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Thursday, September 29, 2011


In the past week and a half we have had one day with sun. We made the most of that day by walking to the library and stopping at a park.
The rest of the days are reminiscent of winter days and a bit unsettling. For someone who despises the long cold days of winter I live in an unlikely place...one where winter can last 6 months! We've been spending a lot of our time on school work and arts and crafts. My table is full of painted acorns at the moment.
We are getting ready for Jacob's Make A Wish trip to Disney World which is coming up very soon. The one and only time I have flown was in 2000 so I'm researching all the TSA rules to make sure we pack correctly. Most of us are excited about flying but we have one holdout in the family who is a bit hesitant. The vacation itself just gets more and more exciting - the resort itself now sounds as much fun as Disney World...horseback riding, putt putt golf, and our own villa! The kids are thrilled and I love their excitement!
I've finally finished switching over the kid's wardrobe to fall/winter and packed away their summer stuff, except for their outgrown items which I listed on ThredUp (sorry, my boxes have already been picked but by clicking on the link above and signing up with a new account you will get $5 to spend on your first box!). Switching over clothing takes me such a long time so I asked on the Trenches Of Mommyhood Facebook page how you all organize and received some good tips from you all!

I'm already shopping for Christmas and have a lot already hidden away. Christmas will be different this year, but more about that later. I've mainly been shopping on Amazon and using all the Swagbucks that I've earned to get free $5 Amazon cards. I've looked through my history and in the past two years I've earned over $300 in Amazon giftcards through Swagbucks, which is incredible considering that I only earn them by doing the regular internet searches that I always did. If you haven't signed up yet, do so now through 10/3 and get 100 Swagbucks just for signing up by entering the code BIGTIMEBUCKS. There are all types of rewards but I go for the $5 Amazon cards, which are 450 swagbucks. I can easily earn at least one $5 card a month by using the search engine, though I typically earn more. All I do is instead of using my browser to get to a site I use the search engine - it takes no more time and I often win several times a day this way.

A friend recently shared with me a website that is an excellent resource for families looking for family friendly movies. Check out the Movieguide here. (Thanks, Amy!)

Now I'm off to make the kids some apple cider and myself some raspberry leaf tea. It's chilly and the wind is howling outside so it really is the type of weather that calls for a stiff hot drink.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tolerance for All...

Politically Correct. Live and let live. Coexist. It all sounds fine and dandy. Until you realize that it's tolerance for all...except Christian beliefs.
Many who spout live and let live have no tolerance for those who have religious beliefs that differ from their views. The main point of tolerance is that you accept the fact that people are different and have views other than your own. It's funny how that rarely actually comes into play.

Christians are accused of being judgmental, close-minded, even stupid and ignorant...just because they have differing views. The worst thing that Christians are now called is hateful. Society now tells us that you must be politically correct in order to be a loving person.

An example is homosexuality. It's "politically correct" to accept marriage of same-sex couples. It's hateful to admit that you do not agree with homosexuality. And no matter how much a Christian could explain their beliefs they will be deemed hateful and ignorant. Those types of beliefs won't be tolerated...kind of ironic, isn't it?

I agree, there are groups that call themselves "Christian" that are horribly mean and hateful. The group that gathers outside of soldiers funerals to protest, the ones who tout hatred against homosexuals. It's horrid and makes Christians look horrid...but those groups are NOT Christian. No Christian group will promote hate.

With that said, being against something does not necessarily mean hate. I'm against pre-marital sex but that doesn't mean if one of my children does this that I will love them less. I'm against abortion but that doesn't mean that I hate the women who have had one. I'm against homosexuality but that doesn't mean that if a same sex couple moved in next door that I wouldn't welcome them into the neighborhood any less than any other couple. Because it's truly possible to not agree with a lifestyle and yet to still love the person with that lifestyle. This seems to go beyond most people's reasoning, and that is why we Christians are still considered ignorant. It seems you must accept a lifestyle in order to love people.

And yet, any parent, can tell you that no matter what their child does, they will always love their child. A teenager may go out partying or run away...but a parent won't stop loving that child for that. The parent may not agree with what their child is doing, but they love their child nonetheless. Why is it easy to comprehend this but not realize that the love and understanding can be had for everyone around them? I may not agree with everyone's choices, but I have no hate for anyone.

What do you think? Is our society more or less tolerant now that everything is politically correct? Are Christian views intolerant?

Edited to add: The above examples of what I don't agree with are just a few of the examples I could come up with. I am not proclaiming that they are the worst and that I am sitting in judgment on my high-horse. I also don't agree with lying, swearing, judging others, self-entitlement, and so on...and of course I have been guilty of all that at one time or another. That doesn't mean that I agree it's right. Since we all sin...my point was that it IS possible to love the sinner and yet not the sin.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

That's What Brothers are For...

Yesterday, when Becca returned home from getting her haircut, Jacob met her at the door and remarked "Becca, you're beautiful!"
What a sweetheart he is!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Not Me! Monday

We live in a small town where our grocery store has "baggers". They bag your groceries, follow you to your car, and load the groceries in your vehicle. Typically they are teenage males. So it was not I who was in the middle of a conversation about the weather (they seem to have a one track mind; all their conversations are about the weather) when I commented that the trunk must be stuck on our car. I did not repeatably click the key fob trying to get the trunk open, as the bags in the bag boys arms seemed to get heavier, then loudly remark that the battery in the key fob must be dead.

I did not suddenly have the revelation that this wasn't my car and turn wildly around to see my car parked in a completely different area of the parking lot. I didn't stumble over my words as I announced that "Gee, this is the wrong car" as I backed slowly away from the almost identical car (why did I not notice that the car I was trying to steal had a spoiler on the back when ours doesn't?!) only to have a lady laugh at me across the parking lot and yell "At least I'm not the only one who does that!" drawing several stares my way.

On the long trek to my car I did not mumble to the bag boy that I didn't typically drive my husband's car to the store and that I did typically park in the area that the other car was in, trying to make him understand only to have him give me quizzical side way looks.

When I reached my car I did not pop the trunk and loudly proclaim that "You have to admit that the cars look similar." I did not stop and stare at him until he admitted that they did. I was not totally relieved when he finished loading my groceries and hightailed it away from the crazy lady back into the store so that I could slide behind the wheel of the car to hide my red face.

It wasn't later that week that I was at our local Wal-Mart, wondering what the smell was throughout the store. I did not, of course, realize at the end of the shopping that it was me. There is no way that I walked around smelling dog poo that was on my shoe! Nope, not me!!

Friday, September 23, 2011


A money question I received from one of my readers is:

I stay at home with the kids, and my husband was out of work for a long time, but is now working again (hooray!) so we still have some catching up to do, but I really want to try to set aside a certain percentage of his pay to tuck away. And I figure now is a good time to start doing it because this is income we haven't had in a long time so we shouldn't miss the percentage since we haven't had it. What do you think is a good percent to save?

It's a very good question because many people have some "catching up" to do but focus their attempts on that, and only that, instead of also focusing on putting some money into savings. The reason that setting some money aside, even while paying back debt, is that if you don't have something to fall back on you will have a vicious circle of debt. There are always going to be times when you will need a little extra (car repairs, a broken washing machine, etc.). If you are so focused on paying back debt that you forgo setting aside any money, you will need to use those credit cards once again to pay for an unexpected expense; meaning that it will be very difficult to get ahead.

Continue to do the good work of paying back your debts but "pay yourself" a little each month as well. A good rule of thumb for someone who is just getting back on their feet, or one who has very little extra month, is to start small. Even if it is as small as 1-2% of each paycheck. It sounds like such a small amount...so small in fact that you very well may think that it is pointless...but it adds up over time and it is better than nothing. For example, someone bringing home $1,000 bi-weekly will put $10 in savings bi-weekly (or $20 monthly) if doing 1%. By the end of the year they will have $240 in a savings account. Not a lot, but a whole lot better than no savings at all! So I urge everyone, even those that think there is no room to save, to put the very minimum of 1% of their pay in savings each month.

For those who think they can save a little more, I would strive for 3-5% to begin with. Someone making $1,000 bi-weekly would then be putting $30-$50 in savings bi-weekly ($60-$100 monthly). This is a reasonable goal and your savings will begin to add up. If you notice within a few months that you think you can up the savings, go up from there.

Saving the percentage of your paycheck is not the hard part. The hard part is not touching your savings except for an emergency. This is the part that gets tricky. Many people will do great with saving for a month or two but then dip into it for something that is not a necessity and get bummed out with an empty savings account and stop saving altogether (it's similar to being on a diet and being gung-ho at first, only to binge and gain the weight back and stop dieting because of that). Savings must not be thought of as "money" but rather as an "emergency fund".

Savings from an emergency fund should only be used for emergencies or unexpected expenses. Not for dipping into for a night out on the town, a new pair of shoes, a trip, or anything that is a "choice" and not a must. I have often remarked "We don't have money for that this week" to my husband or a friend. It doesn't actually mean that we don't have money, because we do keep a certain amount in savings...but it means that we don't have money in our checking account for that and if it isn't a necessity I'm not going to take out from savings for it...in my mind if it isn't in our checking account that week we don't have money for it. I'm going to contradict myself a bit now when I say that it doesn't mean that we never use our savings for a little fun money. Because we do. The thing is though, that in our minds we have a set number that our savings should always be at for an emergency. If our funds tend to get a little above that we have no qualms taking a little out for a fun birthday gift for the kids or a fun little day trip. But we only do so if our savings funds is already at our goal, if it's below our goal we don't touch it for fun at all. Savings just won't work if you use it as a flexible account.

With that said, what is a reasonable savings goal for a typical family? Most financial experts stress that a good savings amount is two to six months worth of income. That's a lofty goal and we tend to fall on the smaller side of that amount. It's a nest egg that give you a little breathing room if you are injured and out of work, if your car breaks down and needs a major overhaul, if the roof on your house needs redone, the furnace needs replacing, etc.). It can seem a daunting task at first but you must pace yourself. It can take years to reach your goal but even a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. If an emergency does arise and you spend much of the savings that you accumulated, you start again and add to it until it reaches your goal once again (or rises above your goal!). It's a never ending battle but it's the only way that you can grow (and keep!) a savings account.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Auntie's Famous Rolls

I don't recall if I've posted this recipe already or not, I have a vague recollection of doing so but can't find it here. It's such an easy and delicious recipe that it won't hurt to post it again, even if I have already done so.

These are my Auntie Jane's famous rolls. She used to bring them to family gathering and everyone raved about them. I can't get enough of them and make them quite often. I plan to try this recipe when making my pepperoni rolls next time.

3 T. butter (no substitutes), melted
1 1/4 c. warm water
Combine and add two t. dry yeast. Stir and add 3 T. sugar, then 1 t. salt. Add 3 c. flour, stir, add more flour if needed. Knead for five minutes. Place in bowl and let rise. Punch down and shape into nine rolls. Put on lightly greased baking sheet, let rise again. Bake @ 350 degrees for around 20 minutes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not Me! Monday

On Saturday I did not get annoyed by three whiny kids and decide to run away and go shopping without them. It wasn't me who called my sister and told her we were going to escape have a fun afternoon shopping.

I did not demand that my husband take the kids somewhere fun on Saturday to relieve my guilt at having left everyone on a family day in order to get away from them get out of the house. While being highly annoyed with every antic that every. single. person. in my house displayed I did not still have mommy guilt in needing a few quiet hours alone. That would be a first sign of insanity, wouldn't it?!

I did not enjoy my shopping trip immensely (though besides the usual groceries the only extras I ended up buying was a pair of sunglasses and several books at Half Price Books). I did not top off the night with a Pumpkin Spice Frappacino from Starbucks after hearing another blogger rave about them. I certainly have never not had a frappacino before...and I surely never not knew what a frappacino was before ordering only to find a cold drink (*fanning all the coffee addicts out of their deep faint*). And it wasn't me who could count on one hand (and only get half way) how many times I have ordered at Starbucks.

With a week of cold temperatures I have not become tempted to turn the heat on once or twice. Doing so in September doesn't seem the least bit early.
I have not been a bit depressed knowing that the long dark cold months will be upon us soon. I have especially not been a bit sentimental when looking through my photos and finding all the bright cheerful warm photos reminding me of happy summer days. Nope, not me at all!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shopaholic on a Budget

I've been having fun shopping this week. I bought new furniture, new shoes and clothes for the kids, and a new purse for myself. New to us, anyway.

I won't lie - I love to shop. I do get a thrill when I find that thing that I never knew I needed. Have I mentioned before that I have an addiction to kids clothing? Oh, I have?! That's right...it's no secret!

There is no fault in liking nice things or enjoying that thrill of the hunt - as long as it's not breaking the bank, that is. As much as I get new (to us) items, I'm surprised that my husband doesn't complain about his wife being a shopaholic. Oh, that's right, I forgot that while I shop a lot I spend only a very small part of our budget on the actual purchase.

I'm a bargain shopper and often pay much less than 90% of what an item cost originally, mainly because I do my shopping second hand, though I'm not above shopping off clearance racks and actually getting something new at a steep discount. I just can't (and won't!) pay full price when I know a week, month, or year down the road I can find it for 90% cheaper. I almost always find what I am looking for if I just wait a bit for it.

That shopping I did this week? Garage sale shopping! Here are some of my finds from yesterday:
Two Mini Boden shirts for Joe for $2 each, Keen sandals for Joe for $3, and Birckenstocks for Becca for $1

This buffet type table for $20. The finish looks splotchy in this photo but it is not like that in real life. Ignore the missing drawer pull...it just got knocked off during hauling and is sitting on the counter to be put back on! This is one heavy piece but well made, it also has a lot more storage space than the hall table that we had there; storage space is a plus in this tiny house with very limited closet space.

This is either a good find or a spectacular find. It's either a really well made knock off of a Chanel purse, or the real deal. I'm having trouble finding out which one it is but it doesn't matter, as it will be for my personal use. At $5, it was a steal as some of the good knock offs sell for a couple hundred dollars and the real deal can be a thousand or more. Crazy to think that people spend that much on purses, I only picked it up because it was the size I like my purses to be. It feels like real leather, both inside and out. Maybe one of my readers is a purse person and can tell me more.

I also picked up a child's bike seat for the back of an adult bike for $5, which I was about ready to spend $35-$50 on Amazon for as it's been on our wish list for awhile, a few other kids clothes (including size 6 boys jeans which are almost impossible to find used!).

So, it is possible to be a shopaholic and a penny pincher at the same time!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jacob's Port Removal

Jacob's port removal went exactly as planned yesterday. It was a relatively quick operation and his recovery has been smooth; Tylenol has kept the pain away and he has been active and playing since we arrived home at lunch time yesterday.

It is great to be at this point in our journey where we can say goodbye to almost all the medications he was on and say goodbye to the artificial device inside of him! He doesn't need to go back to see the oncologist until the beginning of December. Awesome!!

Thank you to everyone who has kept him in your prayers and will continue to do so. We are starting to feel somewhat of a sense of normalcy now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer Isn't Over Yet

Summer is quickly fading and yet we feel like it's just getting started, now that all three kiddos have abundant energy once again.
With a lovely weekend in store we headed off to the local fish hatchery. One of their favorite activities is to feed the fish.

Mama always gets nervous as they lean far over the walls to drop the food in.

But they ony laugh and giggle as the fish jump and splash as they gather for food.

We took a walk to the nearby stream where the kids climbed all over the rocks...

and learned to skip rocks with their daddy.

So while the summer fun is ending for many...it's just beginning for others!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Surgery Tomorrow

I just wanted to post a quick reminder that Jacob is having surgery tomorrow for his port removal. It should be a fairly quick and straight forward surgery but I ask for your prayers for him and the surgeon regardless. We need to be there tomorrow at 6:15am so it looks like we will be up extra early tomorrow.

Hey, It's Okay Tuesday!

I'm following the blog carnival over at Airing My Laundry, One Sock At a Time. She got the idea from Glamour magazine where they have a section titled Hey, It's Okay where they list a bunch of things to be okay about.

To love cooked tomatoes but gag on plain fresh ones. To tell your kids that they are yummy anyway...and be a bit surprised when they take to them like candy.

To get sick of all the vaugebooking on Facebook. Something horrible happened or you are the saddest you've ever been?! Yet you can't mention what it is because it's super secret?! Don't mention it in the first place! And it's kind of odd that four minutes later you are eating a Kit Kat and rockin out to music...must not have been so bad after all.

To take a nap two days in a row. Having a cold gives a mama that right. And yet...the guilt remains.

To hate naps in the first place. You wake up feeling worse than before. And the after-nap guilt of wasting an hour of the day sleeping remains.

To not feel guilty after a nap. I'm working on it!

To be excited for the next season of Desperate Housewives to start.

To be sad that it's the last season of Desperate Housewives. :(

To admit that you watch Desperate Housewives.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not Me! Monday is Back!!

I did not wait more than a week to balance my checkbook...only to see a big "whoops" where we overspent. Granted, it was a busy week and we spent a little money on the fly, but now we need to be extremely careful this week.

It wasn't I who forgot that there was no school today in the district, until the kids were finished with their schoolwork. It's days like these that I am not even more thrilled with the concept of homeschooling...it sure would have been embarrassing to show up at school this morning!

I would never wait two weeks after the oven started acting funny to call a repairman. Because that would mean that the busy repairman would then tell you that this week is bad for him and that it will be a week or so until your oven can be looked at. Which would also mean that you would be oven-less for that amount of time. Nope, not me!

I am not totally thrilled that Not Me! Monday is back! :) Are you, or aren't you?!

Lacto-fermented Salsa

Have you ordered "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon yet? This book has continued to keep me entertained the past week, in my brain and in the kitchen. While I don't agree with everything in the book and can't stomach some of the recommendations, such as eating organ meats like brain or eating raw meat, I do agree with a lot of what is in this book. Not only is it a cookbook but it is also a resource for dietary habits. It is, after all, over 600 pages and is full of interesting information. I don't think anyone can dispute the fact that the American diet is a far cry from what our ancestors ate and it only makes sense that the increase in disease and health issues may be directly linked to the change in diet.

One of the first recipes that I wanted to try was Lacto-fermented salsa. I do have a hot water bath canner but almost never pull it out as it 1. requires a large amount of produce in order to put up a big batch and 2. it is a lot of work to sterilize and get everything ready for canning. Lacto-fermenting can be done in small batches and does not require any special preparation.

Lacto-fermenting is how our ancestors preserved foods and there are several health benefits to it. I'm sure you've all heard the health benefits of sauerkraut and pickles, which were once lacto-fermented. Because of the new canning process, which undergoes pasteurization, those products now do not hold the health benefits they once did, when store bought.

Similar to the fermentation of dairy products (yogurt, cheese, whey, keifer), lacto-fermentation not only preserves a product (lactic acid is a natural preservative) but also has many health benefits. It produces good bacteria, similar to the awesome bacteria found in yogurt. These organisms produce helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances ("Nourishing Traditions", pg. 89)

Keeping these prepared recipes at room temperature for 2 to 4 days will ensure a lactic-acid fermentation. You can then move the product to "cold storage"...which often was a root cellar or cave but a wine cellar or small refrigerator turned to the "warm" setting will do. Or the top shelf of your refrigerator is fine, which is what I do. The flavor will increase with time but the recipe is can be eaten immediately after the initial fermentation. The lacto-fermented vegetables will keep for several months in cold storage.

My husband's co-worker gave him a bag of homegrown tomatoes at the perfect time so I was able to try out a batch of the salsa right away! We love salsa in this house, but lacto-fermented vegetables are meant to use as more of a condiment and not eaten in large quantities. This salsa is wonderful with eggs, to top tacos, or as a side to many dishes. This is by far the freshest and yummiest tasting salsa that I have ever tasted and everyone in the family agrees!

Salsa ("Nourishing Traditions", pg. 103) Makes 1 quart

4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

2 small onions, finely chopped

3/4 c. chopped chile pepper, hot or mild

6-8 coves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 t. dried oregano

juice of 2 lemons

1 T. sea salt

4 T. whey (more about this in the future) or - which is what I used- an additional 1 T. sea salt

1/4 c. filtered water

Mix all ingredients and place in mason jars. Press down lightly with a spoon, adding more water if necessary to cover the vegetables. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to cold storage.

This should keep for several months in the fridge, though it won't last that long in this house!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gone for Good

I am exhausted after two days of lifting boxes, setting up items for a garage sale, waiting on customers while also keeping control (or trying to, anyhow) of my children at the same time. This all happens at my parent's house down the street so there is lots of help but everyone is still exhausted at the end of the day.

My previous post states that I hauled 11 boxes, three garbage bags, a large cooler on wheels, a floor lamp, double stroller, and pictures to the sale. The weather was perfect and the sale went wonderful. At the end of today I took some of what was left and put it in at the curb - which we then post on FreeCycle and it never fails that someone comes to pick the whole pile of stuff up. I then returned with one small bin of clothing which I immediately posted on ThredUp and within minutes three of the four boxes were already chosen. I posted two books on PaperBack Swap and those were also chosen within the hour. I have them all boxed up and ready to mail as I want every last thing out of here! The amazing thing is that once I mail the packages tomorrow every last thing that I priced for the garage sale will be gone from this house forever! It feels good to get rid of that much.

I made $156 in this two day sale. That's a lot considering that most of what I priced was at 25 cents to 50 cents and the highest priced item was the double stroller at just $8. The kids also made a little spending cash and got rid of some toys at the same time. This week has been a success for clearing out clutter - yet there is still more to go. Baby steps, I keep reminding myself.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Out With It!

I have not stopped the clutter challenge that I set for myself this past summer, I've just stopped blogging about it for the most part. The past few months have found me sorting through boxes, drawers, closets, toy bins, the basement, and the garage in order to prepare for a fall garage sale at my parent's house. Today and tomorrow we will be busy with that sale. This is what my van looked like last night after loading it up:
The front seat is filled with things too. In total, there are 11 boxes and one large garbage bag in the van. That does not count the items that I already brought to my parent's house: a double stroller, cooler on wheels, floor lamp, and two garbage bags filled with free things. Everything is marked cheaply in order to move it and anything not sold will go to the donation center. It feels freeing to be getting a whole van load of stuff out of the house (and hopefully make a little money at the same time).

I'll be posting photos of the sale later on and hope to give you a grand total tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jacob Update

It's time for another update on Jacob, post treatment! It's been 2 1/2 weeks since Jacob has received any chemo! He has much more energy now and the house is more noisy than it has been for quite some time. He does not need to get twice weekly lab draws any longer, his color is improving, and we see tiny hairs sprouting on his head!

(This photo was taken in June during Jacob's Dance Marathon trip to an amusement park.)

Next Wednesday, the 14th, Jacob will have surgery to take the port out. It will be about an hour long procedure, though we will be at the hospital awhile after he wakes up and returns to normal. It should not be an overnight stay and I'm hoping this is his last surgery ever for him. It will be good to get the port out as we will no longer need to be worried about a line infection or obsessed about and admitted for fevers.

Jacob is working on 1st grade work. Jacob is excited about his upcoming trip to Disney World. Jacob is loving the cooler weather and is spending lots of his time outdoors now. Jacob is once again wrestling and roughhousing with Joe. Jacob is feeling wonderful - though he gets tired out more quickly and still takes naps - he is enjoying just being a kid again.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekend Project

This morning I feel as though I was run over by a Mack truck. Or any other type of truck, for that matter. Why? Because I spent the weekend working on a spur of the moment home improvement project.

Upon waking up this weekend, I told myself that I hated the carpet in the living room and that it must go. Today. When we bought this house five years ago that carpet was old but in good shape. Or so I thought. Apparently, the padding underneath was fairly dirty since even a spilled glass of water that was immediately cleaned up would make a dark stain magically appear. We also have children and pets and those do not bode very well for a house filled with carpeting. Carpet in the bedrooms is lovely, carpet in the high traffic areas is a recipe for disaster. I was tired of a stained stinky carpet that even my deep clean carpet cleaner couldn't save.

Ben and I set to work tearing out the carpet and I spent three hours pulling nails and staples and cleaning the floor while he took the kids away for awhile. The thing about this house, and several houses on this street, is that the floors are in pretty good shape for being so old, but no one finished the middle of the floor. We found this in the dining room and again in the living room; there is a huge square in the middle that was never finished. That, my friends, is what a large area rug is for. :)

It's a drastic difference to get rid of the carpeting and throw a rug down. It's a very inexpensive project as well. All I need now are some new throw pillows, a few wicker baskets, and a nice throw for the couch and my room project will be complete. You know me though, I'll be waiting until I find those on sale.

If only I could say that my work is complete, but we have to do this all over again in the adjoining office room to complete the look. Makes me tired just thinking about it!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Keep Connected

For those of you on Twitter or Facebook, Trenches Of Mommyhood is also linked up to both of those sites. Keep updated with recent blog posts, as well as updates on Jacob, fun little tidbits from our life, and updates to our daily happenings. :) Just thought I'd share in case you are interested. You can find both links to follow in the right hand column ---------------> (just scroll down a bit!)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Crockpot Yogurt

We eat a lot of yogurt in this house. I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own yogurt but it was intimidating to me and I kept putting it off. Finally, I heard about making it in the crockpot; it sounded simple enough that I was no longer scared to try it.

We made it yesterday and we love it! If you're used to traditional store bought yogurt it is different - a bit more runny and has the tart taste but it didn't even take us some getting used to - we loved it at first bite.
It's easy too, though there are several steps to follow so you'll want to do this on a day when you are around the house.

Put 8 cups of milk in the crockpot. Non-homogenized is best, as is whole milk. Put lid on. Turn to low and cook for 2 1/2 hours.

Unplug crockpot and leave lid on, let sit for 3 hours.

Scoop out 2 c. still warm milk and whisk in 1/2 c. of store bought plain yogurt. This is the starter which will introduce all the beneficial bacteria to your batch. Once this batch is complete you can reserve 1/2 a c. from your homemade yogurt to make your next batch. Dump the 2 c. mixture back into the crockpot and stir.
Wrap a thick bath towel around the crockpot and let it sit for 8 hours.

That's it! I started mine later in the day and by 11:30pm, when I was ready for bed, the yogurt mixture had only been sitting for 6 hours but I put it away in the fridge anyway, and it had still thickened to a perfect texture. I think this recipe is pretty fail-proof.
I enjoyed mine with granola and a sprinkle of chia seeds. You can also add fresh fruit or even a tablespoon of jam to make it your choice of fruit flavored. Honey would be good or maple syrup for a sweet taste. The possibilities are endless. Joe, the pickiest of the bunch, even enjoyed this plain on top of granola. He told me it was "Yummy like a hamburger" which means the yummy factor is up there at the top of the list with his favorite food.

A whole crockpot full of yogurt ended up being about $2.25 and the price will go down next time as I won't need to buy store bought yogurt for the starter, so it should be closer to $1.90 (the price of half a gallon of non-homogenized milk). This is by far healthier and much cheaper than any store bought yogurt...it's a keeper!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Energy Balls

These are a fast fun raw snack that the kids love to help make and eat! This recipe is from FoodDoodles.

  • 1/2 C nut butter(almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower seed butter or any other nut or seed butter. Anything will work here)
  • 1/3 C honey(I believe brown rice syrup would also work. I’m not sure of thinner sweeteners such as maple syrup and agave though as they may not hold together as well)
  • 1 C old fashioned rolled oats(you can toast for a nuttier flavor at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes)
  • 1 C shredded unsweetened coconut(you can substitute any dry ingredients for this, wheat bran or germ, oat bran, some ground flax seed(I wouldn’t recommending using an entire cup!), any kind of ground nuts or seeds. For a cookie dough type bite try adding a few tablespoon of your favorite whole grain flour)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt if using a natural nut butter with no added salt
  • 1-2 tsp your favorite spices or spice combinations (optional)
  • 1/2 C other addins (any kind of whole or roughly chopped nuts or seeds, dried fruit, good quality chocolate chips, etc)

In a large bowl add the nut butter, honey or other sweetener, vanilla and salt if needed. Use less vanilla if yours is very strong or more if you really enjoy the vanilla flavor and don’t buy an alcohol based kind. Once this is combined add the remaining ingredients.

Once it’s all combined place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Then remove from the fridge, scoop out some dough and roll into a ball. I find it’s much easier, and works better to squeeze the handful together to compact it and then roll it into a ball.

If yours are too sticky you can considering adding more dry ingredients into them or rolling them in something like ground nuts, coconut, etc so they aren’t as sticky. Place the balls in an airtight container either in the fridge or freezer for quick and easy snacks.


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