Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Funnies

Friday Funnies (girltalk)

I found this quite funny....and (ahem) it reminded me of someone I knew.

I had a more thoughtful post planned this evening, but I'm afraid my brain is rather fried tonight. Maybe tomorrow :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Homemade Ketchup

We are working to cut out foods with HFCS (see my post about it here). Add to that my desire to be frugal in the kitchen...and it makes sense for me to try some recipes for homemade condiments! On my list? Mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressing, kefir, yogurt, and seasoning mixes.

Today, we are going to make Homemade Ketchup!

I'm using this recipe from HealthyHillbillyHousewife. I will LYK how it tastes!
Excellent Homemade Ketchup

* 6 ounce can no-salt-added tomato paste
* 1/3 cup tap water
* 2 tablespoons vinegar
* 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 pinch cloves
* 1 pinch allspice
* 1/8 cayenne pepper
* 1/3 cup brown sugar

This is simplicity itself. In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients with a wire whisk. Blend well. Scrape the mixture into a pint-sized, resealable container. Chill overnight, to blend the flavors. Use wherever ketchup is desired.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Please advise me - 2yr. old Napping

This is my first time, so I'm just looking for what is typical with other people's children. Graeme - he'll be two years old on March 30 - is increasingly more-often-than-not staying awake for his nap. I leave him in there for upwards of 2 hours, and sometimes (yesterday) he falls asleep...sometimes (today) not. He's been in his crib talking now for almost two hours!!!

He did this a few weeks ago, then seemed to go back to taking, I'd say over the past week or so, he's taken a ration of 60/40 (60% awake, 40% took a nap).

When did your child stop taking naps? I plan on enforcing a "quiet time" up through the early elementary years with our children, but not sure whether I need to start offering books for him to look at quietly in his room or what. Sometimes he complains (cries) for attention, and I ignore it, so usually he just ends up sitting in his bed and talking.

Please share, tell me what your toddler/pre-schooler does, and if you have talked to other mommas about what their children do, I'm all ears!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vision Forum Giveaway

My sister-in-law, Laura, is hosting a giveaway on her blog. It's for a choice between two products from Vision Forum. Be sure to go enter and post about a product you'd be interested in reading from VF. I did some browsing tonight, and considering I'm realizing that in 2-3 short years, my oldest will be "school-age", I'd like to read "When you Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling". I've never read a book in-favor of homeschooling, so I think this is a must-read for me!
From the VF website:
One of the up-and-coming heroes of the home-school movement in America is R.C. Sproul, Jr., whose practical, family-centered vision for discipleship is as fresh as it is rooted in historical, biblical Christianity. When it comes to education, R.C. doesn’t hesitate in dealing with the real issues. Who should teach our children? What should they be taught? What teaching methods should be employed? In this powerful primer on child training, R.C. cuts through the haze surrounding the educational debate by offering a biblical approach that is elegantly simple without being simplistic. Not everyone will love this book. Christians who embrace an education methodology of neutrality will either squirm with discomfort or convert. R.C. clearly and emphatically makes the case for parents as God’s chosen teachers. He writes with verve, with heart, with transparency, and with humility. He systematically goes through all of the typical objections raised against home schooling and provides meaningful and definitive answers. On the other hand, parents who, with humility before the Lord, are seeking His best for their families will be deeply touched and motivated by this simple, biblical message of covenantal home education.

Menu Plan 2/23 - 3/1

Baked Items: Raspberry Muffins, Light Whole-wheat bread (bread machine), whole-wheat rolls (try a new recipe for bread machine!)

Monday - Lemon & garlic Roast Chicken

Tuesday - Chicken Nachos (leftover chx) & Crock Pot Refried Beans

Wednesday - Stir-Fried Beef and Vegetables

Thursday - Chili (this is my standard Chili recipe, and I love it! I double it and make one, freeze one), cornbread (my first time trying soaked grains. I'll probably do a post about this soon, as I plan on experimenting with this nutritious tradition)

Friday - waffles, fruit, frittata

Saturday/Sunday (we have a busy weekend) - Leftovers and/or Grilled cheese/tomato soup

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"P" is for "Playing"

Playing is a child's work - well, my son works very hard ;-) I've been blessed with a boy who entertains himself very doesn't take much to keep him bouncing around! Which actually creates a unique challenge for me - making sure I take the time to interact with him in meaningful ways during the day. Not that we don't interact, but it's easy for me to spend an entire morning doing "my" stuff (cleaning, straightening, laundry, nursing Cole, etc.) and not spend purposeful, one-on-one time with Graeme.

So, as part of that, and also to incorporate some "learning time", a recent goal of mine has been spending time each day doing craft/table play. We fingerpainted one day, colored in his coloring books...and yesterday, we tackled our first "letter of the week" from No Time for Flash Cards. I LOVE her blog. What was so fun is that I'm not officially teaching Graeme his alphabet (hey, he's not even 2!) but this kind of an activity is showing him that we can have FUN with letters. He'll be experiencing letters and numbers before we ever do "school". That is the best kind of learning - experience followed by instruction.

Here's our "P" (see these instructions here):

As you can see, I took the activity one step further, because I kept thinking of many "p" words he knows. Pancakes, our dog's name (Poco), and one of his favorite activities lately is Poke-ing. As you can see in the picture, he had lots of fun poke-ing the marker on the paper!

These types of things are quite simple to do (they don't take elaborate planning) but the rewards are many. Graeme spent the next 1/2 hour or so playing with a pile of pennies, coloring some more, and talking about his creations. Simple, but meaningful. For more living simply ideas, visit Stephanie's blog.

And some more pictures of my littlest man, who is learning to laugh! Isn't 3 months a fun age?!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mac n Cheese recipe

Mmmmmm! I've been intimidated by homemade mac n cheese for awhile...not sure why, as I discovered last night: It's easy! And the results are definitely worth it. God has blessed me with a husband who is easy-to-please when it comes to cooking - he'll eat anything I make without a complaint, and he's not picky. He also doesn't tend to get very excited about food, but he commented last night on how good this recipe was, so I know it was pretty yummy :-D He requested it for his lunch today, also, so I think it's a winner.

Here's the recipe: Home Style Macaroni and Cheese
with these modifications:
The whole box of macaroni (12 oz.)

1 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup cream

2 cups sharp white Cheddar, with 3/4 cup mixed cheese (the shredded, 6-cheese blend from Sargento, but you could use whatever sounds good/whatever is on-hand) sprinkled on top

1/2 package (8-10 crackers) Ritz crushed and sprinkled on top instead of the breadcrumbs

While this is definitely not "low-fat", I believe that, in moderation, good fat is important in our diets, so if you use quality ingredients (organic, if you like), this is a great dish that you can use as a main OR side dish.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

valentines day treats - beets & avocados!

"What?!" You might be thinking I'm crazy. Nope! This Momma tries not to pass up an opportunity to add healthiness to otherwise "sweet treats". These are two recipes from Deceptively Delicious that have become staples in our house. I do not "sneak" these - I show Graeme exactly what is going in the recipe, but since he wouldn't dream of eating an avocado or a beet on its own (honestly, I'm not a big fan, either), the fact that he's getting them in a "treat" makes me happy, so I say, why not?! The pudding is delicious! You truly cannot taste the avocado! I felt great that while I enjoyed a chocolate fix, I was nourishing my body as well. As a nursing mother, I am constantly looking for ways to up my intake of healthy fats.

Pink Pancakes
In a blender/food processor, combine

3/4 c. water
1/4 c. beet puree
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Dump in a bowl. Add 1 cup pancake mix and 1/4 cup grated apple (or carrot, as I was out of apple today). Stir until combined.

If it seems a little thick, just add water until a good consistency.

Pink Pancake Batter - I never guessed you could create the color magenta w/out artificial coloring!

Served with strawberries and maple syrup - yummy! Graeme will eat these as an afternoon snack, which is great, as they have ricotta cheese, which is high in good fat and protein.

Chocolate Pudding
1/4 c. butter
1 c. avocado puree (about 1 whole avocado)
1 c. powdered sugar (next time, I'd like to try a healthier sugar)
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. cornstarch

Melt butter over low heat, stir in the avocado, sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, mashing out any lumps. Remove from heat, gradually stir in cornstarch. Serve warm.

(I haven't figured out if this will be good as a leftover. I wonder if the avocado, when cooked, will stay good for a day or two...does anyone have a guess?)

This isn't a glorious picture, but here it is anyway. I did add some milk to adjust the thickness to my taste.

Momma & Daddy's Valentine breakfast (wheat pancakes with strawberry/raspberry homemade syrup)

And, since you can't get enough of cute babies, here's Cole talking to his bear and smiling at his Momma :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gotta love trucks!

After breakfast this morning, I wanted to do a craft, and happened to see this post, so we decided to give it a try!

Graeme enjoyed coloring with the markers (as you can see LOL!) He loves hearts. It was great fun to watch Momma cut them out - "BEEEG" and small.

The black part is an envelope, so there's a pocket that we cut out "beeg" hearts to put in...but Graeme preferred to carry them around with him :-)

All in all, this was a fun way to do a bit of "Valentines" with a 22 month old.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


How can you be a momma of such sweetness and not be full of joy? Besides the peace and joy that my Savior brings, there is nothing like my boys' faces to fill me with contentment!

Cole is interacting a lot these days. He grabbed onto a rattle yesterday and looked so surprised at himself. Sometimes he cries just because he wants me to talk to him! After all, what could I possibly have to do that is more pressing than goo-ing and ah-ing with my sweet peanut? (partly true, for sure.)

Babywearing 101: why every momma should try it, and resources to help

I didn't start using a baby carrier with my first son until he was 4 months old, simply because I didn't know about them. Rather quickly, I discovered what an asset they were! Our first trip through an airport was actually enjoyable. We could "pop in" to the store quickly and conveniently. Teaching piano lessons while soothing a fussy infant became possible.

I'm here to tell you that, regardless of your "style" of parenting, babywearing has something to offer you. I thought I'd share a few resources to help you along.

Why try it?
There is a nice chart here, and a concise 10 reasons here.

My reason is simple: it's a two-fur ("two for the price of one")! My baby is soothed while I get things done.

What kind do I get?
Almost anyone who wears their baby for awhile ends up getting more than one type of carrier, so don't sweat it too much. has a wonderful summary to walk you through the different types.

I have discovered that I like different carriers for different purposes. I would suggest going to the Peppermint link, look at the differences, assess what (outings, around the house) and who (baby or toddler) you will use the carrier for, and once you've narrowed it down, go with what you gravitate towards.

Right now, I own a Maya Ringsling, a linen Kalea Ringsling (I like ringslings right now!), a New Native pouch (like these for older babies), a Beco Butterfly (comfy for longer outings, especially once they get beyond 20lbs or so), and I had a Moby Wrap with my first son.

Wow, they are expensive!

Yes! You may be hesitant to invest in a carrier if you have not used one before. What if you decide you don't like it?

Fortunately, baby carriers have a great resale value. You can buy/sell/trade on several forums including:


Many of my carriers were purchased (and sold LOL!) through the forums on TBW and DS. You do have to have a minimum # of posts in order to list things for sale, but you can purchase items regardless, though it helps to have links to positive feedback on Ebay or some other b/s/t place.

As I finish writing this post, my son is laying in my lap in a ringsling. Yesterday I got an hour's worth of cleaning and picking-up while the baby slept in the Beco. When I was pregnant with baby #2, my toddler would ride on my hip (yes, preggo belly and all!) while we popped in to the grocery store for milk.

I'm so glad babywearing has come such a long way in the past 10 years or so. It's "hip" to wear your baby! But more importantly, it's a wonderful way to bond while having your hands free to do what you need to get done. It works for me!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menu Plan 2/9 - 2/14 (Homemade Chicken Stock Week!)

I just put my Homemade Chicken Stock in the crockpot, and several of my meals will be based on that. I'm using a 4.5lb whole chicken (as opposed to the half in the recipe) that will last us for 3-4 meals. I couldn't pay $16 for a free-range chicken at the grocery store, so I settled for the regular $5 - soon, I hope to have located a farm to get free-range chickens from :)

Monday - Chicken and Biscuit Casserole (w/ corn instead of peas) and fresh fruit salad

Tuesday - Stuffed Green Peppers (with 1/2 sausage to replace 1/2 grd. beef)

Wednesday - Chicken Chow Mein

Thursday - Spaghetti with homemade foccacia and salad

Friday - Chicken and Turkey Sausage soup with homemade whole wheat bread

Saturday - leftovers (and then I'm fixing a surprise for Mark for Valentine's Day...more on that in a future post!)

For more menu planning ideas, visit Laura@OrganizingJunkie.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sickness is a reminder...

....that we are needy.
Psalm 70:5
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
please hurry to my aid, O God.
You are my helper and my savior;
O Lord, do not delay.

....that we aren't self-sufficient (as I tend to behave, often!)
2 Corinthians 3:5:
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God

....that health and life come from God.
Psalm 3:5
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.

....that I want to increase our eating of whole-foods, fresh foods, grass-fed beef. Anytime we are sick I am reminded that healthful eating is the essence of healthful living. Sickness is part of life on a fallen planet. But it only makes sense that to be healthy, we need to seek out the most healthful choices for our sustenance. Here are a few things I'm looking into:
Joining a co-op for grains/bulk natural foods, looking at the Bread Beckers group

Incorporating a weekly or bi-weekly visit to a local farmer's market for fresh produce

Locating a source for grass-fed beef

Creating ways to save on other groceries and be creative in meal-planning in order to afford these changes in our grocery budget

I'd love to hear how you make healthier eating part of your life!

And for more thoughts on living simply, visit Keeper of the Home.

I can't believe it!

I won something! Lindsay from Passionate Homemaking, held a giveaway that I posted about several days ago. Well, I won the Hand Commands: The Ten Commandments for Little Ones. I cannot wait to get the book! Thank you, Lindsay!

We are slowly on the mend. Graeme is on Day #6 of this stomach virus and actually ate something this morning for the first time. Praise God, Cole has not shown any symptoms yet! Mark got it on Thursday :( And I have felt sick since Wednesday, but thankfully have not been sick maybe God is giving my immune system an extra boost so that I can take care of all my sick "boys".

Monday, February 2, 2009

Since I needed the reminder that children are what it's all about...

..God gave me:

the stomachbug! Well, not me (yet), but Graeme is very sick :( Apparently there's a week-long bug going around that we caught at the dr.s office. Gotta love going to the dr. for a "well" visit only to return sick!

Prayerfully Cole will not catch it! Or Mark! Or me!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mission Minded Family book giveaway

I stumbled across another neat blog, Passionate Homemaking, this evening, and found a giveaway that I wanted to share! Check it out here...all three of these books look worth a read. While you're there, check out some of her other posts. including this recipe.

Speaking of reading, here are pictures from this afternoon. Graeme is currently quite entranced with my shelf of "books for when he gets older"....hmm, I guess he's gotten "older" on me LOL! He's ignoring his board books and spending 20-30 minutes at a pop just sitting, browsing through these picture/story books. He knows several of his numbers by recognition (like, he sees a 5 and says "five") and can count with me to 3 already! I'm so impressed by his learning, I think he's a genius :-) He inspires me every day to find learning as interesting as he does.

And my sweet Cole likes to look at himself :-D In the picture, he's staring at a little mirror on his playmat. He finds himself quite fascinating, I think.