Sunday, July 27, 2014

These are the Glory Days

These few short years that I get to hold my babies...

....these years that are filled with frustration and tears.... and gladness...

These are the Glory Days.

These are the days that I will forever look back upon and wish that they would have lasted a little bit longer. 

Oh how I long to stop time as my baby is sleeping on my chest or my toddler is curled up in my lap. I try my best to drink it all in, but time marches on.

 One day they won't need me as much as they do right now. 

And that breaks this mamma's heart. 

But, for now...

...I'm counting my blessings and holding my babies tight.

I'm truly living in the glory days. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

5 Busy Activities for Toddlers

Coming up with new ways (that don't break the bank!) to keep toddlers busy can be tough sometimes. I've been experimenting with a few activities over the last few months and I thought I would share my favorites. 

1. Dot Painting
Walker LOVES this. I have to coach him to be gentle though so he doesn't make holes in the paper, but this is for sure a big hit. One day I drew "I love Daddy" on a piece of paper and let Walker decorate it to give to him. Also, it's a great activity for learning colors. I bought our dot paint set at Wal-Mart for around five bucks.

2. Cooking Basket
I went to Dollar Tree and bought several kitchen spoons, cups, etc and also some pom pons. I keep this basket in the kitchen and pull it out when I need Walker to be entertained for a bit. He loves scooping up the pom pons and stacking the cups. This is also a great activity for color sorting. 

3. Gravel Pit
What boy wouldn't want to run their trucks around on a pile of dried beans? (Or rice or pasta or whatever you have on hand.) Walker enjoyed this and even ate a few beans in the process. Yuck.

*I've since been told that dried beans can be toxic so it's best to stick with rice.

4. Magnetic Letters
I bought these magnetic letters at Dollar Tree and Walker really likes when I pull them out. It's a great fine motor activity and also great for learning colors and letters. 

5. Pipe Cleaner Fun
I found this activity on Pinterest and Walker really enjoys it. Basically you just turn a strainer upside-down and show your toddler how to put the pipe cleaners through the holes. It's a great fine motor activity and can also be used for color recognition. Oh and guess where I got the pipe cleaners? Yup. Dollar Tree. 

Do you have any thing to add?
What are you favorite toddler activities?

Modest Monday
Homestead Barn Hop
Show and Share Wednesday
Thrifty Thursday

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We Have Chickens!!

After waiting for over a year to get the coop built, we finally got chickens! Woot woot! I'm so pumped! We ended up getting 5 birds although I think our coop could house more. We have:

 1 Americauna (she's nutty)
1 Barred Rock
1 Welsummer
2 Rhode Island Red

The Americauna is a little older and should start laying soon. The other birds will start laying in a month or so.


Here's the coop that my handy husband built. I think we spend less than $50 for everything. He used wood from a shipping crate for the coop and we got a free large dog cage for the run. 

We are enjoying our birds, but still have a lot to learn. I named the Americauna Delilah and Mike name the 2 RIRs Thelma and Louise. The other two are still nameless.

Anyone have any tips for first time chicken owners?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Nourished Kitchen

I'm excited to tell you about the book The Nourished Table: Farm-To-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle by Jennifer McGruther. This cookbook is based on the research of Weston A. Price who studied the diets of indigenous people to learn about the food/health connection. The traditional foods diet promotes things like cultured dairy (kefir, yogurt) fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha) and eating locally and in season. While I don't follow the traditional foods diet, I was excited to read this cookbook to learn more. 

The Nourished Kitchen is filled with lots of interesting and delicious looking recipes. Some of the ones that caught my eye were:

Potato and Spinach Soup with JalapeƱo
Fresh Herb Frittata
Puffed Pancake with Honey and Lemon
Cider-Brined Slow-Roasted Chicken
Sprouted Three Grain Bread
Baked Oats with Pistachios, Dried Figs and Honey
Wild Mushroom Soup
Preserved Lemons

If you are at all interested in the Traditional Foods diet then I would highly recommend The Nourish Kitchen to you! It's filled with tons of recipes plus information on fermenting, sprouting, culturing and more!

Click here to read the first chapter.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

July Garden Journal

So basically our garden is one huge overgrown mess. Seriously.

I have to basically crawl on my knees to hunt for cucumbers and I don't even want to think about picking tomatoes because it's going to be ridiculous. 

We've always over planted, but this year it's just too much. We are definitely going to expand next year. 

I've been picking cucumbers and beans for a couple weeks now. Half of our potatoes are ready to dig this week. The cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen. Also, I've been harvesting basil for awhile now. This is definitely the healthiest basil plant I've ever had.

Another crop that's doing well are our bell peppers. I think we've produced a total of 2 bell peppers in the past three years, but this year our plants are loaded and actually look really good! I'm pumped!!

What's going on in your garden?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Freezer Jam vs. Traditional Jam

Homemade jam is one of my favorite things. It is simply amazing, however the time and effort it takes can be overwhelming, especially since I have two little ones to take care of these days. 

Enter freezer jam, my new bestie. 

Seriously I am in love. It's super quick and easy and I'm here today to convince you of the same. Here are my pros and cons of freezer vs. traditional jam so you can decide for yourself. :)

Traditional Jam

Shelf stable not dependent on power
Makes a wonderful gift

Full of sugar
Takes lots of effort and makes a huge mess of your kitchen
Doesn't always "set" right

Freezer Jam

Quick and easy with almost no mess involved
Less sugar is used so it's healthier
Has a fresh fruit taste
I've never had any "setting" issues

Dependant on power
Not as good of a gift as traditional jam

I'm still going to be making some traditional jam (mainly for gifts), but I foresee lots of freezer jam in my future!

Here is the freezer jam recipe from the Ball Instant Pectin Label:

Freezer Jam

For every 2 (8 oz) half pints of jam, you will need:

1 2/3 cups crushed fruit
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp instant pectin

Note: Do no exceed 6 jars per batch, set may not occur in larger batch sizes.

1. Stir sugar and pectin in a bowl.
2. Add fruit. Stir 3 minutes.
3. Ladle jam into clean freezer jars and let stand 30 minutes. 


Quick Tip:
Plastic freezer jars or glass jars with straight sides work best for freezing. When filling jars, leave 1/2 inch headspace to allow for food expansion during freezing. 

Have you ever made/tried freezer jam? 
Which one do you prefer?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Blender Girl

For some reason I've been drawn toward vegan and raw recipes lately. I guess I feel like incorporating them into my diet is a great way to get more nutrients and be healthier overall. Anyway, when I got the chance to read The Blender Girl 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes I was super excited!

This book is chocked full of creative and healthy recipes using your blender, including smoothies, soups, desserts, condiments, etc. It also contains tons of useful information on choosing the right blender, building a smoothie, the benefits of soaking and sprouting, making homemade milk from nuts and so much more. 

I enjoyed reading The Blender Girl and I'm excited to try some of these recipes out. Some of the ones that caught my eye were:

Spicy Gazpacho Grab
All But Instant Raw Raspberry Jam
Dream of Spinach Soup
Chilled Avo and Cuke Soup
Orange Dreamsicles
Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Beat the Cold and Flu Blues Tonic

I'm pretty sure I'm gonna buy a NutriBullet and try some of these recipes out soon. If your interested in eating healthier and want to put your blender to good use then this cookbook is for you. Check out The Blender Girl's Website for more information.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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