Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly Memory Verse

Welcome to week five of 2012! I'm so glad I'm participating in the memory verse challenge this year and that my husband is doing it with me! Having scripture hidden in your heart makes your life so rich and full of blessings! Here is my verse for this week, selected in preparation for labor:

"But you, take courage! 
Do not let your hands be weak, 
for your work shall be rewarded."
-2 Chronicles 15:7

What are you memorizing this week?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Microwave Potato Chips

I found this idea on Pinterest recently and thought it sounded good! I had a few extra small potatoes hanging around in my pantry and I had made chicken salad sandwiches for dinner so I knew these would go perfectly! They turned out great. Way better than store bought potato chips (other than the ones I scorched). Here's how you make them:

Microwave Potato Chips
Olive Oil
Non-stick Spray

1. To start you will need to wash and/or peel your potatoes. They would be good with the peel on, but mine had eyes growing all over them so I figured I'd better peel 'em and not poison myself.
 2. Then you slice them as thin or as thick as you like and coat them in olive oil.
 3. Next, you need to spray a microwave safe plate with non-stick spray and spread your potato slices out in a single layer. Season with salt or whatever seasoning you prefer. (I had about three plates worth total.)
 4. Cook in microwave for 3-4 minutes and flip potatoes (I used a spatula as they were very hot!). Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Every one's microwave will work differently so you need to check them and make sure they aren't scorching like mine did below. :)

They turned out great and it was a wonderful way to use up the last of my potatoes!! I will definitely make these again. My husband approved of them as well!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

16 Year Old Builds Tiny Home to Ensure Mortgage Free Future

If this is a glimpse into the next generation, I'm not worried. Something tells me, however, this 16 year old is not your run of the mill high school student. In the midst of a 20-something generation struggling (or refusing) to grow up, this young man's wisdom, vision, and work ethic is very impressive.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Amish Cinnamon Sauce

I found this recipe on the Ozark Mountain Family Homestead blog today and I knew I had to make it! It turned out sooo good! I highly suggest trying it out if you like cinnamon. My husband even said it'd be OK if I stopped buying syrup and made this instead. Here's the recipe:

Amish Cinnamon Sauce

1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 (scant) tbsp flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 c. boiling water
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Boil 2 cups water
2. In separate saucepan, mix first three ingredients
3. Set over medium heat and slowly stir in water
4. Cook 3-4 min. or until clear (mine never really got clear)
5. Remove from heat and add in brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon
6. Let cool down and enjoy!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Garden Experiments and Tips

Well first off I want to say that I'm no expert gardener, I've only grown a few small gardens in my time and I'm always learning new things, mostly through my own trial and error. My latest experiment is growing my own sweet potato slips. The process is simple: you select a few healthy potatoes and put the bottom half in water in a sunny spot until the slips are large enough to transplant.
I used potatoes from my garden last year. If you want to use potatoes from the store you should find out if they are a vine or bush variety first. Anyway, if you didn't know, sweet potatoes aren't grown from a seed, but from a "slip" or green shoot off of another sweet potato. It's suppose to take around 6-8 weeks before you can transplant them. So far I have no growth, but it's only been a few days.

Also, I learned that you can place your green onion ends in water and they will grow!! This one has been in the water for around four days and it already has new growth. Can you see the green tip? I'm sure you can only do this once or twice per bulb because the nutritional value would probably be poorer each time. Maybe I should plant them in soil instead of just water? Has anyone done this indoors before?

On another note, has anyone ever heard of or tried winter sowing seeds? The process seems simple you just plant your seeds outside somewhere between Jan-March inside plastic jugs and begin watering them once germination has occurred. I'm thinking of growing my flowers this way this year just to see how they turn out, because it would be much easier than starting indoors. To learn more about winter sowing you can go here.

Lastly, I thought I'd list some winter gardening tips for beginners, because I know last year I was clueless about most things due to lack of experience and I had to just learn as I went. Here goes:

1. It's never too early to start planning your garden, especially if you plan on starting from seed.

2. Now is the time to sit down and plan out your garden on paper (or computer). Figure out how much space you have, what you want to grow (only grow what you will eat!), and what seeds and supplies you will need come spring.

3. Be diligent about where you spend your money because if your not careful gardening can be EXPENSIVE!! It can also be very cheap and cost effective if you take the time to research and plan. We spent quite a bit on "start up costs" last year (top soil, wood, seeds, grow lights, etc.), but you can make it as cheap as buying seeds and a shovel if you want. I don't think we will have to spend any (or much) money this year if we're careful about things.

4. Find out what growing "zone" you live in and organize a planting schedule so you know what plants should go into the ground when.

5. Be prepared for set backs! Gardening is dependant on many factors that are are out of your control (weather, bugs, etc) so just remember it's all a learning experience and process. There's always next year!!

6. Research what you can now before you start. There are plenty of resources on gardening at your local library or extension office. There's also a vast array of info on the internet so use it!!

7. Don't be afraid to throw caution to the wind and get your hands dirty! Learning comes through experience so don't worry whether you know what your doing or not, seeds will grow if you give them nutrients, sunlight, and water so just do it!

I hope some of these tips have helped! 
Does anyone else have any wisdom to add? 

Memory Verse

I can't believe its the fourth week of 2012 already! January is almost gone! Whoa. Anyway here is my memory verse for this week:

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
-Phil. 4:13

We chose this verse as another one to help and encourage us during labor. We are going to be be focusing  on verses to use for labor until the baby comes. I'd love to hear any suggestions or verses that have worked for you in this area! 

What are you memorizing this week?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Creamy Baked Pasta (Freezer Meal!!)

I came up with this pasta dish to use as a freezer meal for when the baby comes. I don't have a lot of recipes that freeze well so I'm having to brainstorm and create some dishes that use ingredients we already keep on hand. Anyway, it turned out awesome! Here's the recipe:

Creamy Baked Pasta

1 box whole wheat pasta 
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 small container sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 c shredded mozzarella for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Cook pasta and drain
3. Brown ground beef
4. Saute bell peppers and mushrooms
5. Heat sauce, sour cream, and parm. cheese on low heat until creamy
6. Add beef, veggies, and pasta
7. Pour into large greased casserole dish
8. Sprinkle mozzarella on top
9. Bake for 30 minutes

Do you have any freezer meals to share and/or tips on preparing meals for when the baby comes? If so, I'd love to hear them!

Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways
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Comfy in the Kitchen

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekly Memory Verse

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you."
-Isaiah 26:3

I chose this verse because I think it will be a great comfort and help during childbirth. 

What are you memorizing?

More Crochet Projects!

I crocheted a few more cowls. The red one was suppose to be for me to wear on Christmas, but it didn't get done in time:
 I made this one with really thick yarn and a huge crochet hook (around a size 15 or something) so it came together quickly. 

 I'm still working on this one. It's not as long as the other pink one, but it's going to be wider than the red one above. I used the half double crochet stitch in all three of them. 

I might try making a hat and/or a baby blanket soon. Yay! 

What have you been working on lately?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Weekly Memory Verse

As some of you might remember I'm participating in the 52 Verses Challenge where I'll be memorizing a verse a week for the entire year. I began memorizing a weekly verse with my husband back in December and we have been so blessed by it! You can learn more about the challenge by clicking the icon above. I plan on sharing my weekly verse here to keep myself accountable and to encourage my readers! I'll be sharing two verses today since we are two weeks into the year. 

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning." 
-Philippians 2:14

Can you imagine the impact this would have on our lives and the lives of those around us if we actually lived it out?

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever."
-Isaiah 40:8

It's so comforting to know that the Word and promises of our God never change. What a faithful God we serve!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Handmade Baby Gifts

My sister's sister-in-law has the same due date as me and her shower is coming up soon. She's having a girl so I had fun making some gifts for her. I made two applique bibs (her theme is owls). Also, I crocheted two baby headbands. 

If your interested in making appliqued baby bibs you can check out my tutorial here. For the headbands I used a size 5mm crochet hook and did one row of half double crochet stitches for a finished length of around 12.5 inches. Then I did a five petal flower using this method.

Hopefully she likes it all! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No Shampoo: Week 3 - A Turning Point

Well I've made it three weeks without shampoo!! You can click to read about weeks one and two if you missed them. So here's what happened this week. I decided to skip the vinegar which was a huge mistake! My hair turned out dry, course, and frizzy! Then, I bought a boar bristle brush which seemed to really help make my hair softer and more manageable. It also helped to distribute the oils down the length of my hair so it's wasn't so dry. I highly recommend using one if your doing this method.  

I ended up going three days between washes. Here are pictures of my hair on day three:

 You can definitely seem some oil here!! *FYI* I wore a hat this day. 

Then I washed my hair with the same 1 tbsp baking:1 cup water, but I upped the vinegar to 3 tbsp:1 cup water and all of the sudden my hair felt normal again!!! Here are pictures of my hair the day after washing it:

I can't believe it! My hair feels like I used shampoo!! It's so soft and light and wonderful! I don't know if it's because my hair is adjusting or if it was the vinegar, but I'm so happy! My hair feels clean!!!  So here's what I've learned so far about the "no-poo" method:

1. You have to play around with the baking soda and vinegar to water ratios to find what works for your hair. (Listen to you hair. It will tell you what to do.)
2. Baking soda absorbs the grease, but dries your hair out so only use it on your roots when needed. It's also a good idea to leave it in your hair for a few minutes before washing it out.
3. Apple cider vinegar makes your hair soft, shiny, and more manageable, but you should keep it away from your roots because it can add to the oiliness. 
4. Boar bristle brushes are fantastic!! They help to distribute the natural oils throughout your hair, making it shiny, moisturized and healthy.
5. Giving your hair a break is a good thing! It helps to restore it to it's natural state. 

I'm happy with the no shampoo routine so far. Hopefully it will continue to work for me. I'd love to hear your stories! 

**UPDATE** After almost seven weeks of no shampoo I decided to use it again. My hair was just never as consistently clean and soft as it was with shampoo. The main differences were that my roots were slightly "heavier," my hair felt slightly sticky and it was always sooo tangly! I'm glad I went no poo because now I can go longer in between my regular shampoos without feeling dirty. Once I use up my stash of regular shampoo I plan on finding a more natural product to use. Thanks for all the comments and feedback!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Preparing the Garden for Winter

We're finally getting around to preparing our garden for the winter (even though winter is already here!)

Our soil was hard and compact last year so we knew we'd have to till it and add some compost. And that's what my husband is doing today! :) Our neighbor let us borrow the tiller and the compost. We started our own compost, but its nowhere near being ready. Hopefully next year we can use some of it. We didn't pull the weeds either, we just let them die and added the compost over them. Here's my wonderful husband tilling our raised beds:
 And here's Daisy wanting some attention:

What do you do to prepare your garden for the winter?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bradley Class Review

I mentioned in an earlier post that we were planning a natural birth and taking Bradley Classes to prepare. I got a few e-mails and questions regarding the classes so I thought it would be good to do a review now that I finished the 12 week course.

The Bradley Method of Husband Coached Natural Childbirth focuses on teaching and encouraging the mother to live a healthy and active lifestyle in order to stay low risk and reduce unnecessary pain during birth. They also focus on using the husband and relaxation techniques during labor to handle and/or reduce pain.

The classes are as follows:

1. Introduction to the Bradley Method
2. Nutrition in Pregnancy
3. Pregnancy
4. The Coach's Role
5. Intro to First Stage Labor
6. Intro to Second Stage Labor
7. Planning Your Birth
8.Variations and Complications/Postpartum Prep
9. Advanced First Stage Techniques
10. Advanced Second Stage Techniques
11. Being a Great Coach/ Are You Ready?
12. Preparing for Your New Family

To learn more and to find a teacher in your area you can go here.

I wholeheartedly recommend taking Bradley Classes if you are committed to a natural birth. I feel like the content is extensive and full of important tools, techniques and information that you just can't get from a book. I know my husband feels so much more prepared, confident and in control since taking these classes. He told me that if we hadn't he would probably wouldn't be much help during the birth because of lack of knowledge. The classes have given me confidence in this process too. They've taught me what to expect from my body and how to handle each stage of labor effectively.

They say several times during class that if you didn't know how to swim yet you knew you were going to be thrown into deep water in 9 months then you'd probably learn how to swim pretty quickly! Well the same things goes for labor, you know it's coming in 9 months so you'd better learn how to do it effectively!

You really need to be committed when taking Bradley Classes because you have "homework" every day for your whole pregnancy and beyond! They encourage you to keep track of your diet to make sure you and your baby are getting all the nutrients you both need. They also encourage you to walk, exercise and practice relaxation techniques daily with your coach. In addition to all of that they encourage specific exercises to utilize everyday in order to better prepare your body for birth.

I'm so glad that my husband and I decided to take Bradley Classes! The information we learned throughout the process was invaluable and I can't wait to put it into practice in a few weeks!

Additional Resources
Bradley Birth
Husband Coached Childbirth
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way

Have you heard of or taken Bradley Classes? I'd love to know!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Swirl Diaper Cake

This morning my sister and I made the diaper cake for my baby shower next weekend. We'd never done this before, but I think it turned out great! We used the swirl method instead of rolling and securing each diaper because it was much quicker and it makes it much easier to disassemble. We used this tutorial. Instead of using three different size cake pans (which we didn't have) we used a small saucepan, a cake pan, and a large skillet. They worked great! Here's the cake at several different stages:

 I guess you figured out our baby's name. :) 

What do you think? Have you made a diaper cake before?

Unwasted Homemaking Linky
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

No Shampoo: Week 2

Tomorrow marks two weeks on my no shampoo journey. If you missed week one you can read about it here. This week has been much more challenging than week one. I've been doing the BS/ACV routine every other day and I'm definitely still in the transition phase. Here are pictures of what my hair looks like now:

Although my hair looks clean and normal it definitely feels different. My roots are more oily when touched (at least to me) and they feel heavier than freshly shampooed hair. (I'm starting to want that feeling again!!) Also, my scalp is itchier and my hair seems to tangle more. The majority of my hair seems to feel the same though so that's good. I'm going to try to go three days this week between washing in hopes of speeding up the transition phase. I hope it comes quickly. I'm not sure how long I'm willing to commit to this without results. Especially since I've heard mixed opinions about this method. It ain't for the faint of heart! 

Do you have any tips on getting through the transition phase? 
Do you think your hair feels cleaner and healthier now that your on the other side? (If you are) 
I need some encouragement!!

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