Thursday, August 28, 2014

Garden Update Aug 28th

Things have been growing, growing, growing in the garden! My pumpkins and winter squash are getting pretty big.
Winter squash

Carving pumpkins

more carving pumpkins

Decor pumpkins (mini pumpkins)

I think I will have to let them grow over onto the cement. Maybe I can lay some burlap down or something to keep them from getting burned. I had quite a bit of a caterpillar problem for a couple weeks. Every morning I went out and picked off all the caterpillars I could find.
the most I found in one morning- 5 caterpillars
Now that the caterpillars are mostly gone, the squash bugs have made their way in and are trying to take over! I squished as many of the eggs and bugs as I could but I am going to try some peppermint essential oil and see if that deters them. I really want to keep my garden organic. That's one of the big reasons I wanted to grow my own food! I feel I am going to be battling bugs constantly. If you have any suggestions on how to organically deter bugs from your garden, please let me know!

Today I added some bat guano to the soil around the pumpkins and squash.

I also ordered a huge bag of fertilizer pellets from Azure standard. I'm not sure which fertilizer I will use for the rest of the soil. I would like to fertilize it this weekend though, and possibly plant a few more things as well. I received my seeds in the mail a week or so ago. I was so excited!

Carrots- Danvers 126, Cosmic purple
Celery- Tendercrisp
Onion- Stuttgarter, Yellow of Parma
Swiss Chard- Rainbow
Lettuce- Crisp Mint, Outregeous
Cabbage- Early Flat Dutch
Broccoli- De Cicco

I also have some heirloom radish seeds and a head of garlic for planting. I realized one thing I completely forgot about planting this fall is spinach! How I could forget about that I have no idea. We eat that green more than any other in this house! Oh well, I may order some, I may not. I haven't decided yet. I don't want to overwhelm myself.

I've got my garden planner all set up and organised with what to plant where. I hope I haven't bit off more than I can chew! I've already decided I am going to blog less so I can spend more time with my kids. When business gets busy (which it always comes in waves for some reason), I won't be posting much. I've also been doing a little preschool work activities with my daughter. I'm hoping she will enjoy helping in the garden with me.

Do you have an organic garden? What are you growing this season?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WIAW- Sugar Detox Update

I recently may have gained some new readers, so just to clarify, WIAW stands for What I Ate Wednesday. It is a link up I do most Wednesdays over at Peas and Crayons. It's fun to link up with my weekly eats and check out other bloggers eats as well! Check it out and join in on the weekly fun if you feel so inclined.

Only Whole Grains- week 2 sugar detox

So far this week's eats look like this:

Breakfast- vanilla greek yogurt, coffee with local honey
Lunch- leftover pulled pork on a piece of homemade whole wheat bread. (I forgot the salt in the bread recipe so it turned out a little bland. They rose perfectly but then deflated in the oven. I'm guessing it maybe had something to do with the salt? Also, for the sweetener I used half molasses, half maple syrup instead of the honey.)
Dinner- Mongolian "beef" and Broccoli with brown rice (I used a venison roast instead of beef.) It turned out great with the venison and I will definitely make it again if my hubby gets another deer this year! The only thing I have to say is the sauce was WAY too sweet! (maybe because I have been doing the sugar detox?) I will use less brown sugar next time.

Breakfast- Peanut butter whole wheat toast, coffee-black
Lunch- Tuna sandwhich on whole wheat bread with half an orange

Dinner- Guacamole Bacon Burger on whole wheat bun, sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli. I took my dad out to dinner for his birthday. We went to Red Robin. I should say that I am pretty sure the whole wheat bun was not 100% whole wheat. So I may have cheated a little... That burger was so incredible,though!

Breakfast- Bob's Red Mill gluten free hot cereal topped with coconut milk, blueberries, and maple syrup.

Lunch- will probably left over hot cereal, maybe topped with some chopped veggies and balsamic vinegar... I'm not quite sure yet.
Dinner- will be "Taco Slop"  oh my gosh I love this recipe! I have some leftover brown rice that I cooked on Monday that I will serve with it.

Snacks I've been eating:
celery with peanut butter
sargento cheddar cheese sticks
and this vegan protein shake

It has only vegetable proteins and no soy. It is sweetened with sugar and stevia so I will only be able to have this for another week or so. For now, though, it's great when I'm needing a snack or some extra energy. Better than a soda, right? I found it at Albertson's if you were interested. It was only $18.99 if I remember correctly.
Next week is No Desserts! I might die. Okay probably not, but the only natural sweeteners I can have will be a little added to food or coffee/tea, or in yeast bread. I have been having cravings quite a bit lately. I am pretty sure it's because of the dang cookies I made last week. I am feeling it.
I have been recently taking a round of antibiotics for a persistent UTI. I tried curing it without them (took d-mannose supplement) but it just wasn't going away. It's a good thing I am doing this sugar detox, though, because the antibiotics are killing the good bacteria as well as the bad. Eating more sugar will only feed the bad bacteria and could cause me to get even more sick. I know I will feel 100 times better at the end of this 8 week challenge!

Have you ever done a sugar detox diet? What was the hardest part for you?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sugar Detox Challenge- Week 2

Only Whole Grains

This week for the sugar detox challenge I will have to choose only whole grains. No white flours. Also still stay away from high fructose corn syrup. This is because the body processes white flours about the same way as refined sugars.

Last week was fairly easy, even through my stomach bug incident. I did crave a Coke a couple days. I didn't give in, though! On Friday I made homemade chocolate chip cookies. The kind I haven't been able to eat for months. You know, with butter, and eggs, and tons of sugar? Yes. The first bite I took, it didn't taste right. I can't explain it. It was almost too rich tasting. It was so strange. Either way, I can't have anymore this week since they have white flour in them.

Tonight will be a test for me. I am taking my dad out to dinner for his birthday. Finding something to stay within the challenge guidelines will be more difficult since I don't know what ingredients are used in the food. Hopefully it wont be too difficult. I'm sure I wont starve.

I'll update tomorrow on this week's progress.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sugar Detox Challenge Week 1

So I am writing my WIAW post a day late. On Tuesday I came down with a horrible stomach bug which landed me in the E.R.. I was severely dehydrated. Needless to say, I was trying to rest yesterday and get back up to par. My daughter also caught the bug so I was taking care of her yesterday as well. Although it put a slight hindrance on my sugar detox challenge, I still was able to avoid high fructose corn syrup.

Breakfast: Peanut butter on wheat toast and coffee with 2tsp of local honey

Lunch: Romaine salad with broccoli, onions, carrots, red bell pepper, and bacon. Dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Snack: "Thunder Cake" A storm was rolling in and my daughter is afraid of thunder so we read the book Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco and made a makeshift thunder cake. It wasn't the recipe from the book. Instead I sort of used this recipe. I omitted the brown sugar and only used 1/4 cup white sugar. Then I used 3/4 cup sugar free applesauce and added a little bit more flour.

Dinner: Spaghetti (my husband made it since I had an ICAN meeting) using my homemade canned spaghetti sauce.

Breakfast: Loaded veggie scrambled eggs- with broccoli, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, spinach, and cheese. Coffee- black

Lunch: Left over spaghetti

At this point I started getting sick and couldn't hold anything down.

Breakfast: plain cereal (no milk) and Power Aid

Lunch: Campbell's chicken noodle soup, crackers, and more Power Aid and water

Dinner: Southwest Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime dressing (I forgot to take a picture) - I needed some real food but didn't want anything too heavy, and this was great. Oh, I added grilled chicken to that recipe.

Next week is only whole grains. I am probably going to be baking some whole grain bread today. I haven't actually made any before with just whole wheat. Hopefully it comes out okay. I need my peanut butter toast! I know the hardest week for me will be no bread, or starches. I am already not looking forward to it! I need to stay positive though.

Do you have any favorite recipes for whole/ sprouted grain breads?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sugar Detox Challenge- Day 1

I have always had a sweet tooth, okay sweet TEETH! Since having my children I have changed our diet to include less and less processed foods, but I just love my baked goods! I love sweets, breads, ice cream, chocolates, you name it! A while ago I learned about candida overgrowth and how this can affect your body physically and emotionally. I'm not sure I have a candida overgrowth but I do eat a lot of the foods that could cause it. I have been telling myself for a while now that I should do something to change that.

Well, somewhat suddenly, my friend informed me she was taking the Sugar Detox Challenge. It is an 8 week gradual detox of sugars to help reduce your cravings and change your diet for the better. She invited me and some others to take it with her. I figured, what the heck! I have been meaning to do this for a while now, I might as well stop puting it off! 

So in order to keep myself accountable, I've decided to share my journey with you! For the next 8 weeks I will post about the challenge and how it's going. On Monday I will introduce that week's challenge and on Wednesday (when I usually do my WIAW- what I ate Wednesday link up) I will write about how it's going and what I've been eating. I encourage you to join me! If you have a huge sweet tooth, or just would like to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, you should take the challenge! If you would like to purchase the e-book please click here. I recommend getting it but you don't HAVE to. It has some great information about the different types of sugar and it also has some meal plan ideas for each week.

If you do take the challenge please feel free to comment on my posts about how it is going for you as well!!

Sugar Detox Challenge- Week 1

No High Fructose Corn Syrup

You will want to check any processed foods you may have. This includes pre-packaged bread, condiments and dressings, etc. Look for high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or fructose on the labels.

Because we have cut out a lot of processed foods in my house already, this one shouldn't be too incredibly difficult. I do drink a Coke every so often and I love cereal! (Vanilla Chex is my weakness!) I have been a lot better with those though and like I said, I haven't been eating them very often. So far today hasn't been too bad. I think this week will be ok. Today we ended up going to the new Sprouts Farmers Market for our groceries (which is pretty far from us). The kids wanted a snack for the drive home and I did have to stop and think about what to get for us all. We ended up getting some peanut butter filled pretzels. (sans HFCS) Next time we need to go out I will have to be better prepared!

Will you take the Sugar Detox Challenge with me?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chicken and Rice- a Pressure Cooker Recipe

I've been pretty busy this week trying to finish up a custom Mei Tai style baby carrier, so I haven't written any new posts. My apologies. Here is a recipe to make you feel better!
*** Don't have a pressure cooker? No problem! You can still make this recipe. Read on to find out how!

Chicken and Rice - A Pressure Cooker Recipe 


2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c brown rice
3 c chicken broth or water
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp season salt (season all)
1 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 c cold water
1/2 c frozen peas

Heat oil in pressure cooker on medium high heat. Add cubed chicken and cook just until they change color (about 2-3 minutes). Add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic and saute for 2 min. Add rice, chicken broth, italian seasoning and season salt.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Put lid on pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Lower heat and cook for 20 minutes.
 Reduce pressure and carefully open lid. Add frozen peas. Wisk cornstarch with cold water. Add to pot and stir. Turn heat to medium low and cook until slightly thickened. Makes about 4 servings.

*If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can make this recipe in a covered pot or dutch oven. Just increase cook time to 45 minutes. Check doneness of rice and increase cooking time if necessary.

**You may not need to add the cornstarch slurry if the chicken and rice isn't too wet. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

ICAN - International Cesarean Awareness Network

On Saturday I spent half of the day at an event here in town called Nurturing Naturally. It is a breastfeeding and birth fair and this year was the second annual event. 

I think I have mentioned this before, but I am a local chapter co-leader of ICAN of Southern Nevada. It stands for International Cesarean Awareness Network

"The International Cesarean Awareness Network is a 501c3 non-profit advocacy and support group whose mission is to improve maternal and child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery and promoting vaginal birth after cesarean.(VBAC)"

After having a cesarean birth with my son, I have wanted to help other women have a better birth experience and spread the word about the benefits of VBAC and natural birth to other people in the valley. I wanted to have a booth at the Nurturing Naturally event to spread the word of ICAN of Southern Nevada and how it can help mothers. 

I had some great info-graphics from ICAN international! 

I think it turned out really great! I had a few different interested women who signed up for more information. I think it was great exposure for our local chapter. I hope we get some more people to come to our monthly meetings. 

If you are interested in cesarean or VBAC support or awareness, please come join us at our next monthly meeting! They are held the third Monday of every month at 7pm at 7455 W Azure Dr. Suite 120, Las Vegas, NV 89130. 

Find more information here:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Garden-Aug. 8th 2014

I haven't been able to post anything the last couple days. A cold snuck it's way into our home and my daughter and I have been fighting it off. I'm feeling a bit better today, though, so this morning I went out and checked on our garden.

We planted carving pumpkins and decor pumpkins last Wednesday, July 30th. We had a good rain over the weekend and they sprouted on Monday. Here is what they look like today.

They did have about 8 sprouts total per square foot, but yesterday I went through and thinned them out. I will probably have to thin them down to one plant eventually.

Yesterday we also planted some winter squash. It's an heirloom variety called Boston Marrow. It's supposed to be really delicious for pumpkin pies! Since the pumpkins we planted are mainly for decoration, I thought the squash would be nice for cooking.

Another thing has been growing in my garden. Something I didn't plant...

 I assume it's because of all the rain we've gotten the last couple weeks. Plus the drip emitters have been on so its pretty wet in there. I did some research and found that they aren't bad. It does mean good things are happening in the soil. You don't have to pick them. They will die eventually and then you just till them into the soil and they will provide healthy organisms for your soil. At least that's what I have been reading. If I am way off base here please let me know.

That's all for now, I am going to get some more rest and try to kick this cold!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Un-schooling Update

After deciding to forego a planned curriculum for Melody for a while, I have found a ton of fun activities that she absolutely loves. Since making learning fun, her interest has been peaked again and she actually wants to learn! It has been much less stressful around here, and I feel we enjoy our time together a lot more. Here are the "un-schooling" activities Melody has been enjoying over the last month.

1. Art!

I have a ton of painting supplies, because I used to do a lot of acrylic/oil based painting before I had my kids. I have at least 3 large easels and so many canvases I can't even count them all! So I set up one of my easels and white boards for Melody to let her creativity flow! She loves drawing but this brought it to a whole different level! She used her markers this time, but I think I will let her use paints next time (outside). It's so great to see how she is progressing artistically. She is now starting to draw actual things and not just scribbles (which I'm sure were things to her!).

2. Imaginative Play

Forts and big empty boxes are great! We used an old ripped sheet to make a giant fort in the living room. (We now do this about 1 or 2 times a week.) She sets up pillows and blankets inside and invites all her dolls in. She especially likes having reading time in her fort. She will get 4 or 5 books from her bookshelf and ask me to read them in the tent. She also has a castle tent that sets up like a camp tent almost. This comes out when I need a little more space. It's smaller and the baby likes crawling in it too! I had a few extra large cardboard boxes left over from my Pampered Chef order. I let her get her crayons or markers and sit in the box and color. She turns them on their side and uses them as a fort as well.

3. Outdoor Play
Just about every morning after breakfast we head out back to have some outside play time. We throw the frisbee for the dogs, she rides her bike, plays in the water table, and digs in the dirt. We have nature hunts where I ask her to find a certain item somewhere in the yard and bring it to me. We also now have the garden which she enjoys helping with!

4. Games and Puzzles

We played Cootie for the first time a few days ago! Okay, well she just built the bugs but it was still fun! She still enjoys playing with a cool toy I made out of an empty cornmeal tub. I punched holes in the top and cut some pipe cleaners to fit. She has to put all the pipe cleaners back in the tub through the little holes on top. In the last couple days she has been obsessed with puzzles! We have about 4 of these 25 piece puzzles that she can do. At first I had to help but now she is doing it all by herself!

5. Playdough
I have a love hate relationship with this stuff. I love that I can put it out on the table and Melody will play with it for hours. I hate cleaning it up off the floor, the chairs, the table, her clothes... you get the point. I'm slowly getting over that part though. She loves it!

6. Leapfrog LeapPad
My awesome sister in law (check out her blog at Tales of A Toddler) gifted us this LeapPad. We only have 2 books for it right now, but Melody is just starting to get the hang of it. Right now she likes to play the games (colors, numbers, etc) on each page. I had to teach to her to LISTEN to what it says, now she enjoys it because she understands it. I am going to keep my eyes out for more books! 

7. File Folder Games
My step mom is a teacher so when she is downsizing I usually get a few things. She gave me a big box full of file folder games and we dug into it a couple weeks ago. Some of them are still a little too advanced (addition, subtraction, multiplication) but others are great for letter and number recognition and patterns. Since I introduced them to Melody as games, that is exactly what they are to her! It's fun! I do have to take out one at a time or half way through one she wants to open another, and another.

8. Bible Study
Recently we have been just reading her toddler Bible stories. Also I have been picking out verses that pertain to her actions or attitude and we read and recite them every day. Right now one of the verses is
Colossians 3:20
"Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord"
There are a number of verses that I could have chose that are similar but this one was short and to the point. If she disobeys or does something un-kind, we go to see what the Bible says about that behavior. It seems to be helping a lot more. She is understanding why her actions were not right and why she is receiving punishment for them. 

The next year of ABC Jesus Loves Me Curriclum starts at the end of the month. I may still take some Bible study ideas and activities from this curriculum. I will just try not to get caught up in "covering everything". I will go with the flow and let her lead.

Do you practice un-schooling? Do you have any tips? 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Installing Drip Emitters

The garden is basically ready now! The other day I installed all the drip emitters and last night I had Melody help me plant some pumpkin seeds. I just bought a couple packs from Star Nursery. It may be a little late in the season but who knows. It was just a trial run. What will it hurt? If anything maybe we will have a couple pumpkins by Halloween this year!


 I really wanted to get some fertilizer for the soil before I planted anything but I didn't want to wait any longer to plant the pumpkins. I actually bought a soil tester kit from the nursery and tested my soil the other day. It wasn't that great. It definitely needs some nourishment.

 My friend Lindsay over at HomespunSprout shared a link to some organic fertilizer that she bought from Azure Standard. It was only about ten dollars for a large 51lb bag. I thought I would check locally first and holy cow! It's so expensive! $25 for a 15lb bag! I guess I am going to wait until the next Azure order to get some from them.

In the meantime, I installed the drip emitters. I wasn't sure how many I would need or how much water I would need everyday. So when in doubt... Google it. Well in this case at least. What I found out was vegetables need about 1 inch of water per week. More if you live in hot or arid climates. Now after a ton more research and possibly some really bad math, I came up with some more numbers that were around 6 gallons of water per week for my planter size. I could be completely wrong here, so please do your own research. I ended up purchasing 1/2 gallon per hour emitters, which is the lowest I could find. My husband has the timers set for once a day watering for almost an hour. I may need to have him lower that time since I have the emitters space about a foot apart. I am taking this time as a trial and error period. I'm hoping I can figure it out without killing all the other plants in my backyard!

Here is the installation process of the drip emitters. I won't go into detail here, so if you are curious, do what I did and go on to Youtube. There are tons of videos on how to do this.

The kids and I stopped at our local Plant World to look for some fertilizer (that was way too expensive) yesterday. I thought Melody would enjoy seeing all the exotic birds and the coy pond they have there. I was right! She didn't want to leave. She enjoyed the turtles the most! At least she got to see some animals so it wasn't a total waste of a trip.

How do you water your garden? Do you use drip emitters? What is your watering schedule?

***** Don't forget to enter my Handmade Apron Giveaway! It lasts until Saturday night!