Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Real Humans!

Dear humans, and any miscellaneous cats that may be reading as well,

I love buying our food from real people.

Real people who raised it themselves, and actually care about each customer.  It just feels so much more human.

There's an old house on the CSA property that was built in the mid-to late 1800s
It's fun to explore! 

I recently placed an order for some meat that was on sale from our meat-supply family, but they e-mailed me back that all the sale meat had already sold. 

When I went to pick up my usual order from them that weekend, they had stuck a bunch of extra meat in the bag - "I felt bad that you missed the sale!" she told me, "so we put in a little extra."

I enjoy doing business with folks like this; I'll be back again and again!

What makes you a happy customer?

Mrs H

Monday, June 25, 2012

Somebody Just Arrived!

Dear loving readers, friends, family,

What's your guess - boy or girl?! 

On June 21, 2012 at 6:23 AM I delivered our beautiful, precious son in the comfort and safety of our own home.  He weighed in at eight pounds and four ounces, and was 21 inches long.

We've been spending every moment since then in love!

Just a few hours old!
Only a couple hours old and already in the kitchen ... good boy!

Doing dishes with Daddy!
Heading off to the farmer's market at just two days old :)

When we got home, we had so many veggies we decided to pile
them around the little guy!  These veggies made a huge difference
in the pregnancy ... more on that later! 
He is his daddy's son ... they are inseparable!  I was resting on the couch with
the baby on my tummy when I felt Mr H come take him, and I heard him chuckle
as he walked away!  "I got you!" he told the baby. 

Mrs H

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just A Little Obnoxious

Dear fellow stubborn and sort of obnoxious independent thinkers,

People have been telling me, "Just you wait until ..." for my whole life.

I've been ignoring them just as long.

I already told you how people predicted stories of doom over my pregnancy (not a single one has come true).

Another pregnant friend, who believes in disciplining children to be pleasant human beings, related to me how people tell her, "Just you wait until you have kids - then you'll see what it's like."

I remember hearing people tell my mom, day in and day out, "Just you wait until they're teenagers!"  Apparently, we were well-behaved in our young years, because the doomsdayer would add, "Then you'll have problems!"

For the record, my mom tells me she loves having teenagers because it's so much easier.  They work on algebra on their own, they make dinner, what's not to love?

People told me that the "honeymoon phase" would fade after six months of marriage.  They extended the deadline to one year when we passed the six-month mark, and then they acknowledged that it could last two years in some cases, and now that we've passed three years of joyful, committed marriage and our love only grows deeper and more exciting every day, they've resigned themselves to saying I just got lucky.

Sometimes it takes a lot of gall to stand up for what you believe in.  Sometimes it takes everything in me to refuse the curses that are verbally offered to me; to not allow them to penetrate and darken my heart.  To not accept the falsehoods and let them become a part of me, part of my expectations, part of my belief system.  "It's terrible to move so often with the Navy."  "Homeschooling is too overwhelming."  "Newborn babies are a nightmare."  "You can't raise kids that behave in public, just you wait and see." 

Surround yourself instead with stories, evidence, and people who support your preferred point of view!  Instead of listening to people speak gloom about raising children, I rely instead on the encouraging examples of my parents, close friends, my own experiences babysitting, and wholly ignore everything the apparently-terrible parents have to say.

Do people ever say, "Just you wait..." to you?  What do they predict for your life?  How do you choose to ignore this (politely, of course!) - what do you do when they are persistent, and when their words start ringing in your ears late at night when you're unsure of yourself?  Do you ever say anything to the gloomers, or do you just smile and nod?

Determined to ignore politely,

Mrs H

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cloth Diaper Detergent - yeah, we're cheap

Thanks for reading this post, I'm so excited to visit with you!  
After you've gleaned all the good information you need, visit our new blog platform at to read even more fascinating tidbits from the kitchen and the fields. 

Dear frugal readers or earth-conscious types,

And those who write to-do lists,

I'm getting to the tail-end of my "to-do before baby" list, which is good since I'm also getting to the tail-end of my "how long it usually takes to build a baby" calendar.

One of the things on my to-do list (and on my Twelve New Things list!) was to make some cloth diaper detergent.

Why homemade?

Bona-fide bottled store-bought cloth diaper detergent - which can't contain certain fragrances, whiteners, and other ingredients that adhere to cloth and diminish the absorbency of the diaper - can be expensive, especially if you're trying to find something that's not too harsh on the body.  I also feel bad going through lots of plastic bottles, since plastic doesn't really deteriorate once you throw it out.  Homemade just seemed like a natural choice.

I started my recipe hunt, and stumbled across Elisa's beautiful blog.  She shared several detergent recipes, including a cloth diaper recipe that was ultra-minimal to avoid causing any rash or problem with her child's sensitive skin.

This recipe became my choice for our diapers so far.  I like leaving out as many chemicals as possible, but I also like clean diapers.  I am grateful to Elisa for sharing this recipe!

Read the update here: We are still loving this, and it has become our household detergent for everything! 

Here, she explains the ins and outs of the recipe - as well as another recipe for your everyday laundry, if you need one!  (She also posted a recipe for dishwasher detergent!)

Elisa's Three-Ingredient Cloth Diaper Detergent

When you're looking for an oxygen cleaner, if you aren't sure exactly what it is just check the ingredients on the container - there should only be two.  The oxygen cleaner and washing soda would be in the laundry aisle, and regular baking soda will be in the baking aisle.  You can bring the cost of the detergent down even more if you can find these items in bulk at a big-box store or wholesale supplier!  

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)
Oxygen Cleaner (sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate)
Washing Soda (sodium carbonate)

Mix equal parts of each ingredient.  Use one tablespoon for a small load, two tablespoons for a medium load, and ... you can extrapolate for the large load!

I put the jars on the laundry-room shelf, and posted instructions for mixing more and how to use, in case family members ever volunteered to run a load of diapers.  Why only two tablespoons for an average load, you may ask?  Homemade detergents will always be more concentrated than store-bought detergents because we don't bother to add extra fillers and junk to make it look like we have more than we do.  Using a one-cup scoop for laundry detergent feels pretty pointless now, doesn't it?

I didn't add any fragrances to this batch, but you could try adding essential oils if you wanted a little something more.

Update: July 23, 2012
Our little boy was born on June 21, and we've been using the cloth diaper every day since!  It does not remove all stains; you can lay the fabric in the sun to bleach stains out in a skin-friendly way.  The stains are, however, "clean."  The diapers smell fresh and clean and we've had no skin problems!

Mrs H

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Dinner Menu VIII

Black Bean Soup and Boiled Eggs
Pizza Bianca
Fizzy Drink
Buttercrisp Lettuce and Radish Salad

Mr H worked until 10PM, so I indulged in this smoothie for dinner!

Portuguese Kale Soup
Cream Biscuits
Brown Sugar Cookies

Deep-Dish Basil and Mozzarella Pizza
Tossed Salad
Chocolate Pudding and Nilla Wafers
Molasses Cookies

Extra-Large Taco Salad - pork and seasonings, corn chips, sour cream, onion, lettuce, diced tomatoes, cilantro, black beans, shredded cheese
Angel Cake and just-picked Strawberries

French Potato Salad
Tossed Salad and Radishes
Whole Wheat Gingerbread Muffins with Honey-Apple Jelly
Carbonated Grape Juice

Many-Vegetable Soup with Sambar Masala
Whole Wheat Gingerbread Muffins
Special ... Dunkin Donuts after evening service at church!

Our neighbor has provided us with an endless supply of rosemary from her huge rosemary bush!

A hot brown sugar cookie with fresh milk, milked only two days ago ... that
really hit the spot, I hadn't had a cookie since leaving Washington state two
months ago and I was in the mood!  
Men love pizza ... and it's one of the easiest dinners to make, so I love it, too! 
Three of us ate outside on the deck - love those summer evenings

Taco salad is an easy-to-prep dinner that doesn't take much cooking to prepare -
it can sit until everybody is ready, and then each person can assemble their own.
Pick 'em in the morning, eat 'em in the evening!

Time to plan the menu for this week - what is on your menu?  

Mrs H

Saturday, June 16, 2012

There Now Exists ... The Other Baby Book

Dear gentle Reader,

As the second oldest of eight naturally-born children, and the latter half of those born at home, I've absorbed a lot of residual information about birthing, caring for and raising children.  Before my pregnancy, I'd never heard of terms like "attachment parenting" or "elimination communication" and I didn't know that such concepts even had names.   I didn't know people had such vociferous opinions on things like bottles, pacifiers, strollers, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, separate-room-sleeping, or any other number of child-rearing options.

I was just involved, more or less, in the process of raising my siblings, and assumed, more or less, that the things we did were pretty normal.  My mom is an invaluable, treasured resource for all this information!  Conversational, wise, with thoughtful information about options, approachable, friendly.  Experienced, with stories to back it up, and humble, knowing you will ultimately choose what is right for your family.

We don't all have access to that, though.  Not all of us had the experience of seeing child-rearing in action for twenty-four years with younger siblings, with natural, instinctive methods that usually bucked the popular trends.  Not all of us have a mom that is willing to share, or with parenting ideas that are similar to our own, or understanding enough to know that we might disagree.

Enter The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby's First Year.

This is, first and foremost, a book about instinct.

It is a wealth of information for new mothers.  Even if my mom did pass on every word of advice she could think of, I wouldn't be able to remember it all - but it's all stored in this book!  (Highlighters at the ready - you will want to mark this bad 'un up!)  Authors Megan Massaro and Miriam Katz have stormed the world of conventional, medical-office parenting with this little guide!

You may have no clue how you are going to raise future (or current!) children.  You may have a few vague ideas, but haven't necessarily figured out the ins and outs of what you want.  You may not even know that there are options for things that are taken for granted in our current society.  You may not know that your built-in parenting instincts are alive, well, and strong, and contain more wisdom than any strange pediatrician or Spock that doesn't know your family!  Or, prepared parent that you are, you may even have it All Figured Out!

Regardless of where you are at ... This book will liberate you to operate with instinct.  The authors beautifully present child-rearing methods with a variety of options on a number of topics, ranging from breastfeeding to diapering to weaning.  Suggestions, choices, and resources will be named - but the reader is never made to feel guilty for choosing their own path.  They are only enabled to know that they have the freedom to do so!

Megan and Miriam have done their research and provide the numbers for your reading pleasure.  Sound, factual evidence backs up many methods that have historically been instinctive to parents, lending support to your decisions when they seem to go against the grain of modern parenting advice - as many instinctive choices do - and giving you a little cannon-fodder for when relatives question your decisions.

This book is a refreshing, cleansing breath of fresh air when it comes to the world of natural parenting.  Instead of offering judgment and criticism, it only contributes information to allow you to make discerning, educated decisions, instead of simply going with a general "flow" because everybody else is.  Not everybody has the rebelliousness required to scoff in the face of all modern advice and do what seems natural and right to them - but with this guide at the ready, you will have the courage to make your own independent choices!  Parents of all opinions and schools of thought can be brought together to learn from and enjoy this guide to simple parenting.

Chapter topics begin with birth and progress through seven basic aspects of parenting in the first year: touch (nurturing), milk (feeding), sleep, potty (diapering and other options - yes ... other options!), relating (connecting), eating (when solid foods are introduced) and flow - letting go!

Author Megan Massaro
Author Miriam Katz
I was surprised to see in print many of the nameless, natural choices I had seen my own parents make over the years.  I didn't know that these choices had names (who knew holding your kid was a highly-controversial parenting method with clubs and Web forums to back it up!?).  But they had to come about as method because, over the years, dispassionate scientific parenting has taken the controls away from parents that were raising their children by instinct and with love.  The once-age-old traditions are often forgotten and disallowed, and parents that hold their babies a lot are "bad" because a doctor somewhere said it would prevent the child from being independent.

Pish, posh.

When a parent is allowed to make their own decisions for each child (and with each child, they may be different choices!), wonderful, beautiful things happen.  My mom, my primary example in child-rearing, is strong-willed, courageous, and willing to do what she believes in despite public outcry and the strong (and frequently-voiced) disapproval of relatives and acquaintances - but for those of us that don't have such a strong trust in our instincts, this book will provide the encouragement to believe in our God-given ability to parent, raise, and nurture children.

This book does not teach you.  It allows you.  It does not make decisions for you.  It informs you that choices do, in fact, exist.

You may be planning to have kids one day.  You may still be in the planning-to-get-married one day stage!  Or you may have several precious little ones of your own already.  Don't wait around; treat yourself to this wonderful gift and blossom into the role you were created for!

As a bonus - this book, operating outside the realm of big manufacturing companies, will inadvertently allow the new parent to save an awful lot of money.  Fully prepared for the arrival of Baby H now, Mr H and I still have only one thing from the big-name Babies store.  Who do you think is promoting all of those strange, innovative products (often made from strange, innovative materials with strange reactions to our body chemistry!) that you simply must have?  The good folks selling them, of course.  Some of the ideas in this book spared me even a few more dimes I was planning to spend, when I learned about other options that were available to me.  Curious?  I thought you might be!

Want to peek into The Other Baby Book community right now?  Check out the website, read the blog, like the Facebook page, and follow on Twitter @OtherBabyBook!  And by all means - read the book!

Mrs H

The authors sent me a copy of their book to read for review.  I was not paid for this review; my opinions are my own (and you know they always will be!).  I could have posted an awful review, but this book was way, way too good for that.  

Recipes, reviews, and giveaways ... like our new Facebook page and get 'em all! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rock My World: Potato Salad

Dear piknik planners,

Every family has a treasured, "best" recipe for potato salad (and they are all correct in thinking their recipe is best, because best is determined by what is most delicious and appropriate to your taste buds).  So I won't even dare tread on the sacred ground of contributing yet another recipe to your arsenal.  *See note at end of blog if you still need a recipe.  

What I am here to contribute is an additional ingredient, for your heirloom secret recipe, that might send you to the stars and back with papillae joy.

When The Original Mr H was here visiting, we prepared a potato salad without the use of dairy, eggs or refined sugar.  In the interest of adding jazzy new ingredients, I peeled and diced a Granny Smith apple and a Fuji apple, and stirred them in to the salad.

Try it.

Thank me later!

If you eat this potato salad with apples, you will be as happy as this family
You will have ears as big as these Fennec foxes
You will be as alert as these Meerkats 
You will be as curious as this lizard
You will sleep as well as this Red Panda
Your tongue will have the dexterity of a giraffe's
Mrs H

* P.S. If you don't have a family favorite yet for ol' tater salad or are trolling for new ideas, this recipe from the editors of Cook's Illustrated has always served me well, if not as a complete recipe, then as a jumping-off point for new and dreamy versions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Don't Be Impressed, There's Not Much to See

Dear wonderful people,

Sometimes people say, "Wow, what a Molly Homemaker you are!"

I love getting compliments as much as the next person (maybe more so ... that might be something for me to work on ... I'll get back to you when I'm perfect!).  But I don't always deserve them.

Don't think that, just because you see things here on the blog, I am this super-efficient-incredible-organized person.  It may appear that way because I post about the interesting, educational, or organized things I have done that helped me, or that I learned by trial and error, or that turned out well.

But I wouldn't post, "This is an awful recipe!  I made it and my husband could barely choke it down.  Don't waste your time or money like I did!"

"I spent the whole day producing nothing - here is a picture of my ceiling fan."

"I don't know anything about elephants, but you could always Google or YouTube them if you were interested in learning more."

Those posts might get a little old (if only you knew how often I could post them ...).

Instead, I select topics to discuss that I've spent some time learning about, or links to the website of somebody who has.  I post pictures of interesting things we've done, or foods we've eaten, and the recipes that turned out brilliant or successful are shared for your enjoyment.  I weed through the content of my life and share with you things that I think might seem interesting or helpful, based on my own experience.

You don't get to see all the white noise that is sifted out!

So don't feel like I do it all, or I have it all together, or I am a super-woman, or whatever nonsensical perception this blog might accidentally give ... 'cause that would definitely not be true.  I am guessing you have it all together better than I do, you just don't realize it because nobody is highlighting all the incredible, wonderful, awesomeness that you take care of day in and day out!

The day this blog becomes a place to serve me, instead of glorifying my Lord and bringing some joy or help to your day, is the day I will close it down forever.

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!

Mrs H

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dinner Menu VII

The dinner menu last week was pretty boring, owing to the fact that most of my energy was going into preparing and freezing food en masse!  I didn't even write out our weekly menu in advance, which means I am having a little trouble remember what we actually ate!

Pad Thai with Three Greens
Drunken Woman Lettuce Salad
Red and Green Organic Grapes

??? What did we have ...???

Well-Seasoned Beef
Marinara Sauce & Rigatoni
Caesar Salad: made with Parmesan and homemade Caesar dressing
Sparkling Cider

??? Something ???

Bok Choy, Swiss Chard & Kale Egg Rolls
Homemade Plum Sauce for dipping
Caesar Salad with Parmesan
Ice Cream Sandwiches

... I really couldn't say ... ?
Chips with Home-canned pinto beans & bacon
Sour Cream

Plum Milkshake made from homemade plum ice cream

I love the immersion blender for making marinara! 
Now that summer is here again, remember this delicious smoothie?
 I could drink this every day!! 
I'll post a list of our freezer items, too!  It's getting pretty stuffed in there!! 

Mrs H

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Love Apples

Dear harvesters and home gardeners, 

It's not too late if you want to start some tomatoes!  I didn't think we would be able to, so I had given up my treasured hope that we would ... it was too expensive, blah blah. 

Then I decided to ask around at the local grocery stores, in their bakery departments, for buckets.  They give them away free, most places.  It can be tricky to hit them on a day or time when they have empty ones, but it's worth swinging by every so often, or giving the bakery line a call, or leaving your name and number with them if they are so willing (all the local bakeries know me now!).  

I picked up five 5-gallon size buckets and brought them home and hosed the frosting remnants off.  

I dragged them out to the CSA with me when I was going out to do some work for my work-share, and purchased some topsoil mixed half-and-half with rich, black compost.  The farmer charged me two dollars per five gallon bucket.  Cheaper and nicer than the alternative, which is organic bagged dirt at the home improvement stores or gardening stores - not a bad option, either, if you can find good soil! 

Mr H drilled holes in the bottoms of the buckets for me so we'd have appropriate drainage.  

On Saturday at the farmer's market, I purchased five (organically raised) tomato plants at the cost of $2.50 each from our CSA, as well as a banana pepper plant and some basil plants.  I will be picking up more tomato plants today. 

I haven't settled on how we'll deal with staking, yet, but I wanted to get these pictures up in case you wanted to (cheaply) start some of your own plants! This is an affordable, fun way for us to get tomatoes all summer, and much more cost-effective than buying store-bought or even market tomatoes, which are always inferior in flavor!!  The plants I am picking up next are Amish Paste tomatoes, which are a good canning/freezing tomato.  These that you see here are various cherries, slicing, and an indigo blue tomato! 

Each bucket of tomatoes set me back a total of $4.50 apiece; so if I get at least one pound per plant, I'll have fully recouped my cost!

If you are planning to garden on a patio or in a small space as well, I could suggest Vertical Vegetables and Fruit as some excellent reading material!

Look for more to come on tomatoes!

Mrs H

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Food Group: CSA

Dear community of happy, lettuce-loving people,

We have been so happy with our work-share CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture)!

Yeah, we gots turnip greens down here.
We paid up-front for twenty weeks of produce - this allows us to share in the risks and benefits of farming, with the farmer.  He has cashflow to get through the year, and if a crop goes bad we all suffer together; if a crop flourishes, we all prosper together!

Sad Fridge

Happy Fridge!

What is a CSA, and how can I find one near me?
Why a CSA is not the same thing as a weekly veggie-subscription

We opted for a work-share so we received a bit of a discount in exchange for putting in some hours on the farm.  This is one of the best features of our CSA!  I was definitely hoping to find a CSA where we could participate in order to learn more about gardening and farming practices.  We get to know the farmer, his family, chat with them, email with them, and learn from them.

Once a week, we pick up our box of solid gold bouillon (a.k.a. fresh produce) at the farmer's market near our house, one of several designated "drop" sites for CSA members.

We also got to pick some strawberries in their field and paid by the pound, and they disappeared in rapid fashion as soon as we got them home...

Our CSA is not certified organic because they just purchased the land last year.  However, the farmer never uses any chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) on his crops.

By only three weeks in we had received turnips, Swiss chard, kale, many different varieties of lettuce, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, strawberries, bok choy, and more!

I thank God for this rich, rich blessing of produce and community!!

Mrs H

A Real Strawberry Milkshake 
Good luck going back to fast-food shakes after this one ... they can't even begin to compare!  

Strawberries, fresh and/or frozen
Vanilla or french vanilla ice cream (homemade is best!)
Optional: Ice

Scoop vanilla ice cream into the bin of a blender or an immersion-blender cup.  Pile in strawberries - you can use just a few, or up to a half-and-half ratio.  Pour in enough milk to blend easily; while blending, if the shake is too thick to blend, add a little more milk.  If you want the shake a little less thick, continue adding milk.  Add malted milk powder if you want a malt!

To make your smoothie stretch a little farther without increasing the calories too heavily, add ice and additional milk and blend very, very thoroughly; it will not be as creamy, but it will still be incredible.



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