A Painted Piano

I mentioned on Facebook a few weeks ago that we were given a piano.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well….we painted it!

It was a pretty piano to begin with, however both my hubby and I have always thought that painted pianos just look super cool and we wanted a nice bright color pop in our living room.

Enter the paint.

We chose Pratt &Lambert’s No VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint from our local Sebo’s Do It Center. VOC’s are the elements in the paint that stink and give you a headache if you don’t have proper ventilation when painting. You know, the poisonous stuff. Don’t want none of that in my house, especially with a new baby. It was a little more expensive, but definitely worth it.

I LOVE this color!! It’s so bright and fun and cheery. It’s called “Delightful Aqua” and it is in fact, delightful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

First, the kids and hubby sanded the piano a little. It didn’t have very much of a finish on it, so we just did a light sanding with fine grained paper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then, the painting began!

Ethan got bored painting pretty quickly, but Ellie just loved it. She has a super artistic personality and really enjoys painting of any kind.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We taped off the keys and the pedals and the kids weren’t allowed to do around them at all- they had to stick to painting the sides and front of the piano.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It took two coats of paint to get it mostly covered- we did leave a few spots where the wood is peeking through just a tiny bit, for character. I would like to give it a sealing coat of wax or finish of some kind to make sure the paint doesn’t get scraped off easily and we still need to get it tuned, but it makes a very nice addition to our living room.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I love it!!!

We also still need to paint the piano bench- by the time we were done with the piano it was too late at night to start on the bench, we needed our sleep! There’s still a lot of paint left too, so  you just may see it appear on some other things in the future..who knows?

Have you ever painted a piano? Would you if you had one? Or are you a piano purist? I’d love to hear from you!

Ideal vs. Real: Home Edition

Hey all,

I thought I’d start writing about the ideal vs. reality a bit- kind of going along with my dreaming or discontent post.
Today’s subject is more light-hearted though-

Home.

Home should be a refuge, a place to unwind, a relaxing atmosphere. It also is a place to be yourself- the good, the bad and the ugly. A place of acceptance, a place of (hopefully) unconditional love.

A place that gets messier than ever imaginable. A place that I wish was clean for longer than 12 seconds. 🙂

Ideal:

This is what my house sometimes looks like:

For 12 seconds. If the kids are watching a movie, maybe it stays like this for an hour. Or if we are not home, it stays like this longer. You know, till we get home.  😉

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Real:

This. This is what it usually looks like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You get a sneak peek of the piano here…we were painting it. But other than the painting mess that is not normally there, the rest is quite common.

Three kids ages 6 and under, lots of cooking stuff from scratch/artistic endeavors/crafty inspiration/imagination based play/homeschooling will do this to your house. Every single day.

Sometimes there are an excess of library books strewn everywhere across the floor as well.

Or a fort built in the living room with about 1,000 stuffed animal dollies “camping” in and around it.

Or fossils and fossil tools spread out everywhere for paleontology study.

This is what our kitchen looks like every evening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The moments where it is clean are few and far between but you know what?

It is home.

And it is wonderfully, beautifully messy and lived in and happy and loved.

The mess is completely worth it because it means I can spend time with these guys:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To be here to see their growth and failures and firsts and kiss their hurts and feed them and make sure they learn about God’s love and our sinfulness and life’s responsibilities is worth a messy house. And for those moments where the house is clean, I just savor them and look forward to the next time. 🙂

 

 

 

Dreaming…or Discontentment?

Today I’m going to share a few dreams of mine.

Not nighttime while-you-are-asleep-dreams. Those are too weird. 😉

Like the one I had once where Star Wars Storm Troopers attacked my house and there were bombs dropping that bounced like super balls….yeah. Weird.

Not those.

Maybe instead of dreams they are more like goals…things I want to do and hope to be able to but am not sure if I can. So yeah. Dreams.

Probably one of my biggest dreams is to have a little farm.

A cute old house, a barn, a few cows and pigs and maybe sheep. I’d love room to have a nice big garden, a root cellar, a spring house (instead of a fridge). Space for the kids to run and play and get lost in the wonder of being outside.  A place for our chickens to sleep and a nice yard for them to scratch around in.

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

I want the farm to need a little fixing up, some love to get it back into shape. I don’t want a clean, new house and fancy barn. I want old, rustic, something with history and character. I’d like a place we can put our fingerprint on and make just how we want it and not be afraid of messing up with mud or dirt or if something gets colored on the walls. I like the satisfaction that comes with hard work, with knowing we made something better than it was, with our own hands.

Road Trip: Finished!

This is a farm we passed somewhere in Iowa, on our trip from Tennessee to Washington.. I took the picture from the car, hence the blurry foreground.

 

Sometimes, I want these things so badly it almost hurts. So badly my eyes fill with tears when I think about it.

Then I wonder…

Why do I want these things?

So that we can produce most of our own food and not rely on the ever-increasing dangerous industrial food system.

Because I want our children to learn the skills it takes to run a small farm, and the responsibility that comes with such hard work.

Because I like having little animal friends that follow me around everywhere.

Because I really enjoy getting my hands in the dirt and cultivating it and watching plants grow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A black bean sprout from our garden last year.

So we can have a place that our kids and grand-kids can come back to when they are grown and gather there and cultivate new memories.

So we can teach others about gardening and homesteading, and how to be more healthy and sustainable.

 

When I think of these things I wonder…

Am I being discontent with what God has given me?

I have a lovely sweet amazing husband, three amazing children and countless other blessings! We do have chickens living at my parent’s property and fresh eggs. We joined a CSA to get fresh organic vegetables. I have a nicer house to live in than we’ve ever had before and a great church family and my parents and two brothers and sister close by.

Am I being discontent with where I am right now?  

In a neighborhood with round-up saturated green lawns all around me and soil that is polluted beyond use for a veggie garden…yet literally a million dollar view of the mountains and ocean, and a beach that we can walk to! And a deck where I could container garden if I made the effort.

I wonder…

Did He put these desires for a farm in my heart or did I? 

Am I just being idealistic and trying to escape reality?

I don’t know.

 

I do know this, though: When my desire for a sweet little farm is greater than my desire for what God has for me, for our family-

Then I am being discontent. 

Then, I am making it an idol instead of a dream.

Then, I am in sin.

Because no matter where life takes me, my greatest desire should always be for God.

For what He has for me, and who he wants to make me into.

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

And the smaller details of life are insignificant compared to the all-surpassing joy and freedom of knowing Christ.

Because He is my peace.

He is my Home.

He is my life.

No matter where I end up, or what God brings me through, that is enough. He is enough.

If I get my idyllic farm someday full of hard work and the sacrifices that come with it, that would be amazing. If I don’t, I’ll get over it eventually. In the meanwhile, I try to be hopeful and stay content with where I am.  And when I fail, there’s God’s grace that can cover any sin, if I just ask Him. 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Springtime Scenes

It’s springtime!!
The weather has been improving around here lately and we’ve so been enjoying being outside without it turning cold or rainy. (Although that still happens…a lot. It is after all, Washington State. And “warm” is a relative term….to us that means more than 50F degrees.) It’s supposed to warm up to 70F next week though- I am SO excited!

I’ve been trying to have us go on walks/hikes more often, to enjoy the outdoors as well as get some exercise. Here are some pictures of a few family outings recently, and just some springtime beauty.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a walk through the woods at a local trail park

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the sunniness of dandelions against these old transformer caps!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some of my favorite springtime flowers.

 

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

 

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy springtime! 🙂

Herbal Remedy: Garlic Poultice For Treating Infections

This is such an all-purpose remedy, and so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t know about it til a few weeks ago; I just have to share it!

I just had our third baby, Olivia Jane about a month ago and as any new mama knows, when your milk comes in, it comes with a vengance. I reduced the supply to a more comfortable level using cabbage leaves, but when Olivia slept through one of her feedings, I began  to develop mastitis. (The plugging of a milk duct, which causes lots of pain, inflammation and redness, can cause a high fever and infection. Not fun at all. Especially when you’re healing up from just having a baby!)  Thankfully I caught it early and didn’t get a high fever but I did have a bit of one, was achy and tired and in pain.

My friend Kayci sent me this video and said to make a garlic poultice and put it on the affected area, so I did. And guess what? I started to feel better within 20 minutes of applying the poultice, my low grade fever disappeared within an hour and the pain was greatly reduced! I did another poultice that night before bed and the next morning I was almost completely healed up. My breast was still a little sore, but not swollen or hot like it was the day before, and I had my energy back. The day after that I was completely fine. Hooray!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and immune system boosting properties in it that makes it one of the best healing foods around. Its been used throughout history for colds, coughs, infections and illnesses to help ease discomfort and literally draw out the infection from your body. And it works! I’ve used garlic countless times, both topically and culinarily (is that a word? In food..) and it always helps heal our bodies. The best part when using garlic as an antibiotic is that it doesn’t kill the good bacteria in your body, like amoxocilin or other commercial antibiotics.

To make the poultice, I just took a couple cloves of raw garlic, peeled and diced them finely, then spread them out on a small rag. I folded the rag up kind of like a square burrito and poured warm water over it, let it sit a moment, then wrung it out and put it on my breast where it was hurting for a minute or two. That was it! If you keep the poultice on too long, the garlic can burn your skin so check it after a minute to make sure you aren’t getting a blister.  (ouch!)

The video explains everything in detail, so make sure to watch it. And you can use the poultice for colds and sicknesses too- it has so many uses! I’m so thankful Kayci told me about it!

If you use this and like it, why not spread the word and tell a few of your friends too?

A Story About Substantial Salad (and a recipe)

First: baby pictures!!

Because I can. 😉

It’s been a month since Olivia’s been born- I can’t believe it!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Time has gone so  quickly!

Here is what she looks like now:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So Cute!! She just started smiling last week, I love it!

Okay, here is a story about salad. And how I eat it and actually don’t feel deprived.

Around a month before Olivia was born, I went to my normal midwife appointment, and I had gained 6 pounds. In two weeks. Oops.

My midwife was not happy, and she told me that I needed to stop eating carbs, period. I could have as many vegetables as I liked, and lots of protein, but to stop eating carbs. I already had told her that I stay away from sugar most of the time. (except for those times I make cookies and eat like six the day I make them…but it’s organic sugar and they are oatmeal raisin cookies…they’re “healthy” right?)

She gave me the example, if we were having spaghetti for dinner I could eat some veggies with pasta sauce, but no noodles. Dang. That’s hard core.

Our family has basically switched out complex carbs in place of meat….like beans and rice, lots of beans of different kinds- lentils, chickpeas, whole wheat pasta without meat….or sometimes with meat,  but meat is so expensive because we want to buy good quality, pastured meat that we’ve cut back on the amount we eat. So…if I stopped eating carbs, what would I eat?
I was offended at first, and upset and not sure where to begin. So I started with just not eating bread.

I make my own bread, and it is GOOD. It was hard to give up, but I had been eating around 5 pieces a day- toast two or three times a day, a sandwich for lunch, toast after dinner with cinnamon sugar for dessert. I hadn’t realized how much bread I’d been eating!
Once I cut it out of my diet, I started to feel more energetic and less…puffy. Not sure how else to explain it.

I also started eating lots of yogurt and cottage cheese, and putting oats, flaxseed and chia seeds in the yogurt to bulk it up. I know some of those are carbs, but they also have fiber in them. I also still ate our normal breakfast- steel cut oats with maple syrup and milk, and I started finding veggies that I could eat instead of carbs for dinner. One of my favorites has been sweet potatoes. They make a really good substitute for rice or beans, since they are still kinda starchy but have lots of good vitamins in them and are delicious.

Then I began having salad for lunch.

I must confess, I have never been a salad girl. You know, those girls who eat salad all the time and go to restaurants and order salad. If I’m going to a restaurant, I’m ordering real food, ya’ll. I can make salad at home and don’t have to pay $7 for it when I can get a super good burger for the same price.

But after eating this for a while…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think I’m becoming a salad girl.

Although I don’t think I’ll ever order a salad from a restaurant, because we don’t really go to them all that often so when we do, I kind of splurge and get something I wouldn’t make at home.

And this salad…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This salad is more than just lettuce.

I’ve been eating it almost every day for lunch for a couple months now, and I feel like it’s my special indulgence of the day- which I get to prepare just for me; no one else. It’s so yummy and it actually keeps me full for several hours!

Here’s what is in it:

Organic lettuce or spinach or a spring mix, depending on what is cheapest at the store

Organic cherry tomatoes (non-organic tomatoes taste gross like chemicals and may be genetically  modified)

Broccoli

Cucumber

Red Cabbage

Organic raisins

Chia Seeds (protein!)

Hardboiled egg from our hens (organic, free range protein!)

Blue cheese dressing

It’s so yummy and filling! Avocado is delicious in there too, I’m just out right now. And sometimes I have a small dish of cottage cheese on the side if I’m extra hungry.

So back to the story…

I went back to the midwife two weeks later and…I’d lost 3 pounds. Lost!
Then I lost another pound the next two weeks, then didn’t gain any more weight the remaining week or so of my pregnancy.

Cutting out carbs works, man!

So that’s my weight loss plan for losing the baby weight:

Salad for lunch, very few carbs, lots of protein and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil. And I’m trying not to make cookies very often, but it’s hard when Ellie (my 4 year old who LOVES to bake) asks I just have trouble saying no. 🙂 I have been eating a few more carbs than I did when I was pregnant because I figure that the calories I burn when nursing will make up for my eating them.

So far it’s working; I’m about halfway there to my pre-preggo weight. Hopefully it will keep working! Even if it doesn’t for some reason, I’m hooked on the salad for lunch thing, and miss it when I have something else.

Are you a salad person? If so, try this salad, it’s so good!

 

Herbal Remedy: Cabbage Leaves To Reduce Breastmilk Supply

Hi!

If you haven’t guessed it already, if you’re a guy you might not want to read (or care about reading) this post. Unless you are a new daddy maybe, then you can tell your wife about this.

Anyway..

I know this may not be true for everyone but for a lot of new mamas, when their milk comes in a few days after baby is born it feels like their breasts are about to explode. I always feel like I have enough milk to feed three babies at that point; its just ridiculous!         If the thought of pumping doesn’t appeal to you, here’s another option: cabbage leaves.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It sounds weird, but it works!

Just buy a head of green cabbage -a big one if you’re well endowed 😉 -I have to get the biggest one I can find- and bring it home and gently peel off the outer leaves and stick them in your bra. This is something you can do before bed, or if you aren’t going anywhere, as it looks kind of funny. Leave them in until you feel your breasts are no longer too full, switching the leaves out every day or so. Keep the rest of the cabbage in the fridge so it will be nice and cool. I usually have to do this for two days at first, but it really depends in how much milk you have to begin with. Just listen to your body-when your breasts stop hurting and you feel like they are nice and soft after your baby nurses you are probably at a good level.

When my oldest child Ethan was a newborn, he wouldn’t nurse after the first two days and we ended up bottle feeding him with formula. It turned out that he had weak muscles in his mouth and couldn’t latch on properly, but we didn’t know that until he was much older and had a severe speech delay. He did speech therapy for a couple of years and now at 6 years old you’d never know it- he speaks super clearly. But back to the point- so he stopped nursing and I had all this milk.

Now that I think about it, the smart thing to do would’ve been pump my milk and then bottle feed it to him so he could still get the goodness of breastmilk, but I was young and a first time mom far away from family and had no clue what I was doing, so we formula fed. And I used cabbage leaves to dry up my milk.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seriously, cabbage leaves are a life-saver.  The coolness of the leaves soothes sore breasts and something in them helps your milk dry up. I have no idea why, but it works.  God obviously meant for them to be used in this way, I mean look at the shape of them! They fit perfectly over your breasts! 😉

I’ve used cabbage leaves after the birth of both my girls too, to reduce my milk supply to a comfortable level at the beginning, then as my first daughter got older and began to nurse less, I used the cabbage leaves to keep myself from getting mastitis and to dry up the extra milk she no longer needed. I’m sure I’ll do the same with Olivia as she starts cutting out feedings and begins to eat solid foods in a few months.

So, tell all your new mama friends! Just make sure you don’t dry up all your milk if you don’t want to. I wouldn’t leave the leaves on for more than a day or two. Just use common sense.
Also, tell your older kids that not everyone uses cabbage in this way. Then they won’t comment loudly in the grocery store, “Hey Mommy! There are the breast cabbages!”  as you quickly shush them and tell them that actually they are just called cabbages. Yup, that happened. 🙂

Have you ever used cabbage leaves in this way before? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Learning To Eat In Season

This spring, we decided to purchase a CSA for our summer/early fall vegetables from a local organic farm school.

I’m so excited! My hubby and I have wanted to do a CSA for a couple years but haven’t been able to financially make it work til this year.  We’ll get to experiment with veggies we’ve never eaten and try new recipes to accommodate them, which will be fun and interesting to see how it works out. I’m going to be planning our weekly dinner menu around the veggies we get instead of making a menu and grocery list and then going and getting the food we’d need to make the recipes. The thought of this kind of makes my head spin- it’s completely opposite of what we’ve been doing.

What is a CSA?  It is community supported agriculture- you pay a local farmer and they give you a variety of fresh veggies every week for a set time- like 20 weeks, from June to September.  You may be able to find farms that offer CSA’s in your area by visiting localharvest.org or by doing a Google search. It’s a good way to support your local farmers and get delicious, pesticide and chemical free produce!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m kinda stuck.

I thought I’d try to get some practice in and start this month, buying veggies and fruits that are on sale at the grocery store and trying not to buy stuff that is out of season. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I normally love making lists and planning what we’ll eat but I’m finding myself somewhat stumped this time around, trying to evaluate if what I’m thinking of making requires ingredients that are out of season or not. Maybe I’m thinking about it too deeply.

Looking at the grocery store sales paper; I had mixed feelings of what was on sale. Some things are great- like the organic oranges and lemons, but they still come from far away places like Mexico and Florida, which isn’t local by any means. Bananas are on sale, and we’ll buy them because they are cheap ($0.49 a lb!) and delicious, even though they are not from anywhere close by. And if we don’t eat them all, I can freeze them or make banana bread. yum!

Other things, like apples; are getting more expensive at the grocery store as the supply is beginning to dwindle. And honestly, apples at this time of year are not always that good- they can be mealy or over ripe and taste weird. But I love my peanut butter and apple slices and am sad that I have to wait until next fall to eat them again. Since I live in Washington, apples are always around…they just shoot WAY up in price, especially for organic ones. And paying $4 a pound is not my favorite thing to do, so we’ll probably cut back on the apples and peanut butter snacks and substitute something that is less expensive.

Broccoli is on sale, and we’ll get some of it for salads and as a side, and I like to have carrots and potatoes on hand for impromptu days of rain, which calls for chicken soup. But other than that, I’m having trouble.

So…could you help me out?

There are tons of greens that are in season right now- kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, Asian greens like bok choy. I’ll have to learn how to cook the chard/bok choy. I have no idea how to prepare them! So….if you know how to eat them and make them delicious, could you help me out and post a link or a recipe ? I’d SUPER appreciate it!

Also, I’d love to know your favorite spring vegetable and how you eat it, to give me some ideas. 🙂 Thanks!

I’m Back! And Introducing…..Olivia Jane

Hi!
So it’s been…um since November, I think, since I’ve posted anything on the ole blog.
Our family entered a season of busy-ness, and it kind of got pushed to the wayside, much to my chagrin. The good news is, I am back in the blogosphere and so excited to share what’s been going on and look ahead to spring and summer…oh my. I just love spring. And summer.
Those buds popping out on the trees…the birds singing…the fleeting sunshine that is actually warm when it shows it’s face.

The newest thing that’s happened around here is…I had a baby. Sweet Olivia Jane, born early in the morning on March 8. We pretty much are just completely in love with her. 🙂

Just a few hours old. Me, Hubby and Olivia

Just a few hours old. Me, Hubby and Olivia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One week old

Big brother Ethan and big sister Ellie snuggling with 2 week old Olivia.

Big brother Ethan and big sister Ellie snuggling with 2 week old Olivia.

So my days have been spent alternating between resting and trying to regain some sense of normalcy; so far it’s going pretty well. Having a new baby always is an adjustment period, but the kids are handling it nicely and they just love their new little sister!

Looking ahead; I’m going to be talking about CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), gardening (or lack thereof) and some herbal remedies that you can find probably in your very own back yard! Also I’ll be musing about “natural” store-bought products versus making your own truly natural ones and if it’s worth it or not to make your own. So if any of that sounds interesting, I’d love to have you follow along!