Earth Day 2015

Earth Day Tree

What are you doing to celebrate?

I decided this year that I wanted to throw Mother Earth a Mother's Blessing of sorts, without as much pomp and pampering as I've usually experienced at a Mother's Blessing, and about 100% less necklaces or other crafts.

I had talked about setting it up with a few friends, and then had some crises that needed attending so I didn't actually start planning with anyone until one of the people I had talked to picked up the ball and invited me to help planning it with her.  We are going to meditate on intentions for the Earth, wrap our intentions (in the form of a ribbon/yarn/string) around a stick, then bury it in the ground and give the Earth a blessing.  There will be chanting and candles and washing of hands in rose water.   My friends Natalie and Christina are energy workers and very good with words, and are collaborating to create the words for the blessing.  Here's what Christina sent me this morning--it gave me chills!!

"Mother Earth, with grateful hearts we desire to do for you as you have done for us, we desire to love and tend to your needs.  We ask forgiveness for not listening.  We collectively remove all feelings of uselessness and promise to open our ears, hearts, and minds.  We acknowledge the worth of your wisdom and ask that our minds might rise to a new level of understanding.

"Gracious and ever giving Mother let us bless you, let us do our part to help sustain you.  Allow us to restore the patience we've worn thin.  We bless your fears, like the sea, to return to calm.  We bless your heart to know peace.  We bless you with a renewed patience for those who are slow to understand."

I can't wait to celebrate our earthy mother tonight!

Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid

Namaste, Dear Reader.  There are a few rambles ahead, so proceed with a salt shaker.

I am struggling today, wrestling with Words and Indolence, trying to fight them into submission.  Words are elusive, slipping away from my consciousness whenever I get close.  Indolence just sits there, laughing jovially at my attempts to get it to do anything other than be amused.

There are so many things I want to say about womanhood, about the divine, about trying to find my role in life.  I want to be able to express what I'm thinking and why, to hear what you have to say, and understand your viewpoints and be able to understand where you're coming from.  I want to be vulnerable and open and smart.

In my head, I feel incomplete, like there is so much to learn and be and do; yet I feel more complete and "me" than I've felt all my life.  This is so fascinating to me, what are my reasons?  Delving into heads has always been intriguing, but there are also usually no firm answers.  I feel like I've accepted myself so much more fully than I've ever been able to before.  I'm even okay with that.  Yet I don't want to open myself and my opinions up to public opinion.  Is there such a thing as a vulnerability firewall, which allows just enough vulnerability out to connect to people, soul-to-soul, while maintaining the parts of oneself that aren't ready to be unearthed and witnessed by others?

Anyway.  I need to make a chocolate chip cookie pie, and that will save me from further "public" rumination.

Do you have any thoughts?  When have you felt the most at home in your own skin, and can you say why?

Go Fund Me After You Find Me

(Hint: I'm in Utah!  Now fund me.  :0)

As you may have guessed from my last post, I'm heavily involved in planning a birthing conference for a movement which we call Empowering Fearless Birth.  It's a funny name that really means we are all about giving mothers the education, opportunities, and power to have the kinds of births they want--from birthing in a watering trough in their kitchen to scheduling a C-section, being as medicated as she chooses and having the medical care she wants.  We want all mamas to know their choices and be confident in what they want, because so many times what people do and say during a birth can impact a birthing mama for the rest of her life (for better or worse.)

This past weekend, I sat down with my two cohorts and we hammered out the class schedule.  We have a whopping 45+ hours of amazing women and men teaching classes on everything from "Vaccines: Know the Facts" by a medical doctor, to "The Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation", to "Healing Birth Trauma" by a midwife who is also a CPM.

We have incredible and intelligent people coming from far and wide to help spread knowledge out to anyone who is willing to attend their classes!  I wish I could go to every single one of them.

That's the problem.

We don't want all of this time and effort to go to waste.  We NEED the classes to be filmed, and to be available to anyone who needs information about all of these subjects.  Wouldn't it be amazing for a first-time mother, with no real support, to do a simple Google search on how to prepare for a hospital birth or how to protect her perineum during birth, and find an hour long discourse she can watch online and learn about what questions to ask and where to go for more information?

I think so, don't you?  We barely have enough money in the budget to pay for the event, so we need help finding funds to film every single class.  If you think this is even half as important as I do, please help us out by donating to our Go Fund Me!  I will personally send you cookies (even vegan and/or paleo ones if you so choose it!) if you donate more than $50.  Leave me a comment and what kind of cookies you like, and I'll be in touch.  :0)

(all images of William courtesy of my fabulous sister-from-another-mister, April DeLaMare of DeLaMare Photography.  And Debbie of Silver Maple Media turned ALL of these images into memes!  Isn't she brilliant?)

Empowering Fearless Birth Event Promo Film from thetouchoflife on Vimeo.

Birth Changed My Life!

"How?", some of you may ask.  Well, that's funny.  Perhaps you were never born yourself and can't imagine that being born had an impact on any mother or child.  Perhaps you think I'm being snarky, and perhaps you're right.

As you may suspect, I don't remember being born, but I do remember giving birth to William just over 19 months ago, on the first of January in 2012.  Wonderful day for birth, don't you think?  New Year's Day is always so fresh feeling, and like it's the perfect day for beginning something.

Sweet little William, just 2 days old.
I had taken Hypnobirthing classes from the lovely Lauralyn Curtis and felt, if not prepared, at least like I had done something to prepare!  Something is better than nothing.  My mom had told me at the New Year's Eve party the night before that I looked like the baby's head was down near my pelvic bone, like I was just about ready to give birth, and I laughed at her but she was right.

The next morning, after realizing that I was maaaaaaaaybe in labor, my husband and I leisurely started our day with some cuddles and jokes, as we are wont to do.  An hour or so later, quite unexpectedly, my water broke all over our bed and we had to make some decisions, and fast.  Did we decide to move things to the hospital?  Yes!  Buuuuut we thought we probably had hours and hours of labor ahead of us, so I didn't move very quickly.  Then it was too late to go anywhere unless someone carried me because transition hit like a prize-fighting bull on top of a freight train.
After being transported to the hospital, we were transported into different clothing.

The urge to push was overwhelming, and it felt so good to curl up on our guest bed, moan like a cow, and just relax into my body and do whatever it wanted to do. It was incredible, so empowering and awe-inspiring.  I felt like I could have done anything in that moment, had I wanted to--and yet there was nothing more that I could do or wanted to do then focus inward and try to work with my body.

Just a little after noon, my baby was born on my guest bed, into my husband's hands.  He cried out, "Little dude!!" and handed him immediately over, both of us in wonderment at this little person.  The paramedics were pounding at the door, and from that day forward has been a bit of a blur.

My sweet, sweet boy.
I still marvel at my body, and how it was able to foster this little egg and help it grow into a beautiful baby, and then know how to adapt and change to get that baby out, intact.  It was the most incredible experience, ever--and it opened up my eyes to my own potential, and the potential of all living things.

That statement might feel a little grandiose, that from one morning's work of going with the flow, I was able to come to a vast appreciation for the universe and everything living and growing within it, but that's really how it felt.  It's too big to contain in just one person!  It was wonderful and empowering and so, so joyful.

Holding a 3-day-old William on the bed where he was born.
Let me tell you something.  I did NOT think that birthing a baby would be such a life-changing event.  I expected that having a baby in my life to take care of would be a monumental task, I expected that birthing would be hard and hurt, and I expected that it would be a lot of drudgery and pain.  I did not expect the experience to be the most intensely happy, gloriously liberating experience I'd ever have!!  It was truly amazing.

Now, I know there are a lot of people whose births are hard. They struggle, and pay for their experiences in blood, sweat, and tears (both kinds.)   I know women who thought they were going in for an empowering experience, who did everything right and prepared themselves, and despite all that had traumatic experiences.  For these women, my heart aches so dearly.  I'm so sorry, my sisters.  I have every hope that these women are able to heal from the trauma, and find freedom from those shackles by finding a soft place to heal their hearts and wounded bodies, to stitch themselves together and come back stronger than ever.

This is what Empowering Fearless Birth is all about, people.  Either experience.  ANY experience.  We want to help women be educated in their choices and then validate whatever choice they make.  We want to gather up the wounded women, give them a safe place, and encourage them to show their strength again.  We want babies to be born in the best way possible for the mama and for the baby.  We want so, so much!  And with a lot of incredible help, we are trying to make it happen.

September 21st of this year, we're holding our second event--the first one sold out, so we know it's something that's wanted and needed in the community.  We want to help mothers see the different choices for what they are, and not for what the media portrays them as.  We want to support all mothers, from women who are planning on a scheduled c-section to women who want to do a home birth in their backyard.  All of it, all the between too.  We love you and we want you here with us.

Rachel holding fresh fruit of her womb--doesn't that look say absolutely everything?  The joy, the love, the overwhelming sense of awe and accomplishment?
(Image courtesy of Katie Loveless)

Cream of What-Everrrrrrrrr Soup, Vegan'd and/or Paleo'd

I am a huge fan of creamy things, like cheesecake and pesto mayonnaise and funeral potatoes.  All super tasty things, in my opinion.  Cooking such things is bred into my bones, my mother taught me from since I was as high as an apron's ties that adding cream of chicken soup and/or sour cream to a recipe made it instantly superb.  I like superb.  I adore superb, actually.  I crave funeral potatoes like nobody's business, but I really don't want them enough for anybody to die over them, despite the awful name they've gotten.

Anyway, back to creamy deliciousness--Cody becoming a vegan changed the way I had to look at recipes and it greatly changed the way certain dishes needed to be made.

Enter cashew cream!

This stuff is luscious.  Creamy, bodacious, and only slightly nutty (because factoid!  Cashews aren't nuts!), cashew cream makes an incredible alternative to dairy cream in vegan recipes, especially savory ones as coconut cream kinda tastes weird in certain contexts, like in a creamy vegetable soup, for instance.

Last week we had this fantastically easy to make, amaaaaaazing tasting cream of broccoli soup because we'd gotten more cruciferous vegetables than we needed in our Bountiful Basket, and so needed a way to use them up.  We gobbled it up in under 24 hours, even William had his share.  So if you have picky eaters that don't like veggies, try this!  It's got great fats in it too, and makes panini companions shine like the sun.

Because I rock at the photography thing, here's someone else's picture of cream of broccoli soup that looks surprisingly like ours:

Vegan Cream of Vegetable Soup
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 11th Edition

Cooked vegetable (see amounts and variations below with herb combinations)
3 cups broth
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (omit if doing a strict Paleo version*)
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cashews
boiling water (about 1 1/2 cups-ish)

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, measure out the 1 cup of cashews.  Pour the boiling water into the glass measure up to the 2 cup mark.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and let soak for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally if you want.  It doesn't NEED it need it, but sometimes stirring is fun.

Once the cashews are sorta bloated and softened to the tooth, dump the cashews and their water into a blender or food processor and blend those punks up like they deserve it, a.k.a. until the mixture is white and creamy and no little bits of nuts remain visible.

Set the cashew cream aside and blend up the cooked vegetable of your choice in 2 batches, with 2 cups of the broth (1 cup of the broth with each batch of vegetable.)

Heat a pot over medium heat.  Make the roux by melting the coconut oil then whisking in the flour, remaining salt, pepper, and chosen seasonings for your vegetable.  Cook until the mixture bubbles quite a bit.  It won't look like a traditional roux, but it will still work, don't worry!  Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of broth and cook until thickened and bubbly.  Add in all of the blended goodness, warm, and serve.

Vegetable Options:

6 cups cut asparagus/2-10 oz frozen package asparagus, 1 teaspoon lemon peel, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

6 cups broccoli florets/2-10 oz package frozen cut broccoli, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

6 cups florets/2-10 oz package frozen, 1-1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

10 cups sliced fresh mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1 tablespoon sherry

6 potatoes, peeled and cubed, or 3 &1/2 cups mashed, cooked potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed

2 cups canned pumpkin and 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 1/2 pounds acorn squash, cooked and scraped from skin, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or nutmeg

Soup it up!

*The soup is certainly thick enough to not need the roux thickener; however, if you feel it needs thickening, consider using arrowroot instead.

Huffy Truff-a-ma Shuff

Oh Truff.

She found a new home yesterday, and it's happysad.  She's a good doggie and I already miss her, but this new family has a yard and kids that are anxious to have a dog, a family that hikes and runs and plays outside.  I love you, Truffle, and I hope you have all the love and cheese they can give you!

Crunchy Livin' Lovin'

One of my postpartum pad sets.  These are AWESOME for the post-baby goings-on.

The lovely Rachel Joy Jackson interviewed me as her blog sponsor on The Crunchy Cottage, and the interview is up today!  Go check it out, and enter to win a $30 gift certificate to my Etsy shop.