Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pepita Heaven

A little salty, a lot sweet... they are heaven!

I used this recipe and used butter instead of oil.  

When I die, you could bury me in these...

More Homemade Goodness

Where do I start?

Let me say this. I don't know what has happened to me in the last few months, but I seem to have developed this unquenchable thirst for knowledge, specifically about how I can create a more healthy/frugal lifestyle. I think part of my computer burnout has come about because there is SO MUCH information to be had. Whatever pops into my head, I can search out an answer. I feel so blessed that we live in a place and time where all this information is sitting in a little white box in my kitchen (I'm about to wear out that cute little Mac). So, besides wearing out the computer, here's what I've been making:

*Deodorant - My first attempt was this recipe. Although is seemed that all was well, and I'm sure it works, I couldn't stand the smell. No matter how much essential oil I added I just couldn't mask the overwhelming cocoa butter and shea butter smells. And though I happen to like the smells, they nauseate me... especially when wafting from my armpits. So I resumed use of my Tom's of Maine Apricot until I came across this recipe. I added lemon essential oils. It has a light lemon scent and works so well! I've been very happy with the results.

*Bath salts - Pretty simple. Just epsom salts, baking soda and lavender essential oils.

*Shaving cream - Nothing too crazy here either, I've just been using straight coconut oil. I've always had a problem with razor burn, and this has given me the least irritation. I'm hoping with consistent use I'll be free from it.

*Lotion - Again, just plain old coconut oil, except I added lemon, sweet orange and lavender essential oils. Yum! Oh, and I use this as lip and face moisturizer as well. I know it sounds crazy to use it on your face, especially considering I have oily skin, but my face is the least oily it has ever been since the onset of puberty.

*Personal lubricant - OK, I haven't been brave enough for this one yet, and it would be too much information for you to know just how well it works for me, but apparently it works well.

*Toothpaste - I was pretty hesitant to try this, but I've been pleased with the results. It doesn't taste like you average toothpaste, but with the addition of a little strawberry extract, even Claire likes it. She's actually the reason I considered this. She's insistent on eating her toothpaste and I didn't like the idea of her ingesting 200 ingredients I can't pronounce. I suppose she could eat the whole container of this and it wouldn't hurt her.

*Dishwasher soap - I first tried this recipe. No good, it didn't clean all that well and left a white film on everything. However, it does make a great sink/toilet scrubber. Then this recipe. It cleaned well, but again, left a white film on everything. I could remove the film with an extra rinse and white vinegar, but I'm too lazy for that. I'm thinking that these recipes would probably work better if our water wasn't so hard. I'll give Seventh Generation a try when I finish up what I've got.

*Bread - I found this great step by step recipe for making bread. My first loaf turned out fantastic. Last Sunday I did a double batch and added flax seed, buttermilk and egg. Even better. (And 20 minutes of kneading is quite a work out!). Next I'll try soaking my flour. It's a new method that I've recently been reading about and am excited to try. I'm also going to give it a try along with homemade tortillas this weekend.

*Doughnuts - I came across this healthier version and mad them last night while Jeff and Claire carved pumpkins. I still need to get tweak the oil temperature and cooking times, but they were pretty darn good.

*ACV tea - I've been drinking this first thing in the morning and 1 or 2 more time throughout the day. A bit tart at first, but I'm beginning to love it and crave it. It seems to be suppressing my appetite a bit as well.
2 tsp honey (I just bought the orange honey in bulk at WinCo - yummy)
8 oz filtered water (I use warm water)

*Kefir smoothies - I've been tempted to try kefir for a long time and finally decided just to give it a try. I didn't care for the taste, a bit too sour for me. However, blended with a banana and blueberries it was delicious. The health benefits make me want to add it to my daily diet. It's a bit pricey, so I might just brave buying a kit and making it myself. We'll see...

Oh, and about the Dish Network debate... we canceled our service. We haven't even installed our antenna yet, so we've been TV free for about a week. Honestly, I'm not really noticing, probably because I've been busy homemaking.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Computer Burn Out

Do you ever just get sick of the computer?  How about electronics in general?  That's how I've felt these last few weeks.  Blogging, blog reading, e-mail, Facebook, balancing the checkbook, answering the phone, TV, movies ... UGH!  I could just do without right now.  I got on the laptop this evening to catch up and discovered over 50 unread emails and who knows how many unread blog posts.  My Reader Notifier said I had 2,174,267,811+ unread!  That's really what it said.  And even though there weren't that many, it sure felt like it.  So, if I haven't commented on you blog, returned an email, answered your phone call, or ignored you in any other way this is why.  I know I need to rejoin the land of the technology soon, but I'm just tempted to leave it all behind.  I've seriously thought about canceling our Dish Network service.  We've often talked about getting rid of TV someday.  I think I could do it.  Of course, there are a ton of shows I love to watch, but I think if couldn't watch them I wouldn't miss them as much as I think I'm going to.  The only thing that has kept me from canceling it already is breastfeeding.  Yeah, you heard me, breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is the reason we have 200 channels right now.  We only had basic TV when Claire was born.  But after a few months of watching infomercials and B movies at all hours of the morning, and spending about 8 out of every 24 hours sitting on the couch or in a rocking chair, I broke down and just HAD to have something else to watch.  I know I haven't nursed a child in a year and a half, but the hope is to have another child within the next year or so, and I don't want to disconnect the Dish and then have to sign another contract after the next baby is born.  So, we still have it.  And, I'm completely addicted to the DVR.  I never watch anything when it's actually on, and I love the option of forwarding past all the commercials.  Of course, we'd keep the TVs, since we do love movies and now have an Apple TV.
Enough rambling.  Here are a few of my favorite pics of our walk the other evening.  Completely electronic free (except the camera... couldn't do without that).

OK, I am loving the baby monitor right now.  Claire loves to sing to herself when she should be sleeping.  It's 9:45 and at the top of her lungs she is singing "Love Your Neighbor" (VeggieTales).  But it sounds a little like this... "LOVE YOUR NEY-NER!"  

Monday, October 13, 2008

When I grow up #2

If you thought that first quilt I showed you a few posts back was cute, check out this one!

How gorgeous is that!?! I love it and it just inspires me to get sewing so I can do something like this... when I grow up. Since that will be WAY down the road, I can at least try to win it, and so can you. Just click the link on the sidebar.

Thanks for the tip Andrea!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Andrea would be proud

My dear friend Andrea has been the queen of coupons and good deals lately.  She's been trying to help me learn the ins and outs, and even though this one was a no-brainer, I think she'd be proud.

$56.57 - Total Spent for 13 items
$53.37 - Amount of Rebate Check
$3.20 - Total spent after rebate (just the tax)
94% Savings!!  

What did I get?  Well, usually these really good deals are on junk, or products I would never use, but today I got:

*Sambucol Immune Support/Cold & Flu Relief (Homeopathic)
*Bee MD Organic Honey Throat Drops
*Sucrets Ice
*Hyland's Sniffles & Sneezes 4 Kids (Homeopathic)
*Hyland's Cough Syrup 4 Kids (Homeopathic)
*Sucrets Herbal
*Softlips Pure (95% Organic, 100% Natural)
*LypSyl LypMoisturizer (Organic Shea Butter)
*LypSyl LypRadiance (Organic Shea Butter)
*Mentholatum Cherry Chest Rub

I added the comments in parenthesis because I was just recently complaining to Andrea that it's hard to use coupons or get great savings when you shop for natural/organic products.  Well, not today!  And the best part is, when you walk in Rite-Aid all the items that are free after rebate are all grouped together right at the front of the store... you don't even have to walk around the store to find these great deals.  How about a pat on the back for me?

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Perfect Autumn Day

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love fall. The cool breezes, the beautiful colors and most of all, the heavenly scents. Today has been all of the above. I started off my morning with Pumpkin Butter on my toast (how could it not be a great day with such a delicious start?). Well, back up to yesterday, I made homemade chicken noodle soup and baked pumpkins, so the smell was divine yesterday as well, and then last night I whipped up this recipe for pumpkin butter. I found so many different recipes on the internet, but so glad I chose this one. It was smooth and spicy and oh-so-pumpkiny! And for those of you who don't know, I'm kind of a freak for pumpkin, so it perfectly satisfied my cravings. Just before I started shoveling pumpkin butter in my mouth this morning I popped a batch of pepitas in the oven.

Did you know they were called pepitas? I just learned that this year, and it so much more fun to say than pumpkin seeds, so from now on it's pepitas. Here was my recipe for the pepitas:

*Seeds from 2 pumpkins (the pie variety)
*4 tbsp melted butter
*1 tsp garlic salt
*2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Mix together and spread onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

So, after pumpkin butter, pepitas and a long, hot shower I tackled the applesauce. I made 3 batches, ended up with 12 pints and bowlful for the fridge. Do you know how heavenly your house smells after 4 hours of making applesauce? I could just about lick the walls. Ok, maybe not the walls, but I've managed to lick every pot, pan and utensil that's been in contact with the applesauce. With nibbles of pepitas in between. I looked up a ton of recipes and decided to wing it. Here's what I ended up with:

*20 apples
*2 1/2 C water
*1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
*2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
*2 tsp vanilla
*1/2 C brown sugar

Peel, slice and core the apples. Place in a large pot with all ingredients except sugar. Bring to a boil and boil until apples are soft and mushy. Add brown sugar. Blend (I used a stick blender because I like my applesauce with a few chunks). Continue to boil until you've reached the desired consistency. Ladle into clean/sanitized canning jars. Process for 20 minutes (I processed for 31 minutes with altitude adjustments).

It's got a pretty strong cinnamon flavor, but I love it that way. Claire had a rather large helping with lunch, so it's not too crazy-spicy.

What a wonderful autumn day! And to top it off, I'll get a break from the kitchen because we're going out to dinner. My life is sweet...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Just Peachy

In the last 24 hours I have:

*Made one peach pie
*Eaten 2 1/2 peaches
*Canned 22 cars of peach jam

Tomorrow I'm on to canning applesauce...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Disney World

Here are some pics from the trip. We had SO MUCH FUN! We can't wait to go again in a few years with Claire. Although we missed her, I'm not sure she would have enjoyed it nearly as much as she will in a few years.

Tuesday: Got there in time for a quick dinner, hanging out at the resort, and a quick trip to Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island. We stayed at the Polynesian Resort. It was so nice and easy to get to everything since the monorail made a stop there.

Wednesday: We thought it only proper to start the week off in Magic Kingdom. I loved every bit of it! I really thought that it might be a little too juvenile for my liking, but I loved being a kid again. We picked the perfect time of year and never had to wait more than 10 minutes for any of the rides.

Thursday: EPCOT! There was so much to do and learn, it was like an ENORMOUS museum of sorts. I preferred World Showcase to Future World. I loved to see the countries. When you would go to a country, everyone that worked there was actually from that country. Throughout the week we had great, authentic meals in Germany, Mexico and China. I even had my first taste of duck!

Friday: We visited Animal Kingdom. It was so fun. It was seperated into different parts of the world and the did such a great job making it feel as if you were really in different countries. The Kilimanjaro Safaris were my favorite, though it was a bit strange just driving right up to the animals with no fences between us, especially the lions.

Saturday: We spent most of the day at Typhoon Lagoon. That is hands down the coolest water park I've ever seen! Even though it gave me tremendous anxiety (I had a not so fun experience with waves in Mexico), my favorite part ended up being the Surf Pool.

Sunday: Oh so tired, but one more park to go, we toured Hollywood Studios.  It only took about half of the day.  We planned to head over to Blizzard Beach for the rest of the day, but found out at the bus stop that it was closed for the day, so we headed back to Typhoon Lagoon for a few more hours of fun.

Monday: Traveling ALL DAY, but home just in time to snuggle with Claire before she went to sleep.

Just had to share

The Disney World post is coming... it's almost done. I just had to share this letter I read on Dr. Laura's blog today.

Dr. Laura, I want to thank you for the special moments that you helped me have. As a listener, my husband and I decided that I would stay home with our 2 month old baby boy even before he was born. I must admit that it’s hard financially, but we understand that our son is more important than luxury.

Yesterday, I had a “tear-jerker” moment. After feeding my son, I got up and started to clean the room. After a while, I saw him moving. He was putting his little hand above his head, feeling for the place where my arm had just been. Then he stretched his arms and legs in front of him where I had been lying before. I realized he was looking for me. His little face began to prepare to cry. I then placed my hand on his side. “I’m right here, baby.” He then opened his eyes. On seeing me, he smiled his gummy smile.

I stayed there, smoothing out his hair, until he fell back to sleep, but I couldn’t help thinking, what if I had been at work? What if he was with a sitter or at day care? I wouldn’t have had that moment, and he wouldn’t have been comforted. I know, because I used to work at a day care center - he would have been left crying, because he had been fed and his diaper had been changed.

As an ex-day care worker, I know that children are not cared for lovingly. They just have their physical needs met, but not their emotional needs. There were so many kids who called me “mommy,” and that was only because I was doing her job while doing mine. The fact was, “mommy” wasn’t there. But I was and am here for our son. Thank you.