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.


Naturally Sweetened "Caramel" Popcorn

Remember the ooey, gooey popcorn of yester years? I decided my children could experience the same thing, in a bit more healthy fashion. I'm not always a huge fan of the cakes, the frosting is tricky...so for my little Pip's upcoming birthday I got creative.

A "Caramelly" Popcorn Dinosaur Cake...interested?

The results were a hit, so here is the resultant recipe. No refined sugars, including corn syrup or brown sugar. Also, dairy free.

Naturally Sweetened Caramelly Corn

10 Cups of fresh popped Popcorn
1/2-3/4 C Raw Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 c Virgin Coconut Oil
1/2 c Honey
1/2 c Brown Rice Syrup
1 T Molasses
2 t salt
1 T Vanilla

Combine sauce ingredients and melt over medium high heat. Bring to boil for about 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn. Mix well. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Mix in pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin Seeds...Food for Your Temple

Don't leave out the pumpkin seeds! They are amazingly healthy. Sprinkle them on anything and everything you can. Chock full of vitamin, minerals, protein, and amino acids. In fact, you can get 1/2 of the daily recommended doses of zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, vitamin K and phosphorous. Their protein content is 29% higher than the average seed. They are also high in A and B vitamins, calcium, and a known anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant, anti-parasitic agent. Zinc deficiency is a major issue with osteoporosis. I have taken to adding them into the Multigrain Hot Cereal right before I serve it to my family. Delicious.


Naturally Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here is another recipe for cookies without refined sugar. I am in charge of making the "cowboy cookies" each year for the rodeo. I decided to be true to my values and bake cookies I felt okay with my children eating. I made over 350 cookies. Including pumpkin raisin and pumpkin chocolate chip (always a fan favorite) and I devised a new recipe this year. While it isn't vegan like the Refined Sugar Free Choc-Oat Cookies, it is delicious. By popular demand I am posting the recipe.

Naturally Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c barley malt syrup
1 c agave nectar
2 eggs (powdered or regular)
1 c organic butter
2-3 c whole grain flour (kamut:spelt:wheat)
1 t vanilla
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
2 1/2-3 c blended rolled oats
2 cups blended unsweetened coconut
Any combination of: chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, seeds...
2 T apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in mixer and mix well. Start with 2 cups of flour. Add more depending on moisture of the dough. You may want to bake a test cookie. Cook at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.


First Day of School...at the Nanny State

Last Thursday was Ellery's first day at government sponsored day-care, oh whoops, I mean public school. So cynical. Especially from a former public school teacher! It is amazing what has happened to me as I have become a mother and read, read, read my brains out about history and government and religion.

What most people don't know is that "Free education for all children in public schools" is the 10th plank in the Communist Manifesto. By taking children at a very young age, out of their homes, and teaching them what the government deems best, essentially they can control the people.

I read a very interesting book by H. Verlan Andersen, The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil. He defines public schools as priestcraft. This is a hardline. It was difficult to stomach as a former teacher. However, in High School and College, and as a teacher, I never questioned authority. I didn't question the textbooks. If that is what the textbook said, it must be true. And so I perpetuated the teaching of false doctrine associated with Biology, Genetics and Earth Science.

The awakening came for me, as Brent and I learned more about how a small group of ultra-rich elite control the majority of information taught in schools, universities and the mainstream media. It was alarming to say the least. You could try reading The Naked Capitalist by W. Cleon Skousen for an intro if you are interested. We read and study hours a day to wade through truth and propaganda.

In short, Ellery is attending public school for 2 1/2 hours in the afternoon, for a purely social experience. I am homeschooling her with a complete education in the mornings. More on this to come! It is wonderful thus far. I wish I had her all day. We will see how the year progresses.

I never thought homeschooling or "Mom School" as we like to call it, would be a path for me. But it is an amazing fit. As an educator it feels perfectly natural. And now I am not practicing priestcraft :)


Artichoke Coconut Sauce

I have been moving through my recipes to "veganify" them. This one turned out especially good. I make everything in tiny portions now however. The grains are the side dish and fresh fruit and salad the main dish. This is so wonderful for busy moms because I serve the same dish 2-3 days. Remember "Food to feed and not to entertain" is the new mantra in our house!

Artichoke and Coconut Sauce

5-8 roma tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 jar artichoke hearts or 5 artichokes
1 small onion finely chopped
2 T chopped parsley
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c coconut milk*
sea salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic and artichokes in olive oil over medium heat in cast iron skillet. Add tomatoes and parsley. Reduce. Add coconut milk and salt and pepper.

I serve this over steamed quinoa. You can also serve it over whole grain penne pasta.

*If you don't mind dairy, you can add 1/4 c parmesean cheese and substitute cream for the coconut milk

Another great aside...you could make this entire recipe from food storage. Don't forget to store different tastes like artichokes. And of course freeze dried onions and oodles of tomatoes.


Annual Full Circle Ranch Rodeo

Another successful rodeo and Grandma and Grandpa's Full Circle Ranch. We had a great weekend (I am a little late I guess it was 10 days ago) pretending we were real cowboys and cowgirls.
Festivities included..
Hay rides...

Greased pig catching...wow missed the photo-op, camera malfunction of course.

Barrel Racing...
Horse riding....
Dollar bill snatching from muttons...
And lots of food...into which someone...I don't know whom...passed around the flu to a whole bunch of cowboys and cowkids!


Fresh Salsa

Everyone has a favorite salsa recipe. This is ours. Straight from Mexico. When Brent and I were first married almost 11 years ago, we lived in the basement of a family from Mexico. It was always a special treat when Josephina made salsa for us. This is her recipe. I watched her many times to get it just right.

I was able to scrounge most of the ingredients from my garden, but it is time to replant cilantro.

Authentic Mexican Salsa

6-8 ripe roma tomatoes (or 1-2 cans)
1/2-1 yellow onion
pinch of garlic
1/2 jalepeno
1 large handful fresh cilantro
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t sea salt
Juice from fresh squeezed lemon or lime

Blacken tomatoes and onion in a cast iron skillet*. Do this by adding no oil and allowing them to cook rather quickly with a slight blackening on the skin. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor, excluding the tomatoes. Process for a minute or two. Then add tomatoes and blend a few seconds. Enjoy!

Try serving your salsa as salad dressing or as fresh veggie dip. My favorite! Brent and Callista still opt for the fresh tortilla chips though.

*Remember cooking in cast iron, especially tomatoes is an excellent source of iron!


The Master Cleanse

First, a personal note... I've been hesitant to post about this experience. Several reasons. If you didn't already think I was off-the-wall kooky and totally fanatical, now you really will. I didn't want anyone unduly worried about me. I would never recommend this to anyone, officially. Only because it is so personal. You have to do the research both scientifically and spiritually and decide if it is something right for you and your body. For me it was enlightening, uplifting and invigorating. So here goes.

At the class I attended in July, the speakers briefly touched on "Cleansing" or "Detoxing." The idea interested me and so I began my research. The idea of a cleanse is to drastically reduce what you put into your body (so usually this means fasting completely or juice fasting) which allows your body to naturally release the toxins within. Depending on your level of toxicity...and what that really means is, how much meat, dairy, refined sugars and flours, chemical additives, medications etc you are putting into you...the experience can be grueling or more enlightening. But it will definitely be something.

Why Grueling?

Proponents of cleansing state that as your body rids itself of the toxins, they must enter your blood stream from the fatty tissues in which they are stored. As you are exposed to them in concentrate, your body can feel downright miserable, until you eliminate them, through a bowel movement or your skin. The dietary restrictions can also feel grueling for some.

The Master Cleanse

I choose to do the Master Cleanse. It was created by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940's. It is a minimum 10 day cleanse, which is said to target the fat tissue, colon, liver...essentially it is a full body deal. Why was I intrigued? First, I've never done a cleanse. Secondly, if I can get toxins out of my body, Hooray! I bought a couple books and read online message boards and articles. What I wasn't thrilled with was the "Hollywood Scene," side of it. In Hollywood I guess this is known as a lose weight ultra fast diet. Because I have zero interest in pop-culture I had no idea Beyonce made this "diet" popular a few years ago. The issue is that this is not a diet. It is a cleanse. If you do it solely to lose weight, you may, but you are missing the point and will probably be unsuccessful in keeping the weight off. Remember this is an intense full body cleanse.

I will just briefly describe the regime. For 10 days the only thing you put into your body is fresh squeezed organic lemonade. It is made from lemons, grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. You also drink an herbal laxative tea at night and do a salt water flush each morning. It in not for the faint of heart! Or those who are pregnant or nursing. That is it. No food. Nothing.

My Experience

Life changing sounds dramatic. But perspective changing, fitting . I did not experience any horrible detox symptoms. My tongue "fuzzed up" for two days. I had a small bit of fatigue on days 3 and 8. No headaches. I exercised and functioned on a daily basis with perfect normalcy. While I did experience hunger, it was minor and easily alleviated by drinking a glass of lemonade. My body eliminated waste the entire 10 days, despite the lack of food. It was quite invigorating to see my body rid itself of long, built up material. I also lost both weight and inches. However the majority of the weight I lost happened beginning after day 8 and post cleanse. Additionally, the inches I have lost came off more proportionately, and ideally for my body type than ever before. It has been quite amazing.

Recognizing Hunger Cues

A few days I craved my homemade bread and giant delicious salads. But overall, not eating wasn't really a big deal. Wow. I am a big eater so this was huge. As the days passed I realized how my whole life I seemed to ignore the hunger cues my body sent me. I ate more based on the clock instead of my body. Every 2-3 hours small meals, or always eat at dinner etc.

What I began to notice was that my hunger disappeared quickly, within minutes actually, when I paid close attention. Why was I eating so much food my whole life? Enlightening.

Food to Feed and Not Entertain

My perspective on the purpose of food is completely altered. Food is now to feed my body. Not to entertain. By entertain, I mean, simplicity is best. Whole foods, simply prepared. In fact, for dinner each night I began feeding my children a plate of fruit and raw vegetables and spinach salad. I have a small simple dish of rice, grains and beans prepared as well. What we have found is they aren't even hungry after finishing their fruits and vegetables. Amazing. Emmett is a bit more picky. He does broccoli and fruit. That is about it (and of course he will eat our multigrain hot cereal 3 meals a day if I give it to him!).

I spend a fraction of the time cooking, and it is so uplifting watching my family eat dinner together. Brent and I eat enormous salads smothered in "sweet nuts" (as my girls love to call them), seeds, vegetables and fruit.

Losing my Cravings

A final, equally as personally amazing to me was I've lost my cravings. I used to crave my bread, and struggled not to munch on it all day. I also usually wanted to end a meal with my vice, 5-6 chocolate chips. Usually I could limit it to that. (In college it was more like 5 or 6 handfuls.) I have come to find out how physically addictive both bread and chocolate are. My desire for them is gone. Every time I cut my loaf, I don't need a snitch any longer. Invigorating.

I don't want to say I have always struggled with my weight. That might sound offensive to some people who really do battle with serious weight issues. But I have carried around a bit of extra baggage over the years anywhere from 35 lbs in college to 5-10 lbs the last 4 years. The baggage would come and go every 6-7 months. Not mysteriously...it could definitely be traced to my dried fruit, bread, and delicious refined sugar-free cookie snacking. But somehow I don't feel like I will stray from my optimal weight.

I will keep you posted on if this cleansed visage is permanent. For now, 10 days off my cleanse it is an experience I am extremely grateful for. An additional benefit is amazingly, my melasma (dark patchs of skin on my face) lightened.

So there it is. Feel free to ask me more questions. Email me if you don't want to comment. Again, it is totally personal. Some people think The Master Cleanse, and others like it are a bunch of baloney. All I can speak to is my personal experience. If you are interested please do the research. Buy a book. Think and pray carefully.

The Body as a Temple

Our bodies are temples of God. Created in His image. It is between God and yourself, how to best cleanse your own temple both physically and spiritually.

My personal belief is that when we cleanse our inner vessel physically we become spiritually stronger.

As we cleanse ourselves spiritually we become physically stronger. Better able to abstain from those things designed by "evil and conspiring men in the last days" (D&C 89:4) to weaken and destroy our holy temples.


Lemon of a Camera

Aghh! I can't stand my camera. If my pictures are horrible it is because me lens wont open. When it does, the shutter stays partially closed so I have to crop it out. Aghh! I will never buy another casio.

What to Do about Dairy?

The Dairy Dilemma

I've been on a quest to figure out dairy. Is it good? Bad? The independent research (not funded by the dairy industry) continues to drive me away from commercial dairy. One huge problem is dairy products today do not resemble the family dairy cow products of the past. Genetic selection of cows has created milk-making, bacteria and mucous ridden, monstrosities. The milk, cheese and yogurt no longer contain the healthy balance of nutrients, bacteria and enzymes they once did. The average U.S. diet includes 23% commercial dairy products. But we need all that calcium, right?

My Kids Need Calcium for strong bones! I Need Calcium..I'm a Woman...Right?

Yes! We need calcium. But NOT from animals. No matter how much calcium we stuff into our bodies through dairy or supplements, if we can't retain it, trouble brews. Consuming animal products creates an acidic state in our bodies. To counteract this, the body uses calcium to neutralize and protect the critical pH balance of our blood. To maintain the proper calcium critical to bone and blood health, it seems best to obtain our calcium from plant sources. The best sources are dark leafy green, and solid green vegetables. One more reason to eat your kale smoothies and spinach salad. Your body can use around 60% of the calcium from these plant sources, and only 31 % from dairy sources. Add the dairy to a diet already high in animal products, like meat, and it is far less as your body fights to maintain healthy pH levels.

What to Do?

So what have I done? I have almost completely eliminated dairy in our family for the past month. The only dairy we do consume is now Raw, organic, and grass-fed. This means the milk is unpasturized and the non-genetically manipulated cows are allowed to roam freely and graze in the pastures. The benefits of this type of dairy are myriad. Untreated milk is far more easily digested and does not bother even lactose intolerant people. The claims go on and on. What is important to me is how little my food has been manipulated before it gets to my table and where and how it was produced.

A Little Bit of Raw

Am I giving my family dairy for calcium? No. I thought this transition would be much more difficult than it has been. My children loved cheese. Cheese worms (grated cheese), string cheese, slices of cheese.... I sat them down and told them about what I had been learning. I told them we could finish the cheese and yogurt in the house but that was it. They protested and for about a week asked for cheese. And then they stopped. I would liken it to giving up the pacifier. You never imagine they can function without it, and then they just do. In fact they flourish. (Which reminds me I really need to wean Emmett of his "nukie".) My new friends are almond milk and coconut milk. Coconut milk is a wonderful satiator. Creamy and full textured. It makes delicious smoothies and is readily available at the grocery store or you can make your own. I will post some recipes soon!

But for the occasional taste, raw is how we go. (Excluding myself. I am 100% dairy weaned.) There is only one retail location in Utah licensed to sell raw milk. Lucky you if you have your own cow. I began purchasing raw milk and cheese there in early July. Last week, the farm that produces the milk had a field day. It was a perfect opportunity to check things out. My sister came down the night before with her children and caravaned our minivans for the 2 hour trek into the wilderness to Redmond Farms. I was impressed by the farm, the managers and workers. It was clean and well run. Small but efficient. In short, I feel very comfortable purchasing my raw milk products from these "happy cows."

Here are a few photos from our adventure. I missed the best photo-op though. One of the ladies on the tour fell in love with a day-old swiss jersey cow. She was the color of creamy chocolate milk, with those gorgeous long lashes and gigantic brown eyes. In short, she purchased the cow and brought it home in the back of her Expedition with her 5 grandchildren. Wow.

I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures of the beautiful cows as well. But we have lots of the hens and hogs.

Touring the Redmond Farms. We got a bit lost on our journey upward. Our tardiness did provide a great chance to ride in the back of a rusty pick-up truck to meet our fellow farm goers on the tractor pulled flat-bed.
Chasing chickens in the brooder. This was one huge brooder. These hens were ready for pasture.
The hogs were a bit stinky. Apparently they favor romping in sour milk. Appetizing. No wonder I have zero desire to eat pork of any variety.
One of five chicken coops in the free range pastures.

Searching for eggs in the hen house.
Using light to make sure there aren't any little chicks growing in these eggs.


16 Towels and 2 Sets of Sheets

This is one nights worth of towels before I helped Brent understand the virtues of a mixing bowl when the stomach flu rears its nasty head. Unfortunately, Callista, Ellery and Brent shared a nasty but quick bout. One after the other. Needless to say, I haven't slept much this week!


Be Gone Ye Nasty Carpet Beetles!

We really didn't have tons of carpet beetles (I will admit to finding a few), but if the pictures aren't proof enough, our family and white carpet are not a match!
I can rest a little easier and lay a bit more comfortably now in my chocolate brown carpet. Hooray!
Much more drama and richness. I love it!


Tahoe Extraordinaire

Here are a few great more pictures from Lake Tahoe. The food, scenery, and company were all unbeatable!


Leaky Pipes and Mid-day Prowlers

So finally I will tell you why my neighbor called wondering if it were okay a man was crawling through our kitchen....

Of all the happy things life throws in my direction, a major plumbing issue doesn't rank. We found water leaking in our basement. The culprit, both bathtub drains upstairs. But where was the leak? Directly behind my beautifully tiled basement bathtub.

Brent had called our fix-it man and told him to wedge into the window and snake a camera down to find the problem. Hence the mid-day prowler.

It could have been worse. Originally we thought we would have to retile the entire bathroom. Thanks to some careful, albeit very expensive, work, we saved the tile and the bathroom and food storage are as good as new.

One more reason to keep the rainy day fund flush.


Just The Men

Here are a few pictures of just the boys. Emmett couldn't get enough of Papa and of course if Brent is around Mom is pretty much non-existent!
Pucker up for the lemonade!

Lovebirds Still...For Mimi and Papa

This post is for our wonderful Mimi and Poppy. I hope you both like one or two of these. Tahoe is soooo spectacular. Thank you for allowing us to share in its beauty.