Friday, October 17, 2014

Obsessing About Teeth: A Journey Toward Natural Oral Care

My's green.
I have always been diligent about my teeth.  I was constantly paying attention to my parents brushing their teeth to see how long they brushed, whether they kept all the foam in their mouth or spit it out regularly, were they brushing in circles, up and down, or side to side.  Even with my complete obsession about the right way to brush teeth, I was still the only kid in the family who got cavities.  It was my first visit to a dentist.  I was seven.  I was mad.  My two older siblings made excuses why they didn’t brush, or did a quick rush job and then left.  I was diligent.  This was unfair.  I had one full cavity and two sliver cavities on the sides of my teeth.  They were all filled.  I cried during the appointment because my jaw ached so bad only a short time into the procedure.  Luckily this was the only time I would have to deal with fillings.  I don’t believe I went to the dentist again until I was seventeen.  It wasn’t because of fear or avoidance; the dentist was just something we couldn’t afford.  The cleaning was unremarkable when I went in.  The hygienist cleaned my teeth and then the dentist let me know I had perfect teeth and would never need braces and that was that.  All other visits were about the same. I never thought there was an alternative to the system of brushing, flossing and dentist visits.

I thought the article needed teeth.
Taking a picture of your teeth is weird.
Looking at the picture is even weirder.
I have always been interested in herbal health and the natural way of things.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I was working at a health food store, gaining more knowledge and learning about new ways to do things.  I started to look at ingredients and deciding which ones I could accept and which were too over the top.  As the years went on, the list of things I could accept grew shorter.  I finally looked at the ingredients of my Tom’s Toothpaste and asked myself if toothpaste was even needed.  I did some reading, and found that toothpaste is for the most part unnecessary.  It is the brushing that is helpful.  For over a year I ditched the paste.  Near Christmas I had some tooth pain and made an appointment with my dentist to get it checked out, thinking one of my fillings was loose.  He gave my mouth a clean bill of health and sent me on my way.

It was a few months later that I started noticing a change in the color of my teeth.  There were discolorations on my front teeth that I didn’t recall.  I started to worry about the state of my teeth and the connection to my health.  This led me down the path of writings by Ramiel Nagel and Weston A. Price and his followers.  The inner scientist in me cringed at all the assumptions made in the articles I read.  I didn’t read it all.  I haven't even read Price's book yet, just sections and what Nagel talked about.  I read enough to decided that, though I wasn’t going to delete wheat and beans from our already very whole food diet, I was going to add cod liver oil, but only the green Carlson bottle kind, not the fermented paste that is all the rage.  I have my reservations about the logic behind fermented cod liver oil, but I will leave that point for another discussion.  My teeth did start to look better.  I still thought I could be doing more.

I found a remineralization toothpaste recipe from Keeper of the Home as well as a clay toothpaste recipe.  I decided to give it a go.  I liked it.  My mouth felt clean and minty.  Was it doing anything?  I didn’t know.  I already had a healthy mouth.  Around the same time I found an article about using charcoal to whiten teeth.  Amazingly, the charcoal cleaned the discolorations and proved to me that they were just stains (most likely coffee and red wine.)

Then my daughter came down with cavities.  There were a good five or six of them.  All the size of pin pricks.  All in baby molars.  I was devastated.  Was she brushing? No.  So I took a bit of time to freak out, thinking about all the things we could change, and then I calmed down and realized we had some time to experiment.  We talked about how important it was to brush our teeth and I mixed up some of the new toothpaste for her to use.  She also started on the cod liver oil.  If the toothpaste hadn’t made a difference, we would have taken other measures, but luckily within a week the cavities had started to lighted and within a month or so they were barely noticeable, if at all.  I think there is a bit of staining left over and intend to brush her teeth with charcoal once or twice to alleviate that. 

Clay Toothpaste

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil (I used the stuff from Costco for the first batch and Trader Joes for the second one.)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoon calcium magnesium powder (I used pulverized whole food cal/mag tablets)
½ tablespoon birch bark derived xylitol (I used Xylismart)
1 ½ tablespoons bentonite clay (I used Frontier Bentonite but I also have some from Mountain Rose Herbs)
2 tablespoons real sea salt (I used regular sea salt, but I bought Celtic Sea Salt® for next time)
10 drops trace minerals (I used Source Naturals ColloidaLife Trace Minerals)
20 drops Essential oil of your choice but peppermint is a good choice (I like Aura Cacia oils)
½ teaspoon clove extract (I used Herb Pharm Clove Extract)
½ teaspoon myrrh Extract (Again, Herb Pharm Myrrh Extract )

Mix together and put in container of your choosing, but this is thick so I wouldn't suggest anything that you have to squeeze.  I have mine in small glass jars, with wood popsicle sticks for scoops (they are actually from Haagen Daz ice cream bars).  Scoop some onto your toothbrush and brush as per normal.

For Further Reading
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price (I've only read excerpts but on my todo)
What Price Said by Elizabeth Walling (Will make you want to read the book above)
Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel (Read most of this one but had issues with it)
Holistic Dental Care by Nadine Artemis and Victor Zeines DDS (This one I just started reading and I learned more about the structure and function of the teeth in the first three pages that I have read in all of my reading.)
Dazzle! Whiten Your Teeth With Activated Charcoal by Crunchy Betty

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

*Disclaimer:  I am not a dentist, a doctor, a nurse and I don't play one on TV.  I am just a person who has been studying health, herbs and the like on my own for over twenty years.  Anything I write is my own synthesis of the information I have found.  There may be errors.  There may be things I don't know.  Before trying anything, do your own research.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Building Strength

You cannot fix bullying with an ad campaign.  You cannot fix bullying by convincing the mean kids to stop it.  You cannot fix bullying by only punishing the kids who are doing the bullying.  You know what kids who are bullied need? Those kids who are constantly brought down by sarcastic comments, barbed insults, shoves in the hallway, internet smears, etc.  They need one person.  They need one person to look at them, find their passion, and foster it.  It takes someone building them up in a way that is stronger than those tearing them down.  This is much harder than writing a PSA for the morning news.  It takes a lifetime commitment.  It takes someone canceling out the negativity in this world with a bit of positive influence.  It takes grown people viewing children as human beings instead of chattel or worse, blocks of clay to mold and manipulate.

You cannot stop the bad things in this world and you will never rid it of the bad people.  The only thing you can do is build strength: in yourself, in others, in your personal community. 

Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jumping Over the September Slump

September always flies by without anything really getting done.  I don't know how, but it happens every year.  I feel like I am constantly playing catch up; sitting down and falling behind.  Then October hits and the fog clears.  Life seems to make more sense, but I have to prepare for one of the busiest months in my house.  I mean, we have four birthdays and Halloween (which is a medium size holiday for us but still very important).

I have a few goals that I would like to hit by year end.  One is to finish the book I have been working on.  No, this isn't the awesome story that none of you have heard about because I believe in the mantra that you shouldn't talk about the book you are writing but write it, it is not the cook book that yes is still on my plate and I am hoping to get the rough draft done by 2015, but it is a photography and poetry book that I began putting together in June.  Summer was full of show prep and the like, so the book was pushed back in the pile, and then the aforementioned September slump, but after I get the senior portrait session developed and the photographs from my trip to central Washington, I am getting right on that.

I am also going to attempt to build both Etsy shops up to 200 or so items in the next month.  Really it is only adding about 50 items to each shop, but it will be a feat to accomplish.  Etsy is making a lot of changes that may or may not be good for sellers like me, but for now they are were I am selling, so I am going to put more effort into listing and updating.

I also am going to post more, because why have a blog if you don't write in it.  Silly me.

Talk to you soon,
Sarah McTernen
Photographic Artist / Jewelry Designer

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Salmon Spice Rub

For years, salmon was salmon.  Good, but really when the only meat you eat is fish, it gets a little boring.  My husband tried different ways of cooking it and different spice mixtures until one day he found it...well almost.  He found a salmon rub that was tasty, but contained MSG which I wasn't too happy with.  So I made my own and have been very happy ever since.
Salmon Spice Rub
2 parts fine sea salt
3 parts dill weed
2 parts granulated garlic
1 part smoked paprika
2 parts onion powder
1 part dried parsley
½ part black pepper
½ part celery seed
Mix together and store in an airtight container.  I normally use a teaspoon as my base measure because it fits in my spice jar.
Use generously.
Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Little Rant About Life, Death and Depression

Midnight Sun by Sarah McTernen
Robin Williams died…killed himself supposedly. This is sad.  It is sad because someone died.  It is sad because he left behind family.  It is to some extent none of my business because I didn't know the man, or his family.  I just watch a couple dozen movies and TV shows he acted in.  This is more than the death of an actor though.  The world wants all of the sad, depressed people out there to know that they can talk to someone; to the he or she who is writing the post or article.  The news wants to tell us that there is hope, and to talk to someone.  The pseudo-compassionate talk about freedom and illness.  The righteous talk about choice and sin.  The notion that all of these people who I can only assume have never dealt with clinical depression do not understand, is people who suffer from depression think differently about the world.  We are told our entire lives that we make our lives more difficult, to smile and be happy, to make the best of a situation and not always worry about what is to come.  We try.  We turn off our minds and “live in the moment”.  In that trying we are drained.  We accept this is life.  We find our ways to cope, some methods healthier than others.  We try to talk, but the world does not speak the same language.  It is not the, “I’m depressed and going to kill myself” kind of talk, it is just talk.  Trying to find someone who understands what you are saying without caveats and explanations.  Talk therapy doesn’t work, because we know what you want to hear.  Talk therapy doesn’t work because you don’t have the answers.  Only I have the answers.  Only I can change, or cope, or deal. 
People who get to the point of suicide no longer care.  The ability to make decisions has been compromised by a cloud of uncontrolled emotions, external input and misguided internal chemical signals.  I don’t condone suicide.  I agree that it is selfish. I also understand how people get there.  Depression is not a disease and it cannot be cured.  It is with you always. When it is at its worst you don’t realize how bad it is, how off you are thinking, until you are on the other side looking back.  We tell people they can talk it out, but you can’t.  You just have to learn to live with it.  It will never go away.  It is like going to the doctor and getting a shot.  He tells you it is not going to hurt so you don’t brace yourself, but it hurts like hell.  It hurts worse because he told you it wasn’t going to hurt.  Depression is worse these days because we tell people it will get better.  We tell people life doesn’t have to be hard. We tell them to be happy without knowing what that means.  And it hurts so very much more when we realize that it is all a lie.
A celebrity kills himself and the world is concerned.  A northwest mom does the same just last week and I don’t hear a peep.
When I was in first grade and our family was going through the tumult of divorce, a lady who worked at the daycare I went to told me “life sucks, and then you die.”  These are words that bring me an odd sense of comfort. They were some of the most honest words spoken to me, especially when I was young. 
Be honest with people, with your emotions, with your words and with you deeds.  And remember…sometimes life sucks, but sometimes it doesn’t.
Now off to go buy a copy of Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come because I think that is apt.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Monday (I mean Tuesday) Morning (I mean afternoon) Special

Instant Room Décor 8x10 Designer Packs are on sale for $10 This week only!

Looking to start your art photography collection, but not sure exactly how to do it? Looking to fill in that blank wall in your apartment? Ardent Photography has now introduced the 8x10 Grab Bag, a selection of 5 "Random" 8x10 Ardent Art Prints. Great for any room décor, but especially for dorm rooms, first apartments, that new guest room that looks a little bare. Photographs include landscapes, flower close ups, and my everyday objects style.

Why "Random"? The photographs are random-ish.  I went through all of the photographs that I put in these envelopes and made sure the colors coordinated and the subjects where complimentary in my opinion, though they may still be completely random to you. They will look lovely in a mosaic on your wall or separate in different rooms.

All photographs are printed on Fuji archival paper by a professional print house with a 1/4 inch border for matting and packaged in a cello envelope with a backer board.

Come on, you know you want one.

11x14 packs are also on sale for $20.

If you want specifically gun art you need to request it.  I have only three 8x10 and one 11x14 gun art packs available. If you want a 5x7 or 4x6 gun pack, message me and I will make sure that I have enough to put one together for you.

Since I am getting this out late this week (and because I already have a listing for the design packs), I am going to leave last weeks deal up for 1 more week!

Thank you for reading,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Politics of Health

I am not a fan of Western Medicine, this is well known, but on the same token, I do not believe that there is a conspiracy to make everyone addicted to prescription drugs and reliant on the system.  I cannot believe that an entire system is filled with people full of “a greed lust for power and money”1 as put in one article. I am sure that there are horrible people out there in the medical industry just as there are horrible people everywhere, but when you are talking about the doctors, the nurses, and the people who deal with sick human beings every day, I do not think that the majority are “drug pushers” and willing pawns of a conspiracy.  They truly believe what they are telling you based on the knowledge that they have acquired.  None of us fully understands how the body works.  People accomplish physical miracles because of sheer will, determination, or something along those lines.  Our knowledge does not included the whole system.

According to a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

Doctors cannot bet on miracles and can only prescribe what they have physical proof will work.  To be honest, because of these limitations, their ability to heal is imperfect.  The amazing thing about the country we live in, is that we have a choice on who we get to listen to, even if this choice has been threatened as of late with poorly thought out “health” legislation.  I am sending a call out there, to all the people writing alternative health articles, to stop the mudslinging.  Stop playing politics and just inform the populace.  People need facts not emotions.  Trust me, if they are sick or trying to stay healthy, they have plenty of emotions already. 

I read an article earlier this week from Keeper of the Home2, about being ashamed because her child had some dental issues and needed substantial work done.  I have to admit that when my daughter needed surgery, and I could find no reasonable alternative, I was ashamed as well.  Some of this is because I truly believe in the body’s ability to heal and thrive without intervention, and I was thumbing my nose at this belief by turning to surgery, but another part of it, is because the crunchy community treats western medicine like Satan incarnate.  I acknowledge the existence of both science and spirit.  I will not close my eyes to one in favor of the other. I think people should throw their hatred and judgment out the window, and put out an open, helping hand. 

Thank you,

Sarah McTernen

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Morning Special

The Other Side of the Pond
Something to look forward to on Mondays.  Ardent's Monday Morning Special.

The Other Side of the Pond is printed on Kodak Archival Lustre paper by a professional lab waiting to be framed and hung on your wall. This is a gorgeous photograph of Snake Lake in Tacoma Washington on a crisp winter morning in January. I love the light playing on the smooth surface of the pond.

Normally a 16x24" print would be $100 but for this week (July 21st through July 27th) this Signed print of The Other Side of the Pond will be $75.

Watermark does not appear on the printed photograph.
Click to take advantage of this great deal.
Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Lost Knowledge of Food

Sweet Pea
I have always been a health conscious person.  I grew up interested in herbs and how they heal the body, how food can make us healthy or make us sick and how being in nature can cure the mind including depression and anxiety.  I always feel like I am playing catchup though, lagging behind in my knowledge, learning on the fly as I find time or when a problem appears.  Americans have a severe learning curve when it comes to the simplest things in life: how to eat, how to heal, and how to live.  The secrets of the world have been forgotten on the path civilization.  As each culture shed who or what made them special to assimilate to the American ideal, we have cluttered the road with recipes for health, wellness, and long life. This is not solely an American problem, Europe and other nations are following suit, forgetting the knowledge of the past for a more pristine future.  As a nation we are obsessed with health, we are obsessed with doctors and weight loss, and yet we are obsessed with keeping our unhealthy way of life.  We want to lose weight but still eat whatever we want, not taking a moment to realize that burgers and fries with a beer may be “the American Diet” but it is so far from our natural constitution it is killing us.  We want to live without sickness and pain, but we refuse to change our everyday routine until it is too late, until pain and sickness have entered are body.  By clinging to this way of life, we are insuring our own demise. 
Summer Chives

I don’t remember when I started being interested in how herbs can heal, but I know I was still in elementary school.  I was convinced that there was a better alternative to pharmaceuticals. I was starting my knowledge from scratch without any direction.  By the time I had children, many years later, I was still lacking in basic knowledge, having to take my son to the ER with Croup because he stopped breathing.  Of course after a few hours of waiting, they sent me away with a prescription for over the counter cough syrup and the recommendation that I get a humidifier.  This should have been something I could have taken care of at home.  In a panic, I called our pediatrician and she told me to take him to the ER.  All she knew was that my son had stopped breathing.  Had she asked questions, had I been stronger in my resolve, we probably would have had a long night, but not in the ER.  When it comes to healing, I have a solid foundation now. I will always be learning, and my kids always finding new ways to test that knowledge, but I can recognize and treat the simple, common problems of childhood.  Today, I am more concerned with the medicine that we use every day to fuel our bodies and how that affects our health. 

I grew up with very little food knowledge.  My mother was part of the weight obsessed, and diet obsessed, eighties so margarine was on the menu.  We struggled to make ends meet so cheaper was better, vegetables were canned, fruit was rare, and grains made up a large portion of our diet. I am not blaming my parents.  They didn’t grow up with food knowledge either and their parents were the first generation with microwaves and TV dinners.  Bits and pieces of cultural food knowledge had been falling away for generations as we moved from traditional ways to cities and modern ideas.  Science muddied the water even more.  The learned minds declared fat, salt, and meat bad for you, then recanted, then restated.  People were encouraged to buy boxed food and not consume food from the fields.  We outlawed raw dairy and red meat.  The farms were taken over and run to feed a country instead of a county.  Pesticides were sprayed to cure the problems of single crop farming.  Everything was focused on high yield. We forgot about seasons with grocery stores filled with berries in December and oranges in June.  We have become so separated from what we eat that the concept of ground beef once being a cow is now repulsive. 

Chicken Stock
The typical American cupboard is full of boxes and cans, the freezer full of pre-made meals, fried foods and sugary sweets, and the refrigerator quite empty of fresh vegetables and whole fat dairy.  Food is easy and ready to consume and the first thought of hunger.  There is no wonder why our nation’s health is failing.  We have been wooed by diet foods, claiming to help us lose weight, bamboozled by healthy jargon boasting natural ingredients, and won over by the ease of food in a container. There is a plethora of material out there claiming it to “not be our fault” or whatever excuse you choose to believe, but it is our fault.  Nothing continues to exist in the American capitalist society unless people are buying it, and people are buying it.  McDonalds hasn’t started closing its doors, Hersey’s isn’t going out of business, and Coca-Cola is still at the top of its game. Corporations are not the problem, it is the consumer who purchases that lab produced food who is keeping the cycle going. It is only one burger, or candy bar, we tell ourselves, but it is filling our bodies with the cheapest ingredients, filling our stomach without nourishing out bodies.  This pseudo food turns into fat, which is what everyone is talking about.

We are we are obsessed with weight: how much we weigh, how to lose the weight, how to eat less so we don’t gain weight.  It is a silly game that no one wins.  When I was a teenager, I was told that I would be fighting my weight my entire life.  I wasn’t a skinny girl, and I never would be, but I was so offended by the concept that I would battle over how much I weighed.  I have been less concerned with how heavy the scale says that I am and more concerned with how big my middle has grown, or how jiggly my thighs have become.  It was the fat that I wanted to lose, not the weight.  It wasn’t until I started being concerned with what I was eating, not how much or how many calories, but the QUALITY of the food that I was eating, that I really started to notice my body was doing its job, and I was losing fat. It was the only time in my life I had managed to “lose weight”.  Though our culture does have a problem with “Weight” it is really a problem with fat.  Our diet is full of bad fats that have been sold as good fats and in the end have made us fat. We have been convinced that food created in a lab is better for us than food created by nature.

I am in the middle of my search for food knowledge, trudging through the history books and modern research.  I am not calling for government legislation like Jamie Oliver, but I do hope you take a look at the food you are eating and opt for an egg and homemade toast for breakfast instead of the box of donuts that is sitting on the counter.
Want to read more?
Check out books by Penelope Ody
Especially The Complete Medicinal Herbal (which is what started me writing this piece)

The Lost Art of Real Cooking

The Art of Fermentation

Nourishing Traditions

Ayurveda: A Life of Balance

What efforts are you making to eat healthier and live a healthier life?

Thank you for reading,

Sarah McTernen

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Striving for Happy

Softly it Whispers by Sarah McTernen
Truth be told, I am an agnostic at best.  Raised in the Christian church under many different banners, I left when I was seventeen because it no longer felt like home.  I had lost that solace and nothing has yet to draw me back to chapel.  I learned what I could from the Christian faith, the Catholic Church, that form of organized religion, that set of guidelines and rules.  I remember them and I do not discard them, I expect my kids to know the Bible stories, and will one day encourage them to read the Bible itself, but in my search for meaning and for peace, I have moved on.  Most of my moving on has involved yoga and Buddhism, though I do not bath completely in those waters.  They too are a bit too full of strong currents and cavernous pits.  No matter where you go, the human mind will take you off on a tangent, and if you are following another’s mind, who knows where you will end up.   I believe in the individual as well as the collective, because without fingers, what good is the hand.

When I started with Yoga eleven years ago, I was turned onto a show called Inhale on the Oxygen network.  It was yoga without pomp and circumstance.  I respected that.  It was an easy beginning lesson.  I still enjoy the lively 45 minute workout today on my DVD converted from a VHS recorded in 2003: bad audio, blurry, grainy video and all.  It would be nice if someone would put a few episodes on a modern DVD or two, but after waiting over ten years, I am pretty sure that isn’t going to happen.

While checking to see if there was a DVD a number of years ago, I ran across a book by Steve Ross.  Along with four or so other books ranging in topics from physics in The Violinist's Thumb to everybody dies in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones , the business of art in The Artist's Guide and ADD in The ADD Myth (No, I haven’t finished it yet. Stop judging me.), I have been perusing Steve Ross’ Happy Yoga .  I love how accessible he makes the knowledge and how simple he makes the practice.  There is no judging, no reprimanding, just reminders that we are the source of our own happiness, not the world, not our lovers, not our job; just us individually.  Yes, we are part of the world, but we cannot change the world.  The only thing that we can change is ourselves.  It is through these changes, through choosing to be happy and calm instead of striving and wanting that we find peace.  The book gives “7 reasons why there’s nothing to worry about” and I am only up to the second one, though I have skimmed the others.  I plan on finishing it, just like the other four books listed above. It will just take me some time.  I like the concept of being happy. I am not good at the practice of it, but I like the concept. Maybe I can get back into Yoga as well.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yearning for Song

I was talking with my dad earlier today and he made a comment that he was saddened when I gave up music because it was something I had a passion for.  Why did I give up music?  I don’t know that I did it intentionally.  Life happened.  The thing was, I never thought that anyone else cared.  I thought that it was always something that I loved that everybody else rolled their eyes at.  Driving home I remember a friend of mine’s dad who once asked me some years after high school if I had kept singing and I said that I sung lullabies to my kid but that was it.  He seemed let down that I was no longer singing.  I didn’t remember ever singing in front of him.  I always assumed he was thinking of someone else.
Music was a part of my life from the time that I was in early elementary school until I left high school.  No matter what travesties life set before me, there was always music…and the written word but that is another subject all together.  I was in school choirs and after-school choirs.  I sung on street corners with fellow vocalists, but always knew my voice was just okay.  Not measuring up for a spot in the elite choir in my high school, confirmed my suspicions.   I sung at a local open mic night, preformed for solo ensemble, and tried to work with fellow musicians. I was always brushed off.  Maybe I missed opportunities because I was uncertain or misunderstood someone.  Most of the time I just assumed I wasn’t talented or “cool” enough.  I was never the party girl type.
The last few years has brought a deep yearning for music.  Somewhere deep inside me I feel a hole that can only be filled with sorrowful wails and groovy beats, guitar riffs and violin solos.  I turned the volume up to eleven and try to immerse myself in the undulating waves of musical vibrations.  It is not enough.  I miss singing and being around people who exude music.  I still feel like an interloper.  So I will just turn the music up real loud and sing in the car and to my children at night, hoping that is enough to quell the weary yearn inside.
An old friend of mine use to say that if no one knew she was there, if no one knew what she did, she didn’t exist, not in their world, and that bothered her.  I think I understand what she was saying a little more now.  I still feel like what I do is not important to anyone but me.  No one needs what I do. I am just here, making noise and that is not enough. 
Sarah McTernen

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Simple and Divine Meatloaf


I’ve changed my meatloaf recipe so many times over the years that I could never remember it from one time to the next.  Really this wasn’t an issue until I started trying meat again.  The first meatloaf I tasted, I knew I wasn’t going to eat.  The flavor was lacking and the meat was springy.  Blech.  Then I figured it out

1 pound ground grass-fed beef
1 pound pork sausage
1 egg

Garlic granules
Smoked Paprika
Onion Powder
Black Pepper

Bring meat to room temperature.  This helps everything cook evenly and is easier on the hands while you are mixing. 

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Knead until combined thoroughly.

Shape into a log and place in a loaf pan or in another baking vessel.  I like the loaf pan because it keeps all the juices and fat up against the meat while cooking and there is no thin edge of liquid to burn. Another way to deal with juices would probably be to add ½ -1 cup of breadcrumbs to the mixture.  The breadcrumbs will soak up the juice and fat, keeping it in the loaf.

Bake at 350F for about 1 hour.
Here is the tricky thing: if you over cook it, it will be springy and a little meh, but if you figure out the perfect timing (and this will depend on your oven but it is about 1 hour) it is great.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Beach Grass by Sarah McTernen
Long pull on the molecules making up the space between
Lids lower slowly over tired eyes
light plays in patterns, games with rules I am not privy to
thoughts drift, in and out, discarded like the waste that they are
no want, no desire, empty
Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Exposing Yourself

I am a serious introvert.  I know, that seems to be a thing is fashionable to be an introvert.  When you are an artist who is trying to publicize herself, it isn't so fashionable...unless you can afford to pay a person to deal with all the people in your life...then I could see it working.  In the real world, artists and small business owners cannot afford to pay someone to do the tasks in business that they do not have the patience or stomach for.  I signed up to receive E-mails for a new jewelry business class and the first subject that was talked about, was finding what you loved and paying someone else to do the rest of it.  That sounds wonderful, but since I can't pay myself right now, how am I going to pay someone else?  Being an introvert may be the in thing, but  I am one of those who really wishes I could change how I respond to my environment.  I am noticing, it doesn't work that way. 

To be honest, people make me nervous.  I am not a skittish sort, but I am hyper aware when I am around people.  I get a shaky feeling with a bit of fear before leaving the house for an art fair, even ones I've been to for years.  I leave a networking event or client meeting, replaying all the possible missteps in the conversations; the points where I may or may not have inadvertently insulted someone, said the wrong thing or didn't explain something in the right way.  I get the comment, "If you don't enjoy doing it, stop," but it is not that simple.  I have always had people tell me that I need to be more confident.  What they don't see is that I am confident, in my work and in my ability to accomplish a task.  What I am not confident in is the ability to convey that to another human being.  I am much better in writing, though I have been known to take a half hour to write a simple response; rechecking words and phrasing to verify that my thoughts are clear. I love what I do, and in order to be able to continue my art I have to sell it, which means I have to talk to people.

All of the marketing, networking, and business books talk about spreading the word of what you do through your network.  What if your network is full of introverts?  It doesn't work.  The spread of your influence doesn't reach very far then is sputters and dies.

Sounds overly dramatic.

So what's a girl to do?  Right now I am reading.  Trying to see if other people have advice that will help me in my line of work. 

My List of Books

Confessions of an Introvert: The Shy Girl's Guide to Career, Networking and Getting the Most Out of Life

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected

Do you deal with being an entrepreneur and an introvert? Do you have a favorite source for information and ideas to effectively market yourself?

Thank you for reading,
Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Homemade Bread, Everyday


I fumbled around with lots of “easy” recipes for bread.  I love the process of bread making, and if it was just me eating it, it wouldn’t be so bad, but when you are cooking for a house of six, kneading a loaf or two of bread every few days is just somewhat unrealistic. That was the case too.  I would start off with a lot of gusto and finish with another loaf of store bought bread.  That is until I found the concept of refrigerator bread. 

6 ½ cups of flour  (The type of flour you use will determine the taste and texture of your bread.  We like rustic wheat bread so it is often 4 ½ cups whole wheat and 2 cups rye. )
1 2/3 Tablespoons yeast 
(5 teaspoons or two packets if you are using those)
1 Tablespoon fine sea salt 
(You can use whatever salt you normally use, but remember sea salt is saltier than table salt and Kosher salt is bigger than most sea salts.  Adjust salt to your flavor, but I wouldn’t use much less than the tablespoon suggested.)
3 cups tepid to warm water 
(Remember, hot water will kill the yeast.  It is better for the water to be too cold which will make the rise take longer, than for the yeast to be dead.)

Mix all of the ingredients together until combined and then let sit covered for about two hours to rise.  If you used colder water, the rise will take longer.  If the house is cold, the rise will take longer.  If the house is hot it may take less time.  Did you let it rise too long? Don’t fret.  The bread will turn out fine.

Move your dough into a non-air-tight vessel to store in the refrigerator.  Should hold about 14 cups (that is the size of the container I use and I don’t see it fitting in something smaller).  The dough will stay good in the fridge for about 2 weeks, though it will take on a sourer smell as it gets older.  This is okay.  I leave the remnants of my dough in the container to season the next batch with the sour.

After 3 hours of fridge time, you can bake.

Wet your hands and pull off a softball size (or bigger) glob of dough.  You are now going to begin to pull the skin of the dough down and around the loaf.  You are doing it right if it looks like uncooked crust, no tears.  The bottom is not important because that will even with baking.  Put the dough on a pizza peal covered in either rolled oats or fine cornmeal (or you can use a cookie sheet if you are lacking in the baking stone department) and let rest for 40 minutes.  The dough will not rise much.  Remember, this is a no-knead dough, so you are not going to get a light and fluffy bread, but something rich and rustic.  You are also going to need to get your oven up to temp at this time.  Mine takes about 20 minutes to achieve 450 F, keep this in mind.

Before you pop your dough ball in the oven, slash the bread at least in a cross with a floured or wet serrated knife to allow for expanding during baking, and pour a cup or two of water into a broiler pan (or something along those lines) that you can put on the rack under the rack holding your bread stone or pan.  Slide your bread off the peal and onto the stone (or put your cookie sheet in the oven) close the door and bake for about 45 minutes.  The bread should sound hallow when thumped on the bottom.  If you are using a bread pan (which you can do but just butter it thoroughly) you may need to cook the bread an addition 5 or 10 minutes depending on the type of pan.

Let your bread cool on a wire rack until it stops singing (that noise fresh-out-of-the-oven bread makes) or at least 40 minutes.  This helps the gluten set up.  Then enjoy with butter, homemade or otherwise.
Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen