Adventures with Flat Stanleyette, part two

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"I've never dehydrated anything before! This should be interesting!"

“I’ve never dehydrated anything before! This should be interesting!” Flat Stanleyette pictured with dehydrated cauliflower and an undehydrated butternut squash. Huh…

I certainly hope (and pray) that my niece, A., had a good day at school on Friday. Friday would have been a very important day to have a regular, wonderful time as an elementary school student.

These are soap nuts and this is the way Aunt Cindy and her family wash their clothes!

These are soap nuts and this is the way Aunt Cindy and her family wash their clothes!

My niece’s Flat Stanleyette hopefully arrived at school along with a box of surprises. Yesterday would have been a fitting day for happiness to fill a classroom…

Here are a few of the highlights –

1. Flat Stanleyette learned about soap nuts sold by Olive Shoot Institute. This is our family’s small business. This is the way we do laundry! At first FS thought we were crazy even though she appreciated the fact that soap nuts are 100% biodegradable, organic and natural. To think that there are trees in India that produce a berry which clean clothes blew her paper mind. However, when she noticed that our clothes smelled fresh and clean, our towels were fluffy and fresh, she became a true believer. Upon her insistence, I gave her some soap nuts to bring back home.

Flat Stanleyette noticed that sometimes Ike would like to eat a dorito.

Flat Stanleyette noticed that sometimes Ike would like to eat a dorito.

2. We kept her busy dehydrating and learning about preparing healthy food. She helped slice the fruit and vegetables, place it on our Excalibur dehydrator trays and spritz some lemon juice on things to keep it from turning gross colors. She helped make vegetable powders with our Vita-Mix and imagined all the ways they could be put into soups, etc.

3. Sometimes FS looked surprised when we told her we eat persimmons, kale, spinach and banana chips. We don’t always eat organic stuff or healthy things but we wanted her to try new things and expand her palate. When Flat Stanleyette returned home, she brought dehydrated banana chips, persimmons and apple slices. She was super excited to share them with the kids. Hope you guys liked them!

4. Our paper friend joined me in learning how to make fabric bowls. “Wow, this takes a lot of skill and patience!” she declared one afternoon. FS went to bed very tired that night with a slight headache.

A collage of fun!

A collage of fun!

5. It was her first time at a high school men’s basketball game and as expected, FS drew a lot of attention. Thankfully, her new best friend Erma helped her deal with all the looks and stares. Erma is a Guinea pig girl doll and proud of it! They both agreed everybody was probably jealous of their beauty. It was a fast-paced game and she is now the biggest fan of #21 whom she began calling “Lebron” even though he is an orange hair, freckle face teenager. The coach really wanted to get a picture with FS following their big win.

Flat Stanleyette and Erma became fast friends and cheered on the team!

Flat Stanleyette and Erma became fast friends and cheered on the team!

Are you a Soaky McSoaker?


“The treadmill routine of the week is: washing, baking, ironing, fixing dried fruit, airing clothes, sewing, cleaning, baking and cleaning again. So it goes week after week. Eating and drinking, cooking and cleaning, scrubbing and scouring we go through life; and only lay down our implements at the verge of the gravel!…You bake, and boil, and fry, and stew; worry and toil, just as if the people’s principle business in this world was to learn how much they could eat-and eat it.” Jane G. Swissholm, Letters to Country Girls, 1853.

I love Helen Nearing’s book Simple Food for the Good Life. Filled with recipes and pithy sayings, I selected the above quote from Nearing’s book because it sums up my average day. I try not to find drudgery in homemaking and consider a skill, a privilege and a science. Our world has belittled the career of motherhood and domesticity. Most of us don’t teach these skills to our children and then don’t understand why our kids can’t take care of themselves, eat horribly and have homes in disarray when they are older. My three sons are ages 22, 18 and almost 16 and they know I’m on a mission to change that. They make a mama proud. God gave me three olive shoots for a reason and in general, I like how they’re sprouting up to be competent, Jesus loving, strong men who can also throw down.

But today I want to write about pre-soaking grains and seeds literally. I am a total neophyte in this arena. A caveat, please correct any of the information I am going to share as my desire is to contribute to the discussion. Add to the conversation also, I want to learn.

But first, did you know about 15 years ago, I had a funny flax seed story published in a book? It’s true! I shall soon share. It’s about Nate, brownies and a little bit of trickery on my part.

Do you want to hear a super creepy story in the interim? I had a friend whose boyfriend had his wisdom teeth extracted. He ate pizza a few days post-surgery. A few days after that, the guy went into the bathroom and screamed to his girlfriend to come right away. She rushed right in and there he was mouth agape. He said, “@*&@!!,” pointed and she spotted it. Back where one of the wisdom teeth had once lived, a tiny sprout had grown in its place! Can you imagine what it would have been like to pull a small plant out of a hole in your mouth! I would have Instagrammed it.

If you thought the only time you sprouted a seed was before you planted it or following dental surgery (!), here are some things to know.

Sprouted seeds

Sprouting biologically activates the seed and makes the plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches and vitamins bio-available.

Flax seeds are hard for our body to digest. They have natural enzyme inhibitors which prevent digestion. There is much to love about flax seeds – their crunch, color, flavor, even tactically, put your hand in a bag of flax seeds before and after you buy them from Whole Foods and you’ll notice their silky texture. Let’s just say I “know” someone who does this. You’d really like her. 😉

Despite a flax seed’s many attributes, though I don’t need a stomach ache. My family will usually try anything I make but if they have a bad reaction or don’t like it, I’m done. They won’t revisit it. Ask them about kale cake. Gigantic epic fail. If you’re sensitive or allergic to certain grains, soak your whole grains beforehand, in a salt brine, anywhere from 7-24 hours and it will probably lessen the symptoms. Oh, and don’t ever make kale cake. Ever.

Use warm water. It coaxes the enzymes out of their little crusty shell. Don’t soak them too long or they will grow bacteria. I think I did this for you, so trust me. Last year I made a batch of granola. I was a Soaky McSoaker and soaked the oats in a mixture of keifer, coconut oil, butter and water. Recipe said overnight but I pushed it a little. This resulted in a granola which brought facial expressions reminiscent of kale cake. I fed the trash can, not the Hubs or my OS that time. Duly noted. puts it this way,  pre-soaking, “allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten.”

Here are some great websites with additional information. I’m giving them mad props for their discoveries and information. They’re not quite as humorous but super helpful.

The Nourishing Gourmet

and in case you’re interested in soap nuts, which are not edible but organic, biodegradable and incredible, 100% natural laundry soap, there’s always

Olive Shoot Institute!

Let’s be Soaky McSoakers, kk?

Apple and memories


Fall melange of colors

The sound you hear in the background is my dehydrator. I apologize, I know it’s loud. That’s why it’s in the dining room. Sorry about that but it’s the time of year where I seem to use it the most. I harken back to this time last September when my oldest OS was preparing for his second ACL surgery and I was busy making him healthy treats to help his recovery. Wistful, relieved and bountiful describe that time and season of life.

My house smells like apples and cinnamon. I have apple slices, apple leathers loaded in many dehydrator trays and granola filling in the remaining of the nine trays. Ike is eating his weight in granola and in the past week, I’ve also dehydrated beef jerky for a friend which I carefully kept away from my drooling, orange hair, freckle face OS.

Autumnal colors enter my home and since finding the Sherwin Williams ColorSnap app, I’m a dither with discovering possible color pallets for my home, should the opportunity ever exist.

So today I grabbed my iPhone after making a batch of granola and took pictures. With 50 pounds of old-fashioned oats, (yes, 50), I’d say I have a lot of granola to make. Throwing in some dehydrated cherries from the summer or a handful of pepitas and suddenly I feel like a fancy girl. I like fancy girl feelings.

With a hankering for another kind of crunchy, I began soaking flax seed, sesame, poppy and pumpkin seeds for a raw cracker and took more pictures. The colors were captivating and the names Sherwin Williams uses for each color, well to me they seem inspired. (Btw, I’m not a paid endorser of Sherwin Williams!).

Which one of these colors would you most welcome into your home? I’d love to hear and if you use the app, tell me what colors you discovered.

In my next post, I’ll write about pre-soaking grains. I’m learning about this concept and it’s intriguing.

Until then, here’s the recipe I use for the raw multi-seed crackers –

1 cup flax seeds, golden or brown

1/2 cup mixed seeds, for example, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin

1/2 t. sea salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or mild) or cumin seeds or ground chili pepper or the spice/spice mix of your choice

The night before, put the flax seeds in a medium bowl and add 1 cup of water. In another bowl, put the mixed seeds and add water to cover.

In the morning, drain the mixed seeds well and add them to the soaked and now gel-like flax seeds (these need no draining). Add the salt and paprika and stir well with a fork to combine.

Spread very thinly on one or two dehydrator trays lined with solid sheets. An offset spatula, the kind you use to frost a cake – makes spreading easier. Sprinkle a touch more salt on the surface. (I don’t because they seem too salty).

Dehydrate at 110 degrees fahrenheit for about six hours until dry and crisp. About three hours into the dehydrating, flip the crackers so they will dehydrate evenly. Break into pieces once cooled.

Excalibur dehydrators are the bomb dignity.

One more thing, Excalibur is having 10% off until 9/30/2012, check it out!  Shawn, tell the Hubs if he loves you, he’ll get you one of these too!

What color was your dinner?


“Hey everybody, this is important!”

Food is on the table

Getting ready to pray

When I look at the spread before us

And notice

Hey, this is a bi-color dinner!

Quick, grab the camera!

People need to know!

Edamame – green

Massaged kale salad – verdurous with splashes of bright yellow (mango) and sage green (pepitas)

Italian quinoa salad – social butterfly yellow, green pepper green, yellow corn

This is my unintentional bi-color dinner, everybody!)

Within arm’s reach, a shaker of homemade celery powder, made in my dehydrator

Over to the side

Popcorn – hints of soft yellow amidst the white explosions speckled with Fire Dancer seasoning

Then I realize, WHOA!


The plates are

Green plate swirls

Garden spot green

Witty green


Optimistic yellow!

The Pyrex bowl containing the roasted kale (brown green), you ask?

Cut the Mustard gold

I love all the beautiful colors in Pyrex!

I exclaim, “Hey, guys! This is really important!

But no one else noticed,

Neither, the Hubs nor the orange hair, freckle face OS cared.

They were just hungry. Phooey.

This blog post was brought to you by the colors yellow and green and by the word observant

Find your colors at Sherwin Williams and this amazing app on Sherwin Williams ColorSnap. I didn’t know about this app until I started writing this post. But you can use your smart phone to match real-world colors with paint colors. All for free! You can take a picture of your dinner (like I did) and it will tell you the names of the corresponding paint colors! How cool is that! 

25 out of 50 things I’m thankful for

I’ve always known how to have fun on my birthday! 

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I used to think 50 year old people were old. Now I think they are, well, they are…me as of January 27. 

Here is half of the 50 things I’m thankful for. 

Class of 2016 = woot

1. My middle OS has been accepted to Moody Bible Institute!
2. This means I will have a semi-regular pizza delivery boy! 
3. I had a wonderful experience speaking to a local MOPS group and I want to do it again! 
4. My topic was “Raising Mighty Oliveshoots” and I’m sensing the Lord is creating something. 
5. My oldest OS has done so well as West Point that he will be getting his first choice for his post and unit. This means that Nate will probably be going to Fort Carson in Colorado. I suggested “Fort” Cary (we live in Cary!) but he seemed disinterested. No worries though!
6. My orange hair, freckle face OS’s basketball team is currently in first place and his back pain is subsiding.

Few moments are as epic as when you
and your OS get to meet Mary Jo!

7. I’m going to MaryJo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia on Saturday with friends. Ignite endorphin levels!
8. I soaked some almonds overnight in water and evaporated cane juice. I drained the water and just before putting them into the dehydrator, I sprinkled cinnamon on them. They taste GOOD! 

I’m having a bibimbap birthday! 

9. We are having a Korean exchange student stay with us for the weekend and she is going to teach me how to make bibimbap
10. We’re also going to be serving squash pancakes and green onion pancakes. This should be interesting!
11. My six year old nephew Jon aka Goo, told me he has drawn me a picture for my birthday. I can’t wait to see it!
12. My aunt and uncle from Chicago sent me two birthday pizzas. I have them safely hidden in the freezer, only the Hubs seems to know. I do not want to share. Does that make me a bad person??? Do not tell a soul. 
13. I’m reading my seventh book since Christmas. Shablam! Current read – Saving Leonardo. Here’s a great quote “One of the greatest injustice we do our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary…We must teach them to be revolutionaries, revolutionaries against the status quo.” Click to read this review that compelled me to buy this for my Kindle Fire. 
14. It struck me last night as I was sitting with my monthly writing friends, how immensely blessed I am with a diversity of friendships culled from many parts of my life. 
15. My house is neither immaculate nor filthy, right now as I type this, it’s right in the middle. 
16. I love my weekly Bible Study and the women I share life with. As I look around the table, I admire their strength, beauty and stories about leading redeemed lives. 

Bible Study just before the Army/Navy game!
Had to bring Nate!

17. My stepfather said he would go with me for my colonoscopy! I don’t have one scheduled but since I took him to his, he said he would accompany me on mine! 

18. I just finished reading a book about a vacuum cleaner and it made me cry. I thought about the stories my family’s appliances could tell.
19. When I told my mom that sometimes her birthday cards to me are so sappy, I could become diabetic, she didn’t get offended. She laughed and scoffed. We had fun! 
20. Loves it when the pastor speaks a sermon custom made for our family! 
21. And REALLY loves it when we apply the sermon to daily life!
22. So blessed to have a praying family. We rallied around one of our OS this weekend and prayed with and for him one night. I want to leave this kind of legacy.
23. Realized that I along with the Hubs are raising a first generation Christian family. I didn’t see that modeled in my own family and we’re super imperfect but still, we’re doing it!

A recent creation I made

24. My sewing machines and I are getting along. We are enjoying our time together.
25. I made a dinner this week for a teacher who has cancer. I wasn’t sure what to make and brought sesame seed crusted salmon, wilted spinach with a white wine sauce and quinoa pepper salad. She said her favorite thing to eat was fish! I didn’t know that! 

On the eve of a big day, it makes sense to have some jollity. Life is a gift. I’d love to hear from you, any of these 25 jump out at you?

And it makes me wonder…

It’s true, mothering has allowed me 
to blossom as a woman.

I hesitated for a moment when my orange hair, freckle face OS asked me a question during dinner last night.

“Is it ever boring just staying home all day and being a mom?”

No sooner had the words parted from those teenage ruby lips when he profusely apologized for his frankness. Truly Ike has said nastier things to me without a hint of remorse (and been punished for it, thank you very much!) but it was obvious he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. 

I think it’s an honest question. But what is the correct answer? Here’s what I said.

“Sometimes it is boring but that’s usually because I’m not doing the things I need to be doing.”

It was seven and a half years before traded in my ambitious career goals and embraced the job that had been waiting for me – full-time motherhood.

The day I learned that we were going to be parents! 
Notice the EPT (Early Pregnancy Test) box 
the Hubs is holding! 

So resolute was I to stay in the business world, that upon learning that I was pregnant with my oldest OS, I ordered a TWO YEAR subscription to Working Mother magazine. I remember simultaneously nursing Nate and attempting to have a contract negotiation on the phone only ten days after his birth. But no one was going to change my opinion…not my husband, not my mom, not even my baby.

It took two more children before I figured out that the Lord had divinely appointed me to be a stay-at-home parent. I can be a bit stubborn but I was relentlessly targeted. The voice in my heart told me repeatedly that I was “perfect for the job” even if I couldn’t see my qualifications. My Heavenly Father was changing me from the inside out…

Three dudes in suits

I sincerely wrestled about what to do with my life. It wasn’t an easy decision as I recall sitting on our eggplant colored couch with the Hubs in the winter of 1998. Bless that man as he listened and encouraged me. I questioned, what if full-time motherhood was boring? What if I hated staying home with the guys? What if I was lonely? What if my brain turned to mush? The Hubs reassured me that it was going to be ok. And he was right. 

Now 13 years later, my youngest OS was lovingly challenging me to take stock at how it’s been going for me…this whole stay-at-home mom gig.

When this kid gives this mom flowers “just because”
you have to feel good about yourself! 😉

Although my boys are older, my role as their mom is still important. To have a 21 year old son who while home from West Point brings me a bouquet of flowers “just because” is evidence that I made the right decision. To be appreciated for a pantry filled with food, much of it I prepared, affirms my position in the household. When the world laments for me because I’m a mom of three sons, two of them teenage boys, I scoff at their pettiness for I am among the most blessed. 

Three legos and a football champ!

Yes, my sweet orange hair, freckle face OS, sometimes being a mother has lackluster moments but that happens with any job as you will one day discover. Jesus gave me this exalted opportunity to raise three men of honor and faith and I will forever give him praise. 

Oh and one more thing, I hope I haven’t offended anyone,
this is my personal story of transformation
and I realize other people have different mothering journeys. 

PS. I’d love to hear from you. What interesting questions have your children have posed and how you have answered them? 

Surgery – when the time is right, whenever that is!


Unfortunately, the adage “expect the unexpected” and the expression “hurry up and wait” are true this morning as Nate’s surgery has been delayed.

He walked into the surgery room, mentally prepared to get his ACL fixed and walked right back out minutes later because of an equipment malfunction.

The night before, the three of us enjoyed dinner at Sushi King followed by ice cream just a few doors down the street. Nate was as ready as he could be for the surgery bright and early in the morning.

But at this point, my OS has been told that the equipment might not even be fixed today. The sterilizer is broken. I think that’s a good reason to postpone things however, my firstie is hungry, thirsty and frustrated, who can blame him?

Yesterday I found myself counting our blessings, taking stock of the goodness which has resulted through this trial. So instead of complaining which is unproductive, I’m going to concentrate on the positive. This is just a partial list and I hope to later include other blessings which have lifted our spirits.

Don”t be jealous, get your own ACL surgery 😉

My van is loaded with treats for Nathan. Cards and gifts from family as well as from people who don’t even know my boy! When Nate said he wanted me to bring him dehydrated apples, I obliged but a mother who doesn’t even know him also wanted to support a member of the military. She dehydrated a bunch of apples for Nate. They look delicious!

Bible Study friends holding a bag of dehydrated apples.
They donated 40 pounds of apples for my OS!
The women in my weekly Bible Study pitched in and bought a box of apples for me to dehydrate for my OS. We’re talking 40 POUNDS of apples! In addition, my Bible Study leader and another WP mom donated bags of apples for my healthy food project. Such bounty! When I popped open the back of the van to give Nate some of the things, his mouth was agape at the amount of apples he now has to enjoy! I felt so proud of my friends and the community of support.

The West Point networks for parents and mothers are extraordinary. Through a parent list-serve and a closed West Point Moms facebook group, I have been encouraged beyond measure. I learned about Mobilegs which is a lightweight crutch alternative. When I contacted the company and told them about Nate’s upcoming surgery, they eagerly offered me a military discount.

Nate trying on his Mobilegs before surgery.

The Mobilegs arrived at his barracks yesterday afternoon.

When we met Nate, he was grinning and carrying them. “I’m actually kinda excited to use them,” Nate remarked to me last night.

During dinner, when the owner of the restaurant learned that Nate was a West Point cadet having surgery the next day, he made him a free special mango sushi roll. Our spirits were high. Truly I’m learning that the little things we can all do for each other are very significant. THANK YOU SUSHI KING!!

Mango, cream cheese, crab sushi roll made
just for Nate – delicious kindness

Another great blessing was Aaron and I drove to West Point and enjoyed a scenic, pleasant trip. We got along 96% of the time and although the last 4% was pretty ugly (we were less than ten miles away from West Point!), our relationship quickly returned to its formerly happy state. 

And as if we hadn’t be given above and beyond what we even imagined, we had a surprise awaiting us. I opened the small closet in Nate’s hospital room and there, tucked in the far corner, I spotted the thing we never expected. A pair of bright red boxer briefs!!! Carefully I pinched the undies with my fingers and wiggled them at Nate! He was, um, speechless! I’m pretty sure an angel had left them there for my boy. It doesn’t get better than that, my friends!

A complimentary pair of undies left for Nate! What great fortune!

And there have been other blessings which I must acknowledge. Right now though I’m completely exhausted and trusting in the Lord’s perfect timing. Please know that your words and thoughtfulness are so meaningful. We’ll keep you posted…

Dehydrating the days away


I hesitate to even write this post lest some of you become envious of my exciting life.

Going hither and yon as I do, one minute I’m dropping a cylinder of salt on someone’s head at Trader Joe’s, the next I’m waiting for my stepfather to finish his colonoscopy.  Oh, the thrilling pace of my life!

So if you must, depart from this post immediately. I will understand.

But yesterday was a Red Letter, adrenaline pumping day for me because…

I became a food dehydrator owner!

About an hour after establishing a location for my new toy, two bunches of bananas were sliced, spritzed with lemon juice and ready to christen my Excalibur Model 3926T. Btw, the “T” stands for the 26, yes, 26 hour timer, an outstanding feature, if I do say so myself. 🙂

Now my first batch of dried bananas sit in the pantry. They look and sound like wooden nickels but taste much better. My orange hair, freckle face OS isn’t completely enamoured with them but I’m not giving up. I’m going to make this work in my family. My OS and the Hubs will appreciate my efforts at conservation and nutrition or face my wrath.

My new appliance murmurs away the kitchen and today, the trays are loaded with apple slices, strawberries and carrots. The apples were going to spoil soon, it is pleasing to put them to good use and not be wasteful. Don’t you admire people that can put things together simply? They use everything and don’t squander the smallest morsel. They also don’t hoard and that to me, seems to be a challenge. I want to be the kind of woman who is a faithful steward of the things she is given yet I also desire a clutter-free, welcoming home. Striking the right balance requires skill.

As silly as getting a new food dehydrator may sound to some, trivial though it might be to a person who pities the stay-at-home mom for the supposed drudgery of her life, I am thrilled with my new purchase. The thought of caring for my family, feeding them healthy things and learning new homemaking techniques brings me contentment.

According to Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook, why in no time, I will be making Backpacker Tuna a la King and Fancy Tomato Leather Chips. Yes, my OS’s lunch bags will be filled with beet leather and homemade crackers and friends shall crowd around them begging for a mere taste of these delicacies! My West Point OS will plead and beg for boodle loaded with Backpacker Fancy Macaroni and Cheese or pineapple sliced seasoned with cardamom. I can see it now!

While reading the recipes to Ike, I prophesied a future father/son camping trip complete with Backpacker Rice Balls Wrapped in Nori and kayaking adventures energized thanks to Tom’s Red Wine-Marinated Dried Fish. My comments were met with an impish grin and rolling of the eyes.

Ain’t she a beauty?
Um, maybe this isn’t the right technique???
Bananas full of hydration – not for long, you guys!
A not so wonderful reaction to braised daikon radishes
This is the expression I anticipate in the future from my orange hair, freckle face OS!
I’ll be sure to capture their noteworthy reactions as my dehydrating repertoire continues! Let the drying begin!