Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recipe: Acorn Squash Muffins

We cannot keep acorn squash in the house. The reason being that my husband and son will inhale acorn squash muffins. You'd think these muffins gave super powers with how quickly they get devoured!

This recipe is my pumpkin bread recipe but you use the acorn squash and cook it in muffin tins!


Halve the squash and scoop out the guts.
(Give the guts to some back yard chickens for a natural dewormer.)
Lay the cut side down and bake until the squash gives in easily when pressed.
Scoop the meat from the skin while warm and mash with a fork.


Ingredients:
2 cups flower (choose a gluten-free flour if serving guests who are gluten-sensitive)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup acorn squash mash (you don't need to puree the acorn squash, a good fork mashing will do)


Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

A great breakfast food and easy way to sneak some extra vitamins in to your baked goods!

One Month of Self(ie) Love

Tomorrow will start an important month for me. No, there's nothing particularly special about August, but next month will be a big one. Next month, some friends and I will be participating in a little experiment. For one month, we will take a selfie every day and post it with a caption stating something we like about ourselves.

The goal isn't to take really awesome selfies. The goal is to be intentional about changing how we view ourselves. Having a positive self-image might come easy to some people, but for me, it's hard. My self-talk can be incredibly negative and the way I view myself isn't always very kind.

I'm not going to point fingers or place blame. I'm not trying to figure out why I am the way I am, I just know that I need to change my self-image. So, for the month of August I will take a selfie every day and I will post said selfie every day with a caption that says something positive about me.

And if you feel like your self-image could use a boost, I invite you to join me. Be intentionally positive about yourself just once a day and see what happens.

A selfie I took after dying my hair earlier this month.
I LOVE the new color!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

6 Reasons Why I Love The Floor Bed

When we moved back in November, we transitioned Alex into a Montessori style room. It's not 100% Montessori, but we've incorporated a lot of the ideas and concepts into how his room is set up. The room is safe for him to be in without supervision and he has free access to his bed, books, and some toys. One of the aspects of Alex's room that gets the most raised eyebrows is his floor bed. Alex's bed is just a plain crib mattress on the floor in his room. He has a pillow and two blankets (he recently has decided he needs two) and can get in and out on his own.

Alex's bed when he got up one day last week.

As this picture shows, yes, he does get out of bed and play on his own; but that's not a problem, in fact, it's amazing! If Alex isn't tired when he goes to bed, we can hear him playing in his room for a little while (never more than an hour). When he wakes up in the morning, he will play by himself for about 30 minutes and then knock on his door when he's ready for us to come get him. (And yes, he really does knock. It's so freaking adorable!) Some mornings I've gone in to see Alex reclining on his bed reading a book. Now that's the way to start your day!

I absolutely love the floor bed and look forward to transitioning our youngest to one when he's a little bit older as well. Here are my main reasons to love the floor bed (in no particular order):

  1. You don't have to buy a toddler bed. Put plain and simple, it's just cheaper. We took the mattress Alex had used in his crib and just plopped it on the floor.
  2. Allows for the child to be independent at bed time and awaking. We have our bedtime routine, then Alex gets put on his mattress. Currently, he lets out a little fake cry while you leave the room, calms down within 15 seconds, and then plays until he goes to sleep.
  3. Encourages the child to self-soothe to sleep at night and during mid-night wakings. Alex does still wake up occasionally at night, but I've only had to go in his room once in the past month or so. He will put himself back to sleep just fine.
  4. Gives parent and child more peace in the morning. I often get Locke dressed while Alex is waking up on his own. This gives me a little more time to take care of some morning tasks, and Alex gets to wake up slowly and gently on his own.
  5. Makes Rest Time easier on parent and child. We don't have "naptime" any more, just "rest time". Alex often protests for the first little bit, then plays for a while and generally falls asleep, but we no longer require a nap.
  6. Gives the child their own space in a world that is adult-centered. Our whole world is built on an adult scale. Children cannot access a lot of their environment simply because they are not yet tall enough. A floor bed (and Montessori room in general) is suited to their smaller statures and fosters a sense of belonging and awareness of their bodies.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cats for Kat!

My wonderful friend, Katherine (Kat) Gould, has been doing missions work in China and Southeast Asia for nearly five years now. As anyone who has ever done missions work understands, fundraising is a constant concern. Kat has such a sweet and wonderful heart. You can read her blog about her life and work here: China Kat

She was a great blessing on my life during my time in McDonald Hall where she was my Resident Life Director, and I know that she is blessing the people with whom she is working now. In an effort to help support Kat and her work, I've decided to donate $3.50 for every cat-shaped soap that I sell through my Etsy shop (or person-to-person sales). To buy one of these darling cats and support Kat, click here or contact me.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trash Talk



HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!

This is probably my favorite awareness day all year long. Two years ago I wrote about some simple steps towards more sustainable living that give you very quick and easy little tips to live a more sustainable, earth-friendly life. Today, I want to talk a little more deeply on one specific area that we've been focusing on in our home: trash.

Trash is an inevitable part of our lives, but what we do with it can make all the difference. You probably remember being raised with the Three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but now it's commonly the Four R's with repair/repurpose added in. Using these four principles, you can greatly reduce what of your waste becomes trash to sit in our landfills.

Reduce
This is the first, biggest, most important step in reducing waste. The concept is to reduce the potential trash that makes it into your home. Here are some tips to reduce your waste:
  • Borrow instead of buy. Ask a friend to borrow a dress for a formal occasion. Borrow that tool that you only need once a year from a neighbor. Borrow books from the library. Rent movies from a local video store. By buying less, you'll have less waste coming into your home from packaging, receipts, tags, etc.
  • Buy used. Check out pawn shops, consignment shops/sales, garage and yard sales, church rummage sales, etc. for things you need and will use often. Kids clothes are a great item to buy used as they out grow each size so fast that there's usually a plethora of used kid's clothes that are hardly worn. Check out garage sales for appliances that need replacing or for unique housewares.
  • Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk can help reduce the packaging that comes into your house. Just don't get fooled by bulk packages that are really just multiples of the normal package with extra packaging holding them together.
  • Don't buy single use items. Paper plates, napkins, and towels, plastic cups, flatware, and bags- these convenience items are a terrible drain on our resources. Whenever possible, use reusable alternatives and if you have to buy one-time use items, try to recycle or compost them afterwards. (Go the extra step and eliminate single-use diapers, toilet paper, or feminine hygiene products.)
  • Bring your own packaging. Bringing your own shopping bags is becoming more and more popular, but you can also bring your own reusable produce bags or mason jars for loose items.
Reuse
Reusable items can make any home more sustainable with minimal extra effort. Most items will simple need to be washed in between uses. Here are some reusable items to consider: cloth diapers, un-paper towels, cloth snack and sandwich bags for kids' lunches, glass food storage instead of plastic bags, cloth rags instead of paper towels for cleaning, cloth menstrual pads, menstrual cups instead of tampons, cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.

Also, reuse items that are designed to be single use. 
  • Save gift bags you receive to use again when you have a gift to give.
  • Rinse and reuse plastic food containers.
  • Save bread and tortilla bags and reuse to hold snacks or as trash bags for road trips.
Repair or Repurpose
How many times has something around the house broken and you immediately thought to go buy a new one rather than repair the one you have? It's an easy thing to do and we've been told for over a generation that we shouldn't have to repair old things. Whenever possible, repair broken items or buy a replacement part rather than replacing the whole thing. Learn how to fix a busted seam and sew a button back on. Ask friends to lend their skills to help you fix appliances or tech as it breaks. See if there's a trade school in your area that would like to have the item to teach students.

When something is truly past repair, repurpose the item. Find it something new to be. Many household items can be changed into interesting planters or lawn art. Cut up worn out clothing for cleaning rags. Shred magazines for packing material. There are craft projects on Pinterest to cover just about anything from bottle caps to burnt out light bulbs. Before tossing something in the trash, make sure you can't find some sort of use for it.


Recycle
Most of us think of taking bags of plastic bottles and soda cans to big green dumpsters when we think of recycling, and while that is an awesome way to reduce your trash output, there are other ways to recycle things around the house as well. If you're just getting started, check out these tips on recycling.

Composting is the ultimate green recycling. Home composting can take your kitchen and yard scraps and turn them into glorious dirt, perfect for growing your own organic veggies. There are plenty of ways to compost and I'm sure you can find a system that works for your household. (Foods that can't be composted can usually be sent through the garbage disposal instead of doing in the trash bag.)

Return food packaging to the producer when appropriate. Local egg farms usually love for you to return your egg cartons as they can be pretty pricey to buy new. Some companies will take back their glass bottles to refill them (many companies stopped this program some time ago, but there are still some accepting bottles, check with any local bottling plants).

You can do it!
We just took our trash can to the curb to be picked up for the first time in over a month (maybe about six weeks). It took us that long to fill the can up. It may seem cumbersome at first and it can be trying, but if you just take it one step at a time, you can significantly reduce the amount of trash your household produces.

Here are some Pinterest boards to help you find tips and tricks to reduce your trash output:

  • Tips to Reduce Waste: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/waste-less-reduce/
  • Reusable items: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/reuse-no-more-disposable/
  • Composting: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/compost-creation/
  • General "green" tips: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/greener-life/
  • Canning Info (great way to keep food from being waste!): http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/canning/
  • Cloth Diapering: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/cloth-diapering-crazies/
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/reduce-reuse-recycle/
  • Earth Day Activities for Kids: http://www.pinterest.com/OurLittleClan/earth-day-activities/

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our Garden!

I'm so excited to finally have a yard to garden in! I have big plans for our yard. This year we won't be able to have quite as big of a garden as I would like, but we've got a few little plants in the ground and plans to get ready for next spring!


Here is where I plan to build our raised beds.
I'm leaning towards using cinder blocks for the bed. 




Here is our persimmons tree. It had fruit on it pretty
well into the winter. I'm hoping it'll liven up again soon.



Eventually I will clear this out and use this bed as well.
I'd like to try some hardy herbs in this spot.

This bed was cleared out and is home to our
little garden for this year. Next year I'd like to make this the
boys' plot and let them pick what they'd like to grow.


Here's Alex with our little garden!
We've got two tomato plants and four pots of leaf lettuce.
We got the plants from a local nursery: Deep Roots Nursery
which uses heirloom seeds and natural growing methods.

What's going into your garden this year?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Compost!

As part of our gardening plans and attempts at a more sustainable lifestyle, we've started a compost! Now, at first, I really liked the idea of a simple, open air compost, but then Alex hit the toddler stage and I realized I wouldn't be able to let him in the backyard without worrying he'd come running up with some rotting banana peels.

So I started looking at composters and oh my goodness were they expensive! I can't believe people pay over $100 for a box to put trash in. It just blows my frugal little mind! Obviously, the commercial composters weren't for us. Luckily I come across several others who seemed to have the same problem as we did and had found a solution!

After reading multiple articles and blogs, I had a plan, and my husband had a job to do! :) We (and by "we" I mean "he") made a compost bin out of an old storage tub. Bonus: the tub has locking handles!

It really is simple, though maybe a bit time consuming.
Take a dark colored plastic storage bin and drill holes in all
sides, bottom included. This allows for proper airflow and drainage.

I can't wait until we have usable compost! Does your family compost? What kind of container do you use, or do you?