Category Archives: Crafts & Kitchen

Get Organized!

Yep, I finally did it! After over a year of having the luxury of a maid clean my house (usually once a week), I decided to jump back into the cleaning arena.

I’ve been keeping busy with taking care of Ethan, directing the Christmas and Easter choirs and helping lead worship at church, and the typical household chores. But I really let the house cleaning fall to the capable hands of our maid.

Well, with baby #2 on the way and other bills/debts taking priority, we decided to cut back to having our maid come every other week. But I didn’t really change my routine. Oh, I still got the dishes washed and clean clothes put away, but the dust would pile up and the floors got pretty dirty (not to mention the toilets and, well, everything else!)

So, last week, I finally started getting organized!

Lists and Charts

I’ve had lists and charts for years – chores, menu planning, groceries, to-do’s – but I needed to get motivated again.

My hubby has offered numerous times to help out more around the house, if only I would let him know what he could do on a more consistent basis. He already would jump in and tidy the house, make the bed, put Ethan to bed and change diapers (often!) … but he wanted to do more!

(I know, I’m the envy of all you women reading this post!)

Also, we want to teach our kids that every family member is expected to contribute to our family goals. And one of our goals is an efficiently run household.

So, what was I waiting for?!

I spent less than an hour surfing the web and pulled up a few chore charts. (Then I remembered that I actually had some of my own from several years ago.) I combined the ideas of both and … I created a new Chore Chart!

Getting Motivated

It seems silly, but putting a check in that little box totally motivates me!

Consequently, the house was picked up and clean every day, lunches and dinners were served on time, AND I got a lot of work done for both of my blogs.

What a relief!

Now, I’m happily charging through my weekly and monthly chores, feeling so accomplished.

Like I said …

maybe it’s silly, but it works!

And I’d love to share my charts and lists with you (which also can be edited), so click on the links below to download your copy for FREE!

Chore Chart

Grocery List

Menu Planner

I’d like to know what helps you stay motivated. Will you write a comment below? (It’s nice to know someone actually reads my posts!)

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Filed under Crafts & Kitchen, Life Journal, Living in Mexico

Sunday Afternoon Baking – Almond Flour Banana Bread

Almond Flour Banana Bread

I’m standing in my kitchen, smelling the amazing sweet aroma of coconut oil and mashed bananas coming from the bowl that I just used to mix banana bread batter in. You know those yucky brown bananas that need to be given a second life, since eating them raw sure ain’t cuttin’ it?! Well, I went on the hunt for a healthy banana bread recipe. Apparently, most recipes call for at least a cup of sugar per loaf. Really, do we need to eat that much sugar, along with all the natural sugar that comes from really ripe bananas?! After some serious online surfing, I found an Almond Flour Banana Bread recipe from the website:  http://www.foodrenegade.com. For one loaf of bread, it only called for 1/8 c. honey (I used agave instead). Fantastic!

So, being the cook/baker that is never satisfied with a recipe as is, I changed it to the following. (I also cut the recipe in half, wanting to only make one loaf).

Making banana bread

1  1/2 c. almond flour (I made my own by grinding up almonds in a food processor)

1 c. oat flour (again, made my own by grinding up oats)

1/2 c. coconut flour (yes, again … made my own by grinding up shredded coconut)

Yummy ingredients

1/2 c. walnuts, chopped

1/2 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. baking powder

1 t. pumpkin pie spice

1/8 c. agave nectar

1/4 c. coconut oil

3 eggs

1/2 Tbs. vanilla

1  1/4 c. ripe bananas, mashed

Ready to bake

Directions:

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl. Then mix them all together. Pour into a loaf pan and bake at 350 F for 40 minutes. (I sprinkled some oats on top for that “good-for-you” look.)

So easy!

I literally just took the picture below and I’m anxious to cut the bread and take a bite! However, I just noticed these instructions on the website: “Remove cooking tins from oven, and let cool completely before removing from cooking tins and serving up this delicious almond flour banana bread to your family and friends. Freeze whatever you don’t think you’ll eat within a couple of days!”

Patience is a virtue …

OK, I took the bread out and carefully removed it from the loaf pan. A little piece broke off from the bottom … so I had to eat it, right?! I’m putting the bread back in the pan and into the oven for another 5 minutes to cook. I think it might be a little too moist still.

Wait for it, wait for it … beep!

Sad to say, I forgot the above instructions and popped the bread out of the pan onto my cutting board. It fell apart gracefully, so here it is … smelling heavenly!

Smells delicious!

Tastes great, but definitely not cooked, so back it goes. (I’m thinking I should have cooked it for 50-55 minutes originally. Also, I have a Celsius oven, and I baked it at about 210 C – maybe that was too low.) After another 12 minutes, I took the bread out, let it cool, then turned it out onto the cutting board.

Of course, M. came home at that moment and tasted my creation. His response?

Loved it!

Two thumbs up and I should even make it again!

So, it’s official … Almond Flour Banana Bread is super yummy and healthy. It’s gluten free, too! Hope you enjoy making some for your family!

Here’s another yummy recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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Filed under Crafts & Kitchen, Life Journal

Maternity Skirt Tutorial

If you read my previous post, you might be interested in how I actually made the maternity skirts, so here is a quick tutorial. (I’m using pictures of two skirts to show all the steps.)

Maternity spring skirt

Items needed: pretty skirt, camisole in coordinating color made of stretchy material, sewing machine, creative spark, and courage to try something new

Thrift store spring skirt

1. I started out by putting on the skirt (with the zipper open), looking in a mirror, and penciling in a half moon under my belly. Caution: don’t go too low or too wide, as this will make the “secret panel” too loose. I made that mistake with the all white skirt I adjusted first. A valuable lesson learned! I kept the side seams intact and started the half moon about 1/2″-3/4″ to the inside of the seam.

Pinning and basting

 2. Pin together the skirt layers or pleats as shown. Next, baste about 1/4″ under the pencil drawing. Then cut on the pencil line.

Cut along pencil line after pinning and basting

Camisole for creating the "secret panel"

3. Now use the half moon cut-out (shown above the skirt) to measure the “secret panel” that you will make from the camisole. Place the waist edge of the cut-out skirt piece along the bottom seam of the camisole (shown on the top, since the cami is upside down). Cut out a similar size half moon from the camisole, using only the front of the cami. (You can use the back of the cami for another skirt!)

 

White skirt with cami cut-out above

4. Pin the cami cut-out to the skirt, right sides together. I started at one side along the waist, then pinned the halfway point (the bottom of the half moon) and carefully manipulated the cami cut-out to fit along the skirt in between – similar to how you would sew a sleeve on. It’s a little awkward, but worth the effort to line it up correctly!

Voila! You now have a lovely skirt that will be the envy of your pregnant friends – especially when you tell them how little you spent on it!

Finished spring skirt

The finished look!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Crafts & Kitchen, Life Journal, Pregnant in Mexico

Maternity clothes – a necessary evil

So, ladies … who else thinks that maternity clothes prices are outrageous?!

Here’s my journey to find an alternative …

I have been fortunate to gain most of my weight in my belly alone, so I didn’t need to get maternity clothes until around four months pregnant. Yes, my pants were tight, so I used the belly bands (I think I bought Bella Vonna Belly Bands from ebay) and just unzipped those pants/capris/shorts. That worked for a couple months. But, the belly kept growing!

At three months along, I took a trip to California to visit friends and family. I had decided it was time to actually purchase real maternity clothes. Fortunately, after several unsuccessful attempts (prices too high or wrong season clothing for Mexico), my Mom and I stumbled upon a great little maternity section at Burlington Coat Factory. I believe we purchased about 12 items for around $100. Not bad! I also found a couple comfy cotton shift dresses at Buffalo Exchange. They aren’t “maternity”, but they fit great – still!

However, time continued on and my belly kept growing – of course! I can no longer wear the maternity capris, shorts, or pants I bought. It is way too hot here and the thick elastic band on the shorts is too tight now. I had only one skirt left that fit. It was actually an ankle length black skirt that was always a little big, so I simply cut it off to knee length and hemmed it. (In the photo of B. and I at my baby shower).

So, what does a girl do? Get creative!

I figured that other women have probably run into the same problem, so I looked up some tutorials on how to sew my own maternity skirts. This one is particular inspired me to take the plunge and start cutting!

At five months pregnant, I purchased several cotton skirts at a thrift store for $3-4 each.

The black skirt I simply hemmed to knee length (it was originally mid-calf) and removed the tie at the waist (pregnant belly plus big bow in front = bigger belly!). Since it has an elastic waist already, it fits great and will fit after the pregnancy, too.

The two white skirts needed more adjustments, so I bought a stretchy cami at Ross for around $5 to turn into the “secret panel” waistband.

With the help of several other women’s blogs/tutorials, I began my project.

Snip, snip … sew, sew … and …

I now have three skirts that work great and cost me a total of less than $20! Now, that’s what I call a bargain!

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Filed under Crafts & Kitchen, Life Journal, Pregnant in Mexico