Thursday, December 2, 2010

Learning to Eat Well

About six months ago, I took "weight control" a class at a local Wellness Center.  It was a real eye-opener for me.  What I learned, while a serious departure from conventional nutritional wisdom, resonated deep within me.  The class was definitely 6 weeks of  "aha!" moments.

I was introduced to the Weston A. Price Foundation & to Sally Fallon Morell and her cookbook (much more that that) "Nourishing Traditions - The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats".   As I read this book, I felt as if a weight (pun intended) had been lifted.  It all made so much sense.  Why hadn't I put it all together before?

You see, many facets of the NT (Nourishing Traditions) lifestyle were familiar to me.  I was already trying to shop & eat locally and seasonally.  I was buying organic produce, at least most of the time. I always had an inkling the nutrition was the key to health.

Now, a few of months into my conversion to the NT lifestyle, I am still learning, every day.  From pastured eggs to grass-fed meat & butter, it's been an adventure!  (raw dairy is next!)  And, I am loving it!  I posted HERE about my first batch of sauerkraut and HERE about making cream cheese.  I have really enjoyed cooking with real, traditional foods.  And spending time at the Farmer's Market, getting to know my local farmers has been a blast!

I'll be posting more about this my new way of cooking and eating and the resulting benefits I gain. That certainly is "refining life", isn't it??

Here's a link to Real Food Media.  Love their tag  line:  REAL FOOD. SMALL FARMS. GREEN LIVING.  It's a great place to learn more about traditional foods, sustainable agriculture and get a whole bunch of great recipes & health info.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Before I Stow The Fall Decor...

I have been really bad about taking photos recently!  I don't know why, but I forget until an event is over, or I've put the decorations away... Old age?

I'm posting a few pictures I took on Thanksgiving.  The photos aren't very good.  I had the camera on the wrong setting.  I didn't check that either.  My bad!  These are just a few glimpses of my Fall decor.

My Phesant Pelt Wreath - Hand made by friend Patti

Pumpkin Collection*

* Nuts!  I didn't notice that my housekeeper had moved things around to dust.  You get the idea...

Sugar & Creamer Set - Given to me by friend Nancy

Table Setting**
 ** This photo was taken just before I was ready to place the food on the table.  Some of the centerpiece items and flowers had been removed.  I never got a shot with all the food or the "after" state of things.  I'm going to try harder next year!

Now, on the Christmas!  Let's see if I can remember the camera for this!

Friday, November 19, 2010

FDA 2, Citizens 0

If you have been a faithful reader of Refining Life, I have a favor to ask.  Please read this post, all the way to the end.  Indulge me.  I believe this is really important!

This is going to be a difficult post to write.  First, I am angry.  Then, I am sad.  And last, I'm frightened.  This usually means that I write way too many words trying to not only tell my story, but somehow also convey my emotions.  I am going to try to be as succinct as I can.  But don't look for a short post here...

I had grandparents who worked a small "Truck Farm" (See note at the end.) of what was probably about 2 acres, though it seemed gigantic to me as a 5 year old kid.  My grandma had a roadside produce stand and sold the most delicious corn, tomatoes & strawberries.  It was the money she earned and the food she grew that sustained them.  Since, although my grandpa worked, he drank most of his earnings.  (He was a great, fun-loving grandpa, not a great husband, I suspect.)

There were chickens for eggs & meat and always, there was fresh milk.  Grandma must have bartered with a neighbor, since I don't remember a cow.  Pretty idyllic place for a kid, right?  Yes. yes it was.  Just think, I was 5 years old then, almost 62 now.  I ate and drank unprocessed, REAL FOOD at my grandmother's table & lived to write about it!  Imagine that?  Now, just as I am finding my way back to TRADITIONAL FOODS, I may be in danger of losing the right to purchase them?

Farmers who are committed to continuing the tradition of sustainable, family farming are being harrassed by our government!  Their livelihood is threatened, their inventory confiscated.

"Not in MY country", you say?  Sorry to burst your on!

"Save Morningland Dairy", “Save Estrella Family Creamery”, “Stop FDA Tyranny Against Dairy Farms“, “Save Family Farms”, and “Save Farm Freedom”. 

Who ever thought we'd be seeing calls to action to save FARMERS?

1. Watch this 4 minute trailer for a Film due out next year called "Farmageddon".

Farmageddon Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.

2. Read this: Save Our Food Freedom and Right to Privacy! Stop S510

3. Then, read this: Hey, Where Did My Food Go?

4. Then go here: Wanted a Crop Mob of 50,000 to Save Artisan Dairy Farming

5. If, after reading and watching, you want learn more, check this out: REAL FOOD MEDIA  

Now, click the buttons below and contribute as your heart leads. 
Click here to lend your support to: Uncheese Party and make a donation at ! 
Click here to lend your support to: Help the Estrella Family Creamery and make a donation at !

I would love to have some of my blogging buddies along on my journey to discover health again...using traditional foods, and helping to keep these nourishing foods available for ALL OF US!
Note: From Wikipedia - Truck farming is the cultivation of vegetable crops for transport to local markets. It is very similar to Community Supported Agriculture in that it requires consumers to be more than simple purchasers of goods, but rather they must be engaged in the local economy as part of a healthy community.
Important truck crops include sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, onions, strawberries, potatoes, and green vegetables.  "Truck" was a Middle English word meaning bartering or the exchange of commodities.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Fungus Are Among Us!

We have lots of Oak and Almond trees on our property.  After it rains, we often see "fairy rings" of toadstools around a tree or two.

For some reason, we had dozens of them appear in the last couple of days!  One tree in particular has so many toadstools it looks like they're (Fairies) planning quite a shindig after the sun goes down!

I'm thinking I might just see them if I check out there about midnight!  What do you think?

I wonder if they've invited the gopher who lives in that hole?

There are several clusters like this in the ring.

The cows aren't nearly as excited about this as I am!

I think this is the "throne" for a Fairy Queen or Mr. Toad, one or the other.

I'm imagining the party-goers will arrive like this.

Do you have fairies in your garden too?


Friday, November 5, 2010

Online Auction Benefiting *VISUAL VAMP*

Not a decor item...but useful, just the same! ;o)

I am joining Laura at Decor To Adore in an online auction to support Valorie Hart aka *Visual Vamp*.  I have linked Laura's blog to the title above, so hop on over and read about this very worthy cause.

My three items for auction are from Tupperware.  Two are a must-have kitchen tools, the other is a a set of giftable canisters.

#1 - Tupperware Chop 'N Prep

 A faster, easier way to chop Turbo chop fresh herbs, vegetables, berries, cheeses and more in record time with this compact and earth-friendly product. Its easy-pull cord mechanism saves time and effort while eliminating the cost of expensive electricity. Plus, the Tupperware® Chop 'N Prep™ Chef is small enough to store in the cupboard, drawer or pantry. And it’s gift boxed for added convenience.• Includes airtight seal and insert with recipes. • 1¼-cup/300 mL capacity base.• In Chili/Snow White.• – Enhanced quality guarantee.  ($39.50 retail value)

#2 - Tupperware Winter Stacking Canisters

Great giftables

Store all those chilly-weather goodies in these festive canisters printed with a winter wonderland pattern. You can also use the entire set or individual canisters as gifts. They’re especially welcome when filled with goodies you make yourself.

Winter Stacking Canisters

• Set includes one each of 2½-cup/600 mL, 4-cup/950 mL and 6-cup/1.4 L canisters that stack together for easy storage.• In Pearl Oyster.• Dishwasher safe. ($40.50 retail value)

#3 - Tupperware Microfiber Towel Set

Our popular microfiber Holiday Kitchen Towel is superior to others for drying dishes, pots, pans or counter tops. That’s because it absorbs up to eight times its weight in water. Durable and reusable, it helps save you money on cleaning products and paper towels, protecting the environment from chemical waste and refuse.  ($18.50 retail value)

• 15 x 25"/38 x 63.5 cm.
• Set of two.
• In Brilliant Blue and Cool Aqua.

The Refining Life donation has a value of $98.50. The bidding for this offering will come to a close on Monday at 10 am. The collection will be mailed to the highest bidder at no additional expense.

Leave your bid in the comments and please bid high & bid often!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What's new?

Wow!  I haven't posted in over a month.  I haven't visited any of my favorite blogs either. Not that I haven't wanted to, there's just been so much going on around here I haven't hardly had time to breathe!

My husband is STILL having dizzy spells.  The doctor STILL does not know what is causing it.  If we aren't satisfied that some progress on a diagnosis is being made after his appt. next week, we're demanding a new doctor! 

Then, my full-time job is crazy-busy!  I work for a large, multi-national corporation in the Electronic Manufacturing Services industry.  I am part of a Business Development Team, specifically, I'm a Proposal Coordinator.  I am able to work from home which has its advantages for sure.  The disadvantage is that I can work from home, ANY time of day or night.  Since we support all time zones globally, well, you get the picture. 

I also had to make a trip to Austin, Texas a couple of weeks ago, for my job.  I loved Austin, and it was good to be in the same room with my co-workers again.  However, business travel is never really fun for me!  That week seems lost forever.

With my husband's illness, church activities, my job, Tupperware, and now the Holidays all either on my plate now or looming large, the blog has suffered.  Deciding that "Refining Life" is important to me, a necessary, creative (maybe?) outlet and way to communicate with a group of dear friends, was easy.  Finding the time to keep up is more of a challenge.  But, I WILL make time, at least a couple of times a week.  If it's important, I'll find the time, right?

Now I did manage to get some fall decorating done just in time to start thinking of Christmas! :o)

I'm posting several photos.  My "good" camera isn't working for some reason, so these shots are taken with my cheapie.  They aren't great, but I'm sharin' them anyway!

Part of My Pumpkin Collection

My Pheasant Feather Wreath

Close-up of Hazel Blanche

The Dining Table

Beautiful Mums From My Girlfriend
Hope you enjoyed the photos.  I'll be around to visit y'all (learned that in Texas) today, sometime!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Do You Love a Good Mystery?

If you're a mystery buff, I have a good one for you!  It is also very important that we solve this one.  It has baffled learned men and women for several years.  However, I have the utmost confidence in blogdom.  I'm pretty sure there will be some very interesting theories and perhaps, even a super sleuth to solve it!!

It started about 4 years ago.  My 67 year old husband called me from work, saying he felt terrible.  He was dizzy, "sweating like a pig" (I've heard that pigs DON'T sweat, by the way.  But I digress...), and he had intestinal issues".

I jumped in the car and by the time I arrived at his job, I was concerned enough to insist he go to the emergency room.  Once there, they did all the tests that they felt were necessary based on his symptoms, and declared that they couldn't find anything out of order with his heart, brain, blood sugar, etc., and sent us home with  "Might be some virus".  Right.  He continued to have these spells occasionally for months.  His personal physician did more lab work, checked his ears and another CAT scan. 

By chance we were discussing these "spells" in a group of friends, and a girlfriend mentioned that she had a relative who had the same symptoms.  It turned out to be his blood pressure medicine, Lisinopril.

Ah Ha!  Guess which blood pressure medication my husband was taking?  Yep, Lisinopril!  The doctor changed his more spells.  All's right with the world.

Fast forward to the present.  About 6 months ago, the spells came back.  Same symptoms, same diagnosis.  Changed BP meds again, but this time, spells continue.  Grrrr!  Doctor has again done all the tests done previously, and can't find anything.  At this point, he is taking no BP meds and the spells continue.  One change has occurred.  The spells instead of lasting long hours and knocking him out for 2 days, are of much shorter duration and he is usually feeling well again after a few hours.

He has been to the doctor numerous times and has lost confidence that they can figure this out.  I believe he isn't making enough noise!  The last visit, his doctor said "at least your dizzy spells aren't life threatening". 


So here are the facts & a few clues.  Let's hear your theories.  I'm willing to try anything....
  • DH is now 72 years old, is generally very healthy, and is taking no meds except Zyrtec for allergies
  • His symptoms are dizziness, profuse sweating and intestinal distress during the spell, followed by a time of feeling "really tired".
  • He has had a couple of CAT scans, fasting blood work and blood chemistry labs
  • Been to a ENT to check for inner ear problems.  (He does have hearing loss and has hearing aids which he won't wear.)
  • Eating when he first feels dizzy sometimes helps, sometimes doesn't.
  • Soda, and an occasional beer is his hydration preference.  He is now getting at least 4 glasses of water because I take it to him and say "drink".
  • He is active.  Works in his shop and on his tractors every day.
Because the spells have become less severe and shorter, and the fact that it has only been about a month since he quit taking the BP meds (doctor approved), maybe that's it. I don't think so.  I believe there is something else going on. 

I am putting you, the Family of Blogger Investigators, on the case!

Hopefully, Chris 

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Suburban Garden

I promised to show you a few photos of my sister's and bro-in-law's garden.  Their lot is NOT large, but I think they have made the most of it!

Click HERE >>A Suburban Garden

No captions necessary, the garden speaks for itself. (o:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Been Gone a Few Days

I've just spent the last 4 days where I grew up, in the San Francisco South Bay Area.  I was at my one of my sister's homes.  We've had a couple of rough weeks in our family.

On August 22nd, my brother-in-law, Ron, lost his 8 year battle with leukemia.  The very next day, Ed & I had to put down our 14 year old Lab Mix, Dusty.  These were very sad days...

But, this weekend was time to celebrate Ron's life with family & friends.  As is the way with our family, we gathered as many of us who loved Ron as we could find, and ate, drank, told stories, looked at photos and an amazing memorial video, put together by one member of his girl's basketball team.  Many tears were shed, and laughs were had.  Healing has begun.

The bro-in-law in whose home we stayed is a wonderful gardener.  I have taken loads of pictures of his garden to show you in a couple of days.  I wanted to leave you with a photo of the table in their backyard pavilion.  This greeted us as we arrived.  Don't know why, but the color in the table cloth & place mats looks brown. It is really more purple.  I just loved his creativity!  What do you think?

P.S. Please excuse his cigar...bleech!  I didn't even see it until I looked at the photo..

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Love Fall Mornings!

Yesterday was blustery.  There were plenty of grey clouds, lots of wind and even a light shower in the evening.

Happily, I woke up this morning to a cool, sunny, beautiful Fall morning! I took my coffee onto the back deck and watched my neighbor's cattle.  There are several calves, and they run & hop & head-butt with great joy!  I was thoroughly entertained.

Took a couple of photos to share.  This is the view from my back deck to the east.  The cows are about 100 yards away.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Do You Think?

My girlfriend & I spent Saturday shopping for fabric for her living room.  She has already purchased gold silk drapes & plaid fabric for for relaxed roman shades.  She wants to upholster two bergere chairs, similar to this one at Ballard Designs, which will sit near the windows.  Her thought was to cover them in a solid fabric, thinking that the plaid was to prominent to use another pattern. 

Bolderdash, I say!  I helped her choose 3 fabrics that "might work", to quote her.  She likes them all, she's just not yet comfortable with the mix of patterns.

I've included pix below.  What's your opinion?  Do you like the idea of adding another pattern"  Which one do you favor?  I'll keep you posted...

BTW, the third combination is my choice.  I think it almost "reads" as a solid and still adds some playfulness to counteract that serious plaid!

Friday, September 3, 2010

From the Frame Shop...

I thought you might like to see what's been going on in my frame shop.  My girlfriend Patti & I framed some prints and fruit-packing box labels for ourselves.  We are our own best customers! *Ü*

This first print is mine.  It is called "The Emporer's Horse".   I think it is destined for my sitting room.

Next are two fruit-packing box labels that Patti will hang in her den which is right off the kitchen.

Finally, this small "poster" from Santa Cruz, CA Beach & Boradwalk is for her son-in-law.  He purchased it years ago, and it's been in a drawer ever since.  It's going to be a birthday gift!

Have you framed anything lately?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mother Nature 1; Chris 0

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time looking at gardening books, magazines and web pages.  It is beginning to cool down here and my thoughts always turn to the garden this time of year.

Our vegetable garden was a mostly a bust this year.  Every cucumber was bitter, the ground squirrels (we have at least a hundred of them) got every tomato, and my zucchini produced not one squash!  Can you believe it?  Zucchini, which I am usually giving away by the basket full, DID NOTHING!

The corn is ready and the few ears we have tasted are good.  The squirrels don't seem to like the eggplant, so perhaps we'll get a few of those.  Basically, I'm just finished with the vegetable garden for this year...

On the bright side, I have developed some plans to rework the landscaping around the house.  I've been trying to turn what is basically California pasture land into an English garden.  NOT WORKING, the grass always wins! So, I am going to defer to Mother Nature and try to do thing "her way"!

The photos below show one idea I intend to incorporate on a blank wall between our two back decks.  Don't you love it?  A trellis similar to this will provide interest without giving the grass any place to grow!  There, take that you darned grass!

I realize that a structure like this will require maintenance to stay looking nice, but I am willing to do that.  Maybe the whole garden needs to go vertical??  Ha!

What gardening challenges have you had this year? 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another Great Giveaway!

Jenny over at Nourished Kitchen has partnered with Cultures for Health to present a great Giveaway!

If you've been following my "adventures in fermentation", you might be interested in fermenting your own pickles, beets or preserved lemons, the traditional way.  The flavors are so wonderful  and the probiotics in naturally fermented food are so good for you!

Just look at all this great stuff!

Head on over to Nourished Kitchen & enter to win all these cool tools to start your own "adventure"!

Good Luck!  Chris

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm Back!

Got into Sacramento Int'l Airport @ 9:50 pm last night.  We were home by 11:30 pm, after dropping off a girlfriend. 

Jubilee was awesome!  It is fun to be recognized for your achievements and to see what the future holds for Tupperware! 

Disney World was so cool.  (Actually, it was drippin', sweaty hot, but you know what I mean) I can't wait to earn my WOW Trip.  I'll have to decide between Hawaii or Disney world, one week , all expenses paid!  Tough choice, eh?  I have lots to "show & tell".  I'll probably do that over on Today's Organized Kitchen blog, starting in a day or two.  I need to catch my breath and do laundry. LOL!

In the meantime, here's a video that was used at Jubilee to launch a line of new products.  It is really fun!

Meow! Chris

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gone to a BIG PARTY!

I'm leaving Wednesday morning for Orlando, FL to attend Tupperware's "Party to the Future" Jubilee.  We are staying on the Disney World property, and I've never been there!  I'll come back with all the news about new Tupperware for Fall & the Holidays!

In the meantime, if you're a Tupperware fan, you can enter to win some cool Tupperware by becoming a Follower of my TW blog, "Today's Organized Kitchen".  Cruise on over to see the details and enter to win.

I'll "see" you Monday!  I'm sure photos will be involved.  You know how parties are...

Cheers!  Chris