Friday, January 27, 2012

House #1? House #2? House #3!

My husband and I felt like we should have been on an episode of House Hunters.  We have been looking at so many types of properties and in so many locations that it kind of felt like a toss of a dice where we would land.  We didn't pick the cute house with a yard near the foothills that was completely finished, we didn't pick the fixer upper with the shop near the university, but we DID pick the small semi fixer upper duplex with the great location!  We are now the proud owners of an investment property.  For the next 3 years we will be working on and living in one unit while we rent out the other.  At that time we will purchase a house for ourselves and continue to rent out both units in the duplex for the income potential.  Has anyone done this before?  Any recommendations?  We were urged to read Landlording which looks like an interesting read.  I will keep you posted on our experiences as it goes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Project: Couch



My husband is awesome.  We bought a sewing machine so we could sew duvet covers for our boys.... fast forward 6 months, I still don't know how to turn the thing on yet he has already sewn a soft top for his bronco and re-hemmed pants.  This is how our relationship works: I pick out the project and get the materials and he completes them for me.  It is great!  Anyway, several months ago I decided it was time to sew a slip cover for our sad looking leather couch.  Last week I still hadn't done anything so he took it a step further and made new cushions for the couch.

Here is what he did:

The cushions on the couch were not removable, they were seamed in with the seams of the couch.  His first step was to cut the leather (cutting about 3" above the seam so he did not ruin the look of the front of the couch) then use an upholstery staple gun to secure the leather back onto the frame.

After preshrinking our material (corduroy) he cut out the sizes he needed for the top, bottom, and sides then pinned it together over the foam/cushion (we used what was already there; it was covered in leather previously so nothing had penetrated into the foam) to make sure he was pinning it to size.  Make sure you lay the fabric down so the inside of the fabric is facing you as you will turn it 'inside out' after you sew it so your seam is on the inside.

Then, sew.
 We used a waterproof material around the foam (just wrapped it around, no sewing necessary) so the cushion wouldn't be ruined if our boys spilled anything on the couch (although as you can imagine, food is outlawed on the couch now ;) ).
 Then he stuffed the foam into the cover similar to the way you put a pillow into a pillowcase.
 We used iron on fabric velcro to secure the back so we can wash the fabric as needed.
Final product!  It took 4 hours, but looks SO MUCH BETTER!  Next step is to make throw pillows that incorporate both colors :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shortbread Gingerbread Cookies

After having an AMAZING cookie at a coffee shop (and of course being unable to find anything like it online) I set out to make my own recipe.  It turned out delicious.... however I learned that shortbread recipes are anything BUT healthy, so proceed at your own risk:
Shortbread Gingerbread Cookies

Cream together:
2 sticks unsalted butter 
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup (white) sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

then add:
2 tbs + 2 tsp molasses

shift together in separate bowl:
2 cups flour
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Add molasses to creamed mixture then add in sifted ingredients.  Roll out on lightly floured surface, cut shapes, then put them on baking pan and chill in fridge for 15 minutes.  Bake at 350 until edges start to turn brown (approx 13-15 min).  Let cool then brush with icing (recipe below).

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs milk
1tsp vanilla extract
Mix together, and add milk or powdered sugar as needed for desired consistency.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


 With a sister and a sister in law both expecting babies soon, I started thinking about all of the things I wish I would have known before I had children.  There are so many people who don't care and don't want to hear about eco-friendly or chemical alternatives, but if you are that type you probably won't like this blog.  So, I am listing my top ten here in hopes to help other mothers who are interested in learning healthier ways to raise their children.  If you are offended by this post, please skip over it.  As always, I am not a scientist.  All I know for sure is that I have done my due diligence and research on all of the things I listed.  Something that is a cause of concern for me may not be for others.  Do not use this post as your 'be all end all'.  Do your own reading and research to determine if it is an issue for you.

Top 10 things I wish I had known when I had babies:
1.    Plastic is not good.  Plastic contains more than BPA (although BPA is pretty major in and of itself) it also contains phthalates and sometimes even lead.  Try to stay away from it at as much as possible- especially when purchasing food in plastic containers, teethers and objects that go in mouths, bottles, etc.
2.    It is SO easy to make baby food!  Just think not only of the money saved, but also the relief of knowing exactly what you are putting into your precious baby’s mouth and body.  All you need is a food processor or blender and some fresh veggies.
3.    Flame Retardants.  Stay away from them at all cost.  Since when is it a good idea to sleep in chemical-doused clothing?  Breathe in air and dust that has harmful chemicals from curtains, mattresses, and electronics?  I am not suggesting you throw away your television, but when making future purchases keep in mind that there ARE some companies that do not add flame retardants when manufacturing their products.  I AM suggesting you do NOT purchase any clothing, blankets, or curtains that contain flame retardants.  Install good fire detectors, minimize all fire hazards, and do not expose your babies to these chemicals.  
4.    Crib mattresses.  Please, please, please consider a wool crib mattress.  There are flame retardants in other mattresses, which I just discussed above but also other factors to consider.  Here is a great post that I read when weighing the cost/ possible benefits of purchasing a wool mattress.  I am the worrying/ guilt laden type and I knew that if something were to happen to my child and there was something that MAY have prevented it from happening I would have carried the guilt around with me for the rest of my life.  To me the extra cost was worth it.
5.    Soy.  This is a debate that I am not going to get into, however it poses a question to consider.  I would prefer to be aware of a possible issue than to be oblivious which is why I am listing it here.  Personally when I found out about the soy debate I switched to organic milk for my boys.  As stated above, it just wasn’t worth the guilt later on.  I think like everything else it is probably fine in moderation; however toddlers drink a LOT of milk so I chose to stay away from it.
6.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this site.  4 years ago I looked up Johnson and Johnson tear free baby wash.  4 years ago I switched to a safer alternative.  A few months ago it was FINALLY pulled off store shelves due to toxicity.  I was thankful I was proactive and did my own research before washing my child with it.  I search EVERY thing on this site before I purchase it.  Every shampoo, soap, lotion, and cosmetic we own is rated less than a 3.
7.    Get a female pediatrician.  As a first time mom I went to the doctor every time my son sneezed wrong.  My first two peds were males.  The first one told me to give my infant cough syrup and aspirin.  The pharmacist almost died when I asked him if they were okay for a baby to take.  Needless to say it was on to ped #2.  Pediatrician #2 actually told me he hoped he didn’t see me again until my next well baby check (after I went in worried about a deep cough).  On to Ped #3.  A female who understands what it is like to be a mom.  She knows not to give a baby aspirin because she HAS a baby.  She doesn’t mind when I page her in the middle of the night if my infant has a 104 degree fever.  A good doctor is a must.
8.    Stock up on EVERYTHING before your little one arrives.  It is not fun to have to run to the store for a pack of diapers every 3 days.  With my second son I had enough diapers to last 3 MONTHS when he was born.
9.    A Baby Bjorn and an exercise ball were my saving graces for the first 6 months.  When rocking and pacing resulted in louder wails, holding them and gently bouncing up and down while sitting on an exercise ball never failed to calm them down.
10.   Dr. Sears’ vaccine book.  So many people are questioning vaccines these days.  This book goes into pretty good detail about what the side effects of each vaccine are, and the purposes of the vaccine.  It is a great way to be informed about what you are having injected into your child.

If you have anything to add, please do so in the comment section.  Hoping for happy, healthy futures for our little ones!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Soap Nuts

Have you ever heard of soap nuts?  If you haven't, you are now enlightened.  They are AWESOME!  They are eco friendly, completely natural, chemical free.  I have been using them instead of liquid laundry detergent for about a month now, and I have NOTHING bad to say about them.  I have noticed no difference in how my clothes are cleaned.  This is where I get mine.  I am not getting paid to say this (except, perhaps by paying it forward to my grandchildren), it is my honest to god opinion.  LOVE these things.  TRY them!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Maybe in other parts of the country (like 1/4" in Wisconsin).... but up here in the mountains there is NO SNOW.  Seriously, none.  Is that crazy or what?  I am really hoping this doesn't go on for much longer.  Not that I love snow or anything (quite the contrary); but I love water.  I do not like droughts.  So, there you have it.  I'm dreaming of a white January.