Monday, January 29, 2018

DIY Wool Dryer Balls

Materials Needed:
-100% wool (I found mine at the local thrift store for <$1 for a HUGE ball - win!)
-tapestry needle
-old panty hose (cut off one of the legs)
-washer & dryer

How to:
1. Wind the wool into tight balls roughly the size of tennis balls - I made three.
2. Knot and weave the end into each of the balls using a tapestry needle.
3. Put each ball into the old panty hose, tying a knot between each ball.
4. Wash on HOT HOT HOT. Dry thoroughly in the dryer. Repeat to ensure wool felts.
5. Remove from panty hose (you might need to cut them out).

I use these in the dryer every time I dry our clothes, linens, etc. I add 10-15 drops of essential oils if I am looking for a specific scent (i.e. lavender for our bed linens), but otherwise just use them plain. I have used them several times a week for almost a year now, with very little wear (other than the attempted "pruning" my two-year-old did TO them with some misplaced scissors - but I just weaved those ends back in!) These replaced my Norwex balls which had cracked outside of their warranty period, and prior to that, replaced dryer sheets!  They were SO easy to make!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Homemade Fish Crackers

Tomato soup just isn't the same to a three-year-old without fish crackers. 

On a whim, and after seeing them on Pinterest, I thought why not give homemade fish crackers a shot? 

I used this recipe as the basis for my experiment. 

But then I had to tweak it. 

Originally, we began with eliminating GLUTEN and DAIRY from my daughter's diet, so we started with shredded SOY cheese, margarine, and GF Flour (we LOVE President's Choice GF flour!).

The result was amazing! My daughter was thrilled with her crackers...

...unfortunately soy ended up being a trigger for an upset tummy, so we had to change our cheese... but it was a start for making "normal food" for her. 

Low FODMAP/GF Homemade Fish Crackers:
8oz shredded cheese (we use Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds)**
4 T. margarine, cubed
1 cup President's Choice GF Flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 T. cold water

Pulse everything (except water) together in the food processor until the dough resembles coarse sand.
Pulse in water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Remove dough from the processor, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes.
Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes.
Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until crispy. 
Makes approximately 7 dozen crackers. 

**While cheddar cheese is allowed in the Low FODMAP diet, we haven't introduced it back yet because of her history of dairy intolerance. 

Labels, ingredient lists & FODMAP foods

As we continue down the path of figuring out what our daughter can eat, a friend who happens to be a dietician recommended checking out the FODMAP diet. I had no clue what she was talking, along with most others I talk to... But after researching and starting to follow it, it feels revolutionary. I'm not blindly and randomly trying different foods. I have a set of guidelines to work with (works well for the upholder that I am!)

But goodness. I used to think I was good at reading labels. Ha! Companies are very, very tricky...

For instance, while looking for snack options - I realized many would be out because of glucose-fructose.... but, I thought I'd be safe looking at snacks such as SunRype's Fruit Source bars. But, the Strawberry bar (a fruit allowed on this particular diet), surprisingly, the first ingredient is NOT strawberry, but rather "apple puree".  Strawberry "concentrate" doesn't show-up until after apple, pear, and elderberry.

And while Larabars are so healthy, dates are a definite NO on the diet. 


So homemade it is!

Want to know more about the Low FODMAP diet? 
Check out the Monash University website. There are LOADS of other resources out there as well, but this is a good starting point as they are the originators of the diet. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Restricted diets & Crunchy/Granola moms

I have to admit, I used to laugh (and possibly roll my eyes a little) when I would overhear conversations about homemade (fill-in-the-blank).

Whether it was homemade detergent, homemade clothes, homemade granola ... Or ... You get the picture. (The irony is not lost on me - I make my own bread and buns and pizza dough. But I think it tastes better;)) 

Enter my firstborn. Until recently we've let her eat anything. While nursing, she was dairy intolerant, but she seemed to grow out of it around 6 months (she no longer screamed bloody murder when I consumed dairy, much to my sweet relief!) She didn't exhibit the normal signs of food intolerance when she was beginning solids - no rashes or hives, and all that I can remember was her throwing up some oatmeal cereal, but I attributed it to her eating too much (she kept asking, so I kept giving!)

But recently, we've noticed more tummy issues (I'd rather not get into them on the blog, but you can ask me), and we decided, with her Doctor's blessing, to attempt some "elimination diets" - specifically Gluten and Dairy.  The signs of improvement we've seen keep spurring me on!

Although we live in a small town, our choices aren't too limited in the gluten and dairy-free department. There are several options for crackers, breads, etc.  As you can imagine, I am so very thankful!

But, a certain three-year-old who has enjoyed an unlimited diet to this point, is having some struggles with not being allowed to eat what her sister can. And so we've been working on some replacements for her!

I can now chuckle at myself ... I'm becoming one of those crunchy mommas who even has homemade FISH CRACKERS to keep the little miss happy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Blogging during Stolen Moments

Once upon a time ... Before I had children ... I used to follow a blog, Cooking During Stolen Moments.

Frankly, I didn't get it. I was a university student and then a teacher. I didn't understand how stay-at-home moms and work-at-home moms didn't have oodles of time to spare. After all, they didn't have to leave the house if hey didn't want to, and children amuse themselves and babies sleep all day... Right?

Yup. Slightly delusional. 

Now, momma to three, I have a new appreciation for those Stolen Moments, and moms everywhere, working or not, because growing and shaping a human being is hard work. And multiple little humans? Well, it's like a circus!  "Those moments" can be hard to come by.

If I were to track the number of minutes a day I spend nursing, preparing meals,  changing tiny bottoms, supervising getting dressed, eating meals, cleaning up, etc... I log HOURS. 

So for now, in the midst of the crazy, I'm utilizing my Stolen Moments, or The Fringe Hours, as Jessica Turner coined the usage of the "extra" minutes. So for now, photography (my job), blogging (my vent) and  reading (my adult "conversation" and escape) are how I'm choosing to use them.

In my quest to balance this crazy life, this book has helped me to corral my minutes and be more effective in my day-to-day life!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

a spoonful of sugar

That a spoonful of sugar
Helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way!
--Mary Poppins


As a child I loved the magic of Mary Poppins - if only I could snap my finger and my room would clean itself or slide down (or up!) the banisters in my house....or jump into chalk paintings.

...but now as a mom, I'm beginning of appreciate the wisdom of that super nanny! 

A spoonful of sugar ... The element of fun ... In what I need or want my kids to do.

Finish supper? Maybe a train or an airplane or even just a funny face "ahhh" achieves far better results than nagging.

Clean-up toys? Let's see how fast we can do it! Or... Race against each other... Or a quick basketball game using the toy box as our net...

My kids LOVE it when I play games with them and when it comes to the mundane - like bum changes, hair washing and eating veggies... The more I can play, the better!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

of mysteries and the English countryside

I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I grew up in my pre-teen years.

Carolyn Keene hooked me on reading and taught me to love a good mystery. I'm not into the gruesome or overly "scary" mysteries, but a good plot with a few twists, one that leaves me mulling over the clues while washing the dishes, or changing diapers! They also can't be predictable - my tastes have come a long way since those early days, yet I am forever grateful for the trajectory her novels provided.

Fast-forward a decade and enter Kate Morton's books.

I first read The Forgotten Garden on a trip to Phoenix a few years ago. After a drought of reading (reading for school frequently left me NOT reading for pleasure) I fell in love with Morton's writing - her mysteries laced with romance, set in the English countryside, in houses of long ago. The romantic in me who fantasizes life in castles (without the paparazzi) devours these sorts of stories.

I've since read The Forgotten Garden again, and also her other books - though I felt disappointed by some of them, I did thoroughly enjoy the twists and turns of The Secret Keeper and it became my #2 favourite of hers, until this week when my name was up for her latest, The Lake House, from our local library.

Oh it's good. So very good. I love how brilliantly self-aware the novel is too - as an English teacher, who LOVED giving my students meta-cognitive pieces, telling them to THINK about their THINKING.  I love how the characters themselves delve into the how-tos of a mystery, as the mystery novel unfolds.

Before I even started reading the endpapers pulled me in:

Exquisite.  They make the book feel even more luxurious as it whisks me away to Cornwall in the 1930s.... 

I'm having a tough time putting it down.  And I'm constantly craving a good cup of English tea accompanied by some scones and jam. mmm.