Thursday, October 31, 2013

Radishing Radish

We started a fall garden in our little cold frame green house. Today I harvested a sizable radish. Radishes are lovely grated and sprinkle over a salad, which gives it a bit of zest.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dutch Oven

It's really red, but
the camera turned it
Having been married for over a decade, some of the pots we received at our wedding were giving up the ghost. Several had lost their handles making them very difficult and a little dangerous to use. Thus my birthday request was "something" to replace those pots, preferably something versatile, large, and indestructible. I saw a Le Creuset Dutch oven and fell in smitten with the big red pot. However, I found nothing to love about the price.

We've had a cast iron skillet made by Lodge for over 14 years, which is still serving us very well. It's our go-to pan. While researching Dutch ovens, I was sidetracked a little when I realized a second skillet would come in handy, as there are often times, especially when my husband is cooking, that having more than one skillet would expedite our meal preparation. These skillets are still made in the U.S.A, and are reasonably priced. We got our second one for less than $20 at a local store. Coincidently, the iron skillet is the sort of pan you used to see cartoon characters using to smack intruders and give them big goose bumps on their heads, with little stars and birdies flying about, as they would lay knocked out on the floor. In a pinch you could defend yourself with one of these pans. Lodge could advertise, "Cooking and home security all in one!"

Since we like our Lodge skillets so much I was pleased to see they make Dutch ovens as well. The only down side is their enameled products are made in China. However, I read that the Le Creuset is also made in China. So I put the Lodge on my wish list and I've been happy with it thus far. While the price seems to fluctuate, we were able to get my super large Dutch oven for about $75 online, and less than a week later the price shot back up again, making me feel really good about the timing of my birthday and that particular sale.

So far I've used my Dutch oven to make chicken broth, broccoli cheddar soup, butternut squash soup, mashed sweet potatoes, and just the other night my husband made Sheppard's pie with it in the oven. Indeed, this is a very heavy pot, definitely a two handed operation when picking it up. Surely, we'll be using this for years to come.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Local Shoutout for Nalls Produce

I love to visit Nalls Produce when I want to get a farm life fix. This semi-local farm is more of a nursery, but since they have livestock on the premises, it's feels a bit like visiting a farm. There are very few properties in this county that are large enough to meet the zoning rules for keeping chickens. The chickens and roosters are completely free range. Amazingly, they have quite a number of roosters, which always seem to get along really well (everyone with beautiful feathers) and I never once heard one cock-a-doodle. I wonder how they managed to keep the birds so quiet.

 We visited this weekend to select pumpkins for Halloween. Since our attempt at growing our own pumpkins in past years have resulted in Frankenstein Pumpchini, a bland cross between pumpkin and zucchini, we decided to forgo that crop in our small garden this year. Yesterday I saw many different gourds, most of which I'd never seen before in my life. It was a fabulous experience!

This is also the only place I know of to get our favorite black licorice by Backroad Country otherwise known around here as "licious". I once found it online, but it's been out of stock for quite a while. However, not only does Nalls carry the black licorice, but they had at least five other flavors as well. Yesterday we bought some of the green apple licorice. It was superb!

From Our Closet: Infant Wool Sleep Sack

I made this last winter for the baby due in February, who decided he would wait till March. Then spring arrived early and it was too warm for a wool sleep sack. Now that it's getting cold again, my 20lb spring chick is too big for it, I can squeeze him in, but he can't move his legs about. He is also pulling up and I've moved him into a larger sleep sack with feet holes. So if you'd like this wool sleepy sack contact me with your best offer by leaving a comment. I won't publish any comments for this post so feel free to leave your e-mail or contact info, as it will remain private.
 It's made of 100% felted wool.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Meatloaf, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Almond Green Beans

There's no one way to make meatloaf, especially around here. This particular loaf was made with oat bran and chia seeds and everyone liked it. Usually I like to add diced onions and carrots, but we were out of those when I made it this week.
2lbs ground chuck (or ground beef)
1 cup oat bran (or rolled oats work too)
2 tbsp. chia seeds
2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
2 eggs
1 tbsp. Lawry's Season Salt or spices of your preference
Optional: tomato paste, onions, carrots, or whatever else you want to sneak into your family's diet...minced kale, spinach, beets, whatever.  
       Mix together all ingredients, press into large casserole dish, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Add  tomato paste and bake 10 minutes more. Bake until meat is cooked all the way.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
 3-4 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup butter (or your favorite spread)
1tbsp. minced garlic
2-4 tbsp. milk (if you like your taters extra smooth)
      Peel and dice sweet potatoes. Bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil (enough to completely cover your potatoes. Boil potatoes in a low simmer until they are tender (about 25-30 minutes). Strain out water, and mix with remaining ingredients until smooth and fluffy. Serve warm! If your kids are used to putting ketchup on their mashed potatoes, like mine are, then be prepared when they whip out the ketchup and ruin the appearance of this vitamin A rich, eyesight preserving, super food.
     Garlic is supposedly a natural antibiotic, only without the negative side effects... well except perhaps garlic breath. I didn't notice any garlic breath after everyone ate this. So I suppose that means there isn't any harm in add raw garlic to your food.

Green Beans
 1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
frozen or fresh green beans 16 oz. or family sized bag
diced almonds
      Melt butter in your favorite skillet, ours is cast iron! I've heard that acidic food will bring out the iron from the pan and infuse into your food, which could be helpful if you're iron deficient. Once the butter is melted, add the remaining ingredients and cook till they look good to you. Unless you don't like green beans in which case, don't let them burn silly!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Electrical outlet safety

Nothing I can stick my
fingers into here...
moving on...
Just about every electrical outlet in our house is covered with a special outlet cover. Babies really do try and stick things into uncovered electrical outlets, at least mine do. Sure the cheapest way to cover the sockets is with little plugs, but it's so inconvenient having to pry them off in order to use the outlet, and my past experience has proved that often one will forget to replace the plug cover. Another downside to  the plug cover is that they are small enough to be a choking hazard if a small child or infant decided to stick one into his or her mouth. But a fair amount of supervision can prevent this as removing the plug covers can be difficult and you're likely to notice a child hard at work doing something like that, unless you have the press and pull plug protectors which are easier to removed. Still the plug covers are the cheapest and easiest way to cover electrical outlets quickly. I purchased a box for less than $5 once while on vacation to quickly baby proof the home we stayed in for about a week.

However, when I began baby proofing our house I decided I'd upgrade to the an outlet cover model for two reasons. The first being my annoyance with my experience with the pesky plug covers, and the second being all our outlets were an unattractive beige. The outlet cover provided not only baby proofing, maintaining easy outlet accessibility (for mom), but also hid the ugly outlet behind a fresh white plate, making all my outlets look modern and new.

We've had three babies learn to crawl in this house and I've not had any regrets about our investment in these covers. I did buy them in batches initially because covering the whole house felt like a lot of money up front. However, as the babies venture into various rooms, or rearranging furniture exposes another batch of outlets, we've purchased these covers as we went. I'm certain we've procured a few different brands, but they all seem the same to me and I've not noticed much difference between them.  I absolutely take it for granted until I find myself in a place where the outlets are not covered in any way, such as church or someone else's house. When there's no covers I'm uneasy and feel compelled to just keep the baby in my carrier so I won't have to worry about a finger finding it's way into the electrical socket. Of all the baby proofing items we've tried, these have been one of our best investments and brings me a bit of peace of mind.

Now if only I could find something that would disguise my knitting so that I could lay it down and not have to fear a little one pulling all the stitches off the needles the moment I turn around.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Little helper, big boost of self esteem

Our water miser saving dishwasher isn't very good at getting food and grime off the dishes. For the past year we've been washing our dishes entirely by hand and letting the dishwasher go unused. Then I read an article about how the dishwasher is superior in it's ability to kill germs because it can wash the dishes in near scalding hot water, where as my little dishwashers can't handle temps that high lest they burn their fingers. Wanting the best of both worlds, clean and sanitary, I'm implementing a team effort. We will scrub our plates and then let the dishwasher sanitize them.

Usually, I save the scrubbing for those eight and up, but this little tyke decided he wanted to wash dishes today, so I let him work until he tired of it; which took about 5 minutes and a few dishes. It's good to give the children tasks they can be successful at. Oh to go back to the time when dish washing was a novel experience!

Upcycled dress

Part of the reason I haven't made as many dresses lately is because I haven't needed to. Our neighbors frequently clean our their closets and grace us with a lot of clothes for the girls. The dress in this picture was made from one of the summer dresses given to us. In it's former life it was a big girl dress that was too wide up top and not long enough on the bottom. However, the fabric and print were wonderful and I had just the right yarn colors to match. 

In case you're wondering, this is not the mystery knitting project I posted a few days ago. But they will go together.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sunflower lecithin prevents my reccurent plugged ducts

As a lactating mother I had been plagued with recurrent plugged ducts and finding myself in the throws of mastitis, or as I sarcastically refer to it, boob flu. All nursing mothers need to be aware that flu like symptoms might be an early sign that you might have a blockage which can lead to mastitis. As soon as you notice these symptoms you need to slow down, go back to bed,  and nurse the baby as much as possible. This is the time to cancel appointments, utilize all the help you can get, and just relax. The sooner you do next to nothing, the faster you'll get better.

However, despite all the tricks I had learned, I was still coming down with plugged ducts every time I turned around until I came across advice to take lecithin. It certainly was worth trying. Since I tend to be a less is best kind of gal, I skipped the high dose recommendations and have been taking just one 1200mg capsule a day, which is well below the maximum dosage. It's been about three months since I started sunflower lecithin capsules and I've realized that I haven't had anymore plugged ducts. I choose sunflower lecithin over soy lecithin because I'm not comfortable with the long term use of soy products. However, I've been unable to find anything negative or scary about sunflower lecithin. As long as it keeps my ducts healthy I'm going to keep taking one a day as long as I'm nursing.

Some of the other recommendations I've tried are:
1. wear a very loose bra or something just to hold nursing pads in place and ensure that lines or seams do not press upon the breast area. With self stick pads such as Lansinoh Disposable Nursing pads, I've been able to avoid using a bra most of the time.
2. avoid stress.
3. take it easy.
4. nurse on demand and don't wait till the baby is fussy and cranky to offer the breast.
5. keep the breast milk flowing, especially if you're suffering a bought of plugged duct or mastitis
6. hot showers and very warm compresses can help loosen duct blockage. It also helps to message or hand express milk during a hot shower, focusing on the region of the blockage to help expel the plug.
7. A clean disposable diaper that is chlorine and perfume free filled with hot water makes a wonderful hot compress. I've used Nurtured by Nature and the old version of Bambo Nature. You can reheat it in the microwave when it gets cold. However, I wouldn't advice using the same diaper compress for more than a few hours. Toss it and make a new one.
8. Take better care of yourself! Drink water, make sure you're well nourished with proteins and foods naturally rich in the vitamins and minerals you need for both you and your baby.

Bamboo prefold diapers are my new favorite

Diapers, diapers, diapers, I'm going back to the basics when it comes to diapering my baby. Except I've been around the block a time or two and I'm keeping a few of the modern inventions in my bag of tricks. Recently, I downsized my large stash of pocket diapers when I realized I didn't need enough to diaper twins. While they work really well for the toilet training stage, as we move closer to underpants, I seem to be using fewer pocket diapers for the older toddler, as they have fewer toilet misses. However, I wanted a softer natural fiber fabric next to the baby's skin, which you just can't do with a synthetic fiber pocket diaper. My experiments with "natural" lining pockets always resulted in wicking leaks

Grovia sz 4 over an older
European Prefold
My old prefold diapers were a little too long and sometimes too narrow so that the diapers were outgrown before they reached the max rise. Always, the old prefold needed to be folded down in either the front or back. However, the newest designs has ushered in the advent of the newly sized prefolds that are now wider and a little shorter making for a much better fit.

Cotton, a fiber for the ages is still king for it's endurance and absorbency, but bamboo and hemp have made their mark and are taking their place in the diaper world. I have a few different prefolds in my stash, but my favorite right now is Grovia's bamboo and cotton blend diaper. Certainly more expensive than a standard prefold, but still cheaper than a months worth of premium disposable diapers. They come in three packs and four sizes. The only size I would bother with, given my children's fast growth tendencies, is the toddler size 4. Currently, I have nine of these prefolds, and I "want" more. However, since I still have three little ones filling my diaper pail with (diapers, training pants, and extra thick night time fitted diapers), I have to wash long before I've actually run out of clean ones. Nine Grovia's is more than enough, if reserved for nap and bed time, when you're washing your diapers every other day.

Amazon Mom Discounts

Friday, October 18, 2013

Guess what this is!

Yes, it's knitting, but what am I knitting? One person saw me working on this and guessed it was a hat, which was a very good guess, but not correct.

Can you tell what it is?

What a sweetheart!

Someone loves me, because he brought me a scrumptious present from the chocolatier Edward Marc, which specializes in making special treats. Edward Marc shares 20% of the profits with worthy charitable being my favorite, The wounded Warrior Project.

I had never heard of this brand before, but I must confess I've over indulged on these scrumptious delights. I rate this a 10!