Friday, April 28, 2017

What I Read March 2017

Once again, I did a lot of reading in March, and I read some good and some really bad books. But most importantly I was entertained while nursing a toddler! That's what really matters.

In the Meh Book Category:

I read Mimus my Lilli Thal. I am not sure where this book went wrong. For one, it's strangely dark but the main character seems oblivious to the darkness. His inability to be very much upset over his predicament annoyed me. Also, the book was all about miming. And crazy kings. It just does not seem feasible to me that whole nations would go along with crazy tyrannical bloody kings!

The Doldrums is a middle grade book I read. It's interesting, but one thing that annoys me about many middle grade books is that evil characters are just mindlessly evil and oppressive to the shining main character. We need to overcome that trope. I also found the three kid's misadventures highly skeptical, and odd.

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas was a real let down. It meandered here and there and was so so so long and drawn out. I really was hooked from the first two chapters but by the middle I was just confused and bored, to be honest. The ending was cliche and not exciting in the least bit. None of the questions and mystery's were really answered.  I was disappointed.

In the YAY Category:

You know when you read a book and it's a good book because the writing is amazing? That would be Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. This book was just good because the writing picked me up like a lazy river and gently carried me away.

Another book I really enjoyed was How To Train Your Dragon. Now, I have seen the movie and I expected them to be at least a little alike. But HTTYD the book and HTTYD the movie are SO DIFFERENT. First of all, in the book they don't ride dragons. Most dragons are small like dogs! And Toothless is not a nice dragon. He's a whiny, tiny curmudgeon who basically makes Hiccup's life more difficult, not less. But the book is so cute, and witty, and well done! Also, Hiccup has a friend in the book named Fishlegs who is my favorite character of all times! Hiccup does something really nice for him in the second (or was it third) chapter that stole my heart. So, thoughts: read the book, don't watch the movie. Or don't think of the movie even as related to the book.

My favorite book that I read this month was The Unbound by Victoria Schwab. This is a sequel to another book I read called The Archive by the same author that was also amazing. Most of the people who reviewed her second installment on goodreads didn't like it. I don't know why. I LOVED it. It's very dark, a lot darker read than I usually partake of, and it's...gritty and hard in a psychological way... but it was a good book. Only thing I didn't like was the love triangle that seemed kinda forced and like the author just added it because she thought it should be there in her young adult book, or something. But I still gave it five stars because woah. I loved it. I plan to pick up more books by Schwab...just because this one was that good. Also, the cover art. Swoon.

I also really liked The Poe Estate. This is the third book in the Grimm Legacy, and if you remember I was not a fan of the second one--but the third one was amazing. I highly recommend it. It has non-cheesy and semi-creepy ghosts and a lot of literature tie-ins to Poe and other authors that I enjoyed. I also was pleased that this book didn't follow the "person comes to work at the Library and stumbles upon an adventure" arc that the first two did. Change is nice.

Honorable Mentions:

I also read How to be a Pirate and How to Speak Dragonese, books two and three in the the HTTYD series. I'm listening to them on tape, and they are read by David Tennet and yes, it is amazing to hear the tenth doctor read me a story, that is all I'll say about that. Also he does Toothless' voice perfectly. Per-FECT-ly. I highly recommend the audio books for these!

I also liked Gateway by Sharon Shinn. I really love her writing, but her love stories are getting a little dull. She creates these amazing worlds and then fills her novel with...instalove? No thanks, so it's just an honorable mention.

What did you read this month? To see these and other books I read, check out my goodreads here. Also, I am always open to book suggestions!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paleo AIP Meatballs

I made meatballs for a friend. She is loosely following the AIP paleo diet, so I just made up a recipe for some yummy meatballs for her and her two kids. This is what I did!

You Will Need: (Makes about 60 1tbsp-sized meatballs)
  1. One Large Zucchini, grated (also called a Courgette) 
  2. One carrot, first layer pealed off and grated 
  3. 1 pound of beef and 1 pound of your favorite sausage. I use 80/20 beef.
  4. a handful of chopped green onions (I used about 8 individual stalks chopped)
  5. 1/4th cup coconut aminos
  6. 1 teaspoon fresh grated / minced ginger
  7. 1/4th teaspoon ginger
  8. 1.5 teaspoon arrowroot starch (or flour)  
  9. A dash of salt and pepper to taste (I usually put in a pinch of each)
If you are just paleo and not aip, feel free to add 1 egg to this.I've made it with and without the egg lots of times. It's fine without the egg but I like it with, as well.


Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Combine all the of the above and mix well. Using a tablespoon, make round balls and place on a baking tray sprayed with coconut oil or covered in parchment paper. I space mine about 1/2 inch apart. I bake them in the over for 30 minutes, and always use a thermometer to check  that the meatball gets above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Makes about 60 meatballs, depending on how small/large you make them. I used a tablespoon to scoop it out to make sure they were even.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Managing Motherhood

One of the things I've been learning about motherhood is that not a path. You'd think it would be linear, right? Infant to baby to toddler to kid to teen to adult. And I suppose the overarching milestones of motherhood are a bit linear--but the day to day stuff? It's a mud puddle. A meandering cesspool. A indiscernible mess.

Have you ever tried to manage a mud puddle? Or clean it? It's impossible, you just make more mud. That's how I feel about myself sometimes when I try to manage or control my toddler. It's counter productive--I just make a bigger mess, a larger pit, more chaotic problem.

But yet there is something human, something primal in me that makes me want to control everything as a mother. I'm not talking about instilling values and morals in my kid. I'm talking about making sure he doesn't touch things that he shouldn't, or make to big of a mess, or throw things, or step out of my preconceived boundaries that I've placed on him. And on myself.

I mean, the guilt I feel is directly proportional to the satisfaction of getting the dishes done on time--or not getting them done. Hence the guilt factor. Or, I'll get the dishes done but not the floor cleaned, and still have guilt. Sometimes I rush from task to task in some kind of mommy frenzy, all my energy and thoughts bent on getting things done.

I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes I turn motherhood into having all my ducks in a row. And motherhood is nothing about lining up the ducks. Sure, it looks nice and feels good to have all the things checked off my list, but is it sustainable? Emotionally and physically? And why, I ask myself, do I feel so much angst when I didn't get the last thing done? Shouldn't it be enough to have gotten almost all the way there?

Mommyhood isn't a freight train. I don't have to go 500 miles an hour. I don't even have to go 25 miles an hour. It's okay to go 1 mile an hour sometimes. Or even zero.

I'm learning to slow down. To stop and look around at the mess and appreciate the things that made it messy. My kid, or my husband, or myself cooking---this creates disorder in my usually orderly environment. And then I order it up again, a revolving queue for the next day's activates. Every day I make plans for the next, and the next, and the next...

Managing motherhood is hard. It's a balance. Maybe even an art. Right now I'm in the mess of it, and it doesn't look very artistic to me at all. I'm looking for that sweet spot--the spot where the dishes are done and my kid is loved and my soul is filled with time alone and time with my husband, and time with God.

It's like searching for the holy grail in a sea of misanthropy.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

February 2017 Budget: What I Spent

February was a difficult month. For one, we got halfway through and hit our budget of $1800. Oops. So then we scrambled around trying not to spend money for the last two weeks. Learning process.

Bills ($525)

Our bills for this month are:
  1. YMCA ($75) 
  2. Audible ($25) 
  3. Cell phones, mine and husbands ($25) 
  4. Electric bill ($200)
  5. Internet ($60)
  6. License plate renewal ($150)
We pay our water bill every two months, so we don't have to pay it in February. We renewed one of our vehicles plates for a few years. Yay, adulting!

Eating Out ($258)

We ate out too much. On the first weekend we ate out three times! We are only supposed to eat out once a week. Oops! This month we ate out eight times...double the amount we budget for.

Grocery ($733)

We signed up for a CSA at our local farmers market this month. We did the same last year and I loved it! Our CSA is from Great Day Gardens! I'm so excited. The CSA is $375 but we broke it up into four payments over the next four months, so this month was only $100. The CSA does not start until May, but I can't wait to get some fresh veggies! Great Day Garden veggies are amazing.

Reuben ($105)

I took Reuben and myself out on a date to Zoe's Kitchen. We also went to Amazement Square, a children's museum that is in downtown Lynchburg. He had a ton of fun! The above picture is from Amazement Square, he's on a boat going down a river! All the going and running and seeing wore me out, through, and we only stayed two hours. Next time I'll stay longer-- for $9 a day, it's an expensive museum. 

The biggest purchase I made for Reuben this month was some Usborne books for his ever-growing home library. I hope he likes them!   

Personal Money ($457)

Carolynn ($294)
I bought two skins of yarn for a tutorial I am working on for my Youtube channel. I also tried out some new makeup from SeneGence. I liked the lipsense I bought, but I did not like the face wash. It had fragrance in it and broke me out! I switched to a different facewash routine now--and I love it! I was using arbonne, then I tried this SeneGence, but now I am using a bar soap, witch hazel, and rosehip oil--and it is working wonderfully. I also bought a toddler wrap for Reuben. I've been baby wearing a lot as we are going out quite frequently! I can't wait to receive it. It's rainbowed, of course! I spent only $80 on babysitting this month.

Brian ($163)
I didn't pack daddy's lunch that much this month, so he ate out a lot. He also went on a wonderful birthday dinner with some coworkers to his favorite place, Buffalo Wild Wings. He bought snacks, and a gaming mouse for his computer. He also bought some things for working on the house that I included into his budget.

Tithe ($200)

We tithed.

That brings our total spent in January to $2281, more than $400 over our budget of 1800. However, my husband received $100 gift from his mom, and I received $121 payment from YouTube, as well as $40 from two other relatives, making our total $2020 for the month of February. Since this is $20 over budget, it comes out of our saved money. We'd saved $82 last month, and now have saved $62. This saving money thing is hard! Hope to do better next month...

The 2017 budget series:

January : February : March : April : May : June : July
August : September : October : November : December

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why I get my Patterns Tested

When I knit or crochet my own design I always make sure to get my pattern tested. Right now I use the Ravelry Testing Pool, an online forum where you can find knitters and crocheters to test patterns. The perk they get? A free pattern. The perk you get? Feedback!

I'm human, and I do make mistakes, and this is why I always try to get my patterns tested. When I don't, I always regret it and end up finding a stupid error.

 See the video for more reasons and for tips on pattern testing. Good luck!

Friday, April 14, 2017


Sometimes I feel like I have to choose between failing my son or failing my own expectations or failing the world. Does this make sense? Like when I leave Reuben in any sort of nursery. He has a mental breakdown and cries. I expected this in the beginning but he's almost two! I keep trying to leave him. I do it quick. I have another person take him down. But he still throws a huge fit and will throw up if I don't come get him. Every. Single. Time.

It breaks my heart to try and leave him. And I know it hurts him too! So, I just don't anymore. I get a babysitter he knows if I want to go somewhere now. That way I know he's safe and not upset (although he does cry when I return). But I feel like I fail him as a mom that I can't teach him how to be okay with out me. And I feel like I look like one of those crazy clingy moms to the nursery workers because he cries and screams and sobs when I leave. And I feel I've failed society because I choose now not to leave him in a nursery and just keep him with me for his and my sanity.

I can't win. I'm done with the guilt through. So what he wants to stay with me? He won't always be like that. I can't judge myself. I don't know what I did wrong, if anything. I don't know if I've fostered and encouraged this sense of closeness in him. I don't know what other people think and since they don't tell me I am going to stop hypothesizing.

Daily I fear failure. I put all these expectations on myself, like thou shalt always have a hot meal or thou shalt only let thy toddler watch thirty minutes of television a day. And when I don't meet these expectations and my husband comes home to leftovers or my kid watches extra tv because I'm stressed, I feel like a failure.

It's a juxtaposition. Many times I look at his perfect smile and the joy in my heart knows no heights. But then I feel like I don't deserve that wonderful, amazing smile--that I haven't earned his happiness. I fight this feeling in myself because I know it's a lie. My child is happy, I love him. I'm not perfect. He's not perfect. But we are learning and growing and communicating...

Yet. Sometimes I wonder if "such and such" (too much tv, not enough play time, too much play time, a meal without veggies, a meal he won't eat, a crabby moment, a missed nap....yada yada) will mess him up forever.

You know what I've found? I can say I'm sorry to him if I crab at him. He can hug and forgive me. Or he can be upset. Giving him the freedom to feel what he feels is my job. I can't mess him up forever. I can love him forever--love him for who he is and not place exceptions on myself--or on him.

I love my son so much it hurts. I wonder if it will ever stop hurting deep in my heart when I look at him. I wonder if I will ever stop being afraid of something terribly bad happening to him. Is this what all mothers live with?

I pray for him daily that God will protect him and give me the strength to get through life with a climbing toddler boy that will someday be a man. If he and I make it that far it will be nothing short of a miracle.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 82

This week was a busy one. I took Rueben to Amazement Square downtown. It's a children's museum and it was all sorts of fun! We also went on a Nature walk, Charlotte Mason style. I am researching Charlotte Mason plan on reading all her books-- I think its the homeschool style I want to do with Reuben. I'm sure you all will hear more about it as soon as I start to grasp the consepts.

I really miss daily vlogging. Might try to do it again.

One year ago is here!

Monday, April 10, 2017

What I Read Febuary 2017

I'm still reading up a storm this year. I thought I'd only read 60 books (because in 2016 I only read a measly 50 and most of them in the last two months) but I'm over halfway through my goal and it's only March (when I'm writing this).

I read a lot in February. Not only was I recovering from the flu, I also started reading while nursing instead of mindless surfing Facebook. Yay, feeding my brain!

In the Meh Book Category: 

I know a lot of people liked The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, but I did not. (this review contains spoilers because I am angry) This book was just all over weird. And the ending! Horrible. First of all, we get too much information about her genealogy. I don't care a whit about those people. It's not enough prose to build affinity to the characters but it's too much background before "the real story" about Ava starts. And I was so angry with the ending. Basically the story ends with her getting sexually assaulted. That is it. That's the end of the book. She gets raped and her mom suddenly cares about her. Whhhhhhhhhhat?

Another book I really didn't like was Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks. This book is just straight up weird. It's like he was literally on drugs when he wrote it.

In the Yay Category:

I picked up the book Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan just because the title sounded funny. But Nolan is a phenomenal writer. It's like I fell into a teenager's brain! I loved this story. It was heartbreaking and amazing and I was rooting for  Eleanor and her little one the entire time. Ugh, this book was amazing. And I am not a fan of teenage pregnancy stories, not even a little.

The next book that legitimately blew me out of the water was The Archived by Victoria Schwab. WOW. I loved the whole idea of the narrows, the archive, and the things they said about death. Basically when you die, a copy of your memories is kept in an archive. But sometimes the copies get out, and people have to deal with them. Just read it. It won't disappoint.

I also read Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson. It's a new dystopian novel and you know I can't resist. It was really really good! But the second one was only a honorable mention, due to all the tropes. I had high hopes after devouring the first...

Honorable Mentions:

I read a lot of books that were neither horrible or great. They were good reads, but nothing to write home about. That's where I put these books: in the honorable mentions. First of all I read Angelica by Sharon Shin. She's one of my favorite authors, and I did really enjoy this book. But the very fluffy love story kind of turned me off. Also, I didn't realize this was the forth book in a series I haven't read. For some reason my library only carries this one in the series, and I can't get the others...

I also read Mastiff by Tamora Pierce. This almost went in the YAY category, but after further thoughts I put it here. It was a really good book, and a really good third book in the Beka Cooper story line. But I feel a bit betrayed by the ending. The supporting characters you meet in the first book are not even in this one--and I wanted to know what happened to them! But I did love Farmer. Oh, Farmer.

I also read Nest (by Ehrlich) , and the Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet (by Natasha Farrant). Nest was good, but a bit too sexual for me--its supposed to be a middle grade book. I think it would do well as a young adult book, but the themes just threw me for a loop since it's marketed to 11 year olds. The SDoLB was a good read. It's a spinoff that tells Lydia's side of the story. I loveee Jane Austin spin-offs. I don't know why but it's just so interesting. There definitely were some twists to the whole Lydia-runs-away with Wickham plot line. I liked it.

---So that is the main books I read in February, and what I thought about them. I read more, but didn't think them worth mentioning. You can see them on my Goodreads if you are interested!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Knitting Storage Ideas

I have a lot of knitting stuff. I mean, I've been knitting for years. And I don't really get rid of anything fiber related--who knows when I might need it again?

Thus, I've have to come up with some really good ideas for storing all my knitting supplies. First of all, I hate searching randomly through a box or bag for the size needle I need--usually this ends up with me dumping the whole box out and manually looking at each needle! I need something simple so I can see what I have and eyeball my sizes with a glance.

So here is what I do--and updated look at my knitting storage ideas! Hope you like! Also, I'm always looking for more ideas for please let me know how you categorize your fiber supplies!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week 81

More recovering from being sick (seriously it was horrible) and even a trip to the park and a book haul. That was my week 81. Watch below, and tell me how cute my son is. Because he's cute. I'm so biased!

One year ago is here!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Programs & Materials for Pattern Design

I've been designing knitting and crochet patterns for awhile now. I don't profess to be an expert, but I have learned a bit over the years. I shared how I write my crochet patterns and how I design my crochet patterns, and now I am sharing the programs and materials I use throughout this process.

Right now it breaks down to me using Excel for colorwork design and Adobe Indesign for my PDF patterns. I go into why and how in the video, so check it out below if you want more information, as well as cheaper alternatives for those just starting out. Happy designing!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

You Don't Need this Book if You Have Everything you Need

Everything You Need You Have was really really not what I thought it would be. I thought it was a book on minimalism. Yeah.You have everything you need so you don't need more junk? 

But it's a self-improvement book. Ooops. I should have read the blurb more carefully.

Also, I'm a Christian, and my faith is a big part of who I am. Unfortunately, this book started slowly to descend into spiritualism (despite not being a religious book), and I found it harder and harder to connect. Between a lot of empty talk with no practical use whatsoever and a lot of stuff about ancient Chinese pseudoscience...I was not interested or entertained. The therapeutic anecdotes felt random and did nothing to add to the writer's credibility, and at times it felt like the writer himself either misunderstood the situations he describes, or deliberately altered them to suit his views.

Bonus quote: "Health doesn't have to be 'healthy'." What?

I also found Kite's ideas to be a little far-fetched, and not particularly practical. He included a great deal of case studies to enhance his ideas, but I didn't find they added to anything - rather than see the positive effect he himself and his teachings had on his patients, instead it seemed to me like they seemed to discover things for themselves rather than because of what he was telling them.

I also found the inclusion of the five elements a little confusing as I couldn't really relate them to what he was trying to paint as their influence. I just found the whole book a to full of mysticism for my liking.

The topics covered here could help someone if this is the first time they're looking into meditation and "enlightenment" (for lack of a better term), and if they are not religious in a organized way, but it could also totally deter them because the information here is kind of a haphazard mess at times. I'm not even sure what the end goal of this book was... it mostly sounded like Kite was paraphrasing other big thinkers and schools of thought, which made it a bit brief & shallow. And if you've read other similar books, there's nothing new here and many parts were questionable... like Kite didn't fully get the concept.

I was given this book for a free review. I didn't like it. 1/5 stars.

NaNoWriMo Update #2

I've finished editing my book! Isn't that amazing?

Then I caught the flu, so I have not sent it out to editors yet. If you want to edit my book, please let me know. I can send you a hard copy, double spaced with an already-stamped returned envelope enclosed so you can edit by hand (you just send me back the manuscript in the return envelope with corrections) or I can do a e-copy, somehow (but I would prefer to send out hard copies because it's easier for me) I really need editors because my grammar is atrocious. 

I have thoughts about my book. On one hand, I really like it. But, on the other hand, I think the ending needs some work. I don't really like the ending. Something seems off about it. Or rushed. So I may rewrite it (again, I already rewrote the ending once). I am not sure.

But after I get it edited at least 3 times, I plan on self publishing it on Amazon using CreateSpace. Only...I need a title. And a cover picture.

I have no idea what I am doing. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Week 80

Week 80 of vlogging! Wow. EIGHTY WEEKS. And I still love it. This week our washer broke, and I also recovered from the worst flu ever. Here is to next week being NOT full of broken appliances or sickness!

One Year Ago video is here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What I read January 2017

I love to read Kristin's and Michelle's book posts, but I never seem to write my own. So I am going to try and start? I've been reading up a storm. A storm. First I no longer use my iPad, so I read books while nursing now, and second, I've just been really into reading lately. Who knows?

These reviews/musings by me are spoiler free.

So, without further ado here is what I read in January, and what I thought about it.

In the Meh Book Category:

I started out by reading The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. It's one of her older books, and to be honest it was meh. The story lost me a bit and I kinda skipped a huge chunk in the middle to find out what happened in the end. It was such an odd book! The main character, a tall, rather large girl, gets kidnapped by this neighboring tribe because the leader there thinks she is important. And lo and behold she has special powers and fits right in with everyone... it was just a little cliche and uninspiring for me, but I did enjoy it. I won't be reading the sequels.

Another really, really boring book I read was Afterparty by Ann Stampler. This is a droll sort of book about a spoiled rich kid who is...a spoiled rich kid. That's the whole story. Skip it.

I also read The Shamer's Signet by Lene Kaaberol. This is a really lame adventure story about a girl who can read people's shame by looking into their eyes. Good premise. Horrible execution. It has about every fantasy trope you can think of, and also no depth. And angry teenage boys. Avoid.

In the YAY Category:

My favorite book of January would a toss up from Goldenhand by Garth Nix, or The Forgotton Sisters by Shannon Hale. Both were really good. Anything by Garth Nix is a must read for me (of his adult books, that is) and I LOVED his Sabriel series--this is a continuation of that story. And it was amazing. But too short. Why is it always too short? But I loved it and drank it up all in one sitting.

The Forgotten Sisters is the third, and last book in the Princess Academy Series by Hale. The book was great, and I loved it more than the first two--especially with the HUGE twist that I did not see coming at the end at all. It was very well done and blew the pants off me. Ugh, I loved this book so much!

Another book that teeters between yay and whhhhhhhatttttt would be Firstlife by Gena Showalter. I mean, it was a good book. I love the idea behind it. However, it was a bit too dark for my taste and had a crummy love triangle in it--and I am so over love triangles. So it wasn't a clear win/win for me, but I am interested enough to pick up the second one when it comes out. I also really enjoyed The Grimm Legacy--it would have been a YAY but for the fact that the second book in the series, that I also read this month (The Well's Bequest) was a phenomenal letdown and honestly boring.

Honorable mentions:

I read a lot of books that I liked, but didn't love, but didn't hate. Howl's moving Castle, while fun, wasn't my favorite. Howl is whiny and mysterious but annoying, and Sophie is a DIY kind of girl who also has a hot temper. Calsifer was honestly my favorite character. I also read Palace of Stone (the Princess Academy 2) and The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, an Enola Holmes mystery. All these books were good, they just weren't great. You get the idea.

What are you reading lately? Any suggestions?  You can follow me on Goodreads here!

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Budget: January

Last year we did a budget series where I posted what our small family of three spent each month. I only made it through six months of reporting before keeping track of all the statements and paperwork got to be too much.

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 

Our goal was to get our budget down to just 2,000 a month excluding taxes and insurance. We did do this, and now our goal is to get our budget down to 1,800 a month (excluding taxes and insurance) because we want to save $200 a month to go to a privacy fence and a swing set for our son. Fences are very expensive and I want a nice wooden swing set, so we will need to save.

Thus the 2017 budget series is beginning! I had a lot of questions last time, so I will do a quick Q and A.
  • Yes, I change the number slightly for financial safety reasons. I also don't post what bank(s), if any, we use, or what credit/debit cards, if any, we use for aforementioned safety reasons. 
  • We own our house and all our cars, we have no debt, that is why there is no "rent" included in my budget.
  • Our grochery budget is large. I know this. I have several autoimmune issues and a son with allergies. We eat all organic. It's something I am passionate about and not something I am willing to scrimp on. 
  • I realize posting my budget of what I spend each month is a bit unorthodox and also very revealing. I am not doing it so you can judge me, I am doing it to keep track of what I spend and to show anyone who is interested what a normal (to us) American budget looks like. 
If you have any other questions I would be happy to answer them.

Bills ($465)

Our bills for this month are:
  1. YMCA ($75) 
  2. Water bill ($80) 
  3. Audible ($25) 
  4. Cell phones, mine and husbands ($25) 
  5. Electric bill ($200)
  6. Internet ($60)
Only one internet provider can service our area and it's SO EXPENSIVE. I also think our YMCA bill is frivolous but husband loves going to the gym, and we have a family membership so we can bring Reuben swimming sometimes. I'll be honest, we have gone to the gym twice this month. Maybe we should cancel this? Sometimes we go twice a week but some months we don't go at all. It depends on the weather and how busy we are. Our water bill is also expensive, we just found out our downstairs toilet has been running.

Eating Out ($140)

I've started being able to eat at La Carreta (it's a tex-mex local chain restaurant in our town) and this is awesome because my husband loves tex mex and so do I! We ate out there twice this month, once at Zoe's Kitchen, once at Chipotles, and once we picked up two pizzas (one gluten free one regular). We usually eat out only once per week but as you can see we got a bit stir crazy...

Grocery ($752)

We shop almost exclusively at Krogers for our organic food when the farmer's market isn't running for the winter. Some of the other stores we go to are the Health Nut, a local crunchy store, and Fresh Market. Fresh Market sells organic coconut milk and also the only bread I can eat (its vegan and gluten free) without getting sick. So I go there every other week to stock up on milk and bread!

Reuben ($94)

We bought Reuben a bike this past week! We went to a thrift store first, but couldn't find anything. We ended up buying him this awesome bike (and also a tiger plushy) at Toys R Us for $62. We wanted to get him a bike because he's always climbing in his toy wagon demanding to be pushed, and I thought this way he would be self-mobile. The bike is a tad too big for him but he loves climbing on and off and putting things in the trunk. He'll grow into it soon. I also took him on a mommy and son date to Panera and Daddy took him to Walmart were they bought a kite, bubbles, and a Frisbee. All in all it totaled $94 when we were done!

Personal Money ($405)

Carolynn ($281)
I bought gas, and a lot of babysitting, and pair of leggings from a friend who works for an MLM company to support her. We had a babysitter six times this month, for four hours each time she came out. Don't you go thinking I got a lot done through, because I had the raging flu the first two weeks and slept every time she was here. We pay $10 an hour so $240 of my personal money all went to babysitting. It was worth it. Actually, my sitter is downstairs with my son right now, giving me the ability to write this. Yay!

Brian ($124)
Daddy buys a lot of miscellaneous things. At least, from my perspective he does! He went out to eat (when it's by himself it counts as personal money) a lot. His favorite place is McDonald's, and because of soy and dairy contaminates, neither Reuben or I can eat there, so he usually takes himself there for a solo breakfast on the weekends or before work sometimes. He also bought some random things off Amazon for working on the electrical projects he does, and he treated himself to a pizza one night when I was sick.

Tithe ($60)

A lot of people last year were curious about what we tithe per month so I decided to include it. I feel a bit hesitant disclosing our tithes, as I do believe it is between our family and God, but it is part of a budget too. 

That brings our total spent in January to $1918, $100 over our budget of 1800. But that's okay. It happens, and I think we did well. Our overarching goal is to stay under $2000, and we did that. I am pleased and very happy, and I hope husband is as well. This saves $82 for our swingset/fence purchase that we plan to put up in July-ish.

So that is what we spent this month, in total. 

The 2017 budget series:

January : February : March : April : May : June : July : August : September : October : November : December

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Week 79

Well, I was sick with the flu all week so I didn't film much. I literally slept as much as possible and let Reuben watch way to much Daniel Tiger. Hey, it happens. I am glad to be finally feeling better and need to catch up on a lot of laundry. A lot. Of laundry. One year ago is here!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why Won't My Toddler Eat?

For most of his short life, Reuben has never been a picky eater. At six months when we started solids, he would try anything! At nine months he'd eat almost anything I put in front of him, and always wanted to try what was on my plate. At thirteen months he basically ate what we did, with few exceptions.

Except for the past five weeks. These past five weeks he won't eat ANYTHING. I mean it. I've begged (only in my head, because the one thing other moms seem to agree on is "don't force your kid to eat things, because that will associate negative emotions with food" so. I don't force him. I just ask. A lot.)

all the food he never eats
It all started when he came down with a stomach bug. He threw up for four days and wouldn't even drink water. Thank God I was still breastfeeding or he would have ended up in the hospital by the end of day one.

I assumed his lack of interest in food was due to his illness, but it took him three weeks to start eating just breakfast again, when he used to eat three meals a day. I feed him the same thing for breakfast every morning because I am tired and I'm not about to cook something that early. I make him gluten free vegan toast in our toaster oven (he's allergic to milk and eggs and I am gluten free, so I wanted to be able to eat it too) and pair it with half a container of coconut yogurt. Sometimes I make bacon or sausages. I realize this isn't the most nutritious breakfast, but I'm just happy my toddler eat something, and that I have the energy to place it in front of him. On a mostly clean high chair. And on a exceptionally clean plate. 

But he still won't eat lunch or dinner. He'll just play with his food. And throw it on the floor. While I hold back my temper and don't shove it down his throat.

I've tried making up games and having him feed me to help solicit good eating behavior. At the bequest of a friend, we cut out all snacks to see if he was just surviving off the jello and green smoothie I also make (mostly for myself but I also give it to him) and share with him. After one week of him still refusing to eat lunch and dinner even when I cut out the snacks, I cut them back in. Because he needs to eat something.

Last week I made pumpkin brownies and we found out that Reuben is allergic to pumpkins.

You can guess how amused I was at that. (not at all) Also, he may potentially have issues with tomatoes, but I haven't figured it out yet. If you know me in real life, I could use a food-related hug. Also, don't get offended when I can't go out to eat. My toddler's life is too important and the thought of trying to take him somewhere new is panic-inducing. I always like to skim the menu beforehand on the internet for him. And for me. Because I can't eat gluten.

Prayers. We need prayers.

Right now it's been five weeks of this refusing food fiasco and I am just done. What happened to my happy eater who would try everything and was always begging for more? I want him back.

At least he'll drink the cashew milk when I'm not looking.

But oh why oh why won't he eat anything else?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 78

This week Reuben was sick at the beginning, with just a small cold. By Friday I had the full blown flu. I've only had the flu once, at eighteen, and even 12 years later it was still horrible, through probably a different strain. I hope to never get it again! But I lived, so that's good, right? Ugh. I never want to be sick again! I need to work on strengthening my immune system for sure.

This video includes a lot of my whining about how hard things are. You have been warned. Angsty mom ahead.

One year ago is here! Reuben is so small... I bet I'll think the same a year from now. Time flies when you don't notice it!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My Toddler's Minamilist Caspule Wardrobe

I don't use a capsule wardrobe for myself. However, for my wiggly toddler, utilizing a capsule wardrobe has lowered my stress, made it easy to fold and put away laundry, and helped me and my husband know exactly where everything is.

Also, he gets to wear everything he owns. I hate it when he owns clothes he never wears. It feels like a waste. I mean, what is life unless he can spit up on all his shirts?

I don't know why it works, but it does. I find a capsule wardrobe simplifies and reduces my anxiety about clothing, laundering, and overall wardrobe toddler management.

He owns enough clothes for one full week without washing. Since I wash his clothes twice a week, its an easy and manageable number, and if I miss a wash, he still has things to wear. I'm not overwhelmed with the sheer number of items he has, I don't have to hunt for his favorite shirt or his cutest pajamas. They are always clean every week for him to wear to bed!

Everything in the video we bought for around $60-$70 USD. Some things were gifted by family for birthdays, but the majority of it I bought from a used children's store called Once Upon A Child. We plan on buying him a spring capsule from there too.

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sewing Cloth Pad Tutorial (mama cloth)

I love mama cloth. I've been using it for years, before I had Reuben. It's great, and you just throw it in the wash every month. I wash mine twice, once by itself (or with Reuben's cloth diapers) to remove all the icky, and then once with a load of laundry to really deep clean it.

I like the thin cloth pads the best. The thick ones, I've found, don't dry well and can smell mildew-y after awhile. I like thin ones that I can stuff inserts in, so I can customize the absorbancy to what day of my period it is. First day? Stuff that puppy. Last day? I can just wear it without any layers added.

Bonus: the layers are removable and thus dry easily. No more mildew smell!

I have a bunch of receiving blankets that Reuben outgrew months ago. I decided to use those to make myself a few cloth pads, since the few I have right now require me to wash them in the middle of my period. I need about 5 more, and I thought: why not make them myself?

So I did. You can see the video here or below!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Basic Crochet Bib

If you've read my blog since I had my son Reuben, you will know he drools. A lot. And by a lot, I mean he is a small waterfall. He drools a lot because of his allergies and his sinus blockage, but that is besides the point-- the point is he always needs bibs! We have bought bibs on Etsy, but because of the sheer number of bibs he goes through, I also make my own. I've sewn some, and now I am crocheting some.

Crochet bibs are easy, quick and fun to make--I can whip one up in thirty minutes and I can crochet while nursing. I've already made him two! And since they use buttons, they are harder for him to remove then the knit ones I make.

To crochet this bib, you will need a 4.25mm crochet hook, cotton yarn, a button, and a yarn needle that goes through your button. I used about 75 yards of yarn, split into two colors!

You can download the free PDF here, and see the video here on my YouTube channel.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Week 77

Reuben cries for the camera whenever he sees it, but he looks adorable in the pants I made him! I also get sick and complain a bit. Normal life! He's growing so fast!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Goodwill Haul

I took a two year break from shopping at Goodwill, but this year one of my new years resolutions is to shop ONLY from fair trade or thrift stores. And I plan on sticking to it. For one, we are trying to save money for a fence and some playground equipment for our son this summer, so I can't drop $30 on a shirt anymore. Second, I want to start being more sustainable. I love clothes, and I also love to shop. Goodwill is like a treasure hunt, and now that I feel a lot more positive about my postpartum body, I am enjoying shopping there again!

I am also glad I shop in a community where a lot of women donate their clothes--it's usually easy to find things I like! That isn't true for all areas.

Regardless, here is my first haul of the year!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

More Woolies

I made another pair of woolies for Reuben. This time I didn't match the colors up on the legs, and I like them a lot better. He wore them to the park. This is also the cloth diaper size of my pattern (the last pair were for disposable diapers). I plan on waterproofing them with lanolin.

I love them so much! I love that I made them, that he loves them, that they keep him warm, and that they are fun. I also, of course, made his hat.

The only sad thing about spring is no more knitting for the toddler. At least not wearable items. This kid is built like daddy and is a furnace. He needs the absolute minimal of layers in the summer!

Happy knitting, friends. I'm going to go enjoy the toddler some more before he suddenly hits his teen years. I can feel them like they are right around the corner...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why I Became a Crazy Crunchy Mom

There are lots of articles out there about things crunchy moms do, like cloth diaper, eat organic, and buy only sustainable clothing. I've written some of these articles myself.

But I've never seen anyone write about why they decided to become crunchy.

Now, I'm not one for labels. In the sense of degradation or shame, I mean. I'm all for labels for, well, labeling stuff. Calling an apple and apple. I am a crunchy mom. I like being a crunchy mom. I'm not trying to call anyone else a crunchy mom, or make you feel bad for not being a crunchy mom. I am who I am because I made these choices and I like them. I assume the same for you. Let's just get that out of the way, shall we?

First off, a "crunchy mom" is a mom who likes more natural products and more natural parenting. Think elderberry syrup instead of antibiotics, cloth diapers instead of plastic, and babywearing. Lots of babywearing.

I didn't know I was going to be a crunchy mom.

Really, I didn't. I didn't know what kind of mom I was. I was only afraid at first. Reuben was so tiny, I was so...tired. That sums up the first few months.

But every mom has to make decisions, and my decisions have all been crunchy. Except for my laundry detergent; that is not crunchy. We use Tide Free and Gentle. I wash poop, people. In my washing machine. I need a strong detergent.

Every parent makes decisions. I think as long as you love your child and are making well informed decisions that you are a good parent. As in, try. Don't guess. Be deliberate about it. Your child is worth researching all decisions that impact them. In matters where it might be gray (most matters, honestly) at least make an educated guess. Obviously, my parenting won't look like yours because I am not you. I also am not parenting your child. I don't have to understand your parenting decisions either, because we are different, but I can respect them even if I'm confused. At least, that is what I think. I don't get why people are mad because I don't understand why they do a certain thing to their child. Um, explain it to me. Or tell me to mind my own business. But I'm entitled to my opinion and you to yours.

I don't go around telling people what I think of their choices usually, but sometimes it comes up when, they, you know, ask me. Don't ask if you don't want to honestly hear why I don't understand that you feed your child sugar. Because I won't understand.

I think a lot of moms go into this thinking many things are black and white, when really nothing is. We all make mistakes, we all fail. We don't need other people to validate our opinions either. Many moms want this, and that is why they get their proverbial panties in a wad when people have the audacity to do things differently.

If there was one thing I could tell moms, it would be that: you don't need other people to validate your opinions or choices. Make them, and then OWN the crap out of them because you know your child and you are his/her mother. But research first, of course. You get the drift.

But back to why I'm a crunchy mom.

It really has to do with choice, with my background and experiences, and my research. That's it. I choose to be one because I feel like it is the best choice for my family, and because my research and experiences have led me here.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think eating non-organic carrots is sinful and should be punishable by stoning.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think drinking pasteurized milk is horrific and you deserve to be smeared on twitter.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think putting a disposable diaper on a child should be met with the evil eye of wasteful doom. Or that every time you do it you need to hear a lecture about landfills. No parent deserves to be lectured, and least of all about landfills. That we all use. And are grateful for.

I'm not a crunchy mom because I think if you feed your child day old pizza from a chain store on plastic plate is synonymous with child abuse. Because pizza equals hitting your child? Clearly not.

I am crunchy mom because I made the choice for my family. I enjoy what I do and I feel my family benefits from it. Sure, I believe cloth diapers are more sustainable for the environment, but that doesn't mean disposable diaper users have to feel guilty for making a different choice. I made a choice that was best for my family, and I own it. I love it, and I celebrate the freedom to continue making that choice, as should you.

And that is why I became a crazy crunchy mom.

(My husband said I became one just to annoy him) (hahaha husband) (he didn't mean it, he loves me)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What I Eat in a Day: The Cheat Day

Everyone has cheat days. Or is it just me? This is what I eat on a typical rushed cheat day! Bonus, I show what Reuben eats too! Although, this is normal meals for him, since he does not have allergies to gluten and can eat beans too, things I commonly avoid.Well, I always avoid gluten on EVERY day. But cheat days include corn noodles. And ice-cream!

What do you eat on a "cheat" day?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Week 76

I'll just call this the week Daddy had the flu. Because that's what it was, and it was HARD. Also, I tried to use a different camera to vlog, and my footage is more shaky than usual. But it was a good week. Reuben and I did not get get sick and I made lots of soup for daddy and did lots of dishes.

Last year is here!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Large Crochet Wool Dryer Ball Tutorial

Wool dryer balls are great. What are they, you ask? Well, they are basically 100% wool balls that bounce around in your laundry, creating space between clothes to allow them to dry faster. When I forget to put them in when drying my cloth diapers, they take twice as long. I'm not kidding. These things are awesome! To make the crochet version, you will need 100 yards of bulky yarn and a 6.0mm crochet hook, and a skein of waste yarn (about 100 yards).

You will need 100% wool yarn that is not machine washable for this project.

Using the magic loop method, do 8 sc into the loop. Working in the continuous round (do not sl st) do 2 sc in each st (16 sts)

R2: *2 sc in each st, 1 sc* around for 24 st
R3: *2sc in each st, 2 sc* around for 32 st
R4: *2sc in each st, 3 sc* around for 40 st

R5-12: sc each st

R13: *sc2tog, 3 sc* around
R14: *sc2tog, 2sc* around
R15: sc all sts
R16: *sc2tog, 1 sc* around
R17: sc all sts
R18: *sc2tog* around (8 sts)

Cut yarn, slide though remaining 8 sts and back in the first one, pull tight. Weave in ends, wash and dry three times to felt, leave in dryer after!

You can view the video here or press play below.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Knit Toddler Woolies

I love wool. It's warm, breathable, and holds up well too! I've seen similar wool pants around on Etsy for $60+ dollars, but I thought: I can make my own! So I DID. And they are awesome.

This knit pattern can be downloaded here (its $1.99) or the free video can be viewed below. There is a 12M, 2T, and 3T sizes, and instructions for cloth and disposable diapers. You will need a 4.0 and 5.0 circular knitting needle (16 inch) and 4.0 and 5.0 double pointed needles for the legs. The pattern is made from the top down, in the round, and is seamless. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Desire Hat

I stumbled across this cool hat pattern when surfing Ravelry one day. It was called Desiré and was written by Misha Overbeeke. It's the only pattern she has uploaded so far on Ravelry, but I friended her just in case she writes more, because it's an awesome pattern! Did I mention it's free?

It's essentially a bonnet style hat for adults, complete with an subtle texture pattern and a lot of pom poms. My gauge was HUGE so I left out a few repeats and even went down a needle size, but it still turned out too big. She must knit really tight. I know I knit loose, but still, the difference was alarming. Good thing I have a huge head! Despite the largeness, it still looks awesome, and I've been wearing it everywhere. Mine is just way more slouchy than hers, and I don't mind a bit! I already want to make one in green (forest color) and a friend asked me to make her one, too. It was a fun knit, but even tho it did turn out fine, I can think of several things I would change (like not doing two knit rows after the decreases) to make it snugger.

You can find me on Ravelry here if you are interested in seeing things I knit, or seeing my new patterns when they pop up!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Going Zero Waste (A Process)

As I said before, it is my goal in 2017 to go zero waste. I've been moving this direction for the last two years (here is what I've done so far).

My focus over the next three months will be to buy and set up a compost area (we are looking at this one) and to find a way to store our recycling better. Right now it's just a big pile that frustrates me, and sometimes I just put it in the trash for ease. I want to get some big bins and put them outside, with lids--one for each type--that can easily be towed to the car and hitherto deposited at the dump. The lids would ensure that rain does not get in. After a lot of thought I just can't see where to put a "recycling collection place" inside our small home--so outside seems like the best bet for now.

Does anyone out there recycle on a regular basis and have a good home system? We haul our own trash, there is no trash pick up, so we don't have a bin for recycling that goes to the curb. I need something that works, but I truly am stumped. I don't really want to walk outside every time I have to put a glass jar or cardboard item away.

Another thing I want to do is start a garden. I printed plans to build a raised bed, and start with two vegetables for ease. I'm going to do bell peppers and zucchini. The plan is to add 1-2 veggies or fruits a year so I can learn slowly and not get overwhelmed, and build a new garden bed every two years to branch out. Eventually I want to have a full garden each year with a herb section as well.

I've never grown anything so that is a stretch. I'll start with  two veggies this year and see how it goes. One year I tried tomato plants and the deer ate them all. We need a fence as well, it seems--and I've already got plans for one so Reuben can play outside when older with less supervision. He's supposed to get one for his two year birthday--a joint his birthday/mother's day gift. I'm excited. We also plan to get a nice swing set as well, if we can find a good used one. But I digress from the topic.

Those are my plans, for now. I still hope to be zero waste by the end of the year! Small steps, small steps. I need some more produce bags for sure--five is not enough, given the amount of produce we buy and eat!

To update on purchases, I bought a set of washable cupcake liners! Now I don't have to buy cupcake liners ever again. They are silicone and I can't wait to receive them. Now all I have to replace is tissues. As we flush our toilet paper and it breaks down in our tank outside I feel it's already very green and zero waste.
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