarm reheated frozen veggies. It was brutal.

Pay for the Guide
...especially if he wears tights

A rule we live by on vacation....always pay for the guided tour, whether it be the double decker bus with the Brooklynite or Nathaniel Williams the "hat maker" friend of Paul Revere. It's always fun to get the inside scoop. For example just six weeks ago, right behind the tombstone you see, an unsuspecting tourist fell into an undiscovered crypt!

James Otis, a patriot, forgotten by many including me until this little tour, who coined the phrase "taxation without representation." Clearly a clarion call in the revolution.

The Old State House. Standing below that balcony, you could have heard Thomas Jefferson read The Declaration of Independence for the very first time.

Brent Gets Camera Crazy....

Monday Brent got a little trigger happy with the camera. He had me posing left and right through the city and along the St Charles River. Here are a selected few, because ultimately this is a family blog. He was trying to train me the entire trip to get away from the "bug eyes" I have such a propensity to flash for cameras.

Me again.

Again.And again.

And again.My favorites are the couple we have together...
The Boston Marathon...

I must admit, I woke up Monday morning and ran 8 x 800's along the St Charles River, and as I ran back I came face to face with the Megatron. I fought back the emotions. It was difficult.

Behind me is the finish line.
I decided to not to pay the price for my propensity for procrastination again. I put it behind me and thrived in the atmosphere and excitement that is the Boston Marathon. Spectating was amazing. I found this spot with about a 1/4 mile left. My adrenaline was pumping as I waited for Marie. When she came out of the tunnel I started screaming and running along the side. The people around me were laughing but who cares!

It wasn't until this corner below, she finally saw me. Here I saw Julie, McKay and Andy. The only friend I missed was my true blue St George running partner Camie :( These amazing individuals came in with Marie starting at 3:05 and then Julie at 3:11. #2 and #3 from Utah, top 200 women overall. Amazing.
After the marathon, we literally crawled though the window of a firestation to evade the masses of people, back to our hotel. To the airport, and home. Rejuvinating, romantic, and regular. Regular occurence is the new goal. And now....reality! But that is fun too.


New York

I am tagging this post under "family traditions." In hopes that this amazing trip, or any 5 day get-away with my fabulous husband is repeated yearly for the next 55 years. A tradition worth sacrificing for!

Here is Part 1 of our trip: New York City

Peaceful plane ride

That means nothing to you, unless you have traveled with 3 small children. For me, sitting in my seat, sleeping for 2 hours, smiling at the mom across the isle with her chubby little baby...it was perfect. Although, every time I watched this young mother squeeze her daughter close, I ached to kiss the squishy cheeks of my little ones.

For our first trip alone, in 10 years, we decided to go all out. Fabulous luxury hotels, delectable restaurants... Our room in NYC on the 37th story of the Marriott Marquis at Times Square was perfect.

The views were breathtaking, and the bed enveloping. Uninterrupted sleep. A blessed occurrence. Below is sampling out our window.

Literary Connections
The girls and I recently finished reading James and the Giant Peach...of course I knew they would want a shot of the Empire State Building where the infamous peach was skewered.

Another photo-op for the girls....a newsstand in Times Square. This time in honor of Chester, Harry, Tucker and the Bellini's, from A Cricket in Times Square, our current read. I am trying enrich their reading, and help the stories come alive. They lit up when they saw this picture of a newsstand and pictures we took of the subway station. Tonight we listened to Strauss' Blue Danube, Mozarts Little Night Music, and Come to Sorrento sung by Pavorrati, in honor of Chester cricket and his concerts, which included these songs.

Battery Park in Brooklyn, and the Staten Island Ferry

Flashbacks from Brent's LDS mission 15 years ago! Street meetings and Spanglish. I had to say I was impressed, he seemed to know all the neighborhoods each of our cab drivers hailed from.

The weather was gorgeous in NYC. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and Brent reminisced. I'm pretty sure he wore hats, shades and designer jeans on his mission too. Yeah.

On Broadway

Out for Thai food before Wicked. The play was fabulous. We got all dressed up (including shopping for me, and a brand new suit for Brent) and had a great time. Although Brent wasn't "moved" like Les Miserables, he appreciated the underlying themes....the crafting of history by a select few, the misinformation of the media, the "dumbing down" resulting from loss of liberty... clearly, these are things both of us feel strongly about now, so timely.

The Temple

Brent looking dashing is his new suit, outside the Manhattan Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple. We were able to serve in the temple while we were there. It was a sanctuary of peace and tranquility. The artistry was superb, including intricate stained glass mosaics and serene landscape murals.

Central Park

We finally snagged a foreigner to snap a shot of the both of us in Central Park. The park wasn't quite what I was anticipating. The Scientist in me, enjoyed seeing the massive exposed bedrock all through the park (we are sitting on it). It was fascinating to learn the skyscrapers can only be built where they are bolted into the bedrock.

A self-portrait, semi-decent! I do have to say, the city wore on me. It was thrilling but claustrophobic for me. My legs itched for the mountain trails I run to from my house. My eyes searched for the wide vistas, and majestic overlooks. My skin yearned to be warmed and shaded by the sun, clouds and trees, not flourescents, skyskrapes, and ceilings.

The World Comes Tumbling
It just so happens, the UN was in session while we were in New York. Oh hooray. The world is saved. Hopefully we will soon start paying carbon taxes to the World Government controlled by the ultra-elite, masked as the UN. Thank goodness someone is here to save America. Hopefully you soaked up my dripping sarcasm. Somehow my picture of Brent looking very sinister outside of the Federal Reserve Bank, turned up missing. Possibly it would have been to risky to put it on the blog...they might figure out we are on to them!

You will never catch Brent and I bowing to the infamous "Bull" of Wall Street. Wasn't it a golden calf the Israelites prayed to when things got a bit tough in the wilderness. Ironic. It was wrong then. It is wrong now. I think our tour guide even said "pray for the bull." I think our prayers could be better directed...

I just can't buy it happened the way the picture has been crafted for us about the events of September 11th. So much innocent blood was shed on that fateful day. Where has our country gone...who have we become because of it? Regrettably, in panic, the Patriot Act was passed. While the people were in shock and mourning, without time to understand the ramifications. The infringement on our civil liberties are astonishing. We are watched, listened to, imprisoned without a reason, banned from transportation, demeaned in airports, prisoners are tortured...all in the name of safety and protection. It is about control. And from the horrifying events of that day, the government tentacles wound tighter.

Panic again. The economy is collapsing. Quickly we pass legislation giving unprecedented authority to the government and the private Federal Reserve Bank. Billions of dollars to elite bankers...and where is the country left? The tentacles wound tighter. Citizens demanding the government take care of them. What is left of the American Dream is slipping.

One Train Ride Away

Two great days in NYC and we pulled our bags to Penn Station and caught a train to Boston. So long New York and Hello....


Will He Forgive Me?

My little goo man is giving me the serious cold shoulder, upon my return. He is rubbing in the apparent abandonment he felt for five days with Mom gone. Daddy is getting lots of snuggles...but for his mother...nothing! It is heart-wrenching!

Back from the East coast, revitalized. We had a fabulous time. I will do a couple posts about it in the next day or two. Right now I am cooking like crazy. Tomorrow I am presenting a cooking class to the women in my church. I am doing a bread demonstration and talking about cooking with grains and home storage items. My prep work however, is lending itself to some great coming blog posts...marshmallows, graham crackers, grape nuts, wheat thins...fun stuff!

Check back for lots of recipes in the next couple weeks.


My Not-So-Big House

Lasting Impressions

Some people make lasting impressions even with casual friendships. Such is the case with our neighbors when Brent and I were newlyweds. We lived in a tiny 600 sqft basement apartment with a wonderful family from Mexico.

We were cozy, and blissfully happy, surrounded by adorable children upstairs and next door. For almost 4 years they were our surrogate children. They scoured the neighborhood for insects for my Entomology collection, bringing me dozens of crickets and cockroaches.

(I never mentioned to their parents, when with eyes shining with pride a 5 year old brought me a "cool big bug" she found in her drawer....those pesky cockroaches plagued our street...it took me about a year after moving away to not panic about the nasty things running around when I got up to go the bathroom at night...)

Back to where I started...our next door neighbors were youthful, stylish, fit, spiritual, loving parents with five gorgeous children (now eight). They treated us as equals, despite being 15 years ahead. We fell in love with their family. It was this mom, who introduced me to the "The-Not-So-Big House." For two years she drew up plans for her dream house, based on these principles. I fell in love with the concept and it has been a part of me since.

The Not-So-Big-House

The books are by Sarah Susanka. I recommend them to anyone. The essence of the idea is to value quality over quantity. Create a home to fit your family and not to impress anyone else. Find multiple, efficient uses for your space. People like to be close. Think of snuggling with your loved ones. The most comfortable homes are those which snuggle the family. My words clearly, not hers :)

We bought our home knowing it was small. At about 2500 sq feet, completely finished, it can feel like a tight squeeze, if we don't use our space effectively. Everything I do in my home, is built around the idea of bringing my family closer to me, and using the little space I have wisely.

Lately, my kitchen was feeling small. With my children's friends over, suddenly there wasn't a place for everyone to sit. Additionally, I spend a good amount of time in the kitchen and my children always want to be near...as they should be...

My solution...build a raised bar. Here is how we started....

Here is the almost completed project. It is still missing drawers. I am having 4 large desk drawers put underneath the counter top. Two on each side of the corbel. This will help with the crayon and workbook mess I constantly battle! I am so please with how everything has turned out. The finish work is beautiful.

In a stroke of fate, I found enough of my completely random, and quite unique purple tile left over in the basement from the previous owers, to finish off the new wall. Additional perks include 2 sorely needed outlets!

An exhaustive hunt for barstools turned up with these. I love the end look. It gives a whole different feel to my kitchen. Comfortable and inviting. And I love to change color schemes often, so now I am going with green...who knows how I will feel in a year!

The other thing I loved about this set of chairs, was the matching bench. Unbelievably, I found 3 darling little cushions to fit perfectly on the bench for my 3 little munchkins. How ideallyic. Seating increased from 5 to 11! Not bad. I only had to move my kitchen table over about 6 inches. I also replaced my french doors to swing out instead of in.

Wait until you see my new library I am dreaming up...hopefully it will be in the real workings soon! I thought contractors were desparate for work right now...ours is so busy. He sure does good work though.


Under Age Recruiting Scandal Exposed!

Now Coach, I know I promised I wouldn't blog about you already recruiting Emmett for the basketball team but...I couldn't resist....and none of the pics show your face...so you remain in anonymity...
It should be clear to anyone close to our family the innate basketball talent of Emmett. Standing tall in the 2nd percentile, still at nearly 14 months unable to walk on his chubby feet, and fingers so fat they barely can grasp a crayon to sign on that proverbial dotted line...he is destined for the NBA...clearly coach knows what he is doing!

Emmett listens attentively...he has to be discriminating...you know a lot of scouts have been checking him out.

Verdict is...you hooked him coach. In 17 years, he is all yours...in all of his anticipatory 5'8" glory!!!