Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What is your vice?

My vice is sugar. Real sugar...HFCS (eww I know..) anything sweet! And for a while now- the easiest way for me to get my sweet fix was to chug a soda. Yup. I know. It's really bad bad bad bad.

So I have devised a "get away from sugar" scheme. I am on a sugar diet. I really hate the "sugar alternatives" I think they are really horrible for you. But I made a bit of a "deal with the devil" so to speak. I switched from regular pop to diet. I am still drinking way to much soda- but right now I have to get through finals and soda delivers the caffeine I have been needing. So I figure that as soon as finals are over I am going to restrict how much soda I am drinking. Then I plan on by Valentines day to have it down to only drinking soda on special occasions.

My other way to help with the sugar addiction is going to put a cap on how many treats I can have. If I have home baked goods in the house- I can have a small sweet after lunch and dinner and maybe one before bed...we'll see.

But no buying sweets. My one caveat to that rule is special occasions. If I get really stressed, or we go to the movies or something... A girl has to have her chocolate.

But as lenient as this all is- it is still a big restriction from what I have been doing for the past few years. So wish me luck please! I am hoping to change my taste buds and quit wanting sweets so often!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So does this mean that Stress actually has a weight to it?

I have been so stressed out for the past 6 months. If you read the MaryJanes Farm Chat Forum www.maryjanesfarm.org/snitz you might be familiar with the past 6 months of money debacle that my family has been trying to live through. Anyway. the Scale has been steadily creeping up and up and up to the point where I weigh as much as my husband should (who also needs to lose some weight!)

Well yesterday I thought I was going to break under the stress. It all seemed too much to handle. But what can you do except to move forward? Well today we talked with the bank and we are on a fast track to financial recovery. My landlords are being very kind and my worries about eviction or resigning of the lease are now over. We can stay as long as we like. We can take our time getting our finances in order. We don't have to try to be moving on Christmas Day.

So does stress actually have weight to it? This morning I had accepted the situation and just by doing that, a lot of stress was lifted from my shoulders. I usually weigh myself naked and right after I use the bathroom first thing in the morning. That way it is only "me" being wieghed.
Well, with wet hair and clothes on, I just had to step on the scale. I weighed the same as I had yesterday so I knew that there was some weight loss. And I just changed clothes and decided to step on the scale. I usually step on 2-3 times just to make sure it is accurate and I have lost a pound! Now I know that some of that is because my diet is starting to work, and I know some of that is because of eating more fiber=more elimination of my intestines. But I am thrilled!

Now not only are we getting our train wreck of a financial situation back on the rails again, but I am seeing the first positive change in weight for almost 3 years! I had just started really losing weight when I got pregnant with Nora, and then of course I was so ill that I lost weight initially, but then baby weight and such packed on and nursing didn't help me lose the weight.

Now I am watching portions and what I am eating and I think it is paying off!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Working on getting a new place to live.

So the saga of our rental this summer.

When we were moving we were planning on moving into some apartments that only let people in _below_ a certain income guideline. Because Doug was a new employee, his income verification was held up and renting from this complex fell through.

Well there I was with Nora just about 14 months old, staying in a hotel room with my husband, child, and dad with our Budget Truck sitting outside with no where to unload it.

Every rental I looked at said they would take at least a week to process an application, so we had to go with a "other" property owner. He owns a lot of properties in Billings, and will rent to anyone as long as you have the money.

So we forked over $730 for July rent, plus $200 for the remainder of June, plus a $730 deposit PLUS a $300 or $400 deposit for the dog! Yikes. Talk about empty bank account!

So we moved in on a Saturday. The carpet still wasn't laid down, and the place was filthy. It honestly should not have been listed as habitable. We didn't have a working oven all summer- for about 3.5 months. Then our faucets in the bathroom broke and we had to turn the water off to the whole house to not have it gushing full force 24-7. That took several days to fix and now our cold water tap is broken in the bathroom shower as well. It is leaking a lot- we are talking about gallons upon gallons of water per hour and they still haven't fixed it.

Then, in addition, there is a leak in the basement from the shower that has been there since we moved in. They still haven't fixed that.

So the next stage in this drama. Our car broke down. The brake light switch is broken. So we had to buy a new part and we won't be able to fix it until Sunday when my parents drive me home. But we had to spend money to get the part. So...we are short on rent by just a bit. Like $30. Will the landlord give us any extra time? No. He gave us a 3 day pay or evict notice. And then they gave Doug a 24 premise inspection notice.

Doug thinks they are trying to find a way to evict us, which with the evidence of how they are behaving makes sense, but I don't understand it. We have been good tenants and the one time we have had to be late before, we paid the late fee with no grumbling. We take care of the property, we move the lawn, change light bulbs, keep it relatively clean. (we aren't perfect but we don't leave garbage laying around or food rotting). We don't do drugs or get into huge screaming fights. I honestly don't know why he wouldn't want us to continue to rent it.

So I have been looking for a new place to live. I think I have some leads and we might even save some money. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Playing with Nora and Sky!

The first picture of Sky looks like "Really....I didn't do it. I don't know what it was...but I didn't do it." The second picture is so funny because we were playing and she was about to pounce on my foot...LOL







Some of these pictures will make it onto my slide show, but here are some fun pictures from yesterday. Sky was in a playful mood so she was jumping and pouncing.






Some of these pictures will make it onto my slide show, but here are some fun pictures from yesterday. Sky was in a playful mood so she was jumping and pouncing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More Jewelry!

I have been busy all day doing homework, taking pictures of my mom's fabulous jewelry and adding it to the website. It seems that whenever I do a big add to my site I learn lots and it is really streamlining down. I may change the layout a bit down the line to be a bit more organized, but I am so pleased to be able to offer room on my site for this.

Mom, my sister Jen, and I are hoping to get spots as vendors in the MJF farm fair. We are making plans for crafting weekends to build up our inventories! I would hope to offer my bath and body lines as well as my dolls and even doll clothes! What do you all think?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sometimes you just need a good cry on your mom's shoulder.

Last night all the stress that I have been carrying around for the past 6 years just was a bit too much and I had a good crying session while talking to my mom. She is fantastic. Supportive and offering good advice. Mostly my stress stems from money issues. Ugh. Money issues. We have been super tight on money this summer because of mistakes, misunderstanding, lack of attention to detail... well you get the picture. We did it to ourselves but it still doesn't make the fall out feel any better! :(

But things are turning around. They are getting better every day and that makes it tolerable. It also helps to have my hands busy. I am currently waiting for the mail to bring me brand new wool batting to make some dolls for some kids for Christmas. That above all else is making me happy. I like to think of the kids playing with their toys for years and then maybe, someday they will pass them on to their kids.

I just added a new section to my website! Heritage Designs is where my mom's beautiful Jewelry is featured! I have had the privilege of taking the photographs and getting the site set up for her. I think it is looking pretty spiffy!

Nora is getting so big. She is so inquisitive and active. Some days it really tests my patience when she can be a bit destructive. But I am so thankful that she is how she is. She is learning and growing so much! She is learning new words each day and we understand her better too.

So, Cheers and here's to a great Holiday Season!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Doug and I had a fantastic Thanksgiving. We got to see both sides of our family. We went to Powell to see his Grandmother, Mother, Aunt and a cousin! It was a blast!! His grandmother was born in 1933 in Sweden, where she lived until she was 21. She is such a fun lady. She is spunky and says what she wants to say, yet she is so sweet and loving. She gave Nora an amazing gift. It is a necklace that belonged to her great-great-great Grandmother and her great-great-great grandfather's baby ring. They are both simple but very beautiful. I will take and post a picture when I can.

Then we drove down to Worland to see my side of the family. Everyone was here, even my two grandparents! It was so nice to see them. My grandfather is still walking with a cane after being attacked over fourth of July weekend, and my grandmother is on a cane still too after breaking her hip and hurting her neck about 2 months ago.

I am staying for another week here in Worland to be with family, but Doug had to go back to Billings for work and such. I miss him already, but the week will go buy super fast!

Today, Doug called because the car won't shift out of park. I happened to have the owner's manual here so I was able to find him and tell him the override procedure. Our tail lights have stopped working, we aren't sure yet if it is a blown fuse or a bad bulbs. I really hope it isn't something serious as we just don't have the money for this right now.

I really hate money problems. We were really hoping to be all done with this silliness by now. We are doing much better, but still we are looking onwards towards next month. We are hoping to gain ground next month. I really want to stop having to live paycheck-to-paycheck. It is so nerve wracking when unexpected things come up.

Well, I suppose that which does not kill you, makes you stronger! I just might have a head of white hair to show for it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tagged!

I was tagged by Diana of Frolics'N'Fibersfor a MEME! Basically, you get tagged, write 6 things about yourself and then tag 6 more blogs!

SO:
1) I am the youngest of four daughters, no sons!

2) I have a wacky personality! I love fantasy/science fiction, but at the same time, I love everything real, handmade...basically anything you could define as "Farmgirlish"

3) When I was younger I hated skirts/dresses but now I actually enjoy wearing them!

4) I used to think that I would hate having kids, that is until Nora came into our lives!

5) I love all horses, but my favorite breed is the Straight Egyptian Arabian.

6) I have found a away to combine two of my favorite things- Reading and doing crafts by listening to books on audio with my MP3 player which leaves my hands free to do other things!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sisterly Fun

I have webcam envy! Tonight I was ironing on some doll clothes, when I heard this weird beeping sound. I looked around at first thinking our phone was ringing. But no, the phone wasn't ringing so I went back to Ironing. Then something beeps again. So I decided to go make sure my computer wasn't melting down. Surprise! Two of my sisters were inviting me to a Yahoo chat conference! Fun!

So I got on and took the headset with the microphone from Doug. We chatted for a while...but here's the kicker...They both had webcams! So not fair!

I think I am going to request one from Santa!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Farmgirl meeting and Farmerette Play!

Yesterday Nora and I went to our twice weekly farmgirl meeting of the "Yellowstone Prairie Flowers". It was lots of fun, especially for Nora. We met at a place that had some play equipment which Nora thought was just the best. She had fun climbing all over the place, sliding down the slide and playing with other kids. There was one little boy that I think fell in love with her. He was "helping" her up the stairs which was so sweet even though she didn't need it, and he was giving her bouncy rides on this bouncy dinosaur. It was really sweet.

We met a new farmgirl friend yesterday too. We are hoping she will join our group. She seems really sweet.

Madelynne took some fantastic pictures for me- isn't she the sweetest? She took some pictures of Nora, which are now added to the slideshow, and she also took some pictures of a doll that I had made. The doll will be on her way to her new owner today, so the timing was perfect!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Creating Dolls

As you probably know, I made my own version of Waldorf Dolls which I also sell on my website. Waldorf dolls are made with all natural materials, (Cotton, wool etc). They are designed to enhance imaginative play instead of narrowing down play into one sector. For instance, if you have a themed doll, a child's play is often restricted to that one type of play. However, Waldorf dolls are meant to be open ended. The child can pretend a history for the doll that can change minute by minute if the child wishes because there are no pre-set parameters of though surrounding them.

I am so pleased to have had a week of making dolls. I am making one for a little girl's Christmas present, and I am making 4 to go into a shop. I really hope they do well for the shop owner.

It is amazing. I use the same pattern for each doll, but I have noticed that each doll takes on it's own personality as I make him or her. There are always slight variations in size. Some come out plumb like babies, and one came out super model skinny! I always cut the fabric on the same grain and use the same seam allowance. The only explanation I have is that there is a hidden doll in each yard of my fabric. Or perhaps my subconscious has an image of how the doll should be and that guides my hands. Either way I feel like each one of these dolls is unique.

I decided to start sewing the eyes a bit differently. I really like combining 2 colors of embroidery floss to achieve a multicolored, multidimensional look. Even the stitching pattern is a bit different. It might take longer, but I think it gives a really nice effect over all.

I hope to be able to take some pictures soon!

And now I get to go back to one of the funnest parts- sewing pretty clothes in miniature for the dolls!

Such a Little Thing...

Yesterday we had to take Nora to the ER. She's okay. But at the time we thought she had a sprained wrist or even had broken something.

So I went to lay down. It's that time of the month and without my normal remedy (a long soak in a hot hot tub) I am suffering from exhaustion and cramps. Nora decided she wanted to climb up and take her nap with me. So she started to climb up on the the bed, and was reaching for the blanket to use as a hand hold. Thinking to help her, I help out my hands and was slightly pulling her up, when her little foot slipped. Suddenly she was crying and saying "Ouch Ouch Ouch." I got her comforted and we were laying together when I realized she wasn't moving her left arm at all. Any time I touched her arm she would cry out in pain.

So Doug and I rushed her to the ER where we were informed this is a very common injury and not to worry. (Don't worry? My kid is crying in pain and you say don't worry?!)

Luckily with a gentle twist (Even though this hurt Nora) he was able to fix her arm. It's called Nursemaid Elbow which is literally a dislocation of part of the elbow. It can happen up to age 5 in children by any tugging motion on the arm because of stretchy ligaments.

Within 2 minutes she was using her arm again and not showing any indication of pain. Today she was climbing all over things again and acting like her self again. I feel even more exhausted now than I did before. It was such a trauma and a scare. I am so grateful that she wasn't hurt more and that it was such an easy fix.

I have so much more sympathy for my poor parents who had to suffer through me having a broken bone at 3 different times and smashing up my face badly in a bike wreck. I don't think that anyone can quite comprehend fear that a parent feels until your child is hurt and you can't fix it. I am so thankful that we live in an area where a doctor is only minutes away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Updated My post about my swaps/ Finishing Projects

I have made huge progress in the swaps I signed up for. This week I mailed out the Christmas Ornaments, the tea towels, and am about to mail out one set of the pillowcases.

I have two doll orders that I am working on. The first one is a custom order that I hope to finish the doll part tonight, possibly even the doll clothes! I figure I will be able to get all my doll orders mailed by this weekend.

I have been feeling really bad about how long it has been taking me to get my swaps done. So having them all start coming together and getting mailed out feels great! Watch the mail ladies! Packages are coming your way!

Thank You

I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has been reading my blog and who have been visiting my Store website- AWarmheart.

If I am reading the information correctly, the more hits you get, the higher in the search engine results you site is listed. My AWarmheart has been showing more hits in the past week, and I am hoping to be able to offer my goods to people in time for the holidays.

Yes, by selling my items it does help my family, but for every ounce of lotion, cream, or soap I sell, and for every doll I sell that hopefully one less item being bought that was made in a chemical laboratory somewhere or one less toy made of possibly toxic materials.

So, Thank you all very much. I highly appreciate it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Making Soap

There is something magical about making soap. I have always loved making mixes and potions. Just ask my mom. I think I drove her to whits end sometimes. She would go in to clean the bathroom and there would be some smear of something or another when I was trying to create a powder lotion (Lotion plus baby powder... little did I know I was way ahead of my time. Lots of companies and even cosmetics have a cream to powder line now!) Or when I saw the commercials for products that had the "Shampoo and Conditioner in one" and I decided I should just combine my two.

So back to soap making. I started making soap several years ago after being inspired by Susan Dahlem- The Soap Maven who I met through MaryJane's Farm. There is something amazing in all the many varied chemical reactions that go into making that simple bar of soap.

First you have to know a little about what you are doing. You have to respect the Lye. Lye can be dangerous if treated cavalierly, but overall it isn't as dangerous as some things that are in most houses- like battery acid. I will take lye over battery acid any day.

The first amazing thing about soap making is how the combination of liquid and lye can take a liquid that is at freezing temperatures to well over 130 degrees in a matter of less than a minute. It is very very important to not use warm or room temperature water with lye. This can cause rapid boil which means drops of caustic liquid flung in random directions.

Then by combining warm oils with the lye, you can watch the soap form! In fact, you get soap bubble almost immediately!

I also love how you can make an infinite variety of soaps depending on the oils you use. Some oils make hard soaps, some make moisturizing soaps, some make lather, and others don't. And the best thing is that even if you don't get the exact product you were hoping for, you can usually still use your product!

I made a fun soap today that brings back wonderful memories of biting into a fresh cinnamon roll. The soap is called "Baked Cinnamon". And the best part? All of the ingredients in it are organic and the scent is from an essential oil. I think that is the thing I love the best about homemade soap. I know exactly what is in it, and there aren't long lists of questionable, unpronounceable ingredients and the dubious listing of "Fragrance."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Frugal Living Tip

I love my Costco card. Costco saves me lots of money each month and allows us (Doug) to have a few extras (Mountain Dew). I am really pleased that they have so many organic choices now and some of them are hardly more expensive than the conventional product right next to it.

Now, not all organics are made equal. Some companies are certified Organic, and while they use and process their foods in an organic nature, they aren't living up to the Spirit of the movement. However, when I am standing in the store and I can choose a product that was grown with lots of fertilizer, pest and weed chemical control, or I can pick one that was grown without all that? I will choose the organic product every time.

So I feel great about frugally buying Organic at Costco. Their gasoline also runs about 4-10 cents cheaper per gallon which in of itself just about pays for our membership each year. So Costco gets a huge Frugal Vote Yes.

Another thing that I am finding very frugal is to shop my local Organic food Stores. Organic bananas for $.49 a pound? Yes please! Sure, they need to be eaten or baked into banana bread that day because they are at peak ripeness. But you won't hear me complaining! Also look for (especially in Montana) Milk that is about to pass it's "Sell By" Date. Usually the store will mark these down for quick sale because they lose money if the product doesn't sell. I have seen ORGANIC _GALLONS_ of relatively local milk on sale for only $4.99! Yup! That is what I call a bargain!

Strong Baby Nora

Today we had to run a few errands. At the store, Nora was happy to be pushed around until just till the end. I asked her if she wanted to get down. She nodded yes and held her arm up to be picked up. I showed her how she could push the cart by grabbing the bars. Away we went! I just straightened her path when she was veering off course. She pushed that cart all the way to check out and then from check out back to the cart station. She even walked all the way to the car.

Now, Nora has been walking since before she was even a year old, but of course, being a first time mom, I get a bit over protective when we are out an about. She is so fast and so small (relatively) that I fear that unless I keep her mind occupied, she will wander off to occupy it herself! The world is an awfully big place, and so interesting to young inquisitive minds.

But I think I learned something today. There is a time to carry and restrict movement, and there is a time when you have to realize the baby you are carrying isn't quite a baby any more, and it is time to let them spread their wings just a bit.

Now we have to work on enforcing that she has to come when called. It is so easy to make it a game of chase, but I don't really want to play games when we have to make a trip to a store!

I am going to make another batch of soap tomorrow. What can I say... I am addicted to soap. At least it is a healthy addiction! I also found out that some of the materials I need to make the dolls that have been ordered are on sale! Serendipity! I love sales!

I spent all day working on homework. I really need to get more of this done during the week!! I hate wasting a full day on it. Okay, it's not wasted, but you know what I mean! What is really frustrating, is that I can't do part of my assignment for my Research class since I am supposed to find reference material in our Library in certain locations, and the library has let me down. Hopefully my teacher will have some good suggestions.

I am looking forward to the end of the semester. I will have passed my classes, registered for new classes, and then I get a blissful month off to relax and rejuvenate! Bliss!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Soaps, Dolls and more

I updated my online store today. I didn't realize that some of my PayPal shopping cart options weren't working.

I also added a new checkout shipping feature for MaryJane's Farmgirls only! For my fellow MaryJane's Farmgirls, any product bought off my site receives free shipping! To get this free shipping, the shipping option "Pick Up" should be chosen.

A special soap order for Shaving Soap came just in time. I was contemplating making another couple of batches of soap soon and I think there is nothing a farmgirl loves so much as having a reason to do one of her favorite crafts!

I also am excited because I got some doll orders. I am really looking forward to making these.

If you have time, please stop by my store and then tell me what you think! Please!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Learning with a Toddler.

Being a mom is amazing. I never really thought I would feel this way about being a mom. That is until Nora was born. Watching her explore the world really opens my eyes. The things that she finds amazing helps to lift the veil of disillusionment from my eyes. I start to understand why the little things are so wondrous again.

Nora has learned to pull her boots on all by herself. When she is tired, she goes to her bed and pulls her blanket up *sometimes*, and she has decided that her high chair is no longer something she wants to be in. She much prefers sitting at the table in a big person chair.

She also can pull pants on by herself now. Though she hasn't really figured out how to get them completely on, and sometimes she tries to layer up.

For a while there she was counting to four pretty consistently. Lately she is stuck on "2". Which is fine since she will be two in March :D. She does, however, understand the concept of how many items she is supposed to have. If there were five crayons in the box and she dropped some, she will stop and look around until she finds all five.

Discipline is hard. Sometimes she gets that look on her face and you know she is doing something just because she knows it is wrong. Like pulling the books off the shelf for the 10th time that day.

We use face-to-face contact (getting down on her level so we aren't looming over her). We only use the word "No" when we mean it. We are trying to be more consistent and back each other up. If Doug says "No, don't stand on the chair" I am trying to be better about enforcing that. We have been known to spank through a diaper, not hard enough to hurt, but just to get her attention if she was doing something potentially dangerous to her life. Like climbing inside the dryer, or reaching for pans on the stove top. I think it is the noise that startles her more than anything, and while she might test the concept on another day, she seems to get the point that day.

Overall, I think she is turning out to be a lovely toddler. We all have our moments when frustration runs high. I know she is right on the brink of breaking through and really communicating with us. I am trying to spend a lot more focused time trying to help develop her language skills.

This morning we were playing with her letter blocks and I think she was starting to understand that each letter has it's corresponding sound. She was trying to mimic me which was so cute.

Then later when we were doing the morning laundry, she was so helpful. She would bring the laundry out to the living room so I could fold it, and then would take folded laundry to her father who was doing dishes in the kitchen. This was a totally new game for her and she had so much fun being our little helper.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Starting on the Journey to Health

Today I am starting on the journey to health. I pulled out a notebook and labeled it my food diary, but really it is going to be my heath diary.

Every morning I am going to weigh myself. I will write down everything that goes into my mouth. Food, water, soda, candy. Everything. I will also write down a general description of my activities to give a general idea of my activity level.

Each night I will run my calculations through somewhere online to see what the balance of activity to food calories was.

At the end of the month, if I haven't lost weight I am going to the doctor for tests. I am going to watch portion control and try to get out and move more often. No matter what happens, I am going to find some answers. I hope the answer is just that there have been a lot of extra calories making their way into my diet that I can cut out and find health again.

I will update the blog to show how I am doing, and I also got this ticker from tickerfactory. Don't let me forget to update it!

I also will be using the site http://www.my-calorie-counter.com/ as an online version of my paper journal. I will be striving to do both so I can take one to the doctor's office if need be.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I feel a bit...busy...*update- Making progress!

I have my everyday life that I of course can't just leave behind. Okay...some days I do, but then it just back fires and I have more to do the next day!

But I think someone should commit me to an insane asylum. Yup. Definitely. For Sure.

So in addition to taking care of home, husband, dog and toddler, I have now added a whopping 16 credits of college. Okay. I still think I can handle this.

Then on top of that I decided to go on a MJF Swapping Spree!

I have 3 adult sized aprons to make.
2 of 4 of pillowcases to embroider-
And some sort of Holiday themed project to make and swap!

Phew!

Okay...don't think I am nuts...but I think I am going to try to get this all done this weekend! Yikes! It's going to be lots of fun to try! Hopefully I can get some really good crafting time in.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Congrats Winners!

No one guessed Nora's exact height, so I took the ones that were only off by half an inch! You ladies sure know your kiddos!

Could the winners please contact me at either my alee (@) awarmheart.com email or my alee (@) maryjanesfarm.org email?

I am going to send a pretty Christmas ornament your way!

So the winners are (drum roll please!!)
Trish!!! (One dog per Acre!)
Janice!!! (Miss Bee Haven!)
Elizabeth!!!
Jamie!!! (Simply Flowers!)

Ladies please email me your mailing address and I will get these ornaments made up as soon as I can! I promise they will be there before it is time to put up the tree! LOL

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nora's Height

Hi all!

I am a bad blogger. I didn't forget about the contest, but my excuse is that one thing after another has happened and the day came and past. Now here we are 12 days past due, and all you who were wonderful and sent in guesses are probably wondering if I fell off the face of the planet.

I didn't but you wouldn't believe it if you saw my house right now! It's a wreck!

Anyway! I will gather up all the guesses and post them here along with those who won! Hurray!

Nora's height when I measured her was 31 1/2 inches! Wow! I will measure her again today to see how much she has grown since.

So supposedly you are supposed to double a child's height on their 2nd birthday to see roughly how tall they will be. Nora is right now 18 months...which meas she was about 17 months when I measured her... So already she will be at least 5 foot 3 inches...which is 3 inches taller than me!

Hey wait!! That's not fair!! LOL

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Watching Full Length Movies For Free on the Computer

www.watch-movies.net claims to be a completely legal service. It's free. It's easy to use and you get to watch real full length movies online.

Just thought you might like to check it out.

Nora's Canvas

Nora has recently really decided she loves coloring. She burns through paper so fast that the walls, TV, doors, and garbage can all start looking like blank canvases to her. Then she found my oil pastels. So soft and rich. So colorful! I think she is in heaven.

We have this large linoleum floor that is all black. The oil pastels stand out brilliant against the black. At first I scolded her for coloring on the floor, but then I realized...Why?

Oil pastels are actually in some ways, easier to clean up that crayons! Sure, they get on clothes a LOT more than crayons. But instead of having to fight to get a hard wax off the walls or furniture, all I have to do to clean up after the oil pastels is use soap and water!

So I decided that Nora could color on the floor. There is no harm in it, it washes easily and I need to wash my floor every day or so anyway to keep the house looking reasonable. Want some pictures? I think they are adorable!

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Oraganic Cleaning and Potty Training.

Potty Training. It seems to be the bane of most first time moms. Just hearing the word is intimidating. Sure, we know they won't go to school in diapers. So it will happen at some point. I really respect women who successfully do Elimination Communication with their kids. I know that is a huge time commitment.

Nora is getting to the age where she is interested in the toilet, has pooped and peed in the potty enough to sort of have the idea. If she goes and sits on her potty chair, she will cheer for herself even if she doesn't do anything. It's so funny!

One thing that I have found to be very effective is letting her drink a bit of warm water or herbal tea while sitting on the potty seat. If needed I let a little pour down her front. Having warm water flow seems to trigger her and I am hoping it helps her learn to release on the toilet. Of course, since we are trying to let her learn when she has to go, she is going without a diaper a lot. That leads to a lot of accidents on the carpet.

Urine is of course one of those smells that we really just don't want to have our house smelling like. And the longer urine is around- the worse it smells! So simply dowse the accident in household white vinegar and mop up. If it is on carpet, you will want to blot as much of the urine up as possible, thoroughly dowse with the white vinegar, then continue to blot until dry. If you have a carpet shampooer, you can use the carpet shampooer to extract the urine. Then dowse the carpet with the vinegar and extract with shampooer.

Some people do not like the smell of vinegar. Give it time. It will dry to a sweet smell. If you are still unhappy with the fragrance after about an hour, go ahead and rinse the carpet with water or your favorite carpet shampoo. There are some environmentally friendly carpet shampoos out there. I highly recommend you buy these for your shampooer. Our carpets are already one of the most toxic things in our house- no need to make them more so, right?

Also, I ran across a tip on the internet a while back. If you get new carpet (you know the new carpet smell) it is recommended that you shampoo the carpet immediately as this supposedly helps reduce some of the initial out-gassing. I am not sure if subsequent shampooing through the life of your carpet continues to help with the out-gassing. I hope it does! I am going with the assumption that it does. If nothing else it is an easy way to remove a lot of soil from your house.

I try to shampoo my carpets once a week. It doesn't always happen. I vacuum first to get as much of the dirt and loose stuff out of the carpet. I then shampoo. I am always shocked with how much soil I get out of the carpet. I always have some sort of sandy like sludge in the bottom of the water tank.

I have a pretty decent vacuum. One of the old style Kirbys. I have seen that thing try to eat whole yards of cloth before I could stop it and I know it is has a lot of power. I have no doubt that a really modern vacuum like a Dyson would do even better, but until I can acquire a Dyson, I am going to do my duo of carpet care. And if the constant shampooing does help with out-gassing, I am all the more happy.

Oh! One side note! If you shampoo your carpet this often, use less soap that is suggested by about 3/4 unless you have a specific stain that you are going after. Or alternatively you should rinse your carpet with hot hot hot water after every shampoo. Otherwise the soap residue will build up in your carpets and bond with your carpet fibers. This creates an almost sticky feel on your carpet and it will actually attract more dirt that it normally would! An occasional rinse with vinegar water will help as well.

Pillowcase Completed!

I finished the first of the pillowcases for the swap. It only had about an hour left on it for the past two weeks, but I kept forgetting to retrieve my handwork from the car!

So this is one of the pillowcases for the swap, but I am not say which of my swap partners gets this set!

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I really had fun with this pattern. The flowers, stems and leaves are all in vine stitch and the ribbon below is in simple back stitch. I really want to learn more embroidery stitches. I know a few- satin stitch, back stitch, vine stitch, french knot....hmmm... I am sure I know more than that...but that is all that is coming to mind!

Let me know what you think of the pillowcase!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rah Rah! Go College!

Oh my gosh! Where did August go? Last week and this week I have been ironing out things to smooth my way back into collegiate life. I think FAFSA Verification is something evil and devised to confound students. Oh well, this too shall pass! I just hope they get me my financial aid before we get desperate! If they wait too long, by the time we get it- it will be time to receive it again!

So here is the plan. I thought I was going to be getting my degree from Montana State University in Billings. I was happy with this plan. It was a good plan. And I decided to change it.

See, in my quest to find a horseback riding instructor, I was reading a lot of websites. One website was touting the qualities of their riding instructor who had just graduated from the equine program of Rocky Mountain College...in Billings!! I about had a heart attack!

You mean there is an Equine Program?! I am _so_ enrolled in the _wrong_ college!

So I went to talk to the very very helpful people over at Rocky. I decided to go ahead with this semester at MSU since the Rocky semester has already started. I will be getting my Masters of Accountancy and my Bachelors of Equine Business from Rocky! How cool is that! I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How tall is Nora?

I just measured my little beanstalk. She is 18 months old. How tall do you think she is?

The farmgirls that guess correctly are going to get a little surprise! Go ahead and leave me a message here as a comment with you guess, or if you would like- you can leave me reply on the MJF Forum here.

I am going to make a surprise for each person who guesses correctly! I am not going to reveal the secret- but I promise it'll be great and hand made to boot!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Feeling Better Today

After blogging yesterday I continued to have a crummy day. I got lots of Farmgirl Support over at MaryJane's Farm Chat Forum. Thank you ladies. You make my day each and every time you chat with me. It means a lot. I talked with Doug too, and ended up crying. Sheesh. I hate it when that happens. I guess I just have been bottling up a lot inside me and it has decided to all come out at once.

Doug was so sweet. He said he had even been losing sleep trying to figure out a way for this to work for me. We both agree (I really do agree) that now is just not the time for Tala to be mine. That is unless someone wants to offer free pasture within 2 hours of Billings?

I know it will feel amazing once we get these silly debts off our back and our credit scores recover. I know it will feel amazing to graduate from college with a degree that will not only help finance my dream but will help me to be successful at my dream.

I am feeling better about everything today. I will be sad to say goodbye to Tala, but I know in my heart I will be able to buy another sweet filly from my ranch friends when the time is right. All their horses are sweet and have lovely tempers. Doug even offered to arrange it so I can go out when it is time to impregnate the mare and all that so I can feel tied to the new foal just like Tala. I told him that was sweet but it wouldn't be the exact same. If Tala does get sold, and I can't buy her (please let it be a filly!) sibling then I might take him up on the offer. Yikes! I hope we can get our financial quagmire fixed in the next couple of months so I don't have to wait TOO much longer!

Again, I really appreciate all the love and support you all have given me. I felt hugged yesterday and woke up feeling grateful to have such loving friends.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Living in Billings

Living in Billings has been great so far. Our little rental house is in a iffy part of town, but so far the all the neighbors have been great. We have a sweet elderly lady next door that I am going to "adopt" and start looking after. Doug doesn't really understand why I would give her my name and phone number and tell her to call if she needs anything. I would feel horrible if something happened and all she would have needed was to call me. Also, when we are older and if our kid(s?) move away, what is going to happen to us if neighbors won't help each other? Live in a home? I don't think so!

Anyway- there are lots of great parks here in town. Some are pretty close. Really it seems like you can't go 5 blocks without running into a park of some sort. It's great. Billings Parks and Rec do a great job. There is even a herd of antelope living at one of the parks! There is a water feater at quite a few parks. Splash parks with built in water guns, water hoops to jump through, dump buckets that fill at random intervals. Then there are 3 pools and several wading pools.

Doug's job is going great. It is nice to have my husband back. I didn't realize how depressed he had gotten working at Winco for so long. Now he is joking around and smiling. Amazing! Smiling!

Now we just need to get our finances straightened out, some savings built up and we will be good. :D

I don't often ask for prayers, but if you could pray to whatever you believe in that our finances will come together, that we will be wise in our choices, and that we can continue to love, learn and grow as a family- I would appreciate it. I feel like we are still in the middle of struggling and I feel the necessity to get some private loans paid off a quickly as possible.

Disappointment.

Money doesn't matter, right? I am desperately trying to remind myself of that everyday. Every Hour of everyday. Every Minute. I feel like my heart is breaking just a little bit.

Doug and I have this investment from his horrible tenure at Winco Foods. He is now working for Wells Fargo and has a new IRA that we can start investing into any time we want. So that we can get rid of some debts, we have decided to wait a year to invest, and then once we are on more solid ground, we are going to invest heavily in our future.

Here's the situation: Doug and I made lots of mistakes when we first struck out on our own. We didn't always pull together financially, so when one of us had extra money- it wasn't always spent wisely. Then there was the school bills, medical bills, and jobs that just didn't pay enough or job lay-offs. Basically each year that we lived in Moscow cost us more money than we made in one way or another. We are sitting on some debt. We both just got our portfolio of credit from a credit protection program. Yeah. Bad News. It's really bad when they show the gradient of credit scores and up at the top is "highest" and down at the bottom is says "Lowest" guess where our dots were. I think we were lower than Lowest. Okay maybe not THAT bad- but we both are still in the "HIGH RISK" category. Luckily a few months of getting a few certain bills paid off will help our scores and soon we will be only in the "Moderate Risk" category. *sigh*

So why am I so disappointed? Doug is right. There is this certain filly- I know you all remember my Sweet Talla. If not- here she is! The darling girl herself:

Well, my lovely friends who own her have been so willing to work with me on helping me to buy her- payments etc. I am going to be going back up there to see my friend's newborn baby. My car has a tow package- it would be so wonderful if I could rent a horse trailer and bring her home with me. I wanted to find some free or cheap pasture and keep her there while making a couple hundred dollars worth of payments each month to my friends.

Doug said absolutely not. He's right. We shouldn't rack up more debt than we already have. And what would I do if she got hurt? Be in debt even more to the vet. I just love this little filly. I was her dam's friend the summer I worked at the ranch. I was there and helped the day we collected her sire's semen to inseminate her dam. I was there for a little of her dam's pregnancy. I just missed the birth because I had just given birth myself! This little girl has amazing bloodlines and it would be the first step towards realizing my dream of having a horse ranch. Her grandsire is worth over a million dollars. Like I said- she has amazing bloodlines.

But I can't do it without Doug's okay. It just wouldn't be right. And he has said "NO" very firmly about this. He wants me to have my horse when it's the right time.

So I sit here in mild despair. I know it's silly, buy I love that horse and I can see in her a true start to a lifetime dream.

So I am trying not to be emotional around Doug. I don't want to put this family in worse financial hardship and I don't want to strain our relationship because I "forced" him to go along with what I want. In a way I feel like a spoiled brat who didn't get what she wanted. But at the same time I was so close to starting my dream that I have had since I was about six. I don't know. I know there will "be others" that I can buy but they just aren't the same as one that you help breed yourself. And none will ever be the very first progeny out of her sire ever again. She is it. She is special in so many ways. Sure- there is a foal that will be born this spring that is the exact same bloodlines. It might be a colt. Or it might not survive. I have seen two full blooded sister-mares that while they had similar features, one was almost stallion like- big and bold- and the other was almost delicate of feature. Who knows. Perhaps Talla- my graceful sweet Tala- is the delicate one, and all the other foals out of this pairing will be the bigger boned? This isn't likely- but what if nothing ever comes of the pairing that even compares with Tala? Both her sire and dam are beautiful. Her sire is absolutely stunning.

I made an Outpost.

If you haven't gotten MaryJane's Outpost book yet, scurry over to Amazon.com and buy yourself a copy for $19.80 or go to MaryJane's Website and order one for $30. Why the price difference? The one you get from MaryJane is autographed! How cool is that?
So after reading this gorgeous book, I felt like living inside all summer was just about going to kill me. I went out garage sale-ing yesterday with the intent not to buy something to make an outpost, but rather to find bookshelves and a dresser for Nora. Garage Sale after Garage Sale was disappointing. Everything was astronomically expensive and while I saw a few cool items- there was no way I was going to blow my whole $20 budget on one item. Nope. Not gonna do it.

I am sure there were some really great ones out there, but I was limited by only going to the ones that I could find. I still am only comfortable with about half of Billings. And the side street are a mystery to me. I had forgotten my computer so I couldn't mapquest them and I didn't have a city map.

So I see one that I know where it is, and it advertises that it is a day care going out of business- Lots of kid Items! YES! Sweet! Hold on Nora! Here we go!

So the first thing I notice when we get there is not the kid's toys, or the power tools, but a free standing hammock for sale for...$8!!!! The ONLY thing that is wrong with it is that it has some rips in the top fabric. I am a farmgirl! I can fix that!! So my next thought is...How am I going to get it home? Sure enough, it folds up and even come apart into 4 pieces!

So once Nora and I get home after buying her a temporary dresser and a few toys, I set up my new hammock. But it was missing something... So I stung a cross line to my clothes line, stringing up a spare sheet and this is what resulted!

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Isn't it great?! I even ran an extension cord out so I could talk with my friends on the MaryJane's Farm Chat Forum

Friday, June 13, 2008

Moving to Billings





Wow, I must say- Moving is horrible. It's hard. It's dirty. It's emotional. It's also way to easy to find OTHER things to do when you should be pulling our reams of packing tape and bundles of boxes. My parents are driving all the way up from Wyoming to help me pack and move closer back home. I have amazing parents. They are always there for me when I need them. I can't wait to see them again.

I am more than a little embarrassed by the dirt in my apartment. We aren't dirty people, but once you start moving furniture around you learn where your housekeeping skills have been lacking. Yikes. Note to self- move furniture around at least once a month from now on. I never want to see dust/fur bunnies that big ever again. Yikes.

Dear Husband is a bit emotional. It's trying. I'm not going to get to see him for 5 days and he is being grumpy about all the little decisions that have to be made. I am seriously not going to haul a broken down old entertainment center that is heavier than sin all the way to Montana, then haul it up at least one flight of stairs just for him to realize that it is junk and we don't need it after all. But tell him we need to break it down and dump it? Eeee.

I thought I had a pretty good pile of boxes for packing until I started using them. Now I realize I should put out the call for people to stop taking boxes to recycling...I need them all!

Now it is getting late enough in the game that I just want to trash most everything left.

My heart is sad for the friends I am leaving behind. I am going to miss them ever so much. There has to be a cheaper way for me to come back and visit!! Husband needs to hurry up and win the lottery! LOL

But the good news is that we had lots of good friends in Billings. We are very blessed to have family friends that will live only a few miles away, college friends, and a branch of my church. I feel better about moving to Billings than I ever did about moving to Idaho. We are going home. Finally!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Warm Heart Dolls

I love making my AWarmHeart Dolls, and each one is becoming prettier than the last!

The first two that you see in this slide show, the blonde with violete eyes, and the following brunette are up for sale at www.awarmheart.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Please don't get me wrong...

And this post is just about a gut reaction I am having to a situation. I am not trying to say anyone is right or wrong...


But....

Every time I read a news article about the whole debacle with the FLDS polygamy sect in Texas, my stomach turns and I want to cry. The thought of all of 465 kids being ripped away from their moms and put into the foster system- including new born babies! Oh it just makes me want to cry.

I guess kids under 12 months get to stay in protective care with their moms, but in a confusing couple of new stories, there was information about new born children being taken a way.

I feel like no matter where you stand on this issue, the women and children are true victims. I suspect the confusing stories that have been given to the DFS of Texas workers is partially because many of those women probably suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.

Personally, as far as I can tell, if the women and children are separated from them men then there can be no more supposed forced marriages or teen pregnancies from this point forward....So why can't the women and children be together?

In my opinion taking a child from a mother who has done nothing to it (what could a mom do to a newborn while they are both in protective custody?!) is cruel and unusual punishment. I can't imagine losing a single day with my child, and certainly not their first month!

I hope everyone comes through this safe and sound and without any emotional scars.

Like I said before- I am not trying to express an opinion as to who is right or wrong. But my heart aches for those suffering in this situation. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

So quickly you fall behind

Have you ever noticed how quickly- and how easy it is to fall behind in your daily life? Nora has been sick for about 5 days, 3 very bad and the last two have been mostly recovery. For the last couple of weeks I have been working really hard on getting and keeping the house clean. Trying to get it to the point where the though of random visitors won't make me break out in a cold sweat. I was doing really good too!

But somehow, with Nora waking up in the middle of the night with fevers and me fretting over her in the day time- I have managed to let the house reach epic proportions again. How does one family create such a mess in just 5 days? Seriously! It can't all just be Nora and I!

Oh yes, and then there is the search for the missing camera equipment. My transfer cable is missing as are a few other items. Nora- learn to talk so you can tell mommy where you stashed her transfer cord...please?

The Renaissance Fair is here in town. I always love the Ren Fair. I think I will miss it when we move. Nora and I went yesterday to spend some time with a young friend who was there waiting for her family to get back into town. The Chinese School was doing fund raising by painting your name or whatever you wanted in Caligraphy. I got "Dragon" and all three of our names done. It is pretty cool! I even managed to get them home without smearing the ink or wrinkling the paper. Then Nora found my purse this morning and managed to wrinkle them. Oh well. Maybe I can Iron the wrinkles out of the paper. I will just have to make sure the iron doesn't have any water in it!

I will get back into the saddle later today or tomorrow and catch up on my farmgirl blog-a-thon posts.

Hey! And if you have any ideas for future posts, please let me know! I am working on some yummy recipes for using MaryJane's Chill-Over powder so stay tuned! How does Chocolate Silk and Lemon Mousse Pie sound? Yummy!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Farmgirl Blog-A-Thon- In the Garden

Tina who has the beautiful GardenGoose blog is running the farmgirl blog-a-thon that I have been posting about. She is such a sweet Farmgirl!

This week we are talking about "In The Garden"

Right now I am gardenless but only until this summer. We are moving and this summer I am going to share a garden with my mom.

Last year I created a garden from a weed infested strip of land while I was 8 months pregnant! it felt so good to be creating something that would nourish us with a little life inside of me. Sky -Dog of course was my constant companion. I think she was the favorite thing I grew in the garden:

I actually had just filled that pot with water so she could drink and she decided her feet were too toasty warm! So cute! I just HAD to get a picture!

Gardens are an amazing way to reconnect with nature- even if all you have is one little tomato plant. When I go out and pluck out all those weed seedlings it is almost as if I am plucking away every irritation that bothers me in daily life. It's a zen moment for me for sure.

I also feel amazingly strong and independent each time I harvest a tomato or carrot or anything from my garden. It feels wonderful to be able to eat the food at the peak of freshness- not some pale imitation of food that was harvested much to early just so it doesn't spoil in transit.


I love the ladies over at the MaryJanesFarm Chat Forum. They always have an answer to any gardening questions that might come up. They originally showed me the light when it comes to lasagna gardening! What a great tip to keep weeds down, amend your soil, and help conserve moisture! The most basic explanation is a layering of compost-able materials to a depth that prohibits weed growth. The layers slowly decompose so you have to continue to add more. This works great with raised beds, but can be done without raised beds as well. There are several fantastic books out there and many websites. And of course the experienced ladies on the forum!

Last year my apartment managers decided to re-roof our complex and the roofer ran over my garden- finishing off my lettuce well before time. Even though- I got plenty of peas, carrots, and tomatoes- when I had the chance to harvest!

I am so looking forward to the garden this summer. I already can envision it in my head and I can almost taste that very first tomato already!



Friday, April 18, 2008

Farm Food Review

As many of you know, I spend a lot of my daily time over at The MaryJanes Farm Forum. I love getting to know all the lovely creative ladies who spend a little time chatting everyday.

But there is a whole other facet to the MaryJanesFarm experience that you might not realize. MaryJane has created some AMAZING meals, breads, chocolates, and side dishes that are "fast food that isn't junk". Her food are amazing. Most you just rip open a pouch, pour in an amount of boiling water, fold, let sit for a few minutes, then stir and enjoy!

Here below are the ones I have tried, links to how you can purchase them, and a review! Simply click on the photo to be taken to MaryJane's site to order!

Chocolates:
I just have to say- all of her chocolates are DIVINE! Seriously. If you haven't tried one, or if you crave a _good_ chocolate bar- stock up. They are amazing. I kept buying box after box meaning to give them as Thank You's for help with my wedding, and somehow they kept getting eaten...


Task Bars:
As one of the ladies on the forum said "My favorite Taskbar is the one I am eating at the time!" From Mango Smoothie to Cherry Cobbler to Raspberry Jam n' Peanuts- They are all delicious and a healthy way to give you that extra energy you need to get through the day.


Outrageous Outback Oatmeal-

This is a sweet hearty oatmeal breakfast with currants and sunflower seeds in it. My darling daughter Nora would shove this into her mouth as fast as she could if I let her! It is rich and amazingly good.


Budget Mix:

This has got to be one of my all time favorites, not just for flavor, but for sheer versatility. MaryJane had worked really hard in coming up with some really fabulous recipes that can be found in her Farm Kitchen version of the Magazine!

Or the Tote Bag Special with Budget mix and the Farm Kitchen Magazine AND a beautiful tote (I love mine!)


The following meals I have tried and my mouth waters as I post the pictures here for you! They are amazing and so well pulled together!
Northwest Garden Couscous:


Organic Southwestern Couscous:


Organic Wild Forest Mushroom Couscous:
(SOOO GOOD!)


Eat Your Veggies Pasta:


Organic BNT Bac'un (Vegetarian)Noodles and Tomatoes:


Nick's Couch Potatoes:


Organic Bare Burrito:
(SOO GOOD!)


Black Beans and Rice:
(I eat this plain all the time!)


Organic Curry In a Hurry:


Organic Jambalaya:
(One of Husband's Favorites!)


Creamy Potato Soup:


Velvety Black Bean Soup:


Organic Scones with Orange and Walnut!
(MY ALL TIME FAVORITE OF HER BREADS!)


All of these pictures are from the MaryJanesFarmwebsite- most taken my MaryJane herself (if not all!)

I highly encourage you to try these foods and any others on her site! I am still buying and trying her foods too and have yet to be disappointed by a single one!

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am

Nora is such a good eater and sometimes I take that for granted. Last Sunday at church, Nora and I sat next to a couple with a baby about the same age as Nora. This little boy is a bit shorter and much thinner than Nora. Both of the kids got fussy at the same time so we went to the back of the church so we wouldn't disturb others.

Through talking with his mom, I found out that Tim has texture/eating issues. His mom is obviously worried sick about him and doing everything in her power to try and help her son.

"Is he hungry?" I asked since he wasn't settling down.

"Probably, He wouldn't eat anything this morning before church and when he refuses food we just can't force him to eat at all!" She said. I could see that this is obviously something she worries about constantly. There was this thinly veiled panic right below the surface in her eyes. I offered a fudge dipped coconut bar that I had in my diaper bag. She had said that he probably wouldn't eat it, but we could give it a shot. He ended up eating 3/4 of it before calling it quits. And he drank some milk that I went and got from the restaurant. His mom had to break the bar up into pea sized amounts and put it into his mouth for him.

In contrast, Nora probably weight 25lbs, wears 18 month clothes, and often is seen shoving food into her mouth with both hands. The only foods I help her eat are soupy runny foods that she can't get her hands around- and since that is a lot of effort- I often don't fix those types of foods for her. She loves all sorts of flavors and textures. She even eats scrambled eggs with gusto.

So sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have a child that eats her food. It seems like something so natural that babies wouldn't have issues with it- but I think it is just those types of things that can affect our lives the most if they aren't quite on target. I can't imagine the stress and worry I would have if Nora suddenly decided to stop eating and was dropping weight! I imagine Nora is close to the 50th percentile in height and weight. I can't even imagine if she drop to the 3rd percentile like this little boy.

Tim's mom looked like she was torn between crying in relief that her baby ate something and jumping for joy that there was now something else that she could feed him. Now granted, a fudge dipped coconut bar may not seem like the most nutritious thing to be feeding a child, but I think at some point the calorie factor starts to become more important than making sure you are feeding your child the "perfect" meal.

I felt very humbled this morning as I remembered Tim's mom and her struggles as I plopped Nora into her high chair, cut up a banana, scrambled an egg, and gave her a cup of orange juice to drink.

Tim's mom says he often gags on bread like items, but I am wondering if he would eat banana bread that had been sort of compressed so it wasn't a bread texture. I want to help her so much. Anyone have any ideas? I know they give him the weight gain Ensure but sometimes he won't even drink milk or anything.

Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon- Bliss in the Kitch

Since becoming a Stay at Home Mom, one of the joys of my day is to make sure I am feeding my family nutritious, wholesome, homemade food- on a frugal budget of course! We are on a bare-bones budget, so many times I have to forgo buying the organics that I normally would, but that aside, our food is quite wholesome.

I taught myself how to can tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce this last summer/fall with the help of the ladies at The MaryJane's Farm Chat Forum, and with the aid of the Ball Canning book. I would have probably never had the courage to try had it not been for the lovely articles about canning in the MaryJanesFarm Magazine and the encouragement I received on the Forum.

Yesterday I made homemade bread, today I made another batch but to be used as the bread to surround my famous cabbage burgers (recipe below). I also made a MaryJane's bake over with her delicious budget mix! If you haven't tried it, you really should! It is so versatile and you know it is great because MaryJane only sells organic! Check her products out here: MaryJanes Farm Product Directory

A Healthy In-Hand meal is a traditional German Cabbage burger. Now before you shy away because you don't like cabbage and goodness forbid _cooked_ cabbage! Ick Ook Ugh! Actually- the cabbage absorbs the meat taste and adds a little spice but affidavits from sworn cabbage haters say that there is no cabbagey taste to these yummy burgers at all!

Cabbage Burgers:

(1) Make your favorite plain bread recipe
While your bread rises, start cooking the filling

(2) Scramble hamburger till browned, add minced cabbage- about half a head, add minced carrots, celery, onions, garlic and spice to taste. I like to add a little Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and leave it at that. Doug likes a spicy Mexican taste.

(3) After dough has risen, punch down and roll as thin as possible. Put cereal bowl upside down on the rolled out dough. Cut out circle, using bowl as guide, but cut 1 inch away from lip of bowl.

(4) Lay dough circle over bowl like lid. Use slotted spoon to put a dollop of meaty filling in middle of dough circle. Bring sides in and pinch bottom closed until you have a bread encased circle.

(5) Place roll pinched side down onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake according to bread directions until done (meat filling is already cooked). Enjoy! Great with ketchup!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Farmgirl At Heart

Here is my next post for the Farmgirl Blog-A-Thon that got started over at MaryJanesFarm Chat Forum.

First I think I should mention that I do not live on a farm. I would love to, but never have. I have always been around animals and have always gardened. I always felt a little different, like my life's rhythm was running at a different pace than those around me.

I always felt a bit lost, searching for that rhythm that would synchronize with my own. As a child I wanted to learn to embroider and sew, but was always too impatient to learn more than how to thread a needle. I was always outside pretending things and playing with the cats and dogs, or running half wild through our property in the mountains.

Back in 2002 we moved to Northern Idaho- home to MaryJanesFarm. It took me a few years to find her magazine and become hooked- but from the first instant of seeing her photographs and reading a snatch of MaryJane's philosophy on life- I knew I wasn't alone.

I knew that out there, there were other women who felt a slower pace in life is needed, that there are other women who love to dig their fingers in to warm soil, and others who can't help but see the love in an animal's eyes.

Then, I learned my mom is a Farmgirl at Heart too! Through talking on the forum and sharing ideas and concepts with my mom, I think that we have grown closer and learned so much from each other! You could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned that my dream farm had already been planned out in detail by mom mother! Guess who is going to be a business partner someday!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diapering is amazing. Simply Amazing. I can't stress enough how relieved I am that we made this decision. Doug and I don't live on very much money month to month, so I never could quite make myself believe it was a good idea to pay $15 twice a week for something for our baby to poop in.

Not only that, but I learned that it is estimated that each diaper takes about 500 year to decompose- all the while leaching petrochemical by products into the landfill and eventually into the ground water. Yeck.

And why do diapers need all that bleaching, perfume, and absorbent gel? Because disposable diapers are so well made now that your baby can sit in his or her own waste for hours and not feel uncomfortable. How nice.

OR

You can consider cloth diapers where the biggest environmental impact is growing the fiber to make the diapers and then washing them as they are dirtied. I wash one load of diapers a day with an estimated $.50 per load in washing soap, water, and electricity costs. Probably less since our washer is brand new this year.

I made 90% of the cloth diapers that we use. We did receive a gift of a box of diapers and we love both types. However, it is so easy and economical to make your own, that it is not necessary to purchase expensive diapers from lofty websites or boutique stores.

If you are just entering the world of cloth diapering, let me give you a quick run down of some of the terms you might encounter:

AIO (All in One) This is a diaper that, while cloth, it has a plastic/vinylized fabric as the outer layer to keep moisture in. The diaper around you baby's tush is cloth and absorbent. It is often sewn in the "contoured" fashion.

Contoured Diaper- Sewn to fit the form of your baby, much the way a disposable is shaped. Often these diapers have snaps, clips, buttons, or velcro to secure them.

Pre-Fold diapers- Where it be Indian or Chinese, prefold diapers are sewn to secure a soaker pad in the middle of a square or rectangle of cloth. The "prefold" is a misnomer for many as it still requires folding and pinning with either a traditional diaper pin or a Snappi which is kindof like an ace bandage holder for cloth diapers.

Flat Fold Diapers- a big square of cloth. You need to know how to fold it, but with a few seconds of practice, you can quickly fold a square of fabric to swaddle your baby's bum. This is by far the most economical version of diapering as little to no sewing is required.

Soaker Pad- This is the roll of fabric between your baby's legs, sometimes a removable addition that is designed to do the dirty work of diapering.

Diaper wrap- This is something you will need if you do not use AIO diapers. This is a water resistant wrap that goes around the diaper. They have come a long way since the vinyl pants that we wore as children. Most Natural Living stores carry them, as do many online stores. You can also knit or crochet and then felt soaker pants. By lanolizing the felted result they will be moisture resistant and still allow air passage.


Now More reasons why Cloth Diapering is amazing:

We rarely have a "Diaper" smell in our house, and yet we don't use a diaper pail, diaper genie, or any other such contraption. If Nora's stool's are solid, I shake them into the toilet and flush. If not I just toss the dirty diaper into the washer. No rinsing by hand. I let the wash machine do that for me. If I am washing a lot of poopy diapers, I will run a rinse cycle before the wash cycle. Washing diapers causes little extra work as wraps, diapers, and cloth wipes go in together, get dried together and so are found easily.

We have friends who use disposables and no matter how often they take their garbage out, it always smells like a dirty diaper in their house. I think this is because the diapers get dirty long before the parent or even the child realizes it and the urine and poop actually go rancid before a diaper change is made. This rarely happens with cloth diapers. Your baby will let you know when they need a change, though contrary to popular belief, I only have to change Nora's diaper 4-5 times a day anyway.

Nora already holds her bladder through the night and has since she was about a month old. She is one year old and already shows interest in potty training and seems to know about when she need to go potty.

There is so much more information and I would love to help people diaper their children using cloth. I will sew cloth diapers at cost as I feel it is more important to cloth diaper than to profit from this necessity. Please email me at alee(@)awarmheart.com with any questions! I will be happy to help!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Adventures of a Running baby

Nora is still learning to walk, but she thinks she can run already. Well, she is a pretty good walker, considering she has only been doing it for 2 months. Tonight for no apparent reason she lost her balance and fell, smashing her mouth right into the coffee table. Oh it looked like it hurt so bad! Her little lip smooshed into the table so hard it split on the inside.

I wish I could tell her that is is okay and that she will feel better tomorrow. Like a champ she stopped crying pretty quick and after some ora-gel she went back to playing and eating dinner.

Anyone know where I can buy a foam rubber coffee table?

Being Frugal Cleaning and Eating

Hi Everyone!

I have been a bit busy and haven't had time to post a lot lately. I feel guilty when I see the huge gaps between posts. I hope some of you still enjoy my blog! :D

I have been busy doing a lot of Spring Cleaning lately which of course involves a lot of cleaning chemical...or does it? Not when you are Frugal!

I hardly ever use any sort of cleaning chemical anymore. In fact I think the strongest cleaning chemical I have in the house is my dish washing soap. I use a mixture of Vinegar and Water with about 1/2 teaspoon of dish washing soap in to help strip off wax and residue from old cleaners. This is my "Glass and Surface" cleaner that doesn't leave streaks and doesn't have weird blue dye in it either.

For harder messes I use baking soda wet down to make a paste and sometimes a bit of my dish washing soap. If it really needs extra help it soaks in straight vinegar for an hour before I dump baking soda in the water and then scrub.

My floors get washed with the "Glass and Surface" mixture mentioned above- simply squirt and wipe in most cases. For all other messes such as washing walls I just use good old soap and water.

When Vinegar is under $2 a gallon and Baking Soda is $.49 a pound, I can't think of a more frugal way to clean. I buy cleaning rags at Walmart- 18 wash clothes for $5. They do a great job and are just the right size. Also I don't feel bad about using them up on a job that might stain the heck out of them, though more rags get worn out than thrown away.

I have also been extra frugal with shopping and eating lately. I called around to check meat prices before grocery shopping this month. It turns out that a small local butcher/meat locker has better meat prices than our local Winco (west coast discount grocer). I paid $77 for a month's worth of meat and it will actually probably last us closer to 2 months as I have hardly touched the meat supply as of yet.

I bought about 7 pound of assorted varieties of beans. I am really looking for a cheaper way to buy bulk beans as $1.30 a pound seems really high to me.

Here is my shopping receipt from 4-7-08. I had to go again tonight as I realized a few staples like flour were about to run out.
Shopping Reciept:
Dozen Eggs-1.50
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Hunts Tomato Paste- 1.39
Hunts Tomato Paste- 1.39
Beets (canned)- .62
Treetop Apple Sauce- 1.98
Gallon of milk- 2.98
Hunts Tomato Sauce- 1.67
Apple Juice- 1.23
Kiwi Strawberry Juice- 1.26
Apple juice- 1.23
Cranberry Juice- 1.26
Green Cabbage- 1.34
Lettuce- .98
2lbs carrots- .98
Great Northern dry beans- 2.18
beets sliced- .62
Pizza Sauce- .53
Pizza Sauce- .53
Dried black beans- 1.13
dried kidney beans- 2.46
Dried black beans- 1.13
dried black beans- 1.13
celery- 1.00
gallon of milk- 2.98
3 Green Bell peppers- .96
2 Red Bell Peppers- 1.74
Bendy Straws- 1.48
broccoli crowns- 1.18
Granola Bars fudge dipped- 1.58
coconut granola bars- 1.58
Raisins- 1.49
Cream of chicken soup- .88
cream of chicken soup- .88
cream of mushroom soup- .88
tomato sauce- .53
unsalted butter- 1.98
real lemon juice- 2.15
sour cream- 1.38
potatoes 10#- 1.98
orange juice- 1.48
broccoli florets (frozen)- 1.80
roma tomatoes- 1.83
5lb onions- 1.68
orange juice- 1.48
chow mein noodles- 1.43
olive oil- 4.18
measuring spoons- 2.09
non stick spray- 1.84
grapeseed oil- 7.64
frozen peas- 1.74
taco seasoning- .44
mozzarella- 5.98 (2 lb loaf)
honey tangerines- 3.21
shortening- 2.51
ranch packet .98
medium cheddar cheese- 5.98

Grand total- $114.73
Plus $77 at butcher which includes 2 pot roasts, 4 pork chops, 10 lbs of fresh hamburger, 10 chicken breasts, 2 whole (small) chickens and I can't remember what else! LOL

So for a WHOLE month worth of food (and then some)- $191.73!!*

** Plus an additional $60 tonight because I actually was out of some things that I had not realized so $251.73 and I anticipate another $20 because I forgot to buy vinegar, shampoo and conditioner and dog food. This month it looks like I am going to be about $100 over budget but some things won't have to be bought again before we move.


I made a huge vat of Black Bean soup that I am going to stretch with more rice as I think I put in too much garlic. This is going to be lunches for the rest of the month. For dinner tonight we are having pot roast with veggies. I am hoping to have left overs of that for dinner tomorrow as well- maybe in cottage pie.

I have found that planning your meals in advance really helps with shopping and eases the strain of trying to figure out what to fix for dinner at night. Here is a month's worth of meals. Feel free to use for inspiration if you like. I will try to come up with new and varies menus each month. If you would like my recipes for my dinners let me know. I will try to remember to post them as I go.



Posted - Apr 01 2008 : 1:06:21 PM Show Profile Email Poster Edit Reply Click to see Alee's MSN Messenger address Send Alee a Yahoo! Message Reply with Quote Delete Reply
Dinner Meals
Month- April
1-Chicken Breast with chicken stock made rice, frozen veggies
2-Stir Fry to use left over chicken, rice and veggies.
3-Left over Chili if any left/ If not Spaghetti.
4- Left over Spaghetti with salad and fruit
5- Hamburgers
6- Crock Pot Pot Roast with roasted root veggies (yummy!)
7- Taco Night
8- Cabbage Burgers
9- Baked Fish and Chips (Tillapia Fish battered and baked with potato wedges)
10- Hearty Beef Stew (Made with beef broth, lots of veggies and a bit of stew meat)
11- Meatloaf
12- Chicken Alfredo
13- Salmon and Rice with veggies
14- Pulled Pork
15- Homemade chicken fingers
16- Homemade Pizza
17- Chicken and Dumplings
18- Cuban Rice and Peppers
19- Ranch Chicken and Pasta
20- Cottage Pie
21- Either roasted chicken or small turkey
22- Open Faced turkey or chicken sandwiches
23- Pork Chops with apple sauce and peas
24- Supreme Baked Potatoes
25- Mushroom Burgers
26- Hawaiian Haystacks
27- Pot Roast with Roasted Veggies
28- Sub sandwiches
29- Chicken Enchiladas
30- Calzones

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tie One On

Tina Michelle for over at MaryJanesFarm Chat Forum is hosting a 6 week blog-a-thon inspired by MaryJane at MaryJanesFarm. The first topic is "Tie One On"

My favorite apron is one that was given to me by Meg Rae. It's a maternity apron witha beautiful rose pattern and a pink ruffle.

I had never met Meg or her mom MaryJane before, but they realized that I lived in the same town as them and invited me out to coffee or tea. I was a few months pregnant and was not feeling tops. I accepted their invitation and silently prayed that I would not embarrass myself by being sick all over two people that I respect very much.

I sat waiting for them, realizing I only had vague ideas of what they look like because I hadn't looked at the Ideabook before I left! Oh No! I remembered that MaryJane of course had blonde hair, and Meg had darker hair but the rest was suddenly escaping me. I looked up at every person who walked in the door and smiled- but there was no mistaking seeing MaryJane and Meg when they came in! They were so kind faced and cheerful! We embraced and MaryJane invited me to go to dinner with them at the Co-Op as they had been running late.

At the Co-Op the gifted me with this beautiful apron. Oh I loved it so! And then Meg told me the secret! It was the apron she wore in the Artists in Aprons magazine issue! I about burst out crying right then and there! And to make it even more special- it was my first apron!

My apron collection has since grown a little. I have two aprons that were my great aunt Nora's, though I rarely wear them as they are special. I have a beautiful soaping apron from a soap swap- I believe Smoothiejuice made it. I have also been gifted with an adorable vintage half apron and a jean apron most recently.

I would love to share photos with you all, but I left my battery charger for my camera in Wyoming on accident and what is left of my batter has to be saved for dolly pictures.

With Love-

Alee

Send me your Blog/Etsy Links

Hi Everyone!

I lost my blog/Etsy link list when I changed layouts. I have recreated it as best as I can, but if your's isn't listed, please let me know!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Saga Continues

Well, it took the insurance company 12 days from the day of the accident to get me a rental car. And what got delivered? A clown car. I am not going to mention what make or model as I know somewhere, out there, there is a fan of this particular car. Maybe even two.

_I_ feel cramped in this car, and I am only 5 foot tall! I know my poor husband feels cramped as well. Even Nora doesn't like it much. Maybe she is just picking up on our feelings. It feels like driving a VW Bug, without all the fun-ness of driving a bug. It even has a little clown car horn. Beep Beep.

Anyway, I called the insurance agent and of course they offered me an ultra low settlement. It would have been a disaster if we accepted it, I wouldn't have been able to buy another car to replace ours, not in the market around here. So, luckily I had done my research and knew my car was worth (in market value) just shy of 3x what they offered. I had to threaten to get a lawyer, called lawyer, called the Idaho Insurance Commission, and all that work just to call back to find that they were going to meet my demands! At least they are going to pay me a fair price for the car. Now I just need to see if they will pay lost wages.

On to the next big news! We already picked out a beautiful replacement car! We have shook hands on the deal and they have a wonderful "sold" sticker in the window. We are getting a 1999 Lincoln Town Car with all the bells and whistles except remote start. It only has 43,000 miles on it and a few blemishes to the paint which are no big deal. I can't wait for the insurance check to get here! I want my new car! :D

Nora is walking now. She is doing so great! She is also learning new words. She says Mama and Dada, has said "I love you" in that special way that only a mom or dad will understand, but she's trying, has said "red" when holding a red item. She really loves the Teletubbies show and also Classical Baby from HBO. I try to let her watch too much TV, but she really likes these two shows and will interact with the show by waving goodbye and laughing and such.

Since she is walking now, I bought her some hard soled shoes which are a little harder for her to walk in, but she is getting the hang of it. It is so funny to watch her walk when I first put them on, she would lift her leg up so high and take huge steps!

I am almost done with the quilts for Julia and Doc, Reo, Aria, and Rianna. Four in all. I think they are looking mighty spiffy myself :D Then my next project is Top Secret for now, but I promise and unveiling soon. I hope within the next two weeks or so! I am hoping this new project will bring in some much needed income. Wish me luck!

My Beautiful Nora Girl

Nora's Musings