Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm waffling

Some read last night that I'm moving to wordpress. Well, I forgotten how much work went into setting up this blog... and I'm not sure my picture woes with blogspot are worth the work of re-setting up everything. Argh. Blah.

Let me shake my fist at the blogsphere universe! I thumb my nose at you, oh, addictive blogging activity!

I promise to keep all informed. But, for now, the status quo remains unchanged.... continues to live.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Different ages, different diapers

I got to thinking the other day about how I'm more inclined to put a prefold on Peanut now than any other diaper. Yes, just 6 months ago, I swore by my home made fitteds. What has changed? Poop.

A baby that is exclusively breastfed (ebf) has very runny poop. Yep, so much so that when the pedi asked if Peanut had diarrhea, I asked how would I know if he did. Yes, there is a way to know, but its not just in the runniness of the poop. From month 0 to month 5 (or 6), to keep that runny poop contained, I wanted elastic around those legs. I never could figure out how to put on a prefold without having some gap around the legs and that would guarantee some poop getting on the cover. Thus, the predominate use of the homemade fitteds, the kissaluv's size 0 (which fit Peanut through about 4 months, but he is skinny-skinny) and pockets. Perhaps if I'd persevered, I might have learned how to successfully contained that ebf poop.

Now, with the introduction of solids, his poop is more solid such that it tends to stay in one place. (is this grossing you out? I'm sorry, but its necessary for the discussion.) A folded prefold to fit in the cover, or even a prefold put on with a snappi works just fine in keeping poop contained.

This is when I'm most happy that we didn't have to buy all that we needed right out. Some were gives (the kissaluvs, kushie prefolds, and gerber flats), many were hand-me-downs (most of hte pockets, many of the prefolds), and a slew I made.

Not too long ago, I was thinking about putting together enough newborn sized prefolds so that with the kissaluv's size 0, we had a newborn set of diapers that would get us through those first few months (or weeks) when the little one isn't big enough for the "one-sized" pockets and such. (no, I'm not preggers, just thinking ahead with hope).

kissaluv size 0 on the left, my newborn sized prefold on the right
Then I remembered. I remember why I rarely put Peanut in a prefold before month 6 (or was month 7?). Luckily, I've only made 1 prefold, so I'm not doomed, but I'll have to think through this a bit more. Do I want to learn to put on a prefold so that poop doesn't leak out? That is the question.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beef Broth

Several weeks ago, we ordered a quarter of a cow... and got about 118 lbs of beef. That's a lot of beef...

One of the first things I did, as the weather was still cool and this would free up a great deal of space, was to make broth from the bones.

Is this a gross picture? I'm not sure...
The broth had lots of fat...
But after refrigeration, fat is easy to lift off. And to show you what really good broth looks like, out of the fridge...

Yes, that is a table knife. standing up. See, what's making it like that is the cold, plus gelatin. And gelatin is protein. That broth is so full of protein it will knock your socks off and taste absolutely delish.

But after one set of bones, I had a gallon and a half of broth, and enough bones to do this two more times. Oh, dear. I'm good with having that much broth, but my freezer just isn't big enough. I remembered that Nourished Kitchen had a post about making bouillon, so I decided to do that.

I pulled out my biggest pot and set the broth to boiling. I figured out that when I had about 4 or 5 cups left (starting with gallon and a half), that I must have started with stronger broth. First, I used more bones than she specifies in her recipe, and at 4 or 5 cups of broth left after boiling down, it was starting to stick and burn to the bottom of the pot.

Nearing the end of the reducing time. Took me about 2 hours to take it from 1.5 gallons to 4 cups.
The blog post directs you to add gelatin at this point, but I, in my stubborn, rebellion and improvising nature, decided not to. It was already very thick and, I didn't think, would need any help solidifying.

bullion cubes
I'm sure my tad-less-than-1 inch-by-1 inch cubes are stronger than what you'd get if you followed the recipe exactly (I haven't had a chance to use any yet) and I'm storing my in the freezer (call me paranoid, please feel free), but they actually look inviting. That is, they look like caramels. but I doubt they are sweet. No, I know they aren't sweet.

I promise to try and use them soon so I can tell how they turned out for their intended purpose.

I got to use the cubes tonight. My cubes are really about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch and perhaps only 1/2 tall. so they are small. I used 5 cubes to flavor 1 1/2 cups of hot-hot water for use in our stir fry. It came out pretty good. I think these cubes came out well and its worth doing if you have broth, but not the freezer space.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My inquisitive and hungry child

For the first time ever, last Sunday, I purchased EXTRA food at a restaurant for Peanut. No, I didn't order him something, but I got extra as I'm the one who usually shares with him. And, instead of a 2 entree meal at Panda Express, I got a 3 entree meal... and we ate all of it.

We got an extra side of fries at Buzzard Billy's last night, but Peanut was less interested in eating and more at watching people, the ceiling fans and the TVs. So much stimulation, all in one place.

We've also reached the point in energy levels that Mama makes sure that we go outside at least once every day. Yes, every day. And Peanut gets to free range, on a limited basis. I have resigned myself to the fact that he gets utterly filthy, as he is still crawling around and mostly army style. But he loves it and it ensures that he sleeps well.

Today, as I hung out diapers and watered plants on the back porch (and pulled a few weeds), Peanut found himself in one of the most enjoyable positions I think he's ever found.

See that wet spot by that planter on the end... yep, he found water, and splashed in it for all the shallow bit allowed him.

 And he was wet by the end. I'm pretty sure he tried eating the water, too, based on the dirt around his mouth. He was rather unhappy at me as we took off the wet clothing and headed inside. Normally, I brush him off and know that some dirt, leaves, grass and whatnot make it inside. This time, it meant a bath.

Have I mentioned that he loves water?

And he slept really well in that afternoon nap.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I love it when he likes what I like...

 Peanut tends to just share off my plate when we eat, so its really nice when he likes what we are eating. and its very gratifying when he likes what I like.

One of my favorite ways to use leftover pancakes....

Pop the pancake into the toaster, slather peanut butter, then jam or fruit butter (here, its peach butter).

Peanut likes it, too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cleaning and Earth Day

So I became aware that "Earth Day" is this weekend when I got an advertisement from Amazon about cleaning products for Earth Day. Hmmm... that seems quite ironic... a company all about consumption advertising for Earth Day.

Anyhoo, after an article in Real Simple about the "best" cleaning products, I thought I ought to share my cleaning philosophy and methods.

"Cleaning philosophy?" you ask. Yes, everyone has basic reasons why they do things the way they do them.  They just aren't always able to articulate them.

There are two words which encapsulate my cleaning philosophy:

CHEAP  If it costs too much, I won't buy it.

SIMPLE  If its too complicated, I won't do it.

With that in mind... here's my basic supplies... baking soda, vinegar and dish soap.  And Simple Green.

What could more "Earth Day" than this! (not buying some fancy "organic" cleaner shouldn't count, but planting a tree might. I promise to water my garden.)

Baking soda -- this is the most awesome of gentle abrasives. I use it with some face soap for a face scrub, I mix it with some dish soap for cleaning up greasy and grimy dishes. I've used it on the glass top stove, with some dish soap, and it didn't scratch and cleaned it far better than the special "for glass top stoves" cleaner. Great for scouring the bath tub of the grime that comes from the combination of dirt and soap.

Dish Soap -- perhaps the most awesome of degreasers you could ever find. when I was cleaning the hood on my stove, which hadn't been cleaned since we moved in over 2 years ago, not even Simple Green was getting it clean. But a bit of dish soap on the rag, and clean it came! So, anytime you need a bit of suds, dish soap is your answer.

Vinegar -- a bit of acid is a good thing. Good for cleaning off and sanitizing those counter tops. It deodorizes, and helps get detergent out of clothes. Apple Cider Vinegar is a good hair rinse and will leave hair nice and silky smooth.

Simple Green -- because I got a monster bottle 5 years ago and it still isn't gone. Good as a degreaser for counters.


I've written out cleaning tasks for each room, based on the flylady zone cleaning lists, and customized it to my current house. Then I grouped rooms into "zones", again based on flylady zone cleaning lists. I have 5 zones:

Zone 1: Kitchen & Dining Room
Zone 2: Living Room & guest bathroom
Zone 3: Guest Bedroom & Nursery
Zone 4: Master bedroom & bathroom
Zone 5: Front & back porches (& other possible miscellaneous locations that need attention)

Often, though, the kitchen becomes its own zone. I've been aiming to do 1 zone a week, but that is just a bit too much for me right now -- I'm too distractable to do that much focused work. I don't do all the tasks for each room each time I have that zone up, either, but those that show a need. So, for example, I might not wash the curtains int he dining room every time I have zone 1 on the weekly schedule. On the other hand, I try to vacuum the whole house at least once a week (preferably twice a week), sweep kitchen and dining daily, and mop once or twice a week. Dusting I'm happy to do once a month or so. 

Of course, there are also things that are done on a near constant basis -- like dishes and picking up, for, hopefully, obvious reasons. Laundry is done regularly (I do use plain old detergent here, I guess that is one more cleaning agent I use!) and I try not to let it build up.

Oh, yeah, I do keep bleach around for toilets and really-got-to-get-this-truly-santized kinds of moments.

I hope this gives you ideas for your own house. You don't need any fancy cleaner, nor something special for this that or the other. Keeping it to such simple items also keeps your budget down.  Aren't we all into saving a bit of money these days?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stir fry: cheap, good, easy meal

What you make for dinner, or lunch or breakfast, will affect your grocery budget. As I've been striving to minimize what we spend on food, without sacrificing nutrition or taste (or texture), and apart of that is finding recipes that lend themselves to being made cheaply.

I am also a bit of a lazy chef, so its got to be easy.

And versatile -- if I have to have some specific ingredient for a recipe, I'm less likely to make that recipe one of my staples. Unless its something I just about always have around, like onions. Otherwise, there's got to be some possibility of interchange.

On an aside, I saw a post once that said to save money in the kitchen to use less of the "flavor" veggies, like onions. Use half, instead of a whole onion. True, the flavor will be similar, but if you don't mind onions, onions are CHEAP. I use them regularly to "beef" up a dish. Onions serve nicely as cheap, flavorful and not bad for you filler.

So, stir fry. No, this is not a typical Chinese stir fry (I did live in China, I should know), nor is it a typical Chinese-American restaurant style stir fry (can you say 'complicated'!). This recipe (if you can call it that) is based on a recipe from and another from Everyday Food (a Martha Stewart magazine). This recipe is extremely flexible and is good for those times when you have 3 to 5 veggies in the fridge that need to be used, but only 1/2 to 3/4 a cup of each (when chopped up).

I even took pictures while making it!

Rachael's Stir Fry (which Hubby loves, so it can't be all that bad, right?) makes about 5 cups of stir fry enough for about 5 servings. If you need bigger servings, add more rice. Need less stir fry, use less meat and fewer veggies.

1. Make rice. Rice cookers make this so easy. Even on the stove its not that bad. Need instructions? See the end of this post.

2. Cut up your ingredients.
     A. Meat -- you can use chicken, pork, beef, or whatever protien item you'd like to include. I, in general, refuse to eat dinner without a meat of some sort. Chicken and pork tend to work the best, as they handle the quick, high heat cooking the best. If you like meat, have up to 2 cups of sliced and diced meat. You can slice the meat into thin strips (and keep them thin, and not longer than about 2 inches), or you can dice it into 1 inch cubes. About 1 cup of meat is a good balance if you have veggies to fill out the stir fry.

     B. Veggies -- you want about 3 to 4 cups of diced, sliced and chopped veggies. I always have sliced onions, sometimes minced garlic, usually chopped carrots, often chopped broccoli, and some sort of leafy green. I've found that cabbage keeps for weeks in the fridge, and that has become my go-to stir-fry leafy green. If you are using something like spinach for your leafy green, keep in mind that its "fluffy" and so you'll start with more cups of veggies than if you used cabbage or other tightly packed leafy green.

3. Mix up your sauce.  You need flavor and you need liquid. I aim to have 2 cups of liquid total, but we like lots of sauce. If you want your veggies to have a bigger role (beyond roughage and filler) you might make less sauce. For 2 cups of sauce, I add to my 2 cup measuring cup about 1/3 to 1/2 cup soy sauce, then fill to 2 cup line with water or broth (chicken broth if you are using chicken or other lightly flavored protein, or beef broth if using pork or beef). Add spices -- I like to use turmeric (careful, it will color whatever it touches) and cumin, about 1 TBSP of each. If you want it spicy, add crushed red pepper, or other hot powder. Mix well.
The measuring cup is soy sauce plus water, and I'm using chicken base to make it "broth".
turmeric and cumin, some of the most awesome spices ever. At least for stir fry. yes, I buy cumin at Sams because I use so much.
 4. Cook the stir fry. Ha, ha, you say. This akin to saying "cook 'til done".

Okay, grab a large skillet, or even a wok if you have one. Add some oil. About 2 or 3 tbsps worth, you don't want to have to add oil later. Turn the heat on high to get that oil nice and hot. Turn the skillet around and around till the oil has coated the bottom and up the sides a bit. Toss in your meat, and cook till the outsides are nice and done. The meat won't be cooked through, but that's okay. 

Then, add in the veggies that need the longest to be cooked. For example, onions, garlic, carrots (unless you want crunchy carrots). Stir it all around, letting the veggies cook. Then, add in stuff like cabbage, celery, and broccoli and let that cook for a bit, stirring regularly. Finally, add in those veggies you want nice and crispy, like sugar snap peas. If you are using a fragile leafy green, like baby spinach, DO NOT add it yet.

Right after you add that second batch of veggies, add 2 or 3 tbsps of corn starch to your sauce mixture. Stir well, and keep it swirling till you are ready to add the sauce to the stir fry, otherwise your corn starch will settle and get thick on the bottom. When that second batch of veggies have cooked and softened just a bit, pour the sauce into the pan, and keep stirring. And keep stirring. Don't stop till you see and feel the sauce thickening up and coating the veggies and meat.

5. The rice should be finishing up about now, but if not, turn off the heat and put the lid on the pan. Serve up, piling the stir fry onto a bed of rice. If you are using a fragile leafy green, like baby spinach, mix it in just before serving (otherwise it gets too soft if cooked to long).

It might not be "restaurant quality" in the visual category, but its pretty darn good.
Hubby loves this even as leftovers. We package up rice and stir fry, he adds more red pepper flakes and its a self-contained, single container, even-has-some-veggies lunch for the next day.

Making Rice -- 
In a rice maker: measure your rice into the rice maker. Add 1 1/2 cups of water for each cup of rice. Turn on rice maker. Should be ready in 20 to 30 minutes. 

On the stove: measure your rice into a large pot that has a lid. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water for each cup of rice. Turn stove onto med. high, when water comes to a boil, turn stove to low and put on lid. Let cook till water is just about gone, about 20 minutes.

As a note -- more water means more sticky.

Instructions should also be on the package of dry rice.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Still using cloth diapers?

Yep! We are about 11 months into it and still going strong.

I shall now do some estimating. Of course, I'm not doing it completely on my own, I am using a calculator, a website for estimating my washer/dryer cost, and a cloth diaper - disposable comparison spreadsheet found here.

Cloth diaper costs -- remember I got some hand-me-down clothies, some as gifts, and made some more. I have spent... somewhere between $80 and $100 on cloth diapers, not including my time spent. Generally, I wash 3 times a week, and I do use the dryer pretty regularly... (about $0.64/load, including detergent)... comes out to about $85.  I'm at just under $200 spent, so far, on diapers. Let's round this up to $300 to account for things I'm sure I've forgotten about.

According to this spreadsheet, at this point, I would have spent about $700 on sposies.

I'm feeling pretty good, being about $400 up! Woot!

Time? Yes, I wash diapers 3 times a week. Plus regular laundry. I spend about 10 minutes stuffing diapers after each washing. If one used just prefolds and covers... no folding needed.

Yuck factor? I got a diaper sprayer which makes rinsing a poopy diaper much nicer. Plus, if Peanut communicates successfully, I can get him to poop in the potty about 50% of the time -- see here for more info on that.

What else can I talk about to get you to try cloth diapers? (okay, not all readers have babies....)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: the good girl's guide to great sex

Yep, I'm gonna talk about a book that is about sex! Married sex, of course.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Sheila's blog,; she writes about marriage, mainly, encouraging women, wives, to live how God has called us to live. This book, her second (I think), is a discussion about all that sex is -- all three sides of it: the physical, the spiritual, and the emotion.

Sheila's desire is to "see families stay together". Sex is a huge part of keeping married couples together. She says, "If Good Girls could just embrace God's idea of what sex is suppose to encompass and work on their friendship, their spiritual connection, and the physical fireworks, we'd end many of the problems families face before those problems even begin. We'd be stronger. We'd be happier. (p. 241)"

When we first got married, we read , where the author's suggest that for the first year, neither person should say "no" to the other when they initiate. We also had , which gives the nuts and bolts. But neither spend time speaking to a woman about how sex works through out her marriage, and how her view of marriage should differ from popular culture. Sheila takes the discussion of sex beyond the wedding night, and beyond the bed, into the reader's heart.

You can read a run down of the book at her blog and on amazon. I have found this book has challenged my thinking about relating to Hubby, as wife and as friend. I want to encourage every married women to read this book, and think about their role as a godly wife.

Sheila is now giving away a chance to have her at your church (or my church) to speak to women about being wives and, gulp, about sex. I have done all the entries that I can, and will be back each day to do the ones that can be done daily. I would love to meet Sheila and hear her speak! If you attend Fellowship Bible Church of Waco, will you go and do some entries, too? That will up our chances of winning! Of course, if readers who attend other churches do the same, that lowers our chances (I think), but I guess that is okay.

Stealing Food

I am a sucker when Peanut asks for something, especially food. I try hard to be strong, to be more stubborn than he is, when he wants something that I know isn't good, or won't benefit him in the long run. Of course, there are those grey areas that I wonder, is this worth the fight? I suspect this is just apart of parenthood.

And then there are times when Peanut just takes what he wants...

Woo-hoo, a table to smack!

Mommy, what do you have? It looks yummy!

I want one, too. No, I don't care that I can't chew up a mushroom, I still want one.

You are so mean, Mommy! I wanted that. See, Grampa doesn't think there was anything wrong with it. Why can't I have it?

With the Grandparents in town, we went out to eat one evening. I, being the Mommy, got to choose where we went. And even though we are picking up the largest amount of beef we've ever purchased in one go this Friday, I wanted a steak. So, off to Logan's we went.

Generally, Peanut eats from my plate, whether we are eating in or out. Just makes life easier. Of course, we are also reaching a time when Peanut can't eat half my dinner (and leave me hungry), and will happily grab what he wants. However hot or spicy it might be. He really doesn't seem to mind spicy, anyways.

I had some grilled mushrooms (yum!), and gave Peanut half of one. Apparently, unlike most other things, mushrooms can't be mushed successfully without teeth. And even though Peanut has a set of pre-molars emerging as we speak, he was not successful at eating the half of mushroom. "sorry, buddy, no more mushrooms. Here, have a grilled zucchini." He liked the zucchini, but liked the mushroom even more.

That's when he grabbed. He just reached over and snagged a mushroom off my plate.  Between Hubby and I, we were fast enough to keep him from stuffing it into his mouth (plus, it was still hot!), but it became a running battle.... keep food in front of Peanut to keep him from grabbing food off my plate.  Goodness.

The child is an eating machine. And his mother is a wuss and is willing to share her meals without hesitation. Now, I just have to learn to take more food so that I don't go hungry. :P

Sunday, April 08, 2012

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

From Luke 24 --

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went int hey did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest." ESV

May you be filled with the same amazement and wonder today, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Messiah, our Christ, our Savior.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Book Review: the world of Pern

When we were cleaning out for the garage sale, Hubby found he didn't want to get rid of these books, by Anne  McCaffery. I'd read most of the series that I love, so I started in on these that Hubby loved. Since you can find the basic story run down on amazon (follow links in the pictures), I'll just offer my opinions here.

First, I read The Harper Hall Trilogy -- , and .  Yes, it was a fairly standard story line... young person being persecuted for a gift/talent he/she has, young person struggles and then escapes, then is rescued, and finally triumphs. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the books. McCaffery creates characters with enough depth that I got quite involved in the story. The story is clean, as in no over violence or sex, and endearing. I'd be happy to hand this triology to any young teenager or, perhaps, tween.

From there, I ventured into the main series -- , and .  This trilogy is geared more towards older teens and adults. Though there aren't any overt sex scenes, its certainly behind there off screen and plenty of minor violence.

Finished off this round of fiction reading with . Again, geared towards adults -- plenty of sex (if all off screen) and minor violence, plus a dose of social commentary! That was unexpected, but got me thinking. Its the traditional "we thing advancing technology is bad" versus "advancing technology is good", but made for a good story.

Overall, if you enjoy fantasy/sci fi style stories, these are fun ones to read. Be prepared to get swept up into a set of characters that you will follow through most of the books, and you will find you feel as if you actually know them. I found myself a bit repulsed by some of the assumptions made about sex, but that is fairly normal as I read popular fiction. There isn't any gratuitous violence for the sake of violence. I wouldn't give the main series, or any out side of the Harper Hall series, to anyone less than 15 or 16. And if characters being loosy-goosy about sex bothers you more than a little, you might not enjoy the books.

We have three more Pern books that I'll read, but first I need some non-fiction in me.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Defending Life, two ways

I love life, and truly believe life, human life, is worth defending. There are two things that I do with this aim in mind.

First, I support pro-life movements. Yep, I believe that life begins at conception (not implantation, not birth), and that from that very, very small beginning life is worth defending. And for the first time here in Waco, I'm going to do CareNet's Walk for Life! I'm hoping to at least earn a tee-shirt by raising $150. If you, my dear reader, would be up for sponsoring me, please let me know in the comments or via email (which you can find in the side bar).

Second, I donated breast milk. I didn't do as well with this as I had originally hoped, as it seems that pumping and nursing are two very different things and just because one works well for you doesn't mean the other one will. Anyhoo, I donated what I could, and hope to do so again someday.

Today, I got this email:

We have said it before, and there is no doubt we will say it again. We absolutely cannot do our crucial work if it weren’t for the generous women who choose to share their milk.
We will say it over and over, but the bottom line is that we still need more.
The babies need more milk. We are desperate and need your help.   
The requests from hospitals for safe, pasteurized, donor human milk have almost doubled in the last year and a half. We can’t keep up with the demand. Last week we were short by 2,200 ounces on our hospital orders; this week it is 3,000 ounces. Every ounce short is a fragile infant who will not receive life-promoting human milk, but cow's milk formula instead, raising risks of disease and even death.
We have approved 119 extraordinary donors so far this year, but it’s just not enough.  
EVERY healthy lactating mom with a baby under one year of age is eligible to be a donor 
Unfortunately, not all of them know that milk donation is an option, or how easy it can be. Which is where you, our friends and supporters, come in. 
Between now and Mother’s Day, we are challenging you to spread the word about the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin. Start the conversation with a pregnant or new mom, click on the "tell-a-friend" button, share it on your facebook page, blanket your community with brochures. Tell them they could save a life!   
The first ten people to refer a brand new donor* to the Milk Bank will receive a $10 Starbuck’s gift card as a small token of our thanks. Yes, we know you’re not doing it for a cup of coffee, but we want you to know how grateful we are. 
The real gift will be to know you had a hand in the health of the next generation.
What are you waiting for? Get out there and spread the word!

So, yeah, I'd love to win a gift card to Starbuck's, but more importantly, I'd love to hear that another nursing mother is donating excess milk.

And there is my sweet Peanut waking from his nap! What timing!