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Here’s a yummy, fast dinner, if you have the ingredients on hand.

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Skillet Italian Chicken

Over medium heat, fry 7-8 chicken breast tenders in 1 Tb. butter, liberally seasoned with Italian Seasoning (herbs and garlic from Frontier herbs) and celtic sea salt (my favorite yummy salt). I cooked the tenders from frozen, and it took only about 10 minutes. I kept a lid on my skillet the entire time to preserve the juices and keep the tenders moist, then I chopped them into chunks with the cooking spatula and transferred them into a lidded casserole to keep warm.

Next, I added to the skillet/juices: 1/2 lb of cherry tomatoes, cut in half, and 1 lb. red and yellow peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped. I left the lid off the skillet and turned the heat up to nearly high, to get some blackening on the edges of the veggies, about 7 minutes. I then transferred them to the casserole.

Next, I added more butter to the skillet, more salt, and 1.5 lbs crimini mushrooms (most of a large box from Costco), washed and halved. (I know you’re supposed to “wipe” mushrooms with a dry cloth to preserve their full flavor. But really? They’re grown in manure! I wash them.) Again I left the lid off and sauteed them on med. high until they produced a nice jus.

The mushrooms are then added to the casserole, blended together, and sprinkled with 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (I love the raw one which Trader Joe’s sells in a convenient bag). Serve hot next to a salad of baby greens. Bon appetit!

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I recently stopped to smell the roses, and went on a walk with my littles in NW Portland.

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What inventive container gardening we found. Metal farm troughs used as vegetable beds beside a steep driveway:

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Of course the neighbor gets in on the act:

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Glazed tall containers mixed into established plantings:

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And old-school wooden raised beds, not hidden behind garden gates but on display in the grass strip:

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Lots of roses:

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And textural ground covers mimicking roses:

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Mini farm rows by the sidewalk:

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Charming steps:

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And a Portland blue sky.

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If you would like to tour this neighborhood and more on June 28, 2014, visit sustainableoverlook.org for details.

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Last week I visited my talented friend, Kari, in her home. This is one of those friends who amazes you with how well she does everything, balancing family and an online business. Classy. Thinking. Desiring the best of everything for her family.

Of course I was eager to see in person the toys which I had previously only viewed in her online store Brimful. So in her cute garden shed-turned-home-business, she showed me her shop wares.

Wooden toys like this camera.

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Or textile-art toys like this pear rattle:

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Wouldn’t you love to tie this natural teething ring on the top of a gift?

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Imaginatively illustrated baby-proof books. Yes. Chew-proof, drool-proof, rip-proof, and can even go in the tub.

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How about this ingenious pulling-rolling-stacking-sorting turtle toy?

Snail_Feature_1024x1024These beautiful hand made woolen dolls are whimsical and beg to be hugged.

 

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Raven2_1024x1024And here’s my favorite: the hysterically cute Dachshund Pull Toy, with leather connectors which enhance the natural, textural feel of the piece, and give it a gentle sway as it trots along behind a toddler.

Dog_Floppy_Ears_1024x1024Yes, please!

 

 

 

Today I’m a guest blogger on The OG Blog! Head over there to read my post on the Young Living essential oils I used during labor and birth.

Even after a great birth, there’s body-trauma to deal with. And even with a healthy, peaceful baby, there’s a little first-week drama to face. Here are a few things I found to help with both.

Bruising on upper chest (stripe from armpit to armpit where I leaned into the side of the tub): lavender essential oil applied directly to the skin. I did not dilute, and was not concerned about the proximity to breasts/nursing since this is indicated for mastitis as well.

Bruising on sacrum: PanAway* essential oil blend, applied neat. I felt that this not only helped with bruising of the bones, but that the absorbed oil helped to mend the pelvic floor muscles faster than in previous births.

Sore Upper Arms: PanAway* applied neat on location.

After Birth Pain: Cramp Bark tincture (alcohol) every few hours in first day, decreasing until 3rd day. I also used more of my Labor/Birth essential oil blend as a foot rub and low belly rub. I did not need to take Advil or any other synthetic pain killer.

Neck Misalignment/muscle discomfort from turning my head tubside during labor: Valor essential oil blend, on location.

General Exhaustion (birth is a marathon, afterall!): Frankincense oil on wrists, and inhaled. NingxiaRed wolfberry juice with essential oils (Young Living) and Chinese herbal tea (blended by my doctor) really helped me feel revived.

Water retention; drinking lots of water with lemon essential oil to help flush out excess fluid.

Tissue Soothing/Regeneration; Gentle Baby essential oil blend in peri bottle with water: 1 drop per peri bottle at each potty use.

Emotional stability/Post Partum Depression: I used Ylang Ylang on wrists and inhaled. At ten days I began ProgessencePlus* serum which contains wild yam extract; 3 drops on forearms 2xday. I also began 1 drop Sclaressence* essential oil blend under tongue 2xday. I continued to take nutritional oils of flax, evening primrose, and fish for their omega 3 fatty acids.

Mastitis/clogged duct/engorgement: lavender and copaiba essential oils rubbed on site. Lavender is very effective alone, but copaiba magnifies it’s potency and is highly anti-inflammatory in its own right.

Baby

Belly Button: a drop of myrrh on the navel helped the belly button to heal and dry faster than my other babies. Works as an antiseptic.

Circumcision: a drop of myrrh in a dab of carrier oil at the base of the penis as an antiseptic. For pain, the “morphine bomb” worked wonders: I mixed 1 drop each Copaiba, Idaho Balsam Fir, and Frankincense in the palm of my hand and applied to baby’s feet and spine, and he was sleeping peacefully within 5 minutes (previous frantic pain).

Colic: in week 2 baby had a night of colic after too many feedings. Upon applying 1 drop of DiGize to his bloated belly in a clockwise pattern, he became calm and we all went back to sleep.

*Note: PanAway, ProgessencePlus, and Sclaressence essential oil blends contain a small amount of peppermint oil, which some women find to reduce their milk supply. I have not found this to be the case with these blends, perhaps because it is such a small amount, or perhaps because the other oils in the blends support milk supply.

I only use Young Living essential oils for topical and internal use in my family. Please do your research about essential oils; I feel confident that Young Living EOs are the safest and most pure oils on the market, and have personally seen a difference in their potency as well. Please see my Essential Oils page for more information on purchasing a starter kit of Young Living essential oils.

Ten days ago I gave birth to my sixth child. At 9lbs 8oz, he was my largest baby. Yet his birth was my best.

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Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t easy to give birth “once you get to number six.” :-) It is still labor. It is still transition, pushing, crowning, the whole works. But by this time I have learned how to work with my body, how to relax, and a few things to help the process.

This was my first birth using Essential Oils. (See my guest post on The OG Blog for all the details!) I absolutely think they helped my labor to progress, my cervix to dilate, my pain to be decreased, my energy to not give out, and my emotions to stay stable and confident. I feel it was the oils that helped me avoid feeling out of control…the “I can’t do this!!” stage. I will be guest posting the details soon over at The OG Blog.

Additionally, having a caring supportive and highly qualified midwife from A Gentle Beginning, being able to spend transition and pushing in warm water (in the tub in my own bathroom), having my caring husband, mother, and for the first time, my oldest daughter on hand to support me, having a dark and calm environment…these all helped me to handle each contraction well.

Holding your new baby in your arms…the baby you just powerfully birthed…that is just about the pinnacle of life’s great moments!

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The Bathtub
I like to think of my toxic load as a bathtub: water (toxins in this analogy) are flowing in at the tap, and flowing out at the drain. If the drain is plugged, the bathtub gets fuller. If the tap is turned up very high, the bathtub may be getting fuller even if the drain is working. In terms of the toxins stored in our “toxic bathtub” the goal would be to turn down the faucet as low as possible, and to make sure the drain is wide open and draining faster than the water coming in. If this is accomplished, eventually the bathtub will empty and only the daily toxins coming in will flow right on through.

photo credit: celebrategreatermound.com

Toxins Coming In
We live in a toxic world, and it’s pretty hard to completely escape modern day toxins. Even if we could, our own metabolic processes in our bodies create toxins to be expelled daily. If we weren’t detoxing all. the. time. we would die. Like, within a day.

Nonetheless, it seems prudent to avoid the toxins of:

  • Engineered chemicals in food, medications, and cleaners
  • Hormone mimickers in personal care products
  • Potent organic toxins like mold spores
  • Heavy metals which may accumulate in tissues/bones
  • Off-gassing of chemicals from household products
  • Chemicals and metals in our water supply
  • Die-off toxins from internal bacteria/fungus/viruses
  • Electromagnetic toxins
  • Stress from emotional baggage

Much of this blog has been dedicated to these topics.

Organ Systems and Cells
The toxins in our bodies are varied, and are stored in differing areas of our bodies. For example, an imbalance of bacteria in gut flora may be creating a significant toxic load in my colon, even without symptoms I connect to that organ of my body. I may have a high level of lead, stored in my bones. I may have petrochemical chemicals stored in my skin, along with parabens, pthalates (fragrance) and sunscreens (which can all act as hormone mimickers) from years of lotion and cosmetics use. I may have formaldehyde stored in my cells, fungal/yeast toxins and mercury in my brain. My fat cells may have antibiotic residues, chemical cleaners, medications, synthetic vitamins, pesticides, rancid/hydrogenated oils, and styrofoam. (Some researchers feel that cellulite may have a larger portion of these kinds of toxins, which the body has put in “cold storage” to protect itself.) Although not the kind of chemical toxins that are stored in the body, electromagnetic fields are toxic to our bodies while we are present in them, and may inhibit our detox pathways for hours after exposure. I recommend the book Zapped by Gittleman for limiting exposure to EMFs.

The organs and glands of the body may all be holding any of the toxins in the list above; often certain toxins have an affinity for specific organ systems.

There are 5 mains paths of detoxification: Colon, kidneys, liver (and thus through colon), skin, and lungs.

Where do we start?
I know, it can be overwhelming. First, congratulations that you’ve made it this far, even without much planned detoxing support! Next, make a plan.

[Remember: I'm not a licensed health care provider, and I can't diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Nothing you read on my blog is a substitute for advice from your doctor.]

1. Turn down the faucet. Start to remove as many toxic sources as possible. No, you can’t do it all this week, but START. Food always seems to be an obvious one to most people, but don’t forget that everything that touches your skin gets absorbed, without the benefit of stomach acid and your liver as a filter. So think laundry detergent, any lotions or creams put on skin, deodorant. Your lungs absorb so much of what you breathe in; so open your windows each night to air out your house. See, you’ve already made huge progress!

I recommend the book Homes that Heal as a good resource for reducing toxins in your immediate environment.

2. Flush. Drink all your water every day. Even if you can’t buy a really good water purifier this month, get a Brita which takes out some of the bad stuff. Everyone (unless your Dr. has you restricted) should be drinking half their body weight in ounces, every day (that means, if you weigh 150lbs, you are drinking 75oz water). Herbal tea counts as water, but add 8oz water for 8oz coffee or black tea consumed. Juice, milk, etc. don’t count for anything. Don’t drink soda. Just don’t.

3. Begin to cleanse the detox pathways, colon, kidneys, liver, skin, lungs, in roughly that order. I have read a lot of detox books/methods over the years, and done several types of cleanses. I recommend the book Inner Transformations by Deardueff as one book with several suggestions on cleansing each of these pathways, and even further into non-pathway systems. The author recommends some tried and true methods like Master Cleanse, veggie juicing, Candida diet, coffee enemas, Epsom Salt baths, skin brushing, as well as specific products to try.

4. Food. Yes, this is important. Not just to get clean sources (organic, grass-fed, etc.), but to have a broad spectrum of foods in fruit, veggie, proteins, and fats categories (dairy and grains not required for cleansing, and often inhibit cleansing). My experience has been that a Paleo type diet is a great jump start for food cleansing, but I recognize that Vegan diets are good cleanses too (think veggie juicing!). However, I don’t think that long term the Vegan approach supplies enough quality proteins/amino acids for some crucial metabolic detox processes. The book It Starts With Food is a good read if you feel helpless to change your diet.

Some foods that are super cleansers are fermented foods (homemade sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, etc.), dark leafy greens, the whole cabbage/broccoli family, the artichoke family, citrus, berries, and fresh fats/oils like coconut, cod liver oil, flaxseed, and avocado. But really, the fermented ones top the list.

5. Exercise/Sweat. I don’t love to exercise, but I feel more energetic and happier when I do. I use the T-Tapp 15 minute workout because it is very lymphatic; focuses on opening up the lymph channels and pumping lymph fluid (clear fluid in our bodies that does not have a pump like the heart pumps the blood). Any “pressing” type movement such as walking, running, or trampoline moves lymph, and this is very important for daily detox. In addition, when we sweat, we release toxins through the skin; terry-towel off that sweat if you’re not showering immediately.

6. Essential Oils. In the past year I have begun to study therapeutic vs. pleasure use of essential oils, and have begun to introduce them into our family as therapies. We have seen a few mild detox reactions, but I have heard and seen more dramatic reactions from others beginning EO therapy. Many EOs do have the ability to cleanse cells of petrochemicals and even do some chelation of heavy metals. Because EOs are absorbed directly into the cells, and can be within every cell in the body (even brain cells) in about 20 minutes, they carry huge potential for detoxification. Lemon juice squeezed in water has long been a detox standby, but a drop of lemon essential oil is far more potent and powerful than the juice; best to start very slowly before ramping up to one drop per glass of water (glass only, no plastic!).

Because of their ability to penetrate every cell in the body, it is very important to have absolutely pure essential oils, from a distillery which preserves every naturally occurring (balancing) chemical constituent. At this time I only recommend Young Living brand EOs (see my Essential Oils tab above).

Essential oils can also assist with emotional detox by opening up hormone pathways, and stimulating the lymbic area of the brain which stores memories and emotions (and is the area which receives signals from scents). I believe that Jesus is the true answer to the needs of our souls/emotions, and that Scripture which reveals Him is cleansing to our minds. I have found that repeating Scriptures to myself which relate to my emotional needs, within a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, have helped me to heal past hurts, depression, and unload emotional baggage.

Detox Reactions
Detoxing is good, but too much, too fast can create some uncomfortable detox side effects: rash, itching, headache, sinus drainage, feeling hot, feeling grumpy, restlessness, loose bowel, nausea, tiredness. It’s likely that the longer a person has been pursuing a detox lifestyle (has a less-full bathtub) the less they will experience these reactions. When these symptoms do strike, here are some things I have done to ease them:

  • Rest/sleep (it takes a lot of internal work to detox!)
  • Epsom salt baths (pull toxins out through the skin so it doesn’t all have to flow through liver/colon/kidneys)
  • Coffee enemas (no more than once a week, and only done in a safe way with electrolytes in the enema)
  • Cease heavy exercise; stretch instead
  • Go back over the list of toxins to find ways to “turn the faucet down” more
  • Consider backing off the detox of the moment, then ramp it up again more slowly.

Special Help
Although we should discuss diet/exercise/detox plans with our doctor anyway, there are some situations which require a doctor’s help for detox. These would include chelation for heavy metal poisoning, heavy industrial chemical poisoning, and advanced cardiovascular disease chelation. A doctor knowledgeable in environmental medicine would be worth enlisting in these cases; it’s likely that he/she will be recommending at least some of the ideas above, so the more educated a person is about home therapies for detox, the faster their progress will be.

Additionally, some people have genetically faulty metabolic processes for detoxification; MTHFR gene defect, inability to methylate B vitamins, insufficient amino acid production, anemia of many types, thyroid and other hormone insufficiency, etc. A knowledgeable integrative doctor will be able to test for these types of disorders and recommend simple solutions to underlying causes. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the right form of a B vitamin.

Detox for Life
I’m not going to sugar coat this: if you are new to detoxing, it will likely be a year of intentional detoxing before you feel really clean, and then an ebb and flow of maintenance detoxing thereafter. But, the benefit of having more energy and joy, and feeling lighter (if not actually BEING lighter) will make it worth it. You may never know the health crises you’ve dodged by keeping your toxic bathtub empty.

 

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