Sunday, December 26, 2010


Old Farm.Image via Wikipedia

Homesteading is an idea I that I am sort of new too. As a child my parents used many homesteading ideas, we had chickens, a garden, my dad would pickle vegetables,and make jerky. But the older I got, and when my mom went back to work all of these things slowly ended. We bought everything we used and needed.
I still have fond memories of being a young child collecting eggs, pickling with my dad and tasting his smoked and dried meats. I remember having a friend whose mother always made all of her clothes. I always thought it was the coolest thing and was a little jealous of their unique clothes. Now looking back their mother made their clothes probably because they couldn't afford to buy them. But with that savings they put a decent amount of money away for their children's college, something my parents never could do.
Other then the money savings there is something so fulfilling about making things yourself. Being capable of truly taking care of yourself and your family in a world where we are so depended on the economic market.
So even though I have some experience in DIY I have decided to start small. This summer I took kitting lessons. Now for Christmas I received a sewing machine. I am hoping to be able to teach myself to make some summer dresses for Liv.
I just feel so strong that I need to teach myself how to do these things. We have just lost all connection in how to and where things come from. I want to be able to take pride in my homemaking and my skills. I want to do more then push a button to cook dinner, be a chauffeur for my children, and become a desperate housewife.
I will keep you updated in my DIY adventures and expanding my home into a homestead.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Christmas Home

A Christmas tree in the United States.Image via Wikipedia

I am still keeping my promise to myself to fill my home with seasonal scents through natural things, not candles.
Christmastime has some of my favorite scents. I love the smell of a Christmas tree. I have never had a fake tree and don't think I could go with out our tree. I love the smell the pine needles bring into my home. Today I bake Gingerbread men, the first time ever. Usually I just do Sugar cookies, but since we are hosting Christmas Eve and a Christmas brunch I wanted extra cookies. I love how they turned out, they taste so yummy.
And now my house smells of gingerbread cookies. It was so nice to come back into the house and smell our baking and hard work.
Tomorrow we will light a fire and the smell of the sweet burning wood will fill our home.I love the natural warmth of a fire and the sights of it. It is so beautiful to sit and look at a fire. Much more entertaining and warm then the t.v.
Happy Holidays, and enjoy the scents and warmth of the season.
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Christmas EveImage via Wikipedia

This is our second Christmas, our first one that Liv is more aware of what is going on. I am very excited to start some Christmas traditions for our family this year.
One I am really excited to start is my husband reading The Night Before Christmas to us Christmas Eve with a nice fire light. It sounds almost magical to me. Then when Liv is older we can leave out home made cookie and some milk for Santa.
When I was a child Christmas Eve was always crazy. My dad owned a flower shop and Christmas Eve was one of his busiest days of the year. My Christmas Eve memories are of my mom rushing me to bed, since she had to do it all herself since dad was working.
I am hoping to create a more peaceful, and less stressful memory of Christmas for my kids. As a young child I can even remember the stress my mom put on herself to shop shop shop. Christmas was always a fun time, but peaceful, no.
I hope to make Christmas less about gift-giving and more about the birth of Christ and spending time with your family and friends. This really, to me, is what Christmas is all about.
I don't want my children to think of Christmas as a time to be greedy and want, want, want. Last Christmas we bought Liv only several things, and this Christmas we are doing the same. I don't want to get into the "Keeping up with the Jones" aspect of Christmas. I hope to not fall into that when Liv is older.
For now our traditions will be sweet and simple, but hopefully they will create a lifetime of memories.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy Soup- Spinach Tortellini Soup

My husband was working 10-8s all last week so I was making dinner for just Liv and me. This is a challenge for 2 reasons, 1) figuring out what to cook, 2) making it simple since Liv always gets very clingy around my cooking time.
Some one night I went to one of my old favorites, Spinach Tortellini Soup

Cook some fresh Tortellini or mini raviolis according to the package I like buitoni
Cook 1 can or 1 box of chicken broth or more since there will be extra.
Before the broth is boiling add frozen spinach and salsa to taste. Cook till the spinach is cooked.
Add as many tortellinis as you would like.

Liv loved this. She was eating up the spinach like it the best thing in the world.

Yummy yummy easy sound, homemade taste with almost no effort.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting Your Child to Help Out

1951 Girl with washingImage by theirhistory via Flickr

It is never to early to get your child to help out around the house. I really believe the earlier this habit is instilled the better. Liv is only 15 months old and she helps me unload the dishwasher, put toys away, hands me clothes pins when I am hanging wash on the line and put things in the trash or laundry basket for me. She also "helps" wash dishes by sitting next to me while washing. She also "helps" me cook and bake. She loves mixing.
She really enjoys helping me out and I enjoy teaching her how to maintain our home. It is so wonderful to help her feel capable of doing things for herself and others, make her feel that her help makes a difference, and to connect to her in simple ways.
These are all very important for a child of any age. Too often parents want to do it all for their children, but they are doing themselves and their children a great disservice. When children can they should. If children don't feel they are capable they feel worthless, dependent (in a negative way) and incompetent. Doing everything for you child also makes them feel entitled, makes them lazy, selfish and self-centered. They also can become very unappreciative of the things you are doing for them and things other people do for them.
Now her helping can be additional work for me. It takes time to wait for her to unload each fork at a time, to hand me a clothespin or to wait for her to waddle over with some laundry. But isn't time a patience what being a good parent is about? I am teaching her simple skills, but the fact that I am making her feel valuable, teaching her to be appreciated and appreciate, teaching teamwork and the value of helping each other and doing things for one another makes all the extra time worth it.
And I really do enjoy doing these simple things with her. I look back on my own childhood and I don't remember my mom playing with me on the floor, I remember folding laundry together, or baking cookies.
Another plus of getting child to help out early is hopefully in the future she will take over some chores and help our family run smoother. My house may not look perfect, but it feels like a home and all who in it help make it this way. We are creating many great memories in just the daily rhythm of our day.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Condolences Etiquette

Berteaux Funeral in Champs Elysees, Paris (LOC)Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

Recently an old student of mine passed away in a car accident. Her father and infant daughter were also killed in the crash. This is a horrible tragedy and I feel greatly for her family and her ex-boyfriend. I have been keeping them in my prayers.
One thing that has bothered me about this situation is the lack of etiquette by the teenagers and other young adults who are supposed friends of the deceased and the baby's father. Not just so much the etiquette, but also just common decency and respect.
This young girls ex-boyfriend, and the father of her baby has a facebook. I have seen tons of posts on his facebook. Some very inappropriate. But I wonder how many of these people actually took the time to write a note, go to the wake or funeral or give this young man a call or visit?
Taking 3 seconds out of your life to post "RIP" on someone's wall with no follow up is not a proper condolence.
I really feel for this younger group of adults and teenagers who have grown up with this technology, that has many benefits, but also many down falls. One is the lack of connect between really people. We have become so self-centered that we can not take anytime out of our lives to help someone who is grieving and needs support.
But it is not just younger people. We have become a nation of apathetic and self-centered people. People rudely on there phones in restaurants, the check out line, not holding doors for each other, pushing are way through crowds, cursing in public. I even over heard a man complaining how no one held the door open for him while he was pushing his crying baby in a stroller. But his wife was right behind him rudely talking on her phone the whole time! she could not be bothered to open the door for her husband or check on her crying baby, but they both expected strangers to hold the door for them! How can someone expect others to help them out when they won't but any effort out themselves.
This attitude seems to continue when we offer condolences. People don't take anytime out to help those who are grieving. Companies don't give people anytime off to attend funerals or wakes. What happened to bring casseroles for grieving families? People don't even take the time to dress appropriate to a wake or funeral.
I do know that this young man has some great friends that he can lean on and help him through this difficult time. Some good people who are taking time out of their busy lives to help him get through this difficult time. At his young age he is learning one very important lesson. Who his real friends are, and what makes a real good friend.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

My First "Real" Bread

Bread rollsImage via Wikipedia

Several weeks ago I got a great children's book at the library called "You Can Cook". This book was in the children's section, but is so perfect for anyone who hasn't been cooking or baking to long or just wants some simple, quick and fresh recipes.
The book has a great easy recipe for baking bread, complete with pictures to show how to knead the bread. Since I never had made a "real" bread before (well once I did a no-knead recipe and often bake quick breads) I thought this would be a perfect recipe to try out.
It was a cold windy day out and Liv and I were not planning on leaving the house all day. So before lunch we sat down and started to make our bread.
It felt so good to make something for myself. I don't know what it is about kneading the warm dough in my hands, but I just felt so relaxed, peaceful and connected to the moment. It was a wonderful feeling.
The whole process made me feel like I can produce for myself and my family. I felt connected to women years ago, who couldn't go to the store to buy some bread. I couldn't believe how much I would love doing something so simple. I felt like a real homemaker, not a housewife.
What even made this whole process better was the reaction from my husband and daughter. Ken jokingly asked me where did I hide the bag from the bakery? And everytime Liv sees the rolls (I made one loaf and 8 rolls) she trys to open the bag to eat them.
It made me feel so good to see my picky eaters enjoy fresh bread, with almost no sugar, just pure simple ingredients made by my hand.
It was also wonderful to smell the fresh bread in my home the whole day.
The process was not as hard as I thought. I am suprised more people don't make fresh bread.
This is something that I will continue to do and hope Liv learns this skill that she can use to provide warm and healthy food for her future family.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You're still not Breastfeeding?

this is what a nursing toddler looks likeImage by sierraromeo [sarah-ji] via Flickr

Last weekend I had a girls night in. We has some cocktails, braided each others hair, and talked up till the night. Since cocktails were involved my girlfriends crashed on my couch.
The next morning they were excited to see Liv, since she was asleep when they came over the previous night. Well after hanging out for a while Liv came over to me and started to lightly bang on my chest, her sign for I want milk. My one girlfriend said "That is so weird she still does that, its not like you are still nursing her?" "well," I sheepishly replied, "we still are." "But she's walking!" my friend replied. Like the milestone for weaning is walking. I was so glad to have my only other close girlfriend over who has a child, who is now much older. She chimed in "I nursed Dylan till almost 2 years." "Oh" my other friend replied. I could tell she was weirded out about me nursing my toddler. And she didn't want to get into it with me.
This I feel is more common from people who have never breastfeed, if they have children or not.
My own grandmother made a comment to me about when I am going to wean. She never nursed one of her 6 children and knew so little about she asked me when Liv was young if I still have to burp her.
It amazes me how little people still know about the benefits of breastfeeding, but also the benefits of extended breastfeeding. The WHO recommend breastfeeding for 2 years. This was what I replied to my friend when we talked about nursing this long. "But yeah, thats for babies in countries with out good food." "No, babies in those countries often nurse even longer. This is the recommendation for all children, and most European guidelines reflect this." "Toddler are notorious poor eaters and breast milk is the best supplementation for them."

Well unfortunately I don't think I convinced my friend one bit, and I really don't think she wanted to here it, even though she wants to nurse her own children when she has them.
I just hope that with the growing "trend" of breastfeeding, and the growth of knowledge in how beneficial it is that there will be a trend of extended breastfeeding and getting out all the information in how helpful it can be. Not just for the child's health, but for tantrums, and bonding. This, in my opinion is when the bonding of breastfeeding is really different from bottle feeding. Most mothers hold their babies close while bottle feeding, but when their child weans to a cup this bonding time is often over. This time of closeness and comfort is still very present in a nursing toddler, and it is the part I greatly enjoy.
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