Family Activities · Lydia's Nest

January Update

Whoa, that was a long accidental hiatus! Sorry folks. Here’s some of what we’ve been up to in the meantime!

-Deacon turned one. My baby is a whole year old! He’s a champ, running all over the house, eating everything that he can find that is edible (and some things that aren’t).

-We moved! Cory has recently been hired as the Lead Pastor at Goshen First Brethren Church in Indiana. This meant a fairly quick move for us, and while we miss friends and family in Ashland, it has been very exciting to see what God is doing here.

-Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. We had a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with loved ones. Deacon’s first Christmas was a blast, and he knew just what to do with all those presents!

But perhaps the biggest news of all, (and part of the reason I’ve been MIA here on the blog)…

-WE’RE EXPECTING! Baby number two will be making his or her appearance at the end of June. (If you’re trying to do the math, that means the kids will be 21 months apart). We’re so excited to meet this new little one!

Thanks for tuning in! Stay warm!

Family Activities · Lydia's Nest · Parenting

Baby Led Weaning

Lydia is beginning the transition to solid foods with a method that I had never heard of before, called Baby-Led-Weaning.  When Deacon turned six months, instead of starting with rice cereal like I did when Lyddie was 6 months old, she is giving him real, unpureed solid foods from the get-go. Naturally, I had questions but after observing the results and watching it first hand I am a believer. Come and eavesdrop on our mother/ daughter conversation:

Gail: What is Baby-Led-Weaning and where did you hear about it? (Thinking, “WHAT are you doing to my grandson!!”)


Lydia: Baby-led Weaning is an alternative method of teaching a baby to eat. Instead of spoon-feeding him cereals and purees, I simply put some of whatever we are eating in front of him, and let him touch it, pick it up, put it in his mouth, and taste it. He is in complete control of what goes in his mouth. This is different than traditional weaning because of the order of things babies learn: when they are spoon fed, they learn to swallow first and then chew later. This way, Deacon is learning to chew, move things around his mouth, and use his mouth muscles before he learns to swallow. He spits almost everything out at the moment!

I don’t remember where I first heard about it. Probably somewhere on the internet. But as I was learning about it, I bought the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook. This was a super helpful resource – the first five chapters or so explore what it is and how to do it safely.

Gail: Why did you choose this method (thinking, “Why aren’t you doing it the way I did it?”)?

Lydia: BLW has a lot of benefits – by exposing him to flavors and textures now, he will hopefully be less of a picky later on. Also, by not taking the time to spoon feed him, we all get to enjoy meals as a family. I get to eat while my food is still hot! Another factor for us is that it is cheaper and takes less time. I don’t have to buy baby food, or spend hours making homemade purees.

Gail: Isn’t he at risk of choking (picturing a vision of baby gagging, turning blue, and dialing 911)?


Lydia: No more so than purees. Because he is learning to chew first, he is learning to handle foods before they get anywhere close to his airway. He might gag, but there is a big difference between gagging and choking – a baby’s gag reflex is much further forward in the mouth than an adult’s, so their little bodies are designed to protect them!

Also, we definitely take common sense safety precautions. Before we started, we took an infant CPR course to prepare ourselves for the worst (hopefully we’ll never need it!).  I also have yet to give him anything that is too hard to gum – no raw apples or carrots. Other major choking hazards are things the size of grapes or cherry tomatoes. These can be quartered lengthwise to make them safe, but I’ve just not introduced them yet.

The other important thing is to simply make sure everything is washed down, so he gets water during the meal and then I usually nurse him for a minute or two afterwards to make sure his mouth is free from obstructions.

Gail: Does he get enough nutrition? It seems like he spits everything out!

Lydia: At the moment, all of his nutrition is coming from breastmilk. I nurse him before every meal. This is totally fine for him – he doesn’t really need much else until he’s a year old (the saying is, “food before one is just for fun!”). The biggest concern is his iron intake. Breastmilk does have some iron, but not much. I remedy this by keeping my own iron intake up, and making sure to give him iron rich foods like red meat, broccoli, spinach, and eggs.

Also, it might seem like he spits every single thing out, but I know he must be swallowing at least some things, because they come out the other end!


Gail: Giving him foods willy-nilly seems extreme. Can his system handle strange tastes?

Lydia: Yes! It is important to wait until six months for his digestive system to finish developing, but after that, he can handle anything. Breastmilk adopts strong flavors, so he has actually already been exposed to some things. Just like an adult, there may be things that are too spicy for his taste, but it’s all part of the learning experience (his and mine – I’ve been learning what kinds of things he likes and doesn’t like).

Gail: Will you ever give him pureed foods?

Lydia: Not unless I would eat it pureed, like applesauce or smoothies. We haven’t given those yet, but when we do we will use “pre-loaded spoons” which basically means I will dip the spoon in the applesauce, and them lay it in front of him so he can pick it up and put it in his mouth himself.

Gail: Look at him! He’s totally loving that avocado! Meal time sure is a happy time. I am remembering parents of my preschoolers complaining how they can’t get their kids to eat, or that the table is a battlefield.

Lydia: That’s one of the best parts of Baby-Led Weaning! Obviously there will probably come a day when I need to tell him to eat his dinner, but for the moment he can learn to love food and taste different flavors and textures without any stress or pressure. There are some days when he doesn’t try much, and that is ok!


Gail: Ok, I am convinced you’re on to something! I guess there’s always something new to learn and that the way I did it isn’t necessarily the only or best way to parent. How about if you pass me more of that humble pie?

Watch our video to witness BLW in action:

Entertaining · Family Activities · Gail's Nest

Dinner Party Idea- Chopped Competition

Have you seen the cooking show Chopped? Four chefs are given mystery ingredients and have to create meals with them. One person is eliminated after each round. The winner takes home $10,000. We have taken the basic idea and turned it into a fun evening for family and guests. You may have seen an earlier blog post describing how we did it with our family, when our adult children were home for Christmas. Well, this time we did it as a dinner party with guests.


When I called my guests to extend the invitation I asked if they would bring a mystery ingredient.  I asked one couple to bring something  unusual from the produce dept. of our local grocery. Another couple was to bring something unusual from the dairy dept. and the third couple was to bring an odd flavor of soda. I provided the meat.

My husband and son were the chefs. They were surprised to see beef cutlets, parsnips, plain yogurt and goat cheese, and two different sodas – one was cherry tarragon,and the other was guarana. I told them they had to use all of these ingredients (but only one of the sodas – their choice), and they could use whatever else was available to them in our fridge and pantry. They had one hour to cook us an entree.

What do I make with this??

The guys scrambled around the kitchen. It was quite entertaining! The guests loved watching, and added to the fun with their friendly banter.


One hour was a good amount of time. We’re just not as fast as the experienced chefs on the actual cooking show who only get 30 minutes. But an hour is enough time to sip some wine and visit while dinner is prepared.


Then it was time to plate the food. Each guest got 2 entrees.


This was Steve’s entree – braised pepper steak with mock scallop potatoes au gratin with sauteed beans and parsnips.
And Ben’s entree was stuffed beef roulade with cherry-tarragon-yogurt sauce, served with julienned beans and parsnips and buttered new potatoes.

The fun part, of course, was eating together and chatting over what we might have done differently and how delicious it all was. Then we rated each entree 1 to 5 (1 being terrible and 5 being excellent) in 3 categories: taste, presentation, and creative use of ingredients. Scores were calculated and the winner announced. Ben was the chopped champion.

Everyone raved over how much fun it all was! I served chocolate cake for dessert, as we weren’t about to wait around another hour for a dessert round! All in all, it was a nice evening with friends and family. I highly recommend trying it. Let me know your result!




Family Activities · Gail's Nest · Recipes

Make Your Own Bath Bombs

There’s nothing quite like a luxurious bath with candles and dim lights that helps you feel relaxed at the end of a busy day. Here is a recipe to make your own bath bombs, guaranteed to give you a little fizz, and an aroma that carries you off to a faraway place.

Start with a few inexpensive ingredients:



The list includes Epsom salt, coconut oil, baking soda, citric acid, food coloring, and an essential oil of your choice.

First, put the dry ingredients together:

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup citric acid

1/2 cup Epsom salt.

Next, mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl:

1 teaspoon water

1 Tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon essential oil (you an always add more if it’s not strong enough)

Enough drops of food coloring to get the hue of your choice.

Now, drop a small amount of the wet into a small section of the dry and mix with your fingers until it’s the consistency of wet sand. Continue adding wet into the dry in this slow and careful way. You don’t want to activate the citric acid but if you mix slowly and carefully you’ll end up with a nice lump can easily be compacted into a mold.

Once you’ve packed it into the mold, let it sit for several minutes. It should pop right out. Leave out for 24 hours and then wrap in some cellophane until you’re ready to use. These make great gifts!


Ready for my next bath!
Family Activities · Gail's Nest

Chopped – A Family Challenge

Here’s an idea for your holiday gatherings…

Do your own Chopped Challenge at home!

The gist of the popular TV cooking show, for those of you who haven’t seen Chopped, is that there are four chefs who compete in a challenge that includes three rounds of cooking with mystery ingredients. So the first round is the appetizer round and the competitors get mystery baskets with several ingredients that they must utilize. They usually have 20 minutes to come up with an appetizer that wows the judges. After taste testing each entry, the judges pick one chef that must go home. The second round has three chefs and they must make an entree but again one person is “chopped” and then the third round is dessert. The winner of that round wins $10,000.

When the Felkers were all home for Thanksgiving weekend, we spent one evening doing our own version of Chopped. This is how we did it.

It was decided that two of the guys would be the chefs. (We really had to keep it to 2 due to limited counter space and oven space.) The girls and I went to the grocery store to pick out unusual items for an entree round. We chose lamb cutlets, coconuts, marmite paste, toaster pastries, and mulangoes (an African root vegetable). When we got home we placed the items in baskets and at our signal the guys opened their baskets to reveal their ingredients. We gave them one hour to make us dinner.

Now the guys were allowed to utilize anything else in the fridge and pantry but they had to use at least some of each of the mandatory ingredients. The six of us who weren’t cooking sat and watched the show while we sipped on homemade sangria. We laughed so hard when the guys had to race to the garage for a drill and hammer to try to open the coconuts!

When it came time to “plate” the food, they had to make eight plates (including the two of them). So when we sat down to eat we each had 2 plates of food in front of us. Everyone except the chefs were given score sheets that listed both chefs’ names and also the three categories they would be judged on: taste, presentation, and creative use of ingredients. We used a 1-5 scoring system where a 1 meant “terrible” and a 5 meant “outstanding”. After everyone was done eating they filled out the score sheets and the votes were tallied.

Well that was so much fun that the guys said they wanted to go to the grocery store next and get ingredients for a dessert round. So the four of them took off while we ladies cleaned the kitchen. Two of the girls were chosen to be the dessert chefs. When they received their mystery baskets they discovered starfruit, vanilla pudding, ladyfinger cookies, and prosciutto (of course the guys would pick meat for a dessert!) They had one hour to create desserts for us. Again the rest of us enjoyed the show, and there was no shortage of friendly banter going on!

I was so amazed at what the girls created. My one daughter,Anna, made crepes out of the cookies and filled them with pudding, starfruit, and prosciutto. The other daughter,Lydia, crushed the cookies into a pie plate and placed the juiced starfruit pudding inside it, topped with candied prosciutto and sliced starfruit. Everyone was eager to taste test each dessert. What a night!

Here is a picture of Anna and Lydia working hard to recreate something delicious from those unusual ingredients!


Such fun! You should totally try this with your clan!

Blessings! –Gail