Tuesday, December 03, 2013

My big dreaded project

I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but I fiiiiiiiiiinally got around to putting away the kids' clothes from the Fall transfer today.  This has been sitting in the foyer-to-kitchen hallway longer than I would like to admit.  An absolute eye sore.  But (to me) it seemed like too big a project to mess with.  Like, it would take too long.  Don't let these cute little boxes and piles fool you.  There's barely any organization to it.  I had to look at every piece of clothing in order to sort and store.  And for any of you out there that *truly* know me, you'll know that I STRUGGLE (with a capital S) with the clothing exchange EVERY single time.  Truly a love-hate relationship.  I feel SO freaky-deaky blessed to have clothes and shoes for each of my children.  GOD HAS PROVIDED ABUNDANTLY.  I love how they have so much-- and it is cute cute stuff!  But I HATE (despise, loathe, detest, dislike, abhor, etc.) kids trying on clothes & shoes, looking for spots/stains, sorting, organizing, deciding whether to keep/give to someone we know/donate, box, label, run up and down stairs, etc. I cannot even put into proper English words how much I have a disdain for this project.  It's unavoidable.  And it happens every year... twice.  So with that said, perhaps you can understand why I call this my "big dreaded project".  And of course, since I've been dreading it, I've been pushing it off until I "have time".  Shoot.  Who really has the time?!  It's just something one has to MAKE time for, whether you want to or not.  Well today, I MADE time.  And hated it the entire time.  But BY GOLLY it's done.  And it looks gooooood.  

It... is... finished...

Donation pile

Basement storage

Oh yeah, baby.

Feels like I just lost 30lbs!!!

Waste not thy olive juice

I save the olive juice...
and use it in NACHOS.
Mmm-hmm-- you read me right.
Instead of using plain water in my ground beef/taco seasoning meat mix, I use olive juice.
Changes the flavor just a hint.
Makes it extra yummy.

Give it a try!

The perfect pineapple

You may look at this pineapple and say "eww, it's practically rotten".
But I look at it and think "oh my, this one's perfect!"
I think it strange that when certain fruits are practically "bad" they are oftentimes the "best".
Like strawberries, for example: super ripe strawberries make the absolute *best* and *sweetest* jam.
Well, pineapples are a similar thing.
It took me a while to figure it out-- but now I've got it down to a science.

I cut these bad boys up when they look like this:
Cracks are turning brown/yellow.

The base looks like this:

The top will look like this:

The flesh will look like this.
I kid you not, it is super sweet.
Try waiting to cut your pineapple-
and you'll probably never cut one open that looks like this again:

Monday, December 02, 2013

Turkey carcass

I really think I should have been a butcher, LOL.
I love meat.  Really I do.
And not just to eat it (although that's a huge part).  I also like working with it with my hands.  Raw.  Cooked.  It really doesn't matter.  I just like the way it feels.
Ok, say it: that's weird.
It probably is, but I can't change the facts.  :-)
So Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and any other holiday/gathering throughout the year where there is a big chunk of meat to eat off of, I am the go-to person for picking the meat off the bones.
I really enjoy it.

Well this year, between eating a big meal and then immediately nursing a baby...
I passed out on the couch and missed the "de-meating" process.
A bit bummed, but I went along with it.
It actually worked to my benefit because no one else wanted to mess with the bird.  So they threw it all in a big bag and gave it to me to take home.  There was gobs of meat left on it.

So here I am at home with a big 'ol bag of turkey carcass.

After pulling off all the meat, I'm making TURKEY STOCK!

It's so so easy and so so good for you!

Here's what I did:

Put the carcass in a big soup pot and added: onion, celery, carrot, cauliflower stems.  Then added parsley, minced garlic, thyme, dry minced onion, and (2) bay leaves
**We were in charge of the veggie tray for Thanksgiving this year.  So when prepping the veggie tray, I kept/refrigerated the ends/greens/veggie leftovers for this stock.  Whatever veggies, too, that were left from the actual veggie tray went into this as well.

Bring to a rolling boil.  Then reduce to a simmer for approx 4 hours.
**I allow mine to simmer with lid on.

Bones & ligaments will literally just fall apart.
**By the way, it smells AMAZING in my home right now!

With a large slotted spoon, skim out the bones, fat, ligaments, etc. and veggies.

Strain the stock.
I just use an old, thin, clean dish towel over a colander & bowl.
Cheesecloth would work too-- I just never have any.  :-)

Turkey stock.

Since I wasn't going to use it right away, I refrigerated it.
Fat will rise to the surface.
Depends on the bird how much fat there will be on top.
This bird was pretty lean.

 Scrape off the fat.
 Making dinner with this yummy stock:
Chicken, cauliflower, potato, carrot, broccoli stems, egg noodles.
Minced dry onion, garlic powder & salt, parsley, oregano.

Man oh man!
Let's just say kids wanted 3rds!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today's project: laundry room declutter



Many cleaning products went to the basement shelves.
Yea! Now the stool fits! And I won't be accidentally be kicking it!

Tricks for feeding a large family

*Rarely* do we serve just (1) food item at a time. If we did that, we'd PLOW thru food way too quickly. So for example this snack, everyone was fed, but we still have plenty of chips, almonds, & apples for a later time.

We do the same thing with breakfast. Everyone starts with (1) bowl of cereal. If people are still hungry, we give out things like 1/2 banana, cut fruit, handful of nuts, (1) granola bar (rather than both bars that come in a package), cottage cheese, applesauce, etc. If we let them fill up on cereal alone, we'd have to buy BOXES of them at a time.

We also do something similar with main meals.  We will oftentimes combine meats, like chicken and pork, or ground pork and ground beef, etc. so that each type of meat doesn't get plowed through in one meal and there will be enough left for some other meal.

Here's an example of our dinner tonight: stir fry.  There is chicken AND bacon in this.  Now, I still have 1/2 a package of chicken and several slices of bacon left for something else later!

Not sure if this saves on the grocery bill.  But it definitely prolongs the life and usage of food products.

Monday, November 18, 2013

My take on Trim Healthy Mama

So gobs and gobs of women are losing weight with Trim Healthy Mama.
And to those women, I say, KUDOS!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing about and seeing pics of people shedding pounds.  I find it fascinating.
I got on the THM bandwagon and gave it a good, honest try.  Really, I did.
I bought the odd grocery items.  I followed the plan.  I kept a food journal.
And the scale didn't budge.
Neither did I notice my clothes fitting more loosely.
Nor did I FEEL any better.
I don't know WHAT is wrong with my body, but THM was *not* a good fit for me.
Or my family.

What ended up happening is:
1- it was too expensive buying all these strange ingredients
2- lots of rules to follow (as to what & when to eat); large learning curve
3- I was eating separate foods from the rest of the fam, which also upped the grocery bill
4- because I was eating separately, I had extra stress during meal prep (hello- we have 6 kids!)
5- because of extra stress, the quality of food everyone else was eating went down (in attempts to simplify)
6- my weight wasn't budging, so it wasn't working
7- I have always been able to lose baby weight eating our old gluten free (GF)/fat & sugar & carb full way

In a word, THM caused me "stress".  Which is probably why my scale didn't budge.  I've read that stress increases one's cortisol levels, which in turn causes the body to cling to its fat stores.


I'm not terribly overweight right now.  But I could def stand to lose like 15-20lbs.  I'm currently 6mo's post partum with Baby H (aka Hadara Suzanne, The Cute, the most amazing baby EVER!) and my weight hasn't budged in I'd say a good 2 or so months.  I've done THM AND exercised.



I've ALWAYS been able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight!  Usually by 6 months post-partum I'm either at pre-preggo weight, or well on my way there.
And all I ever did was eat gluten free, make almost all my meals from scratch (whole foods), & consume full fat/sugar/carb.
Yes, I watched my consumption.
Yes, I exercised.
No, I've never really struggled to lose weight.

So... for ME... bye bye THM and eating sugar free.

No, I am not giving THM a failing grade.  I've seen SO MANY WOMEN lose with THM.  I truly believe it works for *most* women.  And I will steer women that direction if ever they ask me for weight loss advice.

But every *body* (and family) is different.  And I believe mine was not a good fit.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gluten-free/Low-Carb Buns (aka Oopsie Rolls)

I LOVE this blog: http://yourlighterside.com.
Gobs of low carb recipes!
(I also follow this site on Facebook.)

Tonight for dinner I was wanting tuna salad sandwiches, and so, decided to they these Oopsie Rolls. They turned out great! Can't wait to try them as a "bun".

So simple. 3 ingredients.
Eggs. Cream of tartar. Cream cheese.

For the full recipe, go here.

Verdict: I like them! Next time I won't "flatten them" as much as I did. I mean, I'll keep the "bun" shape but just not flatten too thin. My were so thin I had to eat my tuna salad sandwich open-face. It was nice having something bread-y but light as a bun.

Next morning, I toasted a bun as an experiment. Toasted up quite nicely and was very tasty with butter melted on top.

This recipe is a keeper!

Gluten-free/Sugar-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

So I've been on the prowl for low-carb/sugar-free recipes here lately. Here's one that my girlfriends' young daughter created all on her own! I HAD to try it!

1 cup sugar free all-natural peanut butter
1/2 cup milk/almond milk
1 T cocoa powder
3 eggs
4 tsp (or more/to taste) Truvia (or sweetner of choice)
Mix well & pour into greased 9x9 cake pan. Bake at 350F for 12-15min.

A few tweaks: next time I'd add more cocoa powder, like say 2-4 T. I'd also add a bit more Truvia. And it'd be stellar with sugar free chocolate chips sprinkled on top. And do NOT overbake. This is a great (and quick!) base recipe, esp if you like peanut butter!

Yummy with coffee. Oh wait, EVERYthing is great with coffee. ;-)

Monday, April 01, 2013


For the past 3 years, Easter has always been a bittersweet thing for me.

In one regard, I relish the celebration of Christ's resurrection and the church services dedicated to this momentous occasion.  I love the family pow-wows and food and Easter decor and new Easter outfits for the family and Spring colors and candy and lemon meringue pie and etc.

But three years ago, we lost our sweet baby Francesca Rose on Easter.  I guess I don't know FOR SURE when we actually lost her.  I just remember being SO uncomfortable that entire day.  Couldn't enjoy the celebrations.  Just wanted to go home.  Come Monday, I was fine.  Come that Friday... I had a stillbirth.  Autopsy results say she was gone for about a week.  So in my head, Easter means, well, for lack of a better word, death.

Here we're supposed to be celebrating Christ's resurrection and life.
But I can't get death out of my mind.

Two years ago, when I was pregnant with Graham, I basically relived that entire day.  I was a mess emotionally.  We went up north to visit the same family and attend the same church service and have a very similar meal with everyone that had been there the year before.  Since I conceived Graham 3 months after I birthed Francesca, his pregnancy lined up almost exactly with all the milestones from Francesca's.  So when Easter came around, I was just as pregnant with him as I was with her.  I can't hardly even remember that holiday.  I think I blocked it out.  Nothing tragic happened, obviously, since we went on to have a perfectly healthy baby.

But this year, anew, those same sickening emotions were *trying* to wash over me.
Once again, I am just as pregnant with Baby H as I was with both Francesca and Graham.
Once again, I had to face Easter.

I feel that this year was one of healing.  A year to conquer some of the mental roadblocks I have been hanging on to. I was able to relax and actually enjoy the holiday.  I was able to truly interact and enjoy family, fellowship, and food.  I was actually able to focus on Christ and His resurrection.  I was able to finally see "life" instead of "death".  And this may sound corny, but here's another mental roadblock: I even wore the Easter shirt I wore 3 years ago.  I *know* it's just a shirt.  But to me, it held memories.  I wore it without *fear*.

And Baby H wiggled ALL DAY LONG!  It was SUCH a blessing from God.  A pouring rain of spiritual and emotional and mental healing that He gave to me. This year, I celebrated LIFE.  Life of this precious unborn baby I carry.  And the resurrection life of my Lord and Savior.

This is from yesterday.
35 weeks with Baby H.

Happy Easter, everyone!


My book is coming!!!

Hubby ordered Trim Healthy Mama for me!
It'll be here Wednesday!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Trim Healthy Mama

So excited to get this book!  Hubby is ordering it for me.  Perhaps this will help me in the *diet* area and help curb these sometimes awful sugar/carb cravings I get. 640 pages of information and recipes from two moms that have had several children themselves!  I follow their THM page on Facebook and they have testimonial after testimonial from moms that are dropping weight so fast, but in a healthy way!  REALLY curious to read what they have to say!

Dieting & Exercising for Your Body Type

Came across some really interesting information about changing your eating and exercising routines to best suit your body type.

Read it HERE.

It makes total sense as there are DEFINITELY differences in body types!  No one exercise or eating plan is going to be best for ALL people.

I think I fall into the "endomorph" category.

So that would mean...

-lifting moderate weights (2 sets/10-12 reps)
-circuit/full-body strength training 3x/wk
-45min medium intensity cardio 2x/wk
-20min high intensity interval cardio 2x/wk

-drink lots of water
-get lots of fiber
-eat lots of protein
-keep fat intake at 20% total daily calories
-limit sugars and carbs
-eat 5-6 small meals all throughout the day

Being as far along as I am, I can't start a weight lifting regimen. But post-partum I can!  I've got both ChaLean Extreme and Turbo Jam (from Beachbody), Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds (1-5mi), and a treadmill.  I think I'll be good to go.

Watching my diet *shouldn't* be a problem...
Biggest struggle: watching sugar and carb intake.  I get some pretty intense cravings.  I *tried* giving up sugar for Lent this year... but 2-1/2 weeks in I caved and gave up.  The cravings were awful and my carb load had increased a lot.  (Probably making up for the lack of sugar in my system, as carbs metabolize as sugars.)  Not really sure what to do with this...  :-/

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Birth Kit came in!!!

So what all comes in a birth kit?

The very first kit we purchased (with Cassandra's birth, our very first home birth) was pretty "deluxe". It had all the bells and whistles. Now that we've done it a few times (Baby H will make our 5th homebirth), we've fine tuned our purchase to the basics. You can order whole kits or "a la cart". But in a nutshell, here's what comes in a kit: 

The company we purchase from is a Christian company.  So every package comes with this beautiful prayer for mom and baby. 
Super Absorbancy Maxi pads and Perineal Cold Packs

Rubbing alcohol, tape measure, footprinter, and Goldenseal capsules (an herb that speeds up the baby's cord healing).

Sterile gloves, cord clamp, lubricating jelly, and a huge 9'x12' plastic mat to cover the floor and surrounding furniture.
Absorbancy mats (large and small).
Those lovely post-partum stretchy underpants, bulb syringe, and perineal spray bottle.

My favorites: afterbirth bath herbs and mother's milk tea.
I LOVE the smell of the the afterbirth bath herbs.  About the time I'm in transition, I can smell it brewing on the stove.  I relax knowing it'll all be over soon.  It's such a happy, soothing smell.  In just a few moments, I'm gonna have a sweet little newborn in my arms.  The smell honestly gives me that last little endorphine boost to push and get through birth.  Once baby is born and we get somewhat cleaned up, baby and I get to bathe in this together.  It is an awesomely sweet bonding moment.

Other miscellaneous things we get ready in preparation for birth:
-paper towel roll
-large garbage bag
-placenta tub
-old raggedy towels
-birth clothes for me
-baby's first clothes/hat
-swaddling blackets
-burp rags
-breast pads and lanolin cream
-Boppy pillow and covers
-nursing cover (love my Hooter Hider)
-menstrual pads
-Tucks pads
-newborn diapers

It's almost time!!! I'm so excited!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Arianna in the kitchen

I love how Arianna is turning into quite the chef around here. She LOVES to cook and oftentimes catches the "cooking bug" and experiments with many different things. Here she made a banana/orange/strawberry/honey smoothie in the blender, poured it onto plates, then sprinkled with flax meal. When frozen, she used cookie cutters to punch out smoothie shapes.

 Then she took frozen fruit, honey, flax meal and fruit juice to make "ice cubes".
She froze them with toothpicks in them for easy handling.

Here she made Trail Mix!

Sneaky ways to sneak in school

I can slip ANYTHING into these clear sleeves! I simply just tape them to the table as a sort of "placemat". The kids will quiz each other, mark on them with dry erase markers, copy & trace, etc. It's wonderful! As soon as any amount of boredom strikes, they're learning their math tables, cursive writing, spelling words, etc. I LOVE it!


Well folks, here's my little Graham Jeffrey! He's my counter top (or stove top) kid. Loves to help out in the kitchen and "help" me cook and sample food. Got a little bed head but he's still pretty cute (I think).
He'll be 2 May 4th.

Serves me right...

For having a 4yr old paint my nails. LOL 
Thanks Edmund.  :-)

Quick Herbal Remedies For Colds

So for some reason these past 2 days I have started to get an annoying cough/sinus drainage cold thing. Today the sinus pressure was so bad behind my left eye I felt like I was going to "lose my cookies". I managed to keep a couple ibuprophen down and take a nap. It eventually subsided. When I got up, tho, I was determined to battle it with herbs.

Here's a super quick recipe:
-honey (raw/local is best)
-ground cinnamon

I don't really measure.
But I add approx 1/4t of cinnamon to approx 1T of honey.

Stir until smooth.
You can either eat it straight or spread it on a piece of bread. 

Another herbal remedy I LOVE to use is garlic oil!
(Also see here!)
I ALWAYS keep a jar in the refrigerator!

An easy way to get a lot down is to spread it on bread/toast.
You can easily eat a whole tablespoon and not realize it.
This is especially helpful for children.

Sprinkle with a little cheese...

Melt and voila!

Garlic oil can also be rubbed on the chest, in/around the ears (if an ear infection is detected), on the neck, and the soles of the feet.  However one uses it, it'll immediately absorb into the bloodstream and start working on viruses and bacteria.