And The Smells of Christmas All Through The House

Remember those days when you looked forward to Christmas break?  When you new you could plow through those last weeks of torture because there would be a couple weeks off to look forward to?  *Sigh* I miss those days.  Munchkie's Daddy has made it to that point in time and now gets to sit back and relax for a few weeks (ha ha ha) after working for over thirty hours straight on his last paper of the semester.  I however, on the other hand, get to cram and work and pull everything together only to get to fit full work weeks into all of the holiday craziness.  The last few days I have been completely stressed out over getting those last few packages sent out and mailing out our Christmas cards.  Do you know how difficult it is to get a family picture when you don't really know anyone? Our first attempt in the dark, using the self timer was a complete disaster and it took a while before we could make another attempt.

The last couple days our couch has been my station for cards and packages.  I have been putting together, folding, stuffing, addressing and stamping all of the cards.  Unfortunately, all of this does not put me in the Christmas spirit, but instead just makes me frustrated.  So I needed to find something that would help me relax while I was getting all of this together.  Something that would really make my house feel like Christmas.

In comes my stove top potpourri.  We have been eating oranges like crazy now that they are in season so I put the rinds of the oranges we have eaten in a pot with a few cranberries (I have a bag of them in the freezer and I add a few to drinks instead of ice cubes) and some spices and soon my house smelled like Christmas.  I highly recommend trying this for a wonderfully smelling house without any effort at all.

Stove Top Potpourri

  • The peels of a few oranges/clementines
  • A handful of cranberries
  • A cinnamon stick broken into pieces
  • A small handful of whole cloves
  • A few whole allspices
  • A whole nutmeg (I put it in a plastic bag, pounded it with something and tossed the pieces into the pot)
  • Water to fill the pot at least halfway

Bring everything to a boil and then immediately turn down to low to simmer. Add water as needed to keep the scent going.
If only you could smell how amazing it is.  Just imagine that steam is Christmas filling your house (or small apartment).

The wonderful smell in my apartment was just the motivation I needed to finish everything up and make it to the post office in plenty of time.  Now, I just have to finish up the last few batches of homemade presents and I'm all set and ready for the holiday rush of working, family and food.


Sleep Laughing

Everyone deals with stress in their own way.  I know when Munchkie's Daddy is stressed because he talks in his sleep.  When we first got married and he was having difficulty finding a job he would yell out in what I can only assume to be Albanian (his college roomate would say the same thing in college).  I've been working nights for a few weeks now so we are very rarely sleeping at the same time.  I hadn't noticed him sleep talking until the other night.  He started laughing and laughing.  I wish that I could have known what was so funny.  Last night he started talking nonsense again- his usual stress trend.  The problem is that my stress trend is that I have a difficult time shutting my brain down.  Once I am wakened for whatever reason, I cannot fall back asleep because my brain goes on turbo mode.  I cannot shut it off no matter how hard I try.  This is not a good combination with a  sleep laugher or sleep talker.  Oh and I tend to eat everything in site and then this lovely array of zits graces my face.  So obviously I don't handle stress very well.

I really appreciate my marriage and the equality we have.  I rely very heavily on Munchkie's Daddy to do a lot of the "women's jobs" in our family.  We don't have a very conventional life and so we can't have conventional roles.  So it shouldn't be a huge surprise to me that at the end of each semester things kind of start to fall apart in our home.  Munchkie's Daddy's stress rubs off on all of us.  Then my few weeks of nights doesn't help the matter, weird sleep patterns only cause more problems.  Needless to say, we have a lot of dirty dishes, a counter full of half made Christmas presents and I really can't tell you the last time a homemade meal was made in our house (we barely got a Christmas tree up, and couldn't do the rest of the decorations).  We have been grocery shopping for essentials and food to help us get by.  This means a lot of yogurt and fruit because when I'm at work, mac and cheese is a staple and take out gets us by the few nights I'm home.  I really appreciate all Munchkie's Daddy does and realize how much he does to hold our family together.  I seriously could not do it without him and don't really like when he can hardly do more than write papers. 

Stress is the only excuse that I have for not having posted for a ridiculous amount of time.  There were so many things going on in our lives that I had to cut something out.  I think because I wasn't feeling very creative or like a very good mom I couldn't think of anything to blog about.  It was almost to much to just do day to day functions, anything above and beyond was just too much.  So now I'm back (and yes, the last paper is due on Tuesday, so that helps). And I'm going to try to be more regular. 


A "New" Shirt And A Ghetto Latte

 This weekend while I was at work a girl sat down next to me and was wearing this really cute shirt.  I looked at the shirt and thought, oh man I could make that so easily!  I have no idea where her shirt was from, but it inspired me.  So I took a couple shirts that I bought for a few dollars from Goodwill and created some inspired shirts.  This one is like the one the girl was wearing, but I thought that it was so easy, I could put the ribbon anywhere on the shirt.  So I combined this with my love of leggings.  Here's my how to.  You can have a brand new shirt in literally two minutes with nothing more than a shirt, a pair of scissors and a ribbon.

 First, find a shirt you want to use.  This one I got at Goodwill but hadn't worn yet, I felt it just needed something.
 I put it on, found where I wanted the ribbon to go and cut a little hole so I would know where to fold the shirt.  Then I folded the shirt and made little cuts all the way around.  The cuts don't have to be very big at all, like half the width of the ribbon you're going to use.
 Then cut the shirt all the way around, each hole about an inch apart.
 Then take your ribbon and start to weave it through the holes.
 When the ribbon is woven all the way through, tie it into a bow.
 Then you're all set to go!  I wore this with leggings, boots and a long sleeve shirt underneath.  It was surprisingly warm for a mid November day
 Now you say, oh wait!  Is that a Starbucks latte in your hand?  I would say, well, let me tell you how to be cheap.  On a budget a latte blows through a good portion of my weekly fun money.  So I get a coffee with sugar free peppermint mocha syrup, then I add one packet of sweetener and cream, then, hoila! A ghetto latte that tastes just like the one that costs $4 more.  You can do it with any kind of flavoring, and when it's sugar free the only calories are in the cream.  So my ghetto latte cuts out a a couple hundred calories and $4.
 When I got home tonight, I made the shirt in the above picture.  First I put the purple shirt inside of another shirt that had a neckline that I really liked.  Then I traced the neckline with a pen.
 And cut it down so that it wasn't so high and tight.
 Because I was doing the neckline I couldn't get it to just fold over nicely for me to cut.  I had to pin it so that I could cut the holes.
Then I again cut slits about every inch or inch and a half.  I then unpinned and wove the ribbon through.  The result was the shirt in the first picture.  Sooooo easy!


In The Spirit

It's really quite crazy how before Halloween was even over Christmas was being forced into our faces.  Not to mention completely confusing small children who can hardly keep straight what tomorrow means, let alone "after Thanksgiving."  Now that Halloween is past it's ridiculous how much Christmas stuff is out there.  Tonight we were driving home from my work and the lamp posts surrounding our little town green had Christmas lights, red bows and greenery on every lamp post.  Munchkie exclaimed as she looked out the window "look Mom (this is cool now, just to say Mom) it's Christmas all over!"

Besides the fact that I really feel like we need to be thankful for all of the blessings in our lives before we start demanding of people all of the things we just "have to have," I think that Christmas being vomited all over me just makes me anxious.  It makes me realize that my time to decide upon presents, create and distribute is very rapidly dwindling.  I really enjoy creating homemade presents and I feel so much better giving someone something that I have created in love, rather than running into a store and picking up a completely impersonal gift card.  Not that there's anything wrong with gift cards, because I do appreciate them in my own life, I just feel that I get more out of giving a homemade present.  I am getting slightly stressed because I know that I need to get a move on, start creating.  My ideas just aren't panning out like I would like for them to and it's making me nervous.

This post I read tonight reminded me that the holidays are not about me.  They are about others.  It's about giving and helping those in need.  Especially as we are trying to teach our daughter the positive meaning of Christmas and encourage the giving rather than the receiving.  This post really hit me. We so often give our leftovers.  The toys we don't want anymore because they're worn or broken.  The clothes that are stretched out and fit oddly.  The random things around the house that you just don't want anymore.  Really should we be giving people our broken, misshapen, or even diseased extras?  Do people who live without really need 57 cans of potentially diseased cranberries?  How about giving something that I would feed my own family?  It really made me think, this week at Whole Foods (my fav store) whole chickens were on sale and I bought three for my family.  Maybe this is my reminder that a family in need could use an antibiotic and hormone free, vegetarian fed roasting chicken.  Maybe instead of worrying so much about more "stuff" that I can get people who have everything they need, I should worry about how much I can help meet the needs of those do don't have any "stuff"  Instead of how much can we spend per person, how much can we bless others.

This year, I won't give any BAD CRANBERRIES.  This year, we're going to do things a little differently.


Thank You Pinterest for a Sweet Ending

Let me just start by saying that first I am an emotional eater, I know this and I am working on it.  Secondly, my day prior to noon was great.  We met some friends at the children's museum and had a lot of fun running around and exploring.  Then we left the museum and it was all downhill.

It was supposed to rain today, but I still thought that it was a good time to go out and do things.  Since it was my day off, I needed to get things done.  And it really wasn't raining that hard when we got onto the subway.  So I took Munchkie in her stroller onto the subway, and emerged only to find out that it was pouring out.  We got to Munchkie's Daddy's school in the hopes to surprise him at the library his Spanish test was in.  The police were covering the perimeter, requiring a school photo id to get onto school property due to whole Occupy(my city).  As I turned away, tears welling in my eyes and searched for the best place to run to get out of the rain I could hear several people giving the policemen a difficult time saying "seriously man, it's a woman with a child and it's raining out!"  We met Munchkie's Daddy for a quick cup of a coffee and lunch then headed into our mission of the day.  A new stroller.

The last several weeks we have noticed a drastic decline in the state of our stroller.  We bought our stroller on Craigslist for a significant discount just over a month ago.  We loved it compared to our clearance umbrella stroller, but it's starting to wobble, shake, and we have to fight with it maneuver.  Let me explain my day's travels so you can understand how important a highly functioning stroller is.  Thankfully, Munchkie's Daddy drove us to the subway station this morning, cutting out a half mile walk and bus ride, so we got to the subway station doors without a problem and started our travels.  We had to switch lines which meant that I carried Munchkie in her stroller down three flights of stairs- not one person stopped, not one person offered to assist me, I just heard grumbling behind me because I wasn't going fast enough (this was a common theme throughout my day).  We got onto the other line, hopped off, climbed another flight of stairs (we being me carrying the stroller with the child in it) before realizing there was an elevator, then an escalator to get to the street.  We should have walked half a mile to our meeting place bakery, but accidentally went down a wrong street and backed tracked almost the whole way, taking two more flights of stairs down onto the correct street level.  Again, with the grumbling business men and women behind us trying to get a coffee and pack of cigarettes in on their morning breaks.  Then after the museum walked back to the subway, off the subway, up an escalator, then a flight of stairs only to be turned away by police officers.  Ran to lunch across brick sidewalks and then back to the subway station to catch a bus.  Down two flights of stairs to a bus, off the bus and walked three blocks on brick sidewalks to a resale children's store.  Couple more brick sidewalks back to the bus, riding it to the subway.  Rode the subway to where we switch lines, heading up three flights of stairs there.  Onto the last subway of the day until our bus ride home.  Hopped the escalator to the bus, and then walked the half a mile home in the pouring rain.  Needless to say, our stroller gets a work out on my days off.  On my days of work, it's just a half mile walk to the bus, short bus ride, quarter of a mile to the babysitter's and then back again at the end of the day.

We were going to the children's resale shop to see a stroller that had been on Craigslist and hoping that there were other strollers available to look at.  When we got there the stroller was dirty, big and had a fixed front wheel which isn't that convenient for maneuvering around a city.  So all that traveling for nothing.  I had to make the trip worthwhile so I got Munchkie a couple nice second hand items of clothing that I had been keeping my eye out for.  After arriving to the store in the rain, we had to head home in the pouring rain.  We went to the bus stop, where we almost got hit by a car crossing the street, I stepped in several puddles soaking both my socks and my pants (since in the morning sunlight I had forgotten to wear my rainboots that came in the mail yesterday).  By the time we finally arrived home I was literally soaked to the bone and Munchkie was napless.  Apparently today a new bus announcement started, something along the lines of "Courtesy Counts, before riding with a stroller or baby carriage think of those around you" and so in between each stop it played, and everyone on the bus looked to me and my stroller. Sweet.  No wonder not one person offered to assist me as I lugged a child in a stroller up and down stairs, escalators and on and off buses.  In fact, at one stop, I couldn't move to the front of the bus fast enough for my stop (I was trying to struggle against the wobbly wheels and not bump into people's outstretched feet and umbrellas in the aisles) so the bus driver just moved on to the next stop.  Thanks dude.

Needless to say, I was in a HORRIBLE mood by the time we got home.  Add to that four accidents in a two legged mammal's pants, a four legged mammal's accident on a rug, a broken glass and overtired toddler and I was ready to loose it by the time Munchkie's Daddy walked in the door. I needed something sweet and chocolate and I needed it NOW.

In comes Pinterest, my go to site for all things creative.  I remembered that I had pinned a microwave cake recipe I had found. The wonderful thing about Pinterest is that there is no searching around for that recipe.  I go to my Pinterest boards, click on the right one and there it is.  Let me tell you, it hit the spot.  Deliciousness to a poor weary mother's tongue.  I sat watching Hulu shows in my pajamas enjoying a piece of Nutella heaven.

I took this 90 Second Nutella Cake and made it grain free.  Obviously it is excellent the way she makes it as well and it is way healthier than any other microwave cake recipe I've seen.

Grain Free Nutella Microwave Cake

1 heaping tablespoon Nutella
1 heaping tablespoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon cocoa
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon truvia

Add the coconut flour to a microwave safe bowl or mug.  Lightly spray the tablespoon with cooking spray and scoop out the Nutella.  Add remaining ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Microwave 30 seconds to a minute.  Check for doneness and then savor each bite as you think of better things.


Another Way to Curl Your Hair

A friend of mine sent me a link to this YouTube video recently and I decided to try out her method of curling her hair. Let me tell you that I love it. I wear my hair in a sock bun almost every single night because it takes close to two seconds and almost always looks great. If it doesn't look great, I just pull it back into a pony tail and no one knows the difference. A picture is worth a thousand words right? So I'll just post pictures and let you watch the video.

She does her hair with plain water, but I mix water, hair gel and leave in conditioner in a spray bottle and use that on my hair to help it hold.  When I take it out, I spray some curl spray on it, which I think is just hair spray marketed for curly hair.  The picture below is what happened after a few hours when I only used water.
This was my first attempt, it turned out pretty good for a first attempt.

And then this is today, I haven't washed my hair for a few days and it was the third day in a row that I had done the sock bun.

If you try this, how did it work for you?


Crackers Straight From My Oven

 Tonight we went to some friends' house down for dinner and I was to bring an appetizer.  I had been wanting to try making my own crackers for a while, but for some reason I was a little intimidated.  Obviously taking food to someone else's house is the most appropriate time to try something that's intimidating.  It was ridiculously easy though!  Well,  I have to admit that my fourth batch was the best.  I don't know if it was the best combination or the best because I had gotten better by the fourth try.

Thank you Google and Pinterest for assisting with almost all of my kitchen endeavors.  Between the two I found some options.  The first one I tried were these Grain Free Almond Crackers and they were definitely good, but I should have added more seasoning and salt for flavoring.  The second batch I made of them had more salt and were better.  Then I decided to try a different kind.  I made this Sesame Sunflower Seed Grain Free Crackers recipe, but I thought it odd that there was no binding agent, only water.  So I altered it a little bit.  The first batch I added an egg white and water to mix them together.  Then the fourth batch I made, I decided it was time to go all out and combine to create my own recipe.  They were everyone's favorite.

Pumpkin Flax Crackers

1 cup pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup ground flax 
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Combine pumpkin seeds, salt and garlic powder in a food processor and puree until ground.
2. Add flax and food process until well mixed.
3. Mix together dry mix with egg whites in a mixing bowl until a paste.
4. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper until thing, to the thickness you prefer a cracker to be.
5. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares.
6. Place dough, on parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your cracker.
7. Once slightly golden (if it gets too dark it tastes like burnt nuts) remove, let cool and break apart into crackers.

 I took a wheel of brie, added this Honey Spiced Peach Spread on top and piled the crackers around it.  I thought it was quite good and it was super easy!  This might be my new staple to bring places.


Taking Baby Steps

Lately I've been feeling like I can hardly hold things together. I feel like I can't do anything well.  I think that a lot of it is our "fresh" start, which feels more difficult than fresh.  I had set all of these goals and guidelines for myself when we moved and I feel as thought I have let my family and myself down.  The very first blog I started reading was Simple Mom and somehow she has managed to post something at the exact time that I needed it.  It is beyond eery the timing of her posts.  I have commented on this to Munchkie's Daddy and close friends several times, and it's happened again.  Tsh (that's her name, interesting isn't it?) recently had a post on Imperfection and discussed how we cannot be perfect, then another blog I read Simple Organic posted The Truth About What I Don't Do inspired by Tsh's post..  I really appreciated reading that someone else, someone who inspires me, isn't as perfect as I picture them in my head. This may sound weird, but it took a huge weight off of my shoulders.

I have been struggling with loneliness in this move, but then I guess I added a bunch of other unneeded stresses to my life as well.  I thought that I would magically love doing dishes, so decided that we could survive without a dishwasher to be "frugal" and "eco friendly."  I thought that somehow I wouldn't mind folding and putting away clothes, which just isn't the case, and it's even more apparent in a two foot square apartment.  I also thought that I would be ok with working in a hospital setting, rotating shifts between days and nights, working weekends and holidays, which is just really difficult.  I thought that taking public transportation would be the easy way to do things, not three to four times longer than actually driving.

I should have realized that the stressors of moving, starting over and flipping my way of life around was enough to deal with.  I shouldn't have added onto myself the need to be perfect as well.  Because that isn't obtainable.  Nobody's perfect, nobody does everything right.  I certainly am the furthest thing from perfect, and I think that the last few weeks have really hit me hard in these respects.  When I don't obtain a goal I set for myself I get so discouraged that I don't think I can obtain any goal I set for myself.  Which then makes me fall further and further from the direction I was going.  I get so overwhelmed by my backtracking that I have a hard time moving forward and this is the place I am in now.  I feel that I have backtracked on my goals and can't quite figure out how to start working on them again. 

As the article on Simple Organic said today, baby steps.  You can only take baby steps.  So I think that my baby step will be to go to bed, since it's late, wake up in a little while and after taking Ana to daycare, do the dishes.  I think that I will also write out my goals so that I have a list and once there's a list, there's a responsibility to cross things off.

  • Do the dishes as they get dirty- not put them by the sink for later
  • Vacuum several times a week
  • Do laundry on a regular basis and
    • put the clothes away as they are clean.
  • Loose those last 20 pounds
  • Exercise (I was going to say exercise more, but then that would be a lie, so we'll just start with exercise)
  • Meal plan
  • Cut out TV
  • Sleep more at night, so I'm not tired and unproductive during the day
  • Get out and make friends
  • Complete the sewing project that I have all of the supplies for.
  • Hang pictures on the walls
  • Keep the kitchen counter clutterfree
I think that is a good start for now.  With some baby steps I think that I can get past this funk that I am in right now.


Costume Time

This evening Munchkie and I spent some time together creating a Halloween costume for her to wear this weekend.  As I looked online, cut, glued, and measured, I was reminded of how much my mother did for me growing up.  She made so many costumes, and not always just for Halloween, she encouraged our creativity and exploration.  Because of her encouragement and creativity I am now trying to do the same for my own daughter.

My mom is coming in just a few short hours and I am always so grateful for her when she comes.  She can hold it all together, helping us clean, cook and care for Munchkie.  We know that she is there to support us and help us.    She's always up for any activity we plan and watches Munchkie for us so we can plan an activity for just Munchkie's Daddy and I.

 I hope that I can pass on to Munchkie what my mother has passed on to me.  I hope that she someday is creative and makes costumes for her own kids.  I also hope that Munchkie doesn't look ridiculous begging for candy next to all of the expensive store bought costumes that the other kids will be wearing.



Time Together

Since we have moved and don't know many people we don't have anyone who can babysit Munchkie.  At least no one after 5pm.  Munchkie's Daddy and I know that we need to spend time together, doing more than sitting on the couch at our computers watching TV, just the two of us.  During Munchkie's Daddy's first few weeks back at school, I told him that I would like to meet him so that I could see what the area was like where he went to school.  So we met for lunch.  Then I had something for work that ended mid morning, and met him for lunch since he would be out of school at one.  We created a tradition.  Since he only has one class on Thursdays and nothing but studying on Fridays, we decided that this would be our date time.  We are paying for a babysitter Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm, so why not take advantage of that babysitter for dates?

We now meet for lunch together every week if we can, so that we can spend time together.  I drop Munchkie off at the babysitter's, Munchkie's Daddy at the subway station and then come home and get ready.  When I take the time to shower, shave (even though I think hellllooooo fall, goooooodbyyyyyyye razor), put makeup on and wear something besides a tshirt, it makes it feel a little bit more than an ordinary day.  It makes me feel special and the day special.

I have enjoyed following The Dating Divas and reading their tips and suggestions to keep romance alive.  They have great ideas from big dates to little things you can do, each one to make the other person (and yourself as well) feel special and a lot of times for not much money.  We have been trying out different restaurants around town and I'm starting to realize that lunch is definitely a cheaper alternative to dinner.  We can try out different menus at nicer places for half the price.  Last week neither of us were even hungry for dinner, so it really saved us money!

We find that it is essential to our relationship to set apart this time together.  We tend to be pretty busy and our schedules don't necessarily line up together.  So even though we may spend time together at night, we both are too tired to actually do much else besides sit there.  Sometimes after working my brain is so fried that I can't even carry on a conversation or focus on what Munchkie's Daddy's is saying, which isn't that great for our relationship or for his self esteem to be honest.  When we set aside this time to be together, we know that our main focus is on the other person, we have set aside the time physically and mentally.  This is a huge deal when both physical time and mental space are precious in this family.


Do You Hate Ironing As Much As I Do?

I hate to iron.  I sat here for a minute trying to think of the last time I ironed something and I'm really not sure.  I'm not even kidding when I say that it may have been college.  Munchkie's Daddy used to enjoy ironing, so he would do it for me when we first got married, but then we discovered Wrinkle Release and it was the best thing that ever happened.  We still sometimes have things that need to be ironed, so he'll do it.  But if I can get by without ironing, I will.  I wear scrubs for work and tend to wash them and leave them in the laundry basket they came up the stairs in.  I have gone through all of my wrinkle release and went to the store to buy another and discovered that it was $7!  Apparently I never paid attention to this before.

So I came home and Googled "homemade wrinkle release" and found quite a few recipes.  I really wanted to find a more natural approach, but I guess that if you're natural you either don't care about wrinkled clothes, don't buy clothes that wrinkle, or iron your clothes because I couldn't find any.  But this one is CHEAP, so I decided to try it anyway.

I walked to the Family Dollar down the street and picked up some of the cheapest fabric softener they had, it was $2.50 for this container.  Then I used the previous spray bottle, added a little bit of fabric softener, I approximated 2 teaspoons, but to be honest, I didn't measure.  Poured in some bottled water (you're supposed to use distilled so there's no bacteria to grow in it) and shook it up.  I'm going to add some rubbing alcohol once I buy some to both be an antibacterial agent and to help the water dry faster when sprayed.

Tonight I took some of my scrubs out of the pile of clean laundry in the laundry basket and this is what they looked like.  These pants aren't a joke, they really did look like this.  The shirt isn't that bad, you can't really tell but the pockets and neckline are the worst.
I sprayed them down, front and back, then shook them out.  I put them over a chair to dry and when I came back a little while later this is what they looked like.  Again, I am completely not joking.  They were still a little damp, so I will definitely need to do this the night before when I set my clothes out.  But I am pretty impressed.
And this is for literally a few cents a bottle.  I have a bottle of fabric softener that will last me a few years of homemade wrinkle release for only $2.50.


Munchkie and Mommy Monday

I am very slowly adjusting to city life.  I can get where I need to by bus or by subway.  I'm learning to walk to the Family Dollar down the street or popping into a CVS I pass by instead of hopping in my car and going to Target.  I love the convenience of being able to walk most places.  I love that we're hardly ever filling our car with gas.

However, I do not like the fact that I have to wake up at 5:15am and leave the house by ten til six.  Or that IF I get off my twelve and a half hour shift on time I can hope to be home by 8:30pm.  I do not like that these days are long and tiring.  I feel like I have to spend a day recovering from them, which to me defeats the purpose of working only three days a week.

So on my days off, I try to give myself at least one recoop day.  We are paying for Munchkie to go to daycare five days a week, but I keep her home with me at least one day each week.  We need our time together.  Time to do fun things and spend time together.  Today started off a little rough, I had a hard time pulling myself together, but once I was up and going, we made the most of our day.

 We walked to the neighborhood square, mailed some packages at the post office.  Then we picked up some pull ups for big girls at night and stopped at the little ice cream shop.  There's a crate full of games in the corner to play while you're eating your ice cream, homemade soup or fresh lobster roll.
 We stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things and headed home, with a little hand in the box of cereal to help erase the phrase "I hun-gee Mommy"
 Apparently I wore her out.  I arrived home and this is what I found.  Hand still in the box.
 I had to go in and wake her up after a three hour nap.  Then we went for a walk, bus ride and two subways to meet Munchkie's Daddy after school.
 Watching out the window is so much fun!  Especially when there are sailboats out on the river we're crossing. 
 My plan was to arrive downtown, take a picture of a recipe in a cookbook at Barnes and Noble, pick up Munchkie's Daddy and head home.  Well, it took us almost two hours to get downtown.  There was a really cute little table set up in the kids section with scrap paper and crayons, so we sat and colored for a little bit. 
 And the apple must not have lasted too long because the phrase "I hun-gee Mom" returned.  So we ended up walking to a nearby Chipotle to fill those empty tummies.
 And we couldn't pass up the ice cream store we went by.......
this one had a cow on it
 While eating her apple cider ice cream Munchkie says: This ice cream tastes like a mountain.

What does that mean?!?!?
Apparently I had been taking too many pictures today.  Munchkie says "Smile Mama!  I taking your picture!"


Me: Gluten Free

I have been gluten free for several weeks now and am starting to notice a difference in the way I feel.  I also was very happy to see the scale needle start heading left this week.  I didn't believe it, but I really do notice a difference in my cravings and it is so nice to be able to whip something up that will satisfy my sweet tooth without making me feel guilty and sending me into a downward spiral of guilt eating.  I thought that I would make a list of the changes I've noticed.

  • I get fuller much faster and stay fuller longer.  I often times really am not that hungry for meals, but know that I should eat, and since I'm not that hungry, I don't eat as much.
  • I don't get that lethargic, I'm going to fall asleep if I sit down for more than a second feeling in the afternoon.  I think that it's because I try not to eat foods that will cause a blood sugar low.  Try is the key word here.
  • I only drink one cup of coffee a day.  Well, this one is kind of a stretch.  I have been starting my work day with a travel mug of coffee using two Starbucks Via packets, so I guess that's two cups.  But on the days that I'm not working, I usually find my coffee cup in the afternoon, still over halfway full.  So I think that evens out.  I used to live on coffee.
  • My flaky, itchy scalp is way better.  As long as I don't let it completely air dry, I don't have any dandruff problems.
  • The bumps on my arms are almost completely gone.  I have had this rash of sorts on my upper arms since I was in junior high.  Well, at least I remember going to a dermatologist and getting this really stinky cream for my arms when I was in junior high.  My upper arms are almost always red with these little bumps from my elbows to my shoulders (I didn't want ugly arms for my wedding pictures so I rubbed liquid foundation all over my arms- that's how self conscious I was).  And when I rub my hands on my arms now, they are almost completely smooth.
  • I'm eating a lot more vegetables.  I know that they are good for me, I just don't eat them as often as I should.  It probably also helps that the farmer's market on Saturdays has such good tasting produce it doesn't feel as much like a chore to eat them.
  • I don't really have cravings for things like bread or sweets like I used to.  It used to be a daily fight of will power to not give into temptations.  Last night we went out to dinner and I wasn't tempted by the bread basket.  Even though I actually was really hungry (I realized as we sat down that I hadn't had anything since breakfast).  
  • The sweets that I do eat aren't that bad for me.  I've been keeping low fat frozen yogurt in the freezer and will have that with frozen mixed berries, some unsweetened coconut and slivered raw almonds for some crunch.  Or I will make something like the treat I made today.
  • I've lost a couple pounds finally, but I haven't really noticed a difference in my clothes yet.  Although scrubs and pajama pants may not necessarily be the first to show a difference......
 Today, despite the completely unnecessary heat wave, I was really in the fall mood so I wanted to make something fall like.  What's better than pumpkin in the fall.  Well, maybe apples, but pumpkin is still up there pretty high.  Last fall I made Pumpkin Whoopie Pies that were a big hit in our house.
They are bite size, so I could get more out of the batch

I wanted to try this out again, but gluten free.  Since we had church tonight, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to take extras, if they were ok to leave the house.  I thought they were pretty good!  I really didn't change too much, I substituted the flours for one cup coconut flour and one cup almond flour.  Then I switched out the brown sugar for stevia, added an extra tablespoon of molasses and pumpkin and about 1/4 cup coconut milk (to make up for the dryness of the coconut flour) and that was it.  For the filling, I used a different recipe that I felt was healthier.  I used 16oz of cream cheese, 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 4 tablespoons of stevia and whipped them together with a hand blender.  There were only three left when I gathered my dish at church.  And the best part.  I could eat them and not feel the slightest inkling of guilt, these were probably healthier than most restaurant salads.


Revisiting Potty Training

It's been way too long since my last post.  I completely missed my blogging first anniversary!  To be completely honest I have been a little overwhelmed in the adjustment back to work.  It's one thing to get used to work, but it's another to get used to an hour long commute and work.  I'm just not an early morning person and these 5am mornings are really starting to get to me.  I've been fighting something off for the last couple of days.  Made soup tonight with homemade chicken broth, pouring down the fluids and taking vitamin C.  Hopefully I can shake this soon!

We have slowly been settling into a schedule and getting into the routine of life, leading us to realize that the time has come to reintroduce potty training.  Thankfully I have a few days off and so we are going hardcore potty training.  I had the timer set for every 30 minutes and we went to the potty each time the timer went off.  We did really well and had no accidents until we had to leave the house.  I really need to go to the grocery store, but knew that was out of the question.  I absolutely had to send a fax, so I put Munchkie on the potty and then we dashed out the door to the Staples down the street and just as I was dialing the fax number, she says "Oh no Mommy!  I pee in my pants!"  So I finished what I was doing and we had to go out to the car to change her clothes.  This was then followed up by two more accidents and then she did really well all afternoon until dinner.  The night was finished up with an accident during dinner.  Completely our fault, she was playing with her food instead of eating it and I knew that if we took her out of the high chair, it was going to be all over with dinner.

Tomorrow is another day and we will tackle this, spreading the time on the timer out by five or 10 minutes each time.  Hopefully by Thursday we will have potty training mastered enough to wear underwear to daycare.  With six or more changes of pants and underwear, of course.


That's Some Stellar Parenting

I have felt like a stellar mother this week (insert dripping sarcasm here).  I am in no way a morning person and thankfully this job has eased me into the early morning thing with each morning of work being an hour earlier.  However, it kills me that I live a ten to fifteen minute drive from the hospital and yet, it takes me over an hour to get to work using the public transportation system.  The other morning I woke up at the still-night-hour of 5:45 to get ready to be at work by 8am. Munchkie's Daddy had his first presentation of the school year and was a nervous wreck.  I noticed that he wasn't in bed with me and when I went into the living room he was just lying down on the couch.  I told him to go to bed.  What good would he be at a presentation if he got next to no sleep, and the hour or so that he got was on the couch?  After sending him to bed, I rushed around trying to get ready.  As I was trying to get out of the door, a little face was smiling at me over a baby gate.  That sweet little face says to me, "Look Mama!  I wake up!"  Oh no!  Why?!?  Why did she have to wake up so early?!?!  I whispered to her, "Mama has to go to work, play in your room for a little while so Daddy can sleep."  Next thing I knew there was crying, no she didn't want to do that.  She wanted to be with Mama.  Naturally.  So I did what every good mother running out the door does.  I poured a bowl of cereal, filled a sippy cup with milk and turned PBS on, leaving the door to Munchkie's Daddy opened and raced out the door.  I was slightly late to work, but so were other new people, so I didn't feel so bad about that.  However, all morning I was a complete mess about running out the door like that.  Besides the fact that I don't really like that I am leaving my daughter most days with what feels like a stranger who's name I know, mornings like this make it extremely difficult to walk through the door and away from her. 

Today, I was scheduled to work for twelve hours, the shift that I will be working.  Somehow we got very lucky and they decided to cut our training a little short today, so I was home shortly after seven.  Normally I will be getting home around 8:30.  This means that I will be gone from before 6:00am until around 8:30am.  If I work two days in a row, I will not see Munchkie for those two days.  At all.  Oh, this is a very difficult realization.  While life in a city has so many advantages at times, being able to walk down to a market, having a huge aquarium or park nearby and having access to a very reliable public transportation system, it also means that it takes a while to get anywhere.  I just don't know how I will be able to handle this.  I love my family and my family comes first in everything.  Not being able to see Munchkie, hear about her day, talk to her or even get a hug is going to be extremely difficult.  I guess that it will be a learning experience for all of us. 

We will have to learn how to make the time we do have together incredible.  This makes it very difficult to want to do necessary things around the house.  I feel like even reading the mail is taking time away from spending time with Munchkie.  Right now I am writing this quickly, since she just went to bed and I need to do the same.  I cannot bring myself to set my alarm clock for any earlier than 5am, so I have one alarm set for 5am and another "no really, wake up now" alarm set for 5:15am.  Hopefully by the time I come home tomorrow, I will still be functioning enough to make Saturday a wonderful together time day.  Each day home has to count, has to make up for those days that the time spent together is only moments, if any. 

These few and far between times together, along with racing out the door leaving a crying child behind and not being able to provide more than a bowl of cold, dry cereal, does not make me feel like a good mother at all.  I don't know how other mothers do it.  I just don't.


Happy Birthday?

Today was Munchkie's Daddy's birthday.  It was definitely an off day and I feel so bad for it not being a good birthday.  Munchkie's Daddy was in a funk all day, then he finally told me that he just felt like it was any other day.  He's known for a while what his present was going to be, and we're waiting to get it, so he didn't have anything to open.  He slept in this morning (something he wanted), so we didn't go out to breakfast or anything special. We had church this evening, so we couldn't go out to dinner. I tried to make him a lime cheesecake (sugar free and grain free), and it only turned out so so. 

Then there were my issues.  I start work tomorrow.  *sigh*  This month has just gone by so fast.  I am so thankful for every minute that I had off of work, but it went by so fast.  It's just unbelievable, well I think that my maternity leave went by faster and it was much harder to go back to work then, but this is still hard.  I had so many things that I wanted to get accomplished. I wanted to be completely unpacked- there are two boxes sitting in the hallway. I wanted to master the public transportation system- eh, well, I've ridden it a couple times, but I definitely wouldn't call it mastered. I wanted to be completely comfortable riding my bike everywhere so I wouldn't have to get to work a sweaty mess, I still have yet to be magically physically fit.  I also wanted to get several sewing projects completed and I was, to be completely honest, kind of scared of my sewing machine (I was afraid my project would be too big for me to handle, so I never got it down).  So today, I spent all day in the kitchen.  I think I was trying to make up for lost time.  I canned Munchkie's Daddy's Nana's sweet and sour green beans and spicy pickles with produce from the farmer's market, neither of which I had done before.  I then tackled the grain free, sugar free (stevia is my natural calorie free substitute of choice) lime cheesecake.  I was planning on making a grain free loaf of pumpkin bread, but I ran out of time.  So I threw it together when we got home from church and put it in the oven while we sang happy birthday and ate cheesecake together.

I think it was just a bummer of a day altogether.  I was bummer about work.  Munchkie's Daddy was bummed about it being a normal, homework filled, day.  Getting old stinks.  Happy Birthday Munchkie's Daddy!  We will celebrate better a day this week, I promise.


The Most Unusual "Pizza"

I know when I told Munchkie's Daddy that I wasn't going to be eating wheat he was incredibly resistant.  I think he thought we'd be eating plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli.  I say we because if I'm cooking dinner, it will be for everyone.  He won't read "Wheat Belly" and so thinks I'm off my rocker, as probably most of you do.  I just wanted to show you what kinds of things I am eating while being gluten free.  I'm also trying to stay away from other replacement carbs such as rice and potatoes for the most part.

This year Munchkie has had several issues that have surprised both of us.  First she had some respiratory stuff that requires inhalers at times, we're not sure if it's allergies or maybe asthma.  Then she started having skin stuff going on.  We're assuming it's eczema but it only goes away for a few hours to a day before it's back in full swing.  I personally think it's something food related, since it began once she started daycare and eating more meals (non-organic) outside of our home.  Munchkie's Daddy and I disagree on this one.  So I'm trying to edge her towards a wheat free and organic diet.  We'll see.

So here is what I ate today.

 For breakfast I had hot coconut flaxseed "cereal" which was so filling that I could hardly eat half of it.  It's unsweetened shredded coconut with ground flaxseed and milk (I used almond milk) and microwave for a minute.  Then add some walnuts and I added more milk after because it was kind of dry for me.
I found this recipe for gluten free goldfish, so I looked for one without cornstarch then Munchkie and I made them together.  They were a huge hit.  I doubled the recipe, hoping to have them for a while.  They were gone by dinner.  All of them.  As you can see, tip toes were just enough.  While I did not think they were like goldfish crackers, they were definitely delicious.
 Since the oven was already on, and I had kale from the farmer's market, so I made some kale chips to munch on.  While I was pulling out the kale I set some golden cherry tomatoes on the counter.  Munchkie instantly wanted to have some "toe-manoes" and we started popping tomatoes in our mouths.  Next thing I knew, the whole pint was gone and I had to distract Munchkie from that fact with the cooled cheese crackers.
 I also bought stone ground pure cacao chocolate at the farmer's market.  It is unlike any chocolate I've ever had before.  I actually am starting to prefer dark chocolate, eating 85% dark chocolate by itself, so this 70% was quite sweet to me.
 And for dinner, pizza.  This took quite a while to make and I don't know that I would say that it was "just like pizza."  It was good though.  I enjoyed it and Munchkie's Daddy had three pieces.
So how did I make pizza staying away from wheat?  Or any grain?  Well, it is definitely not something I would ever think of.

Wheat Free Pizza ~ from Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis M.D.
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces (the head I got at the farmer's market was bigger than my head, it was way too much)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (this was not enough cheese for me, I needed more)
  • 12 ounces pizza sauce
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • choice of meat and veggies for toppings
  1. Cook the cauliflower by boiling for 20 minutes or steaming.
  2. Mash the cooked cauliflower until it looks like mashed potatoes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly coat pizza pan with olive oil.
  4. Add the olive oil, eggs, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and I added basil, oregano and garlic powder at this time.
  5. Pour the cauliflower mixture onto the pizza pan and press out into a flat pizza-like shape that is no more than 1/2 inch thick with "crusts" around the edge.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.  I wish that I had put mine back in for a could more minutes.
  7. Remove the crust (leaving the oven on) and spread the pizza sauce, sprinkle the remaining cheese and add toppings.  His recipe calls for the oregano, basil and pepper at this time as well as an additional 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese over top.  We left this out.
  8. Bake until cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Cut the pizza and use a spatula to get out, you will have to eat with a fork, you can't really pick it up.