Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brown Paper Packages

Growing up, the Sound of Music was my absolute favorite musical and of course one of the best songs is "My Favorite Things." Oh the wonderful things that come wrapped in brown paper and string. Okay, most things now-a-days don't come wrapped in brown paper. They come in bright wrapping paper, cellophane, and bags with balloons. But not this year at our house! We're kickin' it old school!

My first married Christmas I got creative and used newspaper and cloth ribbon for wrapping paper, but got busy and less creative the next two years. This year I decided not only would I get creative but also resourceful. Most of the grocery stores around here give you paper bags at the checkout. I had been saving them to reuse but then a light bulb went off. Ding! Use them for wrapping paper. Genius I know! So for the past few months I've been saving my paper bags and with all my Christmas shopping done (yeah, you heard me, done), I started wrapping today.

Let's go through this process together.

Step 1: Dismantle the bag. First remove the handles. You'll use these later for bows.

Then carefully take the bag apart at the seams. I chose to do this to save every scrap I could but you can also just cut it apart. No big.
Step 2: Lay it out and wrap up your gift. I highly suggest either turning your edges under so no rough edges or you could just trim up the edges.

Step 3: Make the bow. Take one of the handles and bend it the opposite direction that it was on the bag. This creates a loop. You'll need to smooth it out slightly.

Next place a piece of tape on the back side of the bow so that it doesn't show.
Now repeat this with the other handles. You can add as many as you like to your "bow cluster."

I chose to use four "bows." To secure them together, I took a small red ribbon and tied it around all of the bows.

Now all there is left to do is fancy up the bow a bit and attach to the wrapped package.

Step 4: Enjoy brown paper packages tied up with string!

All in all I'm fairly pleased with the outcome. If I had it, I would use wider ribbon to cover up the tape on the sides or better yet use the clear tape designed not to show.

I know it's early, but I'm glad I have my packages wrapped and under the tree. With the bear's birthday next week, I have to be on the ball with things so it will be smooth sailing until Christmas.

Check out my husband's lovely gift wrapping!
It's moose...or a reindeer...I'm not sure.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Trying out Deceptively Delicious

Okay so it's been a while (a long while) since I've posted. I was supposed to be doing a comfort food series which totally tanked. Oh well. We've been super busy around here but I have been trying new things, just not posting about them.
Update on the dress project: it's way harder than it looks to make a dress from scratch. I pieced everything together, thought I was almost finished but my fitting keeps coming out wrong. So this project has been put on hold until I gain more patience.
In the meantime I have been working on something a little less complicated. As a shower gift I received Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. Basically it's a book of normal recipes that add vegetable and fruit purees to normal foods. I've heard good things about it, so once the bear got big enough to start eating table foods, I knew I had to try. So far we've tried french toast, oatmeal (a big hit), grilled cheese, and mac and cheese.
The little man has really enjoyed all the recipes and so have the hubby and me. We've made the oatmeal which uses canned pumpkin several times. Yum!
I knew I wanted to start small when it came to purees, so when cauliflower went on sale I figured it was the time to start.

So here it is, my adventure into purees and the resulting mac and cheese.
The book outlines how to do the puree which is relatively easy so until I have pictures documenting how to do the purees, I'll skip this step.

Here's the mac and cheese recipe.
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat spiral pasta)
Nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. non-fat (skim) milk (I used 2% cause it's what we had)
1/2 c. butternut squash or cauliflower puree
1 1/2. shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. This is also a good time to defrost your puree if using it from frozen.
My frozen cauliflower puree. I used "Fresh Baby" trays but ice cube trays work too. Five cubes is 1/2 cup.
While the pasta cooks, coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Add the oil, then the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture resembles a thick paste but has not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. **Be sure to cook this the whole time suggested. I didn't and the final product tasted to flour-y.

Add the milk and cook, stirring every now and then, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vegetable puree, cheeses, and seasonings, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in macaroni and serve warm.
Final creamy product
A few notes, like I said make sure you really follow the step about the flour. All in all the little bear liked it a lot. I fix a lot of mac and cheese for his lunches so I'm really glad I found a recipe that adds a little extra nutrition.
You can judge for yourself, but I think he enjoyed it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Comfort Food Series: Chicken and Dumplings

So to keep myself motivated to blog bi-weekly if not more frequently, I decided to do a series. And what better thing to write about than food, comfort food!

To start I wanted to do my favorite comfort food: chicken and dumplings. I think everyone has their own variation of this recipe and it's always "the way mom made it." So for me this is the way my mom made and my grandma taught her to make it. It's quite the legacy so you should feel honored that I am sharing this time-honored recipe with the public.

The way my mom cooks is by touch and feel and if she actually has a written recipe, the actual product is probably some variation. This recipe is one that is not written down or at least I sure have never seen a written copy. So again feel honored that you get a written copy!
Here it is my version of Chicken and Dumplings.

What you need:
Leftover whole chicken (still on bones) or 4-6 chicken thighs (raw or cooked)
3-4 cubes chicken bouillon
1 1/2-2 quarts water
shortening or fat from chicken broth (preferred)
warm chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

What you do:
There are a few ways to make your broth.
1. Raw chicken: Cook chicken in water with bouillon in crock pot on low all day. Feel free to add your own extra spices such as salt, pepper, fresh or powdered onion. At the end of the day, remove all chicken (meat and bones) from broth and set aside. Run broth through fat separator or something that will remove any bits of bones/meat and allow broth to sink and fat to rise. Leave in fat separator or put in another container. Refrigerate overnight to allow broth sink and fat to harden. Meanwhile, let chicken cool enough to handle. Separate chicken from bones and store chicken. All this can be done same day if desired.
2. Leftover cooked chicken (my preferred method): Using leftover baked chicken, remove as much meat from the bones as possible without completely dismantling the chicken. Place chicken in large stock pot and cover with water. Add bouillon. Cover and let simmer for 2-3 hours until chicken and bones separate. Remove meat and bones from broth. Run broth through fat separator and remove usable meat from bones. No need to store broth if using right away.
*If you don't want the hassle of making your own broth simply buy ready to eat chicken and canned broth.

Now that you have both broth and chicken, get to work on the dumplings.
Boil broth in large pot. Broth needs to be a full rolling boil before adding dumplings.
Dump about 1 c. flour in a mixing bowl. (1 c. of flour makes about 6 servings of dumplings) Cut in shortening or chicken fat from top of broth and make a course crumble. (Using the chicken fat instead of shortening gives the dumplings more flavor and you use all of your resources). Add enough warm broth to form a soft, elastic dough. Dough will be fairly sticky. Put half of dough on lightly floured surface. Need very gently so that dough maintains elasticity and softness. Roll out thin into rectangle.

Using a butter knife, cut into 1" strips. 

Cut in half.
Gently take strip. Stretch slightly and drop into boiling pot of broth.
Repeat with other half of dough. Let dumplings cook 5-7 minutes in boiling broth.
To thicken your "sauce" take about 1/4 cup of broth from the pot and whisk in 1/4-1/2 c. flour depending on how thick you want it and how much liquid you have. Return mixture to pot and allow to cook over medium heat. Be careful not to keep on too high of heat or dumplings will stick. Cook until desired thickness.

And that's it. This was surprisingly harder to put on 'paper' than I anticipated. Chicken and dumplings is one of those recipes I grew up making and I've never really thought about how to actually do it. I really hope I haven't missed any steps!

*Next post: Hamburgers with homemade buns!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What sparked my 'Pinterest'

So I've been hearing about Pinterest. Several blogs I follow wrote about it and I finally had a friend sit me down and actually look at it. I was little skeptical, but then I just dove in and I love it.
I can find so much stuff! I've really been looking for Razorback baby room ideas, but they are few and far between. Other than that I'm just having fun looking through other people's pins.

Pinterest is a great way to get a lot of ideas in one place. It sure is better than me googling topics and hoping to find at least something worth while. I haven't pinned much but I've found great stuff already.

If for some reason you want to follow my pins click here. But I suggest giving me some more time before you really check me out!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sewing Project Update

Well it's been a month since I set out on my two month journey to sew two pillows and two dresses. I am happy to report that the two pillows are done. Super easy to do. All I did was measure a little wider than the pillows I was covering, fold the edges inside, iron and then sew around the outside. Done! Here's the result.

The dresses on the other hand have proven to be a little more difficult. I was going to make my own patterns (way more daunting than I had anticipated), but thankfully my mom had some old patterns that I think will work for at least the base of each dress.
This will be the base of the origially red dress that will be the flowery material. The neckline will be different but the shape is similar. 

This will be the plaid material dress. I need this pattern for the top part but the bottom will be straight instead of the traditional flare. 

Well that's the update. I'm not confident I will have both dresses done but I'm hopefully I can at least get one finished. That's all for now. The bear is ready for a diaper change and a nap!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Homemade Wipes Solution

So in the last leg of total cloth diapering is using cloth wipes. I had purchased FuzziBunz double sided cloth wipes but had not been brave enough to actually make the jump from disposable to cloth wipes. I finally decided it was time and thought it would be wise to try them out while I still had disposable wipes on hand just in case.
Since I already had the wipes the next step was to find a recipe for a solution. I searched the web and my favorite DIY blog and eventually landed on this website. I liked it because of all the different recipes it had to offer. I ended up adjusting the basic wipes solution a little to my own liking.
Basic Wipes Solution:
  • 1 Tbs. Liquid Castile Soap (I used Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby-Mild)
  • 3 Drops Apricot Oil (Burt's Baby Bees)
  • 2 c. water (or more as needed)
I measured the water then added the oil then soap. I did it in this order to avoid suds. Then just pour over wipes. You can also keep in a spray bottle and spray each wipe as you need it, but since I have a wiggly bear I opted to have them pre-moistened. The only disadvantage is that I have to keep a close eye on them to make sure the wipes don't get musty or mildew. So I'm just checking it daily. I only put in 10 wipes at a time which should last about 2 days or less.

I put mine in an old wipes container that has a hole for the wipes to continuously feed through, but with cloth wipes I was concerned I would have to be digging in the hole just to get the next wipe. Being the problem solving wizard that I am, I folded the wipes so that they interconnect and as each wipe is pulled out the next one is partially pulled through and ready for the next time I need it. It takes a little more time on the front end but is well worth it when the little man is wiggling around and I need a wipe ready.

So there you go. I've finally fully embraced the world of cloth diapering!! I hope to also make a few of my own wipes from flannel or plain cotton. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's 'Sew' On!

So if you know anything about me, and let's face it most of my readers are close friends and family, so you do, I look forward to this time of year almost as much as Christmas. What time of year is that you may ask? Um...Project Runway season!! I've been hooked for several seasons now and I just can't help but love every minute of it. My dearest thinks I'm slightly crazy (but secretly I think he likes it too), but every year he lets me indulge in the glory that is the Runway. I love the crazy wanna-be and semi-professional designers, the ridiculous challenges, and of course the drama, drama, drama. 
For many seasons I've wanted to do my own version of PR. Of course I had wanted to do it with a few of my friends and have a fantastic challenge to end at fashion week. But since I'm still a little lonely in the south (miss you KC girls and Michelle!), I must embark on this journey on my own. So the challenge I have set before me is this:
Yes I'm planning on making two dresses in two months (as well as a couple of pillow cases). I've been wanting to make my own dresses for a while and I thought what better time than now. Not only am I making the dresses, but I'm making the patterns. They aren't original (modeled after two dresses I already have), but it's still a challenge. Here's what I'm working with.

In case it needs explanation, the red dress will use the floral fabric and the plaid dress goes uses the plaid fabric. We'll see how it goes. I'm by no means a master seamstress, but I'm going to give it the old college try. 
Just to make sure I don't feel like a total failure if the dresses don't go well, I'm also doing pillow cases.

 So that's the plan. We'll see how it goes. I'll try to keep you posted on my progress and hopefully in two months I will have two pillow cases and two dresses. Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

DIY Dishwasher Soap update

Well I finally got around to actually trying my homemade dishwasher soap and the verdict is...
It worked great!
I put a heaping tablespoon in my soap dispenser and ran the dishwasher like normal. I was a little skeptical since I had heard other people's recipes didn't always come out great, but this particular concoction did just fine. 
In case you missed it, here's the recipe.
1 c. Borax
1 c. Baking Soda
1/2 c. Citric Acid
1/2 c. Kosher or Sea Salt
Use vinegar as your rinse agent.
Combine all ingredients in an airtight jar, shake up, and seal.

That's it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Motherhood of the Traveling Diapers

Cloth diapering on the go was a S-U-C-C-E-S-S! I was able to wash on Thursday and Saturday so the longest we went without washing was two days. Not bad! I was a little nervous with the bear having started solids the week before traveling (as in nastier, smellier poo), but it ended up not being too awful. Lessons are learned:
1. You can never have too many wipes.
2. I only needed to bring the All-in-One diapers rather than every diaper we own.
3. Don't squeeze the air out of the full wet bag

That's pretty much it. I love cloth diapering and it's not as scary on the road as I anticipated.

Preview of coming attractions: Jarrod's uncle is my new favorite person. He grinds his own grain and has an amazing stash of grains and cool old things. He makes his own butter and cheese. I hope that future posts will be of things he teaches me. Too bad he lives 9 hours away or I would be over there all the time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cloth diapering on the road

So we are gearing up for our first major trip other than moving since our baby bear was born. One thing that has been a major debate is whether or not to cloth diaper while we travel. Ultimately I decided to stick with the cloth for the trip. We'll see if it ends up being a wise decision.
In preparation I did some research on other cloth diaper moms had to say about traveling. Basically their tips were to bring all the diapers you think you will need and then some more. The next step is bringing the washing supplies and stuff to put dirties in. I decided to bring our pail liner and two wet bags. We will be in the car for several hours so we'll see how well these bags keep in the stink. The other major concern is where and how to launder. It's thing to be able to wash in my own laundry room and hang up covers to dry and deal with the odor of hot water on dirty diapers, but either washing in a laundry mat or at someone's house is another story. Thankfully we'll be staying with or near family who will graciously allow us to use their facilities.
So my diaper bags are packed and I am ready for the adventure that surely awaits me. I'll be sure to report back with how cloth diapers to go succeeds.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homemade Dishwasher Soap

This whole keeping up with the blog thing is hard! Oh well.
Lately I've been trying to do as many DIY cleaners as I can. I adapted this recipe for laundry soap. It's super easy: 1 c. Borax, 1 c. Baking Soda, 1 bar pure soap. I use 1 heaping tablespoon full per normal load. The original recipe uses washing soda but I could only find baking soda. Also I did a little research and found out that washing soda is more caustic than baking soda. Basically it is an 11 on the pH scale, just short of being considered toxic. Even though fumes are not harmful, extra measure should be taken when handling it. This article was very helpful. Also I used Ivory as my soap simply because it is dirt cheap.

So after being inspired to make my own laundry soap I decided to find a homemade dishwasher soap. Dishwasher soap can get expensive and a lot of them contain chlorine bleach that can discolor clothing and wear down on dishes. After searching, this is the recipe I found.

1 c. Borax
1 c. Washing soda (or baking soda)
1/2 c. Citric Acid (found in the home canning aisle)
1/2 c. Kosher salt (or sea salt)
The borax and soda are obviously your cleaners. The citric acid helps keep the dishes from getting cloudy. I also read you can use unsweetened lemonade instead, but I haven't tried it. And lastly the salt is your scrubber. The more coarse the salt the more scrub. I only have sea salt at the moment and should be fine. You can also use vinegar as your rinse agent.

Truth be told I haven't used it yet. I'm still using up a bottle of store bought detergent, but as soon as it's out I'll be using this. From what I've read it's a good recipe. I'll repost with first hand results later.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A cup of cocoa for a rainy day

A rainy day calls for a cup of cocoa but alas I had no mix in the house. So it's time to make my own. I found this very simple recipe and am currently enjoying it.
2 Tbs. baking cocoa
2 Tbs. Sugar
1/4 c. water
2 c. milk
dash of cinnamon
mini marshmallows
Blend sugar and cocoa in saucepan. Add water until smooth. Heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Add milk and heat through. Pour into mugs, add marshmallows, and enjoy. Makes 2 servings.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Couponing update

I've been at it for a week and haven't really used my coupons much but I'm getting there. Last week I did some much needed prep work. I searched for or requested the coupon policies of all the stores I shop at including Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Harps, and CV's. Wal-Mart had their policy posted online but the other three I had to email to get but they were all quick to respond. From what I have researched one of the most essential parts of couponing is knowing the policies of the stores you frequent.
Armed with that, I set out to do my first super couponing. I opted for the small victory of buying anti-bacterial wipes. Walgreens had a sale for Lysol wipes. Here's the breakdown: Lysol wipes are usually 2/$5, with an in-store coupon they were 2/$3, I had a coupon for -$1/2 and a register rewards coupon for -$3, and I bought all they had in stock (3). After my deductions and coupons I came away with 3 containers for $1.19. Not exactly an extreme coupon moment, but I figure getting 3 for less than the price of one is a good start. I'll keep everyone posted on future successes.
On another budget note, I came in $40 under for my food budget for the month and was able to use that $40 to get a few items for the whole family from Old Navy. Let's hear it for good budgeting!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Quest to Coupon

So my new addiction is TLC's Extreme Couponing. If you have yet to experience the wonder it's a show about these moms who are the queens of couponing. I'm not talking saving a few cents here and there. These women literally gets hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for $5. One mom was featured on Rachael Ray and got $6 back from the store. Amazing!
So while I may have lofty ambitions, I set my actual standards much lower. I am starting my own version of extreme couponing. I bought 2 Sunday papers (one of the moms suggests a paper per person at home) to get double the coupons. This week I plan to clip and organize. The idea is you try to double up on coupons and match store sales and store coupons. This way you get the most off you can. I'll also be clipping coupons online from and consulting the Krazy Coupon Lady.
My husband gives me a month to get started. He claims I'll give up after that. I say 'we'll see.' I don't anticipate that I'll be like these ladies overnight, but I do hope that I can at least get my foot in the proverbial door.
Wish me luck and I'll check back with you in a month!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Simply Applesauce

Another day another new homemade recipe. I've been wanting to make my own applesauce for a while and decided today was the day.

4 lbs. apples, cored and quartered (I used some older apples that were too soft for eating or pies)
1 c. water
Cinnamon to taste
Sugar to taste (optional)

Put apples and water in a large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes until very tender, stirring a few times.
Press apples through a food mill. Return pulp to kettle. Stir in sugar if desired. Add additional 1/2-1 cup water for desired consistency if needed. Boil. Remove from heat.

I chose not to add sugar simply because I like my applesauce a little more tart. Also if using overripe apples, you shouldn't need much sugar. The best part about this recipe is that you can use it for baby food, just leave out the cinnamon and sugar.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homemade Tomato Soup

In my quest to less dependent on pre-made foods I decided to make my own tomato soup. It's one of my favorite soups to pair with a sandwich. We had ours with a turkey club. Yum!

2 can diced tomatoes, undrained (or use fresh tomatoes diced)
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 tsp. minced garlic or 2 cloves minced
2 dashes salt
pepper to taste
2 dashes basil
1 dash parsley
1 1/2 dash celery seed
2 Tbs. sugar
2 c. milk
2 dashes onion powder
more salt and pepper to taste

Combine 1st eight ingredients in large sauce pan. Heat on medium-low heat, uncovered, 30 minutes. Process through a food mill or food processor for creamier soup (omit step for chunky soup). *I prefer using a food mill because it will remove the seeds and skins rather than chop them up like the food processor.* Return to pot and add sugar. Cook until sugar is blended on medium-low heat. Add milk and remaining spices, heat through.
If using this as a freezer meal, don't add the milk or other spices. From frozen, let thaw, add milk and spices and heat through.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Exploring the Natural State

Well I'm finally getting around to sharing the rest of my spring break adventure. My husband's parents have only been to Arkansas a few times and have never been able to really get to see much other than our house. So we took them somewhere different every day and had a blast. I'm a little exhausted but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. So you already know we went to Altus. Here is the rest of our Arkansas Adventure.

Day 2: Mt. Magazine State Park
We ate lunch at the Lodge and walked around for a while.
Mt. Magazine Lodge
View from the top

Day 3: Historic Fort Smith
We walked along the Riverfront Park, visited the Judge Parker Museum, and stopped by the Fort Smith Museum of History for an old fashioned soda at the 1920's soda shop.

Day 4: Petit Jean State Park
We hiked down to Cedar Falls and had a lovely picnic lunch by Lake Bailey.
Cedar Falls at Petit Jean
I have so much more planned for the next time the In-Laws come to town. Living out of Arkansas for a while has made me appreciate all the fun things to do here and made me remember why I loved them so much as a kid. I am so excited to be able to share many of the same memories with my little bear.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wine Country

The In-Laws are in for the week, their spring break, so I decided to show them a side of Arkansas most people don't know exists: Arkansas Wine Country! We went to the one and only Altus, Arkansas. If you haven't ever been to Altus I highly recommend it. If you enjoy free wine tasting and seeing a little bit of Arkansas history this is the place for you. We visited three of the wineries: Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Post Familie Vineyards, and Mount Bethel Winery. All three vineyards are family owned by the original Swiss and German families who immigrated to America in the 1880s. You can go to free wine tastings and tours. Each one has its own "highlight." Here are mine for each:
Wiederkehr: the restaurant is located in the original hand-dug wine cellar and you get to see the two original casks the founder brought from Switzerland.
Post: a great variety for tasting (Wiederkehr's has 5 pre-chosen samples), you get to pick what you want, and they offer samples of their grape juices (i.e. something fun for those not able to participate in the wine tasting)
Mount Bethel: the tasting is done in the original 1880s root cellar that was converted in the 1950s, and we got to chat with Peggy Post, one of the many offspring of the Mrs. Jacob Post. Peggy told us all about the family, some fun memories she had of the many grape festivals, and her rather large family of more than 90 first cousins! Very fun experience.

Probably the best thing about the local wineries is Muscadine Wine. Muscadines are a grape almost exclusively grown in the south. Their skins are much tougher than normal grapes and have a unique, woody flavor. As kid I used to find these growing wild on our property and they always remind me of home.

If you are ever in Arkansas, stop by Atlus and try a little muscadine wine!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creamy Yogurt

So last year I started straining my yogurt. Sounds strange I know but it makes for extra creamy yogurt. Simply line a colander with 1-2 coffee filters and place it inside a larger bowl. Then dump your container of yogurt (usually plain or vanilla) in the colander. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours. Depending on how much excess water is in your brand of yogurt you'll either be left with a puddle of water in the bowl or just wet coffee filters. Pour your extra creamy yogurt back into its original container and enjoy your better, creamier yogurt.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Why I love cloth diapers

So when we found out we were pregnant, like all parents we started thinking about the things we would need to get for our little joy. One of the big discussions we had was cloth vs. disposable diapers. Believe it or not Jarrod was the one who first got me even considering cloth diapers. In KC we had a few friends who used them and really liked it. So I did my research and found that the world of cloth diapers is not only different from what I expected but it is vast! There are flatfolds, prefolds, all in ones, pocket diapers, organic cotton, the list goes on. And there are so many brands!! After months of research both online and with friends, I finally decided on a combination of flatfolds, prefolds, and pocket diapers. My thanks definitely go out to Heather at for all her help and for creating my registry. Even if you don't live in the KC area she is a great person to get cloth diapering info from.

Here are the ones I ended up using and why.

Econobum: I got 4 sets (a set consists of 3 prefolds and a diaper cover). We use these throughout the day. I get to use the cover over and over (unless it gets poopy) and just change out the cotton diaper.  I also use a Snappi to fasten the diaper.

BumGenius 4.0: I ended up with 5 of these. This is a pocket diaper which means you stuff a cotton insert into a pocket in the back of the diaper. The more you stuff the more absorbent the diaper is. We use these at night so that I don't have to change his diaper every time he gets wet. It holds as much as, if not more, as any disposable. This diaper should fit babies 7lbs-35lbs. It adjusts by snapping down the front.
Diaper and Insert

 FuzziBunz One Size: These are my favorite. We have 11 and as little man gets bigger, I plan to get more. They are similar to the BumGenius as far as being a pocket diaper but the way the size adjusts. It also fits 7lbs-35lbs. Instead of snapping down the front, it has adjustable elastic in the legs.
So I know what you're thinking. What about washing and having to touch the messy diapers? No big deal! I put a Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner in my standard diaper pail, have a Diaper Sprayer for when it comes time to clean out the poopy diapers, use Planet Wise Wet Bags on the go, and use Charlie's Soap to wash the diapers. I do wash diapers every day but don't necessarily have to. I just prefer to keep things clean and that way I don't get behind. 

So that's my two cents about cloth diapers. I never imagined I'd use them but I'm glad I decided to. I don't have to worry about buying diapers, taking out bags of diaper waste, or about guessing what size to buy. I just reach in the drawer and pull out the perfect diaper every time!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Soup's in the Pot

In an attempt to be resourceful and use ingredients I have on hand rather than purchase groceries for a specific recipe, I made "Ham and Bean Soup" for dinner tonight. I started with this recipe but made a few changes to my liking and to reflect the contents of my pantry. The first and most important step is to cook a whole, in bone ham a few days prior. When you carve up the ham make sure to leave a good 1 1/2-2 inches of meat on the bone. So here's the recipe I ended up using. WARNING: It makes a lot! (Which is why I plan to freeze about half of what's left.)

  • 1 package (20 ounces) 15-bean soup mix
  • 5 quarts water, divided
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
Rinse dry beans and place in a Dutch oven with 3 qts. of water. Bring to a boil; boil for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Drain and rinse beans.  Return to pan; add remaining water and everything but the tomatoes and green chilies. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until beans are almost tender. Remove ham bone. Remove as much meat as you can and return meat to pot.

Add tomatoes and chilies; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with cornbread. Yum!  Yield: 18 servings (4-1/2 quarts).

Word to the wise, I let the beans sit in the water too long and the lentils pretty much fell apart. Still tasted good, but a little mushy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh the Snow!

In case you have been completely oblivious to the weather lately, our neck of the woods has gotten record-breaking amounts of snow. The new state record is 24.5 inches! I have never heard of such a thing. I thought when we moved back south we wouldn't have to deal with such winter weather, but little did I know that the snow followed us.

Even though we got more snow than anticipated, that didn't stop us from enjoying it. Even little man played in the snow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Recipe Success

So part of my Sam's purchasing was a large container of ricotta cheese to use to make lasagna. After making two lasagnas, one for freezing and one for eating now, I had just a little ricotta left over. I wasn't sure what to do with it so I went to my favorite recipe website and found a recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. Now Jarrod's not much of a pancake eater but I thought what the heck if it's awful he won't eat it and if it's good he'll eat at least one.

Something I've discovered, a little late at times, is that I really should gather all my ingredients first and group them by wet and dry ingredients.

So after gathering what I needed I first combined the wet ingredients, then added the dry. The recipe actually asks you to mix the two separately but I don't like to dirty too many things so I mix the wet then put all the dry in the bowl, swirl the dry stuff together, then mix with the wet.
Now onto the griddle and time to eat! The true measure of success with this recipe is that Jarrod who doesn't like pancakes declared them delicious and ate three of them!

I found them best with a side of bacon and topped with powdered sugar. The pancakes were moist enough that syrup wasn't needed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The first of many...

And so begins my blog. The idea is that I will share not only a little bit about my life in hopes of keeping family and friends who are far away posted on important happenings in the Heathcote household but also my attempts at cooking and crafting. I have been greatly inspired by one particular blog and hope that I am able to perhaps pass on the same inspiration. If not at least I will have had fun doing it.

For a while I've been wanting to make more things myself as opposed to buying it prepared. So on Monday I ventured to Sam's to stock up on a few bulk items to get started on my homemade extravaganza and first attempt at freezer meals. My first attempt was to make my own granola and my own hummus. I used the recipes from the blog mentioned above and have to say they both turned out great. I had the ingredients for the granola so that was easy, but I had to search a while for the chickpeas for the hummus. After searching the aisles at the grocery store and finally ended up at the organic foods store. Once I found the dried version I read on the package that chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans, something I could have found in the Hispanic foods section at the grocery store for a lot less than I paid at Olde Fashioned Foods Market.

The hummus and granola turned out great and we've been snacking on both. As for the freezer meals, today with the help of my mom I managed to make spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and meatballs. My goal for tomorrow is to finish my sauce for porcupine meatballs and make taco soup. This will provide me with several meals that I can just grab out of the freezer and make for those days that my little man demands all my time.