Book Bites: Les Miserables

It is rare for those who have sunk so low not to be degraded in the process, and there comes a point, moreover, where the unfortunate and the infamous are grouped together, merged in a single fateful word.  They are Les Miserables – the outcasts, the underdogs.  And who is to blame?  Is it not the most fallen who have most need of charity? – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, pg. 640

I have just come from seeing the musical film version of this amazing story and it sufficiently blew. me. away.  I don’t even have the energy or words to explain why – just see it yourself.  Now.  And bring tissue.

But part of the reason I believe I enjoyed it as thoroughly as I did is because our book club chose Victor Hugo’s UNABRIDGED literary work (Yes, all 1200+ pages) as our bonus summer read last year.  It is now one of my favorite books of all time and adds a new depth to the musical, 1998 film, and this most recent adaptation as well.

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The Overwhelming Resource for “All Things Birth” (Part 2)


(I started with part 1 of this post here and will continue with *more* baby information below!  Can you even handle it?!)


Here are a couple more childbirth resources that I wanted to add to our list.

In terms of preparing your body physically for birth, there are some very important exercises worth doing.  And this book gives exercises and pointers for before and after birth, in order to get your body back into pre-baby condition.  (I’m not talking weight loss, but making sure that internal organs and muscle structures get re-toned and put back into position.  Don’t go bouncing on a trampoline until your nether regions are back in order, if you catch my drift…) Continue reading

Fermentation 101

The “Fermenting Females!”

I had the fun opportunity to host a Fermentation 101 class for a group of moms here in Santa Barbara and it was a ball!  I started by posting to my homeschool email list serve to see if anyone was open to doing a monthly fermented food swap (like one I had done in DC), but almost all who responded were curious about fermenting foods, yet wanted to learn more before they started swapping their creations.

So my hospitable friend, Jenna, opened up her home to 15 of us and we learned, tasted, and made sauerkraut and orange marmalade together.

Following are the notes, recipes and pictures of our little Fermentation Festival!

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The Overwhelming Resource for “All Things Pregnancy” (Part 1)


Since getting pregnant with my first daughter over 8 years ago (!) and now heading into my 4th birth at the end of this year (!), I have been collecting resources regarding healthy pregnancies, natural childbirth, the initial parenting years, and all manner of controversial stuff that you never knew was a part of having children – until you started having children.  And because of my fascination and promotion of these subjects from an alternative, non-mainstream slant, I continually get emails from

…and after!

newly pregnant family, friends, and acquaintances asking for a variety of resources.  So I have finally decided to add it to this blog in its ever-changing form.

So enjoy this overwhelming, yet finite list of baby interesting-ness and please add your favorite go-to resources in the comments below.

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SUSTAINABILITY: Our future (Part 3)

(Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2!)

OUR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE:  The small efforts that are making a BIG difference

Photo by Bryan R. Van Devender

So if the goal in helping feed the world is to get people to the point of meeting their own needs, then I am going to focus on organizations who are thinking beyond and doing more than just giving hand outs.  As Dennis Prager pointed out, if the National Park Service warns, “Please Do Not Feed the Animals” because they may grow dependent on hand outs and not learn to take care of themselves, perhaps (with the exception of emergency relief and short-term help) we should treat humans with the same respect.  If that sounds harsh, know that even leaders in poor countries and ex-pats working within them are acknowledging this concern as well.

(On a personal note, a team of friends just returned from a humanitarian trip to Haiti and were surprised and discouraged that one of the few phrases many of the local children could speak in English was, “Give me a dollar.”  Let’s teach the next generation to say, and do, more than that.)

For a detailed critique of past and current development efforts, and some inside-out recommendations for improvement, see When Helping Hurts.  I would also highly recommended a set of podcasts that delve deep into the questions of poverty called Poverty Unlocked.   Continue reading

SUSTAINABILITY: GMOs and the Status Quo (Part 2)

(To begin with Part 1, go here first.)


“WEIRD SCIENCE” (FYI, I cannot find all of the links online to back up Joel’s review of the scientific literature.  Intuitively, I trust him and know that in one of his many books, he cites specific back up.  As well, bad science has a way of getting buried by the big guys who could be negatively impacted by it…)

Our society has all but swallowed the mainstream science that has promoted Genetically Modified crops and chemical fertilizers as safe and much more productive than its organic, (God-designed) counterparts.  But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see the failings and biases of even the world’s best science. Continue reading

Can We Feed the World Sustainably? (Part 1)


(Why do I often bite off more than I can chew?  I’ve decided to turn this into a 3 part series due to the length.)

I’m not going to even bother answering this question with a “yes” or a “no.”  Instead, I am going to explain why we have no other choice than to feed the world sustainably (via a little history lesson and a critique of the status quo.)  And finally I will share some awesome, yet little known examples of how others are already doing so.

But first let’s start with a definition for “sustainability.”   Continue reading

The Reformation of Food and the Family Conference: A Review

 Titanic Event

One of my new, wonderful friends in Santa Barbara, Jenna, sent me an email a little over a month ago alerting me to this conference.  I was SO excited about an event where Christians were talking about food issues, because seeing that combo come together has been a passion of mine for a number of years now.  I also happen to think gluttony is the last acceptable sin in the church (at the cost of oppressing the ‘least of these’) and, as a whole, we Christians are getting schooled on creation-care by our hippy counterparts.   So it was a real encouragement to hear that the Vision Forum was tackling this mighty subject. Continue reading

BOOK BITES: Black Beauty

Quarter Horse

As a kid, horses were my favorite animal.  My mom told stories about growing up on a horse ranch, I had a collection of vintage plastic horse statuettes, and I still think they are one of the most beautiful animals in the world.  But somehow I managed to grow up without reading Black Beauty.

Recently, I came across a copy of the book (published in 1877) and decided to put it on our summer read aloud list.  My two younger kids were intermittently interested, but my 7 year old was, after an initial hesitation, completely enthralled.  We look forward to comparing and contrasting the movie with a couple homeschool families while devouring a big bowl of “healthy popcorn that tastes just as good as the artery-clogging theatre stuff.”  I love a good film and lit combo…

The author, Anna Sewell, who depended on horses because of a disease that made her lame as a child, wrote this (her only published work) in hopes that it would “induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses.”  That it did – I cried through the ENTIRE last chapter.  (To be fair, I am pregnant.  But still.)  So after a short soapbox paragraph below, I will leave you with some of the inspirational quotations from the book.   Continue reading

RECIPE: Fermented Blueberry Chutney


I just submitted this to a Whole Foods original recipe contest.  Here’s hoping!  (Although I can’t imagine that they would ever pick a recipe with the word “bacteria” in it… Scaredy cats.)


Note:  Fermented foods tend to be easy to throw together, but require time for those friendly bacteria to do their glorious work.  Fermentation preserves foods naturally while also providing healthy probiotic bacteria that aid in digestion.  Because of the benefits, traditional cultures ate fermented condiments at every meal.  So they are delicious AND nutritious – it’s a win-win!   Continue reading