Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I love being able to sew! (UPDATED)

Today my kids wanted to be super heroes. Or kings. Or maybe both! At the same time! Mom, we need capes!!!

They're so happy, running around being King Richard. :)

(I made one for Josiah, too, but he was having none of stand-still-and-say-cheese!)

UPDATE: Pictures of Josiah!

It's good fun!

Doesn't this look like so much fun?

I love Improv Everywhere!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


A few weeks ago I bought a new scale. As I was tossing the packaging away, I realized that the very odd shape was exactly right for a lego people castle! So out came the paints and oh the fun that the boys had!

Such concentration...

Jonathan is getting quite good with a paintbrush. He has very clear ideas of what he wants it to look like, and is very careful as he creates.

And the result:

Isn't it great?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Laundry Day

Most of us nap (or wish we were napping) when our baby napped. This mother sets up creative scenes and posts the photos. Isn't this one too much fun?

I wanted to give credit to whomever tipped me off to this site, but I cannot remember where I found it. This tired girl needs her bed. 'Night.

Free milk! (CVS)

I ran into CVS today to pick up milk. It is cheaper there (with a coupon) than anywhere else right now. The magic coupon machine spit out a lovely $4/$20 coupon, and a $3/sun care purchase coupon. And I just happened to notice that coppertone sunscreen was on sale, and I knew I had a coupon for it. (The nice thing about having done this for a long time is that you can improvise on the fly like this!)

So along with my milk, I purchased sunscreen and the blink tears that were free after ecbs.

My receipt:
Coppertone $8.99
Milk $2.79
Milk $2.79
Blink tears $7.99

Coupons used:
CVS purchase coupon - $4.00
CVS coppertone coupon - $5.00
Blink coupon - $1.50
2 milk coupons - $1.10
CVS suncare coupon - $3.00

With tax, I paid $9.25. But I received $9.99 back in ecbs. Free milk and sunscreen! Love it!

Chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie - yum!!!

This is one that you ALL must try. It reminds me of baskin robbins' chocolate peanut butter ice cream, only better. And much better for you!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

4 leaves romaine lettuce, centers cut out (they tend to be a little bitter)
2 cups milk
2 T. cocoa powder
1 T. honey
1 T. coconut oil
2 T. peanut butter
2 frozen bananas
8-10 ice cubes

Oh. my. word. Try it.

Requested: homemade whole wheat bread recipe

I've been receiving a lot of requests for my whole wheat bread recipe. I blogged about it about 18 months ago, but I've changed the recipe somewhat since then. Here's what I'm doing right now:

Whole Wheat Bread (2 lb loaf)

1 2/3 cup water
4 1/4 cups organic whole wheat flour
2 T. wheat gluten
2 t. salt
1/4 cup organic evaporated cane juice
2 T. organic coconut oil
1 1/2 t. yeast

I put everything in my bread machine and use the dough cycle for about 3 minutes to mix it together. Then I re-set the machine to the whole wheat cycle, and set the timer so that the bread will be finished in the morning when we wake up. It is lovely to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread!

Side note: does anyone know where to get organic yeast? Or if such a thing exists? Or if it is important?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That wonderful man of mine...

Last weekend I went away for a three day retreat. I asked Gabe to please, if possible, see that the house wasn't a disaster when I got back. I didn't want to leave him a list of "honey please" items, because seriously, taking care of three boys for three days is a chore, especially if you're not used to doing it on your own all day.

Here's what Gabe did while I was gone:

Took the boys on a train excursion, hung out with his brother, gave everyone baths, went to church, invited a friend over for games and talk, took the boys on a bus excursion to the Brea fountains, bought flowers for me, cleaned up the house, and did the laundry! Not to mention all the basics of playtime and meals. Did I marry a capable man or what?

Clearly, I should go away more often. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Health and self-knowledge

A month ago I gave myself a challenge. 30 days without consuming white flour, white sugar, or caffeine. This was a challenge, certainly, because it results in cutting out pretty much anything processed or pre-made (and our kitchen is still unfinished, which complicated matters!) However, as I've posted about previously, we've been heading towards a more whole/unprocessed foods lifestyle for awhile, so it wasn't as huge a step as it would be for the average American family.

Still, no chocolate! No ice cream! No donuts after church! No chocolate!!!

It was hard. And I chose to break my own rules a couple of times. But I learned so much about my body while doing it! I learned that the longer I go without any of those foods, the easier it is to keep saying no to them. As soon as I give in, I want to keep giving in. I learned that it is possible to re-train taste buds - the starbucks mochas that I used to love now taste unpleasantly sweet. I learned that white flour triggers cravings for white sugar, and vice versa. They really do seem to go together. When I do eat them, I feel "hungry" about an hour afterward, regardless of how much food I ate at the previous meal. It isn't quite the same thing as true "haven't eaten anything for five hours" hunger, though. The difference is subtle, but I know how it feels now and can recognize it. For a girl who used to be constantly frustrated by feeling "hungry" directly after meals, this self knowledge brings a wonderful feeling of power. I know the difference, and I can choose to act on that knowledge.

But why try such a crazy plan in the first place? Primarily because I was trying to find a solution to some health problems I've been having. Unreasonable fatigue was the biggest issue, along with various other symptoms that added up to what sounded like adrenal fatigue. Yes, I know that many doctors don't think such a thing exists. But the doctors I saw also told me that I was just fine/perfectly normal, which wasn't particularly helpful. :) In any case, cutting white sugar/white flour/caffeine was a suggestion that I found on multiple websites dedicated to this non-existent problem, and since no one will tell you that those things are good for you, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it. :)

I'm glad that I did. On top of the gift of better self-knowledge, I think that some of my symptoms are getting better. It remains to be seen how it works long-term, of course, but the fatigue seems to be lessening a bit. And as an added bonus, I lost 5.5 pounds, this while exercising less than I usually do. (While that may not sound like much, in context of the fact that it took me 9 months to lose 10lbs last year while working out intensely nearly every day, this is nothing short of incredible.)

So I think I'll continue. I don't like giving up sugary treats; I miss brownies dreadfully. But I like feeling better. I like eating, feeling full, and then feeling truly hungry hours later. I like not being quite so tired. I plan to choose to ignore my rules on occasion (if eating at someone's home, for example, or if I just really really really want to eat brownies) but I will do so knowing the results in advance, and weighing my choice carefully.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Thomas calls blankets "banquets". I don't know why this strikes me as so very amusing, but it does. I kind of hope it takes him awhile to grow out of it. :)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Awesome Vons trip!

This is the sort of shopping trip where the cashier does a double take at the receipt and I do a happy dance on my way out of the store. :)

Have I mentioned how much I love ecoupons? I think I have. Oh well, I'll tell you again. I LOVE ECOUPONS! If you haven't done your grocery shopping yet this week, go to shortcuts and cellfire and load everything there onto your Vons card. I promise, it is worth it!

Ok, here's what I purchased:

5 pkgs C&W frozen veggies
1 Farmer John breakfast sausage
1 Farmer John bacon
1 strip steak (original price $10)
1 large sirloin roast (original price $22)
1.5 lb. ground beef (original price $7)
7 lbs bananas
1 lb organic baby spinach
1 pkg fresh mushrooms
1 sour cream
1 michael angelo frozen meal
2 Snyders pretzels
1 Goldfish grahams
1 Nature Valley nut clusters
1 Betty Crocker warm delights
2 Quakes
6 Kellogg's Raisin Bran
2 Kellogg's fruit snacks
2 Kellogg's Mini Wheats

For all this, I paid $45.59 out of pocket, but then I received a $10 catalina for use on my next order. Which means that my net cost for the entire purchase is less than the original sticker price of the meat.

We don't usually buy a lot of meat, but today was definitely the day to stock up, and I'm glad I took the time to find what I wanted. Vons is running a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase of Rancher's Reserve beef in their weekly ad. This can be used on clearance meat purchases. I browsed around the clearance section of the meat department, but didn't see anything I wanted. So then I browsed the regular section, and jackpot! Lots of options with "sell by" dates for tomorrow, which hadn't yet been marked down! I picked out the three packages I wanted, and Gabriel at the meat counter happily marked them down for me. The "expiration" date doesn't bother me, as I'll use one tomorrow and freeze the others.

I also love the fact that most of what I bought today is quite healthy. Veggies (even some organic!) and fruit, fresh meat and dairy, cereal - all the things that people tend to think you "can't buy with coupons". Yes you can!! Just as one example: the C&W frozen veggies retail for $3.49 each, but with coupons, ecoupons, and a sale, they came out to only $0.69 each!

Happy couponing!

Friday, August 06, 2010


Jonathan: Daddy, I want to pray that everyone at Disneyland doesn't die. Because what if they fell off the train?

Jonathan: Mommy, can I pray for you?
Emily: pray for me? Yes.
Jonathan (placing his hand on my head): Dear Jesus, save Mommy from all bad stuff. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thomas: Daddy, help me pray.
Gabe: Ok. Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy and Daddy.
Thomas: Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy and Daddy.
Gabe: Help us kids to obey them.
Thomas: I don't want to pray that!

Spirit-led Reading

Sometimes I need a good kick in the pants. And isn't it nice of God to give us what we need? ;)

Over the past few weeks, the ongoing kitchen stress and mess had morphed into a whole-house mess, and instead of doing something about it, I was being a stressed out and unhappy ostrich. Our routine went to hell in a hand-basket (hey, it's summer, who needs school...or read-alouds...or art projects...) and I've been spending my time doing errands (not all necessary) and putzing at the computer. (Wouldn't it be nice if I could learn my lesson once and be done?) In other words, checking out. Ignoring the problem, ignoring my life, and thus making it all far, far worse.

In the niggling back corner of my mind, I knew what was wrong, but I was mired in acedia and hard-pressed to make the effort to change.

Thanks be to God for his grace and Spirit*, who yesterday lifted me up enough to pray for help. He is faithful, even when I offer so little!

So last night I washed dishes and picked up and put away so much misplaced stuff. Today I have folded laundry AND put it away (always my nemesis). The floors are vacuumed and swept; the bathroom sparkles. There is much still to be done, but I have started. The dull, sluggish ick of the past weeks is falling away, and tomorrow looks bright again.

* Sometimes I think the Holy Spirit speaks by prompting me to re-read certain books. Mine these past two days:
- Acedia and Me, by Kathleen Norris
- Keeping House, by Margaret Kim Peterson
Interesting choices, no?

Growth spurt?

Jonathan has become absolutely ravenous. He pretty much eats constantly - I've taken to simply handing him the box of crackers between meals and letting him have at it. At the same time, he's become the most clumsy child I've ever seen! 10 days ago he rarely spilled anything. Yesterday he made four major messes in rather quick succession, and today we've already had two (it's only 9am!) I can only guess that he's growing really fast?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Smoothies and...soup!

See my new toy? Isn't it BEAUTIFUL???

It was one mighty expensive toy, but I'm so excited about it. I really believe it is an investment in our family's health for years to come.

Yesterday evening we made strawberry/spinach smoothies. It turned out beautifully thick and so creamy. That's one of the most noticeable differences, I think, between a Vitamix and a typical blender - the Vitamix makes it so much smoother. There just aren't any particles left after that crazy motor/blade combo does its magic!

This morning we had orange/carrot julius. Yum!! Thomas and Josiah both asked for full cups and seconds, they liked it so much.

Tonight I tried making soup. Incredibly, it works. I put steamed cauliflower, milk, cheese, and some spices into the blender, let it run for 6 minutes, and out came hot, steamy, absolutely delicious soup. I tell you, I'm never going to cook on the stove again. Who needs a kitchen when you have a Vitamix?