Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Stockings for the Family! . . . (and Special Thanks to My Sisters!)

My oldest sister, who is a professional designer, has excellent taste; but has recently been short on storage space.
As such, I agreed to store her multiple bins of material for her, bins just packed with fabric that she has used for both personal sewing projects, as well as decor projects for clients.
She told me that I can use any of the scraps I want to, and believe me, there is quite a lovely selection to choose from!

Ever since having my first two kids, our stockings for Christmas have been rather hap-hazard and mismatched. We received one random stocking as part of a gift when we got married, (I don't recall why they only gave us one. It was probably full of treats or something.) So for our first year of Christmas together I went to the dollar store and bought another fuzzy stocking that almost matched.

I've also received a couple of mini stockings from my grandma over the years . . .
She would decorate a tree with them and each year we'd pick the one off the tree that had our name on it, and find some money inside. 'The money tree' was such a cute tradition!

Anyway I used one of the mini stockings for my oldest baby for her first couple of years, and then when I had a second baby I had the second one. However, these mini stockings hold very little. . . This wouldn't normally matter much except that this year we're spending Christmas with my Sister's family in Arizona.
She has two kids of her own and I didn't want my own kids to be comparing the size of their stockings to their cousins' so I decided it was time to upgrade.

My sister is A Domestic Goddess and has made her own family's stockings that are a nice size; not too big, and not too small, so I called her and asked for the pattern.
She mailed it to me right away and I went through all the glorious swathes of fabric in my storage unit.

My oldest sister, who I mentioned before, made a stunning Queen Elizabeth costume for her daughter for a school project last year. . . Which, of course, also made an appearance for Halloween.

The leftover scraps of luxurious gold brocade, and lovely, silky sari material really spoke to me, and I felt they would look great with my Christmas decor for years to come, since my front room is decorated with an Oriental twist.

The sari fabric was two sided, so that gave me three different options for at least three stockings . . . That way they would coordinate, but still be different enough that everyone could tell theirs apart. However, we have four people in our family, so I went to the fabric store and was lucky enough to find a lovely gold brocade piece in the remnants bin!
This is so perfect, because I already have pillows made from this same bamboo brocade material in my front room; only my pillows are gold bamboo against black.

I also found some lovely burgundy lining I was able to use for the inside of the stockings, and some matching cording to use for the loops.

 I also love that the sari material was two sided because this way my two girls can have very similar stockings, but still know which is which.
 I decided the Bamboo one looked the most masculine so I've decided my hubby can have that one, and I will have this gold brocade one that ties them all together. That's what mom's do right?
 I'm really pleased with how they turned out!
 And it's such a relief to know that my kids will have the same sized stockings as their cousins so they won't think Santa is playing favorites or something. ;)
I guess, they look done enough, anyway . . .
I also bought some fun jeweled trim to add to the top of each stocking but Kate has used her amazing toddler skills to make all of my trim magically disappear . . . . Maybe someday she'll be a magician.
I think they look okay without the trim though . . . It's just kind of annoying because if I'm not going to use it, why on earth did I buy it?
Hope you all have a very lovely Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Journey as a Truth Seeker

It is not uncommon for me to post or share articles or opinions on my blog or Facebook that can be considered controversial topics.  From my support of home birthing to alternative health care and anti-drug healing, I realize that most of my current views are not popular among the mainstream media- watching public.

However, I have found that usually such posts are all but completely ignored.  Until recently.
I have gone through numerous paradigm shifts and changes in my beliefs for the past five years and the influx of these shifts, new ideas and knowledge have greatly accelerated in the past two years or so.

It all started with my first pregnancy.  Being completely new to parenting, I of course felt like a stranger in a foreign land and was willing to go with whatever people told me was normal and the thing to do in regard to my health care and the birthing of my baby.  The one exception being my choice to use nurse midwives as opposed to a typical OBGYN (A decision I made for myself at a very young age, and which I have inexplicably always felt very strongly about.)
At any rate, I was ready to have my baby in a regular hospital and the choice of getting an epidural seemed like my only real option since everyone I knew seemed to think that it was the only sane thing to do.

Then my dear sister who'd had her first baby only a couple of years before and hadn't had the option of an epidural due to having rods in her back from a previous surgery presented me with the idea of hypno-birthing.  She wondered if I would be willing to consider it for my own birthing since she wished she had known about it before her own.  I read up on the idea which lead me to doing a lot of research and for the first time in my life, my eyes were opened to the danger of blindly following what the mainstream consensus is without doing one's own research.

For those of you who care, I also received strong spiritual confirmation that hypno-birthing was right for me.  So I bought a study course and practiced the system so much that when I was in the throws of birthing waves the midwife who had just come in to replace my midwife from the night before, marveled to my husband, "Woah, she is textbook."

After an amazing birthing experience I received less than perfect postpartum treatment from nurses who, in retrospect, seemed rather hostile to be allowed to tend to a weak and exhausted young mother who had just had her first baby naturally.
I mention this only because it contributed later to my decision to have my second baby in the comfort and safety of my own home, an idea that I would never have imagined I could be okay with, but once again I opened my mind to the idea that I ought to do my own research before completely discounting an idea.
Once again, the research not only rang true and changed my paradigms, but that choice is continuing to be confirmed by both personal experience as well as new scientific study.  Having said that, let me emphasize that these decisions are based solely on my own choices and what I know to be right for me. I completely acknowledge the important role that the medical system plays in millions of lives.  I am not telling anyone that they should consider natural home birth as the only right option.  I knew it was right for me as a fairly healthy, low risk, young mother with no pre-existing conditions.

Back to the story of my first child, she had all her regular pediatric visits and we followed the book as far as getting all her shots and having her immunized by two.  You have to understand that she was an extremely healthy, even robust baby, (being born an ounce under eight pounds, and never dropping below her birth weight, as well as continuing to this day to range in the 90th percentile for her age.) but over time I began to notice more and more health problems cropping up in her.  She is very prone to both skin problems as well as getting sick easily.  She also has an extremely short attention span and there have been random acts of uncontrolled aggression in the past, as well as other behavioral problems.
I would not be sharing this if I did not feel it relevant to the issue at hand.  It has been painful for me to have many other mother's talk to me about my daughter as if they are trying to say that they think she is mentally not right. Most recently another Mom basically told me that my child has ASD.  I was shocked and hurt that someone who doesn't even know my child would try to diagnose her.   Still, it got my mind working and I began to wonder and pray a little to understand if I should even consider such ideas enough to research and find out if it could be true, which honestly, I felt reluctant to do at first. I mean what Mom in their right mind wants to be told her child has a mental disorder?  

Within a matter of days I find this article which rings completely true for me and aligns with all of the other eye opening truths that I have been discovering in the past year or so.  It also seems blatantly obvious after reading the article, that my oldest daughter could very well be suffering from the effects of toxins administered to her as a baby through the needles of vaccines that where meant to protect her.

My second daughter, as I mentioned, was born at home and has never been vaccinated.  This is not actually because I actively chose not to.  (Though I knew of others who had chosen not to, and sometimes vaguely wondered if there was something to that.) Our financial circumstances at the time of her approaching birth were such that they largely contributed to our choice to look into the possibility of birthing at home.  These same circumstances made birthing at home also appealing because we didn't have a car seat, couldn't immediately afford one and knew we would not be allowed to take out baby home without one, so having her at home in the first place made a lot of sense.  (For those of you who are wondering, yes, we did have medical insurance at this time.)
These of course were not the only reasons we chose this route but I will not deny that they were contributing factors.

I bring up the financial point only because this also contributed as to why we never got around to vaccinating our baby.  I wasn't against it, but after our regular pediatrician moved away immediately after our eldest's final immunization, and we had trouble finding a new pediatrician (the one recommended to us was no longer taking new patients.)  combined with the fact that suddenly having two children instead of one changed things enough that while we often mentioned that we really ought to go in and get her shots taken care of, it was repeatedly put on the back burner, and what do you know?  Two years have passed.

At the age of two our second daughter is remarkably different than her older sister, and I'm not talking about the obvious age difference.  She has never had the skin problems her sister is still dealing with or been as prone to getting sick.  She has an amazingly long attention span even for a child older than her, and she has no apparent behavioral problems.  I grant that this may be pure coincidence.  It may be simply that the two girls have different personalities.  The thing is, if I really think about it, their actual personalities really aren't that different, only the maturity with which they handle the same situations. I may be completely up in the night, but I feel that I cannot completely ignore the evidence that my own experience has provided.  As you can see by the evidence I am currently living with, perhaps you too can see why I feel justified in leaning toward the side of this issue that I am leaning.

Oh, I guess it's also relevant that during my second pregnancy a friend of mine shared this article which led me to the decision to refuse the flu vaccine despite the then current swine flu paranoia and the fact that I was offered the vaccine at every single prenatal visit until I switched to my home birthing midwife. I know you can get vaccines at an affordable rate, in this case, money has not been a contributing factor in my not getting vaccinated. After reading this article I decided to forego the flu vaccine and instead try supplementing with vitamin D to see if that would prevent the flu.  It has been two years and I have not had the flu since.

So, with all this in mind I shared a link to this article about vaccines on Facebook. That was on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 11:25 AM.  By Friday night I had not only received 17 comments on the post but I was approached by at least three people at my ward Christmas party who all had something to say about it.  One of whom told me to delete the post and never post anything so controversial again.
To this I say, I am not afraid to state opinions or ideas that I am considering anymore than I am afraid to consider other peoples ideas and opinions. Bring it on!

It is now Monday December 12, 2:44 PM I myself have not yet commented on the post but I already have 27 comments (some from repeated commentators) and at the current rate there may be more to come.  This probably shouldn't have surprised me due to the controversial nature of such a topic, but it did surprise me, mainly I guess, because of the lack of attention given to my controversial posts of the past.  I figured that if people don't like what I've shared they simply won't comment on it, they are welcome to roll there eyes and proceed down their news feed.  Maybe that's just me though. :}

Yet, what surprises me more is how obvious it is which of the commentators actually read the whole article and which simply assumed they knew what it was about based solely on the title.
Please friends, let's not insult both my intelligence and yours by ever commenting on an article you have not fully read.
It is insulting to my intelligence for you to assume what I share is not even worth reading before you try to contradict it.
It further makes your own intelligence look rather lacking to post a comment which blatantly shows that you did not read the posted article, yet are accusing others of ignorance and closed mindedness.  If you can't bother to read the whole article, please do not bother leaving a comment.  Thank you.

That being said, I will now respond more directly to the comments I received.  I apologize that it has taken me three days to respond, but I wanted to read all of the responding articles that my commentators posted (and then some) before responding.  I would like to think that others would offer me the same courtesy when responding to any related links that I post.

First of all, Rob, the Lancet article you mentioned may have been debunked and it is pretty pathetic that some guy fudged his facts.  However, I cannot find any relation other than the topic at hand that relates the article I posted with the Lancet's 1998 article.  As far as I can see everything linked in the article I posted was based on new research publish this year.
I do appreciate the information you've shared, especially the second article about how the reality is, there needs to be more research done. Like the writer of the article, I am not about to claim that I am completely "Anti-Vaccine."  In fact, I would encourage everyone to read this article.

I am certainly not about to discount anyone's views as irrelevant.  I will not deny what vaccines have done for people in the past. I acknowledge the importance they have played in all but eradicating horrible diseases as well as the fact that God surely revealed such knowledge to men in order to benefit us on our journey to improve our lives.

Conversely, I do not trust the FDA any further than I could throw them.  As they already allow horrible toxins and carcinogens into our food, cosmetics and cleaning products, not to mention pushing drugs with terrible side effects through the system (without testing) for public use; only retracting them when people start to die or become debilitated enough that they can no longer get away with offering with it.

Even products that are marketed as "healthy" and are fully approved by the FDA have been found to be laced with known poisons such as arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium.

Honestly, does it really seem like such a stretch that they wouldn't refrain from allowing dreadful, mentally debilitating toxins into otherwise helpful vaccines?

I understand the concept behind using a small dose of a given disease to build up the bodies immunity, but if they're going to add toxic ingredients which may alter my babies still developing brain, which in turn my cause both her and her parents grief for the rest of her life, am I really being a responsible parent (in being informed of the risks) to allow that to happen to her?

Of course I know that my children are dependent on me for protection and as such it is my right to use my intelligence to question anything that could potentially harm my children, whether the threat be immediate or otherwise. I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my children have the best life experience I can possibly offer them.  If ASD or ADD are a more immediate threat than polio, I may choose to avoid the one and trust to God to help us avoid the other. Yes, Autism might be the lesser of two evils, but I'd rather avoid all evils rather than willfully pressing even a lesser evil on a helpless child who has no say in the matter and is looking to me for protection.

As Marcus pointed out, vaccines may not effect all children the same way, so it makes sense to me that in cases such as this, each parent ought to be prayerful and find out what the Lord's will is concerning them regardless of what another righteous parent may have received. (D&C 62:8)
Some commandments are given to all, but where the Lord has not given specific commandments it is probably because the answers would vary between differing circumstances.  The only one who knows if one child would suffer adverse effects from a vaccine as opposed to another child, is God.
How many of us can actually claim that you have studied out this matter and considered both sides AND prayed to know the truth concerning our own family?  My guess is not many, not because we aren't good prayerful people, but because it is so easy to passively trust what the mainstream opinions of the world dictate to us.  No one is above being deceived so I beg that instead of arguing with each other over differing views, that we instead unite in seeking the truth, considering all sides and evidences and praying for the spirit to manifest truth to us when and wherever we find it so that none of us may be deceived.  I strongly feel that now is not the time to sit idly and blindly and unquestioningly following what the world has told us is normal and what everyone else is doing.  If everyone is doing it and a government which no longer seeks to protect us strongly condones it: Absolutely will I question it!

There are times to follow and there are times to seek your own path. While I would certainly want my children vaccinated if they were to visit a foreign country where such horrible diseases are still prevalent; as my current living conditions do not immediately threaten us with small pox, I will thank my Father in Heaven for this time and the opportunity I have been given to search out the truth and if necessary, demand higher standards (new and better, non-toxic vaccines) be put into place before I allow some stranger to stick a needle into my baby for the sake of a fear fed paycheck.

I am truly appreciative of all who read through the article before commenting as well a those who posted further information. I will continue to research and consider all evidence before I make an absolute decision.  Of course relying on the spirit to guide me.

These are contentious times and it is so easy to get angry, I thank you all for striving to be civil despite differing feelings about this controversial topic.  Thank you again for the shared information and concern. I am perfectly open to receiving more evidence as to the truth behind vaccines. Especially if you can answer any of the questions in this article I found today.  I'm not a medical scientist and really would like to know if anyone out there can help me find the answers to these questions.  Thank you all so much for your help!

May the truth set us free.

~Julie :}

Friday, November 4, 2011

Julie Surprise: Golden Pumpkin Soup

Here is a recipe I invented tonight.  It's similar to one I invented a couple of years ago but since I couldn't find that recipe I had to come up with a new one.

Golden Pumpkin Soup

Main Ingredients
3 small yellow squash, chopped
1 half green bell pepper, chopped
1 half onion, chopped
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup Real Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Approximately 4 ounces of Medium Cheddar Cheese, shredded
About a tablespoon of Honey

Seasoning Ideas 
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
(season to taste, sorry, I didn't measure, I like to just add dashes of things but I tried to put them in order of what I used more of first)
Curry Powder and/or
Garam Masala
Powdered Mustard
Dried celery leaves, crushed
Cayenne pepper

Optional Garnishes
Sour Cream
Sliced Apples


1.  Put the chopped squash, onions and green pepper into a pot of water enough to cover them well and set it
      to boil.
2.  Once it's boiling lower the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
3.  Once soft mostly drain veggies and run through a food processor or blender until smooth, return to pot.
4.  Add pumpkin puree to veggie puree and stir over medium to low heat until smooth-ish.
5. Season according to preference then add cheeses one at a time stirring in between to help melt the cheese.
6.  Add the honey last, stir and then serve in bowls with a generous dollop of sour cream and use fresh apple slices for dipping if you wish.

Note:  I have to give my Lily the credit for the apple idea.  She was the one who asked if we could slice up apples to dip in her soup.  It was pure inspiration!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hope for that Box O' Socks!

One of the recently featured Daily Grommets was a company called Zkano that creates organic socks.  You can watch the feature video by clicking on the Daily Grommet link.  Anyway, I went to their website after watching the video and had me a look around.  I totally think it's awesome that they are trying to make a better product that will last longer and have less negative impact on the environment.  I also don't really think the prices are as out there as they could be.  So really cool right?  If any of you go out and get these I would be happy to hear of it!
Thing is, while I probably do need to buy some new socks here in the near future myself; these socks are kind of boring to me.  I know it sounds dumb and shallow but even their more 'exciting' options still include a lot of grey and that just isn't my thing.  I really like fun socks with animated designs.  (You know, stars, hearts, strawberries, frogs?)  Anyway, enough with my silliness.  

Before I left the site I noticed a little link at the top menu that said Zkano Recycles.  I clicked it and began to read the same thing about recycling that all of us have heard before.  Ways to reduce and reuse etc . . . Then at the bottom I was surprised and delighted to read this little tidbit of information:  You can send your old socks to Zkano and they will recycle them for you!  
Here is what the site actually says:

Recycle. Old fibers can be reworked and reused. The most warn out cotton fibers can be composted. Here’s where we come in.
We have the resources to take past-their-prime socks off your hands and have them recycled. Send your old socks* to us at this address: 

Emi-G KnittingAttention: Zkano Recycles Program
1715 Airport Road
Ft Payne, AL 35968
That’s it! We’ll handle recycling from there. 
It’s little steps that make a big difference as we move towards a sustainable lifestyle. Our family is proud that you’re taking a few of those steps in Zkano Socks. 
*Please send six or more pairs in a package. We need to outweigh the carbon footprint from shipping! 
I don't know about the rest of you out there, but I have a growing box of worn through and single un-matching socks which I have been feeling loath to tossing because it seems like such a waste!  
I had heard recently that animal shelters will accept donations of old blankets rags and towels and such, which is great, but I wasn't sure old socks would be as acceptable.  I am so happy to think that I can now send my old socks to someone who will actually be happy to see them!  How cool is that?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Easy Under Cabinet & Hanging Kitchen Storage! (No Drilling Required!)

In the past year or so I've been on a quest to improve and simplify life.
One of the steps I took was to eliminate duplicate items from my kitchen. Things like multiples of the same sized pots and pans, dishes I never used, extra ladles, etc . . . One thing I got rid of was two extra sets of measuring cups. When I got married I received four sets. One basic white set, one rubber handled black set, one nice stainless steel set. (Which I actually re-gifted. Before using them of course.)  and a lovely red set.  When paring down I decided to keep the red ones because my kitchen theme is red and citrus fruits.
When I moved here for years ago I was pleased to find the kitchen was all white with some black trim. Which works well with my brightly colored fruit themed dishes and towels, but since I haven't had a chance to paint in there, it really does seem a bit starved for color.

Of course, there really isn't a lot of wall in my kitchen to paint. One whole wall (and some of each adjoining wall) is covered in a back splash of white tiles.

For years I've searched to try and find cute fruit themed wall stickers to dress the tiles up a bit and add some more color, but to no avail. The only ones I can find are not to my taste, being either too detailed, too dumbed down, and/or too dully colored.  I'm kind of going for modern-Asian-graphic or something.
(Hee hee, I just did a search and found these. They are almost what I want. Maybe I'll get them. I actually haven't looked for a while until now. :}  )

Ooo, just a random tangent! I just recently (after getting paid to do a Coat of Arms for someone,) found and bought these sweet things with my 'pin' money!

Aren't they adorable?

Anyway, enough blah-blah . . .

My point is, I had been wishing there was a way to hang pots, utensils, or really anything under my cupboards in order to better utilize the space.  I had been looking at under-cupboard racks but I was feeling a bit leery of drilling holes into my cupboards.

While looking I did find these two cute items at Smiths Marketplace.
I think this suction-cup basket was $5 and the over drawer towel rack was $7 or something.

I like being able to clear a bit of space near my sink by putting the hand soap and dish sponge up on the wall. I'll also position my soap dish underneath the basket to catch any drips from the sponge.  It works great, even with the dish soap perched in it.

Still, I hadn't found a way to really utilize any of the space under my cabinets.   Finally it came to me!
I realized, while it wouldn't be enough for pans, I could hang my red measuring cups under my cupboards using a small tension rod. No drilling required!  This not only frees up a bit more room in my kitchen drawers, and makes the cups very easy to use and put away, but also adds a nice splash of color. Yay!

All we had to do was measure the area where the rod would go, buy a thin tension rod to fit and some S hooks. My hubby was a darling and pinched one side of each hook together so that once on the rod they wouldn't easily fall off.

Granted, the hooks would be much prettier if they were the fancy black hooks of a prefabricated kitchen rack, but considering the ease and function of this solution I'm not about to complain!

Hopefully this will inspire you to think outside the box for your own storage/decor solutions!

Meatless Monday Menu Ideas

A few weeks ago I signed a pledge to go meatless on Mondays.  The idea is that if everyone just went one day without meat, it will be better for the environment, better for our health and make our food budget go a little further.

I was a bit nervous about what the hubby would say, but he has been very sweet and supportive, though I'm sure he was a bit skeptical that we would actually feel full at first.

I think it's been three weeks now, so three Meatless Mondays later I'm thinking maybe I should share what I've done to help others get some ideas.

If any of you here have any ideas for meatless meals please comment or e-mail me. I'll probably be updating this every few weeks or so when I come up with new meals.

For this first one I had a few things I wanted to use before they got too old, but at first it seemed like they would all need some kind of meat to accompany them and make them into a real meal, then it occurred to me that many sides, side by side can make a meal.
Think deli or salad bar.

Meal Idea 1.  Cream of Mushroom soup (just from a can but dolled up with some fresh onions, celery and other seasonings.)  A green salad (Lettuce, tomatoes) and a side of sweet potato fries.

For the fries I just wash my potatoes  and poke them with a fork and then wrap them in plastic wrap or a damp paper towel and then microwave them for about 3-4 minutes each. Then I remove them and carefully unwrap them on the cutting board, slice them up to desired size and saute them in some olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer) over medium high heat until just crispy and golden.  Then I drain on a paper towel and lightly salt them. So yummy! (I crush regular table salt with a mortar and pestle to help the salt stay better, you could also do this with sea salt.  Steak seasoning is a great way to flavor regular potato fries.)

Meal Idea 2.  Veggie Soup (Canned, dolled up once again) and Cucumber Sandwiches.

Okay, so if you make cucumber sandwiches the way I do, they aren't dairy free, which I guess is sort of part of the pledge . . .
(And yet, eggs aren't? o.O)
I figure maybe I'll cut back on cheese more over time, but sometimes I feel like even with awesome veggies and legumes, one just needs a little cheese now and then.  Baby steps and all.

Here's my recipe for cucumber sandwich spread:

2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
3 Tablespoons Mayo or Miracle Whip
4 ounce of softened cream cheese
1/2 package of dry ranch or Italian dressing mix.

Blend all ingredients until smooth (or good enough for your tastes.  Sometimes the cream cheese is still a bit lumpy, but that doesn't really bother me.)

This is even better after it's been in the fridge over night.

Spread on bread and top with sliced cucumbers.  I find chunkier slices (about 1/8") to be yummier, the cool crispness is a nice contrast to the savory spread.  You can of course slice them really thin if you wish. The spread is quite flavorful so I find I don't need to slather it on. So for me, thin on the spread, thick on the cucumbers, but of course it is all a matter of taste.  Enjoy!

This last one was actually the first meal I did for Meatless Monday. I figured, if eggs are okay than breakfast for dinner was an easy solution.

Meal Idea 3. Omelets and hash browns.

This one also included a bit of cheese, I confess.  We did our omelets with tomatoes, green peppers, onions and some shredded cheese. We also made our own hash browns from fresh potatoes, which honestly, we'd never done before. They turned out a bit sticky, but they were good. I do however, recommend looking up a recipe. (Unlike me.) :}

Meal Idea 4.  Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers
(Shared by my sweet Sister-In-Law Megan)

We really enjoyed this recipe! Even my little girls at it up! Really tasty and also fun to look at and eat. Thanks Megan!

Another Recipe I've found and enjoy is from a Rachel Ray Magazine that came in the mail.  I was able to find it online luckily so I can share it with you all . . . It's called Chickpeas and Spinach, and is an Indian recipe.
The only really unusual ingredient is Garam Masala, which is a spice mix kind of like curry except this one is more sweet smelling as opposed to savory, (you know like nutmeg or cinnamon sort of.)  I found it at Smiths Marketplace in the aisle where they have all the spices and dry goods in bulk. It was kind of expensive, like $18 a lbs or something, but of course, I didn't buy a whole pound.
I should note that while I did go out and buy the garam masala that I've never made it with the ground coriander, but have just substituted cumin instead.  You could also probably use curry instead of garam masala and it would still be really good, though it would taste entirely different. :} 

My friend Lorri Love shared this recipe with me, and since I love sweet potatoes and black beans there was no way I wasn't going to love this!  

It's truly delicious, though if you aren't a huge fan of cumin, you might want to go light on that ingredient for the dressing, or substitute something else.
Anyway, it's from Better Homes and Gardens and is called Vegetable Bowls with Yogurt-Lime Dressing. 

So there are a few more delicious meatless meals!  

Happy eating!

~Julie :}

Friday, August 12, 2011

Some Fresh Uses for vinegar

This link was posted up on the Bountiful Baskets Facebook Page.  I thought I'd share a few of the most pertinent tips here. I'm especially interested in the fruit and vegetable wash.

Boiling eggs:
When boiling an egg and it’s cracked, a little vinegar in the water will keep the white from running out.

Keeping potatoes white:
A teaspoon of white distilled or cider vinegar added to the water in which you boil potatoes will keep them nice and white. You can keep peeled potatoes from turning dark by covering them with water and adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar.

Freshen vegetables:
Freshen up slightly wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water and vinegar.

Fruit and vegetable wash:
Add 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to 1 pint water and use to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, then rinse thoroughly.  Research has shown that vinegar helps kill bacteria on fruits and vegetables.

Check out the link above for more great ways to use vinegar to solve lots of everyday problems.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To live in Bountiful and eat Bountifully!

I promised a loooong time ago that I here in the west and are spreading.  It's all volunteer run and you just pay $16.50 (including tax/fees) and in return they pool the money and buy in bulk from the same suppliers as the grocery stores. They try to go as local as possible and cutting out the middle man makes buying produce a whole lot more affordable.  I've been getting them off and on since the beginning of the year in an effort to meet my New Years resolution to go 80% produce.

Which goal was inspired by Green Smoothie Girl, whom I finally got around to looking up after seeing her on a video where she got a Dressing Your Truth Makeover.  I am sooo glad I did look her up and downloaded her 12 Nutrition Myths.  The one about milk has been such a saving grace for us!  Without reading that I never would have figured out why my oldest girl always had a chronic runny nose year round!
So yes, we've cut out milk, and as such we no longer buy cold cereal.  I really don't miss it.  It is sooo expensive to buy something so processed and mostly air, that often contains too much sugar (and when it truly is healthy you can break your teeth on the hard whole grains and seeds *cough*Kashi*cough*.)
Ok, end of rant about cold cereal.  Anyway, cutting out those two things has been a great decision for us.  We've saved money on our groceries and I don't have to wash nearly as many spoons and bowls.  And yes, I think we're all healthier now.

Now for those of your who already know about Green Smoothie Girl, you might be wondering why I said 80 percent produce instead of 80 percent raw, which is what she does.  This is because I know myself, and I know that big changes don't happen over night, especially when they involve more people than just myself. (Namely, the hubby.)
So I figured, listen to the Flylady and take baby steps.  Let's just up our produce intake and then we can see how much cooking we can eliminate next year.

So this brought me round to my previous thoughts on joining Bountiful Baskets.  I had been thinking about it for at least a year off and on, but the idea of that much produce in my house made my head swim because it seemed that whenever I bought fresh stuff, a large amount very often went to waste.  So, once again, baby steps.

We got one and tried it . . . it did take some getting used to, and if I do recall aright, some things did go bad before we used them, but it was overall really good so we did it again a little while later. . . And again.  Then we did have a little regression where we had to get some Charity food from our Church's storehouse and that was frustrating because while they do give a lot of produce, it's only enough to last a month or so, and then all you have left is a years worth of carbs and meats and condiments.  Which, of course, are good things to have on hand, but it doesn't make for very healthy eating when that's all you have in the house.
Okay, so we did get canned fruits and veggies too, and I did the best I could with those for a while, but I have been most happy to see my hubby's work pick up again because I've missed my Bountiful Basket!

I think that time without one really made me appreciate it more.  I also think that I have finally gotten used to eating more produce.  We used to get one every other week at most, but yesterday I bought my third one in a row, so we will have had fresh produce for three weeks in a row next week!  Of course, this is almost all we are spending on groceries (Aside from some occasional cheese from the local grocery store).
So really, because we are all stocked up on meat and carbs, it's kind of nice that we can just focus on buying fresh things and since we are also no longer buying chips or crackers we have slowly learned to snack on fruit, celery, carrots . . . things like that.

The only other thing that can be a bit of a challenge is that one never knows what the basket will hold until they get it.  So, if you've never cooked with or eaten some of the offerings it will take a little extra research and thought to work it into your meals.  And yes, sometimes it takes a little courage too.

I honestly used to be a very picky eater as a child.  (possibly influenced by picky older siblings as the second youngest of seven.)  There was a time when I was heard to say that I wouldn't eat anything green unless it was jello . . . maybe iceburg lettuce.  Lol. Peas were the worst! I have a very vivid memory of being made to choke them down at dinner once! It was awful!
Eventually, I got brave and tried broccoli.  Which I liked, as long as it was fresh.  When I was a young teenager my Mom discovered Reliv.  Which is a pretty great invention (if they only would cut back on the soy, but of course they didn't know better at the time. They should know by now though!)
It is basically a vitamin/mineral supplement that is taken in drink form.  Let me tell you, this is not a very yummy drink.  My Mom really believed in it though and I took them for her.  I really didn't mind too much.  It actually seemed to cure the chronic cough/cold I 'd had for about two years. (Though, now I'm wondering if that was actually due to Milk. I did stop drinking milk at some point, but I'm not sure if those events coincide.)
Anyway, after choking down Reliv (Which I did for about six years or so) I began to say to myself, "If I can handle this, I can handle anything."  I became a much more adventurous eater thereafter.  Which was good because when one moves around socially, it really is not polite or classy to cringe (or whine) at the site of new, untried foods.  I even started to eat peas, though even now I must say they are still not a favorite.

At any rate I am super excited to try new things now, and I feel adventurous and motivated and so, so, so blessed that we have the opportunity in this day and age to try so many amazing foods from all over the world and that we have the knowledge and resources to find out what each food does for us so that we can choose to be healthier and happier!

~Julie :}

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eat Cleaner All Natural Food Wash

Another great find thanks to Daily Grommet!

This is a food wash that can come as a spray, or as wipes.  It is safe, biodegradable, non-toxic etc . . . All you do is spray your produce, let it sit for two minutes and then rinse it off.

The spray will remove all wax and pesticide residue from your food, and because it removes bacteria the shelf life of your produce is increased!
I'm really excited about this!  Apparently they even sell to restaurants, and they offer a poultry and seafood spray as well, that will ensure you don't  have things like salmonella or e-coli in your food.

Check out the Eat Cleaner website for yourself!
Happy eating!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Convert to Skirt Tutorial

I've really been wanting a white skirt for a while, and conveniently, they are in style this season!  The only problem is that I haven't been able to find one that I like, that meets my needs.  The other day I was telling my sister about my search for the perfect white skirt and she in return told me about this old Jody dress that she has that she's been wondering if it's a bit outdated. I started to tell her that I had been wondering the same thing about my Jody dress of that style, and suddenly it hit me! The dress I was speaking of is white!  Ereka! I can turn my outdated white dress into a skirt!  It's eyelet lace, and both white and lace are 'in' right now so it will be perfect!  So last Friday I spent a few hours and made it happen.  Here is a little tutorial. I highly suggest you read the whole thing before starting as dresses will vary.  Enjoy!

The dress.  Try it on inside out and decide where you want the waist of your skirt to be.
If the dress has a zipper you'll need to decide if it goes low enough down the back to work for your skirt. If not you'll want to remove the zipper before you do any cutting so you can re-insert it a bit lower. (Here's a video for installing an invisible zipper.)
Mark it where you want to cut it. Be sure to unzip the zipper if you're planning to keep it.  Otherwise you'll cut the tongue of the zipper off when you cut your dress.
First cut a little notch on one side just to get through the seam.
Following your marking, continue cutting but this time only cut through the front layer(s) of the dress, this will help you keep your cut straighter.

Turn the dress over and carefully cut through the back layer.
Until your dress is in two pieces. Note: the zipper is unzipped so I don't lose the tongue.
Whip stitch the ends of the zipper to keep the tongue from zipping off.
If your dress is lined or can fray easily, stay stitch around the top edge of the skirt to keep the lining and overlay together. This will also work the same for your zipper as the whip stich, so if your are going to stay stitch you can probably skip the whip stitching.
Try on your skirt. If it needs to be more fitted around the waist, add some darts. Using a seam gauge measure from the side seam in to ensure the darts are the same on both sides.
Make sure the darts also have the same amount of material cinched in. 

You can figure out how big your darts need to be by pinching the extra when you try it on, then measure how much too big the waist is, divide that number into four.  Say it's 4 inches, you would make four darts that are all 1 inch.
To learn more about sewing darts check out this video tutorial.
Once darts are sewn, press them toward the center  . . .

On both sides. Try on your skirt again to see if you really can get into it with the darts in place.  If not, you maybe need to replace the old zipper with a new one so you can open the skirt a bit more.

To finish the top edge of the skirt, you can surge the edge and fold it under and hem, but I prefer to use binding in situations like this.  It is less bulky, and I like the look of it.  I usually make my own binding by using a long length of ribbon which I have pressed exactly in half.  Then pin the folded ribbon along the edge you are finishing, making sure the raw edge is tucked as far in to the crease as possible. Once pinned, stitch along the bottom of the binding. 
There will probably places where you stay stitching shows underneath the edge of your binding.  You can unpick this now as the top edge is finished and no longer needs the stay stitch.
You can either trim the ends of the binding, fold the edges in and stitch, or you can leave them long like this and tie them like a sash. I chose this later method because one detail I liked about the top of the dress was the white satin bow.  The sash recreates that same type of detail for me in a functional and fun way.
To keep the edges of the ribbon from fraying I melted them carefully with a lighter. Be sure to test this method on a scrap first in case the ribbon is quite flammable. Or you can apply some fray check to prevent fraying.

Convert a dress to a skirt?  Converted!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Creating Your Personal Style

I had th opportunity to teach a class for Activity Days last week on Creating Your Personal Style.  I really enjoyed sharing some new ideas with the girls and I think they really enjoyed it as well.  Because there is so much to be said about the topic I created an outline for them to take home because I knew there would be no way I could possibly share all I had to say in one hour.  I have really enjoyed preparing for this and writing the outline I almost felt like I just need to go ahead and write a book.  So, at the risk that you all might think I'm crazy, I thought perhaps I'd share my outline here and see what people think. I realize that the very first part is pretty vague if you're not familiar with those particular makeover establishments/books but I have all my resources listed at the bottom, or you can just ask me if you're curious to know more about either. Thanks in advance. 
~Julie :}

 Creating Your Personal Style
There are a couple of things to consider first off when deciding what clothes to wear . . .

1. Color & Coloring:
-Beauty for All Seasons Theory-
  • Natural Hair, Eye Color & Face Shape
  • Warm VS Cool Colors
  • The Four Seasons
  • Personalized Color Palettes
2. Personality:
-Carol Tuttle Theories-
  • It's Just My Nature
  • The Four Types
  • Dressing Your Truth
  • Type Specific Color Cards

~Combining the best of both ideas~
While both of these theories are really great and could make a vast improvement in anyone's wardrobe, the first focuses on your natural coloring a disregards you true nature and personality, while the second focuses on your nature/personality and disregards your natural coloring. I want to suggest that by taking the time to explore and experiment that you can have the best of both worlds and create a personal style that is truly YOU-nique. (Ha, ha!)

~Styles, Trends and You~
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
I really like this quote because I think it embodies how we can be 'in the world but not of the world'. As Latter-day saint girls, you have the challenge of both enjoying life, beauty and celebrating your own individual loveliness while at the same time standing up for what you believe and not letting the opinions of the world dictate everything you choose to do (or wear.) One thing to remember is that styles change over time and it is best to choose things that are a bit more classic and timeless because these items will last longer for you.
Trends are even more fleeting and often are not worth the investment at all because by the time you have caught on to the trend and finally decided you like it and want to buy it, the trend is most likely over or nearly over, and then you'll feel silly for trying it because everyone else has moved on to the next thing. If you really love something though, especially if you love it the moment you see it, there is no reason not to try and incorporate that into your style. Just remember that sometimes you'll love it on someone else, but find that when you try it, that it doesn't always love you back.
It is also important to note that something that is popular, but not quite up to your standards can usually be combined with something else or altered with sewing which will do two things;
  1. Align it with your ideals of modesty.
  2. Make it your own. (You might even start your own trend!)
No matter what, always remember and honor who you are. A royal daughter of God.

~Using Color~
Creating outfits, like any other art is somewhat subjective and depends on personal taste and the desired effect as well as what current fashion dictates, but here are some ideas and guidelines that might help you feel comfortable when using color in your ensembles.
The 'Pop' of Color: The idea here is to create a neutral base, like an all white dress, a gray suite, a beige coat, etc . . . and then add just one (possibly two) colors to it.1 It can be bright bold or pastle, or even a multicolored item that will sort of be the center piece for the outfit.2 You can even do this without using neutrals by creating a base of a single color and then adding just one complimentary or contrasting color to the mix.3
Different Hues/Matching Values (Color Block Style): Not everything must “match”. You can actually use a lot of different colors together as long as they are the same value/intensity. This helps to ensure that they will looked balanced next to each other and compliment each other well.4
Primary Colors: Using the primary colors, red, yellow and blue together can look really great! Keeping the intensity and value balanced still applies here.5
Complimentary Colors: On the color wheel each color has an opposite. A color which is found directly across the wheel. This is also called the compliment. They really do compliment each other so pairing these together can really look great.6 Just to make it easy I'll list the basic compliments here:
  • Red-Green
  • Blue-Orange
  • Yellow-Purple
Near Compliments: A surprisingly bold choice can be to use near compliments together. For example instead of pairing red and green (which might look a bit Christmas-y) you can pair red with a near green like teal or chartreuse. As long as you follow the rules of hue balance, such a combo can be both striking and lovely.7
Going Analogous: An analogous color scheme is when you use three or more colors together that are all next to each other on the color wheel. For Example: Blue, Teal and Green. Once again, try to keep them at the same intensity, if one is too bright, too muted, or too pale it can throw off the whole effect. 8 You can also use an analogous as a base and use a compliment or near compliment as your 'pop' of color.9
Pulling From Your Prints: When you have a great print it can be a lot of fun to accessorize it with solid colors that are found within the print. This may seem obvious but if you can truly find pieces that match well it can make the whole outfit feel cohesive and well put together. This can apply to any multi-colored print, whether it consists of two colors,10 three colors11 or six.12
Whatever you do, it needs to look like you did it on purpose. It's your style, wear it with confidence!

~How to Shop~
When shopping for/choosing clothing, there are a few other things you need to consider. In the popular TV show What Not To Wear, in one episode they create an acronym to help a lady figure out how to shop. Their acronym was BASE.
Body - How it looks on you: Does it fit? Is it flattering? Is it Comfortable?
Appropriate - Is it age appropriate, and is it modest?
Situation - Where will you wear it and how often?
Expense - How much does it cost compared to how often you think you'll wear it? Cost per wear?
While these are really great things to remember I thought of a few more that are really important as well. To try and keep it simple I created another acronym to go with theirs. Mine is CLUE.
Care/Content - Does it have special washing instructions, will it be worth it? (Dry cleaning, etc.) AND what is the fiber content? Synthetics like rayon, nylon, polyester or spandex might feel soft to touch, but they don't breath well and you might find you get hot and sweaty (depending on when and how you wear the item) which in turn might stain your clothing and make it unwearable. %100 Cotton can breath but it most likely will shrink (unless it says pre-shrunk) and it wrinkles easily. A good, easy choice would be a polyester/cotton blend, no shrinkage, less wrinkly and it still breaths. Silk is lovely but very fragile and usually requires special care.
Love - Do you love it? No matter how well something fits all the requirements, the bottom line should be that you wear it because you love it. Never buy it if you aren't sure. One trick I use is to try it on in the dressing room, and either close my eyes or turn away from the mirror for a moment, clear my mind and then abruptly turn back to the mirror or open my eyes and try to see what other people might see if I walked into a room suddenly, wearing that. Pay attention to your feelings. If you feel excited and have positive good feelings when you see yourself in those clothes then you know you love it.
Unite - You also might want to consider how the item you're looking at is going to work with your other clothes. Sometimes I might buy a shirt that is a bit low cut thinking that I can just layer it with a tank top or something, but when I come home I find that I don't have a tank top that works with the new shirt. Or you might find a printed skirt you love and realize that your have no tops that match it. If you're replacing your whole wardrobe on purpose that might be okay, but a lot of times it makes more sense to try and match things to what you already have. I love the idea of knowing your best colors/styles so well that your whole wardrobe can be mixed and matched. I haven't quite achieved that yet, but I'm a lot closer to that ideal now that ever before.
Express – Going back to what we talked about earlier. Is the item you're considering really true to
you? Does the color look good on you? Does the style and or pattern fit with your personality? It's okay if you love a style that you can't wear. You can appreciate all styles of clothing without having to own and wear them all. Someday it might be fun for you to buy something you love as a gift for someone else who you think really would look good in that item and you can enjoy seeing it on that person and rejoice in knowing that you had a hand in pairing it with the right personality.
Using the guidelines of your BASE CLUE will really help make shopping a lot less confusing and a lot more satisfying and fun.

~Where to Shop~
Second Hand:
Remember that clothing does not have to be brand name or even brand new to be fabulous and fun. You can go shopping in your older sister's closet (with permission of course) you can get hand-me-downs from cousins, you can shop at the D.I., Kid-to-Kid or other second hand stores. You can shop at factory outlet stores or consignment shops.
There are a lot of options out there and though it can take some serious time, finding clothes can be like a treasure hunt and really can be fun and exciting. When buying second hand though, do remember to check the item carefully before purchasing. Be sure to check for:
  • Holes,
  • Ripped seams
  • Stained underarms/collar
  • Missing buttons/broken zippers
  • Lose threads
  • Other stains
The same goes when buying used online I. E. Ebay. Be sure to ask questions if you aren't sure of the qaulity)

You might also want to try shopping online. A good tool to have for this is a measuring tape. Most websites offer sizing charts which will very from store to store, but will list the measurements.
Also, reviews are a great tool. Read any reviews that you can before you buy something, just to be sure that you know as much as possible about what you're going to get. Sometimes sizes might run small, colors vary a lot from the picture, or material might be too thin and low quality. Others who have bought before you are often only to happy to share their experiences. The less chance you have of needing to return an item the less hassle it will be. Taking the time to research could save you the time of posting a return package later.
Another cool fact about some local stores that have online shops is that now you can choose to have an item shipped to the store where you can pick it up within 90 days. When you go in to get it you can check it out and if your are not satisfied you can leave it there and the store will return the item for you.
Be sure to check for clearance items on the website.
Also, You can usually find coupon codes that you can use when checking out, just Google “coupon code for (Stores name)”. If you really love a store you can get e-mail updates about sales and special offers by registering with the website. Most stores are on Facebook now as well.

Physical Stores:
I feel that the main advantage of a physical store is the option of trying something on in the dressing room. Even though it takes more time, it can really help you save time and money later. I can't tell you how many times I've an item I just loved on the hanger, but when I tried it on it suddenly changed and I would see that the color, fit, comfort or some other aspect just wasn't working for me.
It also can be hard to choose between two or three items when you're on a budget and I've found the easiest way to make a decision is to try them on and really be honest with yourself. It can make letting go of that lovely top a lot easier when you realize it doesn't fit you like you wanted it to. Also, sometimes the more expensive choice might turn out to be the least attractive one. Knowing this when you put it back can make you feel really good that you didn't splurge on something you would have never worn.
Transversely, sometimes the choice that you love best might be the one that costs more, but knowing that it really does work and you really will wear it a lot takes away any guilt or uncertainty you might have otherwise felt because you know it is worth the few extra dollars. Remember, quality over quantity. It is better to have a few really great items that you love to wear and feel beautiful and comfortable in than a whole closet full of mediocre ill-fitting clothes that you don't like wearing and despite their bulk make you feel like you have no clothes.

~Some Stores to Check out~
DownEast basics:
  • DownEast Basics (selections found in Seagull Book and Tape)
  • DownEast Home and Clothing Clearance Center
    3505 West 3500 South
    West Valley City, UT 84120
    (801) 968-1872
Family Dollar: (They have great clothing and you can get other items there as well. Coupons in the mail or online.)
  • 273 West 500 South
(801) 397-0010
The Children's Place:
  • The Children's Place Centerville Marketplace
    126 North Frontage Road
    Centerville, UT 84014 US
  • The Children's Place OutletFactory Stores@ Park City
    6699 North Landmark Drive
    Park City, UT 84098 US
VF Factory Outlet:
  • The Outlets @ Draper Towne
    12101 S. Factory Outlet Dr.
    Draper, UT 84020

    (801) 572-6440

It's Just My Nature by Carol Tuttle
Dressing Your Truth by Carol Tuttle

Color Example Endnotes: