Tuesday, April 27, 2010

First Attempt at Soaking Oats

Yesterday, I bought a quart of plain yogurt and used it to make whey, which I then used last night to make a double batch of soaked oats. This morning, I put about half of the oats on a cookie sheet to dehydrate as recommended and used the other half to make baked oatmeal. I adjusted my recipe by omitting the milk and applesauce, and only using two tablespoons of butter. I also cut the brown sugar down to half a cup.

The results on the soaked baked oatmeal? So-so. I actually thought it tasted sort of "raw" even though I baked it for the normal time. I'm thinking that using the dehydrated oats will make a big difference.

I used my food processor to break up the clumps of dehydrated oats, and instead of trying to dump them out of the open "jar" (is that the right word?) of the processor, I left the lid on, removing the push-cap-thingie (where *am* I getting all these technical terms today??) and dumping the contents out the spout.

With my food processor, I have to loosen the lid (don't have to remove it entirely) in order to loosen the "jar". After loosening the bottom piece, I tighten the lid back on and remove it from the base. This has helped me avoid a number of spills!

And, to save on dishes, I made three different recipes of the power bar (Larabar knockoffs) from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship's Healthy Snacks to Go eBook. I seriously can't get enough of those things!! I was privileged to help edit it, and oh my stars, I am really enjoying the "fruits" of that labor. I'll be reviewing it soon.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Please check out my post for the Spring Cleaning Carnival Getting the Food Additives Out! You can link up your posts that have anything to do with food additives (see my post for different suggestions) and I am also giving away two copies of a CD by Jane Hersey of the Feingold Association of the United States called "What are all those funny things in food...and should I eat them?"

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Cleaning Carnival - Get the Food Additives OUT!

Now What Do I Do?
Head over to Kitchen Stewardship to read My Story: How I Became Concerned With What We Ate, and What's the Big Deal regarding food additives. Your head may be reeling like mine with all this information, and you may be left thinking "so what DO I eat?"

Katie said it best when she said "There’s a lot of controversy out there about what is healthy and what is not." She further tells us to "Do your best. Pray that God takes your best effort and makes it whole, that He provides good health for your family both because of AND in spite of what you may end up doing in the kitchen."

Every person is different. Every family is different. Every situation is different. Although she was referring to parenting, mother of eight Danielle Bean has said simply "do what works best for your family." YOU know your family best. Further, in the case of food additives, similar to sugar and gluten and many other things, there are many different levels of sensitivities. What may make one person violently ill may have no effect at all on another.

Finally, I'm a big proponent of Everything In Moderation. This, friends, is why you'll pry bacon out of my cold, dead hands! Lack of availability in my rural location coupled with high prices in general mean that nitrate-free bacon is out of my budget. I eat regular bacon occasionally and in small amounts, and I enjoy it very much.

These posts on MSG have some steps that are can be applied to avoiding all these additives, and you can prioritize your homemade foods using this basic changes post.

Possible baby steps are:
* check labels - just become more aware.
* replace one food item each week with an additive-free item.
* replace processed snack foods with whole foods (like a piece of fruit or some vegetables, etc.), or check out Katie's new eBook Healthy Snacks to Go. (I can assure you that the larabar knockoffs are DELICIOUS. Our first batch lasted only a couple of hours, so the next one we try will be a double batch right out of the gate!)
* eat out less.
* Katie recommends if we choose one thing, that we work on our omega 3 vs. 6 balance.

To Make Strides, try:
* make more of your food from scratch, and make homemade when it counts by prioritizing your "from scratch" items based on what your family eats the most of so your hard work makes the most impact. Ratchet up the flavor of your homemade items with herbs, lemon or lime juice, and other healthy choices.
* plan ahead: meal planning is a must!
* you've heard about "shopping the perimeter" of your grocery store - stick to meats, produce (fresh or frozen), dairy, etc. that is typically found around the edges of most grocery stores. An exception to this would be the baking aisle, I suppose, and your store might be like my sister-in-law's where the frozen foods are in the middle. :>)

Ready for a Leap of Faith?
Really, it's up to you as to how much or little you do. You can try to avoid all food additives if you're willing to invest the time and money to make things from scratch, not to mention the careful shopping for ingredients. If you or a member of your family might be sensitive to additives, it may very well be worth it to try.

Also, now that you're armed with this abundance of information, try just observing what effects you experience after eating certain foods. Perhaps you notice that even though caffeine withdrawal gives you a headache, you still get a headache after drinking a soda pop with high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors. Maybe your little one is more prone to meltdowns a couple of hours after eating rainbow colored fish crackers. If you're absent-minded like me, try to take a few minutes at the end of the day to jot down any additive-laden foods that were consumed and any ill-effects you may have observed. You might be surprised!

In closing, these are important additives to avoid, but really any weird ingredient that you can't pronounce makes a "food" into a "product". Best practice is to make everything from scratch, but for normal, realistic people that just can't happen. The baby steps and making strides are ways to (a) choose the safer processed foods when you just need something fast and (b) prioritize your homemade items in general.

But Wait! There's More!
EDIT - Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Emily and Joanna!

We are also having a giveaway in conjunction with getting the food additives out! The Feingold Association of the US has generously donated their CD What are all those funny things in food...and should I eat them?" by Jane Hersey. They generously sent an extra copy for my research regarding this topic, and I'm going to give that one away, too! Furthermore, I'm going to share the additional information that FAUS sent, including back issues of their newsletter Pure Facts. Lots of great info if you're just getting started on this journey! You can enter the giveaway by:
* linking up your post here (see below),
* commenting here on your experience with food additives,
* subscribe to my blog via following, a reader, or use the box at the top left to get posts via e-mail, leave another comment to let me know,
* share this post via social media (twitter, facebook, blog, etc.) and leave another comment to let me know.
That's up to four entries! Make sure I have a way to contact you if you win, either via your blogger profile, your blog, an e-mail address (you can leave it in the cryptic form youremail at domain dot com if you prefer). The giveaway will end Tuesday, May 3 at 10PM central time. Please have a US or Canadian mailing address.

Next week's hostess is Kelly the Kitchen Kop who will be covering CAFOs, which are "concentrated animal feeding operations" or "confined animal feeding operations". I'm actually hoping to have my Hubs weigh in on this topic, as a big part of our farming operation is our cattle feedlots. You can see all the carnival topics past and present here.

Share Your Wealth of Knowledge
Now it's your turn. I have covered a TON of ground here, and there is lots more left plus, as I said, each of these topics could turn into a post on their own. So, what do you have to say about food additives? You can link up research or information on any food additive, personal story of avoidance, ramblings about processed food. ANY RECIPE that helps you avoid packaged food with additives by making your own. Please link up your posts below. Thanks for joining us! (If you subscribe in a reader or via e-mail, click through to enter posts in the linky and/or leave a comment.)

PS - I have managed to mostly give up my one-root-beer-a-day habit with a baby step switch to ginger ale. Anybody have any good suggestions for a soda pop substitute? We're experimenting with a can of juice concentrate plus a liter of club soda with some good results, but this is not exactly frugal and pretty high in sugar. I'd love some suggestions! [and I'll freely admit that water kefir is probably a bit over my head for now...] Thanks!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birthday Crafting

[Please see my post for the Spring Cleaning Carnival on Getting the Food Additives Out! for a giveaway with a chance to win one of two copies of the Feingold Association of America's "What are all these funny things in food...and should I eat them?"]

April is a big month of birthdays in my family. My mom, two of my nieces, and me! I had a couple of things tucked in the gift closet for the girls, but I wanted to add in something homemade. The girls turned 11 and 7, so they're getting to ages where they like what they like and their auntie doesn't hardly know what whippersnappers are liking these days.

For the 11-year-old, she loves the color green and peace signs. Although "Lenetta at 11" is a bit hazy, I seem to remember being a bit broody, hanging out a lot in my room listening to music, and contemplating the world and how I was going to make it better. (Or something... like I said, it's hazy.)

To help her set the mood for her musical brooding, I wanted to come up with some lighting. And, within the next couple of months, they'll be moving into a new house and she'll have her own room! I was inspired by Ruffles and Stuff's Pom-Pom Lamp, but in my typical fashion, I did not plan ahead. :>) Our dollar store doesn't carry the plate covers, but after poking around, I found a four-pack of paper plate holders for $1.50 in green.

The only short strands of Christmas lights that I had on hand were multi-colored lights. Thank goodness for my mom! She brought me a few strands from her stash, and I ended up using a strand of 50 lights in each, leaving a "tail" from the bottom set to plug in.

I set two plate holders "face up" (like you would normally use for a plate) and tried to evenly distribute each string of lights within the holders. I then put another holder "face down" on top, which created a pocket between the two for the lights. There were three holes in each holder where the plate tucked in, and I threaded ribbon through those and tied it in bows to hold everything together. I threaded a ribbon through the top as a hanging loop, and another to hold the two lights together.

Since the plate holders weren't solid like the plate covers in the original project, the lights poked out and it would have been more difficult to glue on the tulle. Instead, I just stitched around the holders with embroidery floss using a running stitch then I trimmed the tulle. I included the light bulb that makes the strand blink so my niece can use it if she wishes. I didn't like it myself because it made the whole strand blink off then blink back on, rather than twinkling. (And we didn't think to try it until after I stitched it all shut anyway...)

For my seven-year-old niece, I made a fishing game with a math twist. I combined two fishing games for this, one from Shiso Mama and the other from Counting Coconuts.

I used fabric instead of felt because I had it on hand. I ended up purchasing two sets of buttons for some variety, one set of kitty buttons (she loves Nappies, too!) and a set of flower buttons, which were about $2.30 each. I used all white buttons for the eyes and perhaps I should have gone more colorful...but simple seemed like a good idea at the time.

To make my patterns, I used fish clip art. The yellow fish is actually a whale because I discovered my fish weren't really big enough for the buttons. I was a bit torn as to whether to stitch them right sides together and turn them or to stitch wrong sides together. With all the buttons and embellishments, I didn't think it would work to turn them, so I zigzagged around the fish, leaving the tail open, then used pinking shears to trim around the fish. I stuffed them with poly-fill, zigzagged the tail shut, and pinked the tail.

Some of the fabrics were sheer and/or prone to fraying. I used a total of four layers on the sheer ones so they weren't so see-through. I used fray check on the cut edges of the fabrics that wanted to fray to keep them intact. To make the fish "catchable" I stitched washers about where their mouths would be, then applied fray check to keep the washers from tearing out.

My sweet dad made the fishing poles using dowels. He put duct tape on the handles, and drilled holes in the ends, threading string through for the fishing line. I had planned to tape magnets to the line, but he was able to drill holes in the magnets, so I tied them on. (We tested the magnets with the washers and found that three magnets was enough to really grab a fish, and even two fish at a time, but three at a time was a challenge.)

For the bag, I considered trying to make the sides velcro or snap or button so it would open all the way up to be a good-sized "puddle" for the fish. That quickly got too complicated. I just stitched up the sides, and the top ended up being the selvage ends, so I just folded them down and stitched to make a channel for the drawstring, which is a rainbow ribbon.

To set up the math game, I penciled out a template and then made a similar-sized table in Microsoft Word. I then penciled out all the different problems that I wanted to use. I checked with my mom to see what kind of math she was working on, which is single digit addition and subtraction. I didn't double any up (i.e. 2+3 and 3+2), so that cut down on the number of cards I had to make. In the template I made, the math problem was on the front and then you unfolded the card to find the answer inside.

For double digit answers such as 9+9=18, we thought she could either pick up the 1 and the 8, or the 10 and the 8. As an added bonus, we thought she could also start teaching her two-year-old sister numbers. We put the cards in a box, and everything went inside the bag.

I was blessed to get a phone call tonight from the girls squealing over their gifts, so I think they liked them! This post is going to be linked up to Made By You Mondays at Skip to My Lou, Thursday's Treasures at Treasurers for Tots, and Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Daybook for April 22, 2010

Outside my window... cool and rainy. Hubs got a start on planting corn, but this gives him a break to celebrate my birthday.

I am thinking... about the post I'm working on for my portion of the spring cleaning carnival. Food additives cover a whole lot of topics.

I am thankful for... a negative result on the rabies test performed on the bat that Goose found last week. Whew.

From the learning rooms... we had a ball collecting and playing with little pine cones this week. We reconstructed our whole farm, with the addition of some Care Bears that aren't on our real farm, of course. They all live in Care-a-lot.

From the kitchen... hamburger, carrot, and potato packets tonight, it's looking like slow cooker peanut butter cup cake for my birthday, dinner out tomorrow night, and roast chicken with homemade noodles and mashed potatoes, courtesy of my mother.

I am wearing... sweats. In my defense, it's laundry day, and while we were visiting Hubs's cousin's 10(!) new puppies, the mama bonked the heck out of my leg wanting attention, so they went in the wash.

I am creating... the above carnival blog post. And another round of soft blocks to list in my Etsy shop.

I am pondering... what a different perspective there is from the other side. Of everything. And whether Hubs's going out for lunch without me today shall result in forfeiture of the last piece of ice cream cake that's in the freezer. I'm thinking yes.

I am reading... the same things as last week. I can read blog posts like nobody's business, but when it comes to flipping pages, I don't do as well as I used to.

I am hoping... to pick up a little freelance work from a former employer. I sent an e-mail, just waiting for a reply now.

I am hearing... Goose enjoying her "quiet time" over the monitor.

Around the house... the laundry room is finally dried out (though not cleaned up, yikes) and back together.

One of my favorite things... Goose and her Papa in a tractor. She's shaping up to be quite a farm kid already.

A few plans for the rest of the week... last week's dinner out for my birthday shifted to this week, hanging out with my parents, and I'm hoping to go visit a cousin who just had a baby. (And I finally got my driver's license renewed.)

A picture thought I am sharing...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Cleaning Carnival - Get the Parabens Out!

It's spring cleaning day again! This week, Micaela at Mindful Momma is educating us on parabens. You can read the first part of her story at Kitchen Stewardship and the second part at Mindful Momma. You can also see the previous and upcoming topics here. Finally, go check out the lotion giveaway going on at KS! (whew.)

I'll admit that parabens have not been on my watch list. We all have priorities based on the many and varied dynamics of our household. I really appreciate the opportunity to educate myself on things like this, though, and as I continue baby-stepping my way toward healthier living, I never know when a bit of info I tucked away somewhere will suddenly click.

One thing that concerns me to learn about parabens is that they are prevalent in baby products. Yikes! (See how I make homemade baby wipes and spray detangler for my little one - just make sure you use paraben free inputs!) It was interesting to note that parabens are mainly used as preservatives. We typically think of preservatives in food, but it certainly stands to reason that health and beauty products "go bad" as well.

So, what's a mama to do? Micaela tells is in her post how easy it is to make our own products, and that way we know exactly what is in them. She also gives us permission to use up our paraben-containing products rather than throw them away immediately, and this also gives us time to find a good replacement!

Katie tells is in her Monday Mission at Kitchen Stewardship how she wears less makeup, uses homemade deodorant, and has gone to the no-shampoo method of caring for her hair. I never really got into the habit of wearing much makeup in the first place, and have worn it even less often since my daughter was born. The less you put on, the less you have to take off! I'm not sure I'm quite ready to give up my deodorant yet, but a quick glance at the ingredient list didn't show any paraben-containing ingredients. (Aluminum is another story, sigh.)

If you haven't heard of the "no-poo" method of caring for your hair, I encourage you to check the link above. It is important to note that there is a period of acclimation, but it's survivable. :>) Up until last summer, my hair was past my waist and my relationship with my conditioner rock-solid. I've since had my personal stylist (aka my mother!) cut more off every time and my hair is now the shortest it's been since middle school or so. Perhaps it's time for me to give the no-poo method a try? Well, I have a handful of bottles of Suave shampoo and conditioner tucked away, so perhaps not quite yet.

That isn't to say that I've not made a baby step at all, though it wasn't exactly intentional. I'm not quite there yet in my "About Me" series, but just after Christmas in 2006, we lost power for a week due to an ice storm that took down miles and miles of power lines and poles. During that time, we stayed at Hubs's grandmother's place along with Hubs's parents.

Our bathing choices were limited to a 1950s style added in shower in the basement (if you've ever seen - or showered in! - one, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about - if not, consider yourself lucky) or the teeny tiny bathtub. And either way, we had to be quick, because the water was pumped by electricity. Please note that I was 7 months pregnant with Goose at the time! So during that week, I took one "bath" in the tub (there was so little water, it barely qualified) and one shower at a friend's house in a nearby town that had their power restored much more quickly than we did. I still think about that pink-tiled piece of heaven...

My point is, my body soon adjusted to bathing less. Since I was due to deliver a baby in the next several weeks, I just kind of went with the reduced bathing schedule. Turns out it was one of my better decisions as skipping showers with a newborn left much more time for the important things like sleeping, eating, sleeping, and sleeping. Did I mention sleeping? :>)

Admittedly, while I don't want to like parabens, I am pretty sure I've been supporting their inclusion in ingredient lists because living in the middle of nowhere means that I prefer to have an extra of [insert item here] in the cabinet (or six of them). And these preservatives mean I can do just that. But just as I'm learning how to make do with fewer preservatives in our food, I think I can learn how to make do with fewer preservatives in the other items we use.

Next week, it's my turn to host the Spring Cleaning Carnival on getting food additives out. I'm learning a lot as I go, and looking forward to learning from others next week! I hope you can join us!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Link Roundup - Back in the Saddle Edition

No, not really a saddle, but behind the lawn mower. :>) We broke it out for the first time today, and wow, do things look better around here! With all the rain we got, it's really greening up and growing.

I'm trying to play catch up with links, so here we go. (By the way, there are some links for Easter that you'll have to tuck away for next year.)

Not sure that I have the required patience, but these Rhinestone Eggs from Crafty Cupboard sure make an impression.

house on hill road tells us how to make Gardener's Hand Scrub - just in time for spring digging in the dirt.

This Pom-Pom Tulle Skirt Tutorial from Happy Together is so fun!

One thing the internet has taught me is how to look at things in a whole new light, like this Pool Noodle Garland at No Time For Flashcards.

I feel like I've linked to this before, but I can't find it, so here we go: Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs gives us a free printable to make Envelope Templates and a tutorial to put them all together. I've been eyeing the cash system and this would certainly help me keep track of it (and in such a cute way, too).

Another one I thought I'd liked before, Craft Passion explains how to Recycle a T-Shirt Into Yarn.

So we've all seen how to make a chalkboard using chalkboard paint, but how about Making Your Own Chalkboard PAINT?!? (@ Your Better Style)

Poor Katie's site has been down, but hopefully soon you'll be able to check out how to Soak and Dehydrate Oats at Kitchen Stewardship. (And we're not sure what this means for the Get the Junk Out Spring Cleaning Carnival, this week was to be parabens and next week I'm supposed to step up with food additives.)

It's no wonder I never throw anything away, when Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog shows us how to make Stamp Wheels using an empty roll of packing tape.

Serious Eats tells us how to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally.

More eggs - Wisdom of the Moon gives us 3 Less Frustrating Ways to Dye Blown Eggs.

Money Saving Mom tells us how to Save $20 Per Year By Switching Fonts.

We can learn how to Spring Clean Your Body With Real Foods at Simple Bites.

Even if you don't homeschool, there is still much wisdom in Five J's post on Teach Your Children to Fish.

More on the Science of Infant Sleep, Part III and Part IV at Secrets of Baby Behavior.

This doesn't fit anywhere else, but it's too cute not to share - check out this 1949 Birth Announcement in a fun aviation style.

Happy clicking!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Link Roundup - What Happened? Edition

This is one of those times where I feel like all I'm doing is hanging on for the ride. Hopefully things will settle down soon - life is to wonderful to be wishing any part of it by!

So let's slow down for a minute and check out some links:

What an awesome (and CHEAP!) idea - Kid-Made Mother's Day Pendants from Frugal Family Fun Blog.

While we've seen recipes for Homemade Slime before (this one from New Nostalgia), this post has suggestions to "package" it in Easter eggs instead of candy (silly putty anyone? :>)) and I'm not sure I've seen Kool-Aid to dye slime before. But why not?!? It works on everything else!

Super idea! Not only are these Bib Cookies crazy cute, but the post explains how to make your own cookie cutter in any shape you want, with something that you usually just throw away! (@ let's go fly a kite)

I think I'm in love with this Iris Folding as seen at Marvelously Messy.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are best (and CUTEST!), like these Felt Envelopes for Tiny Creatures at Sewing in the Suburbs.

The Sister Letters posted her tweaks on a Toddler Sleeping Bag. Goose is juuuuust about too long for a Pack & Play, so this might be a good alternative.

My latest theory on getting Goose out of her crib is to make a Care Bear sheet for her toddler bed. I have the fabric, and thanks to the magic of the internet, I found crib/toddler bed sized sheet tutorials at Everything Your Mama Made & More and Make Baby Stuff. (Hint: the supply list at Make Baby Stuff is in the upper right corner. Took me a while to find it!)

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers posted her recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins that are sorta healthy. :>)

I'll admit complete fascination with these Crispy Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas from Family Fresh Cooking. I'd love to find Hubs a replacement for his beloved chips.

Hubs loves hard boiled eggs, and I do not, nor do I love making hardboiled eggs. But I think even I could handle *baking* them, as found at Tipnut.

Also at Heavenly Homemakers, Laura is helping us figure out which are The Most Nutritious Sweeteners.

Here are 10 Questions To Help You Declutter at Organizing Your Way.

And also 12 Surprising Ways to Reuse Aluminum Foil from Wise Bread, my favorite of which is a ball in the dryer to decrease static. I probably won't try it until this winter, but I'm hoping it works!

Money Saving Mom asked her readers how to Extend the Life of Fresh Produce and got lots of answers in the comments.

A request was put out on Faith & Family Live for book suggestions for a 15-year-old girl, and so far there are 84 comments, so hopefully the young lady in question will now have something new to read!

You know this is one of my favorite topics (though I try to stay away from using the word too much here! :>)) - go link up your own posts on nursin' babies at the Breastfeeding Blog Carnival at Modern Alternative Mama.

Tee hee - My Frugal Lifestyle shows us Proof That the Easter Bunny Really Does Exist.

Want to raise your kids to be good eaters? Check out this post to help you Determine Your Objectives at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles.

I had no idea there even was such a thing, but it looks hilarious - Speed Scrabble, at Five Js. (Personally, nothing does it for me like a rockin' game of Spoons! That's right, city cousin, I'm looking at YOU! :>) And I didn't know it was also called Pig until I searched for the rules to link up.)

This was an informative article on Attracting Bees to Your Vegetable Garden at Veggie Gardener.

Here are some Gardening Tips from Yesteryear from The Dollar Stretcher.

Faith & Family Live has an article on a title of Mary that I've never heard before: Mary, Undoer of Knots. I know I have a few that could use some help...

Also at Faith & Family Live, One Love, Two Faiths, on "mixed" marriages.

This was an interesting article regarding education trends: Want to Get Into Harvard? Spend More Time Staring at the Clouds from Study Hacks.

Fr. Z at What Does The Prayer Really Say? wrote about his visit to Wyoming Catholic College, near Lander.

OK, I have several more to link up, but I think that's a long enough list for now and besides, my carefully designed favorites folder organization system has crashed and burned (temporarily!) due to user error. Ahem. But hopefully I'll get it sorted out and the rest up soon. Happy clicking!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Daybook - April 16, 2010

Seriously, did anybody get the license number of the speeding truck that was the past two weeks blowing me by? It's been a little crazy around here. You may remember that last week, the washing machine drained on our (carpeted) laundry room floor, which was previously soaked in a Tide jug leak. The dehumidifier is still running, by the way. I stepped between the washer and dryer yesterday and when I stepped back, I saw I'd left a soapy footprint. After I posted, just as I finished hanging two loads of Hubs's work clothes on the line, the clothesline fell down. Could've been a lot worse, it was work clothes and on the concrete patio, anyway.

Things took an exciting turn on last Tuesday, though, when GOOSE FOUND A BAT ON THE GROUND. I'm still pretty freaked out about it. I had stepped inside for just a minute to get my gardening gloves, and when I came out, she said "wook, Mama!" and pointed at it. It was crawling around, and I told her "don't touch don't touch don't touch don't touch" as I grabbed a coffee can from the garage and scooped it up. (I fought down the urge to whack the ever lovin' crap out of it because I knew the head had to be intact for testing. Thanks be to God that it didn't start flying around as I was scooping it!)

I called our regional health department (I used to serve on the board of directors) and they in turn called the state to obtain permission to get it tested. We delivered the bat (in the coffee can that I put in a zip top bag and in the TRUNK of my car) to the local vet along with the required registration number, and then the little guy was sent to Kansas for testing. I'm praying for a negative... I don't think that it had a chance to bite Goose, but I can't be sure and as far as I know there has only been one person to survive getting rabies that didn't get vaccinated, and bat bites can be too small to detect.

Outside my window... It was actually chilly today, but not too windy. The past few days have been quite warm and very windy, and we've had some rain, which makes my farmer a bit cranky to get going on fieldwork.

I am thinking... that I need to work on my time management. I say that a lot, but I'm realizing that I don't accomplish very much on a lot of days.

I am thankful for... not getting rid of my dehumidifier when I was decluttering. (Did I mention that we've had water leak under our basement stairs twice? Yeah, I'm glad we still have that thing to dry us out!)

From the learning rooms... I went crazy trying to find the link to this post at No Time For Flash Cards on a magnetic weather station. As you can guess, I have a LOOOOOT of items in my favorites folders, and though I try to keep them organized, there's just a lot of them. This post got starred in my Google Reader, so it wasn't even where I thought it was!

From the kitchen... tator tot casserole, for one. I have several packages of hamburger to brown and freeze, and I plan to make a half batch (two loaves instead of four) of Sarah's Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sourdough bread. Other than that, I'm feeling pretty uninspired.

I am wearing... a grey shirt and purple pants. I actually have two pair of purple pants, I wonder why that is? It's not exactly one of my favorite colors.

I am creating... a spin on this pom-pom lamp for one of my nieces, and a hybrid of these two fishing games for another niece.

I am pondering... how some people really carry their crosses in silence. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not so good.

I am reading... the same things as last week. Say Goodnight to Insomnia, upon the recommendation of a handful of fellow insomniacs. I really like it so far! Added to my "To Be Read" pile - All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, and Is There Life After Housework? I also picked up a stack of old Nebraska Life magazines in the local library's discarded section, and I can't wait to leaf through those.

I am hoping... to get Goose caught up on sleep. It's always a struggle.

I am hearing... Hubs's computer, not much else. I put Goose to bed super early tonight and Hubs is watching TV.

Around the house... lots of things are waiting for the laundry room to get put back together!

One of my favorite things... blooming tulips and daffodils that survived the wind. Goose and I have picked a few of them.

A few plans for the rest of the week... we'll hopefully go out to dinner for my upcoming birthday (and I pointed out to Hubs that there's an indoor mini golf course not too far from here), Bible study next week (which has been an amazing blessing to me!), and I really have to get my drivers' license renewed. Really. :>)

A picture thought I am sharing... I haven't shared a Treasure Hunting success in a while! (yes, Mom, those are Nappy's feet in the picture. It's better than her laying on the stuff, right?)

I scored some handmade felt Care Bears (Goose hasn't seen them yet, but she's going to be pretty excited! And I'll admit, I didn't know there was a Husker Bear :>)) for about a quarter. I think the Disney Sing Along Songs video was another quarter. The dehydrating cookbook and cake decorating book were both a dime each. Do you see the thick red rick rack? Another quarter, I think, for 6+yards! The metal tray has feet on the bottom that swing out so it'll go over a lap, and I plan to make the above magnetic weather station using it (another quarter).

Finally, I need some suggestions for the fabric! It is kind of a canvas or duck cloth, with a tan/khaki background and orange-ish flowers. I'm almost positive it's vintage! I have just under two yards, and I think it's 44" wide. What should I make? I want to make something that I'll actually use, and the only things I came up with were a jacket (probably too difficult for my skill level) or a bag, and since I just bought my enormous mom purse that I love, I don't really need one of those. Although maybe I could make a couple of reusable shopping bags and replace and/or augment the mishmash ones I currently have. Any suggestions are welcome, though!

Hopefully I'll get a Reading The Whole Internet post up this weekend. I have a lot to share!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Get the Sugar Out

Where on earth does time go?!? The week has flown by, and it's time to read more about why to avoid refined sugar at Kitchen Stewardship and some great tips for reducing your sugar intake at Naturally Knocked Up. Next week learn about parabens and how to find safer personal products with Mindful Momma, and find the entire schedule here. Make sure to click through to Kitchen Stewardship and Naturally Knocked Up for a chance to win an enormous jar of natural and super-yummy sounding dried fruit and a copy of Katie's e-book Healthy Snacks to Go.

I re-submitted my post on my Yeast Elimination Diet since it cut out sugar as well as white flour. I didn't notice a difference in how I felt back then, probably because I was pretty busy caring for a baby and struggling with baby blues and insomnia. I'm thinking it's time to give it another try, though!

Regular readers may have noticed (or not :>)) that I didn't get a Reading the Whole Internet post up this weekend... life got in the way and I'm a believer in Blogging Without Obligation. I also didn't write a Daybook post last week, and I'm hoping to get one done this week.

In good news, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping! In not-so-good-news, my washing machine drained on my (carpeted!) laundry room floor yesterday. This was especially interesting and exciting as about five years ago, an enormous jug of laundry detergent cracked unbeknownst to me and leaked quite a bit on the floor before I realized it. At the time, we decided to just leave it alone as we couldn't figure out a way to clean it up and we just figured we'd replace the carpet sometime.

I got out the shop vac and set it up for wet cleanup but the soap made waaaay too many bubbles and they started shooting out of the top of the shop vac (something with the foam filter, I think - and yes, the instruction manual said to leave the foam filter in for wet cleanup, I checked!). So, we're running the dehumidifier. I'm thinking the time to replace the carpet is NOW, but since Hubs is starting field work and planting, that means long days in the tractor and no time to help, and I'm not sure this is something I want to tackle on my own!

Here's hoping your week is a little less exciting than mine. :>)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

No More Plastic Food Storage Containers?

As part of the "spring cleaning" series, Beth at Fake Plastic Fish has explained why we shouldn't use plastic to store food in posts at Kitchen Stewardship and at her blog. Check out the links for some interesting reading!

In the Nettacow household, we have not taken the "no plastic" plunge. When I was still working before Goose was born, one of my favorite lunches to take was macaroni and cheese (standard enriched pasta with Mexican Velveeta - yikes!) in an old margarine tub - because I didn't want to mess up my "nice" plastic containers by using them all the time.

The good news is that the margarine tubs have been put up (except for special/yucky uses that don't involve food!) - and there aren't any new ones coming in the house since I now use real butter. But I'll admit I'm not quite ready to give up my plastic just yet. I've started saving jars to re-use, and I'm certainly more mindful of plastic now, at least!

Along the lines of frugality, I have tried to look at plastic with new eyes. For example, I used to just throw away the plastic bag that lined the boxes of kitty litter that I buy. I discovered that the bag will fit perfectly in my kitchen trash can, so it gets a second use, at least. Freezer storage bags are a staple part of my methods of freezer cooking, though I'm learning a lot about freezing in glass. (If only I weren't so darn clumsy when it comes to breakable items...)

We all have to make decisions for our households based on our own circumstances, and if you decide you aren't ready to give up plastic either, that's fine! I would encourage you to go check out Beth's posts (again at Kitchen Stewardship and her own blog, Fake Plastic Fish) and listen to her point of view. I promise, you'll learn at least something new.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Link Roundup - Resurrection Edition

As we prepare to celebrate Christ's victory over death tomorrow, I am reflecting on a Lent that hasn't turned out at all like I planned. I went back and found an article I linked to a few weeks ago from Faith & Family Live called Surrender the Choosing. One of the comments has especially stuck with me. It says, in part "God gave you this Lent.” And He will give you your Easter". I have thought about this several times over the past few weeks and just tried to draw closer to our Lord as I follow the path He has planned for me.

Next year, Goose and I will have to make these Holy Week Caterpillars that turn into butterflies for Easter.

Too cute - argyle applique t-shirt at A Hoot and A Holler.

A.DOR.A.BLE - flower wreath headband at Aly & Ash.

This is one of those projects where I love the thought process as much as (or more!) thank the final creation: upcycled bracelets from At Second Street.

These Carseat Blankets at Craft Affection are a great idea.

Craftastical has a neat tutorial on making Loom Flowers Without the Loom.

An oldie but a goodie, and just in time for the plastic eggs to go on clearance - Skip to My Lou's Egg Shaped Sidewalk Chalk.

Fantastic Find has a neat idea for a Spring Bubble Kit with some neat variations.

Thanks to Zimms Zoo for the heads up - Filth Wizardry came up with Iron On Decals From Plastic Shopping Bags - oh, the possibilities!

Going Kiwi did a great job on these Felt Superheroes.

Considering how Goose likes to show off her tummy (let alone everything else!) while wearing a dress, I need to whip up some of these Girls' Modesty Shorts (Biker Shorts) from Hippos and Dinosaurs. Best of all - they use old t-shirts!

A couple of free patterns for little girls from oliver + s - Lazy Days Skirt and Popover Sundress.

With a name like Wiffle Ball Rosette Mobile, how could I NOT click through? (@ Lemon Tree Creations)

Such a cute add-on - Peek-A-Boo Tulle at Nancy's Couture.

Obsessively Stitching has a tutorial for a Dress Up Wedding Veil, though I'm thinking it'd work great for First Communion!

Oh, how fun is this?!? Someday Crafts has a post on Tutu Leggings, go see!

Speaking of leggings, these Leggings with Flare are fun and soooo easy, from Sugar Bee - Craft Edition.

Though I'm working on eating more "real" foods (i.e. as close to the real thing and as far from factories) as possible in our home, I'm still bookmarking recipes like Dana at MADE's How To Make Your Cake Mix Low Fat. (And I believe fat isn't all that bad, just proper fats in moderation.)

Speaking of real foods, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship tells us how to Germinate Brown Rice and a follow up on Reducing the Phytic Acid in Brown Rice by 96%.

I really want to spend some time just enjoying the fact that I'm using freshly ground flour using local wheat, but eventually I think I'd like to try sprouting the wheat before grinding, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop tells how do do that in Part 1 - Why Sprout Your Grains and Part 2 = How to Sprout Your Grains.

Another oldie but a goodie, this post at Pondered In My Heart called Inch By Inch, Row By Row inspired me to start some pea seeds early. So far, it's ... um ... interesting.

See what Jessica at Shower of Roses is doing for her Good Shepherd's Garden Party, Week Two.

Secrets of Baby Behavior is doing a series on the science of infant sleep, here's Part I - the first six weeks and Part II - six to sixteen weeks.

I loved Danielle Bean's Marked By the Cross at Inside Catholic - she's right, sometimes it hurts too much to pray, but all we have to do is be near Jesus, and He'll take care of the rest.

More Lenten reading, an ancient sermon this time: The Lord Descends Into Hell at Catholic Culture.

Happy clicking, and happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

40 Bags Update - Bags 45 - 46

These last few bags were all pretty small, so I counted them as half a bag each. To the left is some stuff that went in the trash. You might think that's a silly thing to count as a bag, but I have hung onto that big piece in the back for about five years, thinking surely I'd find a use for it. Time to get it out!

The other bag is some hats, gloves, scarves, etc. that I'd tucked away just in case, but I really need to let them go - especially since I don't wear that kind of stuff much anymore.

In this second set of pictures, to the left are some old, cheap plant pots (the flimsy kind) that I haven't used and I have plenty of sturdier pots, so I don't need them!

On the right is the picture of my countertop after I cleaned out my pens, organized notepads, etc. (Too bad it doesn't still look like that...) I had received a big handful of pens from a company where I worked and since I made some good memories there, I've been reluctant to get rid of the pens. The thing is, they're lousy pens! They don't write worth a darn. So out they went.

That brings me to 47 bags, and I haven't yet counted the large box of miscellaneous that has been piling up in the spare bedroom. Not too bad, but I know I need to keep going. Still, it feels good to have gotten rid of the stuff that I did.

For those of you that joined me, how did you do? You can see lots more clutter updates at Amy's Finer Things.