Tuesday, December 31, 2013

holidays

A happy holiday we had.

We started Christmas in Osh Kosh with my step-fathers family. We had fun in the pool, though the hot tub was out of order. We had pizza (bad idea) the dairy had me in pain a few days later. The girls love staying in a hotel, they enjoyed staying up way too late eating popcorn!

It was great to see the extended family. We brought our own food to avoid tummy troubles. It was a great day.

The kids got a few great gifts, only a few are rather irritating. I should not have put the batteries in the puzzles-we like them better when they don't make noise. Craft items are always loved by the kids!

We got home and unloaded our loot-and had Christmas Eve at home. We gave the kids their gift a day early. It was so much fun to watch them play pretend all day! We made them a kitchen set and they LOVED IT!!

I made a turkey and some other food. My green bean casserole-I burnt the onions... We tried brussel sprouts for the first time and I LOVED THEM!! I cannot wait to have them again. We invited the in-laws over to share our feast, there was a lot of food and it is always nice to share. The girls and I made cookies during the day (I made them...they were too busy making pretend cookies...)

Christmas morning was great! I woke up and made homemade monkey bread (that the girls didn't like...) Zariah woke up first and opened her stocking. She was so excited to find an elephant figurine in it! The girls didn't realize what their telescope was at first, once they realized they were super excited!
After our Christmas morning we went to the inlaws and the kids got way too many gifts. There were a few great gifts, but still just TOO much. I loved my stocking and main gift from them. I got a big clothes rack (YAY!) and in my stocking was raw local honey, felted soap (WANTED SOO BADLY!), and wool mittens!!

Overall, Christmas was great. It was still a bit stressful. We did not go all out this year on décor, we actually didn't do much at all. I hope my kids enjoyed their holiday.

This past weekend, we did Christmas at my moms house. It was nice.

My hope is that each year, the holidays simplify more and more. It is nice to have good quality time with family, and bring home less junk.

A note about gifting my children:

I love and care for the people that buy for my children (and us adults) which is why I hate to see them waste their hard earned money on things the kids do not want or need. I feel bad when we have to re-gift items that are lovingly bought for my children. I feel horrible when we have to return items to the store. This is the reason we make suggestions for gifting, and also why we appreciate it when less is given. I feel WORSE yet, when the kids are "excited" about a gift-we open it-keep it...and then the kids do not touch it after the holiday is over! The item ends up donated, we are teaching the kids that it is ok to just toss things, instead of teaching them to love what they have. You cannot LOVE your item if you have too many. It is too easy for forget about it-which is sad! I do not want my kids to think it is OK to just toss something when you get something new. I want them to appreciate what they have, and be contented with less. I am trying to teach through example...

My kids want for nothing really, they have a lot! I do feel that Christmas *and most birthdays and holidays* are way too commercialized! When people buy for my kids, I am not sure they actually THINK about the children. People feel good about buying things, but I do not know that they pay attention to what the kids really truly NEED or WANT. Many gifts are made to make the gifter feel good about themselves, or out of obligation-and what is the point of that? That new Barbie-probably won't be played with-but a gift of your time-that will make their little hearts grow and memories that stick!

The kids were not gifted "activities" (music, art, gymnastics, swimming) which I know they truly want. I do not want my kids to take these activities for granted (with me just paying for them...) and in all honesty, I am not sure I can afford them this time around. Gymnastics starts next week-and I do not know if we will be there.
Maybe, I should have saved the $200+ that I spent on the telescope and paid for gymnastics...maybe? I feel that the telescope was needed for homeschooling, and for our family. We will use it (hopefully) for years to come, AS A FAMILY. My goal is for most of our purchases from here on out to benefit family time.

As for family gifting ideas-I think gifts that give all year long would be great! These are gifts that the whole family would enjoy-they are a little more expensive, but they help us spend time as a family, and make memories together, which is what really matters!

1-Symons membership $36/month or $429 first year (Kind of expensive-which is why we don't have one!)
2- State park pass $25/year
3-county park pass (Redstone...)
4-money towards gymnastics (I pay 120 for 12 weeks for ONE child! it is $225 for both girls for 3 months) $1100/year with tumbling meets figured in (OUCH-no wonder I am broke!)
5-movie theater gift certificates
6-tickets for robot world or other dells attractions
7-Money for their future is always a great gift-maybe not so fun to open, but they will love you for it later in life!
8-outdoor fun (add on to swing set, hiking supplies-new hiking boots for everyone!!)

SOO if we could break down gifting just a little-if you spend $100-$150 on each of my kids plus Nathan and Myself normally (think grandparents)($500-750 total) instead of buying a bunch of little stuff you could do this:
A) pay for a Symons membership $430 (you still have $70-320 left over) you can call it good and get each kid a coloring book (less than $5) so they have something "fun" to open, maybe some beads for the big kids. Your gift would be under $500 for the WHOLE family and would be used EVERY WEEK ALL YEAR LONG!!
B) Buy a state park pass ($25) and a county park pass for redstone ($25), some organic travel snacks for hiking (fruit leathers, organic granola -check GF and safe please) hiking boots for everyone less than $50 for each big kid and about $100 for the adults. You are looking at $350 spent on a gift that gets us outside and bonding as a family! (I also need a GOOD hiking pack for torrin-but need to find a good one $150+?)
C) mix a little of everything from the above list! If you need ideas for stores the kids like-let me know! They like picking out their own clothes-and honestly do not need much for clothes. They love craft items so supplies or money to buy crafts is always awesome!
**We homeschool, so anything that gets us out of the house every so often is very much appreciated! Going to the movies a few times a year is fun for us-it is like $20 for the kids and myself, which isn't bad-but we are always hungry afterwards and it would be nice to have some extra cash to take them to a safe place to eat!



OF COURSE-a Vitamix would be great!! It is super expensive, but our whole family would LOVE one! We love smoothies and dips!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

tough days

Last night, I decided to try a homemade deep conditioner recipe I found on Pinterest. It consisted of coconut milk, oil, and honey. Sounded simple, I was game!

Well, I could not get through my hair. It was horrible.

The reason I tried this recipe, I am out of conditioner.

The shampoo I have been using (Natures gate-biotin formula) leaves me needing to wash my hair more than twice a week if we are going to be out. If I am staying home, it really is not too bad.

Well, today I looked like a grease-ball! After I finally got a combo through my hair, I was able to pull it up into a bun, but you can really see my shiny hair. I guess going out into the world with greasy (clean) hair is not so bad, right?

So, today was a busy day. We knew today was going to be busy. In fact, I printed school sheets to go,(last night!!) so that the kids would not miss out on schooling just because we had places to be!

We started out day with smoothies and then headed out the door. Our first stop was the local dent bent store. Now, most of the stuff they  carry is hardly "food", it is over-processed GMO junk, BUT every now and then I do find some good deals!! I know buying food in a can is not ideal, but this past summer was my first year canning anything, and we are already out of tomatoes and other items.
What I brought home:

-5 boxes of Annie's Gluten Free bunny cookies , I know they have a soy ingredient in them, they are NOT perfect-however, the kids really enjoy these and they are not an every day item-they are for a treat ONCE in a while. I paid $1.50/box (the local store has these for around 6-7$ each)

-5 cans of muir glen diced tomatoes for $0.50/can (SCORE) Now, I know that buying tomatoes in a can is not ideal, but again-canning did NOT go well, and we love tomatoes. I choose to buy ORGANIC tomatoes as I feel they are the lesser evil.

-1 package of Naty's natural wipes $2.25 ; we do not use wipes, but this child has had a bug, and lots of pooping, having a package of decent wipes with me in public is a lot better than messing with dry rags HOPING I have enough water to wet them!

-1 package of Betty Crocker GF sugar cookie mix. $2.25 Again, I do NOT support Betty Crocker what so ever, my family likes to make sugar cookies for Christmas, but we do not love them enough to make a whole batch of gf cookies. (We prefer the un-thin mint recipe we found last year!) I did check the ingredients, and since it was corn free, I felt ok buying it as a "once" kind of purchase.

-5 cans of Amy's Organic soup $0.75/can The girls picked these out, I think they were lentil soup??

Total it up and I am well under $20!! SCORE! Organic (mostly) and gluten free, I easily would have paid $20 for 4-5 boxes of the bunny cookies (though I would not have bought that many at full price!)

Now, when we finished up at that store, I headed to the Clinic to get my blood drawn. I had my blood checked about a month ago because I was missing my period a lot. Now, I am still nursing Torrin (over 15 months right now)  Well...their computers were down-so no blood draw for me!

Headed over and got chicken food and shavings at the local feed store. He wrote down that my feed was $16 instead of $22-being the awesomely honest person I am-I told him...he thanked me-it felt good!

We are going to skip the part about me stopping at JCP to return a bra-and the cashier lady being a total dumbass and me having to tell her not once but three times to find someone else for me to deal with. Once blondie got herself together she smiled and acted like life was grand. It did not have to get that complicated-I buy item online at sale price-it doesn't work for me-so we exchange it for the correct size-without me paying more...NO I will not be picking up an order, I have the order in my hands..AHHHH

When we got home, I was dealing with a child who is making me question my parenting AGAIN. Now, I am not going to badmouth how my mother parented. She did the best she could with what she had. As a single mom, times were extremely tough. I am going to say, I am way different than my mom. There are times when I swear I sound just like her, and I shouldn't. My life is a lot easier than hers was. I have a husband who supports my decisions. I stay home with my kids, I get to be apart of their lives every day. I do not have to choose between work trips that pay the bills, and park days.
I want to do a lot less yelling and fighting, and behavior correcting than I have been. I know how I want to raise my children, I just need the strength to do so.

I am thinking, I do not have a clue what I am doing! I love my kids-like bad...so much it hurts. I would do anything for them. I have been doing a lot of talking about simplifying things, and I think I should look at less of the material things and more so at my parenting. My parenting style, and homeschooling-they need simplified. We need to do more loving, and less fighting. It is a lot harder than it sounds! It is so easy to correct someone for doing something annoying-I am instead trying to get everyone to compliment  on our own uniqueness. I listen to how the girls talk to each other, and it hurts me that they are so harsh. I just want us all to respect each other and be loving.

Friday, November 29, 2013

After turkey day

So, our Turkey day meal was GOOD. We had green bean casserole, it was AH-MAZE-ING!! I used a recipe from another blog-and tweaked it to fit our dietary needs.
Recipe was changed by using just normal white mushrooms-I used about 10-12 oz as I did not have a full lb of them. I also used regular onions. My flour substitute was oat flour (fresh ground), and I used almond milk vs cows milk. Lastly, I only had organic canned green beans so I used those instead of frozen. It was good, even Nathan enjoyed it!!
I made a strawberry pie-using my normal apple pie crust recipe. It was SOOO good! My pumpkin pie was not very good, I am going to have to buy some coconut ice cream for us to finish it, it is too spice intense the way it is.
We wrapped the turkey in bacon-not sure it made a difference in the way the bird tasted, but it was nice to add to the potatoes! We have a LOT of turkey leftover, and we do not use a microwave, so I am going to have to make some casseroles!! We cleaned the carcass and started a bone broth in the cooker right away, my house smells SOOO good right now!!
My dressing almost messed up the whole meal! I started it later than I should have, so it was not done when everything else was. Overall, it only added 30 minutes to our wait time which was not bad at all.  We bought 2 loaves of gf bread and just toasted it with EVOO and seasoning, chopped up and added celery, onion, and stock. Not the healthiest thing in the world, but we do not eat dressing all year long, only for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Our meal was simple and delicious! We wrote on a "tree" what we were thankful for. Our thankful tree included things from food (pie, turkey...) to family and a roof over our heads. It was sweet and simple, and the kids enjoyed doing it.
After we ate and cleaned up, I really just wanted to pass out! We took the kids to see the lights in the park, it was SO nice! Torrin was so excited, he kept jabbering away as we went by all of the lights. We do plan to go back again in a week or so when they get them all done.
Tomorrow, we have thanksgiving at my moms house. Hopefully it goes well. I know thanksgiving is about being thankful for what you have and who you have in your life. I must say, there is nothing better than the simplicity of staying in and spending the day with family!!

Thinking about thanksgiving-forgot to post this when it was time!

So, Monday night I went to (sigh) walmart. I got some organic goodies so I do not need to go shopping again before thanksgiving. (I hope!)  I picked up the stuff to make gluten free dressing, and hopefully for me to be able to make green bean casserole this year! Last year gfdf kicked my butt on the casserole, the flavor was good, but it was a runny mess!

While at walmart, I got the courage to walk up and reintroduce myself to my younger cousin Leah. I think I surprised her, but she seemed sweet. I had butterflies in my stomach, but I did it! I am thankful for my courage to go up and say hi, and I hope it helps my family. I miss the family that chooses to not act like family, it makes me sad. I cannot go through life waiting on others though, I have to do  what works for our family and if we lose people along the way, then it wasn't meant to be.

Right now, I am trying to plan my thanksgiving feast! I have been on Pinterest trying to find recipes that work for us. I made some apple pumpkin muffins this morning, the flavor was perfect, but I tweaked the recipe a little too much and they were a bit mushy.

Pumpkin pie...need help! Do I do...

Last years filling- this filling was very good, but since I know it is good, I am thinking I might try something new...the crust was edible but not enjoyable. (Gotta love messing with gf recipes!) 
1 3/4c pumpkin, 
3/4c sugar,
2egg,
3/4almond milk
1/2tsp vanilla,
1/2 tsp slt,
 1/2 tsp cinnamon,
 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice

With New crust
Ingredients
1¼ cups rolled oats
½ cup pecan halves (2 ounces)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 Medjool dates (2½ ounces)
1½ tablespoons non-dairy milk

New pie ideas

Ingredients
This pie is to be made a day in advance so it can set well...

8 Medjool dates (4 ounces), pitted and chopped
¾ cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup rolled oats, ground into flour (or ¼ cup flour)
1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 can (15 ounces) cooked pumpkin (not “pumpkin pie mix”), or 1½ cups

The second new pie to try is an apple butter pumpkin pie...

1 cup apple butter 
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup coconut milk, full fat
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp arrowroot powder
½ tsp cinnamon, if needed
pinch of sea salt
Sweetener, adjust to taste , maple syrup
3 eggs, whisked
Optional Garnish: coconut whipped cream (made with the fat of top of 1 can of coconut milk

I've decided I want to use the new crust recipe..but I cannot decide which pie sounds best

Monday, November 25, 2013

pumpkin WHAT

I am trying to find a good pumpkin pie recipe. Something pumpkin needs to happen! Last year, the pie was good, but the crust was iffy. I think it was the millet flour.

I found this pie recipe on pinterest and am thinking of making it-I do need to pick up some parchment paper, foil and pecans!

I found an amazing looking blondie recipe, but I do not understand how to sub out ingredients...it has all sorts of extracts and substitutes that I do not bake with. I am thinking the powdered stuff is powdered sugar-which I can just buy organic powdered sugar..no biggie. I do wonder if the butter and stevia extract would be missing flavor if I left them out though.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Family Traditions, holidays...

Right now, we are doing a lot of holiday planning. We want to simplify down to the basics. We want our children to remember these things when they are grown. We want simple goodness. I do wish we had skipped Santa, and some of the "magic" items..as I am sure there are ways to make the holidays special and magical without those things. What is done...is done...so Santa stays-but we are making this simpler! This will start with a real tree, decorated with our memory ornaments...some lights, and not much else. I am going to skip a lot of the "clutter" décor as it is just tacky and not very fun. We do intend to make it feel "Christmassy" but without crap everywhere. (Man do I hate window clings...)

Today is Sunday, which is a "school" day for us. It is a relaxed, 2-3 hour, math, reading and writing school day---kind of like the other 5 days in our school week! We do school almost every day. Even yesterday, our "off day" we had a tumbling meet. Zarina got 2nd, Zariah got 7th (they are in different levels, Zariah got a 9.4? but still got 7th place...she did great!) we had a lesson on losing, winning, scores...being happy for people who placed higher...and lots of other touchy topics. We then headed to Joanns to get more felt (CANNOT HAVE ENOUGH FELT!!) and then over to Kohls, where I spent way too much on sheets, but I NEED SHEETS. I only wish I could afford organic cotton...I washed and dried these, put them on my bed and the "No wrinkle" sheets WRINKLED. I might take them back and foot the bill for organic cotton!

Back on topic...

Today, being a "school day", we are going to touch on the subject of traditions. We are planning on figuring out what we NEED/WANT out of each holiday as a family, and what kinds of things make us so happy we want to repeat them every year. So far, we know we want to go see the lights in town on Thanksgiving night after we eat our yummy turkey...maybe pop some popcorn on the stove, fix everyone a mug of tea, pop a Christmas cd in the car and head out!! We have every intention of skipping the black Friday madness, as we NEED nothing other than the precious memories we make by spending time together. (this is easier said than done, as we are human, and there is always something to "want" BUT  we hope to scale things back by ignoring more of the holiday flyers!! That said, it is a good time to make big purchases --the car we just bought--saved a LOT by buying this time of year...also the financing on new appliances when you are in the market for them-the deals are way better this time of year...) BACK ON TOPIC!!!

As a yearly tradition, I am also thinking of gifting new a new p.j. set to each child on Christmas Eve, we would then sit and read some holiday stories and maybe watch a movie...we need to figure out what movies we want to watch each year and when, as well as what books we want to be a tradition.

A couple of years ago, I bought Prancer (DVD) for my mother, I remember her loving the movie and us watching it every year...I hope to do the same with my children!!  I do know that watching a movie is not the best use of "family time", but I also know my children enjoy watching movies, and they appreciate them more now that they are not allowed to just watch tv for the hell of it! Having 3-4 holiday movies to look forward to will be something they treasure! 

The girls are more into games now, so I would love to set up game nights that we do all year long, not just in December...I really think I need a big family calendar that we pencil EVERYTHING onto-including washing bedding as I know it has been at least 2 weeks since I washed the girls bedding-it is in the washer now!

Nathan's Christmas movie choices
Home Alone 2
Christmas Story

Mom's is "Prancer" so I am thinking we watch Prancer at moms house every thanksgiving...we normally do this anyway-but I am thinking we stick with it for sure!!

I am thinking we pick 1 or 2 movies for each weekend and watch them as a family!

While Zariah finishes up her school work, and Zarina picks up their bedroom, Torrin is taking a nap and I am on Amazon trying to finish up Christmas shopping! This year, I think I am putting aside the Santa gifts I had bought already (dino dig-Zarina, duct tape party-Zariah) and save them for their Easter Baskets. In honor of simplifying things, I am looking at buying them a telescope! I know they would love the gifts, (and I would hate them...) but a telescope seems like something they would truly enjoy and it is educational. Now, I know it could be argued that the digging for dinos is educational, and so is designing handbags out of tape...or that I already purchased them so might as well...WELL, I want to stick with LESS IS MORE and have them appreciate what they get. I feel they will appreciate their gifts more if there is LESS. Also, the dino digging is messy from what I hear and April would be a more appropriate time to gift it!

I had hoped to keep the telescope in the $150 range, but it seems the ones in that range are junk...I have reached out to both homeschool communities and am walking away with one that is a bit more than I had intended to spend, BUT seems to be a great tool the whole family will enjoy!

I am including the star finder in the gift, and need to find a couple of fun books to go with it. As I have mentioned before (I think)...we do not teach Science. Science just HAPPENS. We have a mini farm (26 chickens and a rooster count as a mini farm right?) and my kids love to play outside with the chickens, they inspect dead animals when they find them, they capture bugs and torture observe them. The learning just sort of HAPPENS. We also purchased a science book of experiments that we are hoping to enjoy eventually. This is more Nathan's speed than mine... our next big investment after the telescope will HOPEFULLY be a microscope and slides.

I am off to link a lot of what I just said on HERE to my homeschool page. I am horrible at keeping it current...Happy Holidays!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Easy banana bread

Easy banana bread!


Makes about 3 mini loafs of bread

Grind up  enough gluten free oats it make about 3 cups of flour

Ingredients:

4 ripe bananas
2tsp baking powder
2tsp vanilla
1.5tsp xanthan gum
3/4cup organic sugar
4 farm fresh eggs

3cups gluten free oatmeal ground/oat flour (add last)

Mix all ingredients except the flour fast in stand mixer. It should be pretty smooth and start to get fluffy , if my bananas are not really ripe,meaning that the skins are not black yet, I blended them first by themselves at a very high speed.
Once the mixture is nice and fluffy, add in your 3 cups of oat flour.
Grease loaf pans, pour in mixture.
Bake at 350 until done. (I am making these now and will check them at 30 minutes and every 5 minutes depending on how they are baking up)

Busy busy

So, things around here have been super busy! 

I already posted my "eggs" and Christmas felt items I made. Well, the felt stuff is our gift to the kids this year, so I have been working on it every chance I get! I have a long long ways to go! I made some pancakes, strawberries, syrup, tomatoes and noodles now as well! I attempted some lettuce, but I do not like it. I still need to get my hands on an entertainment center so I can make the kitchen set. I think I have one lined up, but the person I am hoping to get it from seems to be having a difficult time getting a picture.... I am kind of scared, because I am really trying to keep Christmas simple, and to show my kids that great gifts can be made inexpensively and loaded with love! I hope I find a stand soon!! I am very passionate about giving my children a great Christmas they will never forget! I have been making the food in front of them actually, and they keep asking why I won't let them play with it. I have not really lied, simply said it is not for them to play with. 
Penne noodles
(Gluten free!)

Pancakes with syrup. 
I still need to sew the syrup together and make more.
I made 9 pancakes!

Nathan helped cut out the strawberry tops!
We made 10 strawberries.
Still working on the bow tie pasta

I made a variety if tomatoes. Still waiting for the glue to try and I will take out the pins!


I am teaching myself to crochet. I had kind of learned awhile ago, but I am venturing out and trying more. I made a cowl scarf with a wool blend yarn and I love it! 

I was also working on my blanket I started a long time ago...I have set it down again...I really do not know what I am doing! 

 Right now, I am working on a purple cowl scarf. It is looking nice as well! I am making it a bit bigger than the other one as it is not a wool blend. 


This weekend, we got a new car! Nathan needed a new daily driver, his car is not worth sticking more money into! We got a 2013 dodge dart. It is a 6 speed manual...which means I have not driven it yet...
It gets really good gas mileage, but it does take premium...


We took it to Tomah to visit my mom. We all fit in it quite well! I took supplies to make an apple pie at moms house, it turned out ok, but the apples should have cooked longer. 

Saturday, Nathan took the big kids to swimming lessons while I went shopping with his mom. We stopped at shopko first, I stocked up on some clearance yarn. I am hoping to make some pretty scarfs. 

We also went to the fabric store and the outlet mall. I was able to pick up some more felt and some of the supplies to make the kitchen set for the kids. 
New yarn and the "oven racks" for the kitchen set we are planning!

Is also picked some other kitchen items up. I got an owl kitchen timer, a colander (that I think I am going to take back since it is plastic and the mall had a nice metal one!) and some other items. I will post pictures later as I don't want the kids to see them! 



Meal plan: about a month or so ago, I got "uncured, nitrate free BACON" at the Madison coop. Well, yesterday we opened it and noticed it is not sliced...so we sliced it. We tried to fry it up and it is not bacon, but rather a fatty pork steak. So, we set it aside and made some bacon that we know is bacon.
What to do with fatty pork steak that is not bacon? I am making pork and beans...I think!

To start off, I froze my hands off in the garden digging up a couple big, organic, beautifully imperfect carrots! Peel and chop carrots, peel and chop 2 medium organic onions, sauté in olive oil.


While those are softening up,(stir often) I cut up the pork and tossed it in.

I had an overfull jar of turkey broth in the freezer that I semi unthawed and added that in next

More than a qt of turkey broth

Turkey broth added, chunks of frozen broth floating...

I am not good at measuring, but I added probably 4 cups of water and 3 cups of white navy beans. I eyeballed it to make sure that the beans could expand enough. 

I tossed in about a cup give or take some of chopped up spinach

I took a pic after throwing some of it in!

Then tossed in some ground black better and some oregano 
It looks pretty! I can smell the garlic!
Bring to boil for like 5 minutes
Cover and simmer...low
I checked it 2 hrs later
Beans are softening up! 
I am leaving it alone for now and will see what it turns into!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sicky Icky

We have some nasty bugs running through our home. On top of that, a teething toddler! Torrin has not been sleeping at night at all, which is saying something since he has yet to sleep through the night! I am used to being woken up 2-3 times a night by a rooting, upside down/sideways child-but this teething, not feeling well child screams! His poor nose runs like a fountain, and I am pretty sure he has a mild ear infection. I hit one ear with breast-milk this morning (man did that tick him off), and will do the other ear when he dozes off again.
Zariah started all of this! It is always her! She had a fever of 102.7 Sunday. She was achy and just out of it. I knew she was not faking it! Monday, she was sluggish, but managed the day just fine. Tuesday, she claimed she did not feel well again (she looked iffy for a few hrs but then looked like a big faker!)
Yesterday, I went and looked at our new car. It looks nice...I won't really know until I get to ride in it...still not sure if I will drive it (attempt to drive it). It is a 6 speed manual. I CAN drive a stick when I NEED to, but I get stage fright when people watch me,(thanks for that mother...)
I do not want a car loan again, but we do not really have a choice. Nathan's bug (VW Beetle) is falling apart at the seams. You cannot open the door all the way or it pops off, it eats tires, it is burning oil and making funny noises (Not funny HAHA-funny = weird...) it is just a money pit! Hopefully, he gets us enough venison in the freezer so we can manage, the only place to trim our budget is food (AHHHH).

I am realizing that I am socially awkward! I feel like an idiot! A week or so ago, I had a mom at gymnastics introduce herself to me and offer to help with driving. She was so kind...I didn't even tell her my name! I felt weird, I am not used to being put on the spot...I am feeling rude and stupid. So, the next week, I had every intention of saying "Thank you for being kind, by the way, I am Tamika..." but she looked distracted, so all I managed was "Hi, how are you" AFTER she asked me how I was...CRAP!!! Similarly, two days after the first incident, I saw someone I KNEW at gymnastics, but she didn't recognize me...so I said NOTHING until my husband showed up to save the day. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???

OH, so last night, I got a bug up my butt and logged onto YouTube to learn to make a cowl scarf!! It turned out great-other than I used a 9mm hook instead of 10mm...so it needed some stretching. I really like it. I want to make my Christmas gifts this year, but being self taught (all the wrong ways) to crochet, I don't want to waste money on the stuff if nobody will like them. I am not sure anyone would wear what I made. We are not a "trendy" group of people around here. I LIKE IT! I am sure my mom will call me a hippie when she sees it-and I don't care-I love it! Right now, I am working on my blanket I started 4 years ago...it sat and sat...I took out 6 rows because I realized I majorly messed it up...I "made up" a stitch and have no clue if it is a proper stitch or not...again SELF TAUGHT (before I knew YouTube could teach a monkey to do things). 
Earlier in the week, I started working on the children's gifts for Christmas. I am making felt food for them! I am not even hiding it-it is too big of a project to hide and make them. Instead, I told the kids I am exploring my talents, or lack there of... and that I find it therapeutic-which is NOT A LIE!!!
  
                                                my felt eggs-they look better in person!


I made a felt snowman and a Christmas tree for Torrin (the girls like them...) I am hoping he messes with them instead of my REAL tree when it is time to decorate them!
                                This is what it looked like yesterday-I am a little farther now

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Feeling rustic!

I have been meaning to post for a few days now, and then just getting around to doing so now. nathan  and his dad went squirrel hunting Sunday, and he shot four squirrels! At first glance, we thought they were quite small and that we would need to freeze them and save them until we got more. I ended up needing a quick meal plan, so I boiled the squirrels down for quite some time and picked the meat off the bone, reserving the broth for making rice. It ended up being pretty good! We added some peas to the rice and mixed it all together!

A neighbor friend shot us a deer! We spent a good bit of time Tuesday night grinding up over 20 1.5-2 pound packages. Monday night was Nathan's late night at work, he came home, ate, and headed over to process the deer. It was a late night, but with the help of the friend and his dad, it didn't take too long. Tuesday morning the kids and I hate steak and eggs, they were soooo happy! It was such a simple, yummy breakfast!

Tonight, we are planning on packaging up the rest of the deer.

I am thinking of stopping at the coop to get some cherry tomatoes and black olives to make a cold gf noodle salad. We have not had noodles in awhile, and it is hard to plan meals when I will be gone all day. I think it would taste good with some venison loin steak!

Yesterday, we had baked beans in the crock pot with bacon and venison, it was a gymnastics night so we needed a meal that would be hot when we got home.

I made another apple pie on Tuesday, it was completely gone mid day Wednesday. I have also been trying to mix up and free enough apple pie filling. We are trying to get an idea of how much filling we need. I am thinking 2 pies a month, Nathan and the girls say one a week!

Things are going pretty well here. House is well lived in, could use a maid... Belly's are filling with halfway decent foods. (The pie was an exception, but they were organic apples and sugar!) my kids are playing, and learning... Life is pretty good!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We will get by just fine

So, we have been pretty busy with life!

This past weekend Zariah and I alone, cut up enough apples for 2 pies and 35 quarts of applesauce. I canned it all by myself too! The apples are organic. I bought three bushels at Whitaker market. We made some very delicious apple pie and shared one with the neighbors.

Zariah had her last soccer game of the season. They tied the game, and they played hard!

Last week, we did a clay craft. We took a fall leaf, rolled it into some clay and put it in a bowl to dry. Once dried, we painted pretty fall colors, then spray painted them with gold. They turned out ok, it was fun to make them and that is what matters. Someone broke mine today...kind of sad.

Today, we did not do "official" school stuff. Instead, we did fun fall stuff. We carved pumpkins, roasted some seeds, made caramel apples and just enjoyed our day. We have a new family favorite! Roasted pumpkin seeds with a little EVOO, maple syrup, salt and a tiny amount of sugar. They taste a lot like caramel corn!!

Some of this will be repetitive on our school page.

We are trying to enjoy the last of fall, and each other as a family.

Days can be long, and hard, but we love each other.

Extended family and "friends" can put a damper in our day/moods.

My goal is to not let how others treat us effect how we treat each other!

I love my kids, they are my world! Everything I do is in their best interest.

People get so hung up on what my children eat or what they do for fun...and in all honesty, it is nobody's business. If you care to know, check out our pages, or ask...if you are going to criticize our life, stay out of it please.  My kids are very healthy and happy. They do not need McDonald's "food", they do not need "traditional" holiday foods either. They need love and nutrition. Food is our bodies fuel. What you put into your body effects your body in every way. SURE, we love treats, and I make "safe" organic, gluten and dairy free treats for my children, but do not undermine me as a mother because of what I will not feed my children.

I know as a mom, I am doing a damn good job!  I do have my days (don't we all?!)

All I need from you is support. I should not feel isolated or alone...friends and family should accept me (and my children) for who we are. What we wear, eat, do-does not directly effect you in a negative way, heck, it may help you. Who is harmed by eating an organic apple, really??





Friday, October 18, 2013

ummm brrrr

So, it is cold outside! Like, so cold my kids do not want to go outside! It isn't even winter yet!! I think once the ground has snow-the cold will not be so bad! Right now, they complain when I ask them to help me gather up the last of the squash and tear down the garden. Those things are not "fun" so of course it is too cold out!

I am still hoping to get one more apple picking in before the season is done. I had wanted to go this week, but do not know if I have it in me to go alone with the kids. Who would carry all the apples? We do love applesauce...I NEED to go! We also LOVE LOVE LOVE apple pie-man I need to go! Hopefully, when Nathan is home we can go as a family again.

It is about 9p.m. and I should be in bed, but I just stoked the fire up nice and warm (it is 79 in here), finally got the chill off, and I am going to enjoy a cup of tea I think. I should read, but I cannot afford to be up all night! Zariah has soccer tomorrow and we have to be up early!  I really am hoping I am not too tired after the game as I would like to do something fun with the kids...will post tomorrow on what comes of our day!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dear Family, Friends, Neighbors, Strangers-and Whomever else wants to know...

This post MAY not be nice. It may contain things that are rude, mean and maybe not suited for all eyeballs...sorry in advance!

Dear Family, Friends, Neighbors, Strangers and whomever else wants to know:

    This is my family. This is my home (almost-still paying for it). We will do things the way WE decide. No need for your input! If you do not like it, keep your mouth shut. You (family) have had your chance at raising YOUR family, now it is my turn. You made your mistakes, MY TURN. You (friends) who do not agree with my methods, practice your ways on your kids and I will do things my way with mine.

    I am going to nurse this little boy until he and I are done-none of your business if that is today, tomorrow, or when he is 4-same goes with bed sharing. DO NOT EVEN THINK of asking me how Nathan feels about it-or if Nathan gets enough "alone" time with me....Quickie in the garage-my man is FINE-and you did NOT need to know that anyway!

    These kids ARE going to STAY homeschooled- this was not a test to see if I could do it. It is how it is going to be! They will be home with me, daily...LEARNING. Some days, we may not do a darn thing "on paper" but they are always learning! Do not try to quiz my kids on what they did that day-it is none of your business. If the school district is not allowed to, neither are you! My kids, my "school".

    Do not even try to convince my children that they do not get to do enough. Right now, I go to town 2 days a week for soccer and once a week for gymnastics. Neither one of these activities are "needed" and they are very expensive. They make my kids happy, so we are doing them for now. Everyone needs out of the house from time to time!

   Do not think it is ok to ask my kids all the time if they miss (a person from school, a food we no longer eat, new clothes all the time), ALSO-do not ask them why they are wearing the same thing they wore the last time you saw them-they have PLENTY of clothing, they also have FAVORITE things they chose to wear over, and over, and over...
    (This is where it MIGHT get mean...) ANYONE with a brain in their head, that learns something they did not know before, will dig, research and LEARN MORE-I would hope. That is what has happened in this home. We cut out gluten and dairy for Torrin, and quickly learned it helped me (Tamika), which progressed (again-as I did this in the past but did not stick with it) to organic foods, and changing the meal plan for everyone. I am not a short order cook, I will not make separate meals for everyone. In cutting out BAD things ( I will not call them food) from everyone's diets, we learned that we ALL benefited from it! When you start cutting out gluten, you realize it is in EVERYTHING-that comes in a box! I can make hundreds of yummy meals/snacks/treats at home, with clean ingredients without gluten, without dairy, and without artificial SHIT.  I regret that my older kids (6 and 7) did not experience REAL food EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES. I am sorry to them more than I can ever express, but better late than never!
    You may or may not know this about me (my family). We have a history of health problems, like a really long list! Diabetes being one of the big ones! Luckily for me, obesity is not an issue on my mothers side, but the women on my birth dads side do tend to get heavy (not obese though). Unfortunately for my children, my husbands family has a list of health issues as well. Being obese is one of them. Diabetes is another, along with being at risk for heart issues... As a GOOD mother, I am taking precautions that do not include medication! I have them eating healthy FOOD, like REAL food. Did you know that depression can be kept in check with FOOD?? YUP! Did you know that diabetes can be?? Well, I hope you know that because it is kind of a given-lots of bad sugars and food equal bad sugars in your blood...duh.
    The problem I have with the holidays, get togethers and all that stuff is FOOD (and gifts). People are OBSESSED with food. FOOD, the thing that is to give you energy to survive, the thing that is supposed to nourish you, the place you should be getting your vitamins from (not the pill bottle like many people seem to think...) I am going to scream if I hear "Can you have this?" or "Oh, you can't eat that." ONE MORE TIME. Seriously, I am choosing to feed my family (and myself) FOOD, REAL FOOD. Read that label-can you read every ingredient in it? Do you even KNOW what some of them are?? NO, I will not be feeding my growing children (or myself) that junk, it is not food. Would you like a organic banana? How about a homemade granola and applesauce parfait?
I have not taken this nearly as far as I would like to honestly, and you are freaking out now! I do not want my kids eating refined sugars, but it is something we have not 100% cut out of our diets. It is something I have hopes of doing when we have access to maple syrup without paying out the nose for it!

Where did this post come from?? A phone call this morning from my mother-in-law. I stayed NICE, I stayed pretty damn calm...A LOT of people think I am outspoken, rude, and many other lovely names I will not post. What people do not realize, is that I have come a LONG DAMN WAYS. I do think before I speak (95% of the time). I keep a lot of what I am thinking in my head even when you have my blood boiling. What I am learning, is that this is bad. I do need to say what is on my mind, to get you to shut the hell up.

So, here it goes!

These are MY KIDS!

When you get yourself in shape and healthy, talk to me about nutrition.

When you get yourself off of medication for pain, blood pressure and all that stuff-have a talk with me about my medicinal choices.

NATHAN and I made the decision that our children do not need to be spending the night at other homes, they can hang out and play for a bit-but there is NO reason (unless emergency) that they need to sleep at your home. NONE.

I will protect these children until my very last breath-if you think you can corner me or attack how I am raising them when I know I am doing a damn good job-you are going to get attacked right back and it will not be pretty. So come on, say it to my face, bring it on-MY KIDS ARE MY WORLD- you do not criticize my children or how we do things here without saying there is something WRONG with my kids-my kids are just fine thank you very much (that is an edit from a much meaner version)

The quickest way OUT of the lives of these three (maybe four) children is to attack their mother-not a smart move. I brought them into this world-I will take you out of their world.
I am not perfect, I know this-I do not need reminders-take a look in the mirror...not so pretty!


What kind of a mother would I be if I learned all this stuff about foods, soaps, and whatnot and did not make changes? Seriously, if you LOVE these kids, show it. Not by buying them junk food or plastic crap, but by being present! Not buying presents! Go for a walk with them in the woods, read a book, play a game, craft with them-they LOVE THAT STUFF!

I am about done with this, my blood is still boiling.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself not getting enough "alone" time with my kids-they are my kids-not yours. Make your time with them special, by making memories, not running up your credit cards and teaching them to be spoiled brats with major debt.

Stop attacking my ways of doing things, or say good-bye forever. This is not an empty threat-I am just exhausted from these stupid feuds. I am just plain done.

If you can not accommodate us with food when we visit-that is fine, 9 times out of 10-I have food with me, I only leave it home if you say you are making food that I am comfortable feeding my children.

Treats are one thing-but they do need to not be complete and total shit-saying it is ok once in a while is total crap, are you saying having heroin once a month is ok??

BUY SOME ORGANIC APPLES and make some HOMEMADE caramel-my kids will be SO happy.

Caramel Corn
recipe for caramel corn-remember no butter! USE NON GMO corn-make sure organic-this IS important-conventional sprayed corn is a BIG NO NO!


Caramel Apples½ C honey
½ C maple syrup
½ tsp baking soda
Click on above link to Caramel Apples for directions! Do not forget to use ORGANIC APPLES

Another good read about Money and Mentality

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Reaching out...shot down

So, I feel like I do a lot of reaching out...reaching out of my comfort zone for my children and myself. I go out of my way to try and meet new people, or even have conversations with people I have met for my children. My kids LOVE having friends. (don't we all?) However, my kids think anyone they meet one time is going to be their life long friend. I know this is not the truth, and I try to show them that real friends will com around. (Hopefully) I keep my kids in activities that have lots of people. Examples being soccer and gymnastics. I do not want to keep my kids in a protective bubble and have them not know how to act around other people. I want my children to have friendships outside of our home.  I really do not know what I am doing wrong. I know I am not perfect...

I try my best not to swear around new people, or peoples kids-I am human...it happens...I am sorry.

I will try my best not to flash you or your child, or your husband...but I am nursing a 13 month old...it happens...I am sorry you saw something you do not want to see...but I am not sorry for taking care of my child.

I try to be open minded and not voice too many of my opinions, or make you feel bad about your choices or opinions...I have a voice...I say things that may not be nice from time to time...sorry?

I also try to push my comfort level because I am HUMAN, and I would like to have a couple friends as well. I just do not want to be "needy". I am a caring person who likes keeping in touch with a few people, I do not enjoy being ignored, or only have people talk to me when they feel like it.

I know there is NOTHING wrong with me as a person, I am a great friend-I will not continue to be a great friend to those who do not see fit to keep me as a part of their life.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

happy birthday zarina

                                                10/02/07 5:40 p.m. Zarina Lyn- 5# 6oz
                                                 She has always been so teeny tiny...

Happy birthday teeny Za-reee-neee!
We got her a fancy new winter coat and some pink and purple animal printed Vans.
She doesn't know it, but I am taking her to see Cloudy with a Chance of meatballs 2 for her surprise gift!
My baby girl is 6!
                                                                   New coat
New shoes (in her hand, ignore the mess-torrin was playing with clothes)
 
Trip down memory lane:



 
I was going to post a first pic of myself (mama) with my new bundle of joy-I am topless in all of them and would prefer not to show pictures of me just after giving birth...I was happy-I still cannot believe it has been 6 years! I remember every second of that day like it was yesterday...(I am trying not to cry...)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gluten free does not mean OK

Ok, so I feel like there is a bit of confusion among some family and friends. JUST because something says "GLUTEN FREE" or "DAIRY FREE" does NOT mean it is something I would feed to my kids! YES gf/df is important, but there are other requirements! It would be great if it was ORGANIC. I am not saying organic just because of organic-but organic also means no food dyes or crazy preservatives! I know organic is more expensive-but my kids are worth it!
From time to time we will splurge and buy a treat-Immaculate cookies comes to mind-they are gf/df, and made with REAL ingredients-though they are NOT organic. These are ok from TIME TO TIME. We do not eat premade foods on a regular basis, I make our food! (I do purchase a very large amount of organic peanut butter...)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One busy mama!!

SO, a quick summary of foreword (??) of what we did yesterday and today:

-peeled over 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket of pears-this took ALL DAY
-cooked down said pears only added cinnamon-no sugar!
-Stayed up late and made said pears into sauce-whew!
-dehydrated bananas
-baked some bread
-made apple butter
-prepared more apple butter to be made
-dehydrated apples
-made an apple pie
-did a fun craft with the kids! (find that info on homeschool page.)
All while doing HOMESCHOOLING (we do this 6 days a week), Mondays we do Gymnastics as well. Not to mention dealing with a teething, cranky, feverish 1 year old. It has been the MOST work I have done in a long time, and it feels completely and totally rewarding! (I know I left stuff out like washing diapers, cleaning, laundry-the stuff that HAS to get done-but this was just above and beyond all of that!) ~enjoy

Yesterday was a very long day! We managed to get the pears (over half of the 5 gallon pail) semi-peeled and in the pot. When I say "we" I do mean the girls helped a lot! I am very proud of my girls. I know it did not all go smoothly, there was a bit of frustration, but there always is when you are dealing with kids, knives, peelers and PEELS. Anyway, my kids really are pretty darn awesome. I could not have managed to get it done without their help!
 
 I was up VERY late making pear sauce. It was a lot of hard work, and very time consuming, but man did it taste good!
                        (this is what I used to make the sauce after it simmered all day long)
I am planning on purchasing an attachment for my mixer that does this for me, I am happy to have "tried" the old fashioned way, and I am very proud of myself for accomplishing it. This, however, was way more work than I can deal with at one time if I expect to get anything else done! Torrin had a fever (teeth) and LUCKILY, went to his dad-I do not know how this would've gotten done  otherwise! 

                 This is what I ended up with-the big jar is a 1/2 gallon, the smaller jar is a quart size.


                                           Last night, I also got the banana chips all dried!!

One dehydrator full makes about 2 quarts worth. I still need to put them in the vacuum sealer and *fingers crossed* they keep for awhile! (I am planning to do more, and am thinking granola with banana chips would be yummy!! Also, thinking on top of banana bread this would be delicious!!)

I made homemade BREAD!!It is a good breakfast bread, I am thinking of adding craisins the next time!  It was amazing, it is a gluten free oat bread, I got the recipe here. *NOTE* I completely forgot to add the rice flour in the recipe, and it turned out just fine...Not sure if needed or not, it tasted SOOO good with our fresh apple-butter.


I do not like how much the batter makes-it uses a 10" loaf pan...I do not have that so I used a standard (8"?) and 2 mini loaves.

Speaking of bread with apple butter-OMG YUM!!
                                                               this...turns into....

                     this...looks like a pot of poo...but OMG is it good!! I did not use ANY sugar!


So, this is how I made this amazing spread: (Thank you Janine for the recipe and info)

Apple butter:

ABOUT 6.5 lbs of apples-cored-sliced
                      -I am not sure what kind I used, they were a mix of tart and sweet
                      -I did not peel them all the way-only the bruises and bugs

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
                      - I did not have these, so I put in 3 cloves and just took them out...

1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all that in the crock pot for I would say 8-10 hours, walk away and check on it later!

when it is all cooked down-add 1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract
                     -stir in and WALK AWAY

Come back 1-2 hours later and blend that awesomness up. I used my ninja the first time... P.I.T.A, I would use a immersion blender so there is less dishes to wash and it is just easier. 
                                                 
                                                                     TA DA!!
                                Add a cap and freeze or can. (I froze 3...we are eating the 4th!)

Right now (Tuesday almost 6pm) I have a 2nd batch going right now, hopefully Nathan remembers to bring home the immersion blender so I can mix it up before bed!

Oh, so I canned all that up (to be frozen) and then started slicing APPLES for the dehydrator. Those are going now, and hopefully will be done tonight before bed so I can start something else.
I made the 2nd batch of apple butter, and also made an apple pie for dinner!


                                             Hopefully it will taste as good as it smells!

Apple pie recipe

Crust
3/4 cup oat flour
ABOUT 1/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp. tapioca starch
1/4 cup sugar(I used real organic sugar)
1 tsp xanthan gum
4 tbsp. shortening (palm oil)
1 egg
1 tbsp. REAL vanilla extract

Filling
 4-5 Apples, use judgment
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Topping
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats (gf)
1/4 cup oat flour
1/3 cup palm oil (shortening)
(cinnamon or nutmeg if wanted...I forgot this time-about 1/2 tsp)

Stir the flour, xanthan gum and starch. Add sugar and shortening, egg and vanilla. Mix it well and press into pie pan. I used a bit more tapioca starch to "press" it into the pan without it all sticking to my hands. Put in fridge while you make the filling and topping.

Make filling, put in crust (take crust out of fridge first...) and then add the topping. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 mins!


*updated 7:13p.m. We had the pie and it was amazing!!! Oh, and Nathan got the blender so I have more work to do!!