emma's sweater dress

As you can see, I am still working on her dress.  I haven't made as much progress as I had hoped this past week, but that's ok.  As long as I have it done by her birthday (in May) I will be happy.  She is really excited for me to finish it, and constantly asks why I am not working on it.  Mainly when she sees me working on Jack's socks...or some dish rags...or my mom's table runner...or any of the other projects I seem to have going.  It has been fun to work on the simple basketweave pattern though, it is my favorite pattern right now.  And something simple that I can fix if I mess up - I seem to need that lately!

My reading...well I have shared in the past my love for teen fantasy...Harry Potter...Twilight...and most recently Vampire Diaries.  I started reading the original Vampire Diaries books last fall (after I realized that the series was based on books that were written pre-twilight).  More recently, I found out that there is an entirely new set of books called Stefan's Diaries - cheesy? absolutely.  It is loosely based on the books, but moreso on the tv series, and the history of Stefan Salvatore.  They are extremely quick reads, I have read the first two books, and am starting book three right now.  Love this easy teen reading.  Plus, since I watch the show, it is kind of nice to see how everything came to be.  And since it is being written by the creators of the tv show, it lines right up with the characters...which is totally not like the original books - if that makes any sense.

I am also enjoying mindless television, has anybody been watching the crazy drama on Biggest Loser?  And of course catching up on trashy new 90210 while setting my DVR to see if I can get the entire series of original 90210 on the soap channel.  Yes, it is a lot of garbage, but it is light and enjoyable, and allows me to knit Emma's dress with relative ease.

Joining up at the wonderful yarn along!  If you are new here, I would love it if you would follow me!  Happy Wednesday!

babes and learning

My kids are little.  Almost 4 and 18 months little.  I am planning to formally homeschool them when they reach an age where I need to report to the state (which is an entirely different story - why can't I be responsible for my own kids without the state having a say in the matter?).  As of now though, we are already homeschooling.  I have talked before about the curriculum that I use with the kids, but I haven't talked much about the "unschooling" aspect.

It seems strange, right?  Unschooling and curriculum in the same sentence?  I think that it is so important to follow a child's interest.  It just so happens that my babes are really interested in listening to me read to them, and are not really concerned about the topic that is being read to them.  As long as they are cuddling with me, they seem to be happy whether I am reading C.S. Lewis, or Goodnight Moon.

But reading is not the only thing they enjoy.  My kids love art.  More my daughter, Emma, since she is older and has some idea of what she is doing, but my son loves to do art as well.  And when I say art, I mean painting, coloring, using chalk, markers, stickers, glue, glitter, anything that might possibly make a mess, well my babes love it.  And to see how dedicated they are is amazing.

Both of them will sit for literally a couple of hours and do anything art related.  As long as I keep a steady stream of supplies available, and change it up every 20 minutes or so, they will sit quietly (albeit making the largest mess humanly possible) and work on their art.  It is actually nice for me, because I am able to do some other things.  The cleanup isn't always so fun, but to see them having so much fun, it is worth it.

Whenever Emma shows interest in anything, I go with it.  Today she wanted to practice her letters, and she sounded out cat and wrote cat in her school notebook.  Not by my prompting, but because she wanted to.  And then she and Jack body slammed each other on the couch for the next half an hour.  It worked :-)  Obviously, Emma being only 3 1/2 and Jack 18 months, what they are doing "school" wise is not entirely important, there is still so much time for them to work on academics.  What I am trying to work on now is a passion for learning.

If they have a passion, I want them to follow it.  If they like trains, I want to have train books, watch Thomas and Friends, and play with the trains that we have.  If she like fairies, that is what I want to concentrate on.  I am just starting on this whole homeschooling journey.  But, I am feeling so fortunate to be able to follow my kids on this journey, to see what they are interested in, watch them find their passions, and to see them enjoy learning so much.

Do you use a curriculum, but also find yourself drawn towards unschooling?  Can I qualify myself as an unschooler if I also have a curriculum?

All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

I have been trying to move to a more "green" cleaning routine for quite a while.  When I first started my journey, I went out to buy some products that were marketed as green or all natural and organic.  As soon as I looked at the prices, I turned around and left the store.  I think that using natural cleaners is extremely important, but not if it breaks my budget.

Instead, I decided to use baking soda and white vinegar.  Those two, very inexpensive, ingredients can work serious miracles.  Some people (my husband) think that the smell of vinegar is not great, but I would rather my bathroom smell like salad dressing than have my nose burned by the smell of bleach.  Plus, once the vinegar dries, the smell goes away.

The problem is that it isn't always convenient to go through the entire process of sprinkling the baking soda everywhere, putting the vinegar on, watching its awesome bubble action, scrub, wash off.  So I started looking for an all purpose cleaner recipe.  There are a lot of recipes out there.  The one that I use is adapted from the awesome book Make Your Place:

1/4 cup white vinegar
2 T Borax
6 drops tea tree oil
10 drops lemon or orange essential oil
24 oz hot water

Mix all ingredients in a large spray bottle - I like these ones and have several in my house for wipe solution, plain white vinegar, etc.  Then all you need to do is spray it on, let it sit for 5 minutes, scrub and then wipe off with a wet cloth.  I use this for everything from the kitchen counters to our bathroom.  And it doesn't smell like salad dressing.

Do you have a favorite green cleaner?  Do you make your own?

I'm linking up at the Barn Hop and Your Green Resource!  Welcome :-)  I would love for you to follow me if you are new!

honey balsamic glazed carrots and parsnips

I have an abundance of carrots and parsnips in my fridge.  My winter CSA seems to give them to us each time we pick up our basket.  I love both carrots and parsnips, and Emma loves raw carrots.  Parsnips don't seem to be a big vegetable for anyone in my family except me (and my mom - but she is not here for dinner every day). This week the drawer in my fridge was getting a tad full.  I knew I needed to do something with it all besides putting it in my salads.

I love to roast root veggies.  I think it brings out a lot of sweetness, and they taste delicious.  With my drawer full of parsnips and carrots, I figured roasting would be a good medium.  Hopefully making my family instant fans.  I started to roast the veg, and realized that I was kidding myself.  They would never go for just roasted veg.  Instead, I decided that I would make a glaze for the carrots and parsnips.

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with honey balsamic glaze

2 lbs chopped carrots
2 lbs chopped parsnips

3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Chop veggies into uniform size pieces.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast in 400 degree oven until tender.

Melt butter, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan.  When carrots and parsnips are tender, pour glaze over veg and then put back in oven for 5 minutes.

Serve over rice, or plain.  Delicious!  And my babes thought it was candy, big plus in my book!

How do you cook parsnips?  Or do you not eat them?  Trying to use what we have, and not waste anything, no matter how different it might be to my little family :-)

cooking beans in bulk

Have I mentioned we eat a lot of beans and rice?  I think I may have at some point...Have I also mentioned that I don't normally buy canned beans due to the whole BPA factor (and also the price)?  That means that I cook a lot of dry beans.  And I don't have one of those fancy pressure cookers either...I am soaking my beans the night before (or more often using the quick soak method), and I am cooking them in the morning.

At first I started cooking one pound of beans at a time.  However, I quickly realized that was not worth my time.  We would go through that pound of beans in a couple days - remember I am making meals for my whole family at home every. single. day.  Beans are definitely a staple.  Then I started cooking a bit extra, and freezing them.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out.  Freezing beans.  Would the texture be worse?  Would they become mush when I heated them up again?  Surprisingly, no, the texture was like a fresh cooked bean, no mush in sight!

Well, when I realized that my family didn't have a clue I was using frozen beans instead of freshly cooked, I decided I had to do my part and build up a bit of a stock of frozen beans.  Now, on Mondays, I tend to cook a lot of beans.  Mainly black and pinto beans, these seem to be the ones we use the most.  I frequently cook 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of each variety at a time.  My multi cooker pot is frequently put to good use. :-) Then, when they are cooked, I drain them and freeze them in ziploc freezer bags.

I think that the beans freeze really well.  They don't freeze in clumps.  Or if they are in clumps, they are broken up easily.  I can use them in salads, or in soups and other hot dishes.  I haven't tried freezing rice yet, it was next on my list.  However, after I read a few articles on arsenic in rice...well I am re-thinking my desire to incorporate this grain into our diets.  I never ate rice growing up.  We had a lot of potatoes instead...probably because we live in Maine...and my mom had quite a large garden.  My husband always had rice at every meal, so I have been trying to incorporate it more.  I think I am going to go back to my local potatoes for the starch though.  It sounds a bit strange with beans.  But, potatoes and salsa are a great meal, so why not have black beans or pinto beans with it instead of rice?

I think that having the frozen beans are a great idea for a quick fix meal.  Not having to deal with cooking beans every day, or using the canned beans, it is a great option.  I am really enjoying moving my family more towards a whole food diet.  Having some convenience is definitely important though.  I also like that I can control the ingredients when cooking my own beans.  They aren't packed in oil or lard like canned beans, and they don't have any salt added, so I can season as I want without concern for the extra seasonings.

Do you cook staples in bulk?  Is it easier to meal plan if you know what is available in your freezer or even your pantry instead of having to cook something new every time?

what is wrong with this picture?

Can you see what the problem is here?  I'm sure you can.  It seems quite obvious to me of course, perhaps because it is my knitting.  That would be my sock there.  My sock, which was ready for the heel to be started.  Have you figured it out yet?  Well, the problem, is that there are only 2 needles with stitches, and 2 needles in the ball of yarn.  Typically I would have 3 needles, unfortunately, somehow *cough, my children, cough* the stitches came off one needle, and then those stitches were unraveled...a bit...So, I am currently frogging the beginnings of my first adult sock, and will cast on again this weekend perhaps...or maybe not :-)

Instead of starting over, I decided to start something else.  I am a gal who loves to have many projects going at once.  I can't really stand to work on one thing for any length of time.  Which is probably good, since I don't usually have any length of time to work on my knitting :-)  One of my crafting goals for this year is to make sweaters for everyone in my family.  My strategy is to do the babes first, it is so much easier knitting for them.

I cast on yesterday for a sweet little sweater jumper for my Emma.  I haven't really figured out where I am going with it yet.  I started with a bit of a basket weave pattern.  I think that I will end up making the straps as ties so that it will hopefully last her a while.  I want it to start out as a dress, but hoping that it can be a pullover sweater type thing when she gets a little bigger - or when I shrink it in the laundry, whichever comes first.  I made something similar for her when she was 1, and she wore it until this year, but now it is too short.  So back to the needles I go!

I picked out this green color with Emma last fall, knowing that I would want to make her some type of sweater, and she really liked the yarn.  Is my babe the only one that enjoys picking out yarn?  It is probably one of her favorite activities...perhaps because I typically will buy the yarn if she asks for it...how can a mama resist!?  But this green is definitely special, it brings out the color of her eyes perfectly!  Now, if I can get it finished before her birthday, I will be one happy mama!

As far as reading goes...I just finished A Love That Multiplies by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar.  I know that a lot of people have a very negative feeling towards them, and the fact that they have so many children, but I don't.  I think that it is great.  They are able to support them, and they all seem quite happy.  I really enjoyed this book - I have also read their other book :-)  There is a bit of redundancy, but overall I think it is a nice story.  They talk a lot about having their micro-preemie, and the challenges they faced because of that.  Overall, I thought it was a very uplifting book.  The love that they show their family, to me, is very inspiring.  It makes me think about how I react to my two children.

As always, I am linking up with Ginny and her yarn along!  I can't tell you all how wonderful the comments on my very basic knitting projects are.  Thank you!

whole food kitchen - week 3

I am definitely enjoying this workshop.  I hope that Heather will do it again in the future.  I have been trying to eat a more whole food/plant based diet for so long now, but it has been put into really simple steps.  The recipes are amazing, and have all been hits with my family.  They are easily adaptable - which is important since I can't follow a recipe for my life. :-)

I have been talking about going dairy free for a long time now, but today is the start of such craziness.  I don't know where I will be in a week, or if I will slip (several times) and eat the cheese that we still have in the house.  I do have a thing for popcorn and parmesan...And I guess I won't be completely dairy free since I am still planning on having cream in my coffee in the morning.  At least my afternoon tea no longer contains milk!  I might see how almond milk in my coffee would be.  I think I would like the nutty flavor, but not entirely sure yet.  Has anyone tried this?  Would be interested to hear your experience.

I am hoping to put together a lot of information on dairy in the coming weeks.  Mainly for my own benefit, but I hope others will garner something from it as well.  My main thing with whole foods is that I don't like to find replacements for what a Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is.  I am not big into all the fake cheeses, the soy meat products.  Honestly, who really wants a tofu hot dog?  I'm not trying to be insensitive to people that enjoy such things, but I would prefer to steer clear of those products.  Mainly because of the list of ingredients.  So many chemicals I have no clue about.

I am very much looking forward to spring, and fresh lettuce from the farmers' market.  This winter has been so strange, not that it is over by any means, we can have huge storms up through the end of March/beginning of April, but it has been so mild and with very little snow.  Last week we had a 50+ degree day, and if there hadn't been a couple inches of snow on the ground I would have been clearing out my front and side flower beds.  I am thinking about when I can plant my peas, and whether or not I should plant some kale while it is still cold.

How is life in your neck of the woods?

in a lovely turn of events...

my husband decided to take the day off and surprise me!  So I will be back tomorrow!  I hope everyone has a great Monday :-)

and the winner is...

Jessica @ Barefoot by the Sea!  I used random.org and it came up with #1, which I haven't seen all that often. So congrats Jessica!!!

almond milk

The first time I had ever heard of almond milk was last year during the 30 day vegan workshop.  Not being a milk drinker, it wasn't that big of a deal to me to find a milk alternative.  I did, however, want to at least offer something to Emma.  She doesn't drink milk, or do much dairy at all actually.  But, I figured a little more protein would be helpful to my littles.

I decided to try making almond milk after seeing that it is really just a few ingredients...most of which I had on hand already.  I wasn't sure that my blender would be up to the task, but it was.

And how was I to know that everyone in my family would love this new homemade almond milk?  Matt deemed it vanilla ice cream.  And Emma has asked for it just about every hour since I made the first batch.

Almond Milk

2 cup soaked raw almonds
4 cups water
4-5 pitted dates*
1 tsp vanilla*

Soak almonds overnight in cold water with a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar - I use Bragg.  Drain and rinse almonds.  Put almonds, 4 cups water, dates, and vanilla in a blender and blend away until the almonds and dates are all ground up.  Put through cheese cloth/muslin/nut bag and squeeze out almond milk.  Discard the leftover almond pulp.  Drink away...seriously delicious.

*For unsweetened almond milk just use almonds and water and don't put dates and vanilla in.

Hello Mornings Challenge

I have decided to take a break from Organized Simplicity.  Not because I am not still trying to work through the book, but because I have been a bit sick, and haven't had as much time as I had hoped to work on purging :-)  Instead, I thought I would talk about the Hello Mornings Challenge.

This challenge is all about getting up before your kids in the morning, having some quiet time with God, taking time to plan your day, and exercise.  This is the second time that I have done this challenge, the first time I failed miserably :-)  This time it has been going so. much. better.  I think that having the quiet time is extremely important for me.  It gives me a chance to center myself, and get prepared for the craziness that follows.

We are currently on week five, and I am happy to say that I have been doing so well this time around.  I am getting up insanely early.  Most days it is by 4:30.  This means that I am going to bed much earlier as well.  Surprisingly, I love it.  I think part of the help is how early the sun goes down.  Having more of a rhythm with the sun is working well.  Obviously I am up before the sun is up, but to sit on my couch, read my Bible, journal, and then see the sun coming up outside is an amazing experience.

I have been able to get the quiet time in, and also had some success with the planning of my day.  The one that I am struggling with is getting exercise.  But, my body doesn't function as well that early.  Instead, I am trying to work out a little later in the morning while the kiddos are watching their show.  I am hoping that when the challenge is done in another 6 weeks I will be able to continue getting up early.  Then maybe in the summer I will get out for a walk in the morning.

I find that I have been happier.  It has been easier to deal with tempers while keeping my own.  I am not needing to take time to work on what I need to do in the morning, because it is already done.  How awesome! I am able to be fully concentrated on my kids.  It has been a great experience.

Has anyone else done this challenge?  Do you try to get up early or sleep in?  I don't remember what sleeping in looks like :-)  I also don't remember what staying up until 10pm looks like...

the 100 thing challenge

OK, so I haven't finished my socks.  In fact, I haven't even done anything with them since last week.  I am ready to divide for the heel, but haven't yet.  Instead I am working on a second sock of Jack's.  Not to mention working on my poor mom's big Christmas present...a table runner...that is taking me forever to knit.  I think that if I had several uninterrupted hours I would be able to make a lot of progress.  Unfortunately, I do not.  And because I have to follow a stitch pattern, well, when I get interrupted I end up skipping stitches, counting wrong, forgetting which row I was on.  That means taking out several stitches, or whole rows, until I find a place I actually know.  I fully expect to finish one sock by this weekend, but I am not entirely optimistic of that :-)

What am I reading this week?  Well, I picked up The 100 Thing Challenge.  I'm not very far into the book, I never seem to be when Wednesday comes around!  It is about a guy who decides to only have 100 possessions...hence the book title, clever right?  I think what drew me to the book was the fact that he has a wife and 3 kids, it isn't like he is a single guy somewhere deciding that he has too much, which is how I feel a lot of minimalist books are like.  I am in his "rules" chapter right now, and it explains that it is just his challenge, not his wife, not his daughters.  So there are definite loop holes to his 100 things.  Like joint possessions, and the kids toys :-)  It will be interesting to see how that works in a family dynamic, and whether they get on board with getting rid of stuff as well!

I wanted to remind everyone that last Friday was my one year blogiversary, and I am putting together a pretty good package (according to me) for a give away, so go on over there and enter!  I will draw a name/number on Friday :-)

And as always, I am linking up with Ginny and her yarn along!

Whole Food Kitchen - week 2

This week is all about setting up your pantry and kitchen to work for you while concentrating on whole foods.  Which is perfect, because this week I am working on purging and cleaning my kitchen as part of my "Organized Simplicity" series.  I am not really of the mindset to throw everything away and start over.  Well, I am of that mindset, unfortunately my bank account doesn't cooperate with me all the time :-)  Instead, I try and replace things as I go along, and build up my stores.

For a while I would only buy a couple bags of beans at a time; pinto, black, navy.  Those are my go to beans.  But, over the past couple of months, I have been using so many beans in my everyday cooking that I am trying to stock up a bit more.  What I don't like is having all those little plastic bags.  So, I am slowly transferring them into glass jars.  I haven't found a good source of bulk beans, ie it is cheaper for me to buy 1lb bags at the grocery store, I don't want to buy 25lbs of beans at a markup, which means I still do have those little bags, but they are somewhat hidden.  I do like to see what I have available to me.  And honestly I think anything stored in glass looks nice :-)

I haven't had all the success in the world at sourcing some ingredients, such as miso.  My grocery store doesn't seem to carry it.  Oh, they carry instant miso soup, but that isn't what I am looking for.  I haven't had the energy  or time to go to the health food store to look.  It is not in my city, just a few towns away, but I don't really run any errands in that area.  I will have to wait until my next trip to goodwill to drop off the ever growing donation piles.  But, since I have never had miso, I feel like I am ok with not finding it right off.  I'm not necessarily missing out on anything.

The workshop has been extremely interesting so far.  There are wonderful forums, and everyone seems nice.  I haven't seen anyone be judgmental, which is always a concern of mine.  People have so many ideas and opinions, and a lot of time think theirs is the only right way.  Food is especially personal.  Just because I don't choose to eat red meat, doesn't mean that I am going to glare at my husband if he wants a steak.  I mean, I might glare at him for other reasons, but eating meat isn't one of them :-)  Whatever makes you feel the best is probably what should work for you.

That is what this workshop is all about for me.  I want to find what works for my body, for my kids' bodies.  I can see how they react to different types of food.  How foods that I can't imagine anyone not liking (cheese for one), Emma can't stand, and wants nothing to do with.  Whereas Jack loves cheese, but really shouldn't eat a lot of it because he ends up with rashes.  It is fun to try new recipes, but really, I want to be a healthier person, and make sure that I am getting a good diet that gives me the energy I need to keep up with two little kids and all the other parts of my day.

And as an update, I have been eating cheese all week.  We have a lot left in the fridge from the craziness of superbowl food...so haven't quite gotten to the eliminating dairy part of my journey :-)  It doesn't help that my husband refuses to give it up...and it is a little too easy to go to the fridge and grab some cheese.  Especially if I am having a busy day...

Are you spending a lot of time in the kitchen recently?  Trying any new recipes?  Do you buy bulk foods off of Amazon?

homemade laundry soap recipe

When we bought our house way back in 2006 I never really thought about saving money.  We had no kids, and both had good jobs.  However, once we moved into the house, and then had to pay for oil and all the other maintenance costs of owning a home...well I decided I better start finding ways to save a bit of money!  Making my own laundry soap was a good one.

At the time Matt was working for his dad's construction business, so I was doing a lot of laundry.  A lot of really dirty laundry.  My mom had always used borax when we were growing up for soaking diapers and adding to the wash if there were serious stains.  Since that was one of the main ingredients in most of the recipes I had seen online, I decided to give it a go.

Overall, I think that it has worked out really well for us.  It is definitely cheaper to use than the tide free that I used to use.  Both of my babes have very sensitive skin (as do I), so making sure it was gentle and not irritating was really important.  And obviously making sure that it got our clothes clean was very important.  It has done its job.  I use it to clean the diapers and wipes, as well as all of our clothes.  If I have a seriously dirty load of laundry (like when my husband was working construction) I would throw in an extra spoonful of the soap.  I hope you try it!

Laundry Soap Recipe

2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 bar grated Dr. Bronner's pure castille bar soap - I use peppermint (or you can use fels naptha)
10 drops Tea Tree Oil (or other essential oil)

Mix all ingredients in a container.  Use 1-2 spoonfuls per load.  I use my kitchenaid mixer to grate the soap, it takes a lot less time than grating with a box grater by hand :-)  This usually lasts me quite a while.  I use cold water for my washing, and so I typically scoop it into a ball jar and fill with hot water, then shake it up until it starts to dissolve.  This seems to help.  I have a regular washing machine, not an HE front loader, and am not sure how this would work with that.

Have you tried making your own laundry soap?  Do you like it?  Or do you prefer something else?  It took a little while for my husband to accept it, since our laundry didn't have a scent after it was dried.  Although, it has taken a while to understand that "clean" doesn't mean "scented" in all of our cleaning.  But, I think that he is happier with it now that we have kids; and  he doesn't let me use any kind of chemicals in cleaning because he doesn't want the kids to smell it.  Not sure what that says about how he felt about me sans kids...but that is another story :-)

I'm linking up at the Barn Hop and Live Renewed today!  And don't forget to enter my 1 year blogiversary give away!

My one year blogiversary!

I can't believe that today marks one year of writing in this space.  I have been blogging since 2000, and each blog that I have had has meant something different to me.  My first blog was back in college, after one of my apartment mates showed me her blog.  I think that was way in the beginning of blogging.  It was mainly a place for me to write funny stories about the dynamic in our apartment...I wish I had never deleted that blog...there were some seriously funny stories.

I think that blogging is a great outlet.  Especially since I am a stay at home crunchy mama with strange views on just about everything :-)  I have found that it is an excellent community.  For the most part, my experiences here have been very positive!  I love that sense of encouragement that other bloggers seem to give to each other.  It has helped me a lot over the past year.  To know that I have some place to put my thoughts down, and get encouragement from others, and hopefully give a little encouragement as well!

I am looking forward to continuing to grow this blog, and hopefully getting to know more of my bloggy friends in the future!  And to celebrate that, I have a special giveaway!  It includes a wonderful greeting card organizer, and a pack of mixed birthday cards, both from DaySpring.  I'm sure I will have a few other goodies in there as well!  So please, come out of the woodwork and leave me a comment if you would like to be entered for this giveaway!  And for an extra entry, follow my blog :-)  Or if you already follow, just leave a comment that you already follow.

*This giveaway is not sponsored by DaySpring, I just happen to have a lot of their products and enjoy putting packages together :-)

Organized Simplicity - Part 3

Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day?  I do, just about every day.  It might be because my babes are growing so fast right before me, or the fact that I can't seem to manage my time well enough to accomplish everything I want to do in one day.  The next few chapters in Tsh's book Organized Simplicity are all about management.  Managing your time, your money, and your home.

I would love to say that I have it all together as a stay at home mama.  I would also be laughing hysterically if I ever did say that :-)  My day starts very early.  I like that.  I like to be able to have a bit of quiet time in the morning, I like to drink my coffee and watch the news.  And then, based on everything that I try to fill my day with, my day is over, quick as a flash, and I am not even leaving the house!  If I try and have a leisurely day, spend time with my kids, go out for the morning, not do a lot of cooking...well nothing actually gets done, and then I have to double up the next day.  I'm not complaining, I love my time at home with my babes.  I need to understand that I have an 18 month old and a 3 1/2 year old.  Life will be chaotic...especially with my younger thinking he is some type of daredevil.

It was nice to read the time management chapter and realize it is ok to say no.  It is ok to put limitations on your outside commitments.  Not to be mean to others, not because you don't want to be social, but because your immediate family needs to come first.  It is definitely something I am still working on, and probably will continue working on until my kids are a little more able to take care of themselves, and I have a bit more time to myself.

This second time through Organized Simplicity is showing me that I really do want to decrease the amount of stuff around me.  I mean, I have been there for sometime, wanting to downsize, get rid of stuff that we don't necessarily need.  Stop letting stuff into the house that isn't beautiful or useful to us as a family.  I am finally starting to give myself permission to have those feelings and not be as concerned about how it looks to others outside my home.  Funny that it has taken until I am almost 31 to find that kind of confidence in myself, right?  

For now, I need to realize that if I cook 3 meals/day from scratch, homeschool my babes, write a blog, and want to play with my kiddos while they still want to play with me, there won't be as much time for re-painting the kitchen, or washing all of the windows every week.  That's ok.  And if I have dishes piled on the counter when someone visits, well, at least I have clean coffee mugs and a comfortable couch to sit on.  I'm sure that when I start purging the house my time will start to be freed up...now finding the time to do the purge...hmmm...

Do you try to fit too much into your day?  How do you deal with the disappointment of only accomplishing one thing on your to-do list each day?


I've done it!  I have cast on for my very own pair of socks.  I don't know why I am so nervous about it.  Not nervous I guess, but apprehensive.  I can knit socks.  I have knit many pairs of baby/toddler socks.  Adult socks can't be that much more complicated, right?

I think what worries me the most is that I will get into the knitting, finally get one sock done, and then never finish a second one.  That is why I like knitting for my kids, quick and easy :-)  I may be going about it wrong, but I haven't really found a pattern that I like...instead I am going to wing it and hope for the best!  I do have a ravelry account, but I never seem to be organized enough to get on there, post my projects, post about my yarn stash.  And so haven't had time to actually figure out if there is a pattern there that I like.  I like the pattern I do for my kiddos, seeing as it is so easy and knits up quick.  I figure with a bit of finangling I should be able to come up with something for my own feet :-)

And there is also the whole "sock yarn" bit that I haven't quite worked out...I don't have any sock yarn...so I am using what I have, which I am assuming is quite a bit thicker than sock yarn.  Cross your fingers for me everyone, I may end up with some crazy tube sock that I end up stitching shut at the toe and calling it good!

As for reading this week.  I am still reading Mockingjay.  Well, finishing it up really.  I have to say that I really have enjoyed the series, and that makes me question myself a bit.  It seems like such a deranged story, and I don't know how it was so easy to get into it.  I think that I am always rooting for the underdog, and this seemed to be a good book for that.  I don't want to give anything away, since I am sure there are people out there who haven't read even the first one yet.  Let's just say that I am really interested to see how they make this into a movie, because from my point of view, it doesn't seem possible without an R rating...but I have heard they want it to be PG-13 for the younger fan base.  I am also reading a wonderful book that has not been released yet, but I was asked to do a book review for.  So far so good!  I hope to share more about that after it is released, probably at the end of March :-)

Linking up with the wonderful Ginny and her awesome yarn along!  I am always amazed at the beautiful work that I see each week from other bloggers!

Whole Food Kitchen

One of my education goals for this year was to learn more about nutrition and also to eat a more plant based diet.  What better way to start myself on this journey than to enroll in Heather's Whole Food Kitchen workshop.  You may remember that I took the 30-day Vegan Cleanse back at the beginning of last year.  I loved it.  Of course about a week in, I realized that not eating animal products was too restricting for me...at the time.  I realize now that I rarely eat anything animal based.  What I do have on occasion are eggs and cheese, from our local farm, and I feel fine with that. My kids love eggs, and don't eat any other animal products, so if they have some local eggs, I am definitely ok with it.

I'm not sure my husband is entirely pleased with our diet.  But, with the cost of grass fed beef, or even chicken, we are not a "what meat will I center dinner around" family.  Instead, we (I) spend a lot of time trying to find new ways to serve beans.  Luckily, we love Mexican food, and beans are a staple with Mexican.  I do get bored with Mexican, however, and would love to find some new ways to prepare food.

I don't think it is necessarily a question of whether or not we could be vegan (or at least vegetarian sans dairy), but it is more about the support.  There are few people around here that would ever think that I was making good food choices for my family by not eating meat.  I think that this workshop will be a great eye opener for me.  It is not strictly vegan, instead it is a whole foods approach.  Following your body with what feels right.

I think that it will be a great opportunity for me to eliminate dairy from my own diet, by using some excellent vegan recipes, or substituting.  I also think it might help my husband to eliminate some dairy.  Although he says he feels better when he eats meat, I sometimes wonder if it is just because he is returning to what is comfortable to him, and less about "feeling better."

Here I go shooting myself in the foot, but in the last year we have eaten very little meat (beef/chicken/fish) and we have not had nearly as many illnesses as we typically do.  My next thought is to eliminate dairy.  I love cheese, and can't really imagine my life without it, but I feel worse when I eat it.  Not only that, but my first two (and only 2) pregnancies I have had serious problems with breathing due to excess phlegm (sorry, graphic) and both times I was prescribed a nasal steroid spray, without even questioning what my diet was like.  Now, if I had known as much as I know now about the potential problems with dairy, I may have decided to change my diet first instead of taking an prescription that I was completely uncomfortable with, but thought there was no other option.

I am definitely looking forward to finding out more recipes, and learning about a wholefoods lifestyle.  It is baby steps, and I am thankful that I have the time and resources to explore that in my own life.

How are your educational goals going this year?  Are you learning anything new?

cloth wipes and wipe solution recipe

I think that a lot of people talk about cloth diapers, but fewer people talk about cloth wipes.  I'm not entirely sure why.  When I decided to use cloth with my first babe I bought a package deal that came with the most wonderful cloth wipes.  My mom used cloth diapers with me, but always used disposable wipes, saying she never thought to use cloth instead.

It seems to be just as easy to rinse a wipe off as a cloth diaper, especially since I have my handy bumGenius Diaper Sprayer.  Seriously not sure how people could ever do without that and use cloth...I am all for saving money and don't have a huge problem with cleaning them...but anything that helps I love :-)

Around the same time that Emma was born I was very concerned about buying wipe solution for my cloth wipes.  I knew from babysitting experience that a dry flannel wipe was not going to cut it for those messy changes.  Unfortunately, the only thing I could find was some seriously expensive wipe solution from my local cloth diaper store (yes, we have those up here in Maine :-)).  What is a girl to do?  I don't want to waste the money (or have the chemicals) with disposable wipes, and I couldn't afford to continue buying a $20 wipe solution pump every other week.  Well, of course, I decided to make my own.

I looked at several recipes online.  There were some seriously complicated ones, and ones that were mainly water and baby shampoo (something else I didn't have in the house).  What I ended up with was my own blend which works extremely well.  We don't have diaper rashes while using this, and that is a big thing to me :-)

Wipe Solution Recipe - I make mine in a 32 oz spray bottle

25 oz water
4-6 drops of tea tree oil
1/4 cup olive oil (i use the evoo that is in my kitchen)
1/4 cup Dr. Bronner's - i use the peppermint kind

Mix all together in a spray bottle, and then spray the wipe when you need to use it.  We then throw these in the bucket with the diapers, and I wash them every other day.

This wipe solution is amazing.  It actually helped our family move to all family cloth, instead of toilet paper.  My husband was completely against it, but since I do all the shopping I have a little bit more control over some of those things.  Imagine his surprise when he preferred it.  I know, not necessarily something that would work for everyone, but for us, it is awesome!

 Do you cloth diaper? Or use family cloth instead of toilet paper?  Would love to hear your stories!

Linking up with the barn hop again today!  Hope no one is scared away :-)


I really love football.  I always have.  I come from a town that is big on football, and the fact that I played in the band meant attending a lot of football games.  But, the Superbowl, that is something else entirely.  The opportunity to make a ton of food I normally would not - and eat it of course, the commercials, and most definitely the game.  Especially this year, since we are big Patriots fans.

Each year I try and do some different recipes that I have never made, but have always wanted to.  Last year it was the bloomin onion, which was awesome by the way.  This year I have a lot of beautiful recipes pinned on my Superbowl Pinterest board.  And here it is two days before the big game, and I have no idea what I am going to make!

There is one thing that I will be making.  It is a staple in my house, and it is a great Superbowl party food.  Not to mention it is actually a very healthy dish.  What is this staple?  Well, guacamole of course!  If you have been reading here for a little while, you know that I love spicy Mexican food, and guacamole is a great pairing with that...or honestly on its own :-)

My Guacamole Recipe

5 ripe Haas avocados cut into small squarish pieces
5 vine ripened tomatoes seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped (you can omit this if you want - or seed it for only a little spice)
1 clove of garlic made into a paste (chop into pieces/sprinkle with salt/use a fork to mash into a paste)
juice of one lime

Mash all ingredients a bit in a bowl, mainly just mixing it all together.  Add salt to taste.  Best guac recipe ever :-)

Organized Simplicity - Part 2 Mission Statement

I really did not expect that writing a family mission statement would be difficult for me.  Surprisingly, very difficult.  See, I am really good at making goals, but a general statement about our life as a family unit was an interesting challenge.  It took me a while to figure out what was really truly important to me as an individual, and then to look at my family and what we want out of life.

One part of this chapter that really stuck out to me was “be creative and original.”  That is kind of hard when there are such awesome examples available!  I really liked Kara Fleck’s statement “to be focused on peace.”  I think that could go for me as well.  Peace is something I am always striving for in the home, although not necessarily accomplishing it even half the time J

Another word that I would use would be simplicity.  I want our life to be simple, no debt, less tv, more family interaction, more time with God, less stress.  Focusing our lives on being satisfied with what God provides instead of constantly looking to the next thing.  Not becoming so busy with everything around us that we forget who we are and bring discontent into our home in order to make others happy or live up to something we are not.

So for our family:

Put God First.  Live simply.  Be good stewards of God’s creation and the time we are given.  Promote peace in our home.  Encourage creativity and learning.  Always show our love for one another.

I am sure that I can flesh out those points even further, but for now this is what we have settled on.  I like it. I am not sure it is a real mission statement, or if it is more what we value as individuals, which I guess could be a mission statement…

Did you come up with a family mission statement this week?  Have you used a mission statement to help you make life decisions?  I would love to hear about it in the comments!

matt's cowl

My poor hubby has been freezing since he moved his office back to our house.  We keep the heat low, but I don't notice it as much downstairs because of all the running around I do all the time.  Not to mention the baking.  Matt, on the other hand, sits at a desk most of the day...so he is cold.  I decided to make him a cowl, but figuring out what kind of pattern to use was a little frustrating.  There are a lot of really nice lace type cowls, a lot of zig zags and other beautiful patterns.  Not so much in the way of "manly" cowls.  In the end I decided on a basic 2x2 rib for about an inch and a half and then stockinette stitch until it is the length I want, finished with another 2x2 rib.  Clearly a very basic pattern, but it is knitting up quite fast, and Matt is really excited to have the finished product.

I'm just starting Mockingjay, literally just read the first couple of pages before I started this blog post.  The second book really left on a pretty intense scene, so I am really excited to get into it.  Unfortunately, I don't think I will be able to until the kids take a really long nap this afternoon (hopefully).

I am joining up with Ginny and her wonderful yarn along.  What are you working on these days?  Any new books that I should be looking at!?

And I finished the cowl before I posted this post :-)