30 March 2010

New Fireplace

We have lived in our house for almost four years now, and every single day I have loathed the hideous brass edges on this fireplace. Alisa made the suggestion to simply use this paint for a quick, very inexpensive fix.

Seven dollars and a few hours later, here it is:

This is one home improvement project that should have been done a long time ago. Sigh.

29 March 2010

A family project

After the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, we were asked by our church leaders to pray for those affected; for peace in their hearts, that their suffering would be easier to bear, and that they would have patience in their trials. I'm absolutely certain the members of our church were not unique in offering these prayers; I imagine people all over the world were pleading with heaven for spiritual and temporal relief for these people.

I appreciated the reminder to make our prayers more about others and less about ourselves, and especially to teach our boys to think of others, even strangers suffering in faraway lands.

I wanted our family to participate not only in the spiritual relief through our prayers but also the temporal relief.

After reading several articles about how, immediately following the earthquakes, the LDS Church Humanitarian Services had sent thousands of hygiene kits to both Haiti and Chile, we decided that this is how we would participate. The website says that in a typical year they give out approximately 1 million of these kits each year.

Throughout the month of March, the boys completed many extra jobs around our house to earn money to pay for the supplies for one hygiene kit each. We purchased items little by little and then last week we assembled four kits and got them ready to ship.

I love this project, because these are items that we use everyday, so the boys can see the benefit of sending them to people in an emergency. It is a simple, relatively inexpensive way to provide service to those in need. Anyone can participate--Humanitarian Services is always accepting more kits and there is no minimum. You can ship them to the address given here, or take them to a local Bishops Storehouse.

Now the prayers offered around our house include pleas like this: "please bless the people in Haiti and Chile, and make sure our hygiene kits get there."

28 March 2010

Back to the grind

Spring break has come and gone. It was full of crafting, camping at the Oregon coast, a little bit of sunshine and a lot of rain.

I didn't join the Fuller boys' camping adventure because a crawling baby + dirty ground + rainy forecast didn't seem like that much fun. So Henry and I had our own adventures at home for those two days they were gone. This included a lot of sewing for me, and for him, a lot of playing on the floor while listening to the hum of the sewing machine.

I will say I'm really sad to get back to making lunches, finding library books and backpacks, and being a slave to the dropping off and picking up from school. Usually I'm ready for the routine to start up again after a long break, but this one just went too fast.

25 March 2010

Reuse what you have: wax paper

Just thought I'd share this tip that was in our local newspaper the other day. This tip is good for people who eat cereal and use wax paper.

Save empty cereal bags and use them instead of buying a new roll of wax paper. This is only good for things that don't require the wax paper to be baked or heated up in any way.

I used it for drying no-bake cookies the other day and it worked great.

It pleases my green self and my frugal self all at the same time.

24 March 2010

Update on the battle of the bulge

About three months after I posted this, four other friends and I formed a biggest loser support group to motivate each other to get moving and lose weight.

Now, seven months later, I will say this has been quite the experience. For me, it has been a very educational, eye-opening journey of health and exercise and what it takes to really stay healthy and feeling well for a lifetime.

It's a little embarrassing, but much of what I learned over these months has come from Jillian Michaels, who has become a personal trainer of sorts in my living room. She's a little over the top sometimes, but I tell you, she knows her stuff, shares it freely, and gets results.

Every one of the women in our group who started doing her workouts on a regular basis lost weight and toned up. No joke. By the end of December, we had been meeting together for weigh-ins and motivation on a weekly basis and between the five of us, we had lost 90+ pounds. It was hard work, but so much fun to do it together.

Here are a few things that helped me along in this journey:
  • You will get better, faster results working out as hard as you can, with a combination of strength training and cardio for 20-30 minutes a day. I heard it for years but never really understood how to do it effectively.
  • Eating a large salad (for me, at lunch) full of cruciferous veggies--broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower--and other items--tomatoes, spinach, cottage cheese, beans, raisins, avocado-- is a great way to get all these metabolism-boosting, important foods into your body all at once every single day.
  • Focusing on eating whole grains whenever I can and try to avoid buying items that contain "partially-hydrogenated" and "enriched" ingredients. When I eat whole foods, I feel better. period.
There are several other things I am trying to do in my family, being the one in charge of buying the groceries and preparing most of the meals, I feel like I really have a responsibility to make good choices and teach my kids also how to make good food choices. I don't want to cram it down their throats, pardon the pun, instead I would just rather my boys develop a taste for certain foods by cooking and offering them regularly and then allowing them to try it when they're ready.

It can seem a little overwhelming, but I'm finding that taking baby steps is helping me along.

Best money I ever spent was on these three workout dvds:

Okay, enough about Jillian Michaels, already.

14 March 2010

New salad to share

My mom has been telling me to eat quinoa for a couple of years, but for some reason I haven't had much interest until now. If you're not familiar with it, quinoa is a grain that is unusually high in protein (16ish percent, as compared to rice which is about 7ish percent). It is very tiny, but expands to four times its original size after cooking. It has a nutty taste and a texture slightly more gummy than rice.

The reason I became interested lately is because I have been looking for high-protein foods to feed Henry, and quinoa is really a perfect baby food, as it is small, chewy and easily digested. For him, I have been mixing it with mashed up veggies or applesauce. So far he loves it.

My interest in quinoa also peaked recently due to a salad that I tried from the deli at our local Whole Foods-type store, Market of Choice, which was made of quinoa, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onion, and chopped up fresh spinach. I really wanted to figure out the dressing so I could make it at home.

So here is my best guess. It tasted very similar and was delicious.

Quinoa Salad

3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper

1) Rinse quinoa well before cooking, or it could taste bitter. Bring water and quinoa to boil, add a pinch of salt and lower heat. Simmer with lid on for 20 minutes.

2) Whisk oils, rice vinegar, & lemon juice in small bowl. Mix warm quinoa, spinach, red onion, feta and tomatoes in medium bowl and toss with dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate to allow flavors to marinate and serve cold.

***this makes a lot of dressing--you may want to save a little to moisten the salad when serving, as the warm quinoa tends to absorb much of the liquid.

11 March 2010

From the trenches

Every so often, when I find myself deep in the trenches of parenting, I get a gentle, amazing reminder that all the teaching, reminding, and attempts to be firm & consistent really are paying off and producing boys who are worthy of, and listening to, the influence of "that spirit which leadeth to do good--yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously." (Doctrine & Covenants 11:12)

Teaching them how to recognize, listen to, and obey that spirit is what I consider to be my most important responsibility as their mother. Heaven knows they need it in the tumultuous, crazy world in which we live--a world that starts, even in 2nd grade, to bombard our children with things we would never choose for them to hear or see.

My gentle, amazing reminder came this morning, and it went like this:

James: "Mom, the book we're reading in reading group already had four bad words in it. Two d words, one h word and. . .(dramatic pause) even the f word."

Me: (horrified, ready to call the school immediately) "What kind of book is this?!!"

James: "It's called Shilo. It's a western, mom, those guys didn't have any churches back then"

Not sure what to do, but ready to call someone and complain, I found out that James had already done the work for me.

James: "Don't worry, mom. I told my teacher we couldn't keep reading this book. There were just too many bad words. Three kids agreed with me, two kids wanted to keep reading."

Come to find out, after a little hesitation on the reading group teacher's part (her initial reaction? "oh, just keep reading") James kept insisting, and finally, "James you're right."

They were six chapters in, and there were nine more to go, but they stopped right away and are now reading a different book.

James: "Mom, it felt so good."

It was a small yet extremely significant moment in his and my life and I am grateful he shared it with me.

04 March 2010

From the stash

If you sew, chances are you have a fabric stash. Oh, how I love my stash.

However, when you live in a very small house, as I do, the stash tends to take up too much of the already precious square footage. I often wonder why I keep certain pieces that don't seem like they're the right size or pattern for anything good.

And then one day, a project like this comes along:

and instead of rushing off to the fabric store and go crazy trying to find just the perfect thing, we raid the stash to find whatever needs to be used up.

This project was inspired by my friend Amy, who doesn't have a blog, but should, just to show off her creativity and the fun things she has made for her little daughter, Ahna, like these book holders that hang off her bunk bed. Because she's too humble to post about her things on the internet, I made something just like what we saw at her house the other day and will brag on her behalf.

Add in a couple of clip-on lights that were collecting dust in the closet, and each boy has his own cozy reading nook, like every boy, and girl, should.

All out of a bunch of fabric scraps that seemed like they were good for nothing.

**and Owen really isn't picking his nose in that picture, it just looks like it =)

03 March 2010

Shop Update: brown bag lunch

The past month has been full of sewing for limabeanhome, keeping me busier than I've been in months and I love it.

A recent customer had a great suggestion to make the reusable canvas lunch bag out of brown canvas, so that it resembles a brown lunch sack. I thought it was a pretty fab idea.

It has been made, listed and is available now: