Saturday, June 30, 2012


Some things are more challenging than others when you have a large family.  One of those challenges is cups.  So many times a day you hear, "Which cup is mine?"  Or "Where did my cup go?"  Or "Who moved my cup?"  Or "Can I get a new cup?"  My youngest is too young to worry about cups yet, but when you take my 5 other children and have them use 2-3 cups in a day, that's 10-15 cups in one day-- just for the kids!

Then I heard about Drinkbands.  They are silicone bands (no latex!  YAY!!!!), come in packs of 9 gorgeous colors, and help everybody keep track of their cup.

(In case you're wondering, yes, those are Polaner All-Fruit jars we use as glasses.  They make PERFECT drinking glasses--especially for the kids.  They're a nice, strong glass, they don't break easily, and if they were to break, they are abundant.  The little ones are the perfect size for the littles, and the large ones are even a good size for adults.)  =)

Drink bands also add a grip so that the glass isn't slick, even when wet.  Plus, the kids had fun choosing their colors.  Right now, the glasses go on the counter in between meals.  This weekend, my hubby is going to build a rack we can set them in so that they're not easily tipped.  (If you haven't seen his handiwork, check out my hanging fruit basket he built for me on a whim.)

To make things even simpler, Drinkbands can stay on the glasses and go right into the dishwasher!!  We ordered one package of the small size, but I think we'll soon be ordering a package of the large size, as well. 

I know I'm sounding like a commercial, but I'm not trying to.  Drinkbands doesn't even know that I'm writing this blog post.  I just like passing on the word about products I really like.  My life is busy and chaotic enough.  Anything that helps to streamline things and make it easier is a bonus.  Drinkbands are a big bonus around here!  

What new products have you tried and wonder how you lived without?
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Hanging Fruit Basket

With a family of eight, we go through a LOT of fruit.  The problem is where to keep it.  I have a large, leaf-shaped bowl, but it's nowhere near large enough to hold all of our produce.  So our counter usually looks like this:

As you can imagine, I was quite tired of this.  We have very limited counter space, and this reduced it even more.  We talked about getting a tiered fruit bowl, but this still doesn't solve the problem of using too much counter space.  

So my wonderful hubby took a look at it and realized that while we don't have a lot of usable space on the counters, we have a lot of space going to waste above the counters.  There's a lot of open space between the cutting board and the bottom of the cabinet here.

So my AWESOME Mr. Man took some measurements, cut some wood, stained the wood to match my cabinets, and stapled on some chicken wire.  After it was dry, he attached it to the underneath of the cabinet.

This easily holds all the fruit that was spread out all over the counters, with plenty of room for more!!

So simple, so easy, so fast, so practical, and so gorgeous!!  And this didn't cost us a cent.  He used wood scraps that we already had, chicken wire scraps we already had, and wood stain that we already had.  I LOVE it!!

Where do you keep all of your produce?
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Raw Buckwheat Porridge -- Gluten-Free

We just bought another 50-lb bag of hulled buckwheat groats.  While trying to decide what to make for breakfast, my hubby found the most awesome recipe for raw buckwheat porridge at Oh She Glows.  It's gluten-free, involves no cooking, takes minimal effort, and is delicious!

You do have to plan a little bit ahead, because you first soak your raw buckwheat groats for at least an hour.  

This is way easy for me.  I get up at 6:30 am, and my kids don't get up until 8:00 am.  I can easily set the buckwheat to soak early and have them ready in time.  (The buckwheat pretty much doubles in volume after soaking, so plan how much you need before soaking.)

You then throw half of the soaked buckwheat in the blender with your sweetener and "milk" of choice (we used honey and almond milk so that everybody in the family could eat it).  We also threw in some blueberries and strawberries, as well as some flax seed and cinnamon (I don't recommend taking the lid off the blender while blending.  hee hee)

Mix the unblended, soaked buckwheat groats in with the blended ones, spoon into your bowl, and top with fresh fruit, nuts, etc.

The texture is a little bit different than most foods I'm used to, but it was delicious!  The kids also loved it!  This is way better than boxed cereals in the morning, it's cold and refreshing for these hot days of summer, and it's super healthy.  I'm sure it would be just as delicious cooked for a winter porridge.

Tomorrow, I may throw in some coconut and walnuts.  YUM YUM!!

ETA:  We made another batch last night to see if it stores well in the fridge.  It DOES!!!  So you can even make it the night before and serve it in the morning.  Yay!!!!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

If it's not one thing, it's a gazillion...

It seems like everything always happens at once.

We were exposed to whooping cough, so we're in the wait-and-see limbo to see if our kids are going to get it or not.  With a two-year-old with sickly lungs and a four-month-old baby, I'm certainly not looking forward to it, if they do have it.  But they do have a minor, intermittent cough at the moment.  So it could go either way.

At the same time, I'm training for a 10k run.  And I finally went to the doctor for some breathing issues I have, and I'm now the proud owner of my very own inhaler.

Then, two of my kids have gotten stung by bees this spring.  Of course, being my kids, they're both allergic.  This is my son's foot, a whole week after the sting--and this is the first time he's ever been stung.  You can't tell the swelling in this picture, but you can definitely still see the hives.

So now I get to cart several sets of epipens around with us, instead of the single set I used to carry.  Technically, I should also be carrying a set for my wasp allergy.  I figure if worse comes to worst, I'll just use the kids' epis on myself.

On a happier note, I finally found something better that helps with my five-year-old's eczema.  She has a spot on her wrist that itches horribly and blisters.  Hydrocortisone cream helps it, but I don't want to keep putting steroids on the same spot of skin over and over indefinitely.  I finally discovered that pure lanolin works wonders!!  It's not totally gone yet, but it's getting better and better, and I think that it soon will be.  And it's all natural and way better for her.

Hopefully all of this craziness will soon calm down.  I have several projects I really want to work on and finish and share with you all!  Exciting stuff coming soon...
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Super Easy Fruit Dip

My mama makes the most delicious fruit dip.  You basically blend honey, cinnamon, and cream cheese into marshmallow fluff.  (I didn't say it was healthy, just that it was delicious.)  I can literally eat the stuff by the spoonful, though I don't recommend it.  It's especially good with bananas and cantaloupe.  I'm sure my kids would love it, but why would I want to take healthy, delicious fruits and dip them into something so unhealthy?  

Well, the other day while my kids were eating, I had an epiphany.  

I started with some vanilla yogurt.  (I typically make my own vanilla yogurt by adding honey and a splash of vanilla to plain yogurt.  Last week, the Dannon was on sale.  So I splurged.)

I spooned that into a bowl and added cinnamon.

Then you stir and serve!!  That's it!!  It's healthy AND delicious!!  My kids absolutely love it.  They've dipped strawberries, bananas, apples, blueberries (yes, this one was a bit messy), carrots, and my 2-year-old dipped her applesauce into it (don't even ask about the mess this made.  But she said it was good).  Enjoy!!
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Monday, June 11, 2012

White Chili -- Gluten-Free

So I know it's not exactly the chili time of year, but we actually had a cool couple of days a couple of weeks ago, so I made white chili.  White chili is so easy to make, and you can make it super-quickly or super-healthy, depending on how much time and effort you want to put into it.  =)

The original recipe is (I typically double all but the chicken):

1 can chicken broth
2 cans navy beans, drained
1 lb chicken, cooked
1 can diced green chiles
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin

Heat on the stove.

(If you're making this gluten-free, be sure to use all gluten-free ingredients.)

This recipe is soooooooooo easy to switch up according to what you're doing.  If you used canned chicken, canned beans, and canned broth, you can easily whip up a batch of this in minutes.  I typically cook dry beans ahead of time and freeze them.  I've recently discovered the ease of making dry beans in the crock pot.  Sooooooooooooooo effortless!!

For the chicken broth, you can use canned, make your own from scratch, or use bouillon.  I often use Better than Bouillon when I'm in a time crunch.  Yum!

If you don't have the time to cook chicken, use a can of chicken or even shred meat off a rotisserie chicken.

No matter which method you use, the ending result is delicious!  I like to throw some colby jack cheese in my bowl.  Yummy!  I also like to eat corn bread on the side.

No matter what the weather, my family eats this up!  What have you been cooking lately?
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Long Denim Skirt

Ok, it's about time I do a sewing project other than Star Wars characters on t-shirts, right?  =)

I've been wanting a jean skirt for my 9-year-old for a while now.  The problem is, she's skinny.  Really, really skinny.  As in 45-lbs of hollow bones and rubber bands skinny (latex-free rubber bands, of course!).  I mean, check out these knobby little ankles.

Yes, my 9-year-old daughter only weighs 45 lbs.  But she's healthy.  I was scrawny as a kid, and I eventually got some meat on my bones.  I assume that she will, too.  =)

Anyway, the only jean skirts I could find in stores were made to fall right above the knee.  However, even though she can wear a size 7 in height, she only has a size 4-5 waist.  If I buy a skirt made for a 4-5-year-old, it's shorter than a mini skirt on her.  So I finally decided to make my own.

I didn't want to go out and buy a bunch of denim, when we already have lots around the house in the form of old jeans.  I found this tutorial from Stand by Faith, for how to make a long jean skirt from two pairs of jeans.  I started out with a pair of my daughter's jeans and an old pair of my hubby's jeans.

I ended up changing my mind, however.  In the end, I kind of got started off with the tutorial, but I used my daughter's jeans and an old jean skirt of mine.  That way, there are no seams down the center portions on the front and back.  You can't really tell it much in the pictures, but there's a lot of contrast between the lighter sides and the dark center triangle parts I LOVE it!!

The back looks just like the front.

She's been begging to wear it around the house today, but I told her to save it for church tomorrow.  This is one project that I'm really, really pleased with!  She's lucky her waist is smaller than mine.  Otherwise, I truly might have kept this skirt for myself!  Maybe I need to make another one in my size...

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Removing Fruit Juice Stains

I don't know about you, but my kids seem to be able to get food on their clothes no matter how big a bib you have on them or how many times you tell them to close their mouths when they chew.  I could probably feed them naked into a sterile bubble, and the food would somehow find the clean clothes in their drawer and smear itself all over them.

Of course, it's not always the kids.  My hubby recently got cherry juice on a white shirt (in his defense, my nephew was helping him pit cherries, and he claims that it was actually the nephew who got it on his shirt).  

I was told to pour boiling water over the stain, that it would come right out, and that cold water would set the stain in.  I tried this (once the stain was dry and the shirt removed, of course), and the stain did not come out, though it was diluted.

So I tried following up with a wash in hot water with Charlie's Soap.  It still didn't come completely out.  (Contrary to what I was told, I think the boiling water actually set the stain.)

My 5-year-old daughter once got raspberries all down the front of her brand-new white shirt.  (Seriously, who takes their little kid to a church pot luck in a brand-new white shirt?  And then lets her eat raspberries?  Yeah, not too bright here.)  Once we got home, I got the shirt wet with cold water and rubbed a bar of real soap on it (as in, not store-bought "soap," which is really detergent.  For your own real soap, find a tutorial here).  Then I threw it in a cold wash with Charlie's Soap.  It came out beautifully white and still is (though terribly wrinkled at the moment)!

The moral of this story is:  Don't pit cherries or eat raspberries in a white shirt.  But if you do, rub the stain down with REAL soap, and wash in COLD water (preferably with Charlie's Soap).
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