Wednesday, June 20, 2012

getting rid of baby stuff

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I feel like getting rid of baby stuff.  I know that probably sounds a little odd, especially since I'm entirely anticipating that we will eventually have at least one more kid. (So the whole getting rid of baby stuff guarantees a baby may not apply, since I'm not declaring myself "done" and am not worried about whether or not we have another baby.)

I want to get rid of most of the baby clothes.  I want to get rid of the Tummy Tub (which I thought I would like, but really, didn't work for me).  And the Boppy.  And the MyBrest Friend pillow.  A few of my baby carriers. Newborn cloth diapers, and diapers I don't use that much. Infant toys that seem to be of little interest to Adelle. Baby stuff. I'm sure there's more floating around.

Things I'm not considering rehomeing: maternity clothes, and anything that I have reason to use in the near future for Adelle. And something else I thought of, but I can't remember what it was.

The silly thing is, I might end up buying some of that stuff again, but really? Most of the things I'm thinking of (some not even listed) are not things that were absolutely necessary. Very nice, nice enough to buy again if I thought that it would be beneficial (like the my brest friend pillow - super great, but I only used it for maybe 3 months. I don't think it even came out of the box after we moved.)

What say you? Ditch the baby stuff?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

if I were a boy

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When my parents were visiting a few weeks ago, my mom experienced first hand something I have known for some time.

I look like my brother.  So much so, that she said that when she caught a glimpse of me in the house from outside, she could have mistaken me for my little bro. See?  Even my mom agrees.

As for the evidence, please refer back to the original post I wrote nearly 5 years ago.  You'll understand.

But wait.  I look like my mom, too, also so much so that people sometimes mistake us for each other, including by voice. So if I look like my brother, and I look like my mom, and my brother looks like my dad, does that mean my mom and my dad look alike?

Horribly confusing.

But I have heard that does happen when people grow old together.

Not that they're old. Because they're not.  But they have managed to be married for more than 40 years, so they've spent two-thirds of their lives together. Therefore they are growing oldER together. Not old.

I should stop now.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I dread shopping... with kids

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Shortly after moving to my new home state, I called my mom and mom-in-law, and asked them how they survived shopping with several young children.  You see, I was in a desperate place.  I was having mommy meltdown, in addition to kid meltdown.

Here are thing things I gleaned from those conversations when shopping with young children:

Shopping is no longer fun. Don't shop for fun. Shop to get the job done.
Don't browse the aisles.
Make a list, and stick to it.
Go to as few stores as possible.
Go quickly and carry lots of snacks.
My favorite: don't shop with kids.

My poor kids still endure long shopping trips.  Just this week, all 4 of us made a LONG afternoon of it, hitting Goodwill, Sonic, Home (forgot my lists and coupons), Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Dominicks, Carters, and Meijer.  We were gone for about 6 hours.

Yes, that is a prefect storm for crazy making. But, we did well, all things considered.  My tools? Snacks, bribery (Toys!) and a promise of a treat when we got home.  We're constantly working on shopping manners, so most of the time, the kids are very well behaved.  It helps when we get compliments from shoppers and store employees.  It lets me know I'm not a complete failure as a parent!

A long day is not my typical shopping trip. Usually we'll just hit one, maybe two stores, and one other errand (the library, bank, whatever).  I usually try to leave most, if not all of the kids with Jude. 

However, there are some trips that are a special trip for just me and one kid.  I took Nathanael out, leaving the girls with Daddy, and it was actually an enjoyable time talking with him, and being able to pay attention to what he saw, and to answer his questions without interruptions, and without an older sibling constantly getting in his space (or vice versa). Elizabeth thinks shopping is boring, and doesn't want to go with me anymore (I guess Nathanael hasn't let her in on the secret that if you shop with just you and mom, you get a treat).

Once I realized that it was indeed an arduous task, and not just me being whiney, I was able to let go of the idea of liking shopping. I got comfortable with leaving some (or all!) of the kids with their dad. I used to feel guilty about that.  I don't anymore.  Totally easy to get over that and enjoy being able to shop with some speed (and being able to do a bit of browsing).

I guess that's just one more in a long list of expected changes as a result of parenthood. Shopping sucks.  Except when it doesn't.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

wednesday randomness

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sleeping baby
Sometimes I have so many ideas swirling around about what to post, I never actually get around to posting the ideas.  Trust me, I'm a FANTASTIC blogger in my mind!

In an effort to clear out the cobwebs, I offer a list of things I've thought about blogging about, but never got to it because I a) never took the photos to finish it b) finally took the photos but it's totally the wrong season to publish the post or c) never really fully fleshed out my thoughts past the initial idea d) decided it wasn't worth it.

air conditioning, as in central air. It's awesome!
grape jelly, in photographs
my container garden from this year
refinishing my cheap-o table. in blue.
my messy office. again.
my whirpool tub, which I have personally used 1 time since moving here.
parenting 3 kids
why I don't talk about God much anymore
how I love buying kid clothes
how I hate buying me clothes
going from 4 checkbooks to 1
feeling fat, and lazy
walking a 5k in a few days, for which I am totally unprepared
dairy-making, both being a milkbar and making cheese and yogurt. (got the ice cream covered)
wanting to take a vacation to somewhere beachy.
working on a family summer bucketlist. because it's what the cool kids do.
trying to balance the uselessness and wastefulness of so many kids crafts, with the importance of creative hands-on activities
wondering if the gov't really is tongue in cheek about the zombie apocalypse.
nursing bras
This Old Mac

Saturday, June 09, 2012

loving my thrift stores

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I have mentioned that I'm loving being so close to thrift stores. I've been shopping through them regularly, and I've been shopping garage sales ocassionally, too.

Here are some things I've found:

Two coffee tables.  Both would need work to get them presentable and proper in a well decorated house, but since we've already established my house is NOT well decorated, I'm not going to care about that.

The first is a lovely oval table - hard wood, cherry finish, with drop leaf sides. Since the top is already banged up, we're using it as a kids' work table. It's perfect, because it gives them plenty of space to work, and it's the right height for them to sit at with kid chairs. (Some day, I want to reupholster those chairs, since the kids are already beating through the vinyl.  Something colorful, don't you think?)

The second is a hard wood craftsman/mission style table, probably from some mass market seller.  Our dining table is pretty similar.  The screws have been stripped out where the legs join the top, and the bottom shelf needs some cosmetic work, but it will become a nice table for our family room.

I found a bunch of paper lanterns. I've been wanting to get some, but when they cost a dollar or two each, and I'm not totally sure of the colors and sizes I want, I just kept putting it off.  Good thing! I found a box of a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors for just $5. Score! I've already hung some up in the kid's room.  Now I need to acquire the light fixtures to go in them, and I'll have some fun lighting for their room.

One of my favorite finds recently was a Bissel little green machine.  Typically, those retail for around $80.  I picked mine up for $10.  It works great!

When thrifting/garage saling, I keep a list on hand of the things I'm looking for.  Sometimes I note the top price I'd pay, or the expected retail price so I can judge if I think something is a good deal.  Having a list also helps to keep me from buying too much off-list stuff, or in the case of kids clothes, buying more of what I already have.

Friday, June 08, 2012

why buy it?

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I've been on a bit of a DIY food kick.  Why buy some of this stuff, when you can make it yourself, without a lot of time investment? There are so many easy-to-find recipes on Pinterest, it seems a shame not to try them out.

Chocolate Syrup - Easy. No HFCS. Dairy free. Tastes yummy!

French bread - Good, but I need to work on my technique. And making it whole grain?

Hamburger buns - I tried a few recipes, and I have liked this one the best.  I like to use coconut oil, and it give it a slightly sweet flavor.

Ranch seasoning - I like the lack of preservatives, colorings, and HFCS.  I think it's really good.  It tastes fresher and less processed than store bought ranch.

Have any others to suggest to me?

And, a shout out to the blog Try it or Buy it.  I've really enjoyed seeing what she picks and her analysis of the worth of buying it vs. DIY.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

vanilla extract, the third

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I'm in the process of extracting my third bottle of homemade vanilla extract.

Soon This....
Will be This.

After my last post about putting the remainder of the vodka into the bottle for extract, I found that I had (apparently) exhausted the usefulness of my beans (and answered my own question!).  This tells me that I could get between 1 and 1.2 liters of extract out of the beans I had in the bottle.  My conclusion is that while I CAN get more than one batch of extract out of the beans, I can't get a full two bottles of extract (1.5 L) from the same beans.

The indicators to me that the beans were exhausted was that the after adding the last of the vodka (about 300 mL of it) the extract never improved in flavor, and had a consistently weak color, flavor and scent. I bought some new beans (this time as part of a group buy from Amadeus Beans).  I'm using the same bottles from the first batch (love the stopper tops).  I have a new vodka brand, too - Prairie Vodka, since the one I bought before isn't available here.  When I compared the new batch to the old one, at just a few weeks of extracting, I saw that the new bottle was darker in color, and had a stronger flavor than the old, which had been sitting, undiluted for several months, and should have improved.

I emptied little remaining vanilla/vodka from the old bottle, and pulled out the exhausted beans.  I'm reserving the liquid to add to a new bottle of extract, and I used the beans to try making some vanilla sugar (beans plus white sugar, let it sit for a while), which seems to have worked. I then finally ditched the old beans.

I've decided to start a second bottle of extract, considering the speed with which I have gone through my my initial batch of vanilla.  (And, considering my new ice cream maker, probably a wise idea.)  Since the vodka cost twice what I paid before, this vanilla will be a little closer to the price of store bought, but even so, well worth the effort. And, it'll be 100% organic!

If you want to read more about my adventures with vanilla, you can look here:

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Homemade Vanilla Extract - 2 months later
Vanilla Gone

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

ice cream maker

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I am the happy owner of a Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker Attachment.

I bought it a couple weeks ago on a shopping spree using rewards points and a discount coupon. I bought a bunch of other stuff, too (practical things like new silverware with enough pieces to actually have matching place settings! and replacement kitchen tools for lost or broken items).  The ice cream maker is my current favorite, though.

Does this hurt my efforts at getting fit? Maybe.  Since I have an ice cream maker, and it makes ice cream that is as good or better than store bought, why should I buy ice cream? And, since I am required (by the nature of the tool) to let the bowl freeze for a day prior to use, in addition to thinking ahead enough to prepare the ice cream batter/mix and chill it over night, there is an automatic potential to force a delay in consumption. And knowing myself, I won't consistently make ice cream such that I always have some on hand (too much planning).

I made the french vanilla recipe included in the instruction book.  Excellent. Smooth and creamy. I could actually taste the cream, and not just sugar, like in other ice creams! I also finally understood that French Vanilla Ice Cream is read as 'French' 'Vanilla Ice Cream', not the 'French Vanilla' 'Ice Cream' I had always read it to be.   It's all about preparation of the ice cream batter. I guess it's done the 'French' way.

I then made a Southern Living recipe that require no cooking.  It was easy to mix up, and the flavor was good (not as good as the first recipe), but it had more ice crystals in it, so a little less creamy and smooth than the first recipe. 

Since I had left over batter from batch two, I froze the bowl again, and made mint chocolate chip.  Super easy - once the batter was mostly frozen, I added a few drops of mint flavor and the chocolate chips. Wonderful!

I'll be experimenting over the summer with different flavors.  I'm so excited to have this - I've always wanted my own ice cream maker!
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