Saturday, August 6, 2011

Menu Plan Aug.6-12

*sigh* I just can't seem to find my motivation to keep up with blogging. Which in the summer is a good thing as it means we're busy enjoying life! I'm hoping that this Autumn, life will settle back into the comforts of routine and I'll find my blogging mojo yet again. In the meantime... I'm posting this week's meal plan!

Saturday: deep dish pizza with salad from the garden
Sunday: simple soup
Monday: moroccan chicken on Quinoa (Quinoa 365)
Tuesday: market day... Dave and kids fend for themselves. :)
Wednesday: rice and bean burritios
Thursday: breakfast for dinner (french toast)
Friday: buddha bowl (

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Tooth Powder

A few months ago my family switched to tooth powder instead of store bought toothpaste. We wanted to save money, be more self sufficient and I wanted to know exactly what we were using to brush our teeth with. Since we've been using it, my gums feel healthier and there's no weird after taste.

This tooth powder is SLS and flouride free. It's made with baking soda to gently clean and freshen breath, xylitol to sweeten the tooth powder and promote gum healing, sea salt to act as a mild abbrasive to gently clean and peppermint essential oil to reduce inflammation of the gums and freshen breath.

Making and using this tooth powder is very cost efficient. I'm guessing each batch I make costs about $1-2 where as a tube of Green Beaver tooth paste (which is what I used to buy) was $6.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Homemade Tooth Powder
Combine 2 heaping tablespoons of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of xylitol, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and about 10 drops of your favourite essential oils (I mostly use traditional peppermint but I would love to recreate Green Beaver's Cilantro Mint or do a lime flavoured one).

Store in a resealable jar. To use, place a small spoon (I use a baby spoon) of tooth powder in your palm and dip a wet toothbrush in it. Brush as usual.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Birthday Tea!

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently celebrated Parker's third birthday! Except for a balloon pump, all his gifts from us were handmade. I'm trying to keep gifts simple and not the focal point in our family's celebrations.

Along with a few other handmade gifts, I made Parker some "birthday tea". I had wanted to make fairy tea but couldn't find any hibiscus which gives the tea a lovely purple colour so I decided to mix up some kid friendly ingredients and call it "birthday tea". Parker loves to drink tea so this was something I thought he'd enjoy. As it turns out, it's not only something he likes but we like it as well.

Keep in mind that I'm not an expert in tea making! I looked up child friendly tea ingredients and just mixed them up to my liking. I purchased my ingredients from our local health food store as I didn't have any leftover dried herbs from last growing season. Always choose organic when making teas.

Birthday Tea
In a small bowl, combine a tablespoon or so of the following dried herbs:
~peppermint, clover, nettles, chamomile, lavender and lemon balm.

You can also add dried stevia but I find the peppermint and lemon balm to be sweet enough. The lavender hides the bitter taste of the nettles (which are super good for you).

I put this all into a 4 ounce metal tin and attached a fun label to it.

When ready to use, put a teaspoons worth in a resuable tea bag or a tea ball and cover with barely boiling water. Allow to steep for about ~10 minutes.

Birthday Season 2011

The weeks between April 24th and May 15th are filled with birthdays, Mother's Day and an anniversary. Busy celebratory times!

It's starts off with Ally's birthday on April 24th, this year she turned 15(!) which fell on Easter Sunday. On Saturday, Dave and I took Ally out for dinner and then we went to check out a roller derby game. It was fun and nice to do something with just her for a change. Being so much older than the little ones, she doesn't often enjoy all our family activities. But this she liked.

For her birthday gift, we finally gave in and allowed her to have her septum pierced. I don't like it but meh... I don't hate it either. I'm trying to have an open mind... she's a great kid, we talked at length about her reasons for wanting it and the care that goes into having a piercing.

On her actual birthday, she chose to have a pancake dinner which was a nice alternative to your typical Easter dinner. :)

On May 1st, Dave and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary. What a wild five years it's been!

Then it was Parky's birthday on May 5th, he turned three (again, !). We decided to do a low key bonfire complete with hotdogs and homemade marshmallows. It was lovely, everyone respected my wishes to not allow gifts to become the big part of his birthday (we had issues at Sophie's first birthday that I'm still upset about) and we ate, drank birthday tea (tutorial to follow) and had fun!

I made Parky a nature/treasure bag so he can use it on our walks to collect leaves, rocks, etc. I made it from wool felt and stitched on pieces and lined it in a rainbow fabric. I still need to attach a braided yarn strap so he can wear it though.

After Mother's Day it was my birthday and then yesterday it was my SIL's birthday.

Busy busy times. :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Homemade Natural Deodorant

I started a new etsy shop in addition to The Felted Fern called Nature's Cupboard. From it I sell natural alternatives to store bought chemical filled items such as tooth powders, playdough, hair teas (that's tea for hair!) and deodorant. I've sold a few tins of everything but the shipping is KILLING me. So much so that I don't think I'm going to sell online anymore and either just sell it locally or not at all. I can't decide.

But what I do know is that I want to share my recipes with you! Natural deodorant had me skeptical at first when I found the recipe. I have tried every single natural deodorant out there and they have all failed me. But this... this stuff works!

Make up a batch for yourself and let me know if it works (or if you're local or dont' mind paying an arm and a leg in shipping let me know and I'll sell you a tin!).

Natural Deodorant

In a small mixing bowl combine:
6 tablespoons organic unrefined coconut oil
1/4 cup kaolin clay
1/8 cup baking soda
1/8 cup arrowroot powder
Optional: you can also add a few drops of essential oil. My favourite combo is 3 drops each of lavender and peppermint e.o. So yummy!

Mix until a thick paste much like convential deodorant is achieved. Put in a tin or even an old deodorant tube. Apply a dime sized amount with fingers from tin (use as regular deodorant if using tube). I buy my kaolin clay from Island Artisan Supply. You can use 1/4 baking soda and 1/4 arrowroot or even cornstarch but baking soda has a very high ph level so many people get rashes from it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nature Dyed Easter Eggs

It's a little late to be posting pics and how-to's for dyeing Easter eggs with natural ingredients, I know. But I'm a little late for everything so really, this is just how it is. You could use this technique for dyeing all sorts of other things like silks, wool, food, etc. :)

This cup has water, a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of turmeric in it that has been boiled for a few minutes. I should have let it boil longer until the turmeric dissolved but we were in a hurry. And it washed off so not a big deal!
 This dye was made using the same method above but instead of powdered turmeric, I used a handful of frozen blackberries. Just strain before using.
 This cup of dye was made with beet root powder. You could use cut up beet pieces but I happened to have some beet root powder so I used that!
 Sophie liked colouring on her egg before putting it in the dye bath!
And here's the finished Easter eggs!

I enjoy using natural materials to dye our eggs with over the chemical filled dyes you can get at the grocery store and I felt better about my kids eating the eggs afterwards. But you don't get the instant satisfaction that you get with the store bought stuff... these sat in the fridge overnight to get this colour. It probably didn't need quite that long (an hour or two would have worked) but I kinda forgot about them. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sick again...

I never really used to get sick. Maybe once a year I'd catch something and that'd be it.

But this year, this year is the complete opposite. I blame sugar, stress and inactivity.

I've gotten so lazy with our diet, especially since we've moved and I've started driving Dave and Ally into town. I'd literally get breakfast from Timmies or Starbuck's every morning and then a coffee or a frap in the afternoon/evening. Sugar sugar sugar! All horrible overprocessed white sugar junk that is a nightmare to our bank account and even worse: to our immune systems. So no more drive through. That alone should give our immune systems a boost.

Stress has been a huge struggle for me this year. Having a third child killed my patience, lol. I get angry quickly (having a crap diet certainly adds to that too) and overwhelmed even quicker. I have a hard time with noises I'm learning. I really struggle with crowds and don't like too much visual stimulation. Having three children in the house (and one who isn't aware of their noise level) has been tough. I really need to learn to tune things out. And I also get stressed when I'm unorganized which we've been unorganized since we've planned on moving last summer. I like simplicity but right now my life feels anything but.

Both stress and poor diet with too much overprocessed sugar has led to inactivity. When I'm stressed or deperessed I have a hard time motivating myself to do anything. When the house is unorganized and a disaster, I don't want to do a single thing. I need to get over that and just go... when it's not pouring out we do get outside daily now which is an improvement but I miss hiking.

So we're no longer getting drive through and I'm hoping the easter chocolates get eaten soon (we didn't buy much but were given too much by family, I need to learn to say no to it). And I want to get outside regardless of weather, even if it's just a walk to the mailbox or to pull some weeds. I'm sure that once we improve on those things, we'll start feeling better and get sick a lot less.

But tonight, I'm drinking my vitman C tabs and vegging on the sofa.

It's been a long time....

...... I think you can always tell when life is a bit crazy with me. When I have alot going on, I don't blog. Some people tend to blog more, using their blog as a way to clear their heads and hearts, to get it all out. Not me. But I'm here today and I hope to start blogging more regular again.

So let's recap the last few months as there's been many changes:

~ we moved. this is good, very very good. We moved from downtown to closer to my oldest's dd's school. We hated it literally from the minute we moved in. It was overpriced, in a cookie cutter neighbourhood and with a difficult landlord. We broke our lease and moved to just over half an acre in upper Lantzville and we're so happy. It's bigger, more private, lots of gardening space and it's cheaper. I still dream of having a small hobby farm but for the next few years I'm very happy we're here. :) I'll post pictures another time (I'm on a new computer with no pictures on it yet!).

~ my husband's grandmother passed away. It's been sad, our children no longer have a great grandmother. Their only living great grandparent lives in Manitoba and they'll probably never meet him.

~ my uncle passed away. We weren't close but it's made me very sad for the lack of relationship I have with my family. I found out about his death through facebook and I coulnd't help but wonder if that was how I'd find out of my own father's death.

~ in happier news, we have a new cat. Her name is Tubbs. She's gorgeous, timid but very loveable. I hope she'll become good friends with our other cat, Chancho but for right now: they're not so much friends.

And my kiddos are finished in the tub and are calling my name (they're not alone, they're with their dad upstairs, fyi).. so I'll come back soon....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Remember Sophie's waldorf doll that I was making her for a Christmas gift? Yeah, well I never finished it. But.... I did finish it in time for her birthday tomorrow (yes, my baby will be one tomorrow!! *sniff*).
All I can say about making a waldorf doll is this: don't do it! It's so hard, especially because I foolishly expected it to look like the ones you see online or in waldorf shops. Next time (for Parker's birthday I think) I'll be buying a doll instead of making it again. I'll never complain again about the dolls costing up to $125 as well handmade ones from all natural materials are so worth it. :)

(I had a better picture but the server rejected it. I'll upload a better one later on... gotta go to Parker's dr's appt about whether or not he needs a cast!).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And on the flip side....

... Sophie has taken her first steps!

Picture to come soon!

Screw you 2011!

Well, as Parker's mom I say that. The poor guy caught a nasty cold that hung around for over a week. Then on Sunday we were preparing for Dave's birthday dinner and Parker was climbing the furniture as usual. Only this time he landed funny and hasn't been able to walk since. He screamed everytime pressure was put on it so I took him to the walk in (which luckily we got in right away) but Parker wasn't very comfortable with the doctor who was invading his space and he started to become very upset. Parker was able to stand at the doctor's office but I think that's just because he was so upset with the doctor he wasn't paying attention to how his foot was feeling. After 2.5 days he still couldn't walk on it so we took him to see our regular family doctor who was much more respectful of Parker's space. The doctor wasn't able to see anything wrong but it was obvious that Parker was in pain so we were sent for an x-ray where we learned that Parker has a tiny fracture called a toddler fracture in his foot. We have a follow up appointment with our family doctor on Friday and then we'll see if Parker needs a cast. :(
And then in the middle of all that I noticed Parker's front tooth was a light grey colour! A few weeks ago Parker hopped in the shower with me and fell, hitting his mouth on the rim of the tub. He cried for a long time and was in pain but there was very little blood and his teeth looked okay so we didn't worry. Now he gets to possibly have a baby root canal to fix it.
Again, screw you 2011!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Goodbye Facebook

I'm making changes in my life to be more present in the moment.

Cable was first, facebook was next.

For my facebook friends that read my blog: no, I didn't block you... :) If you need to reach me, you can through my blog or through email: or

Friday, January 7, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do!

Never had that phrase been truer than when dealing with Shaw Cable.

For most of my adult life, I never had cable. Most of the times it was due to finances but I look back on those years as quite relaxed. Most nights were spent reading but since moving in with my husband who is the biggest tv and movie junkie, I barely read. I don't really watch tv even though as soon as dinner is finished it's on until we go to bed. Usualy I do some crafting or flip through a magazine or if I can't handle the noise anymore, I go on the computer. I'm alot like Parker in that I get overwhelmed when there's too much noise going on. And having television turned on in the house makes it so that I spend most of my evenings overwhelmed with noise.

So.... yesterday we cancelled our cable! I've been talking to Dave about it since this summer but there's some shows on tv that he really enjoys and would miss so we kept putting it off. I found a way for Dave to watch these shows online and also now the dvd series of the shows come out just a few short months after the season ends on tv. Yesterday they cancelled our video on demand and on Wednesday they'll come pick up the cable box and cancel the basic cable. I was on the phone with the woman at Shaw for 20 minutes explaining why we are choosing to cancel our cable. She tried to give us all the best deals, even had it pared down to paying just $10 per month. When she heard the kids in the background she wondered what they would watch. Upon saying "nothing", she asked several times if we were sure we didn't even want the "educational" channels and tried to tell me how to still have cable but limit the amount of time spent in front. *sigh*

Not only is this saving us quite a bit of money each month (I think we're saving $65 per month not havig cable but keeping internet and phone) but I'm really hoping this helps us become a more engaged family, reduces stress and allows Dave and I to spend more quality time together.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Toddler Watercolour Art Project

Parker and I spent part of our rainy afternoon yesterday creating a hanging piece of art. A few nights ago I was reading Rhythm of the Home and came across a neat art idea.

So I mixed up some watercolours and prepped a painting space for him and away we went! He had a hard time with the scotch tape (had I used masking or painter's tape as suggested it would have been fine) so I laid the tape down. The rest was all him:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Living (and loving) on One Income

This past year has been the first time in my adult life that I've not brought in an income of some sort. As of last year we are officially a one income family and you know what? It's doable!
When I got denied EI maternity benefits last year just weeks before Sophie's birth, we were in a panic and didn't think we'd survive a few weeks without my income. It really is a shock to the system to go from expecting and having two incomes to just one instantly. No savings to stretch out, no nothing. I was totally one of those people that thought living off of two incomes was a must in our society. I cried when I "had" to return to work after Parker was born, thinking in order for our family to survive Parker must be in daycare and I must work (I was at least fortunate that Parker was able to come to work with me). And when we got that phone call, I cried even more and thought our family was doomed. After all, how does a family of 5 survive on one income? Income coming from a self-employed newish business at that!
We made changes in our spending. We learned as we went along. We made mistakes (many many mistakes) along the way. Heck, we're still learning and making mistakes but we're now confident in our choice for me to stay home with our children until they're older.
So now when I hear other parents complain that they can't possibly survive off one income and how they sob when they drop their babies off at daycare each day (I was there!!) thinking they "have" to work and they don't have a choice, I want to shake them and let them know it's possible. If we can do it, then trust me any family out there can do it too!
The biggest deciding factor for us was when we calculated how much childcare would cost and how much money I'd be bringing in. I think we worked it out to be about $400 per month that working full time would bring in. And that's not counting transportation costs, food for lunches (at home we eat leftovers from the previous night's dinner), work clothes. Financially it just wasn't worth it for us. Was being away from my children for 9 or more hours per day really worth a few hundred dollars?
There's many other changes we made too that I'll post about in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!