Sunday, November 4, 2012

1 Year a DeVol

On November 3rd, 2011 there was a little boy named Aman, no last name because he belonged to no one.
He had these eyes and this smile that melted hearts.

Then there was this family that loved him but they were waiting for paperwork to come together.

On November 4th, 2011, during lunch, Job stepped out to take a phone call.  He came back in and calmly handed Christin a note.

And suddenly Aman, no last name became Aman George DeVol, because now he had someone he belonged to.

And his Daddy and Mommy cried happy tears.

And they were clearly tired but so, so happy!

On November 4th, 2012 there was this little boy named Ezekiel Aman Sterling DeVol. 
 And he had a family.
  And he was loved.
 And they all lived Happily Ever After

Happy Forever Family Day Ziggles!  You are loved more than you can ever imagine.

Ps.  If you're feeling nostalgic you can go back and relive our trip to Ethiopia starting here:  I can't believe it's been a year!

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Monday, October 15, 2012

7 Months Old

I'm 7 months old!  Can you believe it!  I'm closer to my first birthday than I am to the day I was born. . .  

...........................{"Mom are you ok?  Mom?}.....................................................................

Sorry, just had to help Mommy.  She fainted from the shock of how old I am.  

This month has been huge for me.  Remember that whole trying to crawl thing?  I totally have that down now.  Plus I can go from laying to sitting to crawling to kneeling to sitting.  And get this. . .I figured out how to pull myself up onto my feet!!!!  Is that awesome or what?!?!?!  The only bad part is that I can't stay up long and I just fall over.  I usually hit my head and cry. 

I don't have any teeth yet.  Mommy says at the rate I'm going I'll be bald and toothless but walking around.

I weigh about 18lbs now and I'm in a size 6-9 months (sometimes I even wear 12 months if the clothes run small)  Pretty soon I should catch Ezekiel.  

Well, it's naptime so I need to go.  

Peace out!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Through the Eyes of a Child

I often wonder what my children see when they look at me.
Do they see me as the cook?
The laundress?
The person who reads them stories and spends hours and hours teaching them?
How about the person who plans all the fun outings?
The face behind the camera?
Perhaps they see me as the fun mom who turns up the radio and dances around?
Maybe as the person they can tell all their secrets too.

Do they look at me and think, "I wish my hair was brown like Mommy's" as I admired my mom's golden locks?
Do they hope to wear dangly earrings like me someday?
Or maybe they look forward to the day when they can wear red high heels like Mommy's favorite pair.
Maybe they see me taking care of the boys and hope to be a Mommy just like me someday.

Or maybe it's none of the above.
Maybe it's this:

"the lines show you're tired"


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Monday, September 17, 2012

6 Months Old

Well, here I am at 6 months old.  I wasn't really ready to smile yet but unfortunately Mommy only got one shot off before this happened:

Ah well, that's the life of a youngest child I guess.  Despite my lack of smile I'm a pretty happy guy.  I'm almost sitting up by myself.  I do it just well enough that sometimes people forget I can't actually sit for very long.  I then fall over.  I'm really, really close to crawling.  I get on all fours and rock back and forth until I fall on my face.  Then I cry while Mommy laughs at me.  She's mean like that.

Can you tell from my picture how chubby I am?!?!?  I'm up to 16lbs and in the 50% for height and weight.  Sometimes, if I don't have anything to wear, I even borrow my brother's clothes!  I'm a tank!

I had to say, "goodbye" to someone near and dear to me this month.  Dr. G from Chop said, "As cute as you are I just don't see any reason I can keep seeing you!"  She told my mom, "He's an absolute miracle.  It's just amazing."  (my mom said she already knew that though).  So goodbye Dr. G.  Goodbye Chop Hematology!  Thanks for taking awesome care of me!

I've done some pretty fun things this month.  I got to meet my baby cousin Brooke in Georgia.  (I was a total champ in the car.) Went peach picking (Mommy even let me hold some of the peaches!)  I also went to my first Phillies game!  Just me, Mommy, and Daddy went to the game.

Hope you enjoyed the extra pics:)  I can't wait to see what the next month brings!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Onion Soup Mix

by Denise at Better Than My Best

A few weeks ago I made "Nature's" seasoning (click here for the recipe). In addition to using it in a salad dressing, I've used the seasoning on grilled chicken, chicken salad (the kind with the mayo), grilled steak, and pot roast. It made me wonder how many other seasoning mixes could be homemade. I went on a search for one that I use often, onion soup mix. I use this to make a veggie dip, spinach and artichoke dip, and crockpot pot roast.

There were several options, but most of them called for ground beef bouillon or powder, both of which contains MSG. (The regular packets of onion soup mix also contain MSG). After a lot of searching, I found one at without MSG that looked worth trying.

2/3 cup dried minced onion (this is slightly less than the 2oz McCormick bottle)
3 tsp parsley flakes
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sucanut or sugar
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Mix it all together!

4 TBLS equal 1 packet of soup mix. It is recommended that you shake the bottle before using it. I noticed the ingredients don't mix very well. I also noticed that turmeric smells awful.

I mixed 2 TBL into the sour cream that Shannon made and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. I put the rest of the mix into the empty Minced Onion bottle and wrote on the bottle 4TBL=1 Packet.

Then I got a carrot...

...and decided that it was pretty good! It made a good dip! I expect that it will also make a good pot roast, but I'm not too sure on the spinach and artichoke dip. It tastes close to the Lipton version, but not exact. It did seem to leave a celery aftertaste, so I may put a tad less in next time. It also looked less appealing than the Lipton version (more yellow and chunky) so it may need to be stirred more often if using it for a dip.

If you don't have all of these ingredients, the first time around will be expensive. Turmeric, Sea Salt, and Celery Salt are more expensive spices (think $6-$7 a bottle depending on size), while the others are only $1-$2. However, for the amount you can make with these spices, I believe overall it will be cheaper.

Heavenlyhomemakers also has an italian seasoning mix that looks worth trying. See the recipe here.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

5 Months Old

I'm 5 months old!!  I am getting really big.  I weigh 15lbs 12oz.  I wear the same size diapers as my big bro and I'm starting to stretch even my 3-6 month clothes!  I have one more appointment at the hematologist but I've been off my meds for 6 weeks and I'm doing great!  I love to smile at people REALLY big.  I'm a pretty happy guy most of the time.  I've started rolling all over the place and I think I might start crawling in the next month or so, we'll see.  I've started noticing that everyone else gets to eat food.  I think I might want to try that soon but Mommy says I have to wait a little bit longer.  I'm still super, super nosy.  I can't help.  I just like to see what's going on!  

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Pickles

by Denise at Better Than My Best

This year, for the first time, my husband planted cucumbers in our garden. I don't know if it's the kind of year for cucumbers, or we have the right soil, sunlight, and water for them, but apparently, we can grow some cucumbers. We have a ton. In an effort to try to use all the cucumbers, I looked up some pickle recipes.

I love what my family calls a "Jewish" pickle. (Don't worry, it's not offensive, I'm a 1/4 Jewish and I'm not offended). It's the kind of pickle that you would see in a barrel at a real Jewish deli. It tastes like a dill pickle, but better.

I looked up Jewish Pickle with no results. I looked up dill pickles, but didn't have all the ingredients (including dill). I looked up barrel pickle, and this is what I came up with (from Mr. Food):

7 cups sliced cucumbers (this was about 4 of my cucumbers)
1 cup sliced onion
1 green bell pepper, finely sliced (also from my garden!)
1 cup sugar (I only used 3/4 cup)
1 cup white vinegar
1 Tbl salt
1 tsp celery seed

Combine cucumbers, onions, and peppers
combine the rest of the ingredients, then pour over the vegetables.
cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours

I put the pickles in a shallow glass baking dish so the vinegar mixture could mostly cover the cucumbers.

The result? They were delicious. They did not taste like a barrel pickle, but more a less sweet bread and butter pickle. I jarred up about a third of this batch for Shannon, then my husband and I ate the rest within a couple of days. (The recipe says this will last three months in the fridge, but seriously, they are so good there's no way it would last that long). I felt it was very refreshing!

I'm so excited that I have 3 newly picked cucumbers just waiting to become pickles!

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Crunchy Step: Homemade Sour Cream

Post by blog administrator Shannon.

I've shared before how much our family loves tacos.  Now that we have our own taco seasoning and Denise has taught us how to make tortillas there are really only 2 things left to make:  Cheese and sour cream.  Sour cream is so much easier than cheese making so I went with that of course.

In fact it was so easy I didn't take pictures.  My bad.

1 Cup Cream (or 1/2 cup cream & 1/2 Cup Whole milk) $1.15
1/4 Cup Buttermilk $.15

Pour both into a glass container with a lid.  Shake a little (just to get them mixed).  Set on the counter for 24 hours and poof, sour cream.  You should chill it before eating it.  If you are worried about leaving the dairy on the counter don't be!  The enzymes in the buttermilk take care of all that!

The total cost was $1.30 which is about the same as a container of sour cream depending on what brand you get.  However mine was also organic and organic sour cream cost about $1.60-$2.00 for 8oz.  So still a savings of $.30- $.70 and actually more convenient than running to the store if I forget sour cream (which of course I use a list and never forget anything but if I did that would be really inconvenient)

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Peanut Butter

By Denise at Better Than My Best

Last weekend my Church hosted a Phamily Phillies Tailgate Party. It was a blast! There was food, carnival games, a water blob, paintball, a water balloon fight that ended up being "get Pastor Randy," and we raffled off a baseball bat signd by Richie Ashburn to help support our missions team to Guatemala (who is there right now, say a quick prayer for them please!). For the party, I planned to do a game where I would throw out a ton of unshelled peanuts for the kids to gather up, only there were several peanuts that were colored, and if the child found a colored peanut, he/she could turn it in for a prize. Unfortunately, it poured before I could play this game, and although it only rained for about 10 minutes, I decided to nix the game because of the wet ground. Fortunately, right after the rain, we got to see a beautiful rainbow over the steeple of our church.

I was therefore, left with a ton of peanuts. I decided to make peanut butter.

First, I shelled the already roasted peanuts. (A bowl of shelled peanuts is really fun to play with).

Then I put them in my Magic Bullet, as I don't have a blender. If you have a blender, use the blender. I had to reduce the amount of peanuts I put in the Bullet, and it took forever to get through the peanuts. I actually quit half way through the bowl.

Once blended up, the peanuts will look like this:

I added a little salt, and then I felt like it wasn't as creamy as I would like, so I addd a little oil.

Overall, I think this is a work in progress. I think it would be a lot smoother in a blender. I am also wondering if I will have to get used to it being a slightly different texture than Jif. I am willing to try it again, it really wasn't a hard process!

On another note, is everyone planning to "Boycott Hunger"? Click here to read Shannon's "Boycott Hunger" post!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Bug Spray

All the chemicals in bug spray really freak me out.  DEET at best causes eye and skin irritations.  At worst some studies have linked DEET to neurological issues and even death.  I've tried various ways to not use any bug spray on my children, including making them eat a pickle everyday for the vinegar, but nothing has been successful.  I've purchased really good all natural sprays but they are expensive.  So finally I have made my own.  Unfortunately I haven't tested it out a ton.  We put it on for a little bit this afternoon and had descent results but I'll need to send everyone out in the evening and see what happens.  I will update when I do.

1 8oz spray bottle $1
4oz of boiled or distilled water $0
4oz witch hazel $1.75
10 drops tea tree oil $.10
15 drops lavendar oil $.25
15 drops peppermint oil $.25
10 drops cedarwood oil $.10
(You could also use Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary,Cajeput, Eucalyptus, or Catnip according to Wellness Mama)

Mix it up.  Spray it on.  Obviously very easy and the total cost was $3.45 ($2.45 if you already have a spray bottle.)  An 8oz bottle of regular (DEET filled) bug spray cost $4-$5 depending on brand.  An all natural bug spray could run you $6 or more for 8oz so the cost is definitely less to make your own

A bonus to this bug spray is that it smells wonderful!  If it doesn't work well I'll have to mess with the oils and maybe make it not as nice smelling but I'm hopeful that this combo will work!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Boycott Hunger

No matter which side of the Chick-fil-a debate you fall on I hear one thing being cried, "This is about rights!"  Ok then people, put your money where your mouth is (not literally of course because money is dirty but you know what I mean).  Defend the rights of the hundreds of millions who went to bed hungry last night. Let's all come together.  Join me boycotters.  Join me buycotters and let's make next Wednesday "Boycott Hunger Day".  

I challenge everyone regardless of religion or sexuality to skip one meal next Wednesday and donate the money you would have spent to a charity to end world hunger.  There are many, many organizations with that goal in mind both secular and Christian.

If you care about the rights of others to not be hungry will you share this challenge on facebook, twitter, blogs, email and every other social media out there?  In addition to sharing will you commit to Boycott Hunger next Wednesday, August 8th, and in your share (and on this blog!) let people know what organization you are donating to (include a link so others can easily donate to the same organization)?

There are hungry people, hungry children, all over the world.  Please defend their rights with the same passion that you defend your own.  Let's stand together and say, "The right to be feed is something we all agree on!"

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Tortillas

by Denise at Better Than My Best

Yesterday, I had about a pound of ground beef to cook and a bunch of peppers from my garden, so naturally I wanted to cook my favorite meal: stuffed peppers. However, Monday night is usually grocery store night and I was out of the rest of ingredients for stuffed peppers (onion, rice, garlic powder). I had to come up with plan B. Soft tacos! I have been wanting to make homemade tortillas for a while, and yesterday I did! I used the following recipe, found at .

2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbl shortening
1/2 cup water

mix flour, salt, and baking powder
cut in the shortening with a fork
add the water and form into a ball, if more water is needed, add 1 Tbl at a time (I used about 2.5 Tbl more)

Divide into 12 even balls
let sit for 15 minutes

heat a skillet or pan on medium/high heat
on a floured surface, roll out one ball of dough until it is paper thin and almost transparent. (Trying to get these into a circle took a little bit of practice). Cook for 20 seconds on each side. Transfer to a big ziplock bag. Roll out the next ball of dough and repeat.

*Bonus points if your one year old wakes up while you are cooking your first tortilla and requires you to hold her, forcing you to roll out and cook the rest of the tortillas with only one hand.

Although these were a little time consuming, they were really easy to make, and they were so good! This was a successfull crunchy step. Next time I will buy whole wheat flour and attempt to make a several dozen at a time and freeze what I won't use that day.

I made my tacos with Shannon's yummy Loco Taco Seasoning!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Your Grocery Budget Toolbox Review and Giveaway!

Try not to hate me when I tell you my husband not only folds laundry, changes diapers, and does most of the dishes (and we don't have a dish washer) but he also handles most of the finances.  Yup I'm just your typical trophy wife.  You know how it is when you're a pastor's wife.  All the fame and fortune and such.  Despite my cushy life devoid of financial concerns I try not to spend too much at the grocery store.  I also try and feed my family as healthfully and organically as possible but I fail big time.  I switch from grocery store, to farmers markets, to Whole Foods and find myself in an endless cycle of trying to eat well and spend wisely but flopping majorly.
Enter in Anne Simpson from Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy the name alone should tell you it's right up my ally! Quick? Yes please! Easy?  Umm yeah!  Cheap?  You know it! and Healthy?  Woo hoo!  

 Anne wrote the ebook Your Grocery Budget Toolbox.  I have to admit I started reading it a little less than enthusiastically thinking, "Here we go, another person telling me that if I buy coupons off of ebay and stack them with the deals at 18 different stores across 3 states I can save money."  I'm so thrilled to tell you that this book is not that!!!  I read over the book in one sitting and then went back through it just taking notes.  There is so much to be gleaned from this book but I think the main thing I learned (thus far, I'm still going through it with a fine tooth comb!) are these words from Anne:  "It is more important to live within your means than to stress yourself out trying to make food stretch farther than it should, or digging into savings (or worse, going into debt) to cover the exorbitant cost of what you have been told is the “healthiest” food. Purchase as much healthy food as you can."

Wait!  What?  It's not an all or nothing deal?!?!?  Seriously I realize this should be really obvious but somehow it had never occurred to me that I could buy some organic meat each month but not every bite had to be organic if we couldn't afford it.  I can buy some raw milk or cheese but the rest can be "regular".  

This book is filled with excellent insights like that.  In addition are the challenges that Anne gives you throughout the book.  They are thought provoking and helpful.  It's like having a study guide within the book.    One of the things Anne challenges you to do is to write a meal plan.  I decided to go for it and write a month long meal plan for everything:  dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks.  Actually I wrote out a 2 week plan with the idea of freezing things from the first two weeks to repeat the second two.  I have yet to shop for the items for this plan but I believe it will really save us money.  While the planning took a long time I think it will save a ton of time (and meal planning anxiety) in the next month.  

Another great thing is her examples.  Just when I would be thinking, "well that won't work for me because blah, blah blah, excuse, excuse."  She would show you a personal example and I would hang my head in shame.

This book was exactly what I needed.  Someone to hold my hand and say, "This is how you feed your family healthy without having to live in a cardboard box."  Let's face it, organic, grass-feed lamb chops just don't taste as good in a box.  

Good news!  If you want to feed your family more healthy but also save money you can get Anne's book, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox, by clicking here  use the code "shoe" for a 20% discount, or buy entering the give away below.  (If you just can't wait to buy the book you can still buy it now and if you win your money will be refunded!).

To enter the giveaway you must like Stories from the Shoe and Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy on Facebook.  If you already like them you can still enter just.  The other entries are optional and give you more chances to win!  Good Luck!!

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Deodorant

A certain little girl, lets call her Wistin, informed me a little bit ago that, "When I get hot my armpits sweat and it smells funny."  Ahh, growing into womanhood is such a beautiful thing isn't it?  I'm sooo glad we've entered this phase (or not!).  After I freaked out a little that she was too young for deodorant a voice of reason said, "You're better off starting her in the habit now before it becomes absolutely necessary."  Good point!  I mean no one wants to be the stinky kid.  I can just picture 11 year old Christin Wistin:  homeschooler, making her own hair accessories out of duck tape, still into barbies, and smelling funky.  She'll be so popular!  I can handle the "creativity" and "naivety,"  in fact I actually like that, but the smellyness, that's gotta be nipped in the bud.  
The dilemma I faced, however, is that, like most things, deodorant may be really bad for you and antiperspirant especially so.  It's almost like we were created to sweat and preventing it from happening could be bad for us!  The jury is still out on whether usibg deodorant/antiperspirant can cause cancer, Alzheimer, hormone problems, and a slew of other issues but frankly I'm not willing to take that chance with my little girl.  So off to the world wide web I went to find another solution. I found many solutions but some you had to put on with your hand like a lotion and I wasn't into that.  Of course I finally checked and found what I was looking for:  An easy to make, all natural, stick deodorant that smells pretty.  So without further ado here's the recipe:

  • 1/8 cup arrowroot powder (this is a fine white powder/flour often used as a thickening agent.  The natural food store near me sells it for $3.50/lb) $.11
  • 1/8 cup baking soda (helps absorb moisture) $.13
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil (has anti-fungal properties and no one wants fungal armpits!) $.70
  • 1 heaped Tbsp. beeswax  (I had to buy a gigantic bag of this.  Next time (like in my next life after I use up all this beeswax) I'll order pellets online.) $1
  • 8 drops tea tree essential oil (both tea tree and lavender kill yucky things) $.10
  • 8 drops lavender essential oil (I like the way this smells so I added a few more drops) $.15
  • 2 drops castor oil (makes the deodorant slide in the tube.) $.05

Melt all the ingredients together in a small saucepan on low, stirring often.  

Once it is all melted (it just takes a few minutes) pour the mixture into an old cleaned out deodorant tube and set on counter to cool.  

After a few hours it will be hardened and you can use it!  Super easy and smells nice!  You will still sweat with this but remember you're supposed to sweat!  This will keep you from being stinky and will absorb a little sweat. I used it on myself just around the house and it seemed to work well.  I plan on switching over after I use up all my conventional deodorant.
Cost wise this deodorant cost about $2.25 a stick (that's assuming you have a container) so it doesn't save you a ton of money, especially if you typically buy whatever deodorant is on sale but it is WAY better for you and took just about 10 minutes to make!  

As a side note:  If you are interested in trying any of the Real Crunchy items by me but don't want to buy say a pound of beeswax just send me a message and we'll work something out for a low cost:)

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Dove Body Wash

by Denise at Better Than My Best

I once told Danny not to buy me the impersonal gift of Bath and Body Works stuff for my birthday or Christmas. Because of this, he was really suprised when I asked for it for Mother's Day 2011. I think after 10-15 years of always receiving some sort of body wash or lotion, I had finally run out of it and was needing more. A little over a year later, I once again ran out of it. I have resorted to using the J&J baby wash for the past few days until I decided to look up a recipe for Body Wash. I found a great recipe at .

3 bars of dove soap, grated (this part was NOT fun)
6 cups of water
heat until soap is dissolved
cool in a glass bowl
transfer to container

Soooooooooooooo easy.

It was difficult to tell when all the soap was dissolved because the mixture is white, so I had to keep spooning up some liquid to see if there was any soap flakes in it. It took a long time to cool down, and it thickened slightly as it cooled. I then transfered it into an empty apple juice bottle, and an empty J&J baby wash container. In the morning when I used it, it had thickened up even more, but was still a little thinner than regular Dove Wash. Overall I was happy with it. (This recipe is to be used with Dove Soap only. Dove Soap has a lot of moisturizers in it, if you use this recipe with another bar soap, it will be super thick. You can use another kind of bar soap, but you will have to play around with how much water to add).

This recipe made about 7 cups of wash, or 56 ounces. A 16 oz bottle of Dove Body Wash costs around $5. A 6 pack of Dove soap is around $7. If I bought 56 ounces of Wash, it would have cost me $17.50. I made it for $3.50. Sounds like a keeper for me!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Blood Drive August 4th, 2012

American Red Cross

If you live in the area please consider donating in honor of Isaiah!  Without the selfless, unknown donors who have given in the past Isaiah would not be here today.  Finding the "right" blood can be very difficult and the more people who give the better someone's chances of survival could be.  Some of Isaiah's transfusions had to be delivered from across the country!  Giving blood doesn't take long but can make a huge difference!

Laurel Hill is hosting The American Red Cross Blood Drive
Saturday, August 4th from 8:30AM to 1:30PM
Donate in honor of Isaiah DeVol! 
Contact Alicia Sierra (609-532-6303) to reserve a time slot or you can sign up online at Sponsor code is 022258
Thank you in advance! Blood supplies in the PennJersey region are extremely low this summer

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thankfulness and Vomit

An exhausting golf cart ride
Last night was our last night of our trip to Solid Rock Day Camp.  The week had gone really smoothly (Lindsey got a little sick but she tends to do that midway through just about every trip we've ever been on!) but last night Ezekiel did something he's never done before:  threw up, in his pack n play.  It was nasty.  There were a lot of tears, his, Lindsey's who I ripped out of the shower so I could throw Ezekiel in , Christin's, who wanted me to read to her before bed, mine who just wanted to get the kids to bed.  The whole experience lasted about a half hour and felt very traumatic.  When we came to bed 3 hours later Ezekiel was still whimpering in his sleep.  I wanted to pick him up but I didn't want to wake him.  Around 3am Ezekiel woke up crying and George pulled him into our bed.  He tossed and turned for a few minutes before he snuggled up to me and fell into a much better sleep.  After that I couldn't fall asleep but not because I was uncomfortable.  I had a boy on each arm and was flat on my back unable to move (which is usually a huge issue for me because I can't stand to be "trapped" by anything and have occasionally freaked out over things like a stuck ring.  I might have a problem)  Anyway, I couldn't fall asleep because I was just so so filled with thankfulness.  I couldn't stop praying, "Thank you God he's here.  Thank you that on this night, when he's sick, Ezekiel is warm and comforted.  He's cuddled between his mommy and daddy.  He's not alone or in the care of nannies (wonderful as they may be it's just not the same).  Thank you Lord for letting me be here.  Thank you that I'm the blessed one who gets to clean up the puke and have this little hand in my back.  Thank you God for my son."  

These feelings of thankfulness just kept over whelming me and I couldn't close my eyes because then I couldn't see this miracle of a son God has given me!  What a great, smelly, smelly, night:)
Nana came to Solid Rock too!
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Blueberry Butter

Please note Jodi's "totes adorbs" overalls:)  She's really embracing the Garden State
PS.  I  just had to ask a group of teenagers, "how do you spell totes as in totally?"
I'm pretty sure they think I'm a gigantic dork.
It's blueberry season in South Jersey!  South Jersey is known for it's blueberries but I'd never picked them before.  Let me tell you people, blueberries are so easy to pick.  The bushes are right at picking height and the berries were plentiful.  Only one issue exists:  they are so yummy that certain people couldn't keep their fingers out of the buckets.  Warning TMI coming:  I actually changed a diaper that was entirely blueberries and bright purple. 
I had originally decided to make more jam but then I decided I wanted to do something different so I went with blueberry butter.  Now to be entirely truthful I have never, ever purchased any fruit butter so I can't really argue that this one saved me any money and I didn't do a price breakdown (I know I'm just slacking all over the place here.) but hey, it was yummy and that's all that really matters.  Oh and easy and you know how I feel about easy.  Bring it on!
So the first thing after picking the berries was to find a recipe.  I googled "blueberry butter" and came up with this recipe .(Warning:  She will make you want a Vitamix blender and they are wicked expensive.  Dear Vitamix, please send me a blender to review)  Ironically the author also picked her blueberries at Moods Farm Market in South Jersey and as everyone knows where two or more bloggers agree it is so.

So here is the very simple recipe:
Puree 4 heaping cups of blueberries and transfer to crockpot on low. 

Cook in crockpot with lid on low

After about 45 minutes, or so, (it's very precise) stir up and prop the lid (I layed my wooden spoon across the top.

After a few hours (3 or 4) add 1 Cup honey and the juice and zest of half a lemon plus a little cinnamon and nutmeg (I added too much)
Too much cinnamin and nutmeg:(

Cook another hour or so (again the timing is super important)

I wasn't thrilled with the consistency of mine so I threw mine back in the blender for a few minutes
and got the consistency I wanted. 
Original consistency

 Delicious and easy!!!!

This recipe made two jars.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Seasoning and Salad Dressing

by Denise at Better Than My Best

My new favorite salad consists of Romaine Lettuce, cucumbers (from my garden!), strawberries, feta cheese, and walnuts, topped with a balsamic vinegarette. Although store bought balsamic vinegarette is ok, I never find it to be as good as homemade restaurant dressing, so for this week's crunchy step, I decided to try to make my own.

I found a recipe for a creamy balsamic vinegarette, but it called for less than crunchy ingredients like mayonnaise and something called Morton's Nature's Seasoning. I could make my own mayonnaise, but it would only last a day or two, so I decided a little mayonnaise would be fine this time, but I couldn't bring myself to buy a seasoning mix. There are several different homemade recipes for this seasoning mix, so I picked one that was suggested to use with the homemade balsamic vinegarette dressing.

The Seasoning:

1/3 cup of salt
1/4 cup of black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
2 1/2 TBL sugar
1TBL parsley flakes
2 tsp celery seeds

Since this would make a ton of seasoning, I halfed it. (There are 4 TBL in a 1/4 cup, and for the 1/3 cup of salt, I just eyeballed half of 1/3 cup). I also didn't have quite enough garlic powder. I definitely bought a new bottle a couple of weeks ago but could not find it. I'm sure the next time I go into my spice cabinet, it will be right in front of my face, laughing at me.

Have a cute little girl mix it up for you, until it looks like cigarette ash.

Watch out, all this seasoning mixed together kind of burns your nose.

I poured it into my empty garlic powder bottle. I hear this seasoning is good on all kinds of things. I'll have to google some recipes.

Salad Dressing:

Recipe from

4 cloves garlic, grated
3 TBL mayo
2 TBL lemon juice
1 TBL Dijon mustard
1 TBL Sugar
2 tsp Nature's Seasoning
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix everything but the vinegar and oil. Then mix in vinegar. Then slowly mix in oil. I failed to read the mix in the vinegar and oil seperately, and I think it does matter as mine does not seem to be as creamy as the picture in the original recipe. I also thought it smelled amazing, but the taste was a tad strong. I might lessen the amount of seasoning the next time I make it.

Tonight my vegetarian Sister-in-Law, who introduced me to my new favorite salad, is coming over for dinner. I hope she likes the dressing!

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Monday, July 16, 2012

4 Months Old

I'm four months old!  So much exciting stuff is happening but the most important thing is:  I'M OFF ALL MY MEDS!!!!  No more iron drops, no more folic acid tablets, and best of all, no more Epogin shots!!!!!!!!!!  Mommy says they need to test my blood one more time in a week to make sure everything stays status quo  but as long as everythings good I can say, "buh bye" to CHOP Hemotology (it's a little weird to be excited to never see people again that you like:) 

I'm also gaining weight, as you can see in my picture.  I'm up to 13 pounds!  I've got rolls and everything (check out both my chins!)  I'm consistently rolling from belly to back and trying to do the back to belly thing. 

I love to talk.  Seriously, I take frequent breaks from nursing just to chat with Mommy and give big smiles.  I hate being alone.  I considered sleeping through the night briefly but then I changed my mind.  I don't want Mommy and Daddy to get lonely.  I mean they have a whole queen size bed!  I like my pacifer but I think I like my hands more.  The only problem is they don't exactly go where I want them too.  Sometimes they even pull my paci out.  That makes me angry.  I'm looking forward to month 5!!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Real Crunchy Step: Homemade Yogurt

Did you know you could make yogurt?!  I did not.  In fact not only can you make yogurt but it's pretty simple too!  The yogurt and crock pot pretty much do most of the work. Who knew?!?!?  All you need is milk and a little bit of already made yogurt, either your own or store bought.  I used Stoneyfield Organic plain yogurt because that's generally what I buy.  I think by this point we all know that yogurt has live bacteria in it and that the bacteria is good for us. (We know this because it's on TV and if you see it on TV it must be true!!!)  Very simply put when you mix a little bit of yogurt with live cultures in with milk and provide a great environment (warmth followed by a slow cooling) you get more yogurt.

I followed the instructions I found here at Keeper of the Home (in case you haven't noticed this is my current go to blog for healthy recipes and information.)  My yogurt was little runnier than I would have liked but for my first time I was pretty happy with it.

2 TBS plain yogurt.
4 Cups milk (I used organic whole milk)

Step 1:  Heat up your crockpot on low
Step 2:  Measure out yogurt
Step 3:  Heat milk in saucepan to bubbling and foamy or 185 degrees (I just did bubbling and foamy because it was easier)
     *while the milk is heating move on to step four
Step 4:  Fill the sink full of cold water.  Once the milk is foamy put a lid on the pot and place the whole pot in the water (the water should come up about halfway and not get in the pot.) to cool.  The milk should be very warm to the touch (stick in a clean finger) but not so hot you pull your finger out and not cool.  The recipe I used said this takes about 10 minutes.  Apparently I have very cold water because after 5 I think mine was a little too cool (maybe this contributed to the runnyness)  Again, if you need to do this "right" then you're going to want it to get to between 90 and 110 degrees.
Step 5:  mix one cup of milk with the yogurt starter.  Pour the rest of the milk into the crock pot.  Mix the cup of yogurt and milk and then pour that in as well.
Here's where it gets a little weird.
Step 6:  Wrap your crockpot up in a thick beach towel (I guess it doesn't have to be a beach towel but a bath towel just seems weird.  Maybe a pool towel)  I used two thinner ones.  Unplug the crock pot.
Step 7:  Let it sit and don't mess with it for 6-10 hours.  I did 7 and 1/2.  Next time I will do longer and see how that affects the consistency.
Step 8:  Move the crock into the fridge.  Do not shake, stir, or otherwise disturb your yogurt.  I've read varying reports on how long to leave it from, "until it's cool" to "24 hours"  I left it for 12.
Step 9:  Pour or scoop yogurt into clean glass containers

All in all it was pretty easy.  The kids tried some with blueberries and honey and didn't love it but they aren't huge on eating yogurt straight up anyway.  George and I tried some with blueberry butter (more on that next Friday)  mixed in and that was pretty yummy.  It will definetely be great for smoothies.  I'll be adding this to my list of things to always make from scratch.

He likes it!
Cost wise:
2 Tbs Yogurt Starter $.13 (yogurt can be frozen so I bought a 32oz container of Stoneyfield Organic for $3.99 and used 1 oz.)
4 Cups Whole milk $2 ($3.99 for 1/2 gallon I used 1/4 of a gallon)
Total:  $2.13 for 4 cups of yogurt so just over 1/2 the cost of buying the yogurt in the store!  That's a pretty good savings.  Especially if you eat yogurt a lot or use it for smoothies or other cooking!

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