Thursday night rush

After this soccer season I was looking forward to having my evenings back again. {But as you are aware, when we look forward to things going as planned, it rarely does.} I love soccer as much as the next mom, but I’ve been feeling terrible about how much time Sylvi spends sitting, waiting for Liam to finish his awesome activities. She has spent so much of her life on the sidelines, simply because she’s the little sister. Thankfully, she is finally old enough to take ballet classes! I could hardly wait to sign her up this Fall only to realize soccer was on the same night and since I’m involved, it wouldn’t work.

Instead, we have had almost a month long break and this coming week, ballet begins! It’s only one night a week and only a half hour class, but it’s still right during the supper rush. So I’m back to employing the crock pot to have supper ready for me when we pirouette through the door!

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I live an hour away from the Smucker store and cafe. Which means that I am able to get my hands on a lot of nifty products… I came across the Orchard’s Finest Orange Marmalade when I was making the Pioneer Woman’s sweet rolls. I live in Ohio. Citrus is something we don’t come by easily, so I appreciate when a local company can make something amazing. Marmalade chicken is fantastic to toss in the crock pot before running out for afternoon errands, knowing that you’ll have a fully cooked supper ready to roll when you return. Bonus points if you have a rice cooker!

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Marmalade Soy Chicken

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce {or if you’re in my position and need a gluten free option, use Braggs Liquid Aminos!}
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked Basmati rice

Place the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot and season with ground pepper. Mix together the remaining ingredients (except the rice) and pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Remove the chicken from the crock pot and shred it up. That’s right. Shred it, don’t chop it. Then return it to the crock pot and mix with the sauce. Serve over cooked rice… broccoli or green beans are a fantastic side!

This recipe does reheat well and can even be prepped in advance and frozen.

Work in Progress Wednesday – Let it begin!

With just about two months left until Christmas, I finally gathered all my creativity and started to work on the quilts I plan to make as Christmas gifts. Originally, there were four. And then three. I’d love to turn out three, but I need to be realistic, so the third might not happen this year. BUT, I do have one completely put together and waiting for me to quilt and bind it!

Work in Progress Wednesday

The original pattern is from Modern Bee —13 Quilts to Make with Friends - a book I received as a gift last Christmas. I really like all the patterns, but don’t happen to have enough friends to put together a bee, so I just made all the blocks myself. :) Because I’m rebellious, I changed the colors and added an extra block for pizzazz. I haven’t yet decided how to quilt it, but there’s still some time!

Work in Progress Wednesday

I’m linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for today’s Work in Progress Wednesday… lots of neat inspiration on that blog! And tomorrow she starts a sew-a-long that I sadly don’t have the time to participate in. :( Maybe the next one?

And now… what are you creating for the holidays? Or just for fun?

Clean Face – Happy Face

Given that I spend so much time in yoga pants and a cardigan, I suppose it could be considered odd how much I like makeup. My skin is fair and marks easily… so even a tiny zit leaves behind a red dot that will last for a while. Which annoys me. So I wear make up on a regular basis. I always used either my fingers or a sponge until an esthetician introduced me to brushes. Since then, I’ve broken up with my previous methods and fully embraced the brush.

Essential Oil Make up brush cleaner

Photo Credit/Link: Ann Voskamp’s Facebook Page

The thing with brushes is that you do actually have to keep them clean. If you don’t, you just keep pushing bacteria around your face {whether you mean to or not} and risk infecting your pores. Personal experience says washing is actually worth the two minutes of my time. Ahem. Sephora sells a spray that you can spray on your brushes after each use, but their cost seemed a little silly to me. So I set out to create a cleaner that didn’t break the bank, was gentle on my skin and effective.

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I really love how flexible my Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile Liquid Soap is. I use it to clean the oven, the glass top on the stove, carpets, the washer, for my everyday cleaner, and now my makeup brushes. This recipe is something that I only make in small batches at a time since it uses essential oils and I have a plastic bottle. Isn’t that little bottle so cute? It was a sample of Ecover dishsoap and I just couldn’t throw it away!

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Make Up Brush Wash

Mix all the ingredients together in a small squirt bottle. {This is an example from Amazon: 2oz Empty Bottles, but I’m sure you could find something in the travel section of your local drugstore.} Shake to combine. Squirt a little of the cleaner out into the palm of your hand and swish your brush tip in it. You’ll notice the makeup start to come out and mix with the cleaner. {You may need to clean your brushes more than once if you’re like me and didn’t think it was a necessity, but once you start cleaning them, it takes less and less swishing to get them clean.} Rinse the brushes and dry with a clean washcloth.

** Don’t store your brushes upright {like mine in the photos} while they are drying… leftover moisture will run down into where the bristles are attaches and before you know it, you’ll be losing bristles faster than a post-partum woman loses hair! No bueno. **

Need to order some essential oils? Check out That Mama Gretchen’s DoTerra page!

Brave

Tuesday was the first  MOPS meeting of this theme year. I’m the mom in charge of the newsletters, so I’ve had lots of opportunities to read through the theme material and consider the goals. This year, it’s to take the opportunity to step and be YOU bravely. In the context of the mothering community, we can rally around one another’s bravery in support… kind of like a good bra… and who doesn’t love good support, right?

I’ve never thought of myself as a brave person. I’m too reserved to be brave. I like to be safe and follow the rules, so bravery never comes as the result of adventure. But you know what I do like? Superhero movies. A tense mystery novel. Action movies. Adrenaline-laced films I can watch from the security of my living room. I’ve always been happy to live vicariously through the creativity of screen writers and actors. Then I became a mother and it felt like every moment was dedicated to an expression of courage. Colic? Be brave. Post-Partum Depression? Be more brave. Building a solid relationship with my mother-in-law? Put on those big girl pants and get BRAVE.

I thought that for myself the theme would be about being brave and standing up for myself. Setting boundaries and taking care of myself. It’s not something I’ve ever done well and I decided at the end of last year that I was going to focus on Presence. But if all you ever do is worry and wonder if you are keeping everyone happy you don’t get to be very present. Oddly enough, once I worked on my boundaries, learned to say no and started to feel more present with my children, I realized that there are areas in my life where I need a little bit of support.

This year, I’ve stepped out {often shaking in my boots} and actively started to seek help for my son. Almost 3 years ago, our doctor decided that his sensory quirks warranted a diagnosis and Occupational Therapy… the gross motor skills needed that therapy. In the past 3 years, we’ve seen 4 different therapists and Liam has grown a lot, and yet, we still struggle on a near daily basis with many of issues that make his {and by default my} life so hard. I reached out, and have discovered so many other families in our circumstance. Perhaps, the best thing I could have learned from the idea of bravery is that sometimes, admitting we need help is more courageous than struggling on alone.

If you’re looking for more great writing from the MOPS organization, check out the Hello Darling blog… lots of fun and challenging posts on that site. And if you’re looking for community, you can also look up a MOPS group in your area and maybe find a little more support for your own bravery.

 

Mighty Mommy Monday – What’s next?

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year! Join us!

 

I finished my last laps last week. 30 miles. 30 miles spent swimming back and forth in silence, praying about my fears and dreams. Thinking about all the things I was hoping to accomplish… planning out sewing projects and homeschool activities. I wonder if I could finish out the year with 50 miles?

To that end, I’m working to figure out my new routine. This week, I’m planning to spend more time in the pool since the temps are nice and I won’t freeze coming home. I know. I plan my life around the weather. I’m a wimp.

Monday: Swim 1 mile/Abs

Tuesday: Swim 1 mile

Wednesday: Abs/Arms

Thursday: Ellipitical and abs

Friday: Swim 1 mile

Saturday: Elipitical/Abs/Arms

Sunday: Rest

So here we go… finding a routine and hoping to settle in. My foot is healing nicely, and I’m being more careful. No more crazy. More sanity and structure.

Senior

When I was a senior in high school, my parents adopted the cutest little boy… EVER. The adoption process started my sophomore year and every so often once we were placed with his cuteness, we’d get an updated photo and a letter about how he was doing. And I’d stare at those photos dreaming of the day we could snuggle together and all the fun things we would do. But the Indian government was taking it’s sweet old time and it took until Homecoming weekend my senior year for him to come home.

My parents had to fly out to New York to pick him up {lots of drama throughout the whole process suffice to say} and when I woke up a week later, there was this precious, precious little boy with enormous brown eyes staring at me. It was a Saturday morning and my parents were exhausted so they went back to bed and I got to stay up with him. And just absorb his sweet face, his chocolately skin, his curious eyes. Typing this, my eyes are welling up with tears remembering wanting to cuddle him so badly, but needing to wait 3 painfully long days for him to trust me enough.

In the last 16 years, he’s grown up a lot. He’s experienced many things that children his age don’t and when I see him, I am amazed at how life has changed him. Sure, sure I knew he’d grow up and lose his baby face. I knew his braces would come off and he’d start shaving. And I knew he’d eventually graduate from high school and move on with his life. But what I didn’t anticipate is how I’d feel.

I’ve said before he changed me as a person. I finally understood the sacrifices a parent makes and how deeply you love a child. And then I had my own children and I think my heart grew to love my brother even more. It’s odd. These maternal urges just take over! This week, he played his final game of the regular soccer season. He walked across the field as a senior and was presented with a soccer ball from the team. The announcer said he wanted his teammates to remember how funny he was and that he’s going to study engineering.

Last night, I put the kids to bed and slipped over the field to watch the last part of his final home game of the season. His final season as a high schooler. I realized how much I am going to miss watching him play on these chilly evenings. He’s chosen a college that is close enough we could make a weekend trip out of seeing him play, but it’s not the same. I won’t pass him as he drives home from school. And Liam won’t get to run up to him after church for a hug.

As much as I respect my parents for choosing adoption, I’m grateful to his birth mother for choosing adoption. I’m so grateful she chose to give him to us. To give him a safe and healthy life. I wish I could tell her how much her decision has changed my entire life. I wish I could thank her for loving him that much. And I wish she had the opportunity to be as proud of him as I am.

Labeled {product review and discount code}

Courtesy of: Kidecals
Every one needs a little boost from time to time, don’t we? My happy boost comes from neat, tidy and labeled. Every year, I make jars of jams and jellies to give as gifts to my MOPS table, neighbors and lucky family members. But every year, I have a hard time coming up with a label I love.

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I want the label to hold my name (so they know the source of the yumminess) and the name of my gift. But I also want it to be cute. Kidecals gave me the opportunity to test out their products and after a long, long time scrolling through all the options, I happened on their pretty canning labels. And just like their name, they are definitely pretty! I’m really excited to give away my jars this year… now I just need to start collecting baskets to put them in!
The labels are thick and stay put on the top of my jar lids. If you’re into freezer cooking, these labels might just be the ticket for you! And for the child who has serious allergies, I am really impressed with the variety of labels they’ve created to help you give a head’s up for those who might be caring for your children.
Check out the Kidecals website and don’t forget the discount code they have graciously provided for my readers when you check out! Discount Code:  fashion
Are you thinking about your Christmas gifting yet? What’s your favorite homemade treat to give?

Unprocessed 2014

Tomorrow is the first day of October. And oh-my-goodness has this year just zipped by! This is my fourth year signing the pledge for October UNprocessed and by now, as September closes, I just know it’s time for the CLEAN.

It just so worked out that today was my scheduled grocery shopping day and so I walked into Kroger at 740 this morning, list in hand and an exciting coupon for money off on produce! I’ve been working really hard on creating a menu for our family that actually works. Meals that can be prepped in advance or are low impact on my day are meals that help me to be successful. Menus are planned out 2 weeks at a time and I make sure that I keep money back in my budget so that about a week or so in, I have plenty left over to buy more fresh fruit and dairy products.

When I got home, I washed all the fruit, put it in containers on the lowest shelf in my fridge so the kids can help themselves and refilled the fruit bowl. I give it 5 days until I need to refill considering Sylvi has already eaten 2 apples since this morning!

So. If you haven’t taken the challenge yet, check out Andrew’s blog and see if you feel inclined to participate. I hope so! Join the challenge and make sure you check out all the resources on his site.

In my sidebar, I have a tag specifically for October UNprocessed posts you can see my past experiences and recipes. Condiments are my greatest challenge so I always use this time as an opportunity to break my dependence on Kroger to provide me with “necessities”. This year, I also created a Pinterest Board for all the pins I find with how-tos and recipes so I can be as unprocessed as possible!

Join up! And share with me your tips and tricks for kiddo snacks!

Mighty Mommy Monday – Adjusting

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year! Join us!

 

Throughout the summer, I’ve had significant pain in my feet and lower legs. My calf muscles are huge so I assumed that they were just tight from all the work I’ve put in. So I’ve iced, foam rolled and toughed it out. I’ve rested and slathered myself in Deep Blue. But nothing really alleviated it. So after a month of stabbing pain in my foot, I called the doctor and got an order to get an x-ray. It took me about another week to actually get in to have it done. And on said x-ray was a crack on a bone in my left foot.

Ironically, those muscular calves {according the doctor} have been part of the problem. They got strong faster than my feet muscles and placed additional stress on my bones. So they gave me an order to get off my feet and not run at all for at least a month. This of course, came a mere 6 weeks before the 1/2 marathon. At that point, I was only up to a 6 mile stretch and I knew that even if I were to resume training after the minimum 4 week break, I’d not be able to complete the race to 1.) my best abilities and 2.) my own satisfaction.

My options were limited and I opted to get rid of my bib, rest my foot and HEAL. It was a hard decision and I {as usual} cried pretty hard over it. But I do feel that I’ve made the best decision for my health. Physically, I think I’m doing a lot better… my health had become quite an issue in the last 6 weeks or so and I was concerned that I was doing more long-term harm than good. At this point, my foot pain has diminished, and my deep fatigue is resolving. I haven’t had a headache in 8 days and I’m so incredibly grateful for that.

Today marks the beginning of my 4th week since my x-ray. And I’m back to exercising. I took the 1/2 marathon off my goals, but I’m only 1.5 miles out from my swimming goal. I need to figure out a workout routine, though. What I Ioved the most while training was the order. I liked knowing I had a plan and right now, I feel like I’m floundering. So this week, I’m going to meet my swim goal and figure out my new routine. But don’t worry, it will still involve a lot of my beloved elliptical. I tried jumping on Thursday. It was painful.

Life Lately

Last night, I told Matt I needed a break. I wanted two hours to just process all that has happened in our life, write a little and write out a cohesive to-do list. He not only did he agree, he took it as an opportunity to take the kiddos and go visit his mother and go to a local festival. It’s been 4 and a half hours… the house is… quiet. In honor of the quiet, here’s a life lately post :)

Reading/// One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp {affiliate link}  Wow. I was blown away within the first few pages. I’m an analyst of life. Why did things work out this way? What did I eat that made my body ache and cramp for two days? What is the key to this person’s reaction? So many questions always swirling in my mind and then I read the line “Just that maybe… maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.” And deep in my soul I wondered if perhaps all my analytical thoughts aren’t in fact, working against me. I can’t wait to read more!

Drinking/// Oh thank God. The Salted Caramel Mocha is back. End of story.

Planning/// Christmas for my darlings. Stockings are done, but now I need to buckle down and figure out what exactly we want to do for them. I want this year to be simple. Last year I started with making something for each person on our list and I fully plan to do something similar again.

Writing/// newsletters for the MOPS group I am a part of. Our year starts in just 3 weeks and I am excited to see what we all learn as we explore our bravery.

Linking/// I haven’t written much lately, but I have been reading and making discoveries thanks to my blog subscriptions and pinterest

  • Not sure how I didn’t read this blogger before, but I am now and loving her posts!
  • I’m considering making these for my living room soon.
  • I really need to make this again. Thank God for soup season!
  • Just bought this for family photos next month. Sylvi will look adorable in this with her leopard tights.
  • Am I the only one who loathes stink bugs? I’m not messing around this year.

And now, I’m off to continue on my Mama Day… I’m looking forward to getting in a little time at my sewing machine!