05 February 2014

{crunchy living} cloth diapering journey: part 1

As many of you know, our fourth little bundle of joy is due to arrive in April! We are over the moon excited to welcome her into our family.

Once I was past my morning sickness (after Friday, though, I'm wondering if I'm really over it!) and began accepting the reality of another child in our family, I got pumped thinking about what I will do the same as I did with the other three and what I will do differently.

I cloth diapered our second child for three months. At that time, bumGenius 2.0s were the only cloth diaper in my arsenal, and I truly enjoyed her little cloth-covered bum. That is, until I got pregnant with Munchkin #3. At that point, this pregnant momma could not handle the smell and care of cloth diapers. So, much to my chagrin, back to disposables we went.

Now that I am five years past our initial cloth diapering experience, I am armed and ready to try again! This time, though we are going with prefolds and covers. I am anxious to see if I love them as much as I think I am going to.

As of right now, our little baskets are full of Green Mountain Diaper prefolds (24 yellows and 36 oranges), Ecobaby Organics cloth diapers (4 diapers that came with 2 additional inserts each), Assunta One Size Pocket Diapers (2), Bummis Super Brite (Newborn) diaper covers (2) , Flip diaper covers (3) and Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap covers (4) and Thirsties Duo Wrap Original Aplix covers (2).

GMD yellow newborn prefold
GMD orange small prefold 
Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap Covers 
Inside Tag of Snap Covers
Thirsties Original Aplix Covers
Bummis Newborn Brite Covers {notice the lower cut to accommodate the umbilical cord stump!)
Super Brite Tag
Assunta One Size Pocket Diapers
Two Flips w/ Snaps, One Flip w/ Aplix 
Ecobaby Organics Diaper w/ Two Additional Inserts
This is just the beginning of our cloth diapering journey. Stay tuned for follow-up posts!

Cloth diapers offer many wonderful health benefits for baby and financial benefits for our budget! I hope cloth diapering is something we can be successful with. If not, though, we'll adapt. :)

I'd love to know...
Do you cloth diaper?
Which ones do you love?
If you didn't/haven't cloth diapered, is it something you would consider?

Blessings to you and yours,

03 February 2014

{being wife & momma} when things don't go as planned

As a parent, I have a timeline in my mind as to when, where and how I want to share pertinent life information with my children.

So...what do I do when the timeline shatters? When someone else takes the responsibility upon himself to reveal a certain "truth" to my child before I'm ready for my child to be introduced to the subject at hand.

photo: www.thebettermom.com
My husband and I made the decision, before I even birthed our first son, that we will be open and honest about the anatomy of our bodies and the beauty of sex. In my mind, if a private body part is given a nickname or isn't talked about at all, the impression is given that the part of the body that needs addressing is dirty or "something we shouldn't talk about". If you desire a child who will open up to you during late childhood and adolescence, it is imperative that training begin from the get-go of life.

When I first began using the words "penis" and "vagina", I felt terribly uncomfortable. However, my audience was my two month old son and, later, my two month old daughter. It was helpful to practice with them! They didn't (and still don't) feel embarrassed by these words. Since my husband and I have never made a big deal of these words, my children use them in context and don't feel any shame. I think some people must think that if they use these words in their home that their children will start blurting them out in public. Not so...at least not in our family. :) They have no context past the body part. My children, thankfully, do not use them inappropriately.

The question that beckons this blog post is this:

"What do I do when my child hears the word/learns about sex before I'm ready for him to?"

Thanks to books by Jim Burns, I have compiled a few words of advice/guidance based on his thoughts and my own. 

One- God can take any unfortunate situation and form it into something beautiful. So...I challenge you to do this. Ask God how you can transform this tragedy into a blessing for your child. Look at it this way; you now have the perfect opportunity to dispel any myths he might be forming in his mind or any myths that may have been shared with him. When we stop to think about the beautiful simplicities and amazing complexities of our sexuality, we can marvel at how perfectly wonderful the LORD made us.

Two- If your child has come to you first, commend her for coming to you with this information. Let her know you're proud of her for sharing with you...that you always want her to come to you with anything on her heart and mind. Whether you're ready for this conversation or not, it's here, and you already know you want to be the one to share the birds and the bees with her!

Three- Communicate with simple and direct answers. Don't overwhelm her with the minutia of it all. However, don't hem-haw around the subject either. Our children are smart enough to know when we're hiding or embarrassed about things. Again, call body parts what they are. When you give them nicknames, it gives the impression that they're dirty or "something we shouldn't talk about". 

Four- When you begin a conversation with your child regarding sexual matters, watch for signs that your child has "checked out" of the conversation. This usually means you've answered his question or you've gone past his scope of interest or knowledge. The main thing, in my opinion, is start simple and work your way up. Ask questions. "What do you think?" "What else would you like to know?"

Five- This is the perfect time to remind her that her body belongs to her. Sometimes doctors and nurses need to see/touch our private parts in order to keep us healthy, and sometimes people who care for us need to help keep us clean, etc., but no one is ever to abuse her body and she should tell you if someone does.

Six- Most importantly, remember that The LORD gave you your child to train! Talk with him about your family's values. Find teachable moments. Show him affection in meaningful, appropriate ways. PRAY for guidance, wisdom and the right words.

You can do this!

I'd love to know...
What are some other things you would suggest?
Have you struggled with this or been overwhelmed with your child knowing too much too soon?

Blessings to you and yours.

31 January 2014

{recipe} s'mores cupcakes

Well, it looks like I'm two for two on the baked good recipe sharing. :) I really need you to believe me when I say we've backed off considerably in this department over the last year. However, having a cupcake business out of my home leaves me with a generous number of cake, cookie, bread and pie recipes to share with you.

Last year, these cupcakes were my best seller during February. There were many happy chocolate lovers on Valentine's Day in my neck of the woods. Not only are they fun to make, but they're even more fun to devour. And devour is all you can really do with these!

Don't be afraid to put your apron on and give them a shot. 

{However, be careful about putting pictures of them on Facebook or Twitter, because you will quickly have people lined up at your door ready to sample these delightfully delicious treats.}

I love the following pictures, because they show you the exact progression of the s'mores cupcake. Be sure and print out the recipe at the end of the blog, and then let me know if you make them and what you (and all your new friends) think! ;)

Cut out a piece of graham cracker using a circle cookie/biscuit cutter and place in the bottom of your cupcake liner.

Lay two pieces of a Hershey bar on top of the graham cracker.

Sprinkle these cute little jet puffed marshmallow bits on top of the first two items.

Pour in batter about 3/4 of the way up the liner.

Bake. Savor the aroma. Pull out of the oven. Try not to devour all of them.

Put a blob of marshmallow creme on top of the cooled cupcake and broil until slightly brown. Take out, let cool for a few minutes and gently press a Hershey piece into the creme.
Once the cupcake is done, feel free to top with buttercream icing. It's always fun to see a person's reaction when they realize there's a Hershey's piece in between the icing and marshmallow creme.

Click here for a printable recipe!

I'd love to know...
Are you going to make them?
How many did you eat? {heeheehee}

Blessings to you and yours.

29 January 2014

{being wife & momma} what do you do when amazon messes up?

I feel like our family alone must be keeping Amazon Prime up and running. We probably make two or three orders a week.

Rarely, have we had issues.

However, when I received my box of Eco Nuts yesterday, I noticed a discrepancy. Online, the picture states that the box is 20.5 ounces. Well, my box was 16 ounces. That's a big difference!

And, although it was already 7:45 in the evening, I called Amazon's customer service number (1-888-280-3321) in hopes that someone could help me. Well, guess what?! Mary answered my call. Yay!

I explained to her the situation and she offered me a refund for the difference in the ounces. She put me on hold for a few minutes while she calculated. I also calculated. Based on the ounce-age difference, my refund should've been $7.03, which I would've been more than happy with. However, she came back on the line and gave me a refund of $15.99. 

$15.99! Now, that's customer service. Amazon has one happy, satisfied, thrilled, returning {I think you get the picture!} customer.

So, what's the moral of this story? For me, it's this...

As the wife and momma of this family, it is my job to spend the money my husband works so hard to bring home in wise ways. It is important for me to double check receipts, amounts and ounces. It is imperative that I compare prices and do my best to get the most for our money. And if something is wrong, SPEAK UP! Be kind about it, but speak up. You never know when you're going to get more back than you thought. :)

I'd love to know what you think!
Have you been pleased with a certain company's response to a mistake?

Blessings to you and yours,

{crunchy living} homemade soap berries liquid laundry detergent

My parents call me their hippie child. It's okay...I can handle it. :) 

I do things in unconventional ways. Actually, I prefer to think that I am living life in an extremely conventional manner. After all, "natural" is the way humans lived life for thousands of years. Only in the last century has our world become bombarded with the term "artificial". 

Nonetheless...on to today's post! 

I am so over exposing my family to unnecessary toxins! Because of this, I am slowly but surely eliminating commercial products and replacing them with products I make right here at home. Not only is it extremely cost-effective, but I am now in control of the ingredients we put on our skin, in our bodies and in our home. Also, it's fun!

In my never-ending quest to find recipes that contain ingredients I deem worthy of my family's consumption, I finally found a recipe for homemade liquid laundry detergent that doesn't use Borax. {The safety of Borax is a debatable topic. Some think its fine. Others think it isn't. I'd rather be safe than sorry.} I really appreciate Amanda's blog and have gleaned so much from it over the last month or so. Go on over and check her out by clicking on the recipe link above.

In essence, I used her recipe. However, if you know me at all, you already know I made a few tweaks. All in all, though, her recipe is spot on.

Here is exactly what I did before I started cooking the concoction...

1) I ordered a 360-load box of Eco Nuts Organic Laundry Soap on Amazon. (To read about the discrepancy in my order and what Amazon did to take care of it, click here.)

2) I went to Walmart and purchased Heinz Vinegar and a jug of distilled water. You can purchase Heinz Vinegar on Amazon and many other wonderful websites, but why?! It's $2.82 for a gallon at Walmart. {Why Heinz vinegar? It is made of grains and not petroleum. Now, I'm not sure if the grains are non-GMO, but would you choose petroleum over non-GMO grains? I wouldn't.)

3) I pulled out my trusty Dutch Oven, large glass batter bowl from Pampered Chef and a mesh strainer.

Here is exactly what I did to cook the concoction...

1) I poured the Eco Nuts, vinegar and water into my Dutch Oven and brought it to a low boil. (I tripled the recipe, so here are the measurements I poured in: 3 cups Eco Nuts, 1.5 cups vinegar, 12 cups water).

2) Once the boil started rolling, I set my timer for 30 minutes and lowered the heat, so that the mixture was simmering. During that 30 minutes of simmering, I kept the lid on {except for every five minutes when I took the lid off, mashed the berries down with a slotted spoon and stirred well}.

3) After the initial 30 minutes were up, I took the lid off, set the timer for another 30 minutes and continued the mashing and stirring every five minutes.

{A word of caution...this stuff DOES NOT have a pleasant smell. I turned our vent-a-hood on high and opened a window. Don't say I didn't warn you!}

4) Turn off the heat, and immediately strain the mixture by placing the strainer on top of your large glass container and pouring the mixture through the strainer. I did this in my sink to avoid any possible spillage on the counter.

5) Mourn your graveyard of Eco Nuts and compost or throw them away. 

6) Pour your liquid laundry detergent into a water tight storage container(s). Please let your detergent cool before closing the lid.

This is the one I purchased for myself off Amazon and I love it! It easily holds 5 cups of detergent, and since I only need 1 T. per load since I have an HE washer, this will give me approximately 80 loads! The smaller jars in my picture can be found here.
Click here for a printable recipe!

I'd love to know...
What do you think? Are you going to try it?!
Do you already have a favorite homemade laundry detergent recipe? Please share below!

Blessings to you and yours,

28 January 2014

{homemaking} the cluttered table

Does your kitchen or dining room table ever drive you to the point of insanity? 


When did it become okay for these beautiful pieces of furniture to become the catch all for hats, toys, receipts and purses?

Our dining room table is tucked away at the front of the house and is {normally} cleared off and ready for the next meal. However our adorable little Jokkmokk kitchen table from Ikea is "conveniently" located by the bottom of the staircase and the door going to the garage, which is where we most often enter and exit our house. Because of this, children and adults alike feel the apparent magnetic pull from the wooden table to drop their stuff. Oh, the STUFF!

So, what do you do to resist the magnetic pull? {I'm so glad you asked!}

You SET THE TABLE. At least that's what I finally did yesterday. If the table is set, it makes it quite difficult to throw stuff onto the flat piece of elevated wood. If you're bound and determined to drop off your junk, of course it can be done. It just proves to be a more taxing task. 

"How have we been doing?" you ask. 

Well, for the last 24 hours, our little table has been stuff-free!

The settings don't have to be elaborate. I would suggest putting out placemats, plates, napkins and silverware, at least. If you only put out placemats without dishes on top, the temptation is too strong to lay your stuff on top of them. PLUS, it makes for a beautiful table. These are some cloth napkins I have my eye on. If there is ever a day I can justify the price, I will buy them. Otherwise, I might just have to go to JoAnn and purchase material to make my own...might be more fun anyway!

Keeping my home tidy is important to me. It's not spotless. With three, almost four, kids, spotless is nearly impossible. However, in my opinion, it's my job to keep it comfortable and clutter free. Who wants to walk into a house that's in shambles? I know I sure don't!

So, if you're wondering where to start when it comes to organizing your house, the kitchen table might be the perfect place for you to begin!

I'd love to know...
What have you done to eliminate the table clutter?
Do you feel like this is a job you could spend five minutes tackling right now? {I promise you'll feel so accomplished!}

Blessings to you and yours.

27 January 2014

{faith} you will have trouble

Disheartening and upsetting news is all around us. It infiltrates our lives, and if you're like me, I can quickly let it effect my mood in a negative way. I tend to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders...something that is not mine to carry. Jesus has overcome the world and all of its past, present and future weight. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). So, what do we do when we have trouble...when our loved ones have trouble?

Sarah Young's book, Jesus Calling, never fails to bring me truth and wisdom at the exact time I need it. Jesus works amazingly that way. Through His word and through His people. Here is yesterday's devotional.

Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life. Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties. This is a false hope! As I told My disciples, in the world you will have trouble. Link your hope not to problem solving in this life but to the promise of an eternity of problem-free life in heaven. Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, pour your energy into seeking Me: the Perfect One.
It is possible to enjoy Me and glorify Me in the midst of adverse circumstances. In fact, My Light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark. That kind of trust is supernatural: a production of My indwelling Spirit. When things seem all wrong, trust Me anyway. I am much less interested in right circumstances than in right responses to whatever comes your way.

That last line kicked me in the gut yesterday. Humanly, I want right circumstances in this life. However, this life is preparation for the next, and the next life is the perfect one. So, in preparation for heaven and with His help, I will not fear bad news. I will cling to the ONE who is steadfast and true (Psalm 112:7).

I'd love to know...
How do you cope with hard times or bad news? 
What verses have brought you comfort and strength?

Blessings to you and yours.

This post was shared on "Wise Woman Linkup" on 9.17.14.

23 January 2014

{recipe} strawberry blueberry bread recipe

Over the last year, I have really cut back on making baked goods. Even though I LOVE to bake, baked goods send our blood sugar levels into roller coaster mode and leave us depleted of energy and nutrients. As a family, we really are doing our best to eat whole foods and limit things like this to "every once in a while". But for tonight...

You've got to make this bread.

For real.

You won't be sorry.

I promise.

When I make this amazing bread, it makes 6 dozen muffins and a medium sized bread loaf. I use my 6 qt. KitchenAid stand mixer. You can always cut the recipe in half. I just prefer to make lots and freeze what we don't immediately devour for breakfasts over the next week!

So, without further ado...the recipe.

Strawberry Blueberry Bread/Muffins
{Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes for bread or 20-25 minutes for muffins}

4 sticks of softened butter
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of honey (You can omit the honey and use 4 cups of sugar, if you prefer.)

Beat in:
4 eggs

2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 2/3 cups of white whole wheat flour (If you don't have whole wheat flour, just use all-purpose.)
8 teaspoons (2 T. and 2 t.) of baking powder

S-l-o-w-l-y incorporate:
1 1/3 cups of milk (I used organic 1%.)
1 1/3 cups of a pureed mixture of strawberries and blueberries (My berries were frozen. So that they would puree, I put six ounces of each berry plus about 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk into our magic bullet and turned it on until everything was incorporated. Then I added 1 1/3 cups of that mixture to the batter.)
2 teaspoons of vanilla

I'd love to know...
Does your family love baked goods as much as mine does? 
What are you doing to help make your breads a bit {or a lot} more healthy?!

Blessings of peace to you and yours.