Getting back into shape - Day 2

I honestly didn't intend to blog about this every day.. but who knows, maybe I will? It gives me motivation to actually work out. I really hope that I can show other moms that you absolutely can MAKE time to work out, even if it's just 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. Today went fairly well. I did 20 minutes on the Biggest Loser workout game for the Kinect. If you have a Kinect, BUY THIS! You can even use swagbucks since it is sold on Amazon. :) Check out my swagbucks guide here. Anyway I was weighed on a digital scale and it turns out I weigh 135, not 134. :) I go back to this same scale in 2 months so I think my "goal" is to be 120 by then. That is still 5 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight so I think it's doable! So that is my long-term goal, and these are my current every day goals:

Drink more water and less of everything else that I drink. This is hard because I really just don't like water!

Do at least 20 minutes on the Kinect at least 5 days a week. I am starting with 20 minutes at a time for now and will bump it up if I feel okay. I am still only 4 weeks postpartum.

Eat healthier, make more meals from scratch. We have been doing much better at this lately, it was just crazy the first couple of weeks after Mikaela was born.

So that's it. If you are currently trying to tone up/lose weight/get healthier, feel free to post your goals and/or tips!

Tip of the day: Carry around a bottle or jug (reusable of course) of water with you. That way it is handy if you get thirsty. You will end up drinking much more water this way, especially if it's not usually the first thing you reach for when you realize you're thirsty.

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

Mikaela in a newborn bumGenius AIO
Kainan was almost 20 months old before I started using cloth diapers on him, so I was excited to try cloth on a newborn. Now that Mikaela is a month old I have to say that when I have another baby I probably won't use cloth in the first month or two. Why? Well several reasons. First you are likely to get enough free diapers to last for the first week or two anyway. Between what you can take home from the hospital and gifts from friends/family most parents start out with at least a few disposable diapers. The other reason is that nearly all babies are born with very thin legs making most cloth diapers not fit very well. If you are trying to save money by using one-size diapers from the start, they will likely NOT work unless your baby is very large. Mikaela was 7 1/2 pounds and has grown quickly (over 10 pounds at 4 weeks) but still is just tiny bit too small for her onesize diapers.

The diapers that did fit Mikaela well were the "expensive" AIO diapers (Bumgenius XS) and she is just about too big for those already. I loved them and fortunately bought some smalls before  they stopped selling them. I got really good deals on all of my diapers so I don't think I have lost much money (I will find out for sure when I re-sell them) but it has been somewhat of a pain. You really don't want things to be more complicated right after having a baby! If it weren't for Amazon coupons I would be out quite a bit on my prefolds/covers but thankfully most of them were free or nearly free. I bought tons of prefolds and covers hoping to love them and they didn't work for me at all. I know several moms who they have worked for, and they worked great with my son but for now they just don't work for Mikaela. I sold all but a couple of the covers and use the prefolds as burp clothes.

What about the chemicals in disposable diapers? This is a valid question. There are disposable diapers that are more baby and earth friendly than others, I used a package of 7th generation and they were great. Neither of my kids have ever gotten rashes from Huggies diapers, so when I use disposables that is usually what I get. They have never had any sort of negative reaction to them. Using a disposable diaper is no worse than putting a baby to sleep on a conventional mattress, using conventional bath products or taking a baby outside if you live in a polluted area. If you can avoid all of these things that's great, but it's not realistic for everyone. I use only natural products whenever possible with my babies so maybe that evens out the fact that they wear disposables from time to time. :)

Now that Mikaela is getting bigger and fitting into her size small diapers things are going better. We still have some leaks but not as many. I think I would recommend waiting until the baby is a month or two old, or over 10 lbs (with chunkier legs) to start cloth. At that point you could probably get away with one size diapers or at least a better fit in sized diapers. If you do choose to use cloth diapers from birth I have to recommend bumGenius newborn diapers and Thirsties Duo diapers (size 1.) Different diapers work for different babies, many moms swear by prefolds and covers for newborns.

If you CD have you done it since birth? What did you use?


Getting back into shape.. Day 1

Well today was day 1 of working out and (hopefully) eating better. It didn't go exactly as planned but I feel like I accomplished a little bit. I bought The Biggest Loser game for the Kinect and did the "fitness test" today. I started working out a little after the test but my sister-in-law showed up to help us put together our swingset. I did 15-20 minutes total, which isn't terrible. However I did spend most of the day outside working on the swingset, so that probably helped a little. As far as eating better, other than using Barilla plus pasta for my lunch I didn't do much. I still had a couple of sodas. There is always tomorrow.

Tip of the day: Remember that you don't have to be exercising to get your heart rate up or burn calories! Chasing kids, yard work, housework, laundry (especially if you put it on the line-very green AND thrifty,) and many other things can count toward a daily total if you can't sneak in some actual exercise.

I need to post some starting stats and pictures but I haven't gotten around to measuring myself or taking pictures so I will try to do that tomorrow. I did weigh myself yesterday and I was 134, my goal weight is 115 although while I am nursing 120 would be just fine. I know that doesn't sound like much but I am not very tall and have a very small frame. I will only weigh myself occasionally because I don't even own a scale. My main goal isn't weightloss anyway, I just want my clothes to fit! Feel free to post any post-baby tips that have worked for you, or let me know if there is anything else that is fitness related that you would like to see on here!


What is coming up this week..

almost 4 weeks old already!
As of tomorrow I will be 4 weeks postpartum. I feel great and have for weeks now so I am going to start exercising tomorrow. I still have 17 pounds to go to my pre-pregnancy weight and 19 for my "ideal" weight. This might not sound like much but considering I dropped all the weight I gained with my son in less than two weeks, it sure seems like it to me! I am going to include as much of my progress as I can in the blog and also include workout and healthy eating tips. I am a certified personal trainer and aerobics instructor but I've never had to workout myself. I think it's time to start! If you have any specific questions feel free to post them! It's hard to find the time to exercise when you have kids/work/school/a house to keep clean (I have all of these!) but I am out to prove that it IS possible! Starting tomorrow I will post a picture and will post my progress and tips at least twice a week. I don't plan to "diet" since I am breastfeeding and I honestly could never diet anyway, but I do want to eat a bit healthier. I've been drinking a lot of soda (I need caffeine!) since Mikaela was born and I really need to cut back. I hope my little project will inspire other moms to exercise whether for weightloss or just general health. It really does make you feel better! Just for fun, here is a picture of Mikaela. :)


Thrifty and easy floor cleaner

I know that I have been horrible about keeping up with the blog lately. Having a newborn is definitely a lot of work! Fortunately she is a great baby and her big brother is great with her as well. I still find it difficult to keep up with everything that I am used to doing on top of taking care of two kids. Kainan's birthday party is today and I'm still scrambling to get the house clean. I mixed together this floor cleaner last night and it worked so well that I wanted to share it!

Fill up a sink or bucket with very hot water, add a few squirts of Method dilutable cleaner. Method has cleaners that are specifically for floors but they are $6.49 and this one is $3.99. It's very thrifty because I bought this well over a year ago and still have more than 3/4 left. Then pour in a couple of cups of vinegar (I didn't measure.) Mop floors. :) I used a Libman wonder mop that I bought because you could wash it. I love that it's reusable but it's a really horrible mop. This makes a really awesome floor cleaner for linoleum and tile. I know that I have raved about Method cleaners before but they really are great. Sometimes natural cleaners just don't work as well but this is not the case for all of the Method products that I have used.

Happy 3rd Birthday Kainan!

This day 3 years ago, Amy gave birth to her first born, Kainan Alexander! Today, they are taking the time to celebrate his birthday with family and friends. I wish we could be there to celebrate with them but since we can't, I wanted to wish Kainan a very happy birthday!


I hope you have an awesome day full of fun and excitement! I hope you get everything you wished for and you have a ton of fun! I wish we could be there to celebrate with you, but since we can't, we'll be thinking about you all day today! Have a blast little man! Or should I say big boy! You've turned into such a wonderful big brother and you deserve today to be spoiled!

X ♥ X ♥,
Meagan, Delvin, Luke, and Jake

We can't wait to see pictures of your awesome day! :-)

Tips for Successfully Planning Meals

When I first moved in with Delvin, we were just dating, but we worked really long hours and by the time we got home, I didn't feel like cooking. This resulted in us eating Tuna Helper and carry-out the majority of the week. I knew sooner or later we would have a family, and I would need to learn how to cook more balanced meals. When I was pregnant with Luke we bought our house, and that's when I started meal planning. Here are some tips and tricks to planning meals and making your life a little easier.

Build a Recipe Book:
The first thing I did when I started my meal planning, was built a recipe book. I started searching the internet for any and all recipes that looked good. Some great recipe sites I frequently use are; Allrecipes, Better Homes and Gardens, Recipe Lion, and Campbell's Kitchen. My favorite by far is Allrecipes though. They have everything! And they have great reviews as well. I reigistered with most of these sites, so I normally get a few recipes emailed to me each week. Another great plave to find recipes for your recipe book is in magazines. I have subscriptions to All You and Martha Stewart Living. Both magazines have tons of great recipes in them every month.

Choose Your Meals For the Week:
Create a table on a piece of paper with Monday through Sunday on it. First thing, fill in weekly activities and work schedule(s). Maybe Tuesday night your son has basketball practice, so you know you have to make something quick. Or Thursday's you get off late so you'd like to have something already made that your husband can dish out for the kids. Either way, filling in your activities helps you plan your meals for the week.

Browse the Weekly Circulars:
The great thing these days, is that you can just go online to view most major supermarket chains weekly circulars. I always pull up my circulars online first, even if I'm just planning on grabbing a few things. You never know what kind of awesome deals you might find. I normally make one list specifically based on the things I plan on buying that are on sale in the circular.

Make a List:
Never... I repeat NEVER go to the grocery store without a list! It makes your shopping trip easier, quicker, and always cheaper! Like I said before, I normally make my first list specifically based on the things that are on sale in the circular. The second list I make is based on the recipes I've chosen for the week. I pull up all of my recipes and one by one go through my pantry and fridge. I make a note of the ingredients I already have and put the rest on my second list.

Give Yourself Time:
Only go to the grocery store when you know you have at least 1 hour during the week, or 2 hours on the weekend to dedicate to your shopping trip. If you try to rush through the store to get everything on your list, the odds are your going to forget something. That will throw off your meal plans for the week, which you're trying to avoid.

Organize Your Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer:
When you get home from the grocery store, you want to organize your meals so everything will be easy to find, and ready to cook when it's time. The worst thing you can do is forget to take out a 4 pound roast, and have no way of defrosting it! This will throw off your entire weekly meal plan. So, when you get home you should immediately pull the meat/protein for your first meal and put it in the fridge. Always remember to pull your meat out of the freezer and transfer it to the fridge the morning of the day before your planning to use it (especially if it's a slow cooker recipe).

Post Your Table:
I'm referring to the weekly table we drew up earlier. The one with weekly activities and meals. Post this somewhere that you'll constantly see it. Mine is directly on the fridge door, since I'm constantly going into the fridge, so it catches my eye. But you can put yours anywhere.

The only advice I have left to give is this...

Try new things - Don't bat down a recipe because you think your family won't like it. Just try it. You may be surprised!
Read reviews - The recipes that have 4.5-5 stars based on over 1,000 reviews are the good ones. Read, read, read! You'll learn more then whether it's 'good' or 'bad'.
Substitute - If you try a recipe with turkey one time and don' like it, try substituting with chicken next time around. If we don't particularly love a recipe the first time I make it, I always try to make another variation of it a second time (a week or so later) to see if it's the recipe, or if it's certain ingredients.

Have fun planning! :-)


Last Week's Poll Results

Last week, I asked "How does your family regularly save money?". The poll is closed and the results are in. Here they are...

How does your family regularly save money?

A) Using coupons.
B) Cooking from scratch.
C) Shopping at consignment and/or second hand stores.
D) Using reusable products.
E) Carpooling whenever possible.
F) Buying in bulk.

It turns out that the majority of our readers C) Shop at consignment and/or second hand stores, and D) Use reusable products. In fact, they were tied for first place. The second runner up was A) Using coupons.

For those of you that aren't really interested in cooking from scratch, a slow cooker is a great investment. You can also check out our recipes to get some ideas. Also, check out the clubs like BJ's, Costco, and Sam's Club to find some great deals buying in bulk. I know most of these bulk clubs offer Free 30 Day Trial Memberships, so give them a call to get yours.


Just a quick update...

I totally agree with Amy. I've also been horrible with posting in the last week. So, here's what I've been up to...

Last Thursday (May 19th) was my last day working outside of the home. Friday I took the boys to a play at Toby's Dinner Theatre. It was Winnie the Pooh, and they loved it! Monday was Luke's first day of preschool and the first day I officially started working from home. Needless to say, it has been a busy week around here! Luke is loving preschool and I'm finally getting into the groove with working from home again.

As for Amy's ideas... I am all for them!

Meal Plans:
I love the idea! I'm pretty good about this one as it is, but I'd love to inspire some others to start doing this.

Getting in shape:
This is something I've never really had to work at, but I'd love to tighten things up a bit now that I have two little ones. I'm definitely not as toned as I was pre-babies! I was actually just talking to Amy earlier today about how I'd love to start running in the morning. This is a good one!

Make it Monday:
I'm working on a few ideas right now for great DIY projects.

I will definitely be posting sometime tomorrow. I'm thinking of posting some meal planning tips, to inspire some moms out there. It really is much easier to have a plan when it comes to dinner every night, and it's a great time saver!


Checking in..

I have been horrible at keeping up with this blog lately. I've been busy with the newborn and I also recently started working from home a few hours here and there. Here are some of the things that have been on my mind and I will probably be blogging about this week!

Meal Plans
I know a lot of people plan out their meals a week (or more) ahead of time. We don't do this but I think we need to. We always wait too long and then don't have certain ingredients or don't have time to thaw the meat, etc. I am fortunate in that my husband likes to cook (now if only he liked to clean..) so he will have a big part in this one.

Getting in shape
I have quite a way to go with losing the weight I gained while pregnant with Mikaela. You may think I'm crazy because it's only been 3 weeks, but with Kainan I had lost it all at this point. Since our blog is about natural (healthy) living I'd like to check in once or twice a week with my progress, as well as tips. Most people don't know that I'm a certified personal trainer as well as an aerobics instructor so the knowledge is there now all I need is some motivation. Comment if you'd like to see fitness tips become a regular part of the blog!

Newborn pictures
I need to take Mikaela's newborn pictures NOW. I will (of course) be posting a few when I do. :)

Lots of reviews and Make it Monday
I have lots of reviews that I am going to work on in the near future. I also need to figure out what I am going to do for Make it Monday next week.

Well that is what has been going on with me, hopefully I will be able to make the time to be around more!


Last Week's Poll Results

Last week, Amy asked "Would you like to see 'Make it Monday' on our blog?". The poll is closed and the results are in. Here they are...

Would you like to see "Make it Monday" on our blog?

A) Yes
B) No

We are excited to say that 100% of  our voters chose A) Yes.

Due to the results of our poll, we are happy to announce that we will be adding a Make it Monday post to our blog every Monday, starting on May 30, 2011! Keep an eye out for our very first Do-It-Yourself project coming soon!


Working from Home

Isn't it every mother's dream to be able to work from home and still be able to spend time with her children? Ahh... That would be the life!

Well, that dream could be a reality. I'm not going to lie. It takes hard work and dedication to find a work at home (WAH) job that works around your families schedule. But, it can be done. Whether your just looking for something to make some extra spending cash, or your looking for a full time 9-5 position, legitimate WAH jobs are out there. I have been working from home off and on for over 3 years. I know a lot of scams and I know a lot of true, genuine jobs. I know where to look, and how to go about the search for the perfect WAH job.

The first place I discovered in my quest for a good, quality WAH job, was the WAH forums. These forums have a multitude of information and great job leads posted every single day. Some of these, you may have to register for, but it is more than worth it!

WAHM - This is a great forum to connect with other moms that work from home. They post new job leads everyday in the Telecommuting Moms thread. They also have many different folders for independent companies like Avon, Scentsy, Tastefully Simple, etc.
Work Place Like Home - This forum is great to connect with other moms that work for specific companies. They have plenty of folders designated for a wide range of companies that offer work from home.

Trusted Sites
Rat Race Rebellion - Everyday this site posts new job leads. They always do their best to screen the jobs, before they post the job leads. They also have a breakdown on the left hand side of the page to links for different kinds of WAH jobs.
Work Home Career Kit - As of 2011, Tina (the founder of this site) decided to discontinue the up-keep of the site itself. None the less, there are a TON of helpful links to WAH jobs by category still up on her site. You can click on the links at the top of the page to see all of the lists of WAH jobs she has compiled over the years.
Work At Home Mafia - This is a great resource for new job postings and their huge WAH Directory. There is an abundance of information on this site about working from home.

To someone that is interested in learning more about working from home, I would say to browse the forums and work from home websites. See what there is out there. Just take a look, you never know what you'll find. To those that are determined to work from home, it can be done. You need to start somewhere.

Good luck! :-)


One Day Wonder Old Navy Promotion

Summer is on it's way, and with the heat comes flip-flop season! What woman out there doesn't love throwing on a pair of flip-flops and running out the door? And of all of the flip-flop choices out there, everyone knows Old Navy has the most comfortable ones. And what about the color choices? They are never ending!

So, this Saturday, May 21st is the One Day Wonder Old Navy Promotion when you can get your favorite Old Navy flip-flops for just $1.00! You can only buy 5 pairs per person. I would get there early since Old Navy has been known to sell out of their flip-flops in the past. You also want to be sure you can get your favorite colors in your size. Stock up for the whole family! :-)


Shark Steam Pocket Mop Review

I figured this review would go hand in hand with Amy's post on safer cleaning products. I saw the Shark Steam Pocket Mop on sale at Big Lots a few weeks ago for $49. I knew my mom had one, so I gave her a call to see how she liked it. She told me how she hated it. She said it was a pain in the butt to drag it out, fill it with water, plug it in, etc. Anyway, she told me I could have hers if I wanted to, so I said sure.

I look at the Shark steam mop as an easier way of cleaning. Before I had it, I used an old mop and bucket. I had to fill the bucket with water and cleaner, dip the mop in the bucket and ring it out. Now, I only have to fill up the tank with water (which is easy peasy the way they made it). I just lay the mop flat, open the tank, and use the filling cup it came with to fill it with water, screw the cap back on, and we're good to go. Plug it in and start pumping! I love the Shark steam mop, because I don't have to use cleaners at all to get my floors shining! I use it on my hardwood floors in my living room, and my linoleum in my kitchen. I also use it on my ceramic tiles in my foyer. It works great for all of my floors. Plus, it has a super long cord, so I can do all my floors at one time without having to unplug it and plug it back in. With two little ones, I always have something to clean up. Spilled milk is the worst, and it always gets in the grooves of my hardwood and drives me crazy! With the Shark steam mop, it comes right up!

It also comes with tons of washable pads for different areas. The water tank is really big compared to other steam mops, as well. The best part is, the pads are double sided, so if you dirty one side quickly, you can just flip the mop to the other side which is a real time saver.

I would give the Shark Steam Pocket Mop a rating of 9/10. The price is the only downfall to this wonderful mop. I would keep a look out at Big Lots, Walmart, Ollies, etc to see if you can find it on sale. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for an easier, healthier way to clean their floors!

**Note: I have not been compensated by Shark in any way for the review of this product. This is my personal experience with using this steam mop.**

Safer cleaning products

My laundry/cleaning supplies
I have been happily chemical cleaner-free for over two years now. For me it isn't about being green as much as it is about having a safe home for my kids. I did some reading on what is in regular cleaners and I switched to natural versions (and eventually went on to make my own) and never looked back. This is one area where going green and being thrifty go hand in hand. Many of the ingredients you will need to make your own cleaners are in your kitchen already. If you don't happen to have them, most are very inexpensive.
Money saving tip: Some food items used for cleaning, like lemon juice, can be bought very cheap at discount grocery stores. Since you aren't eating them it does not matter if they are expired.

Safer floor cleaner - A squirt of Dr. Bronners in a sink or bucket full of hot water works great for cleaning floors. If you prefer an "actual" cleaner, Method makes a diluted cleaner and it works great on floors. Vinegar and water also work well and the smell goes away almost immediately.

Safe bathroom cleaner - Vinegar works great for cleaning the toilet. You can also add some baking soda for a nice fizz. Regular toilet bowl cleaners are very, very toxic. My favorite cleaner (if I don't make my own) is by 7th Generation.

Safe multi-taskers - My favorite all purpose cleaner is very simple. Fill a spray bottle about 3/4 with water, add a few squirts of Dr. Bronners (any scent, but tea tree oil will have anti-bacterial qualities) and about a teaspoon of washing soda. If you make your own laundry detergent, you will already have washing soda on hand. Otherwise it is very inexpensive. You can always add essential oils for a nice scent or to make the spray anti-bacterial. Method and 7th Generation both also have good all purpose cleaners.

Safe window cleaner - I use Method, but vinegar/water and club soda/water (mixed half and half) work just as well.

Safe wood cleaner - Again, I use Method because I LOVE the smell (almond.) However olive oil mixed with a few drops of lemon juice work just as well and smell really nice too.

Safer laundry - You can always make your own detergent so that you will know exactly what is in it. There are also many safe detergents out there now. Most big brands have "free and clear" detergents that do not contain dyes or perfumes. I use Rockin' Green for my diapers (and sometimes kids clothes) and it works great! Since it is a little pricey (although worth it!) I use All Free&Clear for my other laundry. I plan to make my own as soon as I run out. I also occasionally use Method Fabric softener on towels or sheets/blankets since my husband likes it. We don't and never have used dryer sheets but I have about 12 dryer balls.

Safer kitchen cleaner - I love using lemon juice and baking soda to clean nearly everything (stove, cutting boards, etc) in the kitchen. For counter tops and just about anything else I use the all purpose cleaner that I mentioned above. Most companies that make dish soap also make "green" versions but it's good to read the ingredients because some of these aren't as safe as they seem. Again I would recommend Method or 7th Generation.

Safer room sprays - I would strongly advise that you stay away from most room sprays if you have little kids. They are extremely toxic. The best way to keep a house smelling nice is to make sure to open to windows as often as possible. Soy candles with essential oils are also good, although obviously caution is needed with kids around. I fill a small spray bottle with water and put a few drops of essential oils in it. Lavender is a nice scent or citrus scents like orange and lemon smell fresh. This can be sprayed on curtains/furniture or just in the air. My 2 year old likes to spray it all over the house.

I've never had a problem with the safer products working any less successfully. I feel much better that I don't have anything in my house that needs to be locked away. I do keep my cleaning products out of reach of course but I feel better knowing that they aren't horribly toxic. Does anyone have any natural products that they use and love that we should try out? Comment and let us know!

Our Family's Favorite Shepherd's Pie

I have no memory of my mom ever making shepherd's pie when I was a child. I don't know if she just never liked it, or maybe she did make it and I just didn't like it, so I've forgotten those memories. Either way, after I had Luke, my brother-in-law made some food and brought it over to the house for us so I wouldn't have to cook right away. He brought over a ton of shepherd's pie. Unfortunately, neither my husband or I liked it. I was determined to find or create a recipe we would love. So, here it is!

Our Favorite Shepherd's Pie

Prep Time: 35 minutes          Cook Time: 25 minutes          Serves: 6

Our Favorite Shepherd's Pie
Mashed potatoes (packaged or homemade)
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (6oz) can tomato sauce
2 tbsp parsley
Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
15-16oz of veggie of your choice (I use Steamfresh Super Sweet Corn)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp milk

1) Preheat oven to 350° F.

2) Make your mashed potatoes. (I normally use Idahoan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes to give it a little more flavor.) ** If your making homemade mashed potatoes for the first time, the directions are at the bottom of this recipe.

3) Brown the ground turkey and onion in a large skillet over medium high heat; drain excess fat.

4) To the ground turkey mixture, add; tomato sauce, parsley, Worcestershire sauce to taste, salt, ground black pepper, and cooked vegetables.

5) In a small seperate bowl, mix the flour with 3 tbsp water and stir into the ground turkey mixture.

6) Stir all together well.

7) Transfer the meat mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the ground turkey mixture.

8) Place 2-3 vent holes in the mashed potatoes.

9) Bake the pie at 350° F for 20 minutes.

10) Remove the pie from the oven and brush the milk over the potatoes.

11) Put the pie back in the oven for 5 more minutes.

12) Carefully remove the shepherd's pie from the oven and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Make Your Own Mashed Potatoes
You'll need 9 potatoes for this recipe.
1) Peel and cube the potatoes.
2) Place the potatoes into a large pot full of water.
3) Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
4) Boil over high heat for 15 minutes.
5) Once done, drain the potatoes.
6) Mash them, and your done.
* Optional: You can add butter to taste.

Enjoy! :-)


Make it Monday

I have seen this on a few other blogs do something called "Make it Monday." For Make it Monday, one (or maybe both) of us will do a simple DIY project every Monday with step by step instructions. If this is something you'd like to see on our blog please take the poll!

Cloth Diapers - What I use

Make sure you check out part two!

Meagan mentioned in her cloth diapering lingo post that we would be reviewing the different types of diapers that we have used. I have been busy with the new baby but I wanted to quickly mention the diapers that I currently use as well as a few that I have previously used. I will be doing full reviews on most of these later.

For Kainan:
Happy Heiny Pockets (size XL) - I use these almost exclusively. Kainan is a BIG boy, about 37 pounds. Most cloth diaper companies don't seem to realize that some toddlers are big and do not make diapers to fit them. Happy Heiny size XL diapers are one that I have found that fits perfectly. I used to stuff the pockets with microfiber inserts but most of the time now I use a premium sized prefold or a Thirsties Hemp Prefold.
Thirsties Prefolds (size L) - I use these with tri-folded premium prefolds (I don't know the brand) or Thirsties Hemp prefolds. I rarely use these because even the size Large is almost too small, but I would use them more often if they fit better.
Blueberry Minky Trainers (size L) - I only have one of these but I use it occasionally, it's cute but doesn't hold pee as well as I'd like.

For Mikaela: 
bumGenius AIO (size XS) - These are the PERFECT newborn diaper. Mikaela was 7 1/2 pounds at birth, dropped to 7 and is now over 8 and they fit perfectly. She also has tiny chicken legs (although they are fattening up now) and we haven't had any leaks out the legs. The only leaking problem we have had is when she lays on her belly.
Thirsties AIO (size XS) - For a size "XS" (Thirsties claims they fit from 5lbs up) this is pretty big! I like the diaper but it's much bigger than the bumGenius (which says it fits from 6lbs up.) I love Thirsties because of the double leg gussets and will probably try to find more of these.
Thirsties Duo Diaper (size 1) - This is the only pocket I have used with Mikaela so far. I use it with a Thirsties Hemp insert and it works great!

Others that I have used previously:
gDiapers - I used these with Kainan when we started cloth diapering. They are okay but we had leaking problems. The disposable inserts are pretty horrible, I used cloth inserts (some hemp, some zorb) and that was better. Overall I liked using this (without an insert/liner) as a swim diaper but didn't like it overall.

I have used a few other brands like Fuzzibunz, Kawaii, some WAHM brands, and I have several others for Mikaela that don't fit yet. I will do individual reviews on these diapers soon.


Summer 2011 Double Dog Dare Challenge

The best part of my day is reading to my boys every night. They both look forward to it every night, and I think it has definitely brought my kids closer to each other. Everyone knows that reading to your children from a young age is a great thing, and definitely helps impact their future. Do you read to your child everyday? I could easily read 5-6 books a day to my boys, since they love story time so much. But, no matter how many books we read during the day, I always read them a bedtime story. I normally let Luke choose the book he wants me to read, and that helps him to feel more engaged in it. If your child is at the age where they are starting to read by themselves, then just sit and listen to the story.

Who doesn't love a good book? No matter what age you are, reading is a great thing. Well, this summer all you have to do is read 10 books to/with your child, and they can receive a free book, courtesy of Borders and Waldenbooks. That's it! As long as your child is 12 years or younger, and they read 10 books between June 1, 2011 and September 5, 2011, they qualify for a free book of their choice.

According to the Double Dog Dare Challenge, all you have to do is print this form, fill out the list of 10 books that your child has read, sign it, and take the entry into a Borders, Borders Express, or Waldenbooks store to select your free book. To find a location near you, you can visit the Borders website.

Now, go enjoy some good books!

Last Week's Poll Results

Last week, we asked "How big is your family?". The poll is closed and the results are in. Here they are...

How big is your family?

A) Just the 2 of us!
B) 3
C) 4
D) 5+
C) But we're not done yet!
D) ...and we're expecting!

The majority of our voters chose C) 4.

So, the average size of the families who follow our blog have 4 members. But, we also had three people that were either expecting or have decided they aren't done expanding their family yet!

Look out for our newest poll...coming soon!


Wooling Around Wool Dryer Balls Review

My beautiful green and purple dryer
balls Amy made for me.
I don't know about you, but I was so sick and tired of buying boxes of dryer sheets every month. I would rip them in half to make them last, but I still felt like I was spending too much money on them each month. I've never used liquid fabric softener, and I never wanted to start. I've heard too many horror stories of the liquid fabric softener leaving streaks on the clothes. So, when Amy started Wooling Around, I was really interested in learning more about them. When Amy told me they could last anywhere from 3-6 years, that was all I needed to hear. Anyway, I ordered 4 dryer balls from Amy in the beginning of April, and she sent them to me within a week of ordering. I loved the way they looked right out of the box, but I wanted to see how well they worked. I thought the concept was awesome! So, I spent the whole weekend doing laundry, just so I could use my new dryer balls. Don't you hate when you wash bed sheets, and you take them out of the dryer, and they're in a ball? And of course, the insides are still wet! Not anymore! These dryer balls have just enough weight to them to constantly keep the fabric separated in the dryer. It only took my sheets 35 minutes to dry! It was amazing! I have an old piece of crap washer and dryer, so 35 minutes is awesome! It used to take an hour to an hour and a half. Someone who bought dryer balls from Amy a while back told her that the dryer balls cut her drying time in half. So, I tested this theory. I used to set my dryer to 70 minutes. Now, I set it at 35 minutes, and sure enough.... practically everything I put in there is dry within that time frame! My wool dryer balls are working wonders, and I love not having to buy dryer sheets anymore! I love them so much, I ordered four more from her to make for my sister for her birthday. I figure...why not spread the love? :-)

If you don't understand the concept, or think the benefit isn't worth it, just check out this post.

I was thinking of giving this product a 9/10. The only downside to them, is that they are so pretty and colorful, my son loves to play with them, and all four of them don't always make they're way back to the dryer! So, I guess technically they would get a 10/10, since being pretty shouldn't be a fault! :-)

**Note: I have not been compensated by Wooling Around in any way for the review of this product. This is my personal experience with using these amazing wool dryer balls.**


bumGenius Newborn AIO Review

I bought several of these diapers before Mikaela was born. They were formally known as the bumGenius XS AIO. However, bumGenius has unfortunately stopped making the other sizes but continues to sell this size with a different name. I purchased these primarily for my husband because I intended to use prefolds and covers but the AIOs are so much easier. I have to admit that I don't want to mess with prefolds right now so these are pretty much all that we use. I have 12 and I wish I would have bought more. Fortunately I bought a few in size small and once she fattens up just a little those should fit as well.

For those who don't know an AIO (or all-in-one) diaper is similar to a pocket except the absorbent part is sewn into the diaper. They are very similar to disposables in how they fit and many moms who use other types of diapers buy them for dad, grandma or the babysitter to use. 

This diaper comes in twelve cute colors and is said to fit from 6-12 pounds. My daughter was 7 1/2 (dropped to 7 and is now gaining again) at birth and these fit her very well. She also has very skinny legs, some diapers tend to leaky with skinny legged babies but these don't seem to. I think they would fit a baby smaller than her just fine. We only had one leak and that was because my husband thought that he changed her (middle of the night) but didn't so she wore it much longer than usual.

The only downside to these (and any other AIO) diapers is the drying time. I would hang them on the line to dry but since I only have 12 I often need them faster so I have to throw them in the dryer. Some parents do not use cloth until babies fit into a one-size diaper due for financial reasons. It's important to remember that cloth diapers do have a resale value and these diapers seem to re-sell very quickly. The tiniest diapers tend to have the highest resale values because they are used less.

I would rate these diapers 10/10. They are very easy to use, especially if you want to cloth diaper your baby right away. I wish I had bought more of these in the first place, if I had to do it over I would probably buy 24. Luckily I did buy a few smalls when they went on sale. It's unfortunately that bumGenius discontinued the other sizes of this product. I plan to try and find more smalls and possibly mediums because we like them so much.

**Note: I have not been compensated by bumGenius in any way for the review of this product. This is simply my personal experience with this diaper.**


Kids are expensive - Tips for Saving

Everyone knows that babies and kids are expensive. The statistics telling you how much it costs to raise a baby are shocking, as well as somewhat misleading. You can do a search for how much it costs to raise a baby and the results vary quite a bit. It's important to realize just what these statistics take into consideration and what you can do to save. There are many ways to save money while raising a healthy and happy child.

Cost of living is not always taken into consideration with these studies. If you live in a lower COL area (as I do) it won't cost that much more to buy or rent a larger house. Multiple children also do not need their own rooms either, although it may save you some sanity.

Breastfeeding is one of the biggest ways to save money with a new baby.Breastfeeding is free and it is the healthiest food that your baby can eat. A breast pump and a couple of good nursing bras are very helpful although not absolute necessities. You can buy an inexpensive manual pump for less than the cost of 3 cans of formula. If you can't or choose not to breastfeed, there are programs like WIC for lower income households that will help with formula. Even if you don't qualify for WIC (and their income restrictions are reasonable) you can save money on formula with coupons. Some WIC programs also give away breast pumps, breast pads and other supplies to help with breastfeeding.

Once your baby is old enough to eat regular food, making your own baby food is a money saver. You can even make organic food for cheaper than regular baby food in jars. This is also better for the baby because the food is fresher. You can use a hand blender or food processor which you may already have.

We are obviously all about cloth diapering and with good reason! Environmental and better-for-baby reasons aside, cloth diapering can save a lot of money! Some parents find themselves buying more cloth diapers than necessary because they are cute but it really wouldn't be that hard to cloth diaper from birth to potty training for just a couple hundred dollars! It's always good to remember that cloth diapers have a re-sale value, sometimes they can be sold for nearly as much as you paid! Check out our cloth diapering section for more saving tips.

Buying less for the baby is a great way to save. The baby registries may say that you NEED a swing, jumper, walker, bassinet, bouncer, travel swing, etc. but honestly all that babies needs are love, food, and diapers. That isn't to say that you shouldn't buy any of these things for your baby, because you should, but you don't necessarily need all of it.

When buying baby gear, buying used is another great way to save. For example, I got this swing for $10 and it is in perfect shape. I also got a cute travel system (infant carseat/stroller) for about 1/3 of retail, a bouncer for $20, a bassinet for free, a walker for $3 and a jumperoo for $20. Most of the time you can get baby items in like-new condition because they just aren't used that much. There are so many of these floating around out there that prices (check Craigslist) are really cheap. For certain items (like cribs and carseats) it's important to check recalls and/or make sure they aren't expired.

Baby clothes are expensive and sometimes don't even get worn once! Garage sales and consignment stores can be great places to buy clothes for babies and older kids. Hand-me-downs from friends can be very helpful, and eBay or Craigslist have tons of listings for kids clothes.

Many of these baby-cost calculators also assume that you will be paying for 100% of your child's college expenses. This is way some of the calculators have shockingly high estimates. It's always good to keep in mind that many scholarships are available and easy to get, most families also qualify for some kind of financial aid.

Most restaurants and other family places (like zoos and movie theaters) have special occasions when children can get in for free with a paying adult. Taking advantage of these specials can save quite a bit. Also most amusement parks, zoos and other places offer free admission to children 3 and under.

Raising kids is expensive, but there are definitely ways to save. What is your number one money saving tip for your family?


What are your plans for Mother's Day?

As we all know, Mother's Day is right around the corner... this Sunday to be exact! Who are you planning on spending the day with? Your children? Your mom? Both? If I had it my way (which I don't), I would love to spend the day with my children, my mom, and my grandma. That would be a wonderful day for me. Unfortunately, my mom lives states away and I'm not going to see her on Sunday, so I'll spend the day with my two wonderful little boys. Hopefully Daddy has something nice planned to make the day perfect.

So, what are your plans this Mother's Day?


Mikaela Danae is here!

Meagan already announced Mikaela's arrival but I wanted to type up her birth story while it's still pretty fresh in my head. I will add some pictures to this ASAP. My camera battery died and I had to order a new charger (mine got lost in the move) so it will be here tomorrow and I'll get lots of pictures.

I feel like I should mention that this is a birth story and might have references to .. well.. birth. :) You've been warned.

I had a lot of problems in my pregnancy with Mikaela. While all of the problems were not life threatening they were certainly annoying, some were scary, and some of them were very painful as well. The pregnancy started out with a lot of nausea and that got better but never really went away. At 24 weeks I started having contractions which was very scary. At 28 weeks they did an ultrasound and found that my cervix was already pretty thin. I started some medicine to help keep the contractions away but it didn't help and shot my heart rate up really high, so I stopped taking it. My pregnancy was monitored closely for the next couple of months. My cervix continued to thin but never dilated. I did get steroid shots for her lungs at 33 weeks because we were expecting her anytime. However, she ended up deciding not to come on her own! At the end of the pregnancy I was having some major dental issues and the last couple of weeks I ended up having some intestinal issues also. I will spare you the grossest details but basically my insides rearranged themselves because the uterus was taking up too much room. It was causing extreme pain and my doctor decided to induce since I was full term (he said they would consider "term" 35 for me, and I was almost 40 at this point) and had the steroid shots. The induction was scheduled for Monday, May 2nd at 6 AM.

When Josh and I arrived at the hospital we had a little surprise. We were told that L&D was not expecting us until 8:00AM! I wondered why we had been told to go early since I didn't think the doctor would be there until later. Once I was admitted I was put on the monitors and waited until about 8:30 when the doctor arrived. Josh was awake the entire night before and I was up and down all night, so we were both very tired. They decided to try a cervical ripening pill before Pitocin and that was put in around 8:30. I waited for a few hours until the doctor came back and he said my cervix hadn't changed any (I was 75% effaced, 1 CM dilated when I came in) so they would start the Pitocin. Pitocin was started around 1PM and let me tell you pit contractions hurt just as much as anyone says they do! I have had a natural labor and delivery before and contractions didn't hurt with that one until much further into the labor. With the pitocin, contractions were quite painful at 3 CM and nearly unbearable at 4. It only took a little while to start dilating which was really promising. I got the epidural at 4 CM. I wanted to wait but the pain was horrible. I was worried that the epidural might not work because I was told when I had Kainan that I couldn't have one. Apparently that guy was crazy because the anesthesiologist had no problems at all. I was always all about natural childbirth and I still think it's great but I am a total epidural convert. :) The only problem that I had was it made me very sick to my stomach. I felt great right after getting it but then got a headache and felt pretty sick to my stomach. It was better than the contractions but I really wasn't feeling well. Eventually they gave me some Zofran and tylenol and that helped almost immediately. The epidural helped the pain so much, but Josh and my mom said I was more out of it than I thought. I must have been out of it because until my mom said something I had forgotten that her and my sister came in to talk to me after I got the epidural. I felt fine, but I guess I was a little loopy. :) I still thought it would go pretty slow, but I dilated from 4CM to 6CM in an hour. Josh went out to the waiting room to eat some pizza since the progress was still slow. The nurse came back to check me 20 minutes later which I thought was weird and said I was fully dilated. I was seriously hoping that the baby didn't come out before Josh finished his pizza! Fortunately he came right back and the doctor wasn't there so I had to wait a while. When the doctor finally arrived he said that I could wait to push until I really felt like I needed to. We actually waited quite a while because the doctor said it would be much easier on me to let the baby come down on her own than to push and push and wear myself out. I wish I would have had the same doctor with my first, because I pushed for over an hour with him and it was exhausting. Once I did push it only took 3 or 4 pushes and she was out. I was so shocked. The labor had gone so slowly that once she was finally out it wasn't "real" to me for a while. They waited until the cord stopped pulsating to clamp it (I didn't have a "birth plan" but I asked for this) and he asked Josh if he wanted to cut it which he did. Everyone commented how pretty she was. I think she was born so quickly that she didn't have the squished up / bruised / red look of most vaginally born newborns. She swallowed some fluid on the way out which was scary but she was fine after just a minute. Her APGAR scores were 8/9. She was 7lbs 8oz and 20 inches long. Her brother was the exact same weight and 21 inches long.

Mikaela Danae was born at 8:35PM on Monday, May 2nd. After a very rough pregnancy I was shocked to have such an easy delivery. The doctor checked for any abnormalities in the placenta since I'd had so many problems but he said everything looked normal. We don't really know why I had pre-term contractions but we are thankful that she didn't come early. Josh did really great and helped me a lot through the labor and delivery. He is so attached to Mikaela too, I have to fight him for her. :) Kainan loves his sister too. He tries to help her when she cries and so far hasn't showed any real jealously, let's hope that lasts! Mikaela has been a great baby so far and definitely likes her sleep. I will add more to this if I remember anything. Thanks for reading!

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

I have been a pretty big fan of the Duggar's over the last few years. For those of you that don't know who the Duggar's are, they are a 2 parent family with 20 children, 1 daughter-in-law, and 1 grand-daughter. They have a show on TLC called 19 Kids and Counting. Of course with 20 kids, you need to be able to adapt, and one of those ways is saving money. The Duggar's have some great ideas on how to save money. Many of them are listed in their books and on their website. I have been using the Duggar's laundry detergent recipe for a little over 2 months now, and I love it! They have both a liquid and a powdered version, but I use the powdered version since it's simpler to make with such a busy lifestyle, and it works great for us.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent
*For top load machines only.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent
Yields: 3 cups (approximately 40 loads)

- 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap
- 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup Borax

- airtight container for storage

1) Grate the bar soap, or break it into pieces.

2) Run the pieces of bar soap through a food processor until it's powdered.

3) Mix the powdered bar soap with the washing soda and borax.

To Use:
Light load- 1 tablespoon
Heavily soiled load- 2 tablespoons

I was lucky enough to find all three of the ingredients at my Walmart. I got the Fels Naptha for $0.97 a bar, the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda for $1.97, and the 20 Mule Team Borax for $2.98. I know you can find it some of the stuff cheaper, but I just got it where I found it. Anyway, based on these prices, you would only be paying $1.60 per 40 load batch. If you buy the bar soap by the case, you can get it as cheap as $0.45 a bar. At that price, you would only be paying $1.44 per 40 load batch. Either way, this powdered detergent is very powerful and super inexpensive. I also bought a small plastic container at Walmart for $2.19 for storing my detergent.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
*For front or top load machines.

Yields: 10 gallons (approximately 180 loads for top load machines and 640 loads for front load machines)

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
- 4 cups hot tap water
- 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap
- 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup Borax

Materials Needed:
- saucepan
- 5 gallon bucket
- old laundry detergent bottle (rinsed clean)

1) Grate the bar of soap and add it to a saucepan with the water.

2) Stir continuously over medium-low heat until the soap dissolves and is completely melted.

3) Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full with hot tap water. Add the melted soap, washing soda, and Borax.

4) Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let it sit overnight to thicken.

5) Stir the detergent the following morning. Fill a clean laundry detergent bottle half full with the laundry soap. Fill the rest of the way with water.

6) Shake before each use (the mixture will gel).

*Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add after the soap has cooled. You can use lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil, etc.

To Use:
Top Load Machines- 5/8 cup per load (will yield approximately 180 loads)
Front Load Machines- 1/4 cup per load (will yield approximately 640 loads)

I was lucky enough to find all three of the ingredients at my Walmart for my powdered detergent. I got the Fels Naptha for $0.97 a bar, the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda for $1.97, and the 20 Mule Team Borax for $2.98. I know you can find it cheaper, but I just got it where I found it. Anyway, based on these prices, you would only be paying $1.60 per 180-640 load batch. If you buy the bar soap by the case, you can get it as cheap as $0.45 a bar. At that price, you would only be paying $1.29 per 180-640 load batch. I've heard amazing things about this liquid laundry detergent. I'm hoping that the next time I have some free time, I'll be able to make this liquid version and try it out. I know Amy plans on making this once she runs out of the stuff she has now.


Last Week's Poll Results

Last week, Amy asked "Do you buy organic food for your family?". The poll is closed and the results are in. Here they are...

Do you buy organic food for your family?

A) As often as possible
B) If I find it/If it's on sale
C) No, but I want to
D) No, organic food is a joke

The majority of our voters chose B) If I find it/If it's on sale.

I can totally relate to this answer. In fact, I would have chosen this answer, had I voted. The price of food has gone up like crazy in the last few months, and it's getting harder and harder to find good deals on anything, much less organic food. This time last year, my family was eating a lot more organic food than they are this year. I hope that in the next few months, we will be able to afford it again. :-)


Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

This recipe is for everyone. Who doesn't like pizza? I mean...honestly! Well now you can get the flavor of pizza and nutrition of a more well balanced meal, all in one. Just try it. I didn't think I'd like it the first time I made it, but it was really good!

Pizza Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes          Cook Time: 30 minutes          Serves: 6

Pizza Casserole
2 cups uncooked egg noodles
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced turkey sausage
16 oz pizza sauce
4 tbsp milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350° F.

2) Cook egg noodles according to package directions.

3) In a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey with the onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. Drain excess fat.

4) Stir in the noodles, pepperoni, pizza sauce, and milk. Mix well.

5) Pour the mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish.

6) Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes.

7) Top with the cheese, and bake for 5-10 minutes more.

8) Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

* Thank you to allrecipes for allowing me to tweak this recipe to my family's satisfaction.

Enjoy! :-)

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Hot Sonakshi Sinha, Car Price in India