Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Bucket List

2011 Bucket List

It's that time of year. Instead of setting new years resolutions, that won't last longer than January, I decided to do a bucket list. Too many things to list for the rest of my life, so I will just start with 2011. I will try to revisit this as items are accomplished, as one item on my list is to blog more :)

  • Make Pasta

  • Plant a larger garden, let the kids help
  • Complete a 365 photo project on my children

  • Make more meals homemade and from scratch
  • Use more natural and homeopathic remedies for first aid and minor colds, aches, and pains

  • Pack lunches for the kids and myself consistently, and pack breakfast for Jonathan on school days

  • Finish reading Magic Treehouse Series with Jonathan

  • Share more. Blog more.

  • Finish reading "The Jesus Storybook" with the kids, and continue rereading it with them.

  • Complete my photography website, and work on marketing materials
  • Expand photography business and skills.

  • Continue sticking to budgeting Dave Ramsey style, and working on baby steps
  • Can more applesauce
  • Make more of an effort to recycle consistently

  • Catch a fish

  • Have a date night with hubby, once a month, we need it!

  • Eliminate the kids plastic plates, they are just fine using the small plates

  • Move Lilah to using regular cups unless traveling

  • Write a good maid of honor speech, because someone is getting married this year!

  • Spend as much time at the cabin as we can this year

  • Spend more time with friends
  • When my backstock of toothpast runs out sometime this year, start making our toothpaste

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lead Me

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

If you are wondering, the song is by Sanctus Real. Love it.

It just amazes me every day how all the little things we do, and the decisions we make, the way that we live our life, it effects the little one's more than we realize. That is their reality, what they hear from us, the values we have, our reactions to every day life, it makes them who they are. Absolutly amazing that I have a hand in who my children become.

It makes me want to be more patient, show the unconditional love that is given to us to share, it makes me want to be a better person.

Both of the kids are doing wonderful right now, here is a little insight in to what has been going on in our four walls.

Jonathan is enjoying school and learning a lot. He is learning to be responsible. He has homework almost every weekend, and each week there is a little project or activity that we do together and initial off on his monthly calendar. We are about to start book 18 in the Magic Treehouse series, he still loves listening to his books at bedtime. We got the top part to Jonathan's bed, he is now sleeping on the top bunk of the same bunk beds that Becky and I shared when we were little. The bottom bunk is currently reserved for Mike or I if we are needed in their room, it's not very comfortable though, but I would take it over our full bed with four people in it. Since moving to the top bunk though, Jonathan has slept all night in his bed all but one night. He has been doing great with his chore chart the past few weeks. Almost every day last week he made his bed, set the table, and cleaned either his bedroom or the living room. He is getting very good at cleaning too, when he cleaned the living room last weekend he even picked up all of Lilah's doll house and set it up nice and neat. He loves quietly playing in his room with his Lego's or Playmobil guys. He'll shut the door and play in there for hours, the trick is keeping Lilah out of there and from ruining what he is building and setting up. I really wish he had his own room with a little more privacy so he could keep some of his toys our safely, but they do need eachother at bedtime! He got a Nintendo DS yesterday. I wanted to get him one for a while, and I totally shoudl have saved it for Christmas, but he has one now. And he loves playing Club Penguin. It's good to help him calm down before bed, or in the car, or when his little mind is running a mile a minute. For the most part, he just loves his sister so much. He wants to marry her, when I explained that he couldn't, he cried and was very upset. For some reason, this is a regular topic of conversation, who he is going to marry. Ideally he would marry Lilah or his cousin Tessa. I know he'll change his mind when he is older, but how do you tell him that now when it breaks his heart. Each week he thinks of someone new he can marry. Last night when he said his bedtime prayers, he prayed that God would take care of Lilah and keep her safe. This little man just makes my heart melt. He may be a little wild and rambunctious, but he has the best heart. I can't wait to see the man that he grows up to be.

Miss Lilah is on to new and exciting things. All of a sudden in the past two weeks she has become potty trained. We'll not all of a sudden, it has taken a lot of hard work and patience, but it has paid off. She still has about one accident at daycare each day, but she is dry at home all day long, even when running errands and leaving the house. I am very excited. We use Pull-Ups at night for her, but 90% of the time they are dry in the morning, they are more of a precaution so I don't have to wash sheets more often! Her digestive issues seem to be finally getting a little better, I am sure it is because we finally have an appointment with a pediatric GI specialist at the end of the month. I am still going to take her though, just feel like something isn't quite right still. I am thinking it is a food intollerance still, just not convinced it is the dairy anymore. She is learning new words and phrases all the time. One of her new favorites is "oh my" (not sure where she gets that from ), and she has called me a "cookoo head", that one comes from her big brother. It's too bad she's calling names because it is almost too cute to stop her from saying it. My favorite Lilah'isms are "my lololololo",which could be cereal or stroller, depending on the conversation. I really need to get a good video of it, she is already starting to say it a little better. She loves singing her preschool songs. She tells me what to sing, and then we sing it together. Both of the kids LOVE Sugarland right now, they request the cd everyy time we are in the car. They looks so cute singing "Stuck Like Glue" in the backseat together, and then following 3 songs they also have memorized. This little girl has more independance in her than I have ever seen. Everything is "me do" or "I do". She has to climb in the van and her carseat herself. If you help her, we have to start all over from the beginning. Very time consuming. After going potty, she has to put her panties, pants, and socks all back on by herself when we are at home. Usually ends up with her looking like a mermaid and me having to help, but she has to decide she needs help, or it is a fight not worth fighting. Rather than every little task turning in to a battle, this is one I have chosen to let her win. Kind of sad she is so independant at some times, but then when she clings to me and I have to carry her around the house, or around my leg, I feel a little more needed. am already dreading the teenage years, if this is a view of things to come, we are in trouble!

I just love the little people they are becoming, I just wish they weren't growing up so fast.

* I do still need to do another post or two about our vacation. I still haven't even had a chance to go through the photos though yet.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vacation Part 2

Tuesday morning we woke up early and were out of the house by 6:45 to head to Mackinac. It was about a two hour drive to get there. We stopped through a drive through to pick up a quick breakfast and just a few miles down the road Jonathan started throwing up. Lovely. Tried to determine if it was from riding in the car, a stomach virus, or just some random kid puke. Whatever it was he seemed to be feeling better so we kept going and got on the 9:30 boat ride to the island. The kids loved the boat ride, Jonathan packed binoculars so he was able to look out and see the island, bridge and other random items close up.

Our plans to borrow a backpack carrier fell through and after much searching to buy one before going to Mackinac were unsuccessful, I don't think the sell those things in stores. We ended up picking up an umbrella stroller, I always wanted one. Sounds silly, but we never got one. Well we have one now, and it is hilarious to listen Lilah say "stroller". We used the umbrella stroller around the island for Lilah. It ended up working out just fine, a little hard up the big hills but it was manageable. First we went to the fort. The kids loved it, specially the kids room. Jonathan kept wanting to go back there. We walked around going in all the buildings and saw the gun and cannon demonstration. We hiked to Sugar Loaf, Arch Rock, Skull Cave, and walked through the cemetery. Jonathan hated the horses because he hates horse poop. He would randomly say he could smell the horses coming and he did not like them or their poop. Can't blame him, I like horses, but I also am not a fan of horse poop. I don't know if it was because most kids were in school, or maybe it was senior day, but the island was filled with blue hair. Tons of carriages went by filled with seniors, and they loved the kids, and the kids loved waiving to them all. We stopped for a picnic lunch at Skull Cave, and Mike and Jonathan, and then Jonathan and I walked around the base of Sugar Loaf. He did awesome hiking all day.
We walked down all the streets downtown and went in a few stores, then decided to take the boat back to Mackinaw City. We packed a bag for overnight in case we decided not to drive back to the cabin. And we did. We stayed in a hotel in Mackinaw City. We were exhaused and so were the kids. We ate dinner at a really nice little restaurant called "Pizza Palace", had all the intentions of getting pizza but the rest of the menu looked so delicious. A few bites in to dinner Jonathan started covering his mouth and saying he was going to throw up. He needed some fresh air outside, so we took turns taking him outside for fresh air. If I didn't know any better I woudl say my 4 year old son was pregnant. He never got sick that night, but he did not feel good for sure. We walked around Mackinaw City and let the kids play on a playground we found in the outside mall. After that we decided to go drive around. We drove over the bridge and back. Stopeed to take pictures a few times and look for the best view. Love how my husband is always thinking of me :) After a few meltdowns abotu wanting to stay on cousin Jace's island and drive to see him, we headed back to the hotel. I am sure we all fell alseep before 10. Mike woke around 1 and the lights were all still on and so was the tv. Guess we were a little tired. Bummed I missed Parenthood, I was so excited we had tv for the night, but grateful for a fun day and a somewhat good nights rest.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vacation Part 1

We absolutely love my parents cabin on Horseshoe Lake, and decided to spend a week there for our vacation.

While Mike headed up for his annual (and I mean annual as in it is one day each year, and the remaining 364 days are spent talking about it and planning for next year) golf tournament, the kids and I headed up to the cabin, and met Reema (Grandma Moore), Aunt Lacey, Tessa, and Lili. It was great having them up there with us. It was very cold, but the kids enjoyed walking to the beach, boat dock, going on a nature scavenger hunt, playing playdough, making their own pizzas for dinner, decorating pumpkins, and eating popcorn by the campfire. Mike, papa Moore, and Mr. Gary arrived just in time for an awesome breakfast, and afterwards the kids went fising. Lilah and Lili enjoyed their fishing poles made by Reema with a stick, yarn, and paperclip. She is crafty! Jonathan and Tessa used their "real" fishing poles and attempted to catch fish with corn. I think they liked the popcorn the kids fed them the night before better though. After fishing Reema, Aunt Lacey, and the girls headed home.

The four of us decided to take a much needed family nap, and relaxed at the cabin for the rest of the day. There is no tv at the cabin, so the kids play with the few toys we have up there, read books, do puzzles, and play games. Nice and quiet, however the neighbors may not have the same response.

Monday we spend the day trying to track down a backpack carrier to use at Mackinaw, unsuccessfully. We did got to one of our favorite nearby towns, Tawas, for some awesome ice cream at the Mackinaw Creamery, and walked around downtown.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where did all the coupons go?

They are still sitting in the newspaper stand. While couponing taught me a lot about smart grocery shopping, my cart was often filled witth boxed, processed foods, and cleaners containing harmful chemicals. It did allow us to start saving money, and learn how to budget, well couponing and Dave Ramsey at least.

However, in the past 6 months, our shopping cart has changed drastically. We still manage to stay in our grocery budget, $2oo a month, but what is in our cart has changed. If you were to look in it now, you would not see any cleaners, any boxes of processed foods, no disposable diapers or wipes, it is filled with bread flour instead of a loaf of bread, organic meats instead of marked down meat from the discount section, organic fruit strips instead of "fruit" snacks, organic milk that is not ultra pasturized instead of free gallons of regular milk for buying processed cereals, whole oats and organic cereal instead of Frosted Flakes and Apple Jacks, whole grain rice, whole grain pasta (which I will be making soon), and real maple syrup instead of maple flavored high fructose corn syrup.

We fit this in to our budget by making our food from scratch. We don't buy or eat as much meat, but the meat we buy is better quality, hormone free, and organic. I am not spending $5 on 5 things of deoderant at a good price, I am making our own for around the same price. We don't buy boxes of pancake mix, we make it, normally from soaked whole wheat flour. I have found that 90% of the coupons in the paper, are not for items we regularly by anymore.

Every now and then there will be a coupon for a safer toothpaste without artificial colors/flavors, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or a cereal without artifical colors/flavors such as Cascadia Farms (I can get this for normally under $1.50 a box with coupons, and we stock up!!), Annies Mac And Cheese which also has no artificial colors instead of Kraft glowing orange mac and cheese. Why consumers think we need all of these aritifical ingredients in their food are beyond me, honestly all of the artificial colors and flavors are covering up how crappy the food really is. They put them in there to make it more appealing to consumers. I could go on forever, really I could. I still love coupons, but only for products that we will use and are safe for my family.

Instead of spending money on "deals", for foods that will not be "deals" for our health in the long run, we are putting our money to better use. We have a small garden (and I do mean small, remember we live in a condo), we shop at local Farmers Markets 1-2 times a week, and we preserve the fresh organic produce that we can get right now in season. Through canning and freezing. I will no longer have to buy cans of tomatoes that have BPA in the lining, or spend a fortune on safer, organic, canned tomatoes. Instead, I spend $10 for a bushel of fresh, organic, tomatoes, that shoudl last us through the winter. I may still buy another if I can get it at a good price, but you get the point. I can buy better with the same amount of money. After the Farmers Markets are over in October, I may go through a breif periof of depression (jst kidding), but we will be signing back up for Michigan Door To Door Organics to supplement what we have preserved, so we can stilll have high quality, organic produce,throughout the winter. Maybe I can even find 3 more people to order from them with me, so we can have a co-op and get even better prices.

What started out as a small diet change for Jonathan, turned in to our entire family eating better.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Little Bit Of Life

Mr. Jonathan is doing great. I think he has gone from getting a few time outs a day to getting just a few a week. Our modified diet is going great for him. He's always been such a good eater. He loves his veggies, and he has never refused to try anything. He may not like it, but he will at least always try it once, and that is perfectly fine with me. We love Summer Reading time at the library, and we almost read our 600 pages for home, and I think they have both exceeded that at daycare. Mike and I have been reading The Magic Treehouse books to Jonathan at bedtime. We are on book #10 and he is loving them. I think reading chapter books with minimal pictures is really helping him to focus on the story you are telling him and he is doing great with it. We ahve also been reading his Bible Stories for Boys book, and he loves learning about the Bible and listening to the different stories. His favorite place to go right now is Nana and Papa's cabin, he loves going up to spend the night and go to the beach. He is getting much more adventerous in the water this year, he is real interested in learning how to swim but still kind of afraid. He will however let his lifejacket holdhim up and he'll play around and try to swim. Soccer and tennis season are both done and he had a great time. I think he has a little more interest in tennis, I may try to find him indoor lessons to take this fall. He will be starting preschool this fall, I'll admit I am a little nervous, however excited to buy school clothes and a cute little backpack. So sad though to think that once he starts school, he is not going to stop until he graduates. The kids have been going to Bible School every Wednesday night and they are loving it. Filled with music, activities, and stories. They even end the night with a campfire. I love hearing Joanthan tell me the new verses they are learning and hearing him sing new songs. He asked me last night if he would meet new friends in preschool like he does at Bible School, when I told him yes, his reply was "Good, I like to meet new friends and see all the different colors of their shirts". Love that little man.

(And the scrape on his nose, yea, that was from book surfing)

Miss Lilah is finally starting to say a few more words. Not to mention growling at her friends to scare them. Who could be afraid of little ol' Lilah you say? Well she has made a few of them cry. Joanthan went through a growling phase around the same age, maybe my kids just like to let their inner animal out. She LOVES playing with her baby's and feeding them, and us. She has a new baby doll, Mater Kangaroo (named by Jonathan), and her other baby's name is "Joey" (also named by Jonathan). I can't believe she is going to be 2 in less than a week. Went from this little baby hooked up to a monitor to a very adventurous little lady. Still struggling to get just about any form of vegetable in her, so I make secret smoothies every other day and fill them with kale, zucchini, cucumber, or whatever veggies I have handy. She has liked most of them and drank them just fine. Makes me happy. Add a little fruit and yogurt in there and she has no clue. Pretty soon I will no longer have any babies :( I think when you turn two you are automatically a toddler, I am not ready for that. Lilah als has a lot of interest in going pee, she'll tell me she has to go, and run to the potty real fast, yet she never goes. Just wants so sit there, FOREVER, and use lots of toilet paper. It's becoming a wasteful hobby. Secretly, I could care less if she potty trains anytime soon. Then I would not have anyone to put in her cute little cloth diapers. She is getting a doll house for her birthday from us, the Fisher Price Loving Family dollhouse. I can't wait. I just may take it out of the box and play with it myself. She is going to love it. Lilah will also be starting "preschool time" at daycare this fall. She has done a good job listening at Bible School and paying attenting so I hope she will really enjoy it and soak it all up. Maybe even add a few new words. I know, once she starts really talking she will never stop.

So that's it. Not much new, kids just keep growing. We just keep feeding them!

All You Ever Wanted To Know About Your Armpits

Mike thought I had totally gone crazy last week when I told him what I made while I was home with sick kids. Everytime I make or do something new, he thinks I am becoming a hippie.

For a few years now I have been trying to find a deoderant that would work for me, that did not contain aluminium. That has been a losing battle. Every time I tried a deoderant different from my trusty "Secret", I seemed to stink a bit. They didn't work for me. So I just kept on using Secret.

It worked, don't get me wrong, but I was very concerned about what was in it. There are studies showing that the aluminum in deodorant can travel throughout your body after being absorbed and has been known to cause cancer. I know what you may say, doesn't everything cause cancer these days? And that is a big yes!! Because everything is so processed and artificial, what do you think all those things are made of? Chemicals. Anyways, I will do anything I can to eliminate my family's exposure to them. And this is one small way to do it.

So back to making my deoderant, I ran across this recipe from Passionate Homemaking and it looked easy to do, and we had all the ingredients.


7 tbs coconut oil (this is in a liquid form over 76 degrees, and a solid if it is cooler)

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup cornstarch

5-10 drops of essential oil (we use tea tree)

I mized together the powdered ingredients and then added the coconut oil mixing and tea tree oil. I stirred it with a wooden spoon until it was completly mixed together and pasty. After I got it mixed, I set it on the warm stove to melt a little. It removed any air bubbles and smoothed out the top filling in all the little spaces. Then I put it in the refridger to solidify. I took it out after an hour or so and it has been solid since. We keep the jar in our bathroom or bedroom.

It was so easy to do. Took literally just a few minutes, and now have a jar of completly natural deoderant. I put it in a small canning jar, because we have a lot of them, and just scoop out a little every morning. You can also put it in an empty deoderant container. I might try that next time. I just thought it looked nicer in a jar.

And my armpits smell lovely, if I do say myself. I have been using it over a week now with complete success. No end of the day stinky armpits, we even went up to the cabin last weekend and it was a complete success after being in the sun all day with no air conditioning. Even with Secret I would have been stinky by then :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

I have been making our yogurt for a few months now, and it is just too easy not to share. I make because it is healthier than most yogurts, and I know what is in it. It is a lot cheaper than buying organic yogurt in the store.

The recipe does take a lot of time, about 13 hours, but the effort is very small.

I use all organic ingredients, but you could also substitute for non-organic.

Items needed:

Crockpot or Slow Cooker
8 Cups of Milk (Horizon Organic Whole Milk)
4-6 ounce container of yogurt, plain or vanilla (Stonyfield French Vanilla)
Real vanilla

I noted the brands that we use,but you can pick your favorite. I use all organic ingredients, but you could also substitute for non-organic.

First, put 8 cups of milk in the crockpot on low, cover and let it heat for 2 1/2 hours. After 2 1/2 hours, unplug the crockpot and let it sit for 3 hours. After 3 hours, pour 1-2 cups of the milk from the crockpot in a bowl, and mix with the container of yogurt. After it is mexed well, pour in to the crockpot and mix thoroughly. Wrap your crockpot in a towel to insulate it, and put in a warm place for 8 hours. ( I like to put it in the oven, with the oven light on). After 8 hours, stir the yogurt, a few teaspoons of vanilla, and add sugar to taste. If you just want plain yogurt, you do not need to add sugar and vanilla.

I like to separate the yogurt in to small containers. I will sometimes add fruit to the containers. I also like to put a little flax seed, wheat germ, granola, and jam in it for a yogurt parfait.

For us, the best time to start the yogurt making process is on a Friday or Saturday evening about 6 hours before you will go to bed, or Saturday or Sunday first thing in the morning.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Miniature Gardening Adventure

I always had a garden growing up and have wanted to start one for my family. Being that we live in a condo, our options are limited, but we make due.

We started our herb garden last year. Sage, Oregano, Dill, Cilantro, Chives and Mescaline Lettuce Mix all came back up this spring. This year we added in more Basil, Parsley, Thyme, more Dill, and Spearmint (for Mojitos!). You can also see two of our tomato plants in the picture, on the top left container is our Tumbling Tom, no tomatoes yet but lots of blossoms. Sitting in the herb garden in a green planter is our Patio Princess tomato plant. This one already has about 7 little tomatoes starting. Planted in the herb garden right below are a few tomato plants that Jonathan started from seed.

The area above is where we planted a few vegetables. I do have some lavender near the planter on the left, but other than than we have zucchini, green beans, green peppers, red peppers, kale, and onions. If all goes well I think I will add more next year in another area.

Jonathan started this little pot of marigolds and he is so excited a few of the flowers are blossoming.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cleaning Without Harmful Chemicals

One of the first attempts I made to rid our house of harmful chemicals, and save money while doing it, was replacing the harmful chemical cleaners in our house. I wanted something more natural, that cleaned just as well, and didn't cost more than the .50 bottles of Lysol or Windex I could pick up with coupons.

After trying a few recipes, we have found a few that we love.

Here are the ingredients and instructions on how to make our favorites.

All Purpose Cleaner
1 tsp Washing Soda
1 tsp Dish Soap (Seventh Generation - Lavender)
Fill container with hot water

Fill bottle half way with hot water, and half way with white vinegar.
Add 5-10 drops Essential Oil (We use Orange as an extra disinfectant)

*we use this mostly in the kitchen. Takes a while to get used to the vinegar smell, but now we associate it with cleaning.

Glass Cleaner
Fill bottle half way with rubbing alcohol, and half way with water

*The smell of the alcohol is a little strong, make sure the room you are cleaning is well ventilated

Monday, May 31, 2010

Homemade Baby Wipes

After Lilah received a chemical burn from the Pampers Dry Max Diapers a little over a month ago, and then reading what disposable diapers are made of, we have decided to start using cloth diapers. We have a few boxes of disposables to use up, thanks to a little email I sent to Pampers, but we have already started using cloth at home. I totally wish I started this earlier. Along with cloth diapers, we have been using cloth wipes.

I toyed with making my own wipes when Jonathan was a baby, using paper towels. But I never fell in love with them. They always seemed too wet, and didn't clean well.

These wipes, I have fallen in love with. Well, as much as you can love something that wipes your kids butt.

For the fabric, I purchased some homemade cloth wipes from a vendor at a mom to mom sale. Love these. But at $1 a piece, I decided to make my own. I cut up a flannel receiving blanket of Lilah's. After a few washes, the sides are not fraying as much, and these have been working perfect. They are so soft. What would take 5-6 disposable wipes, only dirties 2 cloth wipes.

I stack the cloth wipes in a wipes container and they fit perfect.

Next I make the wipe solution. There are many different versions that you can make, but this is one that I have tried and loved. And it is made from ingredients that we always have on hand.

1 1/2 cups of boiled water
1 tbs white vinegar (keeps bacteria from growing)
1 tbs baby body wash (we use California Baby Calming)
1 tbs Coconut Oil

Mix all the ingredients until coconut oil dissolves and let cool to room temperature.

After the wipe mixture cools, pour over the container of wipes until they are soaked through.

Now your wipes are ready to go!

* You can also put the solution in a spray or squirt bottle and wet each wipe as you use them. For us, I want them ready to go so I keep them wet. I have never had a problem with them getting moldy as the vinegar is a disinfectant and keeps it from growing, we also use them up every few days.

I keep a little bucket in the bathroom, and toss them in there along with our diaper inserts. Evert few days they get washed in HOT water. I will start keeping them in a wet bag as soon as I can get one.

Have you ever made homemade wipes? What works best for you?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Out Little Firecracker

My how this little thing fills our life with light!

Fresh Baked

Mmm. . . this picture makes me hungry.
We have been making our own bread for about 3 months now. I wanted a bread maker for a few months before that, but they are expensive, take up room, and I wasn't sure how much I would use it. To test our my craving to make bread, I picked up a breadmaker at a resale shop, for $6.99. It is one of the wide ones that can make a 1lb or 2lb loaf. Ton of different setting on it. It even had the original receipt and instruction book with it. Purchased from Target for $169.99, for $6.99, a great deal!

As I looked through the manual preparing to make my first loaf, I noticed that the previous owner had added notes, adjustments that she/he made to the recipes. I have made almost all of the recipes in the original manual, with the recommended adjustments. She even had a separate recipe in there for English Muffin bread, one of our favs!

I would be happy with this breadmaker had I been the one to pay $169.99. I LOVE it. One of the best investments we have made. Since making my first load, we have not purchased a single loaf of bread from the store. As a matter of fact, the only bread product we have purchased has baan 2 packages of hotdog buns (I have even made those, just did not have time).

I make all of our "normal loafs", loafs that we bake in the bread machine, use for sandwiches and lunches.

Mike makes all of our "special breads". At first I wasn't sure how he would feel about us making our breads, but he has really taken to the idea, and joined in the process. Mike will make french baguetts occassionally, and french baguettes with garlic (the larger loaf in the picture), and other fancy little loafs. The 3 in the picture are my fav. He made those today. the mini loaf of bread I am using to make the kids sandwiches, Jonathan is going to love it. The other small one I am using for a sandwich tomorrow, and I can't wait.

This saves us a lot of money, is more nutritious than store bought breads, and we have fun doing it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Early Easter

We started taking Jonathan to Sunday school about a month ago, he is still a little hesitant when we leave him, but he is learning so much and has a good time if you ask him when we pick him up. Lilah goes to the nursery too, a few tears at first, but then she does pretty good. Jonathan's teacher, and the ladies in the nursery are awesome. We really love the church a lot. Mike is transfering his membership over, and I am acutally taking a class that starts in a few weeks to become a member.

Last weekend we took the kids to an Easter Egg hunt at our Church. They had a great time finding eggs, making crafts, playing games, listening to stories, and eating treats. It was really nice that we were all able to go, as Mike is working all weekend, including Easter.

Warning, all the photos below are completely uncropped and unedited, yea, that's my new thing. Snapshots. I really don't take enough.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I made it!

Over the last few months, I have been trying to find ways to make things better for my family, and save us some money as well. There are two major things that have changed, and have made a big impact.

1. I have made all of our bread for the past 2 months

2. I made laundry detergent

1. I picked up a breadmaker at an excellent price and decided I would no longer buy bread from the store. Normally I tried to spend as little as possible, and would often pick up the $1 loaf from Kroger, even better sometimes I would get it marked down to .50 . Decent price for a loaf of bread. But do you know what is in it? Either do I.

Right now, I can tell you exactly what is in the bread used to make my kids sandwiches. 3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 tbs mollasses, 1 egg, 1 1/3 cups of water, 1 tbs honey, 2 tbs dry milk, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 tsp yeast.

Literally, it takes about 2 minutes to put the ingredients in the bread maker. Every single loaf I have made has turned out great. I make about 2 loafs a week. We have tried French Bread, Country White, Graham, Whole Wheat, Sourdough, French Baguette, and I have even made hotdog and hamburger buns.

It's better for you, and cheaper. It's a win, win situation.

2. Even though we currently have around 10 bottles of Tide and All in our laundry room, it's going to run out someday. Eventually, I am sure it will. Even though each of those bottles were purchased for less than $2 (most around $1), it still adds up. Even though we use cold water to wash most of our clothes, they still fade a lot. I have been wanting to do this for a while, so I researched a few recipes and decided to make my own laundry detergent.

It was much simpler than I imagined.

1 bar of soap (grated)

1/2 cup Borax

1 cup Washing Soda (not baking soda)

We used Ivory soap because I had 3 free bars, and I made a triple batch. You only need to use 1-2 tbs per load. So far it has been working great. The clothes are coming out clean and smelling good. I think the next batch I make I am going to use Fels Naptha soap. I bought a bar, I think it will help keep Mike's work shirts clean and the kids clothes.

It's simple, and a great way to use up some of the free bars of soap I can get with coupons.

My next goal is to make dish detergent, when my last 8 boxes run out.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Day In The Life Of . . . Jonathan

Not too much new to say here. Mr. Jonathan got a new bed this week. The bottom bunk of of the set of beds Becky and I shared when we were little. The top will be soon to come. Both of the kids love climbing and playing on it. We thought it would be a good time to get rid of the night time Pull-Ups, Jonathan has been potty trained during the day since he was 2 1/2, but we can't seem to stay dry overnight. The first night went okay, we got up and took him to the bathroom at 10, 12, 3, and 5. Stayed dry. The following 3 nights though he wet the bed, I guess we need Pull Ups a little longer at night. He has been wanting to learn how to spell EVERYTHING, and he can read a few words. Did a great job helping me make French Toast this morning, he pretty much did everything. Following these pictures, I found him in his camo pants, a Detroit Lions jersey, wearing his Lightning McQueen backpack (filled with his camera and playfood), wearing his guitar, pushing a pink shopping cart filled with his Linus Blanket. I love this man.

A Day In The Life Of . . . Lilah

My little gymnast. Today, she has been obsessed with the kitchen table. Seriously, I can't hide all 5 chairs. She will climb up on a chair when I am not looking, and from there on to the kitchen table. I have rescued her from the laundry basket, a stool she got up on in the bathroom and couldn't get down, climbed up on the toilet and could not get down, climbed in to a very small plastic bin that holds her Legos and could not get out (3 times today), standing on her rocking horse and could not get down, and she climbed under her brothers bed and could not get out, and tried fitting in her baby stroller, on top of the baby. I really do love this stage though, good or bad she is learning so much.