laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Mommy Poppins


Look, I know that there are always going to be fads, and that diets are no exception. Kale is a phenom today and tomorrow it might be dandelions. I get it. Fads happen, people grab on for reasons from wanting to be healthy to just liking to stay part of the crowd. Or worse, to be “trending”. (I feel like that should’ve been accompanied by a #hashtag) See, I do get it. And still, I find myself disheartened when someone finds out that we’re a gluten free family. Especially when their response is similar to the one I got this morning.

Oh, you’re one of those.

Excuse me? One of those whats?

Oh, you know, one of those mommy-poppins where you make all your food from scratch and you’re an organizational freak, you homeschool, and your children are always perfectly polite. And with an added eye-roll (just in case I couldn’t feel the distain dripping off her words) I’d think you were one of those moms who just likes to make other moms look bad or feel guilty, if it weren’t for the way you’re dressed. 

At this point, I couldn’t help but laugh. I am….reserved. I’m quiet if I don’t know you and hate confrontation. So this morning was almost like an out of body experience when I found my timid self voicing the things that would have normally just been left to scream in my head. I laughed, out loud style, Like, really laughed. Enough to make her look at me with eyes wide in a way that I’m pretty sure said, oh good lord, what have I done?

Once I regained composure of my unkempt hair, makeup-less face, and sweat pants and shirt covered self, and looked at her well-manicured, make-uped, hair done, business attired self and tried not to burst out laughing all over again. And then I shared with her some of my thoughts.

Some of your assumptions were correct. I do make lots of things from scratch, and I really do love organization more than the average person, and my children are usually polite… but there is nothing about me that does any of those things for any reason that is outside of my family. We’re gluten free because two of my three children have Celiac Disease. And well, you know, we’d like to keep them alive, and thriving, even. And the from scratch part, well, that’s simple. It’s a third of the cost than buying gluten free things store bought, and it gives us more options. So I don’t really have much of a choice. If I bought every meal from a store (vs homemade/from scratch), we’d spend over $1,000 on groceries. And that is not an exaggeration.  And homeschooling, well, that’s a bigger issue. But my oldest has dyslexia like his daddy, and learning is a struggle. So we keep him home and practice being patient every single day so that he can have a different learning experience than the handful of people we know that struggled with dyslexia as children that the school system left feeling stupid. And as far as the organization goes…I love it, I really do. But I have three children. I have a demanding day time schedule, and often have to stay up until three am just to keep up with the laundry and the food prep clean up, and everything else. And that’s when I’m not working, if I am there are usually several nights a month where I do not get to sleep, at all. I have learned to function on very little sleep. Which is why my hair is in a pony tail and my face is plain, and my clothes are frumpy at best. I would never try and make another mom feel bad about the job she’s doing or that she’s not doing enough. I would like to believe that we’re all trying our best. Sometimes I wish that celiac, or dyslexia, weren’t a part of our daily lives. It would certainly make things simpler. And would open up some more time for all of us. But it’s the life I have and I do everything I can for my children to feel that it’s a normal one, and that they’re not missing out on anything. 

The lady didn’t look at me, and didn’t say anything for a long time, and we just stood in silence, watching our children playing together across the playground. Just before she round up her children to head home, she (without looking at me) did quietly say,

Well, your children sure are cute.

Um, thanks. 

 

I’m not sure if that was her version of an apology or if she realized that we’ve all got struggles and whether we look like we’ve got it together or not, it’s probably not. I hope so. I hope the next mom who says, Oh you’re one of those really means, Oh, you’re one of those moms that struggles just like the rest of us, your struggles just look differently than mine. And I hope that the next time I find myself thinking, Oh you’re one of those about anybody, that I remember that their struggles just look differently than mine.

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Simple and Impressive


For a fantastic dinner, first you start with…

One very delicious margarita.

Next you get the main course going…

Yes, it did taste as good as it looks!

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 lb)

2 tbs butter, melted

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs worcestershire sauce

2 tbs orange muscat wine (you can use 2 tbs frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed)

1. Heat oven to 375. Brush whole chicken with butter; sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, pepper, and half of the ginger (1/2 tsp). Place chicken in shallow roasting pan. 2. Roast chicken uncovered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the other half of the ginger (1/2 tsp), brown sugar, soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and the orange wine. (Don’t forget a sip for yourself, you know, just taste testing.) 3. Remove chicken from oven. Brush mixture over chicken. 4. Return to oven; roast uncovered 20 minutes. Brush remaining mixture over chicken and squash; cover loosely with foil, and roast 30 minutes longer. (Until thermometer reads 180 and legs move easily when lifted or twisted.)

While the main course is going, you get some sides together:

Really yummy ears of corn.

And…

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Strawberries. Served with an incredibly delicious cream cheese fruit dip.

And it was fantastic! We’d had so many grey days that I need a meal to make me feel like it was summer- and this did the trick! And I loved it so much that I’ve decided not to wait until Thursday to share it!

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Monkey Bread Madness


Do to my love of all things Pinterest, I have an ever growing list of foods I want to make. Well, after looking through my fridge, I decided on pizza… and then I remembered this. Monkey breadish pizza. (Seriously, the pictures are so good it’s no wonder they’re on pinterest for the rest of us to drool over!)

Looks fantastic, right? Photo Credit: Confections of a Foodie Bride. (You can go there for the original recipe too.)

In the morning, Big E had called one of his uncles asking him if he could come over and play. So just as I was gathering up things for dinner making, I got a phone call asking if I’d mind some visitors for dinner time. And we were so happy they could join us.

photo credit: Biggest E

I will admit that this took a little longer to make than I originally expected. With some organization -or an extra pair of hands- it could be done a lot more seamlessly. Overall, I did find this a great way to use up some leftovers! The original recipe used cubes of mozzarella, and pepperoni. I had neither. I did have shredded mozzerella, bacon, and chicken… all just sitting in my fridge, begging to be used before they went bad.

First things first, though… the pizza dough.

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 2 cup water
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum in a large bowl. In another bowl, blend the water, olive oil, and vinegar and whisk to mix. Pour the liquid ingredients of the flour mixture. Stir hard, briefly, to make a smooth, soft batter. Occasionally, I have to add a little more flour to get the batter so that it holds it’s shape. If more flour is necessary, I use tapioca flour, and add it in a tbs at a time.

Step Two

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded/chopped chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 package bacon
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, for dipping

Heat garlic and butter over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and let sit. Lightly brush the inside of a bundt pan  with garlic butter. Pull off large marble-sized balls of dough and flatten- trying to stay consistent with the size. Top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese (I used shredded but you could certainly use cubes. Might be easier to seal with cubes instead of shredded.), chicken, and bacon. Wrap the dough around the toppings, pinching well to seal. Very lightly brush the pizza ball with garlic butter and place into the bundt pan. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is very brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Not a terrific picture, but you get the idea.

These were so good… super filled. And they went fast.

Ok, so I have a confession- the photos, and story, are actually from December… but for some reason I never posted. So, today seemed like perfect day to get back in the foodie saddle! Because a)it’s cold and grey out today, which makes me think about warm, yummy food. And b) my 3 little ones are all cuddled in a blanket together on the couch. Their being so sweet I’m a little worried they’re plotting something. Seriously, they’re all snuggled in, sharing a blanket and pillow. Giving each other hugs and occasional kisses on each others’ cheeks. So I’m going to be spending time soaking all this sweetness in.)

*I just wanted to add that I made this recipe again tonight and it was even better than I remembered. Biggest and Miss helped me, and I’m not sure if they added more water/oil or what, but I did end up adding about a full cup extra of GF all-purpose flour before I could actually get it to be the consistency I needed. But they weren’t too dense or too floury or anything. They were perfect. That said… after hubby helped himself to them right out of the pan (hence no new, great photos), I discovered the bottom layer ones were not cooked through all the way- they were still a little doughy, so I threw them in for about 5 more minutes. I just didn’t want anyone trying this out and feel like I sold ‘em a bag of worms! (Because that would be just gross)

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Cream Cheese Delight


Hubbyman was home early today, and since I stayed up late and got caught up on household things…today I could do what I want. Relatively. We played games, we cuddled, we read books. And then they requested “girl cheese” (grilled cheese) and toast with cinnamon.  It’s been months since I’ve made bread and so I decided today was the day for it! I used a recipe I found on Our Best Bites last August. (I blogged about it, but it went largely unnoticed.) They’re still rising, but I can tell you they’re going to be equally as fabulous this time!

I turned the rolls into bread…and it was fabulous!

Last time I made the frosting pink for Miss E since lots of times she gets left when it comes to deserts. This time I couldn’t bear to let the “filling” go to waste (since I’d forgotten to halve it, due to not making a full batch), but I still wanted it to be kind of glazed (versus frosted) so I added a good amount of milk, and then a little powdered sugar. Which also helped it to be not quite so rich since it already had the rich filling.) Perfect. Delicious. Even better than the first time around!

If you want to try them, go here for the full recipe! Or go to my link for my version of them (their recipe makes them rolls- I turned them into bread and used the extra dough to make a few of the cream cheese delights. Just enough to enjoy without them going bad as lots of desserts do in our home.) Oh, and the recipes are easy and other than the time for letting them rise, they take hardly any time!

I know, I normally (ie. when I remember) do recipes on Thursdays, but I decided these were too yummy to wait! That and my *&$#% keyboard has yet to be replaced.)

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Simply Comforting


I’ve seen a lot of other blogs recently featuring their favorite comfort foods. I even did a chicken noodle soup one. While this one isn’t so terribly different. It’s good enough that you’re going to want to try it. And for a limited time only, I will offer you two recipes for the price of one.

Bacon Chicken and Dumplings and how to make your own, homemade version of bisquick.

One of my favorite cooking companions. My sweet little Sous Chef!

Bacon Chicken and Dumplings (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

3 slices of bacon

3 large potatoes, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts diced*

3 cups chicken broth

1 tsp poultry seasoning

salt and pepper (to taste)

1 can whole kernel corn (drained and rinsed)

2 cups half-and-half**

1 1/2 cups biscuit mix

1 cup milk

*I used 4 because I wanted it extra chicken-y, and of course the eternal problem where hubbyman doesn’t like soup.

**I used whole milk (because that’s what I had).

***You could add in more vegetables. If I’d of thought about it, I would’ve at least added some of the carrots sitting in my fridge.

1. Place bacon in large, deep skillet. Cook over med-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside; reserve bacon drippings in skillet. (I didn’t have any bacon thawed, but I thought it sounded so good. I did have some bacon drippings, so I did use that. But I will be using the bacon next time.)

2. Add potatoes, onion, and chicken to bacon drippings and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in chicken broth; season with poultry seasoning (here’s what my poultry seasoning has in it: marjoram, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, onion powder, and savory), salt, and pepper. Stir in corn, and simmer everything together for about 15 minutes.  *

3. Pour in milk (or half-and-half) and bring to a boil; add crumbled bacon. In a med. bowl, combine biscuit mix with milk and mix well (dough should be thick). Drop tablespoon sizes of dough into boiling mixture; reduce head and simmer for 10 minutes (uncovered) and then another 10 (covered). Avoid stirring while it’s simmers, or the dumplings could break apart.

*It was during this time (the 15 min simmer) that I whipped up the homemade version of bisquick, so by the time the simmer was done, so was the mix.

(image credit: AllRecipes.com) I couldn't find my camera so I didn't get any pictures. But it looked and tasted wonderful!

Homemade Bisquick Mix

 6 cups all-purpose flour, sifted *

3 tbs baking powder

1 tbs salt

1/2 cup cold butter

*I used Tom Sawyer all-purpose gluten free flour (it’s my favorite) but I’m hoping to come up with my own blend

1. In a med. bowl, measure and sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a wire whisk to make sure it’s blended thoroughly.

2. With a pastry cutter (or something similar – I actually used a cheese grater to “grate” the butter), cut in butter until it’s fully incorporated.

3. Store in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 months.

You can use this in place of bisquick. We’ve made pancakes, snickerdoodles (My Aunt said she actully preferred my gluten free version!), and biscuits out of the mix. It’s fantastic. And, in my opinion, even better than the box. Also- it’s way cheaper. So there you have it folks!

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Simply Sick


The last time I was sick (and of course a couple of the kids were as well), all I could think of was how I wanted some good, old fashioned, homemade chicken noodle soup. Of course, the last thing I wanted to do while I was sick was to make anything. And being gluten free, we can’t really just grab any old can. And the can of gluten-free, chicken noodle soup at the grocery store is over 4 dollars. For one little can. If I were desperate, I might pay that. But under normal circumstances, no way. That’s ridiculous.

So this last week,  my MissE had a day where we worried she was getting sick. I figured it was perfect timing to try my hand at making some soup! Even if she wasn’t sick; I could at least freeze some, so there’d always be some on hand for if when someone got sick. As any parent can tell you, when your kid is sick, you don’t get a lot of free time. Usually they’re in arms, or on lap, or both. Even when sleeping. So as I looked through countless recipes, I knew I needed something I could throw together quickly and relatively easily. Enter my beloved crock pot. (You know I recently read a “de-cluttering” article, and they actually said to *whispers* throw away your crock pot, because nobody ever uses them! *gasp* Oh the blasphemy! *More whispering* Don’t work ‘crock, I’ll never let you goeither of you.) I love crock pot recipes, they’re easy, they’re time saving, they’re not a don’t-stand-there-and-watch-the-water-boil-or-it-never-will type of recipe. Which for me, is terrific.

So in true form, I scanned through about 20 different crock pot chicken noodle recipes… and then did something of my own accord. (I just can’t help it! And you shouldn’t either! Why should you waste timing making something how someone else would prefer it? No way! Make it how YOU would!)

In the crock pot

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth

4 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (do this to taste. I might have used more as we like pepper in this house.)

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp garlic salt (my garlic salt has parsley in it. If you don’t have garlic salt, just add salt to taste.)

4 chicken breasts

at least 3 cups noodles, uncooked. (I really wanted to make my super yummy, taste like the chicken noodle soup noodles, but I didn’t have eggs. So I just used a -whole- bag of rice noodles. They worked perfectly.)

In crock pot/slow-cooker (whatever terminology you prefer),  combine chicken broth and stock, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, pepper, basic, garlic salt/salt/lowry’s (again, whatever you have/prefer). Place chicken on top of vegetables. Cover crock pot with lid and cook either on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours (I used this option, and prefer this option, because I don’t normally decide on dinner until just before lunch).

After cooking, take chicken out and put it on a cutting board. Also take out and toss the bay leaves. Add the noodles to the crock pot and put the lid back on and cook on low for about 20 minutes. While the noodles are cooking, shred the chicken (with a fork!). Return chicken to soup and serve!

*NOTE: You can also add celery, but I don’t love it in my soup (and my kids deem celery only acceptable with peanut butter on it) and I didn’t have any, so I went with what I did!  You can also use a whole -roasting- chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds). If you do, then you’ll want to remove the skin and fat and bones before shredding (obviously. I know you know this, but I’m sayin’ it anyway.) And after that you’ll want to skim fat from the soup and discard that. With the chicken breasts I used, they were very lean to begin with, so I didn’t really have the fat to skim off the top.  And you can of course use your favorite egg noodle that’s gluten-filled. And about the broth/stock. Hubbyman is not into soup. He always looks dejected whenever he looks in the pot and finds it filled with soup. Which is unfortunate considering that my girl and I love soup. And the little boys are always at least willing to eat it. So sometimes I just go ahead and make soup, even though hubby won’t be thrilled with dinner. Some recipes called for 8 cups of water (if you were cooking with a whole chicken) and some called for 4 cups water and 4 cups chicken broth. I wanted the stock for both the flavor and the consistency. And it turned out perfectly.

Hubbyman is not a huge soup fan. So I made his less soup-ish and mine more so!

 

Both hubbyman and I determined that this was the best chicken soup we’d ever had. So, so yummy. There was enough for leftovers and to freeze. It was still hot so I put it in the freezer container and put in the fridge until it was cooled through before freezing (nothing worse than freezer burn!). And it got eaten. By my non-soup-loving husband. I should note that with the stock it does change consistency after being cooled. (plus that and the rice noodles started to fall apart, just a little) So then it was more like another one of my favorite- chicken and dumplings. Either way, it was delicious. I will definitely be making this again. Especially since hubbyman gave him approval to add this to the list of regulars. So easy, so good. It’s a win for me!

mine (more broth-y)

with garlic biscuits

less broth-y

 

 

 

 

 

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I Scream Simple!


Our family is not huge on sweets. Cookies we’ll eat, but cakes, pies, and anything else in the dessert family, tends to go stale before it gets finished. Every year we would order a big DQ Cake for hubbyman’s birthday. It’s his favorite. Last year I got him a tiny one that he and I shared after kids had gone to bed. This year we’re more conscious about US not eating things with wheat/gluten in it, so I needed a new plan. Thankfully, I have a firm and devout love of cookbooks. And the only books I’ve read the last couple of months have been my new cookbooks, and so I was well versed in which cookbook would work. And in true fashion- I combined my favorites! From two of my favorite cookbooks!

That's right, it has a bite out of it. Because it's so yummy, I couldn't even wait to take the picture before taking a bite!

Big E insisted Daddy would want blue sprinkles on his cake, and the M&Ms frozen in the ice cream middle layer, added a nice splash of color!  

The basis of this cake, I got from the Babycakes Covers the Classics (Gluten Free, Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles -just typing that makes me want to go eat make some snickerdoodles!). The photos of all her baking is amazing. If I could get all my baker-y to look that picturesque, I could die happy.

However, pretty much the only thing about this recipe that I stuck to, was that it has cake with ice cream in the middle. But it was my jumping off point. 

One of my other favorites is my Gluten-Free Cupcakes book.  (This is my go to for desserts to make and desserts to bring anywhere. They are quick, they are easy, and they don’t contain a million different ingredients.) Elena Amsterdam has quickly become on of my favorite cookbook goddesses! She also blogs: Elena’s Pantry.

One of my favorite cupcakes to make is Red Velvet. I usually leave out the red, because let’s face it, that doesn’t change the taste. And food dyes really aren’t great for you. And (here’s the truth) I ran out of my red dye that’s natural and made from vegetables, and they’re pretty much always out of it at the natural food store. Anyhow, it’s yummy, it’s moist, and it’s easy. So I made two of them.

My Favorite Red Velvet Recipe

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

4 lg eggs

2 Tbs grapeseed oil

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 Tbs red food coloring, made from vegetable dye (Or like a million drops of the fake kind. Although technically I think it calls for 35.)

This recipe is traditionally used for cupcakes, but I used it to make Big E’s Cat in the Hat cake a few weeks ago, so I already know it works as a cake! (A bit thin, but still really yummy. And perfect for a layered cake!)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray pans. In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and food coloring (if you choose to use any). Blend the wet ingredients into the dry with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined (Truth= I used a spatula and that worked just fine).

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pan for an hour.

I did this x2. Gluten free measures a little differently, so recipes generally work better if you make two batches, rather than just double. So I made it twice (that way I didn’t have to dirty 2 more bowls).

ICE CREAM CENTER

1/2 pint (I think I actually used about 3/4, but whatever) ice cream. I used vanilla, because that’s what I had in the fridge, but you can use whatever sounds good to you. Raspberry or strawberry would probably pair really well with the red velvet! Ok, after softening the ice cream, transfer ice cream to a medium bowl and fold in whatever you want. The original recipe used cookies. I used M&Ms and white/milk chocolate swirl chips. It was a fantastic decision.

Now make sure the cakes have thoroughly cooled. I thought mine had, but they were still just warm enough that they  made my ice cream layer melt a little more than I would have liked.  In a pie pan, or spring form, line with wax paper or plastic wrap. I cheated. I just used my silicone pie pan. It worked swimmingly. (And fit better in my freezer.) So put the bottom cake down and spread the ice cream on top. Smooth with the back of a spoon. Place remaining cake on top of ice cream. Frost (I used a really yummy whipped cream cheese frosting!) and freeze (covered) for at least 4 hours.  It is just so yummy. I’m not a big chocolate person, but I do love this! Hope you will too… you know, once a year, on your birthday. Or lunch every day for a week. Your pick.

So there you have it, I scream! You Scream! We all scream for simply ice cream cake! (Right?!)

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Winds of Change


Things are starting to get a little bit shaken up over here at the household full of E’s. (Seriously, I’m the only one in my house -other than the animals- that isn’t an E, did I ever mention that? My children think I feel left out, or that I should feel left out… I think it just makes me that much more special. Right?) Anyways, our house itself, is not in upheaval or anything. Ok, that’s a blatant lie. My house is pretty much always in a state of upheaval. Unless the children have gone to Grandma’s. What I’m really meaning is that things are changing over here.

Biggest is 5, and will be kindergarten age for this fall’s school session. We have decided (for numerous reasons) to homeschool. At least for kindergarten. We’ll take this year to feel our way out and see how we both feel about it. So we have been scouring the internet, fielding phone calls, and taking in numerous pamphlets via the good ‘ol USPS. It’s a little intimidating and a lot overwhelming. We think we’re settled. Now we just have to get our “school area” prepped and ready. Which means I need some more shelving. Which I’m hoping means a trip to The Container Store. (I love that place. Hubbyman took me there for Valentine’s Day last year- and I declared it the best Valentine’s Day ever. This is a true story.) So we’ve got that going on.

And… we’ve got the whole converting everything to homemade/non-chemical. I left some messages with some lovely etsy ladies yesterday on doing some reviews of their natural/homemade/chemical free home cleaning and personal products and in less than 24 hours I already have 2 in the works! This is SO exciting! Letjoy, of My Big Cloth Adventure, has been encouraging me to reach out to some retailers and start doing reviews. And I finally did it! So be on the lookout the next couple of weeks for a review and maybe a giveaway or two!

And… I’m going to be doing daycare for some very dear friends. They’re due in the fall. We just told them yesterday. They’re excited. I’m excited. We’ve been asked about doing daycare for a few other people. While I was always willing, it turned out, I didn’t always want to. And hubbyman has always been very adamant that my time at home be devoted to our children. He didn’t want them left out. And then there’s the deal of not being able to go places during the week. The thought of that always stressed me out when it was just the older 2. Now that there’s three. I really don’t do a whole lot of outings during the week. And I’m totally ok with that. I mean, we go to the park, we go to the farmer’s market, we go for walks, we play outside. We play inside. We do things, we just don’t drive places. And all the places I would feel I was “missing out” on (like walking to the farmer’s market, the park, or even the grocery store) are all walk-able. Even with an addition. And while, obviously, it won’t be the same as having my own brand new little baby. I am so happy to help with theirs. They are one of my favorite couples and I am so thoroughly excited for them. This was the first time where hubbyman and I were immediately like- we want to do this! And I’m excited to have a little baby I’ll get to snuggle on a daily basis! So while it will obviously mean some changes here, I am looking forward to it. Just as I am the rest of the changes goin’ on.  So bear with me as I’m trying to figure everything out and how to schedule it all out… and hold your breath until tomorrow. (Ok, don’t really, but it’s gonna be good.) I am going to share my super delicious ice cream cake that I made for hubbyman’s birthday a few weeks ago. And I may or may not have for lunch. (I got a piece out to have for lunch yesterday, and somehow ended up eating a salad. I’m not sure how that happened, but I promise not to let it happen again!)

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My Toothpaste Is Salty


Well, the long weekend is over. Boo. Hoo. Wah! And we currently have more snow in our yard than we have at any other point this winter (I think). It probably won’t happen, but I’m crossing my fingers that hubbyman decides to come home a little early to fulfill his biggest boy’s winter dream of finally going sledding down the hill in the backyard.

Even though it was a long weekend, it felt… short. Or maybe just compacted? No, it just felt short. Maybe because it was compacted? Whatever. Friday night we ran errands trying to get everything we needed to make our homemade cleaning products and personal care products. We didn’t find everything we needed at the local health food store or a local regular store. The next morning the Big 2 had Tae Kwon Do. Actually, they don’t normally have it on Saturday, but today was test day, and they got a new colored stripe on their belts. It was their first big test, and Biggest boy did so good- I was so proud! I’m normally banned (by hubbyman) from their lessons, because I’m “distracting.” (They’ll run off the mat to give me a hug or a kiss… every 2.3 seconds or so. I guess I can understand.). Anyhow, my boy did fantastic! My girl did… well, she did it. But their last test was in a small room with just Master Lee, so to be in a room full of other kids and their families, and extended families… it was a bit overwhelming. When he called her name, she immediately burst into tears and cried, I don’t want to go in front of everybody! (I don’t blame her- I felt self conscious up there in front of everyone, and I was just there for her moral support.) Anyhow, afterwards we went downtown St. Paul to a bigger healthfood store. And the rest of the ingredients we ordered online. Which is probably what we should have done to start with, because it was way cheaper. Way cheaper.

Hubbyman was so excited about the process, that he began to make some of the things that we did have all the ingredients for. We have shampoo, toothpaste for us, and toothpaste for the kids. He also shampooed the carpet with our homemade version (but we’ve been using that for a while). While I love the homemade carpet shampoo… that’s about where my love ends, so far. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I love the way the shampoo smells, and I love how clean my teeth feel after using the toothpaste. Seriously, the only clean that compares is right after the dentist. So we obviously have some work to do before any recipes are released. But I may just be feeling a little grinchy, because he also vinegar washed my coffee maker.  Now, that really is a good thing. And far be in from me to criticize a man doing some househelp. But I will admit that having to do all the flushes to get the vinegar out this morning, before I could have my cup of coffee, kinda squelched those feel-good, thanks-for-helping feelings.

I have found my Green Book! It’s not really called that, but to me, that’s what it is. What it really is:  Homemade! How to make everyday products fast, fresh, and more naturally.  702 ways to save money and the earth. It is pretty awesome. Everything from how to make things you love, but don’t want to spend the money on (hello, starbucks frappuccino) to things you want to make healthy instead of toxic. You can duplicate cough syrup, deodorant, aftershave, I even have a “recipe” for Oil of Olay’s all-day moisturizer (and wrinkle cream). And that’s without all the icky stuff that you don’t want in it or on you! The food recipes seem a little silly to me, except for the ones that are how to make this famous thing at home (like said frappuccino, or condiments- you know, things you wouldn’t find in your every day cookbook). But that may be just because I have to have some cookbooks I keep in storage, because I have that many. I love cookbooks. Seriously. And, it’s a collection that my husband actually approves of. More cookbooks = more cooking = satisfied hungryman, I mean, hubbyman.

Anyways, so long story still long… good weekend, filled weekend. Homemade stuff was not a total bust, but not a total success. But we will be working on it. And next batch of toothpaste will be minty instead of citrus-y. I think that’s my problem with the toothpaste. Minty freshness just feels cleaner. If you are wanting to start in on some homemade household things, I  HIGHLY recommend you check out the book. Lots of from scratch, lots of almost from scratch.    So even if you’re not going to be making your own toothpaste, or shampoo, there are lots of things you can do. Whether it’s your own cleaning products (imagine, safe to have around and you get to pick out the scent!) to homemade skillet meals (want the ease of the throw the frozen bag in the bowl meals, without all the gross additives and for a fraction of the price?).

And now I am off to fight the raging war on the evils of clutter… either that or I’ll just eat a piece of hubbyman’s birthday ice cream cake (which was also homemade, GF, and delicious!).

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Does This Go Together?


Now I may have missed the actual time line to join in with all the bloggers that followed along with the 100 Way to be Kind To Your Children (from Toddler Approved!- who also happens to have totally awesome pinterest boards!). But does that mean it’s too late for me to work on being kind to my children? Absolutely. Not! Just in going through the list, I’ve found that not only will it be beneficial for my children, but it will be healthy for me too. It’s letting go of some of the pressure, some of the ideals… and just holding onto the fact that some days survival is good enough.

This weekend we will be creating like crazy! We are going completely organic (and homemade) in the cleaning products. I’ve made dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent before. (I liked the former but wasn’t impressed with the latter.) We use a homemade solution in our carpet cleaner. But as we continue on in our lives, trying to live with as much intention as we can… we came to the realization, did we really intend to put lots of chemicals on (and therefore into) our bodies, let alone our children’s? I think we all know the answer to that! So this weekend we will be traveling deeper down that path. Hubbyman made shampoo last weekend. He seems to like it. I’ll admit it does smell good. Hopefully I remember to charge up the camera so we can really document the process, as well as the outcome. An added benefit to making these things ourselves (other than the obvious health benefits)? Money. Pennies on the dollar, folks. Another benefit, you get to choose how they smell! Which for me and my smelly sensitivities is fantastic. My choices (of essential oils) lemon and tangerine. Together = heaven. Or pretty close to.

And since we’re on the topic, you might want to go ahead and read the 5 Grossest Things You’re Eating from the Supermarket. Or even better, The 15 Grossest Things You Eat. Might make you think twice. Or lots more. If you read those 2 alone, even without doing any further research, I don’t think you’ll ever question why we buy our beef from a family farm. Or why we buy organic milk. Or why we make just about everything from scratch. And why I like to can my foods myself.

On another note- I woke up thinking today was Thursday. So imagine my surprise (and delight) that today is, in fact, FRIDAY! (*insert a big WOHOO! here*)  And so… I’m going to start with my kindness, get my butt off of here, and make my kids clean their rooms! Hey, teaching them the importance of proper organization is showing them kindness, right? I like to think so!

*I am thankful for people I have never met, or have only met briefly. At least in person. I’m part of a MN Cloth Diapering Mamas group and they are so sweet (and just about the only group of mamas I have ever seen remain mama drama free. It’s refreshing!). And not only that, they have been willing to make donations to my brother & his expecting wife’s cloth diaper stash! Woohoo! It may not seem that exciting, but trust me when I tell you it is! And one of my absolute favorite diaper makers, Softbums (go ahead, like their facebook page too- tell them I sent you!), has offered to make a donation (in diapers)! This is incredibly amazing- and when I called my sister-in-law she definitely shared my excitment. (Plus, the softbum diaper style is her favorite. And out of the 2 diapers I got her for Christmas. One was a locally made by LetJoy Diapers (like her page while you’re at it too!), and the other was of course the adorable giraffe style Softbum. (I tried adding a picture, but for some reason, wordpress is not cooperating at the moment. Hopefully later I can add it in, because it is so cute that I really wanted to keep it for Littlest. Even though he has several softbum diapers himself, it’s the only print one that we don’t have!)

*I am thankful for girlfriends. With kids. Without kids. Girlfriends can be big lifesavers. And an evening with them can be so refreshing. Even without wine (last night it was *homemade* specialty lattes!). But let’s not kid ourselves, an evening with girlfriends and wine, well, only coffee can compete with that.

*I am thankful for children who love their mama. Possibly more than any other person in the world. (I say possibly, soley on the off chance hubbyman is reading this. I give them pretty  much all of my time and attention. And while Daddy is still their hero and the funnest of the fun, Mommy is the favorite.)

*I am thankful for children who are very independent. You know, for the most part. (And sometimes this backfires, like the other day when I caught Biggest teaching Miss who was teaching Littlest how to fly and be super heroes. Which, in reality, meant that they were wearing their hooded towels as capes while jumping off the top of the bunkbed to fly.) Remember this, closed doors = children up to no good.

*I am thankful that I enjoy cooking. Seriously, life would be a lot harder for this foodie family if that was not the case. Plus, my coffee wouldn’t have been quite as good without the homemade (yes, that’s right- you may now bow at my feet.), delicious donuts that I added a swipe of cream cheese frosting too. Yum.

*I am thankful to be married to a man who sees the big picture, even when I just want to focus on surviving the next ten minutes.

*I am thankful for any and every person who stops by, says hello, or just reads a line or two. I’m always surprised, humbled, and blessed by the people who (both in person and on-line) tell me they read what I write. And occasionally, they enjoy themselves. You are the people that keep me sane. (See, now I hooked you in- you can’t stop reading, or else I will lose my sanity. And then you’ll feel the guilt. Gotcha. I’m kidding. Mostly.)

Happy Day of Friday to You and Yours from Me and Mine!

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