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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their mos+t delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
Swathi of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen
and April of The 21st Century Housewife


Favorites from last week:
TBA


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)




Monday, January 30, 2012

Making and Using Homemade Royal Icing (Chemical Free) to Decorate Cookies

We just had a lovely party in honor of our baby, Anneliese, on Saturday. (We don't do baby showers- we welcome babies into the world only after they arrive all the way.)

I wanted to make some cute cookies, girly themed (after 2 boys, I'm bringing out the pink full force) to serve at the party. Only, I didn't want to serve any chemicals or anything like that, so I made my own homemade food coloring. And I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on paying some fancy cookie maker to make these cookies for our party, so despite never having learned "officially" to cake/cookie decorate, I decided to make my own cookies... and looking at the results, they were a smashing success. There were various bits and bobs left over from the party we threw, but not a single cookie left- people even asked if they could take cookies home for family members that couldn't make it, they loved the cookies that much.

I have a cookie cutter in the shape of a girl that I bought a few years back. (I own exactly 2 cookie cutters, a boy and a girl. That's it.)
I used this recipe from allrecipes.com- I couldn't taste it, but everyone who ate them said they tasted really delicious, so I highly recommend it. After making a bunch of those cookies and letting them fully cool, I made my homemade food coloring and then decorated the cookies with homemade royal icing. I wanted royal icing specifically because royal icing dries hard, so you don't have to worry about the frosting rubbing off the cookie and getting everything dirty.
Now usually royal icing calls for meringue powder, and you know me, I don't like using any specialty ingredients because they're usually a fortune, and something like meringue powder is probably processed enough that it isn't healthy. So here's how I made and used royal icing using only what was in the house.

Homemade Frugal (and Chemical Free) Royal Icing

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homemade Beet Food Coloring Recipe

Food coloring is banned in my house. Or rather, it isn't... We do have food coloring in out house, its just used to print things in our printer. No, seriously. (See here how we fill our ink cartridges with food coloring.)
Whether or not the FDA approves of food coloring's safety makes no difference to me- I don't trust that its fully safe and that there will be no harmful side effects from ingesting food coloring, even if only rarely, so I will never put food coloring into our food.

But what do you do then if you actually want to make your food prettier, like if you want to make colored frosting? Well, I don't have the solution to all the possible colors you might want, but here's how you can take advantage of nature's food and make your own magenta food coloring out of beets.

Homemade Beet Food Coloring

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crazy Cheap and Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe

No, this cake ain't healthy, nor is it gluten free or sugar free, but it's got something going for it- its cheap and its easy and its vegan and it doesn't use any ingredients that are hard to find and it's ultra easy to make. Pretty much its a good desert to make if you want to whip up a recipe last minute and you have no eggs or butter or milk or anything like that in the house... or if you have those, but want to save those ingredients for another use to keep your cake as frugal as possible.
And oh- it's moist and yummy and soft and did I mention really, really yummy?
I used to make this cake a lot, usually with carob powder instead of cocoa powder, but it's absolutely terrific both ways.

My husband hasn't had this cake in a while, even though it's his favorite- so I whipped it up to surprise him by serving it at the party in honor of our daughter's birth this weekend. (No, my husband isn't sugar free or gluten free- though I think it would be a good idea for him to be, he's an adult and he can make his own decisions, so I figure if he's going to eat it anyhow, I can make a treat for him like this...)
I have to say, I'm a bit jealous that he can eat it because it was one of my favorites as well.

I didn't make up this recipe, its known as Crazy Cake and has been floating around the internet, and has been passed on long before that- it originates from the Great Depression, when people didn't have money and cooked from scratch... kind of like what people should do in the economy today, which is kind of why Great Depression recipes have become more common lately- because they're good, yummy, and cheap, and nearly everyone is broke but likes good food.

Crazy Cake Recipe

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Living Rurally To Save Money

One benefit of rural living- free firewood for heating!
Mrs Bushman tackles a fallen tree with her chain saw.
I live in a town of approximately 1200 families a 15 minute drive from the entrance to the nearest city. Because of our location, our rent is certainly higher than it would be in a more remote place. A few friends of mine asked me why I didn't move further out, so that I'd be able to pay less of our income on rent, and instead, I explained to her why its actually cheaper for us to live locally, despite paying much higher rent, because being near the city offers us many financial benefits. 
Many people I've spoken to who live further out in an effort to save money typically need much more money to make it through the month than we do, and I'm pretty convinced that if they lived nearer to the city like we do, they'd be better off financially, even after their higher housing costs... 


One blog I came across, Budgeting with the Bushmans, is about a family of four who lives debt-free  and ultra frugally, on one part-time income! The author claims that the reason they're able to live as frugally as they are is because they live rurally, but I had my doubts... After all, my friends who live more rurally end up spending much more than I do precisely because they're more rural... 
But yet, as I read through their blog, I saw that they actually were as frugal as I was, perhaps even more, and this is without having the frugal benefits that come with living near the big city that I do. I wanted to know how this was so. I asked the author of Budgeting with the Bushmans to offer another perspective to you readers and to me, to write a guest post explaining how living very rurally helps them be very frugal in ways not possible when living in the city.


How our family saves money by living rurally.


My family recently paid off $30,000 in credit card and medical debt, sold our mortgaged home in the city and moved to a rural area to buy a house for $13,000 cash.

Here are some of the things we have found to be cheaper living rurally:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feeding Primal People... Frugally??

I've read and read lots of posts on the Primal/Paleo diet, and other low carb and grain diets, and despite all that I've read on this diet/lifestyle, I remain thoroughly unconvinced that grains are the evil some people make them out to be, both because of scientific reasons and because the reasoning for the theory (eat like the cavemen did) doesn't fly for me for many, many reasons. That said, even if I were convinced that a Primal/Paleo diet is the ideal way to eat, I most likely would not go on that type of diet because it is the most expensive diet out there, in my opinion, the least economically sustainable, and practically impossible to do frugally...

However, a family member of mine is on a modified Primal diet (he does eat legumes- a no no in "real" Primal diets), and because of certain circumstances that have come up, this family member will be at our house rather often in the next little while, so I'm pretty much doing what I thought impossible- feeding this grain free guest without putting us into the poorhouse (too much). (This guest eats animal products, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, minimal fruit, and that's about it. He'll eat very minimal amounts of potatoes or sweet potatoes, but will avoid those as well if possible.)

Why exactly is a grain free diet not frugal? How can you make a grain free diet as frugal as possible?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their mos+t delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

I wanted to wish co-host, Swathi, of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen congratulations on her baby boy!

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
and April of The 21st Century Housewife


Favorites from last week:
Lentil and mung bean soup. Legumes + Winter + Soup= Perfection. This looks delicious- I shall be trying it out with some variations. (Can't get curry leaves or hing)
Could it be b12- This talks about the affects lack of b12 can cause on the body. I know I'm b12 deficient. Could that be why I had nerve issues as a teenager as well as a tendency to depression? Gives much to think about!
Italian Wedding Soup- I think I'll try this out with variations to make it gluten free. I'll also use wild greens in place of the spinach.


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)




Monday, January 23, 2012

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

This is a terrific peanut butter cookie recipe, both for people on a gluten free diet and those not, as it doesn't call for any specialty flours or specialty ingredients. Its also pretty easy to prepare.
No, it's not sugar free or particularly healthy, but it at least is healthier than store bought cookies with all their chemical additives and preservatives.

Well, I have to admit, I didn't even make these for my family to munch on (for the most part). My friend and I are throwing a joint party this weekend for our friends and community to celebrate the birth of our babies, and I made these cookies to serve then. (Yea, we tend to do joint celebrations here. Double birthday party for the kids, double birthday celebration for me and the hubby. If my daughter doesn't share a birthday, we'll do the celebration with a friend! Double the fun, half the cost, I say...)
You might wonder why I feel its correct for me to serve people food that I think is unhealthy. If its unhealthy for my family, its unhealthy for everyone, and I shouldn't be serving it to others, right? Isn't it hypocritical for me to serve others foods that I myself won't eat?
I mean, maybe it is slightly, and if I had all the money in the world, maybe I'd serve only the healthiest food to everyone, no matter who they were. But the fact is, most healthy food is more expensive, and healthy sweeteners locally are a fortune, and if my guests do eat sugar and do eat white flour, etc... I'm not going to pay through my nose for better ingredients when my guests don't care. I'd rather save the money and use it to buy healthier food for my family, people who actually do care about eating healthier.
There are, however, certain things I won't serve guests, even if they don't care, and those are the things that I think are just so terrible that I can't justify feeding it to guests because it feels akin to poisoning them. (Those things are fake sugar, margarine, food coloring, artificial flavoring, and soy oil.) Even if it means spending more money, I will avoid serving these absolute no-nos to my guests.
But yes, I will serve guests sugar, and white flour.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homemade Sunflower Milk Recipe

I think one of the things I most frequently post about on this blog is how to make non dairy milks. Ok, thats slight an exaggeration, but I've already posted instructions on making homemade chickpea milk, sesame milk, and coconut milk, and now I'm posting yet another type of non dairy milk- sunflower milk.

Why do I make non dairy milk? Why not just buy it in the store and be done with it? And why not just stick to one type?

Well, homemade non dairy milk is loads cheaper than store bought! Soy milk is the type of non dairy milk sold and used in most establishments, but since I try to avoid soy for health reasons, its hard for me to even buy non dairy milk even if I wanted to. And I'm dairy free, so I can't just buy regular milk. (Dairy causes stomach issues for me.)

There also are other reasons to serve non dairy milk. You might be vegan or be hosting vegan guests. You might have other reasons why you can't serve dairy at a specific meal. You might be unable to get raw or organic or hormone free milk in your location and are worried about the health ramifications from drinking the standard non organic hormone-full pasteurized milk. Or you might be unable to make it to the store regularly enough to have a constant supply of fresh milk and don't want to use the ultra pasteurized shelf stable milk or powdered milk, either because of health or taste reasons...

Whatever the case may be, its always good to know how to make your own non dairy milk. And for the record, sunflower milk is my go-to milk now because chickpea milk is too much work, and I get stomach issues from both sesame milk and coconut milk...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Saline Solution Recipe

 Ok, this may seem like a dumb idea for a post, but my little girly is sick and is having breathing trouble and I've discovered via the net a way I can help her without giving her steroids or chemicals, doesn't cost a lot, and guess what? My doctor totally approves also, so I'm not being frugal at the cost of her health, don't worry.

My doc said that I should put saline in a nebulizer and let her breathe in the salt water solution... and they usually sell saline in pharmacies for this purpose among others...
Well, I didn't have time to make it to a pharmacy, and I didn't see the need to buy it if I could make it myself, and saline solution is saltwater solution...

Fortunately, google came to the rescue, and I discovered how to make my own saline solution, and I've been using that in the nebulizer and it seems to be helping my baby, fortunately.
I figured I'd share it with you in case you ever are in need of this for yourself or your child...

Homemade Saline Solution Recipe

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Days at the River with Nothing But Our Bare Hands- Video Review

There's this really cool couple I know, Daniel and Rebekka, that inspires me to do so many self sufficient things, to homestead, and to live a green and frugal lifestyle. We'd originally considered moving out together with them and a few other similarly minded families to a semi remote place where we'd found a community of homesteaders... We were discussing so many options for cheap DIY housing, talked about yurt living, building log cabins, and making earthships...
But we never did that community together, and Daniel and Rebekka moved to a different community where they are in the middle of building a straw bale house, and are raising a herd of goats and square foot gardening.
I learned so much from Daniel and Rebekka, but one of the thing I loved most was that Daniel was a wilderness survival educator by profession, and I borrowed so many books from him to read up about how to survive if you were stranded in the middle of nowhere with no tool and no food.
I find the topic of wilderness survival to be so fascinating! We rely on so many modern conveniences in our day to day life, but you learn just how much (or little really) is truly necessary. I find learning about wilderness survival very empowering, knowing that I'd have what it takes to manage if all hell breaks loose. It also makes me appreciate the gifts nature has to offer us that can be utilized even in a non survival situation (like wild food and medicine) and appreciate all the luxuries I have even in my "spartan" extremely frugal life.
Wilderness survival also can allow you to have a cheap camping vacation, with no need to purchase and bring along any supplies to be able to enjoy yourself!

After writing my review of Botany in a Day (an excellent book on plant identification), the author of the book, Thomas Elpel, asked me if I'd want to review some wilderness survival videos that he made, and of course, I agreed! Anything to get my hands on more wilderness survival information!
The series that Mr. Elpel sent me to review is called "The Art of Nothing" and from the title alone, I knew I'd love it!

Here is my review of the first video in the series- "Three Days at the River with Nothing But Our Bare Hands."

I watched the video with my boys, and decided to do a double review- one from my perspective as an adult, and another review from the perspective of my 4.5 year old son.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cheap Ways To Prepare Delicious Meals

This is a guest post by Nancy E., a freelance writer who loves to eat well, healthily, and affordably. In her spare time she loves to learn about education and technology.

Making your own meals is a key way to save money. Spending $40-$60 dollars on groceries can produce enough meals to feed a family for a week. This way you can worry less about affording car insurance, mortgage or rent payments, and other expenses. Utilizing the following tips will save you enough money that you can still buy organic products while making delicious meals without breaking your budget:

Stock and bouillon. Make your own stock for soups (the cheapest option) or buy a can of bouillon. Canned soups may look cheap but they add up and they're unnecessary—you can make your own soup and it'll be healthier and more delicious than anything Campbell's has to offer. Soup is one of the heartiest meals there is because it provides nutritional sustenance while also hydrating you. A spoonful of bouillon, some veggies, spices, and rice can make a delicious soup for about 25 cents.

Make your own sauces and salad dressings. Most sauces and salad dressings are not overly complicated. Many of the ingredients you see on the back are simply preservatives that give the product a longer shelf life. The core active ingredients are usually not complex and can be simulated without spending $5 on a jar. Invest in plenty of lemon, garlic, rosemary, thyme, dill, and pepper (cayenne, black, and white), and then get creative. A spoonful of mustard can add a lot of zest to a marinade, sauce, or salad dressing, as can egg yolk, mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, and butter.

Ferment and pickle your own vegetables. It sounds extreme and complicated, but it's actually not very difficult and can save you from buying condiments and other extras like sauerkraut, pickles, and salad ingredients. Also the lactic acid created during fermentation is excellent for your body.

Rediscover the legume. A remarkable, versatile source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, legumes are the unsung heros of your refrigerator and pantry. Use them in pastas, salads, or just on their own. Peas, beans, lentils, and nut fill up a plate and stomach nicely and without room for complaints.

Diversify your protein sources. The price of meat has gone up and so has the level of hormones and chemicals it contains. Prepare healthier, cheaper meals by utilizing dairy, eggs, nuts, legumes, and mushrooms. It's a myth that meat is the only way to get enough protein into your diet.

The common thread here is taking a do-it-yourself, active, creative approach to cooking. It doesn't require much time, effort, or money and the benefits are immeasurable for you and your family.

See my disclaimer here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
April of The 21st Century Housewife
and
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen,


Favorites from last week:
TBA


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)




Monday, January 16, 2012

Parenting, Version 3.0- Part 2

Anneliese in her OsoCozy prefold diaper and a snappi.
(She had a bandage on her belly at the recommendation
of the doc cuz her belly button was bleeding a bit.)
Yesterday, I shared a little update on my life and how it is raising 3 kids now instead of two...
Originally it was going to be one long post, but as I saw how long it was getting, I decided to break it into two. So here's some more updates, this time focusing more on the money related aspects of parenting 3 kids, more so than the emotional and other issues.

I had a post a bit back about what expenses I anticipated for my new baby. I knew I was having a girl, so I knew clothing would be an issue, but I didn't bring it up in the post because I didn't want to admit that I knew, otherwise I felt people would pester me to find out the sex when it was something I wanted to keep a secret...
So, what expenses did I end up having so far, and what expenses did I think I would have but ended up not having? How much did I spend on the baby this far?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Update on Parenting Version 3.0- Part 1

My wonderful... and really personality filled kiddos.
So, y'all may have been wondering how it's going, having 3 kids now instead of 2. Well, I'm still taking it easy, not back to my usual activities 100%, but I do have some updates to give you on how life with three kids is going.

First of all, I wanted to say that I was pretty darn sure that my baby would have a tongue tie as both of my previous kids did, and both my husband and I have a tongue tie. I was sure breastfeeding would get off to a rocky start until I'd shell out the large amounts of cash to get that tongue tie snipped (getting it done through insurance here takes forever and a day; I needed to go private with Lee and with Ike they snipped his tongue tie in the past).
Fortunately though, little Anneliese was born with no tongue tie!!! YAY!!! I'd read up something about tongue tie being linked to bad nutrition during mom's pregnancy- but no concrete evidence about that- so it makes me wonder if me being gluten free this pregnancy (other than the first 10 weeks) made that difference, and why this baby was my first that wasn't born with a tongue tie...
Anyhow, other than a few painful days at the beginning, breastfeeding has taken off wonderfully, Anneliese is getting rounder and rounder cheeks and her chicken legs are filling out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sweet and Sour Curry Sauce for Chicken and Fish Recipe

My husband and I didn't grow up with the same type of cooking at all. He grew up with some Eastern European cooking as well as South African cuisine, and I grew up with food from around the globe, but with an emphasis on Asian cooking, with a little Middle Eastern and European and American cooking thrown in. The first year we were married, so many times my husband would throw his hands up in the air, shake his head sadly, and ask me "Why don't you just make normal food?"
Well, to me, what I was making was normal food; we'd have Chinese food in our family at least once or twice a week. I had no clue what types of foods my husband would consider normal, and asking him yielded no results; he doesn't remember names of food...
As a newlywed, in a desperate attempt to please my husband's tastebuds, I called up my mother in law and begged her to teach me to cook like she did, so my husband would have his "normal foods".

This recipe is based on my mother in law's recipe for "curry fish", with my changes to make it healthier and more frugal. I use the sauce generally as a topping for chicken breast, not fish though, like she usually does.

Today is actually the first time I wrote the recipe down to keep it for posterity. I must have called my mother in law up at least 5 times for this same exact recipe, and each time, she starts off the same way "First batter fry your fish" and I say "No, skip that part, I'm using it for chicken" and then she starts reciting the recipe from memory... and after the first 3 ingredients, says "Hold on, now let me get my cookbook; I can't remember the rest."

So here it is, Mommy's "Curry Fish" recipe, a delicious sauce for chicken and fish (and also tastes really terrific on rice).

Sweet and Sour Curry Sauce for Chicken and Fish


Make Sure You Start the Year by Saving Money

Notice I haven't written any blog posts about New Year resolutions? Yea... maybe one of my resolutions should be to prepare things a little more in advance, so I would have had a reserve of blog posts already written up to post after I gave birth... but haha, that isn't one of my strong points- I'm a huge procrastinator, and I never ended up writing one of those posts...
Well, fortunately, I got contacted by a writer from comparethemarket.com - a price comparison site based in Uk- who offered to write a guest post on the topic of money saving resolutions for the New Year. Well, haha, now I am managing to fulfill the unwritten obligations of the blogosphere and have a post dedicated to New Years resolutions.

 In this new year of a continually volatile economy and high unemployment, most people's New Year's resolutions are economic than ever before. This is a good thing – if you continue to exercise good fiscal policy within your personal life for the entire year. The first thing that everyone must do is to "pay themselves first," or resolve to save money as if they were paying a bill.

Below are a few good ways in which you can start the year by saving money.

– Use price comparison sites online

You can actually use price comparison websites for expenses that you would think are not negotiable. For instance, you can compare property insurance online, car insurance companies, anything you can think of. Take your budget and weed out those expenses that you think are not negotiable under any circumstances, and look up a price comparison site for that item online. You might be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of options that the Internet gives you.

– Use the money that you save to save

When you save money off of a bill using the first step as mentioned here, or if you simply find some other way to save, you should consider this a payment to yourself and pay it to yourself. For instance, if you compare property insurance online, find a lower price, and then start paying a lower price, the different should go into a money market or savings account with a fixed interest rate. This way, you are sure to save money no matter what.

– Learn to invest

This does not necessarily mean learning to invest in the sense of an investment banker or a Wall Street type. Everyone can learn to invest in the short-term in their personal lives and save money while not giving up any of life's little luxuries. For instance, if you wanted to compare property insurance, you could very easily see that an upfront house payment could save you as much as 20% on property insurance. This is an investment. On the lower end of the spectrum, if you invest in a $500 coffeemaker once, you will save yourself $700 over the course of one year by not going out to the expensive coffee shops, and $1200 every year after that. This is the epitome of sound investment on a personal level, and will do much enhance your saving ability throughout the year.

– Compare at all times

One of the reasons that rich people stay rich is that they are always looking for the lowest price. There is no such thing as getting the lowest price and then just letting it sit, whether you have to compare car insurance or compare property insurance or compare the interest rate on any loan you might have. The business of loaning and the business of insurance especially, are incredibly competitive businesses, and there is always some kind of new deal to be had if you only look to switch. Financial advisors and personal economic experts actually recommend looking up comparisons on large expenditures every six months. This is where those price comparison site from the first tip come in. They should not be a one-time deal; they should be a longtime friend. Bookmark the pages on which you find the best deals and come back to them at least twice a year.

Did you make any frugality or health related New Years resolutions? What were they? Do you do any of the aforementioned tips to save money?

See my disclaimer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Musings on Gluten Intolerance, Teeth, and Mineral Deficiency

I took my kids to the dentist not that long ago.
I was not too happy by what I found out.
My 4 year old has a ton of cavities. One so bad that the dentist said that there's a good chance that he'll need a root canal on that tooth.
My 2 year old son has fewer cavities than his older brother, but still a lot. The dentist diagnosed him with "bottle mouth", a "teeth rotting" issue that usually comes when kids fall asleep with a bottle of sugary juice or formula until a later age.
Which is incredibly strange, because my 2 year old never took a bottle. I wish he would have. Had he accepted a bottle of pumped milk occasionally, it would have made my life that much easier, but no. Never. He was a boob-a-holic, he only wanted to nurse. And nurse. And nurse.
But that's not the point.

The dentist pointed out all their cavities and told me that she wanted to get started on getting their cavities filled, filled with amalgam fillings. She said Ike especially had so many cavities for someone his age- its not common to see a kid that young with that many cavities, and that Lee also had a lot for his age.

Do you know what my first reaction was?

OMG!!!! What the heck???? How is this even possible????? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!

No exaggeration.
Ok, I didn't say that out loud, I was just screaming in my mind, but I was seriously flipping out and I didn't understand it!!!
Why???

I need to get to the dentist at some point in the near future, but as of the last time I went to the dentist, I had no cavities in my mouth, never developed any in my 23 years, despite having really poor brushing habits as a kid. And my husband also never had a single cavity in his 25 years.
So how do my two little boys have such bad teeth? How do they have so many cavities???
Need I point out that our children aren't growing up with candies and sugar rich foods, aren't constantly eating sugar rich and sticky foods like taffies, etc... And they get very nutritious foods and have well rounded diets, so that should make them have strong teeth...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
April of The 21st Century Housewife
and
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen,


Favorites from last week:
TBA


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)




Foraging Stinging Nettles

I'm not a masochist in any way. Yet I eat thorns. Milk thistle that is.
And one of my favorite foraged plants is a plant that makes sure to sting you every time you try to pick it unless you are extremely careful. And one time, I actually specifically tried to get stung by it- can you imagine?

I had read about nettles probably something like 3 or 4 years ago on an herbalist's blog that I was reading. She couldn't stop talking about all the amazing medicinal benefits of nettle, and I had never seen it in my area, so I assumed that was yet another thing from my native North America that I miss out on by living where I do, far away from my native shores...
Imagine my surprise when I first started looking into foraging locally last year and found out that nettles DO grow in my country, and that they've been used by the indigenous people in my region as a food source for ages. (Nettles grow on every continent in the world.) I saw some pictures, and kept my eye out, but I never was able to spot that elusive plant.
Oh well.

One day though, I was in town, and poking between the fence of a yard, I saw a plant that I thought was nettle, but I wasn't sure. It had been months since I'd last seen a picture of nettles on a foraging blog, so I called up a friend and asked her to search Google for a picture of stinging nettles and then describe to me what they looked like.
"Green leaves on an upright stem, with each leaf having toothed edges. " Ok, that seemed about right, but how would I know for certain if that really was stinging nettle?
By it's sting!
I rubbed my finger over the leaves and- oh boy- did I get a sting! No doubt about it, that was stinging nettle I had in front of me.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Brown Rice Mushroom Risotto Recipe (Dairy Free)

The first time in my life I ever had risotto was approximately a month ago. In fact, I don't even think I knew what it was until shortly before that. Risotto is a terrific comfort food, soothing for the stomach, warming the heart, and just tasting superbly scrumptious.
Risotto is generally made with cheese, but since I'm dairy free, I've discovered how to make it cheese free and still totally delicious. Risotto also generally calls for white wine, but I use my own homemade red wine for it and it tastes terrific. If you want to make it without wine, you can also do that. If you want to make this vegan, just replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Its a very versatile recipe, fortunately! If you want to adjust the flavorings and add other veggies to it, like butternut squash or pumpkin, you can do so as well.
Rissoto is usually made with white rice, but this is how you'd make it healthier with brown rice. To make the white rice variation, the instructions need to be changed a drop- I'll include that variation at the bottom.

Brown Rice Mushroom Risotto Recipe (Dairy Free)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Great Swaddling Debate

I swaddle my kids. Well, I never swaddled Lee, but I swaddled Ike until he was at least 9 months old (longer than the standard recommended 6 months because he really enjoyed it) and I swaddle my new baby, Anneliese. I posted a picture of my little Anneliese on Facebook and got a concerned friend sending me an article about why it may be a good idea to reconsider swaddling her, as swaddling can be problematic.

I looked at the source of this article, Mothering.com, and I have to say I was quite surprised to find it there, as Mothering.com is a green, natural parenting, attachment parenting site, and I usually agree with most of what I read there, as it generally goes hand in hand with my views on how to live a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sardine/Tuna Casserole Recipe- (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

This recipe is one I based off of a recipe from my friend, Josephina. It tastes pretty terrific, is filled with protein of all different types, is full of calcium and many different vitamins and minerals, and in general, packs a powerful kick nutritionally. (Now that I'm dairy free, I'm always looking for a good source of calcium; sardines are a great one.) There's also the added benefit that it's really easy to make, which is why that's what I whipped together to serve my family for lunch.
And oh, did I mention that its gluten free and dairy free (but you can easily make it with gluten and dairy if you're so inclined)? And yea, casserole is a misnomer, as this doesn't require an oven- it's made entirely on the stovetop.

Sardine/Tuna Casserole Recipe


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
April of The 21st Century Housewife
and
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen,


Last week I didn't post the Hearth and Soul blog hop because I had just given birth hours before, so you'll have to wait till next week to hear my picks from this week...


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)




Monday, January 2, 2012

A Common Breastfeeding Issue and Tip to Deal With It

As the mother of an infant, two of the most money saving things I do are cloth diapering and breastfeeding, because food and diapers are things babies go through very quickly, and the expense for formula, bottles, and diapers can add up very quickly.
I've successfully breastfed 2 kids until 19 months; neither of them has ever tasted a drop of formula in their lives, despite having an issue or two or three at the beginning of nursing each one of them, and I've fortunately had a decent start to nursing this time around. While I realize that every woman's body is different, that some people either don't want to nurse or their bodies are incapable of providing enough milk for their baby, or don't nurse for a variety of other reasons, I've learned a trick or two about successful breastfeeding from lactation consultant friends of mine that I wanted to pass on, because it may help some women who want to nurse be able to have a successful nursing career and hopefully save themselves the tremendous outlay that formula feeding would entail.

I've had friends tell me that they'd love to nurse, but their babies are still hungry all the time, that they're fussy, and that it seems that they don't have enough milk to satiate their babies. I've heard other women say that there is something wrong with their milk, that they have only “skim milk”, and that causes their babies to not gain enough weight, so their doctors recommend giving their kids formula to fatten them up.
Yes, there are women who don't have enough milk, and women that their babies do need supplemental bottles of formula in order to thrive, but this isn't about them. Usually, when I talk with these friends, I ask them why they think they don't have enough milk, or why they think their milk is “bad”, and they elaborate for me why they think that.
Then, I asked them a question that often clarified for me that most likely what they thought about their milk supply was not only incorrect, but was actually the opposite of what they assumed, and it was a problem that was easily correctable, and there generally was no need to switch to formula.

Because this has happened to me so frequently, I felt the need to share this information with all you readers, so that it can either help you have a successful nursing career, or so that you can encourage other people who think there is a problem with their milk or their supply, and they feel like they have no choice but to give up nursing. I have to point out that I am not a lactation consultant; if you're having issues with nursing, don't rely on this post alone to help with your nursing issues- please pay a visit to a lactation consultant.

What was this question I asked that would often clarify everything?


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