A year and a half ago I began this blog with the following paragraph:

I’m so excited to start blogging.  I used to write for fun.  Like fiction.  All the time.  Then about half way through high school I just stopped writing.  I’m so looking forward to starting up again!  Many of my friends have blogs and I always thought, “How in the world do they have time to be wives and mothers and blog all the time!?”  Well, I soon found out: My baby sleeps all the time!!  It is because of that (and, therefore, the amount of free time I now find myself with) that I decided to start this blog.  My life may change, in fact, I know it will, but at this point in time I have enough time to devote a few hours a week to this and the desire to share with you what the Lord is teaching me about my home, my health, and my heart.  My prayer is that this blog will be an encouragement to you in your journey to become a woman, wife, and/or mother after God’s own heart. (emphasis added)

I do still have “the desire to share with you what the Lord is teaching me.”

I do still feel that desire.  I still want to help others and I still want to learn from others.  I truly love what having this blog has done in my life.  It’s opened up so many opportunities.

I’ve re-connected with several sweet friends from my past–I love you girls so much and am so thankful for your far-away support.

I’ve grown closer to a like-minded family member I wouldn’t have gotten close to otherwise.

I’ve been able to begin new conversations with dear friends I see every day–opening up my heart to you has grown us even closer.

I’ve been given the chance to contribute to another blog with a future I’m very excited about.

In addition, writing my thoughts out, organizing my musings, and sharing ideas with you has forced me to become more organized, thoughtful, and purposeful myself.

I’m so thankful for this year of active blogging and well, I am going to miss it.  I know I’m going to long to write to you and I know I’m going to wish, at times, that I was still blogging actively.

But, you see, my life has changed in two ways since I wrote that above paragraph two Januarys ago:

I no longer “have enough time to devote a few hours a week to this.”

That baby that I mentioned in the above paragraph–the one who slept all the time?  Well, he doesn’t sleep all the time anymore.  He’s now 20 months old and is in the process of losing his morning nap.  I think we’re getting really close to potty training.  He’s beginning to get very interested in certain subjects and I want to spend time figuring out fun activities we can do together that will engage his little mind and curiosity.

Oh, and it’s not just him anymore, either.  There’s a new baby (who does, by the way, sleep all the time right now).  She won’t always, though.  It was hard enough to match up their naps–I need to clean and cook (or rest, I mean, let’s be honest) during the few minutes each day that both babies are asleep.

So it’s clear to me that the time I previously had to devote to this blog is quickly diminishing.

I want to blog well if I’m going to blog at all and I just don’t think that’s possible any more.  I mean, I suppose I could squeeze out a few moments here and there, but recently I’ve realized that there are other things that are just much more important to me than stumbling along and keeping up with what would surly become a haphazardly written blog (as if it hasn’t already).

My life has changed.

I’ve been changed over these past few weeks.  I no longer want to feel this incessant need to share every single thing I think with the entire world. 

I’d rather be able to go an entire day–or week–or month–or maybe even the rest of my life without thinking, “Oh!  This is such a sweet/cute/fun/exciting/etc. moment!  I need to show everyone this moment via Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or my blog.”

I want our sweet family moments to be just that without the distraction of posting them for all the world to see.  I just want to free myself from the need to come up with a catchy way of saying anything . . . and everything.  I want to rewind 10 years and live in 2002 for the rest of my life.  Before social media.  Before smart phones.

I used to think the 1950s was where it was at–when life was easy and simple and you just lived your life in your own little sphere.  I used to long for that.  Well, now I just long for 2002.  However, I’ve realized that I have the power to make it 2002 in my home if I want it to be.  I can turn my phone to silent when I want.  I have the power not to check Facebook or Instagram or my email.  I can choose not to watch TV all day long.  I can unplug from the outside world if and when I want to.

A few weeks ago this article was circulating among my friends.  For some reason I decided to read it.  It floored me.  I was hit upside the head with the truths in this post and it took me a few minutes after reading it to stop bawling.  It’s titled “How to Miss a Childhood.”  By reading this article I realized just how much of my son’s childhood I was missing.  The author, Rachel, started her blog, Hands Free Mama, several months after what she calls her Breakdown-Breakthrough.  She finally realized just how much life she was missing by being tied to the outside world (among other things, like her own to do list) and she radically changed her life (and the lives of her 7 and 4-year-old daughters) when she put down her Blackberry and began being there with her kids.

I’m so thankful that Rachel’s blog came to my attention when my children are just 20 months and 1 month old!  What a blessing reading her blog has been.  Immediately after finishing the first post I read, I went to her archives and began with her very first post, “The Way I See It.”  Then I read the next post and the next one and the one after that.  This is now what I do during my middle of the night pumping sessions.  I read Rachel’s blog and I am reminded what sort of mother I want to be.  Her blog has changed my life (and so it has changed Luke & Elizabeth’s lives and they don’t even know it!)

I’m currently in the middle of reading every single blog post from Hands Free Mama and I’m loving it.  I’m loving what it’s doing to the way I think.  I’m loving what it’s doing to my family.  I’m loving all the real time I’m spending with my family–instead of the distracted time.  I cannot encourage you enough to head over there and check it out.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not judging anyone who is a mother and has a blog.  Or is on Facebook.  Or Instagram.  Or checks their email.  Or whatever.  I’m fully aware that many, many women are able to balance being fantastic moms to their kids while doing all these extra things.  I’m just not one of them.  I get ridiculously distracted and find myself far away from what’s going on around me.  It’s me.  It’s not the technology in and of itself.  Please understand that!

So while I do still want to write here and I do still have the desire to share what the Lord is teaching me via this blog, even more than those desires, is the desire to be completely present with my family when I’m with them.

And so . . .

With all that being said, I’ll be taking an extended break from writing here at home | health | heart until . . . well, I don’t know.  Until “I have enough time to devote a few hours a week to this and the desire to share with you what the Lord is teaching me about my home, my health, and my heart,” I guess.  That could be three months from now.  That could be three years from now.  It could be never again.  I just don’t know.

What I do know, though, is that right now I need to free my life from distraction, perfection, over booking, and extra stuff.  I need to stream-line my life–to let go of what doesn’t really matter–so that the little souls that have been entrusted to me get as much love and attention as they need.  Not “hang on, not right now” attention, but “yes, let’s go do that!” attention.  Right now, at this moment in time, I just don’t have the time or quite honestly, the desire, to devote to this blog.

I’ll still be around–on Facebook, and I’m sure I’ll keep posting to Instagram.  It’s not like I’m planning on never turning on any technology.  In fact, I’ll still be a contributor at Desiring Virtue.  (You can read my Natural Living posts here). It’s just that keeping up with my own blog is not for me right now.

I’m sure you understand and I’ll thank you in advance for your support. :) Thank you so much for reading what I’ve written these past 16 months.  I will definitely miss writing here and hearing from you, but I imagine I’ll be back someday.  Until then, see ya in real life (ok, or Facebook)! :)

This poor series has been dragged on for nine months (it’s not a coincidence that it’s as long as I was pregnant, either!), but here: here is the final installment!  My last word about cloth diapers! (Please excuse the lack of pictures)

Since I dispelled some nasty misconceptions about cloth diapers and explained why cloth diapers are so beautiful to me, I’m now going to explain pretty much everything else I can think of about cloth diapers. 

If I leave some questions unanswered, please ask them and I will try to answer!

How We Use Cloth Diapers (. . . and some other info)

1. What cloth diapers do you use?

We use (only because a dear friend of mine uses them and I figured she’d done enough research for both of us! ;) Fuzzi Bunz one-size diapers.  There are about a thousand different types and brands to use, but I love our Fuzzi Bunz!  The reason we opted for one-sized diapers is because we didn’t want to have to buy more and more diapers as Luke grew.  Instead, our diapers grow with him.

I’ve heard that they’re too bulky for newborns (and so leaking is an issue), but we used disposables for the first 3 months of Luke’s life (because they are just easier) and so I had never tested them on him as a newborn.  After having tried to use them with our new little girl, Elizabeth, I would have to agree with what I had heard–we won’t be trying her in cloth diapers for a month or so more.

Do you use a different type?  A different brand?  Which cloth diapers are your favorite?

2. How many cloth diapers do I need?

We had 18 with one child.  We need to change Luke’s diaper about 4-5 times each day, so 18 diapers lasts us about 3 days.  Of course there are blowouts and extra poopies and whatnot, but 2½-3 days was about right.  That’s good enough for me!

Now, with Elizabeth, we need some more.  We’ll probably get about 6 more, for a total of 24, once we start using them on her.  That will mean laundry about every other day, which will only last for a time, so it’s okay with me! :)

Of course the more diapers you have, the less laundry you will do, so you just have to decide how often you’d like to do laundry.

How many do you have?  What works for you?

3. Ok, that’s a lot of laundry.  Isn’t it really expensive to use all that water and energy?

. . . I don’t know.  This is a concern that one of my closest friends brings up every time we talk about cloth diapers and I honestly haven’t looked into it at all.  It seems like it just can’t cost so much extra electricity and water that it makes disposable diapers and cloth diapers cost the same in the end.

In a previous post I figured that you make up your money in about a year by using cloth diapers.  Oh, and you can use them for more than one child.  Oh, and you diaper a baby for more than 1 year.  I can’t imagine that the cost of electricity and water (from doing those extra laundries) would cost so much that it wouldn’t be worth it in the end. 

Has anyone done the math?  Is it still worth it?

4. What system works best for you?

We have Luke’s stack of diapers in a box on his changing table.  They are already set to the proper size.  Usually the inserts are not in the pocket, but it’s easy just to slip them in when it’s changing time.  We use both the big insert and the small insert every time.  We double up the small insert so he has three layers of inserts in the front of his diaper.

After the old diaper comes off, we set it aside and diaper him up.  Then, if the old diaper is dirty, we take it to the toilet, drop the poo in the toilet, take the inserts out, rinse the diapers in cold water in the bathroom sink, then take the diaper (and the inserts) to the utility room where we deposit them in a trashcan (with a lid).  We have 2 Planet Wise washable diaper pail liners we use as trash bags.

When the trashcan is full (or we’re running out of diapers), we dump the contents (with the liner) into the washer, wash with hot water, rinse twice with cool water (this is to be sure to get any build-up rinsed out–this has helped us eliminate any leaks), then dry on low.

When they’re done drying we organize them into three piles: 1. diapers, 2. small inserts, 3. big inserts, and then put them back in their proper place on Luke’s changing table.  It’s as easy as that!

Do you use a different system that works for your family?  What do you do?

5. What detergent do you use to wash your cloth diapers?

We use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, but there are several other good detergents.  Often the cloth diaper company you use will sell a detergent that they endorse.  Charlie’s Soap is also good.  Basically you don’t want any additives, softeners, whiteners, brighteners, and such.

I’ve used the Dr. Bronner’s based solution that I use on our clothing on the diapers before and it seemed to irritate Luke’s skin.  So now I just use straight Dr. Bronner’s on the diapers (about a ¼ cup per load).

What do you use?  What’s worked for you?  What hasn’t worked?

6. All this talk about natural diapers–what do you do for wipes?

Until very recently we just used disposable, commercial wipes.  With all the traveling and ups and downs of the last year, worrying about cloth diapers alone was enough for me.  Wipes can get expensive, though, and I was always a bit concerned about what was actually on the wipes and what I was wiping all over Luke’s booty.

We have a couple cloth wipes that were given to us, but we only have two or three and obviously it would take a lot more than that (like 2-3 dozen) to use them for real.  If we had more, though, I would store them in water with a squirt or 2 of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild solution in an old wipes container.  After each use I’d just throw them in with the cloth diapers.  Easy peasy. :)

A few of my friends have done something very similar to the above and have made their own cloth wipesHere’s how Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking made hers.

Several months ago I found a great homemade, disposable, frugal alternative to store-bought wipes.  I found it on Pinterest, but here’s the link to the original post.  It’s really so easy:

Homemade Disposable Baby Wipes

You’ll need:

  • 2 tupperwares (I use the Rubbermaid Lock-its 7 cup container)
  • 1 roll of paper towels (word is that Bounty Select-a-size is by far the best choice)
  • a clean, large, sharp, non-serrated knife
  • 4 cups water
  • a Tbsp. or 2 of coconut oil (if it’s in its solid state, heat it up with a bit of the water on the stove til it melts)
  • a squirt or 2 of a safe baby wash (this is optional, as the coconut oil is anti-bacterial, microbial, and fungal–but, I would use a tiny bit of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild if I used anything else at all)
  1. Cut paper towel roll in half. Set aside.

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  2. Make the solution: Combine water, coconut oil, and baby wash (optional) in a bowl and stir gently.
  3. Pour the solution evenly into the two containers (about 2 cups into each).

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  4. Place the paper towel rolls (cut side down) into the containers.  They seem too big, but they’re not!
  5. Scrunch the paper towels down and shut the lid.  Turn the containers upside down and walk away for 5 minutes.

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  6. After 5 minutes open them up, gently pull the saturated cardboard rolls out from the centers.

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  7. Pull the inside towel out a little bit so you can easily grab it.  Close the lid and you’re good to go!

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I love these wipes because they’re easy, super frugal, and they last for a long time (this recipe will last 1-2 weeks).  The original author suggests only making two containers at a time–more than that and they may get yucky.

So what do you think?  Have you tried something like this before? Do you have suggestions?

7. What (if any) diaper rash cream do you use?

Well.  On Christmas Eve we spent a few hours in the E.R. because Luke’s groin area was super red and super swollen and seemed like it hurt a LOT.  The doctor prescribed an oral antibiotic and said we should use Desitin.*  So we did.  The rash went away quickly using the Desitin and the swelling subsided because of the antibiotics.

Obviously, these remedies were not my first choice, but it was pretty serious there for a while.

When we’re not afraid about whether we’ll ever have grandchildren or not, we use coconut oil mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil.  The essential oil keeps the coconut oil in a paste form and it works quicker than anything else we’ve ever tried (Eucerin, Butt Paste, etc.). Oh, and it’s really inexpensive!

What do you use? 

*A note about cloth diapers & Desitin: DON’T DO IT!  The Desitin leaves the cloth diapers smelling like fish (cod liver oil, to be exact), and it’s nearly impossible to get out.  If, like we were, you’re wondering how to get the nasty smell out of your cloth diapers, the best way is to scrub (for several minutes . . . like 15-20) the diapers with the original blue Dawn dish-washing soap.  Then wash them several times.  You may need to do this more than once.  What a pain!

8. What about traveling?  How do you use cloth diapers on the road (or just out and about?)

Whenever Luke’s going to stay with someone else (including when he’s in the nursery at church) we use disposable diapers & commercial disposable wipes.  These sweet friends are doing us a service and if they’re not used to cloth diapers (or even if they are), no one wants to deal with someone else’s kid’s poop more than absolutely necessary.

But, around town or when we go on trips as a family, we still use cloth diapers.  These are the items we have to make this possible:

  • 2 washable wet-bags- Ok, trash bags would work for this, but that’s a lot of trash bags, which can add up!  Planet Wise makes washable wet bags that are super cute.  Here’s a link to making wet bags yourself, if you’d rather.  We keep 1 in the diaper bag/car and just throw the dirty diapers in them to deal with them when we get home.
  • travel sized wipes container- We put some of the homemade wipes in the travel sized container.  It seals tight enough that they stay fresh for long enough.  If the trip will be longer than just running around town, we bring a whole tub of the homemade wipes with us.
  • If we’ll need to wash the diapers while away from home (like when we’re on a vacation lasting more than a couple of days), we bring the Planet Wise diaper pail liners, sometimes the trash can (although you obviously wouldn’t have to), and a small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.

There! I believe that I have officially dispensed all of my cloth diapering knowledge on you.  I’m sure I missed some things or was confusing.  For that reason, here are a few links to two of my favorite blogs (Passionate Homemaking & Desiring Virtue) to help round-out my series:

Helpful links about cloth diapers:

So there we are. This poor little series is done!  I hope you learned something and if cloth diapers have grossed you out in the past, maybe you’re giving them a second thought.

Did I leave anything out?  Do you have suggestions?  Questions?  Please leave them in the comments!

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Now that the excitement of Christmas is over are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of money you just spent on all that fun!?  We are–that’s for sure.  We were not exactly what you’d call frugal (or prepared) this past year for the myriad of things Christmastime asks us to spend money on.  This year, though, things are going to be different! (or at least that’s the plan ;)

Last year my sweet friend, Monica, at A Godly Heritage, featured this great Christmas budget that she found over at Simple Mom. It has a line for pretty much every item that you will ever need (and a bunch of “others” that you can fill in yourself) within every category you could ever think of.  It’s amazing.

I remember when Monica originally posted the budget.  I thought, “Wow, that’s great!  We should use it!”  And then we didn’t.  And now we’re hurting.

But this year!  This year will be different!  It’s only January!  That means we have 12 months to save for Christmas 2012!  I’m excited to see if we can be disciplined and actually save each month–we shall see! :)

Do you budget for Christmas?  Do you wish you did?  What system works for your family?

Starting Anew

January 3, 2012

It’s no secret I’ve been absent from the blogging world lately.  I’m not going to make big excuses or appologize.  I’m not going to make a plan for the future or promise to be better about blogging, either.  I’ve missed blogging here, of course, but while I haven’t been writing posts to you, I’ve been enjoying my little family, organizing our cozy home (er . . . our life), and learning more about sweet Jesus.

My Little Family

God is directing our steps in ways that we had not planned, and it’s exciting to see His Plan begin to come to fruition.  Tim has graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Christian Leadership and will, Lord willing, continue on to get his Master’s at seminary in the near future.  We’ve decided to hold off seminary for a year or so and stay where we are, serving in the youth group at our wonderful church, Lakeside Bible Church.  Tim will serve as the youth intern as well as continue his “day job” as the church’s administrative assistant.  We’re very excited about this new opportunity to minister to the great young people at our church and can’t wait to get started!

Our Cozy Home

God has truly changed my heart towards our little home in these past few weeks.  We are renting and so there are many things we would change about the house . . . if we could.  Since we can’t (ok, and since I’m such a sinner), I had become discontent with several areas of our little home and my pregnant nose basically couldn’t handle the weird non-descript smell that just never seemed to leave.  After several cleanings, re-organizings, and re-purposings, (and some repentance and prayer), I can say I just love our little home.  What a joy it is to live this life with the most loving, patient husband, and the most joyful, sweet son!  I hope to share with you the practical ways I’ve made our home more suited for our family (all because of a few awesome blogs written by amazing, organized women), but more than anything I think my contentment with our living conditions has come through a new understanding of Jesus, the Cross, Grace, and the Christian life.

Sweet Jesus

I’ve mentioned (since last summer) about this new exciting thing that the Lord has been teaching me about His Grace.  I’ve mentioned that it’s changed my life, the way I view others, my sin, and even the way I think about Christ.  This is all true.  In the past six months I’ve begun writing a post about it all about 100 times.  In fact, my inability to write a succinct, well-written, easy to understand post about what God’s teaching me may very well be the reason I’ve been so absent from blogging in the first place.  I know it’s important and I know what I want to say, but it’s just not coming out right.  So.  I’ve resigned, for now any way, not to write such a post.  You will certainty see these new (new for me, I mean) ideas creep into my writing.  The authors and books I post about might change.  The pastors that I quote may seem strange.  The emphasis I put both on certain aspects of life and certain Bible verses may seem very different.  There may even be things I say that you disagree with or would like clarification on.  Please, ask me!  The point is, don’t be holding your breath (as if you were anyway ;) for some impressive essay about God’s Grace & The Cross.  I’m just not there yet, I guess. :)

For now, though, I will leave you with this insightful quote from Tullian Tchividjian’s introduction to his book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything:

I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to the gospel.  It burns inside of me.  And it seems to get hotter every day.  I can’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it, reading about it, wrestling with it, reveling in it, standing on it, and thanking God for it.  For better or for worse, my focus has become myopic.  My passion has become singular.  Lesser things don’t distract me as easily.  I’m not as anxious as I used to be.  I don’t fret over things as much.  I’m more relaxed.  What others think of me (either good or bad) doesn’t matter as much as it used to.   I’m enjoying life more.  The pressure’s off.  I’m beginning to understand the length and breadth of the freedom Jesus purchased for me.  I’m beginning to realize that the gospel is way more radical, offensive, liberating, shocking, and counter-intuitive than any of us realize.  And that’s beginning to be okay with me.

This is what I want.  This is what it’s all about.  This is “getting it”–the Christian life.

Thank you so much for reading what I’ve written here on this little blog for the last year.  I’m excited to start home | health | heart’s second year and look forward to what God will do in the future!  Happy New Year!

Three months ago, before I fell off the planet, I began a series about my most favorite frugal find for babies–cloth diapers.  “Find” makes it seem like I’m one of the only people in the world who know about them.  Not true.  In fact, cloth diapers seem to be making quite a come-back.  If you’re curious about them and all they entail, this is the place for you.  First, check out my post on the Ugly Misconceptions about cloth diapers that I tried to Expel.  Today I’ll simply be discussing why they are so beautiful to me.

The Reasons Cloth Diapers are so Beautiful

1. They save a TON of money

Last time I discussed in detail how cloth diapers save us money over the “normal” disposable diapers.  Here is what I wrote on the subject then:

The average cloth diaper, after tax & shipping & whatnot, is about $20 each.  For one child you need about 18 (for two, I’ve heard 24 works well).  So that’s $360.

Now think about disposable diapers.  Each package is like $50 for 275 diapers (and that’s a pretty good deal).  So you can buy 2,000 disposable diapers for the same $360 you could buy cloth diapers for.  How long will it take you to go through 2,000 disposable diapers?  Let’s say you change a diaper every 3 hours and your baby sleeps for 12 hours each day.  That’s 5 diapers a day (this is a low estimation).  So in 400 days, which is about 13 months, you’d easily make up the money you’ve spent on cloth diapers.

Remember, though, you’re going to use more than 5 diapers a day and this was just for 1 child.  (For instance, if you use 6 diapers a day, those 2,000 disposable diapers will only last you 11 months for one child).

If I were honest, this is really the only reason we decided to go with cloth diapers.  That is, that they were less expensive than disposables.  And really, I think that’s reason enough that they’re beautiful.  However, after having used them for a year, there are a few other reasons they are so lovely to me.

2. I just feel good using them

There’s just something about not creating a million pounds of waste that makes me feel good.   Re-using things (in this case, diapers), just makes me feel helpful.  That’s all :)

3. They’re just so darn cute

I mean, seriously, they are so cute.  I love picking out a color that will match Luke’s shirt and letting him run around in just a colorful little diaper all day (in the summer, of course).  They’re just fun, ok!? :)

4. They keep little bottoms from getting diaper rashes

Because they’re natural and don’t have who-knows-what in them, little booties are much happier!  If you’ve ever been around a baby with a bad diaper rash you know how sad it is–it’s our experience that cloth diapers keep Luke from getting near as many rashes as he does when he wears disposable diapers.

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to sell these in any other way.  The main reason cloth diapers are so wonderful is because they are so frugal, and like I said–that’s reason enough to use them!

Do you have any questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Tell us why cloth diapers are beautiful to you!

Next time: How we use cloth diapers

Happy Thanksgiving Week!  Yay for Thanksgiving!  I admit I’ve done absolutely nothing that I wanted to do in preparation for this holiday!  Oh well, this just isn’t the year for it.  At the end of this post I’ve listed two articles with ideas that I can’t wait to implement next year and I hope will be helpful to you in cultivating a thankful Thanksgiving.

Our Perfect Turkey

I have never been a big fan of turkey.  It’s always been dry and chewy to me.  This includes when people say, “Oh, here, this is the best turkey you’ll ever taste.”  I just very rarely like it.  A few years ago my dad began frying our Thanksgiving turkeys and while it was much better than the traditional roasted type of bird, we used a lot of oil to get that thing cooked.  This year he’s trying a no-oil frying method.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m excited to taste it.

H-E-B has had a deal for a few weeks (it ends on the 24th!) where if you buy a spiral sliced ham, you get a 12 lb. turkey for free!  As soon as we heard about it we ran to H-E-B, bought the best ham ever, and got our turkey for free.  I found what promises to be the best way to cook a turkey here, and I must say: it turned out mighty yummy!  And so here are the instructions, for you, if you’d like to try Our Perfect Turkey. :)

The main difference between this recipe and all others is that with this recipe, when you cook the bird, you put it breast side down.

You will need:

  • 1 turkey
  • juice of a lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • parsley
  • sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme (optional)
  1. Bring turkey to room temperature.  Let it sit out in a pan (in the original plastic) so that any juices will fall into the pan and not onto your counter.
  2. Remove plastic wrapping.  Remove the neck and giblets (I know . . . ).  The original recipe has a link on how to use the heart and gizzard to make stock for stuffing and links on how to use all the gizzards to make gravy or a turkey soup.
  3. If the turkey has plastic ties holding the legs together, you probably don’t need to remove them to cook (check the package instructions).  If you take the ties off, you should tie the legs back up before cooking with kitchen string.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400  degrees F.
  5.  Wash turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Lather the inside with the juice from half a lemon.   Rub a small handful of salt all over inside.
  7. Also inside the cavity, put half a yellow onion, peeled and quartered, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery.  You may need to lay a piece of aluminum foil in there to keep everything inside.  Make sure the legs are tied tight, the wings are tied up close to the body, and the neck cavity is tied closed.
  8. Rub olive oil or butter all over the outside of the turkey.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on the outside as well.
  9. Put the turkey breast down on the bottom rack of your oven in a roasting pan.  Cooking it this way makes all the juices fall down into the breasts.  Add a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme if you have them to the outside of the turkey.
  10. Check the cooking directions on the original packaging.  This is the tricky part.  For our 12 pound turkey we cooked it for 3 hours. (That’s 15 minutes for every pound.) For the first half an hour it baked at 400 degrees.  Then for the next hour and a half, we lowered the temperature to 350 degrees.  Then, for the final hour, we lowered it even more to 225 degrees.
  11. Start taking the temperature (using a meat thermometer) every once in a while from about an hour before the turkey should be done.  Check the dark meat (the thighs) and the white meat (the breasts.)  The dark meat needs to reach 175 degrees F eventually, while the white should be 165 degrees F in the end.  Because the turkey will continue to get hotter after you remove it from the oven, you can take it out of the oven when the dark meat is 170 degrees F and the white 160 degrees F.  If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cut deep into the breast–the juices should be clear, not pink.
  12. Once you take the turkey from the oven, let it sit 15-20 minutes, turn it breast side up, carve, serve, and enjoy!

Fabulous Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes.  I really do.  They’re such a wonderful treat and so good for you, too!  The following isn’t really a recipe as much as it is the easiest thing you’ve ever done to make the best sweet potatoes of your life–sans marshmallows!

  • about 1 1/2 sweet potatoes for each person eating (for instance, if you’re serving 6 people, you need 9 sweet potatoes–you’ll have left-overs, but that’s the point of Thanksgiving dinner, right ;)
  • butter
  • cinnamon
  1. Boil sweet potatoes.  (You can either peel them, leave the skins on because they’re good for you, or wait and peel them after they’ve been boiled)
  2. Place quartered or sliced sweet potatoes in enough water to cover them.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Drain right away.
  3. If you left the skins on and want to remove them now, submerge them under cold water and they should come off easily.
  4. Mash the potatoes all up in a bowl or right in whatever you’re going to serve them in.
  5. Add butter–I don’t know how much–they taste wonderful without butter, too, so it doesn’t really matter.  Just put a little in, taste it, and do whatever you want!
  6. Sprinkle and mix in some cinnamon to taste.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

I love this recipe because it’s so easy and it tastes so good and it’s relatively good for you (depending upon how much butter you add, of course).

Some Thanksgiving Reads

Just because I haven’t done anything special for Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean I haven’t read about things other people are doing!  Here are two great articles dedicated to focusing on being thankful during Thanksgiving:

That’s all for this week!  I’ll be spending the rest of the week celebrating with my sweet family.  I pray you focus on all the blessings God has given you (mostly, Jesus!) this week as you cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in your home.  Happy Thanksgiving!

This post is linked to

Menu Planning Mayhem

over at Desiring Virtue.

I’m back . . . for now

November 18, 2011

You may not have noticed, but my last post here was on August 31st.   That was two and half months ago, although before I counted it up I was going to say it had been four months . . . that’s how long it feels like I’ve been MIA (and not just from home | health | heart, either–I’ve basically been MIA from life outside our home).

A Tiny Blessing!

Well . . . I realized just now that we haven’t “officially” announced our upcoming blessing!  (And by “officially,” I of course mean, “on facebook”)  It’s true, though: We’re pregnant again, and we are so excited!  We’ll find out in two short weeks if we’re having a boy or a girl, but right now we are just so pleased and thankful we really don’t care.  Our due date is May 1st, which means I’m 16 weeks along right now.

A Physical Difficulty

Sixteen weeks: For many, many (most?) women, 16 weeks (or even 13 weeks) means it’s party time: morning sickness has finally subsided and they’re met with a blast of energy which makes them feel fabulous.  It is not so for all women, though.  In fact, the more I study, it seems that more and more women are feeling poorer for longer and longer.

When I was pregnant with Luke I was sick the whole time, practically.  I didn’t want to combat my “all day sickness” with synthetic medicine, and so I held out until I was 20 weeks along.  When I finally began taking the medicine, I immediately felt better.

This time, at 6 weeks, with the first sign of sickness, I began taking nausea medicine–Zofran.  (You may have heard of this before because it’s what they give chemotherapy patients.)  It has kept me from actually getting sick except for every once in a while, which is a blessing, but it should really be called “anti-throwing up medicine,” NOT “anti-nausea medicine,” because it has not made me feel better . . . at all.

The last few months have been day after day of me lying in bed or lying on the couch all day long, barely able to get up to do much of anything. You can imagine the toll on my family.  My sweet husband has truly stepped up.  He has taken on the cleaning, the cooking, the extra random chores–everything.  All this while working and going to school full-time.  Needless to say, it has been rough on our family.  We have had to truly cling to Jesus, which has brought us closer and more intimate to both each other and Him.  In addition, we have been blessed with several sweet friends who have offered their time (in watching Luke or sitting with me), cleaning, and cooking skills to help us out.  Thank you so much.

An Emotional Challenge

This time has mostly been difficult for me emotionally.  It’s hard to explain what has been going on in my body.  When I explain it it sounds like “just regular pregnancy stuff,” (which I’ve been told by too many people), but it’s so much more than that.  If not that, then it sounds like I’m just lazy or in sin, which I’m not.

I’m having trouble explaining it even now.  I was going to write a big long post about it, but instead, if you’re interested, here are two great (short) articles (here and here) about Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)–extreme nausea and vomiting while pregnant–which I have a very mild case of(The first link is more clinical, while the second is written by a wonderful Christian mother of seven children on Earth and three in Heaven.  She suffered with HG through nine of her ten pregnancies.  She’s just wonderful.)

One of many things I’ll take away from this season is to believe what people tell me about what they’re going through.  Some people may seem to be “faking it” to me or they may seem to be in sin to me, but if I ask someone what’s going on in their life, and they tell me, then that’s that.  I’m not going to second guess what anyone tells me about their life.  Sometimes–in fact, most of the time–I just don’t have the whole picture.  Who am I to judge?  Love believes all things.  End of story.

A Spiritual Renewal

If you’ve been through any trial, you know how amazing it is to look back and see what God was doing in your life through that trial.  For almost two months I’ve been able to do nothing but sit on my couch.  What a wonderful time of prayer and reflection and meditation it has been.  I understand what Elizabeth Prentiss meant in her book, Stepping Heavenward, when she wrote:

My comfort is in my perfect faith in the goodness and love of my Father, my certainty that He had a reason in thus afflicting me that I should admire and adore if I knew what it was.  And in the midst . . . I have had and do have a delight in Him hitherto unknown, so that sometimes this room in which I am prisoner seems like the very gate of heaven.

On Wednesday I went to my doctor and she, again, as we anticipated, told me it sounded like “just regular pregnancy stuff.”  She did, however, prescribe a much higher dosage of Zofran.  I began taking this along with a secondary medicine (I’m really not a fan of all this synthetic stuff, trust me . . . but I’ve literally tried everything holistic I’ve ever heard of) yesterday.

Today is my first full day on this higher dosage and I feel fabulous.  No, really fabulous.  I’ve felt this way a few times before here and there, so I’m not holding my breath, but I really do feel like a new woman.  In fact, I’ve actually been getting stuff done all day long (sitting, of course, so as to not wear myself out) and I feel so accomplished!

I’m praying that this is the end of feeling horrible and that I will be able to continue blogging here.  But, if you don’t hear from me again for a while, that’s okay, I’m sure you’ll be fine. ;)  I do hope to start next week by sharing with you the best way I’ve found to cook a turkey and finally finishing up that series about cloth diapers!

Thank you so much for reading this and loving me and praying for our family.

Probably for most of you when you think about cloth diapers the last thing you think about is beauty.  However, for those of us who have experienced cloth diapering, “beauty” really isn’t that far off from the truth.  There are so many wonderful things about clothing those cute little booties with soft, soft cloth and bright, sweet colors!  Not convinced?  Well maybe I can help.

Today I’m going to expel some ugly misconceptions associated with cloth diapering, next week I’ll explain how beautiful it really can be, and the following week I’ll give you the 401 on how to use cloth diapers–which ones we use, why we use them, how we use them, etc.  I’ll even show you some options that we don’t use!  My hope is not necessarily to convert you to a life of cloth diapering, but just to educate.  

Some Ugly Misconceptions Expelled

1. You have to touch poop all the time.

Ok, so it’s true that you have to deal with poop more than you might while using disposable diapers, but it’s really not nearly as bad as you might think.

When there’s a dirty diaper you simply drop the waste into the toilet (without touching it) and then rinse the diaper under cool water.  You might sometimes need to scrub a bit and your fingers may come into contact with some poop, but seriously.  That’s what soap is for.  It doesn’t take long to get over it, either–trust me.

2. You have to constantly be washing the diapers.

This was the thing I was most concerned with.  I mean, I really don’t care for laundry.  However, we have 18 diapers and I wash them every third(ish) day.  It doesn’t seem like that often at all.  It’s a quick load and it’s easy to grab them out of the dryer and put them back where they go.

3. You have to hand-wash them.

I suppose there may be brands of cloth diapers out there that you can only hand-wash, but for the brand we use (and all of the ones I’ve ever looked into) this is not the case.  I have used my washer and dryer to clean our diapers for almost a year and they are still in great condition.

4. You have to use super-expensive soap to wash them.

Ok, it’s true that the brand of cloth diapers we use recommends using a detergent that is not full of chemicals.  But since I use a natural detergent for my laundry anyway, we already have the proper soap on hand.

I think the thing that worries people about natural soap is that it is too expensive.  However, that’s just not the case.  Natural soap, although it often comes in large quantities and so might be more expensive up-front, is almost always cheaper in the long run (and better for you anyway).

5. They get really gross and dirty looking really fast.

I suppose if you let them sit for days cloth diapers might end up getting bad stains on them and looking gross after a while, but my diapers still look almost new.

6. They give babies diaper rashes worse than disposable diapers.

I’ve heard this, but I don’t understand it.  It just doesn’t make sense and it’s not my experience.  The only thing I can think is that a new little booty might get a bad diaper rash if the cloth diapers being used are getting washed in a detergent that is too harsh.  Our experience is that Luke gets far more rashes when using disposable than cloth diapers.

7. They don’t hold as much waste as disposable diapers.

There might be something to this if you keep a diaper on for hours and hours.  However, we’ve had the same number of “blow-outs” or “leaks” you would expect with disposable diapers when we change the cloth diaper every 3-4 hours.

It’s true that for a while we were getting leaks on the inside thigh, but we figured that out: I wasn’t rinsing them well enough and so there was build-up.  (gross, I know . . . I’ll explain more about that later in this series)

Overnight is a different story, though.  In fact, because Luke pees so much and sleeps so long during the night we’ve started using a disposable at night.  Even that one diaper a day, though, still keeps the cost under what we would be spending if we only used disposable diapers.

8. They are too expensive.

This, I think is the misconception I’ve heard most.  They are expensive up-front, it’s true.  The average cloth diaper, after tax & shipping & whatnot, is about $20 each.  For one child you need about 18 (for two, I’ve heard 24 works well).  So that’s $360.

Now think about disposable diapers.  Each package is like $50 for 275 diapers (and that’s a pretty good deal).  So you can buy 2,000 disposable diapers for the same $360 you could buy cloth diapers for.  How long will it take you to go through 2,000 disposable diapers?  Let’s say you change a diaper every 3 hours and your baby sleeps for 12 hours each day.  That’s 5 diapers a day (this is a low estimation).  So in 400 days, which is about 13 months, you’d easily make up the money you’ve spent on cloth diapers.

Remember, though, you’re going to use more than 5 diapers a day and this was just for 1 child.  (For instance, if you use 6 diapers a day, those 2,000 disposable diapers will only last you 11 months for one child).

A Note on When We Don’t Use Cloth Diapers: I feel like this is necessary to explain while I’m talking about the expense of cloth vs. disposable diapers.  I’ve explained that we use one disposable at night.  We also use disposables when Luke stays with someone else, or we have a babysitter over, or when he’s in the nursery at church.  While it’s our preference that he use cloth diapers, there’s no reason to make other people deal with them.  We want to bless those who love us and our little man enough to watch him, and so we don’t make others who have not chosen to use cloth diapers use them.  This increases the number of disposable diapers we must buy.  We usually use (including the night-time diapers) 14 disposable diapers each week.  This comes to about 56 disposables/month, or about $10/month.  This $10 is worth it to us to bless those who take time to bless us!

These are the ugly misconceptions I’ve heard most about beautiful cloth diapers. Have you heard others?  Do you have any questions/comments/concerns?  Leave a comment!

Next time: The Reasons Cloth Diapers are so Beautiful

If you’ve spent any amount of time in any store, watching any television station, or talking to any woman (or man, I suppose . . . you know, those ones who like to cook), then I’m sure you’ve heard of how the latest kitchen gadget will change your life.  There seems to be a great desire to find the one perfect gadget that will instantly make whatever task is at hand easier than it’s ever been before.

Well, I’m not a huge fan of kitchen gadgets.  I tend to believe that what worked for hundreds of years, will probably work for me, too.  In addition, in the name of simplifying–which is my theme for the summer, don’t forget–I’ve tried to scale back my kitchen gadgets to just the necessity (or at least the necessity for me).  Also, I do not have all the money in the world to buy the most fantastic blender, for instance, ever made by man.  That being said, I do have a few items in my kitchen (whether you’d classify them as “gadgets” or not, I’m not sure) that I love to use because they do make my life easier.

The following is a list of the items that I use in my kitchen.  This is not a perfect list.  I wish I had a better blender, for instance.  However, this is my list.  My favorite items in my kitchen.  I hope it helps you, gives you ideas, and inspires you simplify and organize:

1. The Coffee Maker

I love our coffee maker.  We’ve had many different kinds of coffee makers and they always broke.  We’ve had this one for three years and it’s still working just fine!  It’s the Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Black with Stainless Steel Programmable Coffee Maker.  I love it because it stops brewing if you take the pot out to pour a quick cup, you can regulate the strength and temperature of your coffee, and you can set it to start brewing in the future using a built-in timer.  In addition to coffee, I sometimes brew tea in it as well and have never had any problems doing so.

2. The Mixer

My mixer is awesome.  I have a standard mixer attachment, a bread hook, and a beater attachment.  It works fabulously and has made so many things that used to be daunting relatively easy–or at least feasible.  It’s the KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer and it might be a bit more expensive than you’d like it to be.  Never fear, check out Craig’s List–they’re on there all the time!

What The Mixer takes the place of:

  • a hand mixer
  • a bread machine

3. The Waffle Iron

Ok, this, I guess, is an actual “gadget.”  We love our waffles on Saturday mornings, and although I tried for several months to talk Tim into getting rid of said gadget, I’m very happy that we held onto it.  There’s just something about waffles on a Saturday morning.  Stay tuned for my whole wheat and gluten free waffle recipes!

4. The Magic Bullet

You’ve seen it advertised.  It is pretty fantastic and it does do all the things the advertisements say it does.  It’s really very helpful in making all sorts of different things and I love that I have one item to do the work of three.  I even have a blender attachment and so now I use it as my blender as well.  The only thing I wish is that I could blend more.  Many times I have to blend half the recipe, pour it out, and then blend the second half because the blades are just not strong enough to blend more than about 3 cups of ingredients.  Even still, the clean-up & simplicity of the Magic Bullet is incredible.  I’ve had it for a year and I really do love it.

What The Magic Bullet takes the place of:

  • a blender
  • a food processor
  • an electronic chopper

5. The Bottle Warmer

This is not a necessity.  Many a bottle has been warmed just fine in a bath of hot water or over the stove.  However, the Munchkin Deluxe Bottle and Food Warmer just makes life easier.  It takes four minutes to warm.  It warms using steam, and it beeps when it’s done.  We also warm frozen baby food jars and you can (although I haven’t ever) sterilize pacifiers as well.  We take it with us and it makes the quest for scalding hot water and a large enough cup (at restaurants, for instance) non-existent.  All we have to do is find a plug!

6. The Bottle Dryer/Organizer

Again, another un-necessary item, although, it’s made life much simpler for us.  We don’t have a dish washer, so we use the Sprout Drying Rack as our bottle rack (this keeps the bottles from taking up space in our dish rack).  We also just store the bottles in the organizer.  Once they’re dry they just stay there on the counter until we need one of them!

7. The Oven

Ok, so this might seem like an odd item to place in a list like this, but it’s true that I love my oven.  I don’t have a particularly special oven.  In fact, it doesn’t even have a self-cleaning function, but it’s changed the way we eat and the nutrients we get from our food.  A few months ago I moved our microwave into our utility room.  We still use it for a few things, but for almost everything we use our oven.  The thing we use the oven for now that we always used the microwave for before is heating up left-overs.  It’s remarkable how it really doesn’t take that much more time, how much better the food tastes, and how easy it really is.  In addition, and I haven’t done enough research on this myself, I think that microwaving food might actaully nuke the nutrients and leave you with worthless food in the end!  (Here are some articles all about that: Microwave Menace, Vegis Lose Antioxidants in Microwave, & Hidden Hazards – Microwave Oven).  Either way, I love my oven!

What The Oven takes the place of:

  • The microwave
  • The toaster (almost always.  The jury’s still out on whether I can really get rid of my toaster . . . I may look into a toaster oven, but that’s just one more item!)

8. The Monthly Calendar/Weekly Schedule/To Do List Frame

If I don’t have a plan I will get nothing done.  Days, weeks, even months will pass me by and nothing will have gotten accomplished.  That is why the frame on my fridge is one of the best things about my kitchen.  Each month I change and print out this calendar.  The left side is a monthly calendar and on the right is a weekly schedule.  I put it in a frame with magnets on the back and put it on the side of my fridge.  Then I write whatever I need to on the glass in wet-erase markers.  It keeps me organized and helps me to actually see what I’m supposed to be doing at any given time of the day.  Stay tuned for a post just about this item.

What The Monthly Calendar/Weekly Schedule/To Do List Frame takes the place of:

  • a hanging calendar
  • a weekly schedule that has to be written out new every week
  • scads of tiny pieces of paper with item “to do” on them

9. The Everything Basket

On the counter in my kitchen is a basket.  In the basket is mail, stamps, rubber bands, pens, markers, batteries, etc.  This frees up my old “everything drawer” and keeps me from throwing things in there that really don’t need to be kept–I’ve found if I have to look at what’s in there I’m better about keeping only the necessities in it.

What The Everything Basket takes the place of:

  • The Everything Drawer

10. The Homemaking Binder

My Homemaking Binder is very much a work in progress.  Stay tuned for a post about just it.  It hangs out on my counter next to my Everything Basket and inside it are booklets, notecards, sticky notes, recipes, ideas, etc.  It, right now, needs a serious over-haul, but the idea is to keep almost everything you need to take care of your home in said binder.  I’m having trouble deciding if this needs to be a binder or if I could use a digital program (like Evernote, for instance) for this purpose.  More on all that once I figure it out.  Nevertheless, my Homemaking Binder is a necessity right now!

What The Homemaking Binder takes the place of:

  • many different sheets of random lists
  • scads of cookbooks
  • crazy amounts of different sized recipe index cards

11. The Latch-Lock Air-Tight Plastic Containers

These Better Homes and Gardens Flip-Tite plastic containers have changed my refrigerator.  Everything is organized, I can see it all, and it all stays fresh.  We even store Luke’s homemade baby food in these containers.  They come in several different sizes and they’re actually quite inexpensive!  I’m hooked!

What The Latch-Lock Air-Tight Tupperware takes the place of:

  • every other lame-o type of plastic container ever invented

12. The Clear Plastic Tubs

I LOVE baskets.  I know all about plastic, and I’m not a big fan, but I’m guilty–I use plastic tubs to organize.  My kitchen cabinets are full of many different sized plastic tubs with all sorts of random items in them.  They keep me organized and make items easier to find.

What items in your kitchen do you love?  Which are you not so crazy about?  Helpful hints?  Tips?  Ideas?

Usually I come up with really great ideas months (or even years) after they would have been useful.  In God’s grace, though, He gave me this idea in time!

Since before Luke was even conceived I’ve been writing in his journal.  The first entry is the story of how God changed our hearts about having children in the first place.  I journaled once we found out we were pregnant, a few times while pregnant with him, and I’ve journaled several times during this first year of his life. I’ll continue to write it in until he’s grown or I fill up the book.

I don’t write every day.  I don’t even write every month.  But when I have a moment and I think about it, I sit down and write an update, or a cute antidote, or what’s going on in our family, or my thoughts, feelings, fears, etc–relating to him, of course.

I’m excited for the day when I’ll finally give it to him so that he can read The Story of His Life.  I don’t know when that will be.  Maybe we’ll read little bits from it here and there, I don’t know.

I joked about getting this idea “in time,” but even if your children are older than mine, or even if they’re grown, nothing says you can’t record what you remember from before or even just begin writing now.

The point is it I’m writing it.  To him.  For him.  And I think he’ll love it someday.

December 14, 2010

Sweet Luke,

What a fun baby you are.  You’re so chill.  You only cry when you’re hungry, tired, or hot.  We are just so blessed by you.

You love to hear your Daddy’s voice and my signing.  When we’re in the car or at church you try to sign along.

You giggle and laugh when we make your hands play on our drum set.

You just stare and watch Lyla as she walks around the house.

You’re a big fan of men (you know you’re a boy and just want to be one of the guys) and love older ladies–you’ll talk with the ladies at church forever!

You fall asleep within minutes of when you’re “supposed” to and wake up equally as on time.

When we’re not home your favorite place when you’re awake is your Daddy’s shoulder and when you’re asleep, laying sideways with your head in the crook of my left arm.  You love snuggling in your Moby Wrap when we’re out and about.

You’re not a big fan of your car seat or driving in the car.

You love walks and hanging out in the hanging chairs–really you just love being outside.

You like to look at lights (including the sun) and fans.

You have recently found your feet and like your p.j.s with the dogs on them.

You can usually calm yourself by putting your first two fingers in you mouth and sucking away (until a week ago it was your whole fist)!

You love to snuggle on the couch–which is my very favorite thing in the whole world. :)

I love you

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