Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Splish, Splash

Nightly bath-time is my favorite time of the day. Just a few reasons why - 

Warm water, winding down, washing away the day's ups or downs.

Giggling girls, splishes and splashes, cuddling in a terry cloth towel. 

Let's read a story, snuggle in bed, kisses good night, nursing to sleep. 

Angels watch over you as you dream until those tip toes bring you to my bedside later on. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kitchen Monday

I found the cutest plate with all the colors of my kitchen and soon designated it the "honey plate" so it is out all the time for me to see. Is it corny to get happy looking at a plate? Probably. It's probably strange just to use the word "corny". 

We love fresh honey and use it for cooking (replacing sugar in many recipes), in tea or on toast. Yum! 

Around here we have a nice routine of cooking big on Mondays which helps tame the dinner time madness which ensues each weeknight. Many Mondays I cook a chicken for stock then use the meat and stock during the week for soups and casseroles. Frugal living at it's best I tell you! So good for us and tasty too. Store bought stock just doesn't have the same taste. When you make it yourself, the flavor and nutrition are robust. 

Yep - I'm making that bread again too. This is the same bread recipe that won Grace the prize ribbon at the fair last year and has become my go to recipe for quick fresh bread. I make the dough up on Sunday night, then cook a couple of loaves on Monday then maybe one later in the week to go with dinner. It always disappears quickly! 

I love this apron - it is hands down my favorite and you'll find me wearing it every Monday. The little pocket is a keeper.... a keeper of something I never thought I'd like to use. But now I love my ipod! Plug it in, turn it up and get cooking! 

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Earth Day Weekend

Our local Earth Day Celebration was held this weekend in Landa Park - one of the nicest city parks located right on the spring fed Comal River. This is our third year participating in the event with a Full Circle Baby booth and each year the event grows bigger & bigger! I find so much inspiration from gardening to how our community grows greener every year. 

Perfect weather (alright - it was windy!) brought out lots of families and local businesses like Sarah's Soaps (she is about so much more than soap though! Check out those plants.) and Two Rivers Yoga (awesome  yoga studio and another Sara!). 

Our Full Circle Baby booth was buzzing with activity! We talked to lots and lots of parents about cloth diapering, wearing their baby comfortably, using natural baby products with herbal ingredients and these diaper bags we found made from Re-Run fabric (recycled water bottles!).  Klean Kanteens are always a hit - as long as you can keep your car from eating them. I know my own car is feeding on them - it couldn't be the kids leaving them under their seats, right?? Seriously, we love our Klean Kanteens and take them everywhere with us. The last time I purchased water bottles from the store was almost 2 years ago!  note to self - reorder KKs for the store this week - in colors pink, orange, stainless and maybe black with the new chug-a-lug sports caps that came out this month.

Jeff brought the girls over to see us (Lissy stayed with me after she helped set up the booth - homeschooling girl learning business!) and they walked around learning about frogs, worm composting, recycling, gardening. They picked up lots of information and goodies! 

We enjoyed seeing our friends at Earth Day and hope to be back next year!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

What will my garden grow?

I have actually learned A LOT of things about gardening in general over the past year, but most importantly, I've learned when to start planning a garden here in South Texas. Right after Christmas!! We waited too long once again this year. It is so hard to think about planting a garden when my mind is stuck in winter mode. That comes from living in Virginia for so long. Since we've lived here in South Texas for the past 6 years, one would think that said person would finally be used to how things work here. 

We have a tiny backyard that really isn't good for much besides being home to our big, crazy lab. This guy is Marley (from Marley and Me) - but he is chocolate colored and 10 times crazier. He steals strawberries from the garden and helps himself to broccoli straight off the plant.  I guess he needs his veggies too.... 

Our backyard project has turned into one that Manly Man and I enjoy together - gardening. The first year in our very first house, we tried to till up the land and plant our garden blind. I'm pretty sure nothing grew that year worthwhile. We've learned a few things along the way and now we have a cute backyard garden that will hopefully supplement our food this summer. Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes! We went with raised gardens since our soil here is extremely rocky. Manly Man made the planter boxes to surround our patio last year and added two more bigger boxes around the yard this year. We filled the boxes with organic garden compost mix from our local organic gardening store (Gardenville). 

Miss Allie knows what makes the garden grow!

Here's one of the new planter boxes waiting for the tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and crenshaw melons to be planted. Manly Man made that great little green house/gardening table for me - isn't it fantastic!? I love it. It made planting all those little seeds much easier and the little ones love to stand on the bottom rails to peek at what is growing inside. We don't need to use the cover anymore to protect the little plants from frost. It's been a crazy Spring here though and just a week or so ago we actually had freeze warnings. Way past the usual freeze date. 
Here's our babies! It's so exciting to see a new plant sprout and grow. The girls help by watering them each morning and have transplanted the ones that grew more than one seed. We bought all heirloom seeds from Baker Seed company this year to avoid planting any genetically modified seeds. These are almost ready to transplant into the new garden area. I've saved the older planters around our patio for herbs and hot peppers - the things we use in the kitchen most often while cooking each day. I have basil (two kinds), dill, chives, parsley, mint, orange mint, sage and cilantro. 

One of our new favorite things to do is to make homemade ranch dressing. It's really easy! I mix up a garlic clove with some salt (to make a paste). Add to that some mayo (about 1 cup), some sour cream (I like Daisy brand as it's only ingredient is cream - about 1/2 cup), buttermilk to make the dressing thinner to whatever consistency you like, herbs (dill and chives  - but you could anything you like) and salt. Give it a stir and voila! I store it in an covered glass container in the fridge and use it up within two weeks - but it usually doesn't last that long.  The kids love it as a dip for carrots or celery for a snack. It's great over a slices of tomato and avocado too.  So yummy! Avocados are a plenty here in South Texas and I have grown to love them as do my girls. 

Happy Weekend!


Friday, April 17, 2009

The Napping House

rain. thunder. finally.

The garden swallows and sings while inside, we nap.

The backyard garden (literally - my backyard is a garden), is coming along nicely. I'll post pics this weekend! In the meantime, if you haven't read this - it's amazing. 


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Wishing everyone a very blessed Easter as you enjoy Springtime with family and friends.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Taking care of Mama - week 2

Hard as I try, I will never be a daily blogger and thus, my menu for my week of detox will just be a short one - but hopefully the basics will be covered. So this is the second week now of "Taking care of Mama" and this is what I'm trying to accomplish.

1 - Rest as much as possible. I'm in bed by 10 (which means no tv for me) and up around 7am. During the day, I try to lay down for a quick nap or rest when the littlest one naps. The technique I learned last week is something else I am trying to do each day. It's hard! Being mindful of it though helps and I have managed to sneek in a few down times.

2- Eat as healthy as possible (no sugars) and try some new supplements. For my detox, it probably isn't a real detox, but it kind of is too. I've added two new supplements to my diet - Floradix for iron and Evening Primrose Oil /Omega 3 combo. This is what I am doing for food during the next few days:

- Start the day with a glass of lemon water (just water with a half or whole fresh lemon juice) upon waking.
- After an hour, drink some herbal tea. One of my favorites is Peach Detox.
- After another hour, it's smoothie time! Here's my recipe - I fill a blender almost half way full of frozen blueberries. Then I add a little flax seed and hemp seed. Finally, I add enough Almond milk to make it milkshake consistency. This makes a full blender for us and I have a tall glass, then share the rest with the girls. They love it! You could do this with any type of fruit and substitute rice milk or regular milk as well.
- Lunch time - salad with lots of leafy greens, broccoli, spinach, carrots, etc. I do add just a little salad dressing, usually a vinagrette.
- Afternoon muchies - I grab a little bowl full of nuts - almonds, pecans and sunflower seeds. This really helps me make it to dinner time.
- Dinner time - Some type of soup usually. Last night I made a broccoli and arugula soup. I cooked a little onion with some garlic in olive oil on medium heat until tender. Then added a head of broccoli and cooked it until the broccoli was bright green (maybe 2-4 min). Added 1 1/2 cups of water and let that cook for about 8 min. I took a handful of arugula and tossed it into my blender then added the hot broccoli soup to it and blended. Be careful if you do this - it is HOT! The rest of the family had a heartier stew and bread with homemade jam. I was weak - I ate some bread with jam but other than that I did really good to avoid breads and sweets.
- Drink LOTS of water throughout the day.
- Exercise - I'll start that again next week. This week, I'm taking it easy and doing light stretches.

So that's it! I feel better already, my home is coming back together now that I am more rested and have energy to tackle the projects that seemed daunting to me just a week ago. I should add sunshine to my list as well. We are trying to get in some sunshine every day - so many times I find myself holed up inside the house and then I get stuck and just don't want to do anything. Our garden is coming along and the sunshine I get each morning by just watering the plants and inhaling the fresh morning air is helping my attitude.

Rest + Eat Healthy Foods + Light Exercise + Daily Breaks + Sunshine = Mama Feels Better


Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Let's interrupt this week of "Taking care of Mama" to bring some sweet strawberries home. One very good way to tell Spring has arrived is by the appearance of strawberry season. The girls and I headed out to a pick your own strawberry patch with some friends. This unique strawberry patch grew their strawberries hydroponically - no bending or getting dirty! 

Yummy! These look like they should be eaten fresh out of the basket but a sweet Strawberry Shortcake is what they are destined to be. 

Mama - I can't wait!

This picture has nothing to do with strawberry picking but it does have cute cherries on it! The fabric is from Sandi Henderson's Farmer's Market line and the smock pattern was found in Amy Karol's book, Bend the Rules Sewing. Miss Abigail is so fast, I had to catch her picture while we waited for sister's soccer practice to be over. We have already had a few very warm (read 90's!) days here this Spring. 

Happy, Happy Spring!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Taking care of Mama Week

Thought I would post an update to see where we are now on "Taking care of Mama" - week one.  I find it quite difficult to get to this space on a daily basis, but that's all part of it isn't it? As mothers we drive ourselves to do more and more - some of us just can't be still for very long before thoughts of what we should be doing or could be doing pop back into our heads. I think this part of my personality is what is leading me to overload and I'm trying to catch it before it turns into burnout. So let me see where I am after this week - 

* Chiro appointment with unexpected, but very welcome massage therapy. CHECK!
*Two mornings of getting up before the littlest one woke to relax and meditate in a nice hot bath. CHECK! ( I have to admit, this wasn't on my list to create wellness, but out of necessity - I'll explain more)
*Visit to Family Physician - outcome is everything is a go for the detox next week. She wants me to up my Omega 3 supplements - which I hear is good for every woman. I found some at Whole Foods that are for specifially for women with added Evening Primrose.  I'll add those to my daily supplements of Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omegas. CHECK!
*Indulged in a mini spa retreat - loved it! However, my back was so sore after the Neck and Shoulder Relief massage. Thus the need to get up the next day and relax in the bathtub! It felt so good to have some morning time to myself, I did it again the next day. I also loved the eye pillow they used at the spa and I want to make one now - but I will hold off until I'm caught up on everything else. CHECK!
*Drinking more water - I'm working on this still but have done better this week. CHECK!
*Cutting back on sugary foods. This is hard for me. If it is in the house, then I will eat it. I just can't have it in the house and so my children will have to cut back as well. This should be good for them too.  SEMI- CHECK!
*Stress reduction. I checked into hiring a housekeeper and hope to give it a try soon. She will come twice a month to clean the kitchen floors, bathrooms and living area.  One of the gals who I contacted is expecting a baby soon though - can I relax enough to let a pregnant woman clean my house??? I know I'm going to have to leave the house while she cleans if I hire her, because I am going to want her to put her feet up!  I've also made some time to deal with the mounds of paperwork that have been making me feel like I'm drowning. I managed to make a dent in that yesterday and I can actually see the light (and my desk! yay!). SEMI-CHECK!
*Lastly - getting enough rest. I have done really well on this and have found I fall asleep easier when I go to bed at a decent hour. Apparently, I need about 9 hours of sleep and a 30 min quiet time each day to feel really rested. I only cheated last night to watch a movie with my oldest daughter. 

So next week I'll start the detox and I'm really looking forward to it. We stocked up on some wonderful veggies at the Farmer's Market yesterday so my refrig is looking healthy and yummy!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taking care of Mama - day 1

On day one of Taking Care of Mama, made sure to get a full night's rest and went straight to bed after the last little one was asleep. So I slept from 10pm to 7pm and woke up well rested. Why oh why do I let myself stay up late and not get adequate rest??? Is watching some mindless show on tv really needed at night - I don't think so. I never sit down to watch tv during the day, so after the kiddos are asleep, that is my time. But I'm wasting it on the couch when I could be resting in my bed. So, no more tv for me.

I went to the chiropractor and had an adjustment with a wonderful bonus. They did a full therapy session on my upper back and neck which included an ultrasound massage and an intense (but good) massage by their massage therapist. I always thought massage would be relaxing, and while I left there feeling so much better, the massage really hurt. I'm tense.... but working on it! The therapist gave me some really good tips and so I wanted to share those.

First, our head weighs about 10 lbs and our shoulders/neck muscles need to rest occassionally. Think about this - if you ever lifted weights - you know how you will do several reps of lifting one weight then put it down when your muscles just can't take anymore? Then you can pick it back up again in a few minutes right? Our head is that weight and our neck/shoulders need to rest so that it can continue to carry our big ol' heads around all day long. As women, we sit behind computers or drive children around town and while we wish our strength was in our upper body, it's really in the hip area. So she suggested this - take several 3-4 min breaks throughout the day and lay down on the floor with your knees bent. Put a rolled up towel under your neck for support. If you can, also put a few ice cubes on the towel so that they target your neck muscles. Why ice instead of heat? She said that when muscles swell (think sprained ankle here), we ice them. It's the same for when your neck starts to ache. I'm going to try this today!

When I entered the chiro office, my body felt like it was spinning without direction like a person lost in the woods without a compass. As I left, I felt lighter and more grounded like I had found my direction. Now to just keep it on track.

Eating today was better too. I am trying to eliminate white sugars/sweets and eat more fiber and protein. Drinking lots of water is so important and something I never do enough of. So I have designated a 18 oz Klean Kanteen as my water bottle each day and I fill it up at least 4 times a day. Yesterday I accomplished this - check!

Stress - I need to eliminated as much stress as possible. Yes, my plate is very full and I have recently let a wonderful volunteer position go to lighten my load. It wasn't enough though and I am looking for ways this week to help reduce stress in my life. One idea is to hire a housekeeper to help me keep up with the bigger cleaning - kichen floor, bathrooms, etc. When these do not get cleaned it adds to my stress. I have gotten better at "letting things go", but sometimes I feel buried the housework and paperwork that surrounds me. I have no idea where to start on the housekeeper idea or how much it costs. I do know that I need help and while my girls are great at helping with general cleaning, I think we need more. I hope to have more accomplished on the stress reduction very soon!