Monday, February 27, 2012

Deliciously Simple Savings

Today I made homemade granola! I am so glad I held off buying some store bought granola and decided to try out a recipe I had for a while now but never had time to make it... Until now. 

Home made granola is so easy its embarrassing I would have ever considered buying $7 a "tiny" bag of granola from the store. Wow. I just made a double batch to last us a week or two and without doing the math it probably cost me less the $2 or $3!!! 

Here is the recipe I used:

3 cups rolled oats (GF of course!)
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup dried fruit of your choosing

~ Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F. Mix oats and almonds in bowl, set aside. In a small saucepan heat honey, oil and salt and heat until warmed. Pour warmed honey mixture over oats and stir using a wet or oiled spatula until oat/nut mixture is coated. Spread over the parchment lined baking sheet and bake approximately for 15 minutes, stirring once, until light golden brown. Place back into bowl and mix in dried fruit (I used half raisins, 1/4 dried cranberries and 1/4 chopped apricots) Place back into oven for 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool on pain stirring occasionally. Store in airtight container.~

Not only does this take only a few minutes to whip up and make but also is delicious in a non-store bought way. The way only home baked goodies can taste. So I will ponder on how to invest my saved money while enjoying my homemade granola. Thoroughly enjoying my deliciously simple savings.


Thursday, February 23, 2012


So much has been going on these past few weeks I got caught up in the whirl wind of life. So I decided to take a time out and reflect on some of the big things happening.

Spring Cleaning. The two words combined are wonderful, a lot of work but wonderful. Lets take a closer look!

Spring. The word just breathes of newness, freshness, cleanness and a hope of things to come. A time of new growth and time to stretch the muscles of summer that lay dormant since autumn.

Cleaning. This word can equal work if used in a verbal contex but if you think of cleaning as cleansing now there is something refreshing about it! Despite the work it is revitalizing and refreshing right down to the bones when you are cleaning and cleansing. It's like taking a shower for the heart and mind.

So let us put these two words together and we get: Spring Cleaning or Spring Cleansing depending on how you would prefer to put it.

The past week or so I have been purging and organizing and cleaning everything. I am much happier with how much I am getting done since I haven't been concentrating my efforts  by room this year. I can see a huge difference since I've been going by "things". One day its the girls clothes, the next my sons, the next mine, the next the toys, the next day I do books and so on and so forth. And here lies the next thing on my list of reflections.

Yard Sale. Rummage Sale. Garage Sale.
Now, depending on where you are really depends on what word you use. One, all or none of the above might fit the bill but either way it is, again, a lot of work. As my pile of "sale items" grew it outgrew the mud room so I decided to start pricing and putting them away into the garage to await the big sale in a few weeks until I'm done purging the house. I am quite embarrassed to say I have so much things and excess that I just simply do not use or need that I don't have to ask any one else to join in on my rummage sale. I have plenty to have a great sale. That is something I am not proud of and I will not allow that to happen again. I never want to look like a hoarder ever, ever, ever again. In the process of purging and organizing I should be able to make a few dollars and whatever doesn't sell will be donated and put to good use.

Late winter and early spring are wonderful times to start getting the excess out of the house, get ready for fresh air and just simplify the house and in the process life in general in preparation for summer and fun in the sun! (Or work, depending again on what you do!) I have been busy but so refreshed during this process of simplifying and getting down to what is really necessary. Instead of saving 6 or more shirts for the kids in the next few sizes of clothes up I will save 2-4 really nice ones cutting in half what I am holding onto. If I need more I can always get one or two more shirts.

I love getting organized and my stress level, despite the busyness, has gone down dramatically. I feel so refreshed! Now just to finish. I am almost there. It's very exciting and I will be able to relax and enjoy this summer with the kids instead of always feeling under pressure to clean or just "do something" because I feel so cluttered. Well, no more clutter! It's clutter be gone season and we're almost done!

So concludes my reflections on this spring cleansing.

Happy cleaning!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love, Comfort(foods) and Coffee

Today is Valentines Day. I'm sure everyone already knew that! My husband came home from work and brought a little stuffed animal for each of our kids (aww!) and a fabulous card for me with a surprise to come later on today! I can't wait to see what it is! I am very blessed to be married to my husband, I love him so much! I remember those years that I was single and it seemed like everyone around me was getting married, or engaged around V-day and I hated it and even called it "national single awareness day" but I totally missed out on celebrating the fact that I was single when I was single for V-day. Each chapter of life has it's blessings and while I wouldn't go back to being single it was a special time in life, just as special as marriage and kids are now! The next chapter in life is when our kids leave home and we become empty nesters and grandparents! 

Taking the lessons I learned from going from being single to being married I am going to savor every minute of every day. Each day is a gift from God and each breath a blessing no matter what situation you need to look for the silver lining. Someone always has it worse than you so that means you have something to be thankful for! I need to continue to remember that on my hard days!

Now for the Comfort of today. When some people think of pot roast they think of country people, simplicity and maybe even rednecks. Surprisingly enough pot roast is a special meal for us. The tastes can be so complex and beautiful that the pot roast doesn't get enough attention for. Anything made in love is going to taste better than something fancy prepared by someone who doesn't care. I'm totally not joking. Have you ever eaten something by someone who hates to cook? My point exactly. 

I think of pot roast as the ultimate comfort food but also something even more special. I like to make a fancier version of pot roast. In the crock pot. 

Yes. You read it correctly. Fancy in the crockpot. It's not just in how you cook it, it's also in the presentation. Presentation is just as important as cooking and preparing it. 

I like to take a kosher cut roast and let it slowly cook kind of like roast beef all day on low then you carefully remove it from the crockpot and scoop out the vegetables pour a little juice around it on a nice platter and then make the gravy from some of the rest of the liquids in the crockpot. Something simple just got made up. If you arrange the vegetables nicely on the platter it takes the lowly pot roast to a whole new level. Serve up some biscuits or dinner rolls (depending on the mood/theme you are trying to get at the table) and voila! Comfort food made fancy! Tonight for time's sake I'm just going to make biscuits GFree of course and I'm going to try to make some GFree gravy for the first time too! The house smells fabulous of my crockpot pot roast.

To start of this morning I splurged and bought some flavored coffee. Usually I just stick with my organic free trade plain coffee but today I did some free trade flavored coffee and it was a nice treat topped with some real whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon! Love coffee!!

So today I am enjoying simple yet complex pot roast (thanks to my "magic" seasonings! and preparation) and celebrating the simple things in life! 

Much like that quote that says" The best things in life aren't things". So, so true.

So it doesn't matter if you are single, married or whatever celebrate each day like it's special. Because each day is special. You don't need to have a calendar or a "hallmark holiday" to make the day special!

~Enjoying Comforting Simplicity~

Friday, February 10, 2012

The end of the beginning. . .

Now doesn't that sound profound?! Well it should. It's only common sense speaking!

Let me explain. So everyone knows I'm nursing my new baby. If you didn't know that you do know! As my baby is growing I've noticed nursing changing for us. She is more active when she nurses and nursing under the cover of a blanket is soon going to be a no go for us. With summer coming I knew those days were going to end soon enough anyways.

So enter the search for handy nursing clothes. After a few hours exhaustively searching the internet I ended up talking to my husband about it. With so much controversy over breastfeeding in public I don't want to be a prude (per se, depending on your definition of prude) about it or crude (I think everyone knows what crude is) about it. I do want to say that breastfeeding is NOT a sexual act and shame on people like that store owner who called in a lady nursing her baby as performing a sexual act on a child. People like that should be put into a house for contentedly ignorant people.

Ok enough with ranting, back on to explaining where I am going. What it all comes down to while it is my right to breastfeed in public I want to be as discreet as possible. Not because I'm scared of conflict with people who dislike/disapprove of nursing in public but our society is messed up and oversexualized.

May my point be proven that the coolest and best nursing clothes are from overseas? From Europe, to Australia and New Zealand and everywhere in between. American nursing clothes are... for lack of a better word affordable but tacky or nice and EXPENSIVE. Seriously if you don't want to wear a shirt that screams "Hey, everyone, I'm a nursing mother" then you end up paying an arm and a leg  for them.

Enter the end of the beginning of my mission.

First it was to make my own nursing clothes so I didn't have to pay the ginormous prices to get decent looking nursing  clothes. Oh and functional too. They MUST be easy to use nursing, comfortable yet look fabulous without looking like a "nursing shirt". I wore one ONCE. Everyone kept staring at me just waiting for me to nurse the baby even though its a natural act, it goes to the over sexualization of our society. Just to touch on the subject its "ok" to see models covering their naked breasts with their hands and the people who don't like that just look away. Same goes to a woman wearing revealing clothing, if someone doesn't like it they just look away. Why then when a mom is nursing a baby people feel inclined to confront the mom who is doing what God intended her to do after birthing a baby? Seriously this is a burr under my saddle and if God did not intend women to nurse babies He would not have given us breasts. What good is a cows udder if not for its ultimate God intended purpose to nurse its calf? How about sheep?Goats? Mares? Need I go on?

Well anyway back on track here. I think it's possible for a modern mother to enjoy well made, good looking clothes at normal clothes prices. If I normally do not pay $200 for a dress then why would I pay that for a nursing dress? Normally I'm lucky if I pay $50 full price even then I feel sheepish because I could have spent that money somewhere else...

So this is the end of my search for proper nursing clothes and the beginning of my actual business endeavour to produce nursing clothes not just for myself but to sell so the modern mother (urban OR rural) can nurse their babies in comfortable, easily functional clothes at NORMAL clothes prices. So I will be my own test subject with the clothes and if its not something I would wear it's not something I'm going to sell.

So therefore this marks the end of the beginning!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

GF Cooking Adventures- Sour Cream Crumb Cake!

If you haven't seen this blog- GO there! The link above takes you to the recipe I made this morning. It looks fabulous! I may post pictures later if I have time. I really appreciate her recipes using minimal xanthan gum and GF AP flour mix. If it weren't for this blog and some similar ones like it there is no way I could have went GF. I mean no way, most of the flours are extremely expensive so it helps to be able to continue my love of cooking and baking in a more healthier beneficial way not just for me but for my entire family.

Not only has going gluten free made me feel better but it has also really grown my culinary tastes and experiences. I always thought cooking was easy and couldn't understand how some people just couldn't make it work. Well now minus gluten for baking and you have a whole different ball game! I was really surprised at how gluten is a total cheat for baking. It's like the cure-all for all your rising and baking woes. Take out the gluten and it shows how many true cooking skills you have. I love the adventure, I love the challenge and so far its been so much fun! All the experimenting I have been doing and getting creative with our meals has helped us eat a ton more veggies but also a more varied diet. I didn't realize what a culinary rut I was getting into.

Over all I'm so glad gluten makes me sick. With it my culinary tastes were boring, now we are tasting the rainbow of culinary tastes! Yeah! So there is a pot of gold at the end of the gluten free rainbow. TASTE!!!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Cookies and Diapers

These are some GFree chocolate chip cookies! They tasted fabulous! I won't lie, they are a GF box mix and I totally have an explanation for those that know I prefer "from scratch"! Since I'm new too GF cooking I am still in the learning stages of how GF batter feels like. Good thing I bought a box mix before I tried using my flours to try out a GF chocolate cookie recipe I found. I would have ended up with stones! GF batter really is a lot different than regular gluten containing flour. I'm thankful that they sell box mixes because now that I understand what chocolate chip cookie batter looks and feels like I know my GF "from scratch" cookies will turn out! Yay!!!

Now on to diapers. One of my friends posted a picture about diapers and it was so incredible I just had to share what it said. It compared Cloth diapers to Disposable diapers. It was titled "If Diapers Had Ingredient Lists"... Here is what it said:
Cloth Diapers Ingredients: Cloth
Disposable Diaper Ingredients: Polypropylene Plastic, Bleached Paper Pulp, Petrolatum, Hot Melts(glue), Cellulose Tissue, Perfume, Sodium Polyacrylate(can cause skin irritations and severe allergic reaction), Dioxin(listed as one of the most toxic off all cancer causing chemicals),Tributyl-tin(TBT)(known to cause hormonal problems).


I have no idea who to credit for this information as it was third party on facebook but I thank who ever came up with the Diaper Ingredient list. It better explains why cloth is healthier AND safer for kids.

Well anyway I'm going to go enjoy my freshly made GFree cookies!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sad Loss of Respect/Dignity

Sunday morning everything started out beautifully. Everyone was in a good mood. It was absolutely fabulous! Not to mention I actually had a decent hair day! I was enjoying the day totally.

Until we saw it.

One of our daily laying hens dead on the side of the road.

Not just dead totally creamed like what happens to a deer when a semi truck hits it going 75 miles per hour.

I was NOT happy. What parent wants to come up and have their kid see one of their chickens annihilated on the side of the road.

Really people? Who swerves to hit someones chicken right in FRONT of their driveway???

Okay, I really don't mean to make a big deal and continue to rant about losing a chicken but what really gets me is the lack of personal respect and self dignity. It is more than immaturity to swerve to hit someones chicken. It's a lack of personal respect for someone elses property, pet and food source. It's a lack of self dignity in the fact that someone would not value their own self dignity and stoop down to such an immature level. 

I realize we all make mistakes in life but why would purposely killing an animal, some other person's animal, in such a way benefit the person doing that? Is it really funny to kill someones pet even if its "just" a chicken? What would have happened in a split second I looked away just to have my daughter chase a chicken down the driveway to be hit too? My husband and I mentioned that. We had an instance where a situation like that could have happened when I was still pregnant with our new baby. I got so upset I cried for over an hour about it. She didn't make it to the road but a few feet from it. We don't even live on a main road, just a back paved country road in such rough shape I saw a guy just about lose a skid steer off his trailer because he hit a bump too fast, it made such an awful noise and scared the beans out of my horse and he almost ran through an all wood fence! 

What do we trace this whole thing back to? Is it rushing around, always in a hurry that makes people always drive too fast even when common sense says go a little bit slower. What makes people throw caution to the wind? Is it being in a hurry? Why is there such an awful lack of personal respect, self respect, self dignity?

Does it go back even farther than just our society being in a hurry? How many people have to hurt, be hurt by other uncaring, rushed, people? What can we do to change this? 

Remember Newton's Third Law of Motion? According to that we CAN make a difference. If good people don't start standing up and doing something about this (and I by no means mean retaliation or revenge) then according to the Third Law this entire loss of human respect and dignity will continue and compound.

What we do today can truly make a difference for our kids and generations to come. 

So the moral of the story? I will take a day and send in a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about it, basically summing up what I just wrote here. All I can hope from there is that I will have set of a positive set of chain reactions that will hopefully someday reach back to make up for the loss of my layer hen.

Until next time,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Resulting in Chocolate

First of all I'm not dieting to lose weight. I'm just making healthy food choices while I'm nursing resting in the fact that someday I will be able to get back into shape even though I'm already pre baby weight, that doesn't mean anything if you are out of shape and can't fit in your clothes, haha. Since going gluten free I lost 2 pounds without doing anything else, just cutting gluten from my diet. I went through my dresser because I put on my jeans and they were too big so I went to get another pair and they were too big too! So up to the attic I go to get my "skinny" jeans out- you know the ones that you wore before baby, before marriage and can't wait to get back into after having the baby... Well I kept some of my favorite pants NEVER thinking I would ever wear them again even though it was my ultimate goal to get back down to my pre baby, pre marriage weight. I made it down to my pre baby weight and couldn't fit into the jeans so I put them back in the attic. Now I'm down to my pre marriage weight and didn't think I could fit into them today and I almost didn't try them on... but I held my breath and fit right into them perfectly. Didn't even have to do the "chubby" dance to get them on!

I was ecstatic! No exercise. Just making correct food choices (not worrying about portion control because of the healthy food choices) and breastfeeding. I'm sure being a mom of 3 kids under 3 helps as well as cutting gluten from my diet helps too!

At any rate I'm there! Now I just have to get my lungs back into shape this summer. I miss running. I loved running. 

Tonight for a treat, mostly for celebration of getting down to my ultimate goal I wanted some brownies. I know, I know- kind of crazy to eat something sweet in celebration of meeting a weight loss goal BUT I do think I deserved it. I worked hard for it. No, I am not going to splurge but I can indulge a little bit and I did. I enjoyed every single little bite. I made GF brownies and they were so amazing no regular brownie could ever have been. I should know. I am the chocolate queen. I love anything chocolate. In fact, I'd like to try chocolate wine. I think eating it with some cheese and strawberries would be divine. Imagine for V-day? Chocolate wine, a white cheese and strawberries?! Oh, now that is what I'm talking about!

My advice is patience, hope and while keeping the ultimate goal in mind celebrate the little milestones along the way because it shortens the distance from where you have been to where you want to be!
I <3 Chocolate

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Summer Dreamin'

I just had to look at some sweet summer pictures of last summer after a day like today. Maybe it's just me though. Am I the only one that gets stressed out when doing taxes? Each year it seems like they change stuff so after I think I have it figured out so the next year won't be so bad... Well surprise! Something changes and I have the same burr under my saddle again. I got so upset today my face broke out in a rash and I was sweating the entire day. 

Okay, maybe its not just the taxes... Maybe I'm still detoxing from going G Free. Not sure, either the case hope the rash on my face goes away soon, it seems to be stress related so hopefully after a good nights sleep I will wake up with the tax nightmare over with and I won't have to worry about it for another year... when they will change things yet again. My husband had to finish the taxes today because he wanted to file right away so we could get our refund as soon as possible. I'm so glad he did  that because I don't have to do them tomorrow and waste another afternoon doing taxes.

Well today I am thankful for my husband finishing the taxes for me so I don't have to get stressed out tomorrow too. Yeah!

Everyday is a great day to be a mommy!!!