Weekend Wishlist

So… my birthday is in a couple of months, and I’ve been spending a lot of time dreaming about what I’d love to have.

A bit of background–my husband and I rarely do gifts. We are not big gift people, and gifts are not usually a huge deal. When we want something, we save up and get it, regardless of the occasion. But lately, there’s a growing amount of things I really want, so I’m going to start a weekly wishlist to let you know what my interests are and to give you some gift-giving ideas for the nerdy, natural, homesteading, stay-at-home mothers in your life. I can’t be the only one.

1. The Sims 4

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I know. I know. It’s not a real game. My husband makes fun of me endlessly for playing and LOVING The Sims. I’ve been a fan since Sims 1, and now I just have to have the latest.

2. Up24 Fitness Tracker

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I’ve been doing a bit of comparison shopping for fitness trackers and it was between a couple bands, and the UP24 has everything I need and the style I’d like.

3. Oneplus One Smartphone

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With Cyanogen built-in from the get-go, this $299 smart phone is one I’d love. I’ve been without a smart phone for a couple years now, just recently getting a “dumb phone” so that I can make calls and text when I’m away from my tablet or computer, but I’d really love a smart phone some time in the near future.

What’s topping your wishlist right now? Since I already received my Erin Condren Life Planner, I have gained a little patience to pull through until I can save up for my wishlist items. I’m sure there’s a lot more that I would love to have, so I’ll update it as I think of things. Have a great weekend!

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A Look at the 2014/2015 Erin Condren Life Planner

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In 2011, I dropped what I consider to be a significant amount of cash on a calendar. A paper calender, y’all. Yes, I had a smart phone. I had the Google suite of products and sync’d my contacts, calendar, and email. Yet, I always seemed to be behind and unorganized. I saw something online about the Erin Condren Life Planner and decided to ask for it for Christmas from Rial. When it arrived, I was in love. I loved the stickers, the Morning/Day/Night layout, and all the “extras” that came along: gift labels, personalized stickers, a “keep-it-together” pouch, and the ruler bookmark. I had very little qualms with my Life Planner, and wanted another the next year. Our budget in 2012/2013 did not support this purchase, however, and I’ve been without my beloved Life Planner for over 2 years.

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As you know, we began working towards homeschooling Alden this year and I made the executive decision to include a new Planner in the budget with home school curriculum. Today, my planner arrived. Our post-person must be a sneaky ninja because I was locked in on the tracking page and when it said, “Delivered” I expected it to be out in the mailbox. Nope, on the door step.

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I pulled out my phone, took some pictures, cut the bubble wrap in half (one for each child), and began checking out all the features that have been added since my original Life Planner in 2011.

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For those of you who have never owned a life planner, or haven’t in a while, here are the features I especially LOVE:

  • Laminated Monthly Tabs
  • Clear, Snap-In Ruler bookmark (previously, it was opaque)

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  • Goals on EVERY weekly spread
  • Blank lines on the bottom of each day for logging exercise, meals, to-dos, whatever
  • Double-sided “Keep-It-Together” folder at the back of the calender

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  • Removable perpetual calendar (previously included in the front of the life planner pages)

I keep EVERYTHING in order in my Erin Condren Life Planner. I keep important times and appointments on the monthly spread, as well as more routine-oriented tasks on the weekly spread. I use the Morning sections for our home school tasks. Most of my events happen during the evening slot: band practice, ballet, judo, Pampered Chef. In the miscellaneous list section, I track my weight, my goal weight, and my exercise goals.

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I use the stickers on the monthly pages for important dates, and because I didn’t use all of them from my last life planner, I have plenty to use for the weekly dates as well.

I’m not a super crafty scrapbooker, so you won’t really see me adding a lot of Washi Tape, stickers, or pictures. I’m a planner purist I guess you’d say, and I really just use plain ink pens and the stickers provided. I feel that I’m able to see more and feel more productive that way.

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One feature that I have yet to see anywhere else that I am absolutely IN LOVE with is the theme consistency throughout the planner. In my 2011 life planner, each month would have a different theme, and different designs for the weekly pages. In the new 2014/2015 planner, the Party Pops theme is carried throughout the entire Life Planner. Each month has a color scheme, but the dots are used on every single month. It’s that kind of attention to detail that I love in Erin Condren products.

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Am I the only one still using a paper planner? I think they are really making a comeback, and I’m super excited. I love whipping out my life planner to schedule Pampered Chef shows or doctor’s appointments and getting compliments.

Another cool thing about EC products is the awesome referral program. When you sign up using my link, you get $10 off of ANY order and I get $10 for referring you. Win-Win. Join me in my love affair with all things Erin Condren, won’t you?

Our First Day of Homeschool

Hi everyone! I have been pretty confident for about a year that we would be homeschooling our kids, at least until their middle school years. At some point I will go into my decision-making process, but for today, I’d like to just share our first experience with homeschooling.

Alden turned three on the 9th of this month, and I had originally planned on beginning the Sonlight preschool curriculum the day after labor day. While nothing is drastically different between preschool and our regular day, I had hoped to transition to a little more of a daily routine. Well, we ordered the majority of the books required for Sonlight’s program (purchased off Amazon because we already owned a couple and were able to get them a little cheaper) and they arrived on Tuesday. From the moment we opened the box, Alden was asking, “Can we do school now?” So Wednesday we gave it a shot.

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It was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be. Short.

My kids typically wake up around 7am when Rial leaves for work. Usually, I just lounge around a few hours and then we start our day, but I’ve been making a true effort to get up and moving and it’s made a huge difference in my productivity. I made the kids breakfast and while they ate (I can’t eat that early) I drank some coffee and made my bed and tidied Noah’s toddler bed. After Alden finished her breakfast, I helped her get dressed and she helped make her bed. One thing I already love about homeschooling is that we don’t have to rush through daily activities and I can really integrate them as a learning activity.

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After beds we made, I started a load of laundry. My washer runs exactly 48 minutes, which I thought would be the perfect window to get some learning in. For your information, it was around 8:30am at this point. Both of my kids are morning people, I am not.

I made the obligatory first-day-of-school picture and picked a story to read. Alden and I read one story from the Bible, discussed it, and then read one of our Sonlight preschool books, Baby Says from the Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics. I highly recommend this collection. It’s an amazing value. While Alden and I read, Noah played with Duplos. He hung with us for a few minutes, but didn’t make it long with the longer Bible story.

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After our story time we colored at the table. Alden LOVES work sheets and work books, so I gave her a sheet to work on coloring in the lines. She did surprisingly well and loved using markers. I, however, made the mistake of purchasing the cheap kind and when it started to fade, her meltdown began.

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While Alden was coloring, I was working on simple word flash cards with Noah. I hadn’t used anything like this with Noah, but at 18-months he only has a handful of words, and because I let him keep a pacifier (my opinion) until not too long ago, he’s been a bit behind picking up new words. Yes, I know kids develop differently. Any how, he started to pick up a lot of the words and loved looking at new pictures. Since I’ve started school with Alden and really focusing in on both of them at different levels, I’ve noticed a big difference.

Once the marker faded and Alden decided she needed a green marker to color grass on the page, things took a turn. Alden began to whine, which is a big “no” in our house. I told her to go sit on her bed, which she did. I let Noah down out of his high chair to play and decided we would be done for the day. Noah joined Alden in her room and wanted vitamins and joined in with Alden’s ongoing meltdown when I said, “no.” We had a little “personal time” in respective rooms while I prepared lunch and went about my daily chores.

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After lunch, we did our house chores, which also work well with homeschooling. Alden helped sort silverware.

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Outside, Alden and Noah helped feed and water our chickens and check for eggs. We checked on our garden and went inside for naps.

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So far, this very short preschool time has worked for Alden. As we progress, I will add more structured supervised activities.

 

Review: Just Do Yoga

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Sorry if I get a little spammy in the next few days, I have quite the backlog of reviews to get out.
Today I’ll be taking a look at a book I received a while ago from tomoson.com. From the back cover,

Julie Schoen, yoga expert, author, and contributor at yoginiology.com, makes practicing yoga fun and simple in her new complete guide for beginners, seasoned practitioners, and beyond.

I initially got the book because the only time I can truly exercise without interruptions is before the kids wake up in the morning. However, if I want to work out early, whatever I do needs to be something quiet. Voila! Yoga! When I received the book I was surprised by its size. It contains so many sequences and difficulty levels that this may be all I ever need. While it’s a little more difficult to interpret pictures instead of watch a video, once I get the hang of what she’s doing, it becomes much easier.
As I mentioned, Julie includes many sequences for so many situations, including:
-morning yoga
-night time yoga
-sequences for flattening the tummy
-sequences for a happy back
-poses for reducing stress
-immunity-boosting sequences
-yoga for the office
-and yoga poses for overall body sculpting

In addition to the sequences, Julie includes an index of poses in both sanskrit and English, which is incredibly helpful.

I have loved trying several of the yoga poses and look forward to incorporating yoga into my daily routine.

If you’d like more information on Julie Schoen you can check out her personal site or on Yoginiology.com.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using <a href=”http://www.tomoson.com/?code=BOTTOM98c5785ac9c3c4b2daa5acb81d15abf5″ rel=”nofollow”>Tomoson.com</a>. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Review: Kombucha Revolution

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About a year ago, Rial asked me if I had heard of Kombucha. Together, we looked into it, and thought it sounded intriguing. This “magical elixir” had mysterious roots and boasted many benefits from longer life, better gut health, and weight loss. A couple of days later, I coincidentally saw a post from a friend on Facebook. “I have some extra Kombucha SCOBYs, does anyone want one?” I obviously said, “YES!” and jumped right into the world of brewing Kombucha.

For the past year I have basically brewed pretty boring ‘booch and I’ve been satisfied. I like the bubbly, tart flavor. I enjoyed the relaxed feeling it gave me. My kids also enjoyed it. My husband, however did not. I brewed and drank Kombucha for a while, until I got lazy and left my SCOBY in the fridge for a couple months. Two weeks ago, Rial said to me, “Do something with it or give it away.” At this point, my beautiful SCOBY was a 3″ solid blob. I peeled the top layer off, determined to once again brew and then sliced the remainder into 4 sections and offered it to my friends on Facebook.

About a week ago, I logged on to Blogging For Books to post my review for The Nourished Kitchen and see what new review copies were available. I saw Kombucha Revolution and snagged it immediately! It arrived a couple of days later and I’ve read and re-read several times!

Kombucha Revolution was authored by Stephen Lee, co-founder of Tazo Tea and Stash Tea. His tea experience is evident and the book is basically a “cook book” of Kombucha. It includes homebrews, infusions, juices and smoothies, spirited cocktails, dressings and dunks, kombucha at the table, and sweets and ices. I particularly enjoyed reading about how to use kombucha in cooking, since prior to this book I had only been drinking it.

While Rial is still not a fan, he’s given me one more opportunity to test his kombucha pallet. This week I’m brewing some green tea Kombucha for a milder infusion in hopes that he joins me in my own personal Kombucha Revolution.

If you’d like to pick up your own copy, you can find it here.

 

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. This article may include Amazon Affiliate links.

 

Review: The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle

love cookbooks. I have plenty of them and love to just browse new recipes and learn new techniques. I cannot tell you how excited I was when I logged on to Blogging For Books and saw that The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle was one of the featured books. I have been following The Nourished Kitchen on Facebook for quite a while now since we’ve been venturing into whole foods and homesteading and I have fallen in love.  have wanted to get this cookbook since it was first advertised so you can imagine my excitement when I opened the box last week to see my very own copy.

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First, let me go ahead and tell you, many of my cookbooks boast “dinner to the table in 30 minutes or less!” This is no such cook book. Some recipes include directions for 7 days of fermenting and brewing time! But I can promise you, it is all well worth it.

The first thing I noticed about the cookbook was the vibrant pictures and just the sheer volume of recipes included. In addition, I really enjoyed the non-traditional (entrees, deserts, poultry, pies, etc.) lay out of the book. The Nourished Kitchen is divided into the following sections: from the garden, from the pasture, from the range, from the waters, from the fields, from the wild, from the orchard, and from the larder.

When I opened the cook book, I got sucked in, and could not stop reading. I loved the stories about the recipes, and the simplicity of the real food ingredients. My husband even started reading it, and he’s been searching for recipes for our blueberries we just harvested. He’s got the bookmark on the “melted blueberries with ginger and mandarin orange” recipe. Just listen to the description:

Tossed into frothy butter scented with ginger, blueberries soften and seem to melt away.

Yum. To help those new to the Traditional Foods Lifestyle, McGruther also includes a glossary, resource list, and a list of traditional food advocacy groups. The book is available to purchase in hard copy as well as in e-book format. I would highly recommend picking up a hard copy just to have on your shelf and thumb through when you need inspiration! I cannot wait to put some time in the kitchen preparing some of these wonderful-looking recipes!

If you’d like to learn more about The Nourished Kitchen or author Jennifer McGruther you can check out the links below:

If you’d like to see more of the book before purchasing, you can read the first chapter here. I received my copy of The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. I thoroughly enjoy this book and highly recommend it!

Book Review: Fierce Beauty

I have had this book on my shelf for quite a while. I got it for free to review before having my son, over a year ago. Since then, I’ve undergone bariatric surgery for weight loss. I truly believe God put this book back in my focus at this time in my life. Before kids, my husband and I were always outside. We loved backpacking and camping and generally just being outside. However, with marriage came weight gain until I eventually became morbidly obese. I hated myself and my body and my inability to enjoy the outdoors with my husband. 
I lost the image of God’s beauty for me and since I was no longer back packing, I had lost sight of God’s beauty in the world. Since having surgery, I have been on a quest to discover my God-given beauty. 
This book is an amalgamation of stories that blend together with one central theme–that women can lay down the “earthly beauty” and the crown of this world and pick up the sword of victory in God.
The story could not have come at a better time as well since I’ve been able to explore the outdoors with my husband again. I’ve loved hearing the stories of the wild outdoors and about girls picking up their swords and laying down their crowns of earthly beauty.

Getting in some protein

I am definitely a creature of habit. I try to keep the same routine most days, and every week for me is laid out about the same. It helps me stay in control and even extends to what I eat.
Like most bariatric patients, my doctor recommends that I get 70+ grams of protein. Planning my daily food intake and sticking to that plan is the only way I’m able to do that. When I plan my food, I know how many calories, carbs, and proteins I can expect, so I’m never worried about running out of calories when dinner rolls around, since I typically like to enjoy most of what the rest of my family is eating (that’s important to my husband, as well).
Since every day is basically the same, here’s an idea of what I’m eating for the majority of the day.

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The nutrition breaks down like this:

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As you can see, before dinner I’m at 646 calories, 82 grams of protein, and 20 carbs. This leaves just under 500 calories and a couple carbs for dinner, although if I stay under my calories, I don’t worry about the couple extra carbs.

One thing I should mention is that these are spaced out. Around 7:30 am (when my kids are waking up and eating breakfast) I make my coffee with a scoop of chocolate powder. Sometime after 9am I drink my Premier Protein shake. After I feed the kids lunch and put them down for nap, I cook my eggs and meat. Finally, around 3pm I make a chocolate shake.

Many surgeons (including mine) really would prefer your proteins come from solid food, but I’ve noticed I have a really hard time getting enough protein if I am not drinking shakes, especially since I’m so busy with my two kids and keeping the house clean to focus on food all day, that’s another reason making a plan and sticking to it works.

In order to eat so few calories, and lose fat and not lean muscle, it is essential to get enough protein. When I don’t get my protein, my weight loss stalls.

Another essential component is water intake. Between each “meal” I drink 20 ounces of water, around 100 ounces daily.

I  haven’t always planned my intake, but doing so has contributed to my total weight loss of over 80 pounds in the past 10 months. I still have around 60 pounds to lose, so be sure to stick with me to see my future updates.

DIY Laundry Soap

Hi everyone! Long time no see! You can check out all of our new ventures at Mount View Homestead, but today I just wanted to feature a post about homemade laundry soap. I’ve been using this for about a year and I LOVE it!

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I had been planning on writing up this post since we started the blog and this week we ran out of laundry soap–perfect timing! I got my inspiration to make our families laundry soap from How Does She and adapted it based on what our local store had in stock.

I’ve been using some variation of this recipe for probably a year now and I’ve only made it twice. This will be the third time. That’s right, two batches of this stuff last’s a year. Maybe you’re thinking I only do a load of laundry a week, that would make sense, right? Well, let me remind you, there are two parents and two very messy young children in this house and I cloth diapered Noah for the first 6-8 months of his life.  Cloth diapers excluded, I do about two loads of laundry every week day and sometimes more! So for two batches of detergent to last this long is amazing.

Just a disclaimer, I’ll be linking to my Amazon Affiliate account when I give you the prices of the laundry supplies so you can get your own and help us out! If you’re interested in a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime (we recommend it!) click here.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Baking Soda (Purchased at Costco for around $7, or here)
  • 1 Box Borax ($11.49, here)
  • 1 Box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda ($9.68, here)
  • 2 Cups OxyClean (Purchased in bulk at Costco, but you can get it here)
  • 1 Container Purex Laundry Crystals, any scent ($9.30, here)
  • 1 Zote Laundry Soap Bar ($4.25, here)

To begin, I recommend finding a big bucket to dump all the ingredients into. It will make mixing much easier. I added all the powdered ingredients first.

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Why yes, I do prepare all of my laundry soap outdoors on a beautiful old tree stump, thanks for asking.

After all the plain white ingredients (borax, baking soda, washing soda, and OxyClean), I added some color with the Purex Crystals and Zote Soap.

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The Purex is added as a laundry softener and to make things smell nice, but you could leave it out if you wanted. The Zote Soap was the most work, because you have to grate it into the mix, but it is a magnificent neon pink.

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Grate the entire bar into your bucket and you’re ready to mix it all together. The bucket we’re using is actually a recycled laundry detergent bucket. I like our detergent better.

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Once it’s mixed, keep it in an air-tight container so that moisture isn’t an issue. I like to use one of the little scoops that came in a formula container to measure out my soap for each load of laundry. I use 1 scoop for normal loads and 2 scoops for the kid’s laundry (or things that tend to be super dirty).

So far, I’ve had no issue with it irritating skin, which is a huge deal with my daughter’s horrible eczema. It smells nice, works well, and lasts forever a really long time.

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Have you made your own laundry soap before? How does it perform compared to what you can buy pre-made in the store? Let us know in the comments below!

This post is featured on The Prairie Homestead’s Monday Blog Hop as well as over on Mount View Homestead.

Molly Signature

In the Red.

I haven’t written any thing of substance in quite a while (story of this blog) and to be completely honest, I haven’t had the energy for the past 4 weeks to even think of anything important to write. So I guess that’s what I’ll be writing about today. The down side of Lap Band–the dreaded RED zone.

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I was in denial for a couple of weeks, because honestly, I wasn’t thinking about eating, and I wasn’t hungry, and I was dropping pounds super quick. But now it’s been nearly 4 weeks of not eating solids, barely eating proteins, and surviving on probably 20 ounces or less of water daily.

Yes,  I’ve lost close to 15-20 lbs, but quite honestly, I think I might have lost more if I were just a tad “deflated.” I’m sure I’m in ketosis since I’ve not eaten, but I haven’t given my body near enough calories to work with. It’s not that I’m not trying to eat. Believe me, I am. I can’t keep anything down, I burp a lot, and if I am able to eat something, it comes back up moments later. And my stomach doesn’t quit expelling things until every last morsel is out. I’m just worn out. I’m really wanting to try to wake up earlier and get things going for my family, but it’s tiring to just get out of bed. I want to start running again, but the thought of pushing a 50lb+ stroller is daunting to say the least.

Now, let’s get one thing straight, I in NO WAY regret getting surgery, I’m just in yet another phase of getting used to my band and where it needs to be. I think it was inflated just a tiny bit too much, and once I’m able to snag an appointment at the Bariatric center, I know we can get it all straightened out.

Until then, juice and water. Hopefully, it won’t be but a few more days.