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Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting to Knooooow Youuuuu...

I'm really hoping that you were singing along with Anna's song from "The King and I". Nothing gets you spanked back into blogging like being nominated by a friend for a getting-to-know-you blog game! Here's the deal...I give 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions, and pose 11 more questions to 11 new bloggers (people with 200 subscribers or less). Here we goooooo....

 My 11 Random Facts
1. I have an extra vertebrae in my back.

2. I am missing 8 permanent teeth because my mouth is so small. (I know...hard to believe).
3. I moved 9 times before going off to college. The farthest move was from Dallas, TX to Warsaw, Poland.

4. I took banjo lessons when I was 16 years old.

5. I can never be tempted with any type of chocolate cake, brownie, lemon dessert, or coconut dessert. Nothing is more depressing than thinking you are being served vanilla cake with vanilla frosting (the best!!) and it turns out to be lemon! 

6. Before marriage, I had one brother. After marriage, I had one brother, ten brother-in-laws, and eight sister-in-laws.

7. I've never been camping. (Unless you call living in a 5th-wheel trailer full-time "camping" :)

8. My very first music pastor was Fernando Ortega.

9. My very favorite shoes to wear are my brown Sanita clogs.

10. My hair grows in a darker shade when I am pregnant. Right now, my hair has four horizontal stripes in it, each about 3 inches long, alternating light brown and dark brown. I literally look like a racoon.

11. I was on a homeschool golf team in highschool.

Answers to "Learning To See" (Susanna Hindman) 
1. Are you a reader? If so, when did your love for reading begin and with what book?
I LOVE to read. I prefer a book over a movie or TV anytime! My parents read to me TONS as a little girl. I remember Dr. Suess and Goodnight Moon. However, I think I really started to love reading when I started series like The Chronicles of Narnia and Anne of Green Gables.

2. What is your favorite landscape? Sea, mountains, beach, city?
I really love the South. I've traveled throughout almost all of America, and there are many pretty places, but I love the greenery, the hills, and the beauty of the South. I think eventually I would love to live somewhere that's not in a crowded suburb, but also 5-10 minutes from Target. ;)

3. What is your favorite way to travel? Plane, car, bus, boat, train, bike, by foot?
Definitely NOT by Ford-350! ;) I prefer plane travel when we are with the babies--it's easier when they don't have to be confined to a carseat. But, I would LOVE to do a cruise one day. ;)

4. What is your favorite app and why?
I love the Desiring God app. Ones like Facebook and Pinterest are automatics as far as usage. But I love the accessibility of sermons and biographies that Desiring God offers. God has definitely used John Piper in my Christian growth!

5. What is the one home-cooked meal you turn to when you're under time pressure?
Probably breakfast for dinner! :) Eggs, bacon, and biscuits! (the pre-made type of course ;)

6. What is the one thing in your home that *must* be organized for your sanity?
Well, seeing as my entire house is 38 feet long, I feel like EVERYTHING needs to be that way or else I go crazy! :) But I've definitely noticed that having the bed made makes a HUGE difference. It's approximately 1/4 of our whole house, so if THAT is messy, I feel like my whole life is messy!

7. If you could learn any language what would it be and why?
Definitely Spanish--I think its uses in ministry in the US are boundless!

8. What is the one skill you hope to perfect?
Folding fitted sheets! :P Was reminded of that today! ;)

9. Describe your fashion style in three words {e.g. vintage. neutral. soft.}
Mommy. Cotton. Loft. ;)

10. Are you a morning person, night owl, nap enthusiast, or a survivor with alternating routines?
Definitely a night owl--but almost by necessity! We are in church every night till 8:30 or 9, and with kids who go to bed at 10-ish, I have a lot to do before in the evenings before I can hit the hay!

11. Fess up. Are you a Downton Abbey fan. If so, what's your reason for watching?
My family actually started watching Downton Abbey when it first came out...way before I saw everyone talking about it on Facebook. :) But I guess I'm not a true fan, because I haven't seen season 2 yet! We rarely have internet access in our I guess we are gonna have to rent it sometime! :)

Now I tag...

My 11 Questions for YOU!
1. If you were given 1 million dollars, and you had to spend it on YOU, what would you buy?
2. What is your favorite household chore to do and why?
3. What was the WORST outfit you remember wearing in elementary school?
4. Who is the most influential person in your life (living or dead, personal friend or someone you've never met)?
5. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what 5 items would you wish you had?
6. Who is your favorite blogger to read?
7. What is your idea of a perfect day?
8. If you could recommend one book to the average American teenager, which book would that be?
9. Given unlimited resources, what is one thing you would like to accomplish in your life?
10. What was your favorite toy as a child?
11. If you were given a gift card to a restaurant with enough money on it to eat there every week for the rest of your life, which restaurant would you pick?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Homemade No-Grate Laundry Soap

(Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here's a post I typed up a few days ago to share with you all--I thought I would share it even though I didn't THINK anyone would be making laundry detergent on Thanksgiving! BUT when my laundry room door opened during our travel day yesterday and my full gallon of detergent fell out into my trailer--Thanksgiving suddenly became a day to also make detergent. Hope you can use this recipe! I have enjoyed it! :) 

   You may have seen from my Facebook status a few weeks ago that I was looking in to making my own laundry detergent. Like I said in my last TT post, I am cautiously treading into the waters of DIY cleaning products. I have such faith in Scrubbing Bubbles and Tide, but my wallet is slowly convincing me that maybe I can make something that works just as well, if not better, than the store bought stuff.
   I started doing the research. I read lots of lots of recipes on blogs, and the hundreds of comments that followed. I decided to try this recipe for "No-Grate Homemade Laundry Soap" from One Good Thing by Jillee (really like her blog!)
   So far, so good! My favorite things about it are obviously that I don't have to mess with bars of soap, whether that's grating or food processing. Yes, it may be a little bit more expensive to use Dawn, but its worth it to me. I have very limited space to store supplies, and since I already use Dawn for alllllllll my dishwashing and some cleaning supplies, I'm set to go!
Now I do my recipe a little bit differently than Jilllee. Like I said, I don't have a lot of room to store gallons of laundry detergent, but I do a lot of laundry with two babies and a tiny washing machine. I decided to make a much more concentrated version of her laundry detergent. I only use 1/4 cup (she uses a cup). A few tips:
  • It IS very watery. That's ok! I usually add it to my top loading washer after it has filled up with water some so I know it's not just falling down into the holes. :)
  • I have also only used this on a top loading machine. So, for all your front loaders, I would read the comments before trying it. The Dawn does make it sudsey (at least for me) so I don't want you to have bubbles pouring out of your washer. :) Many of her readers with front loaders use it.
  • I only use the original, concentrated blue Dawn. As far as I know, this kind of Dawn is their "miracle product" and truly the most powerful of the line. You can try it with a different scent, but I would stick with the original blue.
  • One of the biggest things I was looking for was my girls' skin reaction to it! I have been using All Free and Clear since Evi was a baby cause I would see tiny red bumps all over their faces and bodies if I used anything with scents. They even get the bumps sometimes from people holding them with scented stuff on their clothes! So far so good...have not noticed any reactions in the past two weeks. If I do start to see bumps, I am going to make a separate batch using Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Baby Soap in the place of Dawn.
Ok so here is my concentrated version of her recipe!
Adapted from "One Good Thing by Jillee"

  • 1 gallon (16 cups :) boiling water (I boiled mine in an electric kettle, but you can just do it in a 2 gallon pot on the stove
  • 3/4 cup Borax
  • 3/4 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Original, Concentrated Blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid

  • Add Borax, Washing Soda, and Dawn to the boiled water in a pot or large bucket that can handle very hot water.
  • Stir to dissolve the powders.
  • Depending on the container you will use to store the liquid, you may need to let it cool off. You can throw a towel over the top and stick it outside (it's cold here! :) or in the fridge. I bought a thin, 2.25 gallon plastic container from Walmart, and you will need to let it cool before putting it in something like that (learned the hard way.)
  • And you're done! I would use the lid of an old detergent bottle to measure it out. Sometimes with a fresh batch, I need to shake the jug some to mix the ingredients again (the liquid should have a very slight blue tint to it)

At home in my cozy laundry "room" :)

Try it out! I've recently used this detergent to wash blankets, sheets, and stuffed animals that had been thrown up on--they came out great! I think that detergent like this may not work for you depending on the type of water and washer you have--but it's worth a try! I'm enjoying it so far and LOVING how much money I'm saving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tools to Fight Unbelief

   I think that for anyone that is saved at an early age, grows up in a Christian home, or lives a protected, sheltered life, there comes a time when that person must truly decide that in the midst of hard times, they will cling to Christ. All of those things (the early age, home, etc) are blessings, but I think that sometimes they make the Christian life "easy"...and when something hard comes, you must again choose to believe and continue believing the promises of God. Sometimes this comes in the form of the death of a loved one, a disease...but sometimes, it's just that life gets so hard, you have no other motivation to keep going except for God.

   I will try to go into my own spiritual journey in depth later, but let's just say, that as a sheltered, protected, "good" kid from a Christian home, life got hard enough this past year that I had to struggle through questions about God, about faith, and whether I would choose to submit myself to Him, or if I would continue to fight to live a comfy, easy life.

  There are three things that help a believer fight unbelief. God's Word, prayer, and the preaching of God's Word. You must submit yourself to these if you are going live the Christian life. Here are some resources that I've found helpful in fighting for faith.

2 Corinthians 4
Hebrews 11-12
Meditate on these Scriptures. You may not feel like believing or agreeing with them now. But take God up on His promise that He will sanctify you with His truth, and that His Word (the Bible) is truth.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller.
   If you are having questions about God, please read this. He is the pastor of a very large church in NYC and has counseled many, many young people who want proof for God. Although salvation is ultimately a matter of faith, maybe the Biblical answers to these real-life questions can bolster your own faith or provide answers for a loved one who is searching.

Battling Unbelief Series by John Piper
   All sin is rooted in unbelief. This series is excellent in going through the ways our unbelief manifests itself and how we can fight for faith. I would encourage you to listen to all of them--even the ones you may not think apply to you.

Spiritual Depression by John Piper
   Closely connected with unbelief is a feeling of depression, of failure in the Christian life. This sermon has been a blessing to me over many years. It's ok to sometimes "feel" like God isn't working or that He isn't long as you follow up those feelings with truth from God's Word. David displays this in Psalm 42, which is the passage this sermon is based on.

Finding God by Tim Keller
   When I listened to this sermon, I was on the brink of giving up on Christianity and God. I just didn't see God working in my life--I was angry and bitter at Him for things He allowed in my life. This sermon was perfect for me! I listened with my mouth open at how applicable it was. I think this is the truth the Lord used to slowly turn my heart back to Him.

Well, this was just a quick pre-dinner post for anyone who may be struggling. You are not alone--all Christians MUST choose daily in their hearts to believe the promises of God. But it is your choice. You may not FEEL like or WANT to pursue God. But you must. Even if you never ever feel like you love God, like you want to obey Him, or like you love Him, would it not be better to spend 70 years obeying God and fighting for faith if it means the rest of eternity in His presence? This is the question I asked myself. And I answered yes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Best of Pinterest: Main Dishes

First of all, I'd like to say that I went and made a blogging schedule to keep myself writing all the way through the new year. Will I stick with it? We will see. :)

One of the series I will randomly be doing is the "Best of Pinterest", where I will link you to recipes, ideas, and pins that I have personally tried and approved of!

Pinterest has been such a blessing! My husbands teases me because it is usually my wind-down from the day hobby. After putting the kids to bed, cleaning up the trailer, and showering, I usually lay in bed and browse pinterest or read things I've pinned. And I have found SO MUCH helpful material on there. That's part of the reason I want to keep blogging--because other bloggers have helped me so much (both in the practical and spiritual realms of every day life).

So, here are five recipes that I LOVE using for a main dish for dinner. I will give a quick run-down of each one after I give you the link.

Main Dishes

1. Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken and Easy Fried Rice From Life as a Lofthouse blog

I'm sure you've seen this one floating around Pinterest. Well, I've made it several times and we LOVE it! All I have to do is add that sesame oil to the pan for the fried rice, and my husband tells me over and over again "Wow, that smells so good!" It's minimal clean up (and this coming from someone who lives in a trailer with no dishwasher and a tiny sink!) if you use the same skillet (I use an electric skillet) for the chicken and then again for the rice (I don't bother washing it in between). You may not have all these ingredients, but once you get a lot of them, they will last you quite a few meals. I wish I'd had this recipe when I craved Panda Express my whole pregnancy with Cosette!

2. Quinoa and Black Beans
From All Recipes

Quinoa and Black Beans Recipe
This has been a GREAT dish to make for our family with a picky toddler. Thankfully my daughter loves it! She is just now at 21 months beginning to really eat meat, so I always worried about her protein intake. But, she would down quinoa, and there are so many great ways to make it! I used chicken broth instead of veggie. This freezes really well--make a batch and freeze in quart size baggies for instant toddler meals!

3. Slow Cooker Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken
From Six Sisters' Stuff
This is a great one for a busy day. You can have the rice ready to go in a rice cooker (wonderful invention--but add a tablespoon of oil to it before you cook to keep it from burning on the bottom!) and serve a great oven roasted veggie on the side. (Try broccoli cut into small pieces, tossed on a pan in olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper, and baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes--YUM!)

4. Beef with Snow Peas 
From Pioneer Woman
Ok, this is not really a recipe I've discovered via Pinterest, as my mom and I are avid Ree-fans. BUT, I do have it pinned to my main dishes category so I can find it when the flank steak craving hits. Flank steak is a beautiful piece of beef. I love it, thanks to PW. Do use the low-sodium soy sauce, though. Just a friendly tip. ;)

5.Mini Chicken Potpies
From Quick Dish Recipes
Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes
Not the most homemade or economical of these dishes, but great for toddlers and husbands, and quick to whip up, especially when you use canned chicken!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Homemade Scent-free Baby Wipes for Sensitive Skin

Ok, let's first establish a few ground rules about my DIY recipes...
-I am not an "all green products" girl. A lot of the recipes I'm using ARE but some are not. If you are, you are welcome to tweak the recipe to suit your needs.
-I am a very busy person on top of all my mom responsibilities, so I will never post anything that hasn't saved me a considerable amount of money by doing it. Most of these processes are very quick and easy, too. No hand-crocheted diapers here (no idea if that is even legit but it just sounds like something that would take too much time to be worth the money ;)
-I LOVE to clean. Like, adore it. When I need time alone, my husband knows to take the babes so I can scrub our trailer from top to bottom. It's my de-stresser.
-Most of these recipes will require minimal storage space of ingredients, as I DO live in a pretty small space. So expect them to use a lot of the same ingredients!
-Last...I will only post recipes that I have been using and found to really work! One reason it's been hard for me to do my own cleaning products is cause I REALLY want to know things are clean and I usually trust a name brand. But, at this point in life, Tide laundry detergent is not an option, so homemade we go! ;)
Homemade Scent-free Baby Wipes for Sensitive Skin
I originally avoided making baby wipes because it seemed impossible to find things for sensitive skinned babies that was worth spending the money. I dunno about little boys, but my little girls are extremely sensitive *down there*. They get rashes easily, and I can't give them bubble baths because of UTIs. I have always just used Kirkland's sensitive baby wipes from Costco but wanted to try making my own. I did a lot of reading, and combined info to develop my own recipe that works. See the very end for helpful tips that I have discovered along the way.
1 roll paper towel (only recommended brands that I have seen are Bounty and Viva..the rest are too thin. I use Bounty)
Rubbermaid containers (I use a combo of 4 Rubbermaid 6 and 6.2 oz. Four, so I always have three empty and clean when I need to make more wipes, but am not quite finished with the last container).
2 cups boiled water, slightly cooled
1 T witch hazel
2 T pure liquid Castile soap (I recommend Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Mild)
1 T organic coconut oil
2 drops pure tea tree oil
2-3 drops pure eucalyptus

-Measure out 2 cups of boiling water into a glass measuring cup.
-Add all ingredients, stir well. (May take some time for coconut oil to completely dissolve.)
-Cut a paper towel roll into thirds using a SHARP non-serrated knife. (The roll will shred like crazy if you use serrated OR if your ceramic knife has a slight nick in it...personal experience ;)
-Fill each container with enough of the water mixture to cover the bottom.
-Place the paper towel cut side down in each container.
-Pour the rest of the mixture over the tops of the paper towel.
-Cram the lids onto the containers and turn them upside down to get soaked for ten minutes. Sometimes I use rubber bands to keep the lids on until the paper towels shrink and soften.
-After a few minutes, pull the cardboard piece from the middle of each wipes roll and pull your first wipe up from the middle!
We have loved these so far! If you're an information-junkie like I am, keep reading for more tips or observations from me. But here are your very own scent-free, homemade baby wipes!

Additional info:
-If you can find the right container, you only have to cut the towels in half. I haven't been able to find any rubbermaids big enough at a reasonable price, so I do mine in thirds to fit containers I already have.
-Some people make these with just baby shampoo, baby oil, and hot water. However, like I said before, my girls have really sensitive skin, and have you looked in the aisles for scent-free baby shampoo or oil?? The Dr Bronner's is reasonably priced for how little you actually use of it (and you can also use it in homemade laundry detergent for babies who need unscented detergents!) You could substitute a lot of different oils instead of coconut...I first tried olive oil, but it left a really funky smell on our fingers after we used them. Then I tried no oil, but they were a little too rough and harsh. This brand of coconut oil can be found at Walmart! The witch hazel is an antiseptic and helps prevent diaper rash. The tea tree kills bacteria and keeps mold from growing in the wipes (also using boiled water keeps this from happening). The eucalyptus just adds a nice scent to help with the overpowering smell of tea tree oil. ;)
-These also make great wipes for hands, make up removers, etc.
-Like I said, this is just a recipe I've discovered for us and our circumstances--it may cost a little to get the items at first, but all these things are ingredients I've been using in other things for the home. And it's nice to be able to make a batch whenever you're running out to keep from having to go to the store!
-Comment with any questions or things that have worked for you!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why I'm going to keep blogging...

As you may have noticed...I haven't blogged in a while. This whole process may have had something to do with it...

Yeah, she's pretty cute. And has a sweet personality to match. So her, along with my almost weekly lack of internet in my trailer, and my own spiritual and emotional struggles....these all may have contributed to my lack of blogging.

But I think I will come back. Pinterest and the blogs I've come in contact through it have been a HUGE help to me...posts about parenting, loving your husband, recipes, organizational techniques...all these have been a blessing and so maybe I can be a blessing to someone else.

Also I want to put into words what is happening in life right now. I don't want to forget. I want to see growth, even if it is very small. I want to be held accountable by my friends and not just think God-ward thoughts, but put them into writing and act upon them.

I'm really not interested in becoming anything popular. If no one reads, that's fine. But maybe someone out there is struggling with things I have struggled with, or is living in a similar situation, and my experience can help. Then I'm all for it.

I'm going to try to figure out if I can post from my phone, since that would help the process. But, posts to be looking for in the new Cosette and the life circumstances that brought about the choosing of her name; cooking in a tiny space with no dishwasher and one oven/microwave (all while avoiding the propane money-guzzling stove top); my struggle with depression, failure, and what I've learned from it; things God is teaching a very independent-me through being a mom to two under 2; church planting experience in Salt Lake City, the least evangelized city in the United States; funny stories; helpful tips.

That's just a few. Keep me accountable! I need to write. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Trailer Cooking--Thai

Every Sunday night, the whole team gathers in the Galkin trailer for a meal and fellowship. Christy usually prepares the food for the 16 team members, but now that I have a trailer, I've been able to help out some too! Last night I made a recipe I found on Pinterest for Hot and Spicy Braised Peanut Chicken. I LOVE Thai food, and this was a crock pot recipe, so I decided to try it. I normally find all my recipes from either my mom or I love because you can search for a dish, sort the results by most popular, and usually find a well-reviewed recipe that everyone seems to like!

Well, I spent Sunday afternoon cutting carrots, onions, peppers, and chicken. The dish served six, so I doubled it, and made some teriyaki chicken and rice for the kids and people who didn't want spicy. It was all in the crock pot, just in time to be done after the service. I came back to my bedroom to review what needed to happen after it was done cooking, and clicked on "User Reviews". I don't know WHAT I was thinking before, making a double batch of a recipe I'd NEVER tried before. Normally I ALWAYS read the reviews first. To my horror, I read ten reviews about how horrible this dish was, how it was bland and NOT spicy.

I was stuck. No time to go get something different (plus all that money wasted on this dish??) I went to my cupboard and pulled out anything Asian I could find. I started dumping in ingredients, which is not at ALL me...I normally have no creativity with recipes, and just follow them to the letter.

And, to my surprise, the dish ended up tasting ok! It definitely needed the things I added--and so I will share the recipe with you and the additions I made. It WAS super easy to just throw in the crock pot, and only took three hours to cook! It is also pretty good for you!

Hot and Spicy Braised Peanut Chicken
Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 30 mins  
Cook: 5 hrs to 6 hrs(low) or 2-1/2 to 3 hours (high)  
Stand: 5 mins
2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges

1 1/2 cups sliced carrot (3 medium)
1 small red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-in. pieces (I used chicken tenders cut up--still good!)
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel (I didn't have this, so I just left it out)
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 - 3 teaspoons red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste--and doubled it.)
4 garlic, minced
The following were my additions to the liquid sauce:
1/4  cup Sweet Chili Sauce (sold in the Asian section of a grocery store)
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil 
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas

Hot cooked rice

Chopped peanuts (optional)

Snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, place onions, carrot, and sweet pepper. Top with chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, peanut butter, lime peel, lime juice, soy sauce, tapioca, ginger, curry paste, and garlic (and sesame oil, sweet chili sauce) until smooth. Pour over all in cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in coconut milk and peas. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
3. Serve chicken mixture over hot cooked rice. If desired, sprinkle each serving with chopped peanuts and cilantro. Makes 6 servings.

So there you have it! Here's a link to the actual recipe at Better Homes and Gardens. The team liked it, but from now on, I will ALWAYS be reading the reviews BEFORE I cook something for a large group of people! :)