Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not Dead, Not in Labor...

My computer caught a virus and died. I think we got it from Facebook. If you catch a virus from a social networking site does that make it a computer STD?

It's actually been really nice not having the computer eating my life. I honestly can say I'm not sad the computer is still dead. I'm writing on The Hubby's laptop (okay, it belongs to both of us, but it's mostly for his use) but it's too much of a "hassle" to plug in the internet to do it very often.

I've missed blogging a lot, but strangely enough I don't miss Facebook. And not just because it gave my computer a skeezy disease. I was on there about 10-15 times a day keeping tabs on everybody and making several status updates. It was so bad that I started thinking about events in my life AS status updates. How best to compress this aspect of my life into 1-3 sentences. Sad. So I may do as my brother and sister-in-law and take an extended Facebook vacation. I can't just let go completely because that's how we're going to keep people updated on the birth. What will probably happen is we just won't set up the "real" computer and continue to use the lap top. Annoying enough to keep my off Facebook, but there when I want to blog.

The best part of this is re-discovering BuggaBoo. He's been going through a very needful phase. Once I got off the life vampire, I mean, computer, I realized that he needed me, he didn't need to learn as much patience as I wanted him too. And with fulfilling his needs I've noticed he doesn't have as many. He's actually started playing by himself, and not because I make him. He wants to. So I'm taking the next few weeks to enjoy my one-baby-life before round two. Expect to hear a lot of rambles on motherhood.

And now, I'm going outside to play because my toddler asked me to. Have a great and family-involved night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You do WHAT to Save Money?!?

My little family lives on a modest income. I am not the financial genius of the household, that title belongs to The Hubby with his super-cool budget set-up in Excel. But I do know what's going on with our finances, and we go over the monthly budget, well, monthly.

I've said this before but The Hubby grossed $33,000 last year. I made a little income from doing daycare but it all went towards student loans so I'm not really counting that. We have been asked a lot, "How do you do it?" So this post is about how it's done in our family.

First up, the normal, "easy" stuff we do to save money.

We don't buy new cars. Used cars suit our purposes very well, thank you. And we only own one vehicle at a time, and always with cash. This helps out in a lot of ways. We spend less on gas, we spend less in insurance, and we don't have a monthly car payment. Yes, we have to do a bit more repair work, but if the car lasts us long enough the monthly cost of that car can be very low.

We live in a cheap apartment. We pay $650/month for rent on a two bedroom apartment. That's cheap for around here, especially because this place is big. Bigger than the house I grew up in. And it has an attic and garage, so we can store things that help us save money (like free baby clothes). It's not the nicest apartment, but that doesn't matter too much to us. Also, we don't pay for water here, so that helps a lot.

We discuss large purchases. For our family that means anything over $15-$20, unless we use our "blow" money. Blow money is money we have set aside for ourselves if we feel the need to splurge. We budget $5/month per adult and then any money we get for birthdays or Christmas goes into our little envelopes. It's nice to have a little mad money that you're not accountable for. But everything else is discussed. We talked about buying a $45 blender for 6 months.

Now, the "Okay, that takes a little bit of work, but it's not too weird" ways we save money:

In the summer we use a clothesline 100%. This saves a lot on our energy bill. I even dry BuggaBoo's cloth diapers on the line and it's never irritated him. And the cloth diapers take the longest to dry in the dryer, 100 minutes. And I'm doing a diaper load every other day, so that is major savings. We tired drying clothes in the garage on a line this winter but the humidity made it impossible.

We grow a vegetable garden. We are super lucky to live in an apartment that has a backyard, and they let us use part of it for gardening. Our garden wasn't great last year due to various excuses, but this year it's off to a great start. We start our own transplants which does save money, even factoring in the cost of lighting. We're also able to grow exactly what we want.

We don't heat our apartment...often. In the winter the heat is primarily off. Actually, the breaker to the baseboards doesn't even get flipped on until the temperature in our house gets to 55*F. We live in sweaters. We also use a space heater in the bedroom at night because it's cheaper to run than the baseboard.

We bring reusable bags for grocery shopping. At Winco, the store we usually shop, they will give us $0.06/bag. If we use 5 bags a week that equals $15.60/year. You might not think it's worth it, but can you think of something else that saves you that much without any extra effort?

We don't throw out much trash. We compost and recycle a lot. We don't use disposable diapers. This means we only have one, maybe two, grocery bags of trash a week. We were able to downsize to a smaller trashcan and that saves us money each month. We're considering combining trash with our neighbor and dropping the cost even more.

Okay, now for the "Okay, that's really crazy" ideas. What makes them really crazy? I base it off the responses I get from other people. And these are the ideas that really help us save the money. Each strategy does not save a lot of moolah individually, but when used together it really adds up.

We use cloth EVERYTHING. This includes diapers, diaper wipes, hankies, napkins, cleaning rags and, yes, even cloth menstrual pads and cloth "toilet paper". Before you scream "EWWW!" and run away, just listen a sec. These things are cheap. Most of them I made myself from cast-away fabric. A lot of diapers were donated to us by families that don't use them anymore. And it is sanitary. I wash them in hot water, and the water is hot enough to kill germs (120*F). I use soap, sometimes vinegar, and, hello! It's a washing machine. It's function is to wash your clothes. An added benefit is in the summer when I hang them up to dry the UV rays kill everything. And, trust me, a dryer running for 100 minutes is also hot enough to kill anything. And those is much gentler on the environment. Yeah, you have to use water to wash cloth things, but think of how much water it takes to make paper or plastic alternatives? And if your baby is potty-trained from the beginning you'll still have to flush the toilet, so that uses just as much water as a washing machine. And it's not hard. Also, TMI, but cloth toilet "paper" leaves you much fresher than paper. Just saying.

We're vegan. Eating a vegan diet doesn't have to be expensive. You don't have to replace meat, dairy, and eggs with faux meat, faux dairy, and faux eggs. We eat a mostly whole food diet, and whole foods are really cheap. We recently upped our food budget because BuggaBoo is starting to eat more and I'm pregnant and we wanted to eat some more expensive foods. Our budget FOR THE MONTH is $120. And it's possible to eat very well on that amount of money, it just takes some time. Thankfully I'm a SAHM and I'm able to take the time to cook real food. No, we don't buy organic or local or what-not. While we feel that's very important that's not a priority for us right now. Right now we want to pay off The Hubby's student loans and put ourselves in a position to buy our own land and become even more self-sufficient. But because we're eating lower on the food chain there are less chemicals in our food, even though we're buying conventional. And if you're worried about protein on a vegan diet read this.

We wash Ziploc bags. Hey, I can use a Ziploc bag at least six times, often longer, which means my box of Ziploc bags lasts, hmm, at least six times longer. Which means I saves the cost of five boxes. Those things are expensive! I have found once they're frozen they don't stand up to washing very well, so we're looking into rigid plastic containers for the freezer.

We saved all of our baby stuff. I didn't think this was a crazy money-saving strategy, but apparently it is. The Hubby has had a lot of people at his work look at him in shock when he said we weren't spending any money on Baby except for the birth. You see, all his coworkers threw out all their baby stuff after the initial child grew out of it, and they had to buy it all again when the new one came. This includes cribs and carseats. We saved all of it. We also have very generous friends that gave us their baby clothes after their children were done with them so we have boy and girl clothes up through 3T. We have spend hardly any money on BuggaBoo and expect to spend less on Baby.

We don't buy unnecessary baby stuff. Let me clarify that we find these things to be unnecessary for our family. Other families have different needs. We didn't buy a crib, we co-sleep. Eventually we bought a twin bed for BuggaBoo because our queen was getting cramped. We did not buy him a toddler bed because we knew he would eventually have to get a twin. We don't buy formula. We don't buy strollers, pacifiers, bottles, breast pumps, mobiles, bouncy seats, baby swings, or baby monitors. Some of these things have been given to use, and we have used the bouncy seat. But other than that we don't use them.

We use homeopathy. Homeopathy is alternative medicine. I've been successful with treating my family with various remedies. I usually buy Boiron blue tubes, they are a little less than $9.00 for 80 pellets. You take 1-5 pellets a dose. I've decided that homeopathy is cheaper than "modern" medicine, especially for things like colds and fevers. I've noticed that homeopathy actually cure symptoms while things like cold medicine just mask symptoms.

I'm sure there's other stuff, but I can't think of anything right now. It may be the whiny toddler on my lap is affecting my though process. If I think of anything else I'll be sure to tell all ya'll about it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vegan Burn-out

So as I've previously stated I'm a vegan. I'm not the best vegan. Let's say I have vegan ideals that I strive for and I repent when I slip up.

For instance I had two Big Macs at the beginning of this pregnancy. I know that the knee-jerk reaction is to say "Well, obviously there was something in that meat that you needed for the Baby, so you ate it." I also know diet and cravings aren't as all clear-cut as that. However, if I were to not eat the Big Mac and then have something Go Wrong I would feel awful, even if the thing that Went Wrong wasn't diet related. I can deal with vegan guilt better than dealing with mother guilt.

The last two weeks or so I have been feeling vegan burn-out. I'm not sure why, however. I don't mind cooking vegan, that's not a hardship for me. Everything we buy is vegan so it's a no-brainer to throw together a vegan meal. And I'm not craving meat, dairy, or eggs, so that's not the problem either. It's not really about eating out because there are some cheap vegan options around here and some not-so-cheap ones if I want to spend the money.

And it's not about changing feelings towards animal rights. I still feel the same about how I think animals should be treated. It's not like I've changed my mind about that.

So, why am I feeling burnt out about this? I really don't know. Probably something to do with being close to the end of the pregnancy. It's so easy to blame any emotional or physical upheaval on pregnancy. Sorry, this is an uninformative post. I just wanted to put it out there that I was feeling this way in case any other veg*n did. Guess what, I'm sure it's normal.

My answer for my life is to plug away and hope that my interest in veganism will spark again. I think that's how it is for most things that are important in life. Sometimes you won't want to be with your children. Sometimes you may not want to go to work. You might not be excited about much in your life. Take a deep breath, understand the cyclic nature of humans, and stick it out if it's your true belief.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's the Final Countdown!

Yesterday marked my 36th week of pregnancy, which means I have Four. Weeks. Left. Another thing that started yesterday is contractions. No, not active labor, but pre-labor. Some may call it false labor, but these (nearly) painless contractions do an important job of toning the uterus and getting the body and baby ready for birth.

So, based on my experience with BuggaBoo I have about 3-4 weeks left of this pregnancy.

And the countdown begins...

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Last Day Doing Daycare

If you don't know I've been doing daycare the last few months. I was watching kids from two different families. One mother became pregnant and is taking time off work because of morning sickness so I haven't had her kids for a few weeks. The other family I've been watching until today. Yes, as the title says, today was my last day doing daycare.

AND I'M GLAD! Oh boy. I thought I would be okay doing it for maybe two more weeks, but I'm glad The Hubby talked me into quitting four weeks before my due date instead of two. Because I was a crazy woman for thinking I would be willing/able to do this for two more weeks.

I forgot how much pregnancy takes out of you, especially this last month. All I want to do is hunker down in my home, become a recluse, and take care of my family. Oh, and frantically clean. Yes, the term is "nesting" and I've been feeling it for weeks now. Which I'm taking to be a good sign, I never nested with BuggaBoo. And he came three weeks late. My mother actually came down and MADE ME NEST. She cruelly forced me to clean my house, saying that my son was late because I hadn't nested yet. I love you, Mom!

This time, totally different. I want to have at least a dozen loaves of bread frozen so we have a 6 weeks supply of bread. I want my house to be spotless. Now. And for all those who know me personally this is a Big Deal. Because I've never been big into having a clean personal space. Remember, dear sisters of mine, how I could have half my bed covered with junk and still sleep in it? And for those who didn't grow up with me and think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. I wish I had pictures of those days.

I'm also doing dishes about three times a day, which makes me laugh because nobody in my family likes to do the dishes. Not even my mom, even though she does do them. And I don't have a dishwasher. My new phrase of the day is, "Not right now, BuggaBoo, I'm doing the dishes." What is wrong with me? Hopefully nothing. Hopefully this urge to clean is NOT nesting but maturity and it will continue for the rest of my life. It's just a coincidence it's showing up the last few months of my pregnancy, right?

So, back to the daycare thing, I'm glad I'm done. I'm glad I don't have to feel guilty anymore about cleaning my house and not theirs. I'm glad I don't feel guilt about making my meals and not theirs. I'm glad I don't have to be a surrogate mother. Because, let's be frank. If you are watching children day in and day out you are in charge of some of their development, emotional and physical. You need to be sure they do their homework. You act like their parent, but in some ways you have to be better because you're being paid. And because you're being paid their needs come before your own child's needs, or your own body's needs. And I'm glad that's over.

I will miss these kids. I love them to pieces and they're great and it's fun having them around. They can come visit. I just can't be responsible for them right now. Some of it is I want to be mothered. I want someone to come take care of me. And if I feel that way how can I fulfill the needs of other little people? I can't.

And, no, I'm not doing daycare after the baby is born. I can't. I'm going to have a new little person in my life. BuggaBoo is going to have to adjust to this new little attention-stealer and I need to be in my best frame of mind to deal with this.

Also, I had postpartum depression with BuggaBoo. And it was not the weepy, crying, want-to-run-away kind of depression. It was the raging, angry, want-to-throw-my-child-against-the-wall kind of depression. The kind of scary depression where The Hubby had to call in sick a few times because he was afraid I was going to hurt BuggaBoo. So, no thank you, I will not watch your children with this devil lurking inside me. Because I am going to need all my strength to take care of me and my own, and I just can't help you out. As much as you may need help I cannot be the one to give it to you.

And that's just how it is.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Day in My Life

I decided to journal my day yesterday and put it up here. This is a typical yet not typical day for me.

9:30 Wake up, nurse BuggaBoo. Design clothes in my head

10:00 Get out of bed. Change BuggaBoo's diaper and dress him. Dress myself.

10:15 General clean-up, including taking care of sewing mess from previous day

10:30 Wash dishes

11:15 Pick up daycare kid from bus

11:30 Quick-soak garbanzo beans. More general clean-up. Make small talk with The Hubby. Get on the internet to get my Facebook fix.

12:40 Get garbanzo beans into crockpot for dinner tonight.

12:45 Make dough for pitas and loaves of bread. Includes grinding some split peas into flour to use in bread and kneading time. Leave dough to rise. Semi-clean the kitchen.

1:30 Read books to the kids.

2:00 Put BuggaBoo down for a nap. Be interrupted by the UPS guy bringing school books for The Hubby.

2:15 Come out of bedroom after BuggaBoo falls asleep, find that daycare kid fell asleep, rejoice.

2:20 Punch down pita dough, form into balls. Let dough rest. Preheat oven for pitas. Wash and stab eggplant, put into oven to roast for dinner tonight.

2:30 Think of an awesome blog post entitled "A Day in the Life Of Krista" and start typing it out.

3:00 Start baking the pitas while chatting with The Hubby. Eat a pita for, um, quality control! Yeah, that's it… Couldn't detect a difference from the split pea flour, which was ½ cup to 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour with a little gluten flour added to make up the missing gluten. Score! Punch down bread dough.

4:00 Welcome hubby home from school.

4:15 Punch down bread dough. Let dough rest. Start on cooking dishes while having a discussion about natural birth with The Hubby.

4:30 Shape bread dough into loaves. Freak out over appearance of weevil larva.

4:45 Save BuggaBoo from the bedroom since his nap was over. Take the roasted eggplant out of the oven (no, it hasn't been roasting this whole time, but it was a convenient place to keep it) and make baba ganouj.

5:00 While preparing baba ganouj call a friend and try to set up a babysitter for tonight for impromptu date.

5:30 Get a call from a different friend, chat while preparing garbanzos and grinding some sesame seeds for later.

6:00 Get off the phone, get BuggaBoo ready to go to the babysitter's, resign myself to not getting pretty for the date. Send daycare kid home.

6:30 Take the kid over to the babysitters, go on the date. This includes going to the video rental store to get "9", going out to eat Thai food, going to a natural food store and picking up a quart of chocolate-peanut butter soy ice cream, then heading home and watching the moving while gorging on ice cream.

10:30 Go pick up BuggaBoo from the babysitter's.

11:00 Go to bed.

So if you ever wonder what a stay-at-home mom does this should give you an idea. Hope you enjoyed a peek into my life.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sandpaper Letter Tutorial

If you've read about alternative schooling you've probably ran across the Montessori method. I'm too hurried to talk about it right now hence the link. I like a lot of the techniques used but not all, so I'm going to be adapting the Montessori method to fit our lifestyle. For example, Montessori does not place a lot of emphasis on fantasy play, I feel imagination is very important. Montessori pushes independence in a big way; one book I read recommended weaning your child at nine months. We believe in the child venturing into independence as they are ready.

However, I really do like a lot of the practices used by the Montessori method. I like how learning is acquired through structured play instead of by drilling. A lot of the "jobs" are self-correcting, meaning the child can tell for themselves if they've done it right. There's more, but my brain isn't working in that direction right now. So on with the tutorial!

Sandpaper letters are a bit like flashcards. They are letters of the alphabet cut out of sandpaper or another tactile medium and adhered to a strong surface. The child traces the correct way of writing the letter while saying the name or sound. The tactile experience along with the visual and verbal experience helps to cement the information in the child's mind. Also, it's really fun to trace a bumpy letter.

The supplies you'll need are:

Sandpaper (I bought mine at the dollar store. It's not good for sanding, but it's great for this.)
Paper for making letter templates
Craft knife with a lot of blades (the sandpaper dulls them very quickly. Don't use scissors unless you don't care that they become blunt.)
Small sponge brush
Card stock in two distinct colors
Cutting mat
See-through quilting ruler (optional)

First step is to find a font you like. I chose the actual font used for Montessori letters, I found it here. I traced the letters directly off the screen, but you can print it if you like.

The reason that I used this font is because it's supposed to help the child learn cursive writing more easily. Block letters can be hard for a kid to transfer to cursive. One thing I'm sad about nowadays is the decline in penmanship, so this is an important emphasis for me.

Next, cut out the letters. Then tape them to the back of your sandpaper face down. It's important to be sure that the stencil is face down so when the sandpaper is right side up the letter is facing the right direction. I really crammed the letters on here to save on sandpaper.

Cut out out sandpaper letters with your craft knife. I went through three blades just on this part, the sandpaper really makes them dull.

Get out your card stock and get ready to glue on the letters. The colors are *supposed* to be blue for vowels and pink for consonants. I didn't have any pink card stock so I'm using yellow. On the back of the sandpaper letter spread your chosen glue out with the sponge brush. I'm using Mod Podge because I like it's durability.

Place the gluey letter on the correct color card stock. In this case "y" is not a vowel. Space out the letters to make a decent sized flash card for each letter. Larger letters will need more space than smaller ones. You can make the flash cards all the same size. I went with economy and sized the cards to the letters.

After the letters are dry cut out the flash cards. I used a craft knife again with a quilting ruler to make straight lines. If you want to use scissors that's fine with me.

Now step back and admire your letters. Don't they look great? Try not to look at the carpet, I think BuggaBoo happened to it...

If you choose to make any I hope you show me what you did. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I've been really busy the last few days, but not much to blog about. Mostly just making sure my family is well-fed and working on a few projects. I have a couple Montessori tutorials in the works but you're going to have to wait until I can find my hole puncher.

In the meantime I wanted to direct you guys to one of my new favorite blogs, Blue Like Alis. She's proclaimed January "Stay-at-Home Mom Appreciation Month", which just tickles me down to my toes. She has some great insightful posts on being a SAHM. So check her out!

Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

*Bugged-Out Eyes*

Okay, yes, I'm back and it hasn't been a week. Go ahead and laugh.

A little preface to this post, The Hubby and I are people watchers. Some people watch birds, some are all about whales, we stick close to home and watch people. And comment on them. A lot. Our favorite hunting ground is the grocery store. I seriously think you can learn a lot about people by seeing what's in their cart. For example, I'm about able to, 85% of the time, pick out families on WIC because of what is in their cart. It's not hard, if it's full of eggs, milk, cheese, and juice you've probably got a WICer.

So I had to blog about this. Even though it is probably rude and lowbrow of me. Because The Hubby and I could not stop staring.

We went grocery shopping tonight to pick up a few staples and fresh food. The guy in front of us in line bought these items:

Ice cream Drumsticks
Three Tortino's Pizzas
Those little Hot-Pocket snack-things filled with pizza filling
A 24 pack of Mountain Dew
A 24-oz bottle of Mountain Dew
BBQ Beef Hot Pockets
A large package of cheese sticks
Lunch meat
A brick of cheese
Two or three other packets of cheese
A loaf of french bread
Pork sausage wrapped in pancakes ON A STICK
Microwavable monkey bread

I mean, holy cow! I'm sorry if this doesn't seem crazy to you guys, but all this man is living on is pop, ice cream, meat, cheese, and white flour. And a lot of fat. And I think it was doubly sad because this is what we bought:

Three types of whole wheat pasta
Dried chickpeas
Bulk garlic powder
Brick of tofu
Toasted sesame oil
Whole wheat bread

I'm not trying to have a holier-than-thou attitude about my food. It was just a bit funny to see his purchases and our purchases side by side on the conveyor belt. And, seriously, we just couldn't stop staring. Could not!

Okay, got that off my chest. You'll probably be hearing from me soon.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ironic, isn't it?

I started this blog as one of my New Year's resolutions. I resolved to make a blog and post fairly frequently, at least twice a week. So, where's the irony? I'm shutting my computer down for an unknown time to try to start up my other resolutions, and I don't know when I'll be back. So I hope I don't loose my blogging steam in the meantime.

What's that you're asking? You want to know my other resolutions? Alrighty, you ask, I provide.

1) Have a productive garden.

We are lucky enough to live in an apartment with a backyard. I know, pinch me. Even luckier? It already had a 5'x12' raised bed when we moved in. Luckiest!?! The manager doesn't mind that we tore up the edge of the yard to make even more garden space. All of this adds up to 220 square feet of garden space just in the back yard. And that can mean a lot of veggies.

But last year I was dying from morning sickness, The Hubby was embroiled in school and work, and the aphids ate everything. Oh, and the raccoons. I used to think raccoons were cute and innocent until they stole Every. Last. Blueberry. And half my plums. So raccoons are now part of the Axis of Evil.

But this year is going to be better! And we want to actually preserve a portion of our crop, especially tomatoes, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, peas, beans, and greens.

So thus starts our gardening adventure. We have a new grow table for starting transplants. Okay, it's an old changing table with three shelves and 18" florescent fixtures, but it's going to WORK! And The Hubby has spent the last few days plotting when to start everything, so we're feeling up to the challenge. Wish us luck.

2) Start a Montessori program with my son.

BuggaBoo is ready for a little more structure in his school. We really want to home school our children for at least the elementary years. BuggaBoo knows some letters, can count to five, and is really interested in matching pairs right now, so I need to sit down and put together some "jobs" for him. I'm really attracted to the Montessori way of teaching because the children are usually self-guided and learn through play.

So up in the works is making sandpaper letters, dressing frames, and file folder games.

Okay, something cool, I just learned how to do links, so yay me!

I need to get this stuff in order before Baby is born because, if you didn't know, newborns take a lot of your time.

3) Stop caring so much what other people think.

I think this is self explanatory. Actually I think it boils down to having more confidence in myself.

4) Be out of debt by the end of the year.

We have $8,000 left of The Hubby's student loans. We had about $17,500 at the beginning of 2009. The Hubby grosses $33,000 a year. I am a stay-at-home mother, but I've been attributing some income the last few month with doing daycare. I'm quitting that in two weeks and not taking it back up again after Baby is born. I am hoping to finally perfect some of my sewing patterns for babies and getting them up on Etsy for sale.

We've decided to not start saving for property until we're completely out of debt, thanks to the advice of Dave Ramsey. Seriously, check this guy out.

5) Eat healthier.

The Hubby is Type I diabetic and we do really well with our diet already, but there's room for improvement. I want to use way less fat in cooking and cut down on our already low amount of sugar.

6) Sew more.

This is one of those save-my-sanity goals. Sewing can be relaxing for me, and I like making custom clothes for BuggaBoo. Due to the fact that he's thin and cloth diapered it's hard to find clothes that fit him well, and I like the stuff I make for him better than almost any ready-to-wear thing I can get. I also want to make some more things for me, which will have to wait until after Baby is here and my body is a bit more, erm, normal. Also included in this goal is making a personalized sewing dummy for my usual body so next time I'm doing this whole pregnancy thing I can still make clothes for my post-pregnancy body.

So, what do you think? Ambitious, probably, but that's what I'm all about. What are your goals this year, and have you started yet?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Musings on Motherhood

Today BuggaBoo is helping The Hubby in the garden. They're moving my peonies to the front yard to make more room for potato towers. We're really trying hard to have a great garden this next season and the weather has gotten nice the last few days.

BuggaBoo is trailing around behind his dad shouting "Help you! Help you!" And I couldn't help but smile and feel joy in this little human. And then the doubts creep in. Am I sure I'm ready for another child? Never mind the fact that there's not much I can do about it at this point, I still thought it. I wonder if I could be happy having just one kid. And I'm not sure. The answer is probably yes, but I know I'm ecstatic about Baby. So why am I having these thoughts?

I pondered this while finishing up some pants for BuggaBoo (they needed elastic). I came to the conclusion that it's not another baby that I'm doubting, it's the complications it's going to bring. BuggaBoo has hit the point of semi-independence which makes my life a lot less complex. Well, it's become complicated in other ways, but I'm not attending to a baby every moment. Now I'm just worrying about healthy emotion development and keeping up with his curiosity and potty training.

But there are days that I crave for a newborn. For the simplicity of knowing I can answer every problem they have. For having a child that actually wants to snuggle at other times than just bedtime.

But having Baby is going to be completely different than when I had BuggaBoo. The main reason being that BuggaBoo is here already. So I can't turn all my attention to Baby, as much as I might want to. And BuggaBoo isn't going to really understand this new intrusion in his life. Case in point, he's crying right now because the cat is in my lap and not him.

But I know that Baby will come, we'll work it all out, and in about eighteen months or so I'll be ready to board this crazy ride again and add Number Three.

And I'll have the same doubts.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Introduction and How-To

Hello! Welcome to my New Year's resolution. Just a little introduction and we'll get down to the fun stuff. I'm 25 years old and have been married to The Hubby for almost five years. We have a son, BuggaBoo, who just turned two, and Baby due mid-February sometime. BuggaBoo and I are vegan, The Hubby is 98% vegan. Our family belongs to the LDS faith. We love being thrifty and creative in finding solutions to our everyday dilemmas. The Hubby has been bugging me for a while to start a blog and keep track of what I do in hopes that it could help/inspire others, so here we go!

This morning BuggaBoo and I rolled out of bed late due to the fact that it's New Year's Day and we stayed up until 1:00am. I woke up before him and as I lay there nursing him I made plans to make some new cloth diaper covers. BuggaBoo has almost grown out of his current size and a lot of his vinyl covers have ripped. I was even thinking about how best to set it up into a tutorial to make into a blog post. However, BuggaBoo had different plans…

He decided he needed some milk. He needed milk Right Now. And I was silly and didn't make any last night. So today you're getting a how-to on making nut milk from scratch and you're just going to have to wait for the diaper cover tutorial. Sorry.

Step One: Get your toddler helper.

Step Two: Gather your supplies. What you see here, from left to right, is:

Raw sunflower seeds
Raw cashews
Calcium citrate pills
Oster 18-speed blended (specific brand not needed)
Never-been-used canning lid with ring
Coffee grinder
Large bowl
Glass quart jar
Not pictured: Pan large enough to hold one quart of water and a heat-proof, water-proof glove. I use a canning glove, but a CLEAN dishwashing glove may work.

Step Three: Fill your quart jar with water. Pour the water into a saucepan and heat to a boil. Do the following steps while you're waiting for the water to boil.

Step four: Measure your nuts. This small cup holds a half a cup. It's hard to tell but I'm using a mixture of sunflower seeds and cashews.

Step Five: Put two calcium tablets in the coffee grinder. I like to put them in first so they break up more easily.

Step six: Put the nuts in coffee grinder.

Step seven: Let the toddler helper grind the nuts. He'll find this very exciting. Grind as finely as you can without turning your nuts into nut butter.

Step eight: Put the ground nuts into the blender and add about 1 ½ c of boiling water. Starting slowly mix the ground nuts and water in the blender. Be careful! You're working with very hot water to help the calcium dissolve. If you are skipping the calcium you can use just hot water. After the ground nuts are mixed with the water stop the blender and add the rest of the water. Again, starting slowly, blend the mixture. Get your blender up to the highest speed it has. Blend for two minutes.

Step nine: While the milk is blending get your cheesecloth ready to strain the milk. Also get your glove ready.

Step ten: Pour the milk into the cheesecloth-lined bowl.

Step eleven: Strain the milk. Even with my glove on the milk is very hot. Please do not burn yourself or your toddler helper. If you don't have a heat-proof glove wait for your milk to cool before straining it. I push my milk through the cloth to speed the process but I end up with a slightly gritty product. If you want silky smooth milk let it drip naturally or strain it twice. You can also double up your cheesecloth.

Step twelve: Pour the milk into the quart jar and add a small pinch of salt. Put the lid on tightly and shake it up. Use a lid that has never been used for canning. You can use this lid repeatedly, so don't throw it away. At this point store the milk in your fridge or…

Step thirteen: Console your toddler helper when he discovers you didn't buy bananas this week.

Step fourteen: Let him drink some milk!

I make my nut milk from a mixture of raw cashews and raw sunflower kernels. I'm slowly building up to using 100% sunflower seeds, but the taste is rather strong so we'll see how far I get. Using sunflower seed milk is just fine for cooking, it mellows the strong flavor. So far I use a 50/50 mixture for drinking. You can use any nut or seed to make milk. Lots of people love almond milk but I don't use them because A) They are more expensive than cashews and B) The Hubby's mom has an almond allergy, so we like to be careful.

I also add two calcium citrate tablets to the nuts to fortify the milk. Two tablets have 500 mg of calcium, or half of your daily allowance. That would mean a cup of my milk will have at least 125 mg of calcium, excluding any calcium I get from the nuts. A cup of non-fat cow milk has 300 mg per cup.

I buy raw cashew pieces at Winco (a local bulk grocery store) for about $2.80/lb. Raw sunflower kernels are $1.10/lb. I think the calcium citrate ran me $10.00 for 300 tablets, but I'm not sure on that one yet. I need to find the receipt. I use a half a cup of nuts for a quart of milk. If I used 100% cashews it would cost me $0.43/quart for the nuts and about $0.07 for the calcium, a grand total of $0.50/quart. If I use a 50/50 mix of nuts and seeds the price drops to $0.36/quart, including calcium. If I use 100% sunflower seeds the price is $0.22/quart, once again including calcium.

I add a little bit of salt to my nut milks. Why? Well, cow milk has 127 mg of sodium per cup, and if you don't add salt to your milk it will taste a bit "off". Is this bad? No, you can certainly get used to unsalted milk, which I plan on doing very soon. You may notice that I didn't add flavorings or sweeteners to my milk. Feel free to add any flavoring you want. Surprisingly lemon flavoring goes well with cashews. We just want BuggaBoo to appreciate the taste of natural food, so we don't flavor a lot of things.

Last quick note: This milk will separate in the fridge. Just shake before using. Also, if you use sunflower seeds the milk will take on a curdled appearance in the fridge. Once again, a good shake takes care of that problem.

So, let's see… Introduction? Check. Long rambly post? Check. Lots of pictures? Check. I think this post is done! Thanks for reading and enjoy any milk you make.