Saturday, October 29, 2016

Paleo Butternut Alfredo

This is a total comfort food for me. Now I eat corn and quinoa noodles with this (they don't bother me) but if you are strict paleo I would use a (already cooked) spaghetti squash and add those "noodles" in where I add in my quinoa/corn organic noodles. I bake my spaghetti squash in the oven for about 1.5-2 hours. I just poke holes in it with a fork and bake at 350 degrees. *WARNING* This recipe calls for ALREADY SOAKED raw cashews. So soak some cashews.

You Will Need:
  • Three cups diced butternut squash, frozen or raw
  • 2 tbsp butter flavored coconut oil (or butter)
  • One diced onion 
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, dried 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage (or sub 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 3 cups coconut milk (from a carton, like the kind you would drink) 
  • 1 cup chicken broth (for vegan, sub vegetable broth) 
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup cashews soaked for at least one hour (if you have a vitamix blender) or 3 hours for a regular blender or food processor 
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice 
  • salt/pepper

Cook 2 tbsp coconut butter, diced onion, 1 teaspoon rosemary and 1 tbsp fresh sage until onions are translucent. Add in butternut squash and 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cover--reduce head and simmer for 15-20 minutes covered until squash is cooked and soft. I found the frozen squash takes 15 minutes and the raw cubed squash takes 20 to soften.

While that is simmering, add 2 cups coconut milk, your cashews, and 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.

When your squash is soft (after the 15-20 min) flatten it with a potato masher until its a gravy. Add in your vegan cheese mix from the blender, 3 tbsp honey and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir. At this point I add in my noodles and cover, adding a little more coconut milk or water to make it not so thick so that the noodles can cook (not more than 1 cup) I simmer my noodles, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes. If you are using the spaghetti squash noodles, I would just add them and stir for 1-2 minutes because they should already be cooked and tender.

Serve. Eat. It's that good!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Plated Book Review

I chose Plated because the cover looked nice. I know, I know, but I'm a stickler for nice covers. That's probably why they make covers: for us visually inclined people.

But I digress.

I'm paleo, and this isn't a paleo cooking book. But there are several recipes in it that can be easily modified to paleo and even a few that didn't require modifications!

I loved the section on kitchen basics. As a budding cook who still burns things and has no idea what I'm doing, it's so interesting to see what professionals call "basic" kitchen needs. I, for example, use a fork to mash my potatoes. It works. I expected to see a list of unattainable, expensive kitchen items, but I instead saw a simple list of things I already owned! It make me feel like a real cook.

The list of common cooking terms with explanations was also super helpful. I love how they told me exactly what they mean when they use the word "brown"or "braise" or other such large-vocabulary culinary words.

I did try two recipes. I liked them, but I don't think I will make them again.

So, final thoughts. Did I like it? Well, the prep and style just isn't' for me. I'm a one pot kinda girl with kids; I don't eat lamb. I don't have a lot of time to devote to cooking because I'm trying to keep my son alive and happy and make time to brush my hair on occasion.

But. But--its a good book for a fancy Friday night dinner, if someone watches my kid. And that's really it. I liked it, I will keep it--for a fancy dinner when I have some time to kill in the kitchen.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Week 57

Another week raising my wonderful son. This week we moved our TV out of the living room--to facilitate more family time together, and to curb me turning on the TV for Reuben when I need a break. I don't want him watching mindless entertainment when he needs to grow! If I need a break there are other things I can do.

Reuben also finally got over his fear of his slide. He can climb up and go down all by himself! It's fun and awesome to watch. 

You can see one week ago here!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Our Budget - Month 6

We are halfway though my year of budgeting and self-analysis of what our household spends. This month we met our budget (at least, I'm calling it a win even through it was $200 over). I am pleased!

So far I am noticing a trend. We go over our budget, but hit it the next month...and repeat. I hope we can break this trend and hit our budget for a few months in a row.

So what did I spend this time?

Bills  ($340)
  • Netflix: We have our $9.99 netflix account (went up $2 this month. still worth it)
  • Internet: We pay 60.00 for internet a month. It's expensive, but they only offer one service in our area.
  • YMCA: 75.00 for our gym membership--we have a family memebership now that includs Brian, me and Reuben
  • Phones: 25.00 a month for two phones with unlimited text and talk, no data.
  • Electric bill: $150 this month.
  • Water: $0 (we pay every 2 months)
  • Audible: $22.95

Baby Expenses ($109.32)

We bought Reuben some used clothes and a xylophone. Yay! We also bought him some custom made bibs on etsy that are sewn for super drooling babies. Reuben is a facet. It was needed.

Food ($936.69)
  • Eating Out: $102
  • Brian's Lunch at Work: $32
  • Grocery Shopping: $950
We only ate out three times this month as a couple. Once at olive garden, and twice at our favorite burger joint, Brauburgers. I'm still packing Brian's lunch 4 days a week, so that keeps his eating out at work budget low. Our grochery shopping budget was a bit inflated this month, but since we (basically) hit our goal I'm not too worried about it.
Gas ($76)

Brian spent $35 in gas and I spent $18. Yay, driving!

Personal Money (Brian $308, Carolynn $227)

I got a stitchfix this month and I kept one item. I also bought more crunchy cleaning products on mightynest to further go the natural route at home. I am loving switching over. I also splurged on some clothes at Target for fall and winter. Brian spent most his money on Amazon, and I am not sure what he bought! (Is this the month where he surprised me with a flute? Yup, it is! Best husband EVER).

Other ($248.5)

We have hired a babysitter every week for four hours. She is amazing and worth her weight in GOLD. Really. She's $40 a week for four hours. These are the hours I look forward to every week! I love my squish, but mama loves her alone time too. She was here three times this month, so $120.

We also spent 54.50 at the department of motor vehicle. I don't remember what on... We also spent $74 at home depo on a house-fixing project.


All in all we spent roughly $2,200. So close to our budget of 2,000 a month! After last months big spend, I am very happy with this number. Yay!

The 2016 budget series:

January 17th - February 16th
Feb 17th - March 16 
March 17-April 16th
April 17th-May 16th 
May 17th-June16th 
June-17th-July 16th

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Week 56

Reuben is definitely a toddler now. At 14 months old, he can clearly say no and even articulate one-word desires (up, go, no). It's so interesting to watch him grow as a person. I am also so very thankful for naps. I don't need a break from my son--but from his emotions and attitudes, sometimes space is nice.

Here is the link to one year ago today.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reyna Shawlette

I finished my Reyna Shawl. I placed the rows where I wanted them and only used about half the recommended yarn amount, so mine is a shawlette and not a shawl. Oh well! I love it, and it will add a nice pop of color to my neck this fall.

I love the marbled blue in this yarn. It's like the ocean, with deep spots and lighter, sun kissed areas. I think it's beautiful. I used about 80% of a skein, so I have a little left over to add somewhere to something else later.

I also added a crochet edge to the shawl. I thought it needed a little something extra. I love the finished look. Shawl making is my new idea of seeking thrills and living life...

I want to make one in green next.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My High Needs Baby

Motherhood is hard. Just google "the forth trimester" and you'll understand. Or give birth.

It's eye opening. It's raw.

But there was something I didn't know.

All babies are different. Okay, I knew that. I mean, all adults are different. But I didn't know just HOW different they could be. And I didn't know that some could be high needs.

I mean, all babies have needs. But I'd never met a baby that would cry when they were put down. I'd never met a baby that didn't nap. I thought all babies went to bed early and slept at least for a few hours giving parents "adult time". I'd seen my friends Facebook status updates about this illusionary "adult time" that everyone else seemed to be having while my baby was still wide awake at 8...9...10pm. Every night.

I remember daily crying alone in the shower while my husband held our screaming infant downstairs, my soul aching for a few moments to myself while my heart broke over the sound of my son's upset wails.  This happened quite often in our house. He didn't nap. He didn't want to be apart from me. I felt like I never got to see my husband. It was stressful to think about cooking, much less attempt it. About the only thing Reuben did well was sleep at night: but only when attached to me and only from around 10pm to 3am. He had to be laying on my chest. I didn't even get to sleep alone.

Bed-sharing literally saved my life. Baby wearing allowed me to have a semblance of one.

I was shell shocked and alone. What was I doing wrong? Why wasn't my baby like everyone else? At four months he stopped napping completely during the day. I started having anxiety and panic attacks. This couldn't go on. I needed to be by myself somewhere and yet it seemed like my son needed me 24/7. Daddy tried to help, but the fact that Reuben seemed to want absolutely nothing to do with him probably didn't make him try very hard. At least, that is how I felt. I felt so utterly alone, so utterly shackled to this tiny human who would not nap--so desperate for some peace. His constant, never letting up need for me almost destroyed my marriage and my sanity. 

I now know I was the parent of a high needs baby.

At 9 and a half months, he finally started napping. I equate his high needs to his horrible food allergies--once we started solids at 6 months and were able to figure out what he was allergic to (eggs, dairy, avocados, banana, soy) and remove those things from his and my diet--that is when he started napping. His little tummy must have been in pain. Or maybe he was just high needs, but I do think that his life threatening allergies had something to do with it.

I've been around a lot of babies now, from friends and family alike. Some are high needs, some are not. My niece takes a three hour nap every day at the same time and puts herself to sleep after nursing since birth. She doesn't wake up crying, but smiling. The first time I witnessed this while babysitting said niece I was shocked. Was this real? Do babies like this exist? Did my sister know how lucky she was?

The truth is, I know, that all babies have a learning curve and all of them can be tough on us moms. But Reuben officially stumped me for many months and was the source of a lot of anxiety and confusion to boot. His learning curve was like an alpine climb! Some babies are hills. Some are mountains. And some are cliffs in three feet of snow.

At least I will be very prepared for my next baby, if God decides to grace me with another one.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Week 55

The first week after a long vacation can feel odd. Routines get reestablished. Life goes on. This week was kinda hard. Lots of friends announced a pregnancy on facebook. If you have ever wanted a child or struggled with infertility, you know that can sting a bit. Also I babysit a bit and did a lot of knitting--that about sums up this week!

One year ago can be viewed here.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Our Budget - Month Five

I really am loving documenting our budget this year. But wow, do we spend way more than I think sometimes. Budgeting is hard. We have only met our budget of $2,000 a month TWICE so far. And this is month five--and we didn't meet it! We didn't even come close.

So what did we spend?

Bills  ($602.99)
  • Netflix: We still have our $7.99 netflix account
  • Internet: We pay 60.00 for internet a month. It's expensive, but they only offer one service in our area. Our internet went up 10.
  • YMCA: 75.00 for our gym membership--we have a family memebership now that includs Brian, me and Reuben
  • Phones: 25.00 a month for two phones with unlimited text and talk, no data.
  • Electric bill: $150 this month.
  • Water: $60 
  • Audible: $22.95
We also signed up for Amazon prime this month, so I will add that in for a one time bill charge. It was $99--and we also renewed the license plates on my car for $108. These are not reoccurring charges for next month, thank goodness!

Baby Expenses ($180.84)

This month we bought a jogging stroller and a big toy for Reuben. The toy? A huge U-haul box. Does he love it? YES! The stroller has been awesome on our walks, but it only fits in daddy's car. It's so smooth through!

Food ($936.69)

  • Eating Out:194.36
  • Brian's Lunch at Work:30.66
  • Grocery Shopping: 711.67
We ate out a lot this month. Brian's lunch budget is low because I started packing his lunch, woot! He's enjoying his box lunches so far. We only went $200 over our grochery shopping budget (we try to keep it around $500 a month) but that's okay. We ate well, and I enjoyed cooking.
Gas ($76)

Brian spent $56 in gas and I spent $20. Yay, driving!

Personal Money (Brian $900, Carolynn $431)

I'm afraid all our "overage" went into personal money this month. Brian spent A LOT on Amazon as well as eating out by himself (counts as personal money when we are by ourselves). I can't remember exactly everything he purchased. He bought a bunch of breathing things--like stuff that measures your lung capacity and so forth, as well as two pairs of headphones (one wireless) and even a breathing technique book. Suffering from air hunger (feeling like you can't breathe even when you are) is not fun. I hope we can find out what is causing all his weird symptoms soon. As for me, I bought two pairs of fall boots, a stitchfix box (I kept three things) and a couple of natural cleaning and kitchen products from, as well as a few pieces of clothing at Old Navy.

Other ($363.44)

We have hired a babysitter every week for four hours. She is amazing and worth her weight in GOLD. Really. She's $40 a week for four hours. These are the hours I look forward to every week! I love my squish, but mama loves her alone time too. She was here three times this month, so $120.

We also had to work on my car and spent $58.44. I needed windshield wipers and something else done to it... Brian bought the parts and did the work. He's also worth his weight in gold too, haha.

We had one doctor's bill for Brian that was $185.


All in all we spent $3,500. That's a lot; and almost as much as we make a month! I'm glad this is not the norm but an odd month out. Here is to trying again next month: I still hope we can one day consistently hit our budget.

The 2016 budget series:

January 17th - February 16th
Feb 17th - March 16 
March 17-April 16th
April 17th-May 16th 
May 17th-June16th

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Week 54

Our staycation week! Husband was off the entire week and we had a blast.

Check out one year ago!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Geometric Sweater

I made Reuben a sweater! Isn't it awesome? This is the geometric sweater by Stephanie Mason. I made the 18 month size and it fits perfectly.

I made the sleeves extra long on purpose so I can easily pull them over his hands on a really cold day. And also I thought he'd be able to wear it longer, but the length of the sweater isn't going to last a whole year.

I'm glad he likes it--and at 100% wool, it's super warm. The back has the same fun print on it! I haven't blocked it yet either--I think I'll be able to squeeze out more length after I block. This kid has such a long torso!

I already have more ideas for sweaters, and I want to create my own pattern and design for him now.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

When you fail (as a mom)

Tonight I am sitting here wondering...what makes a good mother? I feel like a failure.

Yesterday was horrible. Today was horrible.
It's just so HARD sometimes. Reuben, my 13th month old son, is currently asleep and I'm upstairs, crying into a bowl of ice-cream. But its a "tomorrow is another day, I'll start over" kinda cry, not a "I've given up" one. I hope I never give up. He's worth it. I'm worth it. My family is worth it.

But if only he didn't require so much attention at all the wrong moments. If only I was a more patient mom. If only he listened more. Or could talk. Or didn't want to nurse all the time or if only he actually ate his breakfast and why are there always dishes and the floor is dirty and my husband can't find his socks and IF ONLY everyone and everything would STOP for two seconds maybe I could actually...

...accomplish something.

Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning. And it's a slow drown. The kind of drown where I have time to think that someone could rescue me if they weren't also drowning. Like my busy husband--if he tries to help, I only push him down in the water more. We both need to stay afloat. Someone has to hold this family together.

And of course, "the guilt" is like an anchor around my neck because I need help.

Have I covered everything? Need I say more?

I fail every day. Sometimes horribly. Sometimes in little ways. We are all human. We all fail.

I try not to drown in guilt. Ice cream, on the other hand, is a perfect medium to smother your frustrations in on quiet evenings when everyone is finally asleep.

Please, let them stay asleep.

Oh, because when I fail I need Jesus.

I need Him to remind me I'm not in this alone. He will hold me up in the water. And if I drown, he will be there to help me find peace right there on the bottom of the ocean.

I need to make time with him a priority. On the good days its easy. But on the bad--survival sometimes takes precedent over my morning devotions. I want to show God he has my heart on the good and the bad days.

I also need to accept His grace. As a christian, God paid for my sins. This does not excuse them. I still need to own up my actions. But I can bask in the knowledge that my sins are forgiven and not wallow in guilt.

Tomorrow is another day. I can greet the morning trying to make the best out of a hard situation or I can have a selfish attitude and fight my way through the day.

I can choose to greet that morning.

No matter what it brings--a sick child, a clogged commode, a unforeseen bill--Jesus already knows.

I know I will fail on the morrow.

But I can choose, and I choose His grace to cover me.