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!