Monday, January 31, 2011

Gettin' Crafty

A friend of mine is having me make some custom hair bows for her daughter and she sent me the outfit she wanted one of them to match.  When I was looking at it I was totally thinking in my head, I can totally make that...anyways, today I finally had some time to get started on a pattern and make a sample. 

Learning from past mistakes...(don't go out and buy nice designer fabric for something you have never done before) I hit a good fabric sale at Joann.  Valentine's fabric was on sale so I figured, hey, it can be Isabela's valentine outfit!  I also came across some coordinating fabric in the remnant bin that matched the fabric very nicely. 
 Ok, so yeah she looks a little insane in this photo...

You will have to excuse my cruddy camera skills :)

I just have maybe one or two tweeks for the pattern, and I am considering adding items like this to my Etsy store?  Whatcha think?  I think it's pretty darn cute :)

Off to clean my house...why is crafting so messy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday?

Tonight we are going to be trying something new again.  I am going to be making Giada DeLaurentiis' Pastina with Peas and Carrots.  I absolutely love watching her cooking shows.  She makes such wonderful home-y food.  I am going to round it out with some grilled chicken, simply seasoned.  

I love dishes like this because they have small bite-size pieces which are perfect for toddlers.  I will be using some fun tiny farfalle, which I am sure the kids will love.  And can anyone really say no to pasta in a yummy creamy sauce of cream cheese and mascarpone cheese?  I think not!

This dish can easily be made ahead of time (like I am doing today), refrigerated and re-heated.
 Super simple ingredients.  Click on the link above for detailed instructions and ingredients.  Start out by getting some salted water boiling and your pasta going.
 Saute up some onion in the olive oil.
 Add those diced carrots and the chicken broth, bring to a boil.
 Pasta is done!  Oh it's so cute!
 After simmering your carrots for a bit, add the peas till heated through, then the pasta.  Add the cheese and mix until a nice creamy sauce forms. 
 Voila!  All done, wasn't that easy?

Later this evening I will whip up some grilled chicken breasts.  I lightly season with some seasoned salt and maybe some thyme.  Need a tip to get those chicken breasts cooked faster?  Slice them in half!  We all know that your typical chicken breast is WAY more than one serving, slice it in half  (kinda scallopini style, but not that thin) and you have a perfect portion that won't take 20 minutes to cook all the way through :)  

I might even whip up a salad with this.  My kids are complete tomato fiends so I'll serve it with some tomato slices on the side too.


The Green Housekeeper

My dinner post will be up later this afteroon (I actually want to make it for you all today), but I thought I would start the day by talking a bit about green housekeeping.

This year I have made it one of my goals to reduce the amount of trash we throw out.  This means composting, buying items with less packaging (HARD!) and putting a bit more thought into the things we buy.  I have a couple really great resources that I wanted to share.

Okay I have not read Green Housekeeping in it's entirety.  It is really more of a reference manual and it is laid out so you can find what you are looking for very easily.

Both of these have excellent tips on how to clean without harsh cleansers, and how to keep things clean without spending all your days scrubbing a toilet.

Now you can't go all "green" in one day.  I am by no means completely green in my cleaning practices.  My goal is to implement 2 new green practices in my cleaning a month.  I am also by no means a tree hugger, I am doing this to eliminate as many chemicals as possible from the home, but we also need to remember that we should be good stewards of the things the Lord has blessed us with, and I think that does include being responsible about what we put back in to the earth.  Sounds a little "crunchy", but I do think it's true.
Tip #1
A great place to start (and where I started) was with the SPONGE.  This is really more of a cleanliness thing than anything.  Plus, you save a ton on buying expensive sponges that claim to be antibacterial.  Replace your sponges with cloths.  Sponges are just breeding grounds for nastiness.  Then you wipe the nastiness over every surface in your home. YUCK.  In order to avoid the nastiness, you would literally need to use a new sponge every other day.  Simple solution, grab a rag!  They are cheap and easy to clean.  I usually have a rag for dishes and one for cleaning.  I use a new one everyday.  I have a place in my laundry room where they hang until its wash day.  Once they get too grungy for the kitchen, they get relegated to dusting cloths or wiping the toilet.

So go to Walmart and buy a huge pack of them.  You will love bypassing the sponge section at the grocery store and you can be confident that you aren't wiping crud all over your house :)

Tip #2

Start a compost bin.  This is actually much easier than you think.  Here is a great link on how to make one out of a trash can.  Just this past week I started putting my kitchen scraps, used coffee grounds, filters, strips of paper towels, etc in my temporary bin (my big bin isnt ready yet).  I absolutely noticed the difference on trash day. 

You can use your compost in your garden, in your potting soil and your landscaping.  Make what you don't eat work for you!  

My new goal is finding a way to clean with vinegar that doesn't smell like vinegar, or a substitute that is natural.  So if you have any ideas, please feel free to leave me a comment!  I love hearing from you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

15 Minute De-Clutter Challenge

If you are following the Flylady housekeeping method, then you know we are in Zone 4, the Master Bedroom and Bathroom.  I did my bathroom already cause I already have one, so lots of time to focus in my room.

So anyone know how it gets so darn dusty underneath the bed and furniture?  Yuck!  Definitely not doing before and after photos on that!  No major decluttering going on in our room since I have been doing a bunch here and there.  We have a lot of things in a holding pattern (books, dvd cases, etc) trying to figure out what to do with them.

I did do quite a bit of straightening in the rest of my house. I FINALLY took down my Christmas decor on my mantle.

My two bookshelves in the dining room were getting pretty crazy looking.  Between me and Jeremiah we have so many books, textbooks especially.

 Before photos

After photos
It is still a lot of books, but it looks more orderly and less like we just threw the books at the bookshelf.

All the purging and decluttering has really been helping.  I am already seeing that it is a bit easier to get the house looking nice.

Now some fun stuff :)

Now that we can actually open the back door (being that it is no longer blocked my empty Christmas boxes waiting to be filled...) me and the kids went in the backyard and raked leaves.  Wow it's been a while since I have been back there.  I am so looking forward to planting our garden once it starts warming up!

Hope everyone is having a happy Tuesday!

Devotional - Creating a Place for Him to Dwell

I am  a garden enclosed, a locked garden
A fountain sealed
I am your resting place
Here oh Lord have I prepared a place for your to dwell, here in the reservoir of me
That I would be in you and you would be in me
That I could fellowship with God
Here where it's you and me alone
The very glory of God on the inside of me
I want to fellowship with God
It's You and me alone God You and me alone
Here it's You and me alone God You and me alone

You've hedged me in with skin all around me
I'm a garden enclosed a locked garden
Life takes place behind the face.

So come into Your garden
Come into Your garden.

Here O Lord! Have I prepared a place for You!

I'm no longer my own I'm Your garden

I don't want to wasted my time living on the outside
I'm going to live from the inside out
I don't want to waste my life living on the outside
I'm going to live from the inside out
I'm no longer my own, I'm your garden.
Misty Edwards - Garden

This is absolutely one of my favorite songs ever, speaking on the longing for intimacy with the Lord.  These all seem like such lofty ideas when life is very little like a nice quiet garden, it is chaotic, busy and so little of our time is spent focused on the Lord.

I remember my mom and pastor talking a lot about digging your own well.  Creating a place at the center of your life where the Lord has full reign.  For mothers and particularly those who stay at home, it is easy to become frustrated and worn down with the goings on of daily life.  That is why it is so important to make our homes a place for the Lord to dwell.

So how do we do this?  Recently, I have been really convicted about the way I spend my time, the things I watch on TV, and asking myself, am I spending my life truly seeking His face?  What is the Lord requiring of me?  Am I ignoring Him while He is asking me to come closer?  It's so difficult to carve out that time for Jesus sometimes.  

We have a lot of really legitimate excuses.  We are busy, the kids are sick, the kids are driving us nuts, the house is a wreck.  It is during those times that I remember my mom playing Kevin Prosch or Don Potter videos while folding laundry.  The worship music always playing in her car.  She was intentionally creating an atmosphere, even in the craziness, for the presence of God.

I was listening to Corey Russell speak and he talked about why we get bored reading the Word of God and praying.  We spend all our time eating the "good" stuff, that we are to full to oenjoy the best that God has to offer.  Maybe sitting and watching an episode of your favorite show makes you feel good (guilty!), but yet we might be missing out on the BEST that God has to offer.  We are so full of sweets that we can't enjoy the hearty meal that the Lord has for us.

My life is nuts sometimes, ok A LOT of the time, but when I am faithful in doing simple things like, turning on the Prayer Room instead of the TV, or putting on some worship music, He is ALWAYS faithful to meet me, he gives me the grace to make it through rough days and even the time to spend with Him.  Give it a try :) I promise it works, the Lord honors our seemingly weak efforts.  They are precious to Him.

I am in a group study and we are studying David and the Lord called him a man after His own heart, not because he was perfect (he was a stinker!) or because of his great military triumphs, but because he was ravished by God's desire for him and lived a life fascinated by the beauty of the Lord.  This is what the Lord desires.
Ps. 27:4 ONETHING I have desired of the Lord that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Hopefully this Youtube video is a recent interview with Rev. Billy Graham, possibly one of the last he may ever give and the first part of this he is asked if he would do anything differently and he basically answers that he would have done less meetings and spent more time with Jesus.  That is pretty incredible, that he would leave a legacy for this generation of LOVING God.  I truly believe that if we would take time to sit at His feet, that we would be AMAZED at the miracles that flow in our lives.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Sweet Bit of Fun

Friday was such a dreary, drabby day.  While at the gym, my Bodyflow instructor mentioned taking her daughter to a taffy pull at this place called Sweet Pete's.  I didn't really think much of it until I saw a friend on Facebook mention it so i figured, hey, let's check it out.
Wow, what a blast!  I am so glad we went!  The kids all got to "pull" their own piece of taffy and wrap them in little wrappers.  Sweet Pete's is in a big old house in Springfield and is full of fun colors and yummy treats.  Best part is that everything is made from all-natural ingredients and many of their candies are vegan and gluten free.  No artificial dyes or flavoring. 

I highly recommend the Sea Salt Caramels ;-)

So if you live in Jax, take a trip out to Springfield and enjoy some of the sweetness.
 Lenny's blob of taffy
 Bela trying to "sneak" some candy

 Hey! A rare photo of me!  Too bad none of my children would cooperate...


So over at Prudent Baby they are having a pretty potholder contest.  The prize?  One of two amazing Brother sewing machines.  My potholders?  Not so pretty, so probably no new sewing machine for me.  I wonder if I tell them that the old sewing machine in the photo is the one I actually use?  Will I get a pity prize?  Haha!  Ok, totally wouldn't do that, but it would be the only way I would win!

I still think I will enjoy having these in my kitchen.  They are my favorite fabric scraps so I think won't mind looking at them everyday in my kitchen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

15 Minute De-Clutter Challenge and Crafty Fun

So I am keeping up with my new Flylady routine and so far I am really loving it.  We've been working in Zone 3, which is the bathroom and one extra room.  My extra room is the kid's room with is kinda hard because I can't work on it when they are sleeping. 

I did a big toy purge before the holidays so that eliminated a big project.  My de-clutter challenge yesterday was their dresser.  Which was a bit of a nightmare.  I have no idea how I have been able to find their clothes!

 Here are the before photos. 

 And the after photos!

I recommend doing this when you are doing laundry and have put most of it away.  Also, make sure you rotate your child's clothing.  Sometime I end up putting the same outfits on them constantly and never get to the stuff on the bottom.  This wears out their clothes quicker.  Like for instance I found the cute black sweater on top at the bottom, Bela hasn't worn it but once.  I definitely need to do this more often.

Now for some crafty fun.  I made one more Long Sleeve Peasant Dress from Prudent Baby.  I made this one a bit bigger.  This dress turns out so cute every time and there is a top version that I want to try too.  Peasant tops never go out of style, right?

Have a happy Thursday, cause it's almost Friday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's for Dinner Wednesday? Part 2

Okay, I wanted to pop on here really quick and give an update on the new meatloaf recipe before I forget.  It was amazing!  Perfectly moist and seasoned :) Phew!  It's always a little iffy trying something new, but I love when it works.  This will definitely be my new go-to meatloaf recipe.  I opted for no BBQ sauce this time, just didn't feel like it.

The garlic mashed potatoes were a success too!  I didn't have any asiago cheese (found this recipe AFTER my grocery store) but I think I probably saved a few cals by not adding it.  It still tasted amazing and I have eaten WAY too much today!  Don't be afraid to improvise if you don't have exactly everything a recipe calls for :)  It definitely paid off today...let's see how it pays off at the gym tomorrow...eek!

What's for Dinner Wednesday?

 Today we are having meatloaf.  Yes.  Meatloaf.  We really love some meatloaf around here.  I have been on the hunt for a new recipe and will be using this recipe for tonight's dinner.  We'll see how it goes.  I am also going to try my hand at some Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  I will be making some substitutions to lighten it up a bit.  But the best part about it is that you end up with a cup of garlic infused olive oil at the end.  How yummy!

 I am going to serve a salad with it.  I went to the Riverside Arts Market to get some yummy produce.  I ended up with a TON of veggies for $13.  I love buying local produce, it supports your local economy and you at least know where it came from.  Plus, it's nice to talk to the people who planted and harvested it.
How I cook my meatloaf is a little different.  You might have seen this done before.  I mold my meatloaf into little balls and put in a large cupcake pan and pop in the oven.  You get little perfect size meatloaves (or meat cupcakes? No, that doesn't sound very good).  This recipes calls for some BBQ sauce on top, so i'll make a little "puddle" in the center to put a bit of sauce in.

Oh and my pan is just really old...not dirty, haha!

I'll update this post later with photos of the end product.  Have a yummy Wednesday!

Cloth Diapering - Washing and One-Size Diapers

I started cloth diapering in spring of last year.  I was so excited when I found out that my dear cousin, Jaime, CD's as well!  She does all prefolds and covers, but is wanting to branch out into pockets and asked me about my wash routine and one-size pockets.  
I am only CD-ing my daughter now, so I sold off about half my original stash.  I have pockets, prefolds and covers and even a few fitted diapers.  Everything is pretty much one-size.

My cousin's main concern was about the possibility of having to use public laundry facilities due to an upcoming move.  I did a little research and it is absolutely possible to wash your CDs at laundromat.  I found some really great tips on this page.  Just scroll down a bit.

My wash routine is pretty simple compared to most.  I have seen a lot of really insane looking wash routines that really just seem to waste a lot of water (at least to me).  I'm in this to save water, not single handedly support the water company.

My routine is cold rinse, cold wash, hot rinse (repeat with a cold rinse if necessary). During the winter I just dry on low heat, on really hot summer days I lay out to dry.  Remember no fabric softeners.

I use Tide Original powder.  It was recommended to me by a retailer and it works great.  I only use a little bit, stay under the 1 line.  I also have some original Dawn dishwashing liquid and I use a squirt every other wash.  This helps break down any detergent buildup.  So far this has worked wonders, I never have leaks or repelling issues.  Now I will say that if your baby already has sensitive skin, to get something like Charlie's Soap or Planet powdered detergent.  You usually have to buy Charlie's online, but it works great and lasts forever.  Planet brand can actually be found at most natural foods stores.

That's pretty much it for washing, now for pockets.

Pocket diapers totally changed the world of cloth diapering.  It has made CD-ing much less complicated and scary.  They are easy for dads, grandparents and even daycare providers to use.  There are sooooo many brands to choose from, it  is very overwhelming.  I haven't tried a lot, but what I use works :) Let's stick with what works.

Pockets are really easy to use.  They resemble a disposable, fastening with hook and loop closures or snaps.  You simply stuff and strap on like a regular diaper.

My two "go to" brands are Bumgenius and Kawaii.  Each on VERY opposite ends of the price spectrum.

The Bumgenius OS 4.0 pocket runs around $18 and Kawaii OS pockets run around $7.  Both are excellent diapers.  Both are available in snaps and hook and loop.  The only difference is that the Bumgenius pockets are a bit trimmer.

I went for one-size diapers because you can use the same diaper until they potty train.  There are some that claim that OS diapers do not fit as well, but I disagree.  OS diapers have three rows of snaps up the front that change the rise of the diaper.  They are worth it if you are in this to save $$.  Both Bumgenius and Kawaii wash wonderfully and LAST! 

Disclaimer - I am not responsible if my routine messes up your diapers.  This is what works for me, it may not be the best for you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Follow Me!

If you look over to the right you will see the follow me buttons.  Make sure to follow me if you read this.  I would love to see who is reading and if you have a blog, I want to read it too!  I love finding new blogs, especially written by other moms :)

I love talking about being more organized because we can all use some help getting our homes in order.  An orderly home = sane mommy.  I have mentioned on here a couple times, and now it's official: I'm a believer!

There is A LOT of information on her site, so I have been taking my time reading her site before implementing her method.  Some things I already do, but I like the way she breaks down the house into "zones" for more focused cleaning and decluttering. 

I love her morning and evening routines.  They have really helped and they are the things that you do first (babysteps) when you start the Flylady routine.  The one thing that has helped me a lot is shining my sink.  You basically bleach and clean it till it shines, then be diligent about NOTHING going in that sink.  Either it gets washed, or put in the dishwasher.  I couldn't believe how much easier my day was by simply putting things in the dishwasher as I went!  For some reason walking in the kitchen and seeing the empty sink made my day a bit better.  To get started, go to the Babysteps section.

Now for crafty fun.  Since I wasn't cleaning my house all day...I had time to make my baby girl a dress!

It turned out soooo cute!  I used Prudent Baby's Peasant Dress Tutorial and I was actually a little impressed with myself, I think I actually wont be embarrassed to say I made this!  The hem is actually not a disaster!  I happened to have some gold thread that matched perfectly and for some reason that really made a difference.  And isn't the fabric so retro chic!  I am working on another one in polka dots :)

Now I finally made a Facebook page for my little bow venture, Isaboo Bows.  I am working on getting the like button on here, but in the meantime, here is the link .  I have been wanting to put some barrettes for moms and here is what will be going up today.  Sneak peak time!
 This bow actually is "in progress", give me some opinion...slipped on skinny headband or a barrette attached?

Yeah, I'm a bit into the fabric from the dress.  I can't stop!  These will be on the page and ready to buy sometime today or tomorrow, so keep an eye out.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Devotional Monday - Cultivating a Passion for Jesus

I have been a christian for the majority of my life.  Lots of ups and downs, but I am still here.  The "requirements" of the Christian walk have always been a challenge for me.  Prayer, reading the word, etc.  As a stay-at-home mom many of these things can be really difficult.  Then comes the feeling that you just really aren't doing much of anything for God because you're a mom.

Years ago my family became involved with the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO.  It is a 24/7 house of worship and prayer.  I remember when I first started learning about it and I am like, seriously, PRAYING 24/7.  That has to be really tough.  I have made many trips there over the years and the MAIN thing I always come away with is a desire to KNOW God more. 

I've been to many conferences and visited amazing ministries throughout my life, all very feel-good events, encouraging you to go change the world! Save the lost! Bring the masses to Jesus!  All excellent messages but we often come home, the hype is gone and we are left with real life. Sharing the message of Jesus seems so intimidating when face to face with reality, and then we feel bad because we haven't converted our entire neighborhood.

But do we have it completely backwards?  Is it possible that we put all our energy into "doing" all these cool things for Jesus and forget that the first commandment is simply to love God.  Are we afraid to share Jesus because we aren't spending time with Him, praying his Word, getting into His heart, which is in His Word?  Have we even tried to listen to the heart of the Bridegroom Jesus to learn what He desires?

It is hard to do the works of Jesus when we are not spending intimate time with Jesus.  This is why he FIRST commands us to love Him.  Not save the masses, building huge churches or ministries.  But here is the cool part.  As we spend time in His Word and in prayer and fasting, our capacity to love Him and others is increased.  We begin to understand His heart and how He loves us and the lost.  From this amazing love that we begin to cultivate and the power of His Spirit we become unafraid to share His message, because we cannot help but love the way He loves.

They say at IHOP that out of 24/7 worship and prayer will come 24/7 acts of justice.  And it has happened!  The lost are coming to Jesus, people are being healed, the orphans are being adopted, those trapped in the sex trade are being made free.  These are just a few of the things that have come out of a lifestyle of prayer and fasting and a focus on intimacy with Jesus.

So this week let our prayer be that God would increase our capacity to love Him.  Increase our passion for Him and His Word.  Let it be said of us that we walked leaning on our Beloved.

Song of Sol 8:6,7
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.  If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The 15 Minute De-Clutter Challenge

I did this a few weeks ago with my biggest problem area.  My closet.  I found the idea on At first I really wasn't sure I could accomplish much in 15 minutes, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I got done the first time around.

I really want to start doing this weekly and blogging about it so today I tackled the "snack" drawer in my kitchen.

 Before: EEK!
Timer Set! Ready to go!
AFTER! It's amazing!
This drawer houses snacks, and things that come in weird little packets like oatmeal and hot cocoa.  I take my empty cereal boxes, cut the bottom part off and use them as compartments.  The box from my packets of kitty food was perfect size for my hot chocolate.  The goodies are in the far back of the drawer, where it is harder for little hands to get them.  
 I sometimes forget I have things if they are stuck in a drawer or cabinet so I put some of my biscotti in a cup by my coffee.
 I tossed some extra packets on a pretty old silver tray so people know its there.

Now wonder of wonders, I had FIVE minutes left.  So I tackled the drawer next to it, which has the zippy bags, foil, plastic wrap, etc. 
AFTER: This took literally TWO minutes.  Now I can see I need more plastic wrap!

See how easy that was?!  When you set that timer and focus ONLY on ONE area, it makes it so much easier.  I have been spending some time checking out Flylady's site and wow, she has some great ideas and tips for getting organized.  Check it out!  If you do a 15 minute De-Clutter, post it on your blog and leave the link in a comment.  I love to see what other people are doing!