22 December 2012

My Very Own Sugar Scrub

My sister-in-law made me a homemade sugar scrub last year that made my skin so smooth and, I have to admit, was tasty when it'd get on your lips.  I ran out awhile ago and have been meaning to make my own for quite some time.  Well, today I woke up after several days of no sleep between the baby on the inside and the baby on the outside and looked horrible!  No really.  The dark circles were unbelievable and I decided I was going to make a scrub for my face so I would feel rejuvenated.  That turned into me wanting to add caffeine to the scrub for my dark circles.

Immediately after use I asked my husband what he thought and he said that although it didn't completely take the dark circles away, it absolutely helped lessen their appearance!  So here it is, my very own caffeinated sugar scrub for all you tired momma's (or daddy's) out there.  By the way, this scrub comes out dark so if you get strange looks from your husband, yes it does look like you smeared mud all over your face.  Don't worry. He'll like rubbing your face afterwards.  ;)

I'm assuming you could use coffee instead of tea, but we have a Keurig so I didn't have any coffee other than K-cups around the house.  And, I happened to have an enormous amount of black tea that we never use because someone ~AHEM!~ always thinks she has time to make things like Kombucha when, in reality, she doesn't.  I'm glad I finally found a use for all that tea in the cupboard so I could stop feeling guilty about it just sitting there for the next 5 years.  Anywho, now on to this super easy, 5 minute recipe!

1 cup white sugar
45 black tea bags/ almost 1 cup  (you could use any tea but I wasn't about to use my Chamomille or holiday teas for my face :p)
2 Tbls sea salt
2 Tbls orange peel
2 tsp lemon extract
2 cups olive oil
peppermint extract: I added this because this preggo couldn't stand the bland smell.  Just add until you like the smell of it- you shouldn't need too much!

Now, I don't know about long-term effects of this scrub making a mother look more "with it" but I was honestly impressed with the immediate outcome.  Also here are some little facts about black tea:
Black tea is known to be good for you for so many things, like preventing heart disease, stroke and cancer.  It has also been known to fight the aging process so why not try it in a facial scrub, right?!  It also boosts the metabolism.  I wonder if it would help make my face not look so puffy with this enormous baby growing inside me?  Hmmmm......  One may never know.....

05 October 2012

YOU are a supermom!

          Wow, four months have passed since I last wrote...  I guess it makes sense since things have been crazy around here.  We're now five months pregnant, the summer flew by and we're homeschooling our oldest.  Not sure what grade we're considering her to be in but that's the beauty of it all.   I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking Amanda doesn't have a plan and is cool not having her child's future laid out?! She doesn't know if her kid's in preschool or kindergarten?!  That does NOT sound like her!  I completely agree.  Honestly, I gave up.  We started the year with high hopes and big expectations....that we're still mostly meeting.  Preschool workbooks proved to be way too easy and she was done with five preschool books in one week.  On to kindergarten, I thought.  Well, if you knew my spirited little four year old you'd know that she cannot sit still- ever!  She begs to do school.  She's often seen doing it from 10 am until 6 pm by her choice- the Good Lord knows it's not mine!  And yet I'm constantly pulling teeth and having this tug-of-war with her.  I suppose it's because our ways of interacting peacefully do not include anything concerning "book" education.  We'd much rather shop, bake, cook, read and chat together, but not about anything that has to do with 2+2 or stay in the lines when you color, please.  Heavens, NO!  And so my week has been filled with meltdowns galore (by me, mostly) and shoving pop tarts in the mouths of my younger two to keep them quiet, all the while telling the 4 year old that she can't have them because they have too much sugar to keep her focused.  True, but hypocritical.  And I've wondered how any mother with little ones actually gets any school accomplished amid changing diapers, feeding everyone, entertaining the little ones and keeping everyone sane and happy.  And this doesn't even include being pregnant (meaning tired ALL the time and not having a working brain), a husband often out of town for work, dishes, laundry or a decent meal because we all know that's not happening in this home!  I swear I'm not complaining- just laying it out there.  I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about!
         I see posts on Pinterest containing weeks or months worth of organized lessons and print-outs and read blogs about homeschool families going on nature walks, catching a squirrel, coming home and skinning it for dinner all while spinning yarn from sheep they just sheared, nursing a baby simultaneously and teaching the 18 month old to read, while the other 6 kids are off studying pre-med and volunteering for the Peace Corps....at age 9.  Yeah, that's not real life and yet I get sucked in every time and feel like I'm failing.  I wonder how these women can do it all and still appear to be happy, put-together moms who are always cheerful and love every bit of motherhood.  Then I realized we only put things on our Facebook statues or write posts in our blogs that make us look good.  We only share with people how we want them to view us, but that's not how it is every day.  Those moms don't show us that they actually have bad days where they want to crawl in a hole or wonder if keeping the baby monitor on and leaving the house with the receiver part would be an ok option, just to run to the corner store to get an iced tea and go to the bathroom in peace (I have never once done this and never will, by the way!).  No, we share with everyone our highest points because they're either rare or a better day than most others, even if the others aren't all horrible.
          After sobbing and going on and on about how I can't do this, my husband has made me realize that I don't have to weave my own rugs or, even, cook everything from scratch, milling the flour myself.  It's ok to buy some convenience foods for those "mommy's losing it days", and it's ok to close the books for the day or a week.  And no, it wouldn't be easier putting her in school because I'd have to be involved (and would want to be), and I'd still have 3 hours of homework to do with my daughter every night, among other factors that I don't have do deal with keeping her home. It's not a piece of cake either way.  He's made me realize that lowering my expectations isn't me failing but is more realistic for where we are right now.  Being a parent is hard- period.  There's no easy way out.
          So for all of you who have told me I'm "supermom" and can do it all....HA!  Call my family this week and they'll tell you another side.  On second thought, don't call them.  I've been downright pitiful these past two weeks.  The truth is we moms are in this together.  Some have it harder in general or on a particular day, but we all have it hard.  Life may look perfect on Facebook or blogs or Pinterest but if you peek through someone's window (don't though because that's stalking....) you might be surprised at how much their life look like yours.  So, here's to all you moms who think you're failing, that your kids will be delinquents and belong in a zoo rather than in your home- you're not alone and it's ok to show your less-than-perfect side! And seriously, thank you to everyone who has just let me vent and flip out.  Thank you for listening and thank you for not running away, slamming a door in my face telling me to get over it.  You will be repaid greatly for loving me anyway.  I mean, I'm not about to bake you homemade cookies because, let's be honest, they wouldn't survive an hour with me around, but God will repay you and I'll pitch in and buy you a coffee! ;)
          And I will end this by telling you that in the hour it has taken me to write this, I've rescued the baby from dive-bombing off the couch twice and heard a scream from the 4 year old, who apparently snuck out of bed to use the bathroom.  The baby seized this opportunity to run to her side and throw her shoes in the not-flushed-yet toilet.  Yeah......so if this is incoherent, well it's consistent with my mental capability: raw, real, tired and yet loving those little ones so much it doesn't seem possible!

19 May 2012

Soak Your Oats

We take the term "crunchy" pretty serious in this house.  Meaning: we eat a lot of granola and granola-type snacks. 

However, I had heard quite a few years ago granola wasn't good for you because it blocked the absorption of vitamins.  I ignored this for a long time because we think it's some pretty yummy stuff around here, but the more I used oats to make "healthy" snacks, the more I thought I was totally jipping us.  I did some research, reading of few articles online and cracking open "the book" that I thought I'd never open.  The book that, when my mother gave it to me just before my husband and I got married, my thought was Gee thanks, a dust collector.  There's no way I'll ever use this!  You see, before I had a family I liked my convenient and crappy foods because they were so yummy.  Cheese whiz, anyone?!  ..........No??????  Now that book is becoming quite filled with highlighting, underlining and notes in the margins.  I love this book and have found it invaluable.

So, now that I have been converted to the world of raw, whole, organic foods and a lifestyle of soaking grains, fermenting things and making as much as I can from scratch, I thought it'd be nice for someone to hear me say I honestly love it!  I love knowing what goes in my kids' little tummies and knowing that no matter how many snacks they have in a day (because they're bottom-less pits and would rather snack all day than actually sit their cute wiggly bums down for an actual meal), it doesn't matter because the snacks I have on hand are really, truly good for them!

But, back to soaking those oats.  When I first read about phytic acid I wanted it OUT of my oats!  Phytic acid is bound to phosphorus and if left as is will combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, potassium and zinc in the intestinal tract, therefore blocking their absorption.  Soaking grains such as oats allows enzymes to neutralize phytic acid and increases B vitamins.  Dating back to ancient times up until recently, and by that I mean many of our grandmothers probably did this as well, it was common practice to soak your oats the night before because of the nutritional benefits.
Now you may be thinking but oats have actually helped my digestion.  At first unsoaked oats have a detoxifying effect but you will soon see that the more you consume them unsoaked, the more IBS symptomes, mineral deficiencies and allergies can be found.

Being a busy mom of 3, however, I was quickly annoyed at this thought because who ever has the idea that they're going to need oats on Thursday for the granola that's run out for the yogurt your kids love and soak and dry them out again the Monday before.  ...Well, not me!  And so, I would run out of soaked oats, refuse to make new granola until I had done the whole soaking and drying oats process (none of this a big deal, really, if you're prepared) and, therefore, have 2 crabby kids whining that they wanted "cranola" or their energy bites.  So, here's a tip. When you get home from the store with your oats, pour them in a bowl with water.  They will be ready in about 24 hrs.  It's that simple, as long as you make sure you get them out of the water before they mold a week later.  Not that I know this from experience, but it seems like it'd be gross.  :p  Then when you need them, all you have to do is reach in your pantry for oats packed with a punch!

How to Soak your Oats:
Nourishing Traditions mentions you should buy them from a bag or container because they can go rancid in bulk bins.  I realize it's cheaper this way so it's up to you!  I know one of our local grocery stores seems to re-fill the bins quite often.  Put your oats in a big bowl with enough water to allow for them to expand.  Then put a little apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in and stir.  (Raw ACV is best if you're using ACV, but I don't always have the good stuff and it seems fine to me with regular).  Leave for 7-24 hours.  It helps if you sing "I'm gonna soak that phytic acid right outta my oats" to the tune of I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair from South Pacific.  I don't know why it helps, but it does.  Or at least it makes it more fun!
Note: This also works for steel-cut (Irish) oats, rye, barley and wheat.
Note: Quinoa also has to be soaked, but I'm not sure if an acid is needed to help neutralize antinutriemts (p 454 of Nourishing Traditions).  Anyone know if an acid is needed?  I've found nothing on this.

When drying out the oats pour them through a mesh strainer a little at a time and rinse them under water so you rinse out the slimy grayish liquid. Ew!  I haven't been able to rinse them until the water runs clear but I'm sure this is fine.  I usually rinse until I get the vinegar smell out.  Make sure you drain them before the next step so you get a lot of the moisture out.  (Singing the song again makes this less mundane.  Feel free to add a little dance too. ;)  Lay them out thin on several cookie sheets, put your oven on the lowest setting and leave for hours.  That's it!  Then, use as you would normally.  The only difference I've found is that they tend to be a be a bit chewier in recipes, but it doesn't seem to be a big deal and so far I'm the only one in my family who's noticed.
Note: I haven't found anything in Nourishing Traditions about drying them out as the section focuses on soaking them for porridges, but I've read elsewhere it can be done in the way described above.

Here are two of our favorite recipes for oats (not including my granola recipe that I "wing" and is different each time so I can't give it to you).  We are rarely without both of these in our house and when we do the kids get sick of bananas, apples and peanut butter really fast so I have to make more for them, of course!

Playgroup granola bars:                                                  
(I have added the gluten-free substitutions as well. You can get gluten-free oats if you need them.)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ  (We use an equal amount of ground flaxseed instead because of being gluten-free)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour (or 1/3 cup each of potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour and 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of raisins, semi sweet chocolate chips, nuts (We use choclate chips and coconut)
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350* and grease a 9x13 baking pan (any non-stick spray works great).
In a large bowl mix the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ/ flaxseed, cinnamon, flour, salt, raisins, chocolate chips, and nuts.
In a separate bowl beat the egg and add to it the honey, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix well. Pat mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut into bars while it's still warm.

Energy Bites:
(Double the recipe right away!)
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
Mix, Chill, Roll

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

Have fun soaking your oats and remember, the song helps ;)                                    

22 March 2012

Going to the zoo

My niece and nephews have been in town all week staying with my mother-in-law.  My sister-in-law and I had the idea of taking them out for the day and we chose the zoo.  In my attempt to be timely, however, I forgot several very important things like sunscreen and a hat for the baby (it was going to be over 80 degrees) and a stroller.  Oh yes, 8 kids including 2 roaming toddlers with minds of their own and 2 babies and I had no stroller!  The worst part was I took the jogging stroller out of my trunk before I left thinking I had the double stroller in there, but I didn't have the base that the seats clip in to and so it was useless!  All we had was my sister-in-law's umbrella stroller that held the lunches.  At least we had a moby wrap and ergo for the babies or we would've been done in!

All in all it still turned out to be a great day!  The kids were fantastic!  It was a lot of fun hanging out with my older niece and nephew (ages 6 and 8), who were soaking up all the information they could.  My sister-in-law and I wanted to make sure they were getting something out of it instead of just helping their crazy aunts with the babies.  I loved seeing them love learning and telling me about all the different animals.  Next time I'm just taking them!

Ruby Red later told me her favorite part was seeing the sea lions underground and her big cousin Timmy teaching her all about the snakes.  It's adorable how she looks up to him and I'm glad they were able to spend some time together!

I wish I had a picture of them all but, alas, my camera battery was dead and I couldn't find the charger....:(

I was so tired afterwards that I dozed several times the rest of the afternoon.  Even my kids....no.....even RUBY RED was exhausted!!!!  I never thought I'd be saying that sentence!  My older two went down for naps at 4.  Ruby Red woke up at 8pm for some apples and peanut butter and went right back to bed.  We didn't see Baby Blue until 4am, where she had some quality time with daddy and then snuggled with him in bed until 7:30.

I'm so glad we were able to pull it off.  Next time, though, if I don't have a stroller it would be worth it to drive home to get it!

19 March 2012

New Hip Hold

I've once again discovered that baby wearing is essential for a happy baby and half-sane mommy in this household.  However, Sapphire Sweetie wasn't content with the usual hold in the Moby wrap and it wasn't comfortable for me anymore since she always wiggles around trying to see what's going on.  After watching what seemed like a bazillion YouTube videos on different holds I have found one and wanted to share it!  This hold has become indispensible and we both love it!  It leaves me with all the comfort and mobility that I need while giving her comfort, freedom to look around and closeness to mommy.  I highly recommend trying it!

(Note: This hold is not origunally for the Moby wrap but I've found that it works perfectly with it!)

15 March 2012

What We've Been Up To

Our girls have been keeping us very busy.  I can't believe that it's been over 3 months since I last wrote!

Baby Sapphire is now 6 months old.  6 MONTHS!!!!!!!!  This blows my mind!  She's getting so big too.  Her smile is absolutely infectious and she's always giggling at her big sisters.  She's our first baby to ever roll over before they start crawling.  I don't know why the other two wouldn't but they hated being on their tummies for even a second.  We call her our little "koala" becuase she's always perched so cutely on my hip, and only my hip as she sees my husband and starts screaming.  I honestly think she's saying, "Don't you dare try to take me from my mommy!"  As heartbreaking as this can be, the hubs has realized this is only a phase and she, like the other 2, will find him waaay more fun than mommy once she's older.  ....I'm not sure if I should be happy with that or not.  ;)

Ruby Red and Baby Blue just got bunk beds.  This has proven very cute and extremely frustrating for bed and naptimes.  Just today I went in to see what Baby Blue was up to and couldn't find her.....anywhere.  I looked in her bed, under her bed, and in the closet.  Then I saw those cute blue eyes peering from under the covers of his sisters top bunk- that she had climbed u[ by herself.  Uh yeah, I'm in trouble!  Now, and I mean literally right now, she just came to me bare bottom (she's supposed to be sleeping) and told me, "I took diaper off".  Well yes you did.....and now I have to leave this.....

.....Ok, so now where was I.... ah yes, I've completely forgotten my string of thoughts....

Ruby Red has been keeping busy learning her letters and numbers, reading (not by herself, yet), and is so excited to finally play outside again.  She's so much bigger than she was last fall- I can now send her out back to play by herself and since we have a fenced in yard I'm thinking this is pretty awesome!  I leave the doors hitched open so she can come and go as she pleases.  This is a very exciting moment for me as it leaves me "time" to frantically do stuff around the house while the little girls sleep.  Yesterday she told me she wanted to go swimming.  After I convinced her she would freeze because it isn't that warm out yet, I went inside to cook dinner while I watched her out the kitchen window.  I couldn't understand why our well pump was turning on since the well water is only for the outside and I wasn't using it.....but Ruby Red was...  She dragged her water table out of winter storage, flipped it and proceeded to fill it.  She looked so cute and utterly ridiculous standing there soaked and muddy with winter gloves on because, get this- she didn't want her hands to get wet and muddy....  Mmmm hmmmm, apparently you had great success with that!  ;)

We've been remodeling our kitchen and although it does NOT look like it at the moment, it will finally be DONE by Baby Blue's birthday in 3 days!!!  It's been 3 months of having a torn apart house and I'm so excited to get it back together and get all these tools and dirt out of my house!  Of course, it's "crunch" time and I think I've grown 20 new gray hairs this week alone, but it will be wonderful next week.

I've been sewing in my, wait for it......spare time....  Honestly though, I've really gotten a lot done at midnight!  I will have tutorials following with my lovely creations so stay tuned!  I've also begun making a whole bunch of new things from pinterest.  I will be sure to have some reviews of the likes and dislikes in the upcoming weeks. 

For now that's it since I have to scramble to get the girls ready for Ruby Red's dance class.  I will be on here more for sure as the hubs told me he misses reading my blog- that's the nicest thing he could have said, well about my blog anyway!

09 February 2012

Thanks for the guest post by Jo Levy

It’s easy to get complacent and be lazy about home safety. My husband and I like many of our neighbors never really thought much about it as we live in a low crime area. That is until recently when a rash of car break-ins in our neighborhood gave us a rude awakening! The police spoke at a recent meeting at our clubhouse and advised us that it is common for thieves to target low crime areas because people often do get lazy. We all think it would never happen to us so we stop locking our doors or leave items in our cars in plain sight, tempting would be burglars. It’s a shame that the break-ins had to happen, but it was a better wake up call for us than something worse. For our neighborhood meeting I put together a list of simple tips from homesecurity101 that I thought would be helpful for my family and our neighbors. It really is simple to protect your home and family you just have to remember to do it!

02 February 2012

Nine month novena for the election

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012:  Election Day.

I sat with an aching heart and sick stomach as the new mandates for Obamacare came out last week.  I prayed a rosary crying, wondering what our future would be like for us and our children and often have to remind myself to simply say "Jesus, I trust in You".  I am confident that He's "got our back", but can't help but question, "At what cost?  What suffering will we have to endure?"  I pray He gives each and every American foresight and wisdom when voting in both the primaries and general election and I pray we always have courage to stand up and fight for our faith, knowing what magnificence lies ahead for those who are faithful.

I'm not here to make a political speech or convince you of the right candidate.  My family and will be fasting and praying this novena the 1st Tuesday of every month, leading up to and ending on November 6th.  We ask you to join us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!!