Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today is my first baby's birthday.  He turns three today.  I can still remembering holding him for the first time and being so overwhelmed with joy.  I couldn't understand how you could love something so much so fast.  God has blessed us with an intelligent, hilarious, and curious son.   I pray that he loves God and serves him.

On this special day we are going to watch my nephew play his first baseball game.  Hopefully the rain will hold off.  Then dinner at home with one of the birthday boy's favorite desserts, sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  Then present:)  Pictures to come.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Simplify my Life Week 3

This weeks challenge was to conquer counter tops, closets, or junk drawers.  I chose a little combo of the desk area (aka throw anything here that you don't know where it goes) and our entryway closet. 
Both scary areas of the house.  When guest come over I usually hide clutter in these areas. Of course, all the clutter stays when the guest depart.

First I began with the desk.  I first started at the top getting rid of anything that didn't belong there.  I put things in piles of where they belong in other parts of the house.  Then I began sorting everything in categories:
  • things that need attention (bills)
  • receipts to save and file
  • greeting cards, stamps
  • tax information

Each has it's own place in or on the desk.  Hopefully this will give us a new start to things.

As for the closet, the major problems were not enough hangers to hang up the coats, items that didn't belong, and the storage bins were not organized any more.  My goal for the closet was to be able to fit our vacuum cleaner in it.  I am tired of sharing a room with it. This closet didn't take much time to defeat.  My husband definitely noticed.

With all this rain I have been able to get a lot of spring organizing accomplished.

What spring cleaning projects have you attempted?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sugar Detox

A couple weeks ago I read of a woman who went on a sugar detox for an entire month. She then blogged about her month long journey to sugar free. She talked in depth of the cravings she had. Now I feel that cravings are natural. They are sometimes our bodies way of letting us know that we are deficient in a certain area. When she began describing her craving it sounded very familiar. I staring thinking about what I was eating and the way I was feeling throughout the day. To be perfectly honest I haven't been eating very well. Work has been very busy and my two boys keep me on the move, all the time.
After I heard my best friend and my sister-in-law were going sugar free for the rest of March I thought there was no better than now. Thanks to Joy the Baker's cinnamon roll biscuits I could use a little less sugar.

Day 1: I feel confident that I can do this, who needs sugar? I don't need sugar. Soon my body will be happy with real food and natural favors. First temptation cinnamon roll biscuits. No problem I sent one with my son and I didn't take a bite. Coffee: normally i have creamer, i replaced it with raw milk and a splash of homemade vanilla extract. Surprisingly satisfying. Things were going well until after lunch. Normally I find a piece or three of sugar candy. Instead I had some granola( I know that has sugar in it.) I also ended up having some pretzels. Not bad overall. I can do better tomorrow'.

Day 2: no more cinnamon roll biscuits;the ants got. The ants got the rest. Thank you hungry ants. After I had bad sugar cravings again. I ate more pretzels. The evening went well until my mother-in-law announced that she had made homemade coconut and banana pudding. I politely declined but later I couldn't resist, i had a small taste it was good, but i was done. Before I went to bed I began to feel the need for something sweet. I opted for decaf tea. That worked pretty well.

Day 3: Sick baby: home from work all day. No bad cravings after lunch. After putting the boys to bed I needed something sweet. I found some dried dates and cherries. They tasted great.

Day 4: Short day a work. This is the first day I don't feel restricted. After lunch I had a few dates
and felt great. I just realized no Starbucks while on this detox, unless it's a latte. No biggie.

Day 5: Again after lunch I had a craving. This time I wasn't at home to find a good snack. So I decided I would go get some unsweetened tea from Quiktrip. It tasted good but didn't help the craving. I found a piece of gum. It help me until it was time to leave. In the evening I clean out my fridge, for simplifying my life, and found a specialty chocolate that I had forgot about. It was sweetened with honey. I ate it and it tasted great and wanted more. There was only one piece thank goodness. That was my first real dessert from the detox. Oh and after dinner mints, are made from sugar. Opps.

Day 6:  Busy day in the garden.  Things went well until dinner time.  I was feeling the need for dessert.  I decided to make a sugar-free, gluten sweet treat.  It was hard to stop once I had a bite.
Day 7: After last night I feel I need to run.  Morning run with the dog helped clear my mind.  New day, new opportunities.  Today started the week long birthday week.  Two parties today.  First party I did great.  It was easy to say no thank.  The second party was a cookout with smores, homemade cookies, and homemade pudding, I only had a small taste.  I didn't realize how much I taste test everything*.

One week and what can I say?
-It has been easier than I thought to say no to sweets that thought would be difficult.
-I taste test a lot more than I realize.  When cooking I try everything.
-I'm surprised that the cravings are still here and this intense.
-I feel like I am eating more especially at dinner.

One week down and feeling strong.  What tips or suggestions do you have from your experiences from a sugar free detox?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Birthday Bannner

This is one of the easiest crafts to create for a birthday party or celebration.  I have made a coulpe of these in the past.  My best friend is using her banner in photographs.  Kids can decorate their room with them.  There are endless possibilities.  So as I promised, here it is. 


Fabric of your choice- I used burlap, I love the natural look to it.  I used old dress shirt of my husband and left over ligthening McQueen and Mater fabric from pajama pants
sewing machine
ribbon or something to sew your triangles to
pins to hold everything in place
contrasting thred

Cut 6-8 triangles from a pattern you have made.  Draw a triangle on a piece of paper, cut it out, then trace around it on the fabric and cut them all out at once.  Remember they don't need to be exact, imperfection is part of the banner.

If you want add triangles on top on triangles now is the time.  To make my triangles smaller I just cut my pattern off one side a bit.  About an inch of thick is what I cut off.  Pin the other triangles on using pins.  Add letters or characters or numbers to your triangles with more pins.  I just cut out McQueen and Mater out of the flannel print that I had.
ZigZag stitch the triangles together.

ZigZag stitch around character.
Pin the triangles to the ribbon and use the sewing machine to connect them. When sewing make sure to take out your pins before you are about to sew over them.  Some keep them in, but I have broken my needle before leaving them in.  Sew over extra triangle and additions.  I used  a zigzag stitch to sew my things together.  I think it gives them a fun look.

Now you are ready to party it up with your new birthday banner.

What fun craft things do you make for your child's birthday celebration?

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to build a cold frame

Two weekends we began the construction of our cold frame.  I hear you snickering, I know it's warm outside and the birds are singing but I wanted a cold frame.  This is not an ordinary this cold frame is Jones style.  Last fall we replaced our screen door and the old one sat in our garage along with everything else. With a little internet research we made a plan.  We decided to use the door to "reuse".  Several boards that we had left over from other project we scramble up.  Once inventory was taken my husband only had toso spend $30 at the hardware store on lumber.  That may seem like a lot but use haven't seen the size of this cold frame yet.
This is not the before photo it is the during.  A true before photo was never not documented for safety purposes.
I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let
s back up a few hours.  First we had to clean our garage.  It was scary.  I refused to walk in the garage because it was SO bad.  We have recently done alot of remodeling so everything gets dumped in the there.  It's not perfect but garages are never perfect unless you are my brother.
Frist we had to measure the size of the screen door that we were using for the top.  Then the side boards were able to be cut. 
I wasn't the "cutter", I was the "board holder".
 We decided not to make a frame, we just used supports to reinforce the sides. 

Squaring the corners
First level of boards.
Supports nailed to the sides

A slant was added to the sides to get more sunlight when facing the south.

Second level and sides were added along with more supports.
An extra board was added to the back of the cold frame to act as a door frame to screw the hinges to.
While constructing this I remember seeing some models with pullout sides.  This was for ventilation purposes.  So after a bit of convincing, my husband allowed me to change the plans.  Now we had to find extra hinges so that the side would swing out.  Good thing we have replaced a few doors lately.  The sides will now have swing out so that the top doesn't have to be open on warm days. 

 After the door was screwed on, husband decided to seal the boards with some extra Thompson Water sealer so the boards won't rot. 
Favorite Photo during the process!

Here is the finished product in use, besides for it being REALLY heavy it's great.  My husband added handles on the side to make it easier to move.  Planted already is sweet basil, lettuce conbination, and parsley, a few of my favorite things.

Happy Planting everyone!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Birthday Week Begins!

Today, waiting for cake, celebrating my husbands special day.

Welcome to the birthday week!  That's right, all week, everyday, we will celebrating someones birthday or anniversary.  It will be a week full of sugar, late nights, and food.   Is it over yet?

Last year, my son's 2nd birthday party.  Yes I was pregnant.
No, I it will be fun and when it's over I will be happy.  I love celebrating and making my family feel important but I don't think it is one of my strengths.  My intentions are good but in the end I always feel like I should have done more.  That I believe comes from an over the top society.  In our household we try to get things simple, the guest list short, and presents minimal.  For the most part we success at this. 
My son a few days ago.
At the end of this week we are celebrating my oldest son's 3rd birthday.  If you ask him how old he is going to be he would say 7.  Yesterday it was 6.  He loves Lightening McQueen.  When asked what I was doing for his birthday, I replied "Not spending money."  For the party, the plan is to have a BBQ.  One way we keep food cost and preparations minimal is to ask our guest(family members) to bring a side.  I learned this smart technique from my mother-in-law always, have your guest bring a dish then you will always have enough food.  It's always worked out for me.  We supply the meat and dessert guest bring a side dish.
Waiting for cake-see the shirt.
My son has decided that he wants lightening McQueen on his birthday cake, last year it was a tractor.  Since I'm not purchasing anything for the party, I will need to get creative.

 Last week I began making him a cars movie banner. This was made from things around my house.  A tutorial on this is coming later this week.

On to the cake.  It will be homemade, of what kind I haven't decided.  I want to use the fabric characters on it.  I'm not sure what to adhere the fabric to, to put on the cake.  That's where you guys come in.  How can I use fabric with cake?  Any suggestions are appreciated.
This the character I want to cut out to be on the cake.

Sugar detox: Cravings

So, if you haven't heard that I on a sugar detox you must not have driven by my house lately, to see that everyone of my family members is living out with the dog. Just kidding, sort of. During this detox I've been getting my fix with eating dates and dried cherries. Yummy.

Tonight we are grilling chicken and having a nice dinner. Dessert sounded like a good addition to the meal. My husband already made a meal option for me. He want to grill a whole chicken with a glaze. He made the glaze out of honey instead of brown sugar. That's on one of the many reasons I love him, for his thoughtfulness. Back to dessert. We had a couple of containers of strawberries from the store, which shouldn't have bought because they aren't in season. And they don't taste good. I decided I wanted to make a gluten and sugar free option. Last Mothers' Day I made a berry pie. That's sounds like a great way to use the not so good strawberries.  The crust is made of nuts, dates and salt. The filling is made of fresh strawberries and blended frozen berries. You know you want some.

Here's the run down. Pulse 2 cups almonds in a food processor. I use a cut known as butterstock. Pulse until they they are grainy like sand, but they should stick to together like wet sand. If your have you pulse too long your sand mixture will look more like peanut better.  (That's because you have made almond butter, which is also good.) Add 1 cup of dates and a teaspoon of sea salt. Make sure you pit them the dates. The seed can chip teeth. Place the mixed ingredients in a pie pan. Using your hands press the mixture in the pan forming the crust. If the crust appears crumbly add a tablespoon of grapeseed oil. It will help the crust hold together nicely.  Slice about 3 cups of strawberries and place them on top of the crust.  Take 2 cups of fresh or frozen berries and blend them in a blender until smooth. If you want more sweetness like sauce, add up to a 1/2 cup agave nectar.   Spoon the berry sauce onto the pie and serve immediately.  Wait for your delighted dining friends to smile.

This dessert hit the spot. It isn't the most frugal dessert, but it is defiantly not lacking flavor. What is your family's favorite sugar-free dessert?