Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Importance of Routine

This past month has been just crazy for our family and has re-emphasized the importance of routine to me. At the beginning of the month we took a family vacation, then after coming home we each proceeded to get sick. All week long somebody in our house was sick. We even had to call in my dad for a few hours to watch Caitlin while Eric and I sat in sick stupor on the couch. The next week was all about trying to get back into our normal routine, but I also had to clean the house top to bottom from the after vacation laundry pile up and from everyone being sick and not doing anything to clean up behind themselves for a week. That was no fun!

This week, we have finally been able to get back into a normal groove. Caitlin did have her 18 month check up and shots making her a little crabby. And today when I finally got to the gym for the first time this month, she had a difficult time adjusting to going into the child care area while I did a workout. But, I suppose that's to be expected. She'll do better next time.

Routine is so important for babies and toddlers. Without a normal routine, an expectation of how the day is going to go, they get cranky and irritable. At least, mine does. And it's great for me too. I know when Caitlin can handle playing by herself, when she needs interactive play, when she needs a snack, when she is ready for a nap, etc. So I can plan my day around her needs. I know some parents say you shouldn't plan around your child, and I agree to some degree. But I know that if I try to go to the grocery store when my daughter needs a nap, I won't get my grocery shopping done the way it needs to be done and she will be miserable.

Mind you, I don't keep a rigid schedule. Caitlin takes her nap at 1, usually. Today she was tired and ready a little after 12, so I put her down for her nap. But it is nice to know what to expect. Anyway, I am thankful that we are finally getting back on some sort of schedule.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Upcoming Review

I have been given the opportunity to review a product from CSN Stores. CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find anything you need whether it be a stylish handbag, a chic bar stool or even cute cookware!
I'm not sure yet what I plan to get. Maybe the awesome KitchenAid Vegetable Strainer attachment pictured below? It would really be helpful in making my own BBQ sauce, creating smooth jams and jellies, and other home canning things.

Maybe a this Thorpe Home Size Rolling Pin because I don't really like the one I've got?

Maybe something else entirely? There are just so many awesome things on the CSN websites, it's hard to choose.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Little Bit of Honesty

Ok, I need to vent a little and toot my own horn a little too.

Last Thursday evening we decided to go get some ice cream from a local ice cream shop. (For anyone local, I'm sure you know about Sunny Sky's and just how good it is.) They only accept cash or check there, so we stopped to get some money from the ATM before getting ice cream. We got some really good ice cream. Then when we got home, my husband took his wallet out of his pocket and put it on the dresser like usual, when what do we see but a shiny $20 bill. We didn't pay!! We did try to pay one of the girls working there, but she just got another customer and told us to pay the other girl working. It was an honest mistake. I guess we had gotten so caught up talking with the people there, we didn't realize it.

So, Saturday after visiting my sister, we stopped by again, fessed up, and paid. It would have been an easy thing to not go back and pay. It's not some place we pass on a daily basis. The workers there obviously didn't realize the mistake. No one would have ever known.

Ok, so that's the tooting my own horn part. I did good -- this time. Now here's the vent part. So many people today wouldn't have gone back and paid because we are so caught up in trying to get a deal regardless of the means. We want to know someone who works at our favorite restaurant because we want to get a discount or even free food. We sneak a few grapes while grocery shopping knowing that we are charged by the pound. There are so many little things that we do daily that compromises our honesty and integrity and many times don't even realize it. In fact, we relish in the fact that we got the deal.

Remember in high school, how someone might give you free food or a discount on something because you were cute or flirty. (I actually never did have anything like that happen to me, but it did happen quite often to my friends.) It was awesome! It was validating! It was free!! It would have only cost you $5 anyway.

Don't get me wrong. I love finding a great deal and saving money. But I want it to be on honest and fair terms. I don't want to sell my honesty and integrity for the price of a happy meal. How about you?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pear Jam from Free Pears

Saturday we went to visit my sister for an early birthday get together. We just wanted to spend some time with her since she actually had a weekend day off. When we arrived at her new place, the first thing we noticed was a pear tree in her front yard. She quickly told us that there was another around the corner, plus a walnut tree and a pecan tree. My sister however is not a fan of pears, she prefers peaches. So there were tons of pears just sitting on the ground going to waste. Being the helpful sister that I am, I offered to help her clean up a few. In fact, we stuffed a whole grocery bag full of them. And not just the perfect ones either, we picked up some with a few bad spots on them. I just couldn't let all those pears go to waste!

So the next day, I tried making pear jam for the first time. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to preserve them, but I didn't want to just freeze the pears. That's when I decided on jam.

It was different from making strawberry jam because it was more soupy in the pot and set later. With strawberry jam we could almost see it gelling in the pot. Anyway, the pear jam did set. Yeah! And it tastes pretty good. Now I just need to make some bread to toast and spread the jam on.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Boudreaux's Butt Paste - Sponsored Post

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. All opinions are 100% mine.


Have you ever tired Boudreaux's Butt Paste? Being a cloth diapering mamma, I don't use diaper cream that often. But the six months before converting to cloth was full of diaper creams. I think I tried just about every brand out there. Boudreaux's Butt Paste was a really great product. It surprised me when I first opened it up because it wasn't the same color or consistency as other diaper creams. What I liked most about it was that it really was a paste and not a cream. It's thicker consistency made me feel like it would last much longer on my daughter's skin than some other thinner products. And it still wiped off easily, not leaving any yucky residue.

Even though this product wasn't the bright white color as other creams, it still has 16% zinc oxide in it which is great for helping those rashy bums. It also contains Peruvian Basalm, which, I'm guessing, is where the light brown color of the paste comes from. Not knowing what this Peruvian Basalm is, I did a little research. It's the resign from a basalm tree and is know for being an antiseptic.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste's website tells me that it was specifically formulated by a pharmacist with direction from a respected pediatrician to provide effective diaper rash care. That's great that a pediatrician would take the time to find a more effective diaper rash solution.

If you haven't tried this product yet, or maybe you have, but would just like an awesome freebie, go to www.buttpaste.com to get a free sample.



Visit my sponsor: Boudreaux's Butt Paste

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reusable, Reversible Swiffer Sock

I found this really cute project and I can't remember which blog linked me to it, so I apologize in advance for not linking back.

I bought into the Swiffer hype a while back. And truthfully, I LOVE IT! I hated dunking a mop into a bucket of water and slopping it all over my floor. The water would gradually, sometimes not so gradually, become murky and gross. Dirt would cling to my mop. Swiffer's Wet Jet is brilliant. No mop buckets, easy to get rid of mop pads. The problem is, those mop pads are expensive and not at all kind to mother nature. So, when I saw this crochet project for a reusable, reversible swiffer sock, I had to make it. (The pattern comes from Craftzine.com)

You can use the side with the ridges for scrubbing up stuck-on yuckiness,


Or the smooth side for a simple dust mop or light mopping on hard woods.


The only problem I encountered with it, is that the sock covers the squirters on my Wet Jet. So, I simply folded the front under and the velcro on the Wet Jet held it in place. Problem solved.


I still get to use my beloved Wet Jet, but no longer have to buy disposable pads for it! I think I'm in love!

Oh, and for instructions on how to refill that swiffer cleaning solution bottle, check out Big Green Head. I didn't know how to do it either until I read this posts.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Farm Tour

This past weekend, we took part in The Eastern Triangle's 5th Annual Farm Tour. I had been looking forward to this for over a month now. We saw four of the twenty some farms on the tour.

Some of you may think, hey, when you've seen one farm, you've seen them all. Not so. We visited a goat farm, a farm that raised a rare heirloom chicken breed with a home from the 1860s, a community garden, and the only certified organic farm in our county. We did see a lot of the same animals, but seeing each of the farmers and learning about their farming techniques was really interesting.

Our first stop was Humbug Farms. Humbug Farm is a 12-acre farm dedicated to sustainable farming and emphasizing grass-based livestock production. The farm features Border Leicester sheep (the breed used in the movie “Babe”), Nubian dairy goats, horses, and guinea hens for pest control. Goat milk soap, wool, yarn, blankets, and other handcrafted items were for sale.


Next we went to High Ground Farm a beautiful 17-acre farm where chickens roam free on pasture in a secluded forest setting. They had rare Java chickens and 100 laying hens. The chickens are Animal Welfare Approved, have a new chicken house, and produce beautiful eggs. The picture below is their new chicken house. It's so cute! Their home, the Harrington-Dewar House circa 1860, is on the National Historic Registry.


On our way home, we stopped at a community garden in Fuquay. We've known about the Covenant Community Garden for several years now, but had never stopped by to see it. This 7500 sq ft garden is a real community effort and provides food for the local food pantry. They had raised beds of organically grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and even a couple of bee boxes.


Sunday, we stopped by another local farm we've know about for some time, Hill Top Farms. They are a 300-year-old family farm being brought into the 21st century with certified organic produce and horse boarding. They supply our local CSA and have 100-year-old pecan trees, sweet potatoes, okra, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, fall crop transplants, and some early Asian greens. I couldn't believe it when they told me they were the only certified organic farm in our county! He said there are tons of farms in neighboring counties, but the only one in ours. Maybe it's a population thing? Wake County is certainly way more populated that surrounding ones. Maybe there are less farms?

Monday, September 20, 2010

What do you fertilize with?

At one time, we used Miracle Grow in our garden. We would sprinkle the fertilizer pellets or spray fertilizer when we watered the garden. Since getting on board with the green machine, I have since rethought my position on Miracle Grow or other fertilizers. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a wise investment to fertilize your crops, but we need to make sure we know what it is we are using first. If you remember your history right, Indians showed the pilgrims how to bury fish near their crops to enrich the soil and produce a better yield. Composting creates wonderful nutrient rich soil that fertilizes your vegetable garden.

Today we buy Miracle Grow or whatever other brand product without much thought as to what we are putting in our soil and on our food. I tried to find the ingredients in your standard Miracle Grow for vegetable gardens online but was so far unsuccessful. I will definitely let you know if I find out more. But I don't think I will be using that product anymore simply because of something I found while cleaning out my garage. On one of the shelves there was this greenish-blue stuff piled up and it was spilling out of an old opened up bag of Miracle Grow powder. Well, as I was wiping it off the shelf, I notice that I was wiping off something else too. The shelf. The Miracle Grow ate a hole into my shelf! Hubby says it's from the nitrogen. Even if what ate a hole in my shelf was all natural from the nitrogen (and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt until I see a label) this still goes back to what I was talking about with grass fertilizers and our water supply - way too much nitrogen. It's just not good.

Now, I don't want to bash Miracle Grow. They do carry an organic line of fertilizer and plant foods. They did list some of the ingredients for these products online which included chicken litter, feather meal, and fermented sugar beet molasses. So, please don't misconstrue this post to be attacking their company. I don't know enough about them yet to say anything substantial.

I want to just bring attention to what we are putting on our food regardless of the company who produced it, or even if it's a homegrown solution to your fertilizing needs. I've even read about a family who would gather seaweed at the beach to bring home for fertilizer. (I can't remember which blog, so please forgive me for not linking back.)

For now, I think Hubby and I are sticking to having good compost; some we bought, and some we created ourselves.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Windmills in the Berkshires

While on vacation last week, my family and I just couldn't stop talking about the massive wind turbines on top of the mountains surrounding our resort. They're so big! They sparked good conversation about wind energy, clean energy, versus coal and nuclear plants. But what we spent the most time trying to figure out was why one windmill was constantly turning and the other two we could see were at a standstill.

By the end of the week, someone finally asked the concierge at our resort about it. We were told that there is a lawsuit against the power company because the windmills distract from the natural beauty of the mountains. The windmills have been shut down until a decision is made in this suit. Except for the one on Jiminy Peak. That one is on private property and can thus continue to run.

I guess I can see where some might feel this way, but personally, I think the windmills are kind of pretty in their own way. Yes, they are perched right on top of the mountain, but it didn't distract me from any of the natural beauty around me. I thought they were really neat and glad to see progress being made toward clean energy. And, like I said earlier, it sparked some great conversation. As a visitor to the area, I liked seeing the windmills there and they certainly wouldn't detour me from visiting again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finally Watched Food, Inc

Sunday night, my hubby and I sat down and watched Food, Inc. I was really surprised! Not so much by the information they shared. Politicians being on different national food boards and vying for bills that protect the food industry instead of the farmer is sadly expected. I was pleasantly surprised at the respectful way the movie was produced.

I was expecting to be completely grossed out by startling images of abused animals and butcher shops for the full movie. Yes, they did show some very disturbing things, but it was interspersed with interviews, they showed what a healthy farm looks like, and the images of abuse could have been so much worse. For me, the worse scene was of a cow trying to walk with what appeared to be two broken back legs.

I knew before watching this film that our food industry is in an awful state. We have the obesity problems, diabetes problems, and many other health issues because we eat so many processed, genetically modified foods. This movie, however, was still an eye opener. It's tragic in every capacity. The treatment of animals, under the table politics, treatment of farmers and plant workers.

After watching this film, Eric and I have decided that we want to make every effort to eat locally fresh foods from neighboring farms and stay out of the grocery store as much as possible. It's not that grocery stores are bad, but it would be easier to resist the junk in the grocery store if I just don't go in it at all. Obviously, I won't be able to avoid grocery stores completely. If I need household products or certain items I can't find locally (for example, maybe I can't find a wheat farmer to get my flour from), I will go. But my new goal is to only get those needed items.

This will take some time because we will need to expand our own garden, find local farmers for meats and dairy, etc. But I think it is a worthy goal for the well being of our family and to help local growers prosper.

Anyway, if you haven't seen Food Inc yet, and are interested in where your food comes from, how it's treated and processed, rent this movie. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

5QP66BECTMRF - It's Good to Be Home

5QP66BECTMRF
Nothing feels so good as to come home to a clean house. Of course, you then drop all your luggage as you come in and it's not so clean anymore.

Last week I didn't have many posts because my hubby, Caitlin, and I went to the Berkshires in Massachusetts with my parents for the week. I think that is the first week long vacation I have taken with my parents in my adult life. It was really nice to spend that kind of time with them and they with Caitlin.

We stayed busy visiting different places in the area and even taking a side trip to Boston. It was an exhausting tour, but lots of fun. The first place we visited was the Hancock Shaker Village. What a fascinating place and people! The Shakers were a sect of Quakers known as the "Shaking Quakers" who lived a celibate life in a communal society. You can read more about the Shakers here on Wikipedia.


What I found so interesting about them, was the way they lived off the land. I'm sure many people did during that time, but at the Hancock Shaker Village, they showed us how they did it. Windows were south facing and installed with a slant making the most use of the sun to heat the communal home during winter. They had a large medicinal garden full of herbs and other plants known for their healing properties. Sheep were kept for their wool along with other farm animals for meat, milk, and eggs. They pretty much had or made everything they needed right there in their own village.

Caitlin really enjoyed the barn with baby animals and chasing the sheep in the pasture outside.




We went hiking in Beartown State Park.


We took a side trip to Boston and looked at half of the Freedom Trail sites including the USS Constitution, Paul Revere's house, the Old State House, and site of the Boston Massacre. I wish we had more time in Boston, there was so much to see.





And of course, Caitlin had lots of fun with her 'ganny pappy' and 'ganny mammy'.

Later in the week, Eric and I took Caitlin to a dairy farm to see the cows and watch a milking. It wasn't as hands-on as I was hoping it to be, but it was free so I'm not complaining. Cricket Creek Farm is a small family owned dairy farm and one that inspires me for a simpler life. They had a cute little farm store with organic, grass-fed meats, dairy products, fresh breads, and other locally produced products.

One of the things, Eric and I would eventually like to have is a dairy cow. So, this experience was one that showed me how much I have to learn. Before taking the plunge and getting a cow one day, I hope to find some family owned business like this one to volunteer at and learn from. But that visit also taught me how worth it a dairy cow would be. Depending on the breed, you could get 5 - 8 gallons of milk per milking per cow. That's 10 - 16 gallons of milk a day from one cow! Depending on the breed of course.

We also went to the Brimfield Antique Show, drove into Conneticut just to say we did, drove up to Bennington Vermont and saw the covered bridges there, and finally stopped at the Washington Park in Albany, NY before heading to the airport.

Let me just say it one more time... it's good to be home!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Clean Routine

I hate to admit it, but I don't clean my house as much as I should. It sometimes feels as if I kept my house cleaner when I had an outside of the home job. Do any of you other SAHMs feel that way? Of course, when I had a job outside of the home, I also didn't have a baby.

Growing up my mom, who had to work, always cleaned the house on Saturday mornings. I would wake up to noises of pots and pans clanging about in the kitchen. And when I got up and had some breakfast, I was given cleaning tasks to do. This routine became ingrained into my psyche. After I got married and was working, this too, became my routine. It worked great for me because I'm a morning person for sure. I've always gotten my best work done in the mornings. When I came home from work I just didn't feel like cleaning and if the house was cleaned up on Saturday morning I could relax and enjoy myself on Saturday afternoon.

Now, staying at home with my daughter, I feel like I'm always cleaning up something, but the house never gets clean. In fact, I have been cleaning up a storm lately because I'm just so tired of the house looking dirty and tired. As I was cleaning the mirror in one of the bathrooms, I realized I couldn't remember the last time I did that. It's Shameful! I'm always busy cleaning up behind my precious, but oh so messy toddler, or cleaning up the kitchen because I prepare at least two meals a day now, but I rarely have time to CLEAN; you know, soap and water clean, not just picking up the mess clean. I don't want to take up my time on Saturdays cleaning any more. I mean, I'm home all week, I should be able to get it done. Besides, now, that time is devoted family time.

At one point, I had made myself a daily and weekly task list. That helped for a while, because I'm also a list person, but it just never developed into a routine and that is really what I need. I think I'm going to try breaking it down into rooms.

Monday: laundry and bathrooms
Tuesday: finish laundry and bedrooms
Wednesday: office and floors
Thursday: kitchen (deep cleaning) - obviously the kitchen needs general cleaning everyday
Friday: living and dining rooms
I don't know. Maybe this will work? Something has to or else I'm going to go crazy. Does anyone else have this problem? Or is it just me?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Something Smells And It's Not Her Diaper

I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing Labor Day weekend. I'll tell you more about mine later. Today, I need to kick myself a little.

Do you ever catch yourself doing something dumb or realizing too late that what you were thinking or doing or saying just doesn't make sense. I had one of those moments last week. I'm changing my daughter's diaper and suddenly an awful stench permeates the air. What is that? It's not her diaper. So I start sniffing around and it's her wipes. What?

I've been using cloth wipes for the past couple of months now. I made some from a botched sewing project and it's been working out perfectly until now. The wipes are flannel, the solution is nothing but water with a little bit of baby wash and baby oil. So why the smell??

I guess I had been washing the piece of tupperware I kept the wipes in every time I washed the wipes, without even thinking about why I did it. This past time however I didn't. I guess I thought it wouldn't be a big deal because it was just water, soap, and oil. Well, I was wrong, very wrong. Washing that container EVERY time I need to wash the wipes obviously makes a difference.

I don't think I'll be making that mistake again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Recipes - Updated Scalloped Potatoes

I tried another new recipe this week and I actually remembered to take some pictures! This is a spin on an old favorite comfort food - scalloped potatoes. I really like the taste of the sweet potatoes in this dish. Try it out and let me know what you think.

1 pound sweet potatoes
1 pound russet potatoes
1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat over to 350. Grease a round dish.


Peel potatoes and cut into thin slices.


Mix cheese and seasoning in small bowl and set aside.
Place a single layer of potato slices in dish, alternating sweet and russet, overlapping them slightly. Then top with half of the cheese mixture.


Finish layering potatoes and top with the other half of the cheese mixture. Pour cream over top to completely cover.

Bake until golden and bubbly, about 1 hour - 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. (Sorry, of all the pictures I took, I forgot the most important one - the finished dish.)

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Two days ago I posted about our new raised beds in our garden. We have put in two of the three planned beds. I think they look great and I'm excited about the fall crop we've planted. But, as usual, I'm already onto the next thing or more of the same old thing, just bigger and better.

I was out in the yard with Caitlin today and as she was happily playing in her sandbox, I was loosely measuring for more raised beds! We haven't even finished all three of the ones we want to add for the fall.

It seems a bit crazy. But it really isn't, at least not to me. I was thinking about our summer harvest this year and how my hubby and I had already decided we wanted to plant corn next year. I also want to put up more spaghetti sauce and learn how to make ketchup, BBQ sauce, and salsa for canning. All that means I need to plant more tomatoes next year. I'd love to have a few melons in the garden. And we didn't even get any hot peppers this year because of space. So, that means we need to expand next year, right!

I just can't help myself. I'm a planner. I've drawn up designs for shelving in our daughter's room, laundry room, landscaping plans, and all sorts of other things that haven't been done. Maybe one day they will get done? Maybe not. I guess I'm just a dreamer. But I'd rather dream big (i.e. our homestead) and try for those things, than sit around doing nothing. Planning and dreaming doesn't mean I'm dissatisfied with my life or the things around me, it just means I see room for growth or improvement. And personally, I don't see anything wrong with that as long as I know that the true source of happiness isn't in this world anyway, and I do.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

$50 CSN Stores Giftcard Winner


Congratulations to entry #35!

35
DG said...
daily tweet thanks! :)
http://twitter.com/DeeGee13/status/20854197795
dreamzz12{at]aol{dot}com

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