Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Figure One: Boy

Figure Two: Boy's Pants

My little J is quite the rough and tumble boy. He is hard on his clothes and they often become unwearable before they are outgrown. I don't mind a hole here and there, especially if he's just hanging around the house with me. But while doing the laundry this past weekend I realized that J has a hole in EVERY SINGLE PAIR of jeans he owns. This means two things: 1)He's going to need new jeans soon and 2) I'm going to have to learn how to mend!

Since I'm in no mood for shopping, I decided to mend some of the holes to keep them from getting bigger and to extend the life of his britches. It's the green and sustainable thing to do right? Repair and reuse? I came across a tutorial that taught you how to create a monster patch using felt. The result was adorable and looked easy enough.....

Until it wasn't. Okay. I'm no professional seamstress but I should be able to handle a patch job!! First of all, the "fusible" fleece that I used for the teeth did not fuse so I had to stitch them on to the felt patch. That wasn't too much of an inconvenience but the curse words started flying when I had to get those itty bitty pants on my sewing machine. Impossible! I squished. I scrunched. I pulled. I twisted. How in the world do you get those tiny pant legs under the needle without sewing both sides together?? Good thing the stitches are supposed to be "monster messy!" The eyes were cut from the same non-fusing fusible fleece as the teeth and were sewed down with a button that I hand stitched.

Though the result isn't exactly how I pictured it, I suppose from a distance, the pants still look pretty cute. At least one pair of his pants has been salvaged. But until I figure out how to wrestle his pants on to my machine, there will be NO MORE monster patches!!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whip It Good

I have been using coconut oil to moisturize my children's skin for a couple of years now. It's cheap, it smells good, and it doesn't contain any weird ingredients that cause their sensitive skin to rebel. After their bath each night, we slather them down in organic coconut oil before sliding them into their PJ's and off to bed. J's eczema has all but disappeared since we stopped "chemicalizing" him and we only have to deal with an occasional dry patch on his cheeks or tummy. I've made him a special salve with calendula and chamomile for those spots and with diligent application, they fade away in about a week.

I've been trying to incorporate more coconut oil into our daily lives, both by cooking with it and by using it in the body care products I make. Experts claim that coconut oil can help with just about everything from hair and skin health, to lowering cholesterol levels and helping maintain a healthy weight. And the fact that it smells like a tropical vacation doesn't hurt either!

Anyway, I do NOT use coconut oil as a moisturizer as my children do. I tried to but ended up feeling like a greased pig, a glistening Hawaiian Tropic model gone terribly wrong. It does soak in eventually but rarely do I have the time to lounge naked, waiting for my coconut oil to absorb before I dress and get on with my day. Who does?

I've been wanting to make my own lotion for quite some time but the emulsification process is intimidating. Oh the blending! The blending! I came across a recipe for body butter that looked easy as pie and required NO tricky emulsification techniques. Melt, chill and whip! That's it. So, so easy.

I used olive oil instead of almond since that is what I had on hand.
And oh, what a glorious concoction it is! Silky, fluffy, buttery goodness that melts right in to the skin and leaves it glowing and quenched. No greasy, glistening pig here thankyouverymuch. My DIY body butter is free of freaky chemicals and is inexpensive to boot. Gently scooped out and placed in my empty shea butter container,  I'm sure to have healthy, luminous skin for months to come.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Back At It

I've had a rough couple of months. It's been very difficult and I expect it will continue to be for a while. I've been "emotional auto-pilot" and  in order to cope, I let a lot of things fall to the wayside. It was everything I had to just to exist. I cooked less, exercised less, cleaned less, created less and slept a whole lot more. But as I slowly adjust to what my new normal is going to be, I'm creeping out from the shadows and starting to pick up where I left off.

Today was beautiful fall day in the desert and just the thing I needed to get moving in the right direction. Our yard and garden have been sorely neglected since the end of the summer so we spent a few hours cleaning up and making plans for our next planting. Like many gardens in the desert, ours is watered by automatic irrigation which we never shut off after the intense summer sun fried what was left of our crops. Lower temperatures and ample water caused an explosion of weeds and other unwanted foliage but buried under the mess we found some of our hardier plants had survived and were thriving!

My herbs, though tangled in bermuda grass, are huge. The basil, thyme and rosemary are enormous! Our artichoke plants came back and look healthy as ever. We found a few eggplants and tomatillos hiding in the shadows of a huge tumbleweed. And peppers. OH. MY. GOODNESS. POUNDS of cayenne, cherry peppers, bell peppers and jalapenos. My hubby makes his own hot sauce but with this many peppers he'll be able to make a gallon or two!

Our lemon tree is also heavy with fruit. Not all of them are quite ready but the kids had a great time picking a pile big enough for my husband's famous lemon chicken (with our newly rediscovered backyard herbs!) and a pan of lemon squares.

And while we were picking and cleaning, K found a praying mantis hiding in the bushes. We've seen a few of these interesting creatures in our yard but this one happened to be eating a wolf spider. My kids watched him eat until he was finished. I don't think they've been that rapt with anything in a long time!

I wish I had a better lense so I could get closer but if you really look you can see the spider!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Get It Together

I love to organize. You may take one look at my house and think otherwise but really....I love to do it! How do you break into the professional organizer business anyway?

These past couple of weeks I've been working on a home management binder to help me keep track of important, day to day tasks. I have seen examples of home management, also called home keeping, binders and my first thought was WOW. These people are NUTSO! Some women had huge binders with categories for everything from cleaning schedules to ovulation charts! But the idea stuck with me and I realized that I could create a binder for my family that wasn't fussy and ultra functional. Here's how I broke it down:

  • Important Numbers-These are frequently used numbers that I always have to look up on the internet if ever I need to call them. My list includes police, fire, poison control, my children's schools, doctors, dentists, my husband's work numbers and the local pizza place.
  • Birthdays and Anniversaries-I am good at remembering the months of these occasions....just not the day! So instead of calling my mother-in-law or my mom for the umpteenth time, I emailed everyone and created a chart with room to grow. I printed it out and BAM! Never an excuse to forget to mail that card on time!
  • Calenders-I included both of my children's school calendars as well as my husband's work calendar. It's easier to make plans when I can see what everyone is doing all at the same time!
  • Finance-This is my favorite tab. I have never been very organized when it comes to money. Can you believe I haven't actually balanced our checkbook in years?? I have tried using various computer programs to keep track but I never got in the habit of using them. I like to write things down. I included a register to keep track of purchases and watch our balance, and a list of automatic debits so I know when they will be taking money from my account. I also created a tax worksheet to keep track of our out of pocket medical expenses, car registration fees, and charitable donations.
  • Contacts-This one is pretty self explanatory. Putting my address book with all the other paperwork just makes things easier for me.
  • Meals and Nutrition-This is where I keep my list of my family's 21 favorite meals, along with my weekly meal planning sheets. I used to just write my meal plans on scrap paper but I'm hoping to keep them all in the binder and when I'm absolutely stuck I can just pull out an old plan and use it. Also, I find it helpful to track my food from time to time and this is the space where I'll keep my food journal.
The binder was incredibly easy to put together and I love that I have all the necessary paperwork in one place instead of stashed in drawers and piled on counter tops and desks. I like that that the binder can grow and change with my family's needs by adding or subtracting categories. I am fully aware that the "greener" option would be to digitize all of this information but  a)I spend enough time on the computer already and b) I wouldn't keep up with it! I like to write. It's cathartic. It makes me feel in control. Entering things into a computer program just isn't the same. This works for me and makes my life so much simpler!

Do you have a home management binder? If not, how do you keep the papers from piling up?


Thursday, August 23, 2012

That's Just Peachy

As summer draws to close, I've been scrambling to eat as much summer fruit as I can get my hand on. Cherries, peaches, plums and apricots....oh how I will miss you! A few weeks pack I hit up an amazing sale and bought 10 pounds of peaches for 59 cents a pound. I blanched, peeled and chopped them and stuck them in the freezer until I had time to do something with them.
Today, my son and I made peach jam with half of my frozen peaches. The other half will be dried into fruit leather I think. I am out of jam and actually had to buy (gasp!) jam at the store. When my children declared that the store bought jam "tastes weird," I knew I couldn't let my jam stores run dry again. And so, with minimal work and just a little bit of our afternoon, we have nine jars of summer-y goodness waiting to be eaten. Delicious!

Licking the jam spoon


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. School is starting (my son started pre K this morning!) and with that comes the end of my long, leisurely mornings where I had all the time in the world to make breakfast for my children. My daughter starts first grade this year and will be in school from 7:45 until 4:15. Not only I am responsible for packing a healthy, nourishing lunch and two snacks each day, I have to make sure she has a hearty breakfast to provide her with the energy and nutrients her little brain will need to concentrate in the classroom.
J's first day of preschool
Being the huge fan of sleep that I am, I don't forsee myself getting up early and preparing a morning feast. I have to get up early enough thankyouverymuch! To make sure my poor kids aren't eating cold cereal every day (even though they'd probably like that!) I have been doubling my recipes and freezing the extras for busy school mornings. Making sure my kids have a good, real food breakfast, along with eating momma made lunches and snacks, makes me feel a little better about the onslaught of the not so good for them snacks that may get doled out at school.

So far, my breakfast freezer arsenal contains:
  • whole wheat waffles-served with peanut butter, real maple syrup, or summer solstice jam that didn't set and therefore is being used as syrup :)
  • whole wheat banana pancakes-served with same as above
  • whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffins-served with fruit and almond milk yogurt
  • carrot and zucchini mufffins-served with same as above
  • bacon-cook it, cool it, wrap it in wax paper and done! Served with eggs and toast.
That's a LOT of waffles Momma!
Building your own breakfast arsenal isn't that hard. Double EVERYTHING! It is much less expensive than buying packaged breakfast foods, and it cuts back on waste as well. You control the ingredients. And most importantly, you might even get a few extra minutes of sleep!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

So Sweet

I'm baaaaack! I told you I would be. July was a supremely BAD month for me and my family. And though everything is still a little....off....things are slowly getting better. There will be many challenges ahead but I think we're past the worst of it. I hope!


All the stress from the previous month has taken a toll on my body. I've been suffering from insomnia. My hair is falling out in handfuls. And my skin....oh heavens. My skin. My skin is behaving like the worst of teenagers. I have struggled with acne for quite some time now. Getting pregnant and having babies did something to my hormones and I don't think they've ever quite rebalanced themselves. Cleaning up my diet helped a LOT. Using more natural products and make up helped too. But still, especially when my day to day is topsy turvy, I experience large, tender, swollen cysts on my chin. I can feel them coming and they stick around for weeks!

As I was complaining (for the 876th time) to my mother about my complexion woes, she mentioned that she had been using honey to heal up a recent stress induced breakout of her own. She claimed her nightly honey mask not only took down the swelling and redness, but it was actually helping to heal the blemishes. And on top that, her skin was less oily, more glowy and just better all around.

This is not the first time I've heard of using honey to care for your face. A while back, one of my favorite natural beauty bloggers, Crunchy Betty, preached about the wonders of honey and even went so far as to challenge her readers to wash their faces with honey and only honey for two weeks. I figured I had nothing to lose. Honey is antibacterial, antiseptic and a humectant. All good things. So I went to the cupboard, pulled out the honey, and smeared it all over my face.

I've used nothing but honey, morning and night, for four days now and here's what I've noticed:

1. My have-their-own-zip code cysts have shrunk significantly, to the point where they are no longer painful. And the marks from previous blemishes seem to be fading.

2. My face is significantly less oily during the day. I'm not shiny ten minutes after washing!

3. My skin looks....glowy. Brighter. I could be imagining it but I really feel it looks less dull.

This is the honey I have been using.

So what are you waiting for? What have you got lose? Go put some food on your face! If you do decide to wash with honey, make sure you are using raw, unpasteurized honey. If it's got floaty bits in it all the better. Your typical honey bear honey has been heated (pasteurized) and all the good stuff has been cooked out.

Here's to naturally beautiful skin!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

They say that bad things come in threes. I can only hope that's true. If it is, I'm done. It can only go up from here. If it turns out that bad things come in fours, well....I'd rather not think about it.

The absolute last thing on my mind right now is writing.  Instead, here is a song that has been on repeat both on my iPod, and in my heart.

May tomorrow please....please...be kinder.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

It may not be your typical, perfect 4th of July BBQ weather but we're certainly not complaining.  The rain is much needed and much appreciated. Besides, running and splashing in the rain is just as fun as a package of sparklers.

Happy Independence Day!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Flubber Fail

In an effort to keep my children cool and entertained this summer, we've been trying a variety of activites that can be done cheaply and quickly, while using recycled and/or on hand materials. We can't be at the pool every day for crying out loud! Pinterest is GREAT for finding fun things to do and today we tried to make our own flubber.


I found what appeared to be an easy tutorial but something went awry. Instead of stretchy, slimy, flubbery goodness, our mixture hardened up and had NO stretch to it whatsoever. Too much borax I think. Undeterred by my failure, the kids thrust their hands into the bowl and began squishing it between their fingers. Though stiffer than traditional flubber, our "booger goo" as K called it, still proved to be a big hit.


They squished it.

They rolled it.

They bounced it.

They got plain silly with it.

I entertained my kids for an hour with borax and glue. What did you do today??


Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Head Itches

Two months ago, my daughter came home from school, her carefully braided hair undone and unruly. When I asked what had happened, she explained that the school nurse had been checking her and her classmates for "bugs." Relieved that there were none to be found, I promptly forgot about the incident and carried on my merry way.

Fast forward two months. K has an itchy head. I checked her scalp several times but saw nothing. I chalked it up to the chlorine. We have been in the pool nearly every day since school got out and all those pool chemicals really dry out your skin. But when my husband got out the flashlight and began digging around during bedtime stories, he saw something more than just dry skin.

Creepy Crawlies. Bugs. Lice.

I FREAKED OUT. I know it's common and it happens to 90% of children at some point in their lives,  but I couldn't help but feel I did something wrong. K started getting teary eyed and I knew I needed to calm down before she freaked out too. So I did what any scared Mom would do....I ran to my friend Kelly's house who, as a first grade teacher, had battled head lice herself not two months prior. Not only did she have an extra bottle of lice killing shampoo AND a nit comb, she made me a margarita and helped me look for eggs (which are the same color as K's hair!) long in to the night. Yeah. She's awesome.

We bagged K's bedding and all of her stuffed animals to suffocate each and every critter that may reside inside them. I washed everyone's bedding and pillows in hot water and dried them on the highest setting. I shaved my son's head. And as anti-chemical as I am, I bleached what I could bleach and used a lice killing spray on our car seats, mattresses, couches, curtains and carpets to kill every last one of those suckers. I am taking NO chances. This is not something I want to go through again!

Of course I didn't use all those chemicals without guilt. I cringe to think of us sleeping on mattresses that I sprayed with pesticides. Using stuff like that is just SO unlike me. I always try to go natural first. But lice....lice may be my limit. I want it gone. It's okay if my homeade shower cleaner doesn't work the first time but if my homemade lice killer failed I'd be really, really upset.

K sitting for her daily head check. The head lamp casts a blue light which really makes the eggs stand out.
To soothe my green ego, I did break out my favorite aromatherapy book and mix up a "lice repellant" spray. To one cup of water I added four drops each of eucalyptus, geranium and lavender. It is to be used after showering, sort of like a leave-in conditioning spray and it is supposed to keep the bugs from settling on your noggin in the first place. I made a bottle for K and one for me too. It smells pretty good and will hopefully repel any and all creepy crawlies!

How about you? Have you had to deal with head lice? How did you treat it? Were you successful with any natural remedies?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Drop It Like It's Hot

It's hot.

Surprise, surprise. My family and I spent a LOVELY week in Southern California where the temperature never whispered above a perfect seventy degrees. But as soon as we topped those coastal mountains and began descending back into the desert, the thermometer on the mini van climbed quickly and steadily until it read in the triple digits. And there it remains. It's not really even "hot" yet; I mean, 107 is hot for most people but it's only going to get hotter. The worst is yet to come!

K and J enjoying a perfect SoCal day!

As much as I would love to spend our entire summer traveling to temperate climates, we do have to spend some of the season in the valley and deal with the oppressive heat. As soon as the temperature starts pushing 90, our house becomes cave-like as I draw the blinds and curtains, hoping to block the vicious sun and keep the cooled air in. We caulk and seal every nook and cranny to improve the efficiency of our home. But still, the AC kicks on more often than I'd like....and I have the electric bill to prove it!

In a last ditch effort to keep our home cool and our wallets fat, we decided to invest in solar screens. Solar screens replace existing "bug" type screens and improve air-conditioning efficiency thereby lowering your energy costs. Woo hoo! That make this sweaty, green girl very happy. The screens we installed block 80% of UV exposure and they weren't terribly expensive either. Plus our house looks like it got a face lift AAAAND the screens make it impossible to see in from the outside. A definite bonus since my son's bedroom window is right by the front door. No more lookee loos!

Not my house....but that's what my screens look like!
I have definitely noticed that our air kicks on less frequently than it did before we got the screens. I'm hoping I'll see a difference in our next utility bill too. Until then, you can find me in the pool with a homemade popsicle...


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Situation

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.
Lewis Grizzard, writer and humorist

I have previously spoken about out tomato "situation." It's out of control really. Three bad harvests led us to plant an abundant variety of plants this year, in hopes that we would actually pull in a sizable crop. The garden gods have smiled upon us and everything in our yard is bursting with life. The tomato plants in particular.

We tried just eating them as they ripened, giving them away to anyone and everyone. But eventually they began reddening faster than we could slice them and it was quite clear that the time had come for us to preserve our fruit. We spent several hours in the hot desert sun pulling every last tomato we could find from the vines. And though I don't have any official measurements (what is the official measurement for tomatoes? Bushels?) we amassed an impressive and intimidating pile.

First, we made salsa. Our garden is full of onions, jalapenos, garlic and tomatillos too so that seemed like a no brainer! Then we made bruchetta. I made a batch of marinara (which is AMAZING) and the rest were sliced and dehydrated. Scratch that. Are in the process of being dehydrated. My Excalibur has been running for five days! The tomato "chips" are good snacks by themselves but I will store some to be rehydrated for cooking and we want to try layering them with garlic and oil to make our own version of sun dried tomatoes.

The pile has dwindled but as I look outside, I see hints of red peeking through the tangle of vines. There are more. MORE!

I suppose I shouldn't have put my sauce pot away quite yet...


Friday, May 25, 2012

See How My Garden Grows

While many around the country are just coaxing their tender seedlings from the soil, our garden has exploded. It helps that we get to plant in early February! Thing will slow down soon as temps are now consistently above 100 degrees but I'm enjoying the produce! I have regularly been hauling in eggplants, peppers, squash, peppers, beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, turnips and lettuces. So much bounty!

Our apricot tree delighted us this year with it's biggest crop yet....still not a big enough haul for jam but enough to allow my children to make a trip to the tree everyday at lunch for a week.

The pomegranate tree is LOADED. I'm excited to have a good juicer this year. I'm looking forward to lots of yummy juice!

We are enduring what I affectionately call the "tomato situation." Three years of bad tomato harvests instilled an overzealous desire to plant a ridiculous number of tomato plants in hopes of getting enough fruit to preserve. Be careful what you wish for friends. Our plants, some nearly five feet tall, have given us SO MANY TOMATOES. We eat them at every meal and I give them away to neighbors and friends daily. My son ventures out each morning and fills a plastic tea kettle with cherry tomatoes for him to eat with his breakfast. We have enough to preserve...and then some!

We planted "cut and come again" lettuce this year and I love it. It's a perpetual salad bar!

Our melon vines are coming along. Cantaloupe and watermelon threaten to take over the east side of our yard.

And of course, the zucchini. I really don't know why I plant more than one plant. Zucchini's prolific reputation never disappoints! I've made zucchini bread every week for almost a month, including a delicious new chocolate zucchini bread I just tried yesterday. It's more of a cake than a bread but it's got squash in it so it's healthy, right? Here's the recipe:
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 packed cups grated zucchini (don’t peel it)
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 F. Spray two 9×5 inch pans with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Add the oil and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients along with the zucchini and chocolate chips. Stir just until combined, and divide between the loaf pans.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the tops are cracked and springy to the touch. Makes 2 cakes.
How does your garden grow? Please share with us!