Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thankful Thursday (10/29)

So much to be thankful for these days. 
1. These two. 
They enjoy sharing their room. Ella has been doing some calisthenics in her bed at night (and during naps), and I've had to put grips under the feet of her bed to keep her from slamming her bed into walls, doors, and Jack's bed. I found them like this a few mornings ago. 

2.  This girl. 
She's starting taking steps by herself this week, she's babbling and attempting a few words (hi!, momma, dadda, Ella, Nana, kitty) and sounds (shh!, meow), she's can sign several words (more, milk, thank you, wind, all done), and she's just as sweet as ever with a (un?)healthy dose of sassy thrown in. We're working on toning down the sassy :) She also makes THE BEST faces. 
She's a character, and I'm thankful she's ours. 

3.  This boy. 
He's fun and energetic and has a sweet sense of humor. After 4 months of working with a speech teacher here at the house once a week, he's increased his spoken vocabulary from less than 10 words to almost 50. 
I'm thankful he's doing so well. 

4. My guy. 
He is LOVING his job. I've never seen him this happy to go to work and to work 10 to sometimes 17 hours each shift. Ever.  I'm so very pleased for him and so thankful he's been given this opportunity. Keep those prayers coming for safety and peace and good memory of the hundred and hundreds of roads and places he's required to know in the very large county we live in. 

5.  The man hanging out of my window. 
We are FINALLY dealing with the hundreds of thousands of bees living in our upstairs wall. They had to remove most of the inside wall piece-by-carefully-removed-piece to get to the hive and the bees. It's a 6-8 hour job, and they've been at it for nearly 4 now. 
That's a lot of bees. 
I'm thankful he could finally make it out here. Next up will be repairing the wall. :/

Today's filled with a lot of gratitude. I hope you have lots to be thankful for, too. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Garden Ravioli

So, Saturday I wanted to try something new in the crockpot. I didn't have a recipe, but I had lots of things to work with.  
I had a couple of jars of pasta on the shelf, a thing of stuffed ravioli and a bag of spinach in the freezer, and a box of cream cheese and a container of feta in the fridge. I wish I had some mushrooms, but there's always next time. 

~ 1 20 oz package ravioli (mine was stuffed with four cheeses)
~ 2 23.7 oz jars of Florentine Spinach & Cheese 
~ 3 oz of feta cheese
~ 1 8 oz box of cream cheese - cubed
~ 1 12 oz package of frozen spinach 

I started with one jar (23.7 oz) of Florentine Spinach and Cheese pasta sauce. 
I cubed a thing of cream cheese and tossed them in. 
Then, I added the frozen spinach (12 oz). 
Next, I poured in the package of frozen tortellini (20 oz--it's refrigerated when I buy it, but I stick it in the freezer, so it will last longer.)
I, then, guesstimated and poured on about 3 oz of feta cheese on top. 
Finally, I added the second jar of pasta sauce. I swirled around a few ounces of water in the jar to get the extra sauce out no poured that over everything to add a bit of moisture. 
I set it on "low" for 5 hours, stirring everything around 3 1/2 hours in. 

It turned out so tasty, and The Husband said it reminded him of a garden salad. He called it Garden Ravioli, and the name stuck. I'll add in mushrooms next time for some extra flavor, but overall, I think it turned out really, really well. It got a thumbs-up from the four adults and two toddlers who ate it that night, and we had leftovers for at least one more night. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Gosh, it's a pretty day!
It's 82° outside, and there's a slight breeze. It's almost cool in the shade. 
I read this article while I had breakfast this morning. It encouraged me to let Jack take a few risks and play outside my comfort zone more. So, after lunch, we headed out to the backyard. I always worried about ant beds and poisonous plants that could be growing along the fence line, so I normally follow him around and direct where he goes. 

Not today, my friends. 
I put Ella on a blanket with a few toys and sat next to her. She ignored the toys and played with (and tried to eat) all of the crunchy leaves and sticks on the ground around us. Eh, fiber. 
He pretended and ran with sticks, he dug in and poured rocks, he climbed on the playground, and he mowed the lawn (and his playground?). 
We stayed out there for nearly 45 minutes, and the only times I gave him directions were when he was trying to pour rocks in the middle of the yard and then again when it was time to clean up the toys and head back inside. 

I loved it. He loved it. More importantly, he realized his own boundaries (in the safety of our enclosed backyard) without me having to say anything. 

We'll do it again, and I'll do my best not to dictate his every move out there and to simply enjoy the quiet around me. 
We came back inside and had something to drink, and they both fell asleep almost as soon as their heads hid their mattresses.
I'm eating ice cream now and watching an episode of Fixer Upper. It's been a good day :)

 Yesterday, I tried out a new crockpot recipe that I concocted all on my own, and it turned out really yummy. Check back here tomorrow for the details, pictures, and easy-peasy recipe. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Early to Bed: A Lullaby for My Unruly Children

So last night my children were loud and crazy, and Ella refused to quit whining/crying from before dinner until almost bedtime. Instead of going crazy right along with them while they were in the tub, I started telling them that they were going to be heading to bed early. I just kept repeating it: early to bed, early to bed, early to bed with you. Then, I started humming it to a tune.
I completed the chorus, and it stuck in my head the rest of the evening. 
Tonight, I sang it to them before bed again and figured I ought to come up with a verse to go along with it. 
I think it turned out sort of pretty, so you know maybe I'll become a famous lullaby writer or something one day ;) Feel free to sing it to your unruly children. No guarantees it will help anything, but my own kiddos stopped and listened as I sang, and Jack even tried to hum along, so there's that :)

Now, I'm hoping I get to go to bed early tonight! I think I'll hold off on those two loads of laundry I should be doing, finish watching an episode of Fixer Upper (BEST. HGTV SHOW. EVER), and call it a night. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sworn In

So, The Husband got a call a few minutes after 9 this morning telling him he needed to be up at the jail to be sworn in at 10. Yeah, that's not a whole lot of warning to get two adults and two little ones ready and out the door. But, we did it. 
Because of the very short notice, his family wasn't able to come, and neither could my mom (we missed you all!!). My dad and sister were able to make it though, and that's really the only reason we have pictures, haha. (Thanks, Dad and Beth!) 
My hands were shaking since I hadn't had a chance to eat breakfast yet, so almost every picture I took with my phone turned out blurry. :/

It was a very simple, short ceremony. 
Perfect for our crazy little family with a baby girl who was missing her nap. You can tell how thrilled she was. Especially when the sheriff held her as I pinned on The Husband's new gold badge. Aw, memories ;)
I think the two of us thought this day would never come, but it did. God was faithful. And, now our family has added "deputy" to the list of professions represented. 
It's been a good day!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Tips - Why I Love Baking Soda and White Vinegar

**updated at the bottom with two other uses I forgot!**
I'm all about the cheap, y'all. I look for ways to reuse things or get discounts on items we need or use household products in ways that others might not. 

Two of those items are baking soda and white vinegar. 

Years ago, back when I was dating The Husband, I read about people who washed their hair with baking soda instead of shampoo. It was said that this was a healthier option because, unlike shampoo, which strips your hair of oil (therefore telling your scalp to produce more), the baking soda simply cleans the hair and scalp. It took several weeks for my hair to get used to it, but I've been so pleased with the results. I only wash my hair once every 5 or so days once I've straightened it because it gets oily around the 5th day. If my hair is curly, and I've put product in it to contain the frizz, then I wash it every other night (sometimes every night if it's gotten knotted). 
I mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of warm water in an old squeeze bottle. I wet my hair, squeeze just enough onto my scalp to start scrubbing, work it through my hair until I get it feeling soft, and then I rinse. Basically, I use it just like I would a dollop of shampoo. 
As a conditioner I use a spray bottle with half water and half white vinegar. I spray it on, comb it through, clip it up, and let it sit for a minute or two while I wash my body. Then, I rinse it out and spray in a leave-in conditioner. Clean, conditioned, and done on the cheap. :) 
Because I trusted it on my hair, I decided when Jack was little to use baking soda in his bath water instead of soap, which has tons of chemicals. He had/has sensitive skin, as does Ella, so soap just isn't great for them. But, baking soda sprinkled in warm bath water with a big spoonful of coconut oil mixed in sure does the trick at keeping them clean and keeping their skin less irritated and more moisturized!

Another use I've found for white vinegar is in our laundry. It softens and removes stinky smells in a most fabulous way (especially my loads of cloth diapers!). I use it instead of fabric softener. I haven't purchased fabric softener in over 5 years. I pour in my detergent, add my clothes, then pour in half a cup to a cup of white vinegar. Voila!

The other day, I found a neat experiment/learning-time activity to try out with Jack. It required baking soda, white vinegar, food coloring, and a medicine dropper. I didn't have a dropper, but my mom found one. Yay!
We tried it out this morning before church, and it was fun! It was also a great fine motor strengthening activity. We're getting those fingers strong for learning to write beautifully in a few years :)
The Bestie told me a few days ago that she cleans and deodorizes her sink drains with a mixture of those two, so I tried it out. So neat! I sprinkled baking soda all around the rim of the drain and over the drain hole. I pour half a cup of vinegar over it and let it do its thing. Once it stopped fizzing, I rinsed it all with hot water. This morning, after our experiment ended, I used the leftovers to clean the drain. No point in wasting all that baking soda and vinegar! Jack watched as the (colorful!) ingredients fizzed and cleaned the sink. 
A final thing I use white vinegar for is scrubbing my shower. I have a scrub brush that holds liquid. I mix half blue Dawn liquid soap and half white vinegar. After I've showered, while still in the tub, I use the scrub brush on the tub and shower curtain liner. It works well, and I'm not having to use a chemical spray with a strong odor. 
Fantastic. And cheap :)
So, there's my cheap tips for the day. Do you use either for anything else around you house?

**I totally forgot about these two!
* I use a half and half mixture of vinegar and olive oil in a spray bottle for furniture polish. It's awesome. 
* I also use a cup of vinegar in a pot filled with cold water to clean my fresh fruit.