19 September 2011

No 'poo

I've been thinking of trying this whole no 'poo (i.e., no shampoo) method for quite some time, but I've been too chicken to actually try it.  I'm afraid of the transition period and what it will do to my curly hair!  So I told myself I'd give it a try if my shampoo and conditioner ever ran out at the same time.  Since this pretty much never happens, I thought I had given myself an indefinite "out".  However, yesterday the inevitable happened.  I'm thinking about getting my hair cut on Thursday (can you tell I'm still procrastinating?) and then it will be experiment time!  Here's the plan:

  1. Have a jar of baking soda in the shower.  Combine baking soda with water to make a paste and massage into scalp.
  2. Rinse well.
  3. Make a 1:4 solution of apple cider vinegar : water in a spray bottle.  Spray on hair.
  4. Rinse with cold water.
We'll see how it goes.  Anyone else out there have any tips for me?

16 September 2011


This has been a horribly unproductive week.  Let's recap, shall we?

Baby girl and I were both sick on Monday.  I dragged my butt to class and then straight home.  I tried to write in bed, but is just wasn't happening, so I gave up and laid on the couch instead.

Tuesday was better.  I actually finished my to-do list, started training for a 5k I want to run in October, and felt ahead of the game.  Unfortunately, that productivity, drive, and motivation was short-lived.

Wednesdays are usually my most productive day because I head out to my office after class and work until dinner at church -- a good, uninterrupted 4 hours!  However, this week I had a once-a-month group meeting that lasted at least 2 hours.  I then met with my advisor to go over notes for the class I'll be teaching next week while he's in China.  Before I knew it, I had a half-hour until I needed to take the shuttle back to campus in order to exchange a textbook.  Spencer picked me up from school and we headed to church early.  We had a great time socializing with everyone, but didn't leave until probably 8pm.  I got maybe 1-2 hours of writing done all day, but at least finished the homework that's due today.

I don't know what happened yesterday.  I wasted the entire day!  I knew I had many things to do and that I would regret being lazy today, but I just couldn't focus.  Hopefully this isn't a sign that my depressing is returning (or hasn't left).  Maybe it's time to find a new counselor?

Today isn't looking wonderful on the productivity front, either.  Between classes, meetings, and commuting time, I'll probably only get 1-2 hours of writing in.  I wish working on the bus didn't make me sick!

What I'm really trying to get at here is that I'm bummed.  Because of my laziness, I need to work all weekend instead of spending quality time with Adelaide, Spencer, or my friends.  But enough of this pity party.  Next week is a new week, and it will be better!

06 September 2011

Creamy Linguine with Shrimp and Veggies

We had this recipe from Cooking Light for dinner tonight, and it's a keeper!  It was fast, easy to make (and would be even easier if I had more proficient knife skills), and definitely qualifies as a budget meal.  I  wonder how it would taste with yogurt substituted for part of the cream cheese.

As a side note, this was Adelaide's first experience with pasta, and she thoroughly enjoyed playing and "eating" it.  We should have taken a picture!

04 September 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Labor Day Week

This week's menu is brought to you by Cooking Light magazine.  My parents gift me a subscription each year, and I've filled a binder with recipes I think sound interesting.  It's time to try some of them out.

Monday - Labor Day
B: Baked oatmeal
L: Grill-out with friends
D: Hotdogs, potato salad, and s'mores

B: Green smoothie
L: Leftovers
D: Chicken Tostadas with Avocado Dressing, Mexican Rice

B: Yogurt
L: Hummus sandwich, veggies, fruit
D: Church

B: Chick-fil-a
L: Leftovers
D: Herb and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Red Pepper Couscous, Sautéed Spinach

B: Yogurt
L: Leftovers
D: Creamy Linguine with Shrimp and Veggies

B: French toast, fruit
L: Leftovers
D: Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes

B: Church
L: Church
D: Greek Festival

Check out the rest of Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie!  What's your family eating this week?

02 September 2011

Green Smoothie

I made my first green smoothie for breakfast this morning: kale, whole milk, goat's milk yogurt, strawberries, and mango.  It tastes...interesting.  Grainy.  It needs to be sweeter.  I tried adding honey, but that hasn't helped.  It gets a little better with each sip.  Next time I'll decrease the amount of kale, increase the fruits, and maybe add a little cucumber.

The real test -- how long until I'm hungry again?  I'm trying different breakfast ideas because cereal just isn't sticking with me long enough.

Have you tried a green smoothie?  What's your favorite combination?

07 July 2011

Depression Sucks

Last week was an amazing week.  I was happy, productive, and felt like there was finally some balance in my life.  It was a good mental health week.  Then Tuesday arrived and it's like I've hit a wall.  I'm unfocused, unproductive, and unbalanced.

I want every week to be like last week and it's not.  Depression sucks.

05 July 2011

Kitchen Questions

I'm working my way through One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds.  Part of the first section is devoted to helping me understand how I currently use my kitchen and how I would like to use it.  Here are my answers to selected questions posed in the text.

What do you like about your kitchen?
I like that there is plenty of storage space for my pots, pans, and baking supplies.  There is sufficient lighting and even a window overlooking the back yard.  My favorite part is probably the pantry.  I imagine it filled with self-canned, homemade, and real foods.  I like having a double sink and really hot water.  In general, the layout seems to work for us given the small space.  It's not like we could change that anyway!

What do you dislike about your kitchen?  
Pretty much everything else!  Unfortunately, most things can't be remedied since we rent this house:
  • Fridge/Freezer.  When we first moved into this house, we were excited about the side-by-side fridge/freezer with a water/ice dispenser.  Since then, we've realized that the ice maker and water dispenser never have worked and never will work.  Because there are no shelves in the freezer, only curved drawers, we can't even make our own ice in ice cube trays.  Instead we have to buy bagged ice from the store.  Also, the shelves/drawers are immovable on both halves.  This is particularly problematic on the fridge side; it's so hard to make everything fit!
  • Cabinets.  On first glance, the cabinets aren't that bad.  They're not my style, but aren't the end of the world.  I think it's annoying and pointless that the area between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling is closed off.  However, my biggest problem with them is the insides, which are unfinished!  We tried lining each shelf with contact paper, but it doesn't stick.  Any other ideas?  Splinters in my glasses and on our plates is unacceptable!
  • Counters.  After living in three rental properties, we've realized the utter lack of respect people have.  Do people not own cutting boards?  There's also not enough counter space, but I'm not convinced any kitchen would have enough counter space for me :)
Are there any cosmetic changes or tools you could introduce that would make the space work better?
We would really like to buy a small deep-freeze in order to preserve more foodstuffs throughout the year.  This would also provide a space to make our own ice.

We recently purchased a small cabinet for the bread and coffee machines, which freed up some counter space.  Hanging a mug rack above the coffee machine and storing items with the two machines in the cabinet would make this space even more functional.  I've recently started setting up the coffee maker in the evening and setting the timer so that coffee is already ready by the time I get up.  I may use a similar feature on the bread machine in the future.

The kitchen, and house in general, is not personalized.  We've been cautious of putting money into a rental property in the past, but since we're planning on being here for another 3-4 years, we are starting to consider making temporary cosmetic changes.  We don't plan on painting any walls, but are looking at hanging artwork and pictures, making curtains or valences, etc.  We want to be happy living in this space!

What we need is a simple, functional space.  Our kitchen is not there yet, but it's a work in progress.

What do you like/dislike about your kitchen?

27 June 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Last week I made egg rolls and fried rice for the first time.  They tasted OK, but were lacking in flavor.  While I don't normally experiment in the kitchen (I tend to follow recipes to the letter), I may tweak my recipes in the future.  I'll post any success if I do :)

That being said, my first kitchen experiment is going to be to invent (or reinvent) some sort of fruit egg roll as a dessert.  I don't want our extra egg roll wrappers to go bad.  But enough of my rambling; here is our dinner menu for the week:

Monday: Pasta and Salad (spinach, blue cheese, balsamic vinagrette)
Tuesday: Spinach Quesadillas and Refried Beans
Wednesday: Hamburgers with Blue Cheese and Spinach
Thursday: Almond Chicken, Broccoli, Mac & Cheese

You'll notice that spinach is the predominant vegetable on our menu.  That's because we didn't manage to make it to any farmer's market last week and our next chance isn't until Wednesday.  So, we're trying to minimize our grocery list (and avoid spoilage) by only buying a box of (sort of) fresh baby spinach and some frozen broccoli.

Check out the rest of Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing JunkieWhat is your family eating this week?

24 June 2011

Love List II

This is going to be short and sweet so that I don't miss the bus to campus.  This week I'm thankful for:
  1. Matching undergarments and aquamarine jewelry.  They make me feel pretty even when I'm wearing yoga pants and an old t-shirt.
  2. A brother-in-law who lives closer than 8 hours away.  We enjoyed your visit, David!
  3. A daughter who can hear!  There's a lot of background on this, but the short and sweet history is that we thought she couldn't hear due to some birth trauma.
What are you thankful for this week?

21 June 2011

Anything Does Not Mean Everything

"You can be anything you want to be."

"You can do anything if you just put your mind to it."

These phrases became my mantra during high school and college.  They were the source of my motivation.  If anyone suggested I couldn't do something, it only made me work harder to prove them wrong.  But everything changed when I started graduate school; the "magic" of those two phrases was lost.  Now they are discouraging instead of encouraging and it's taken me a long time to figure out why.  Somehow anything got replaced with everything.  It doesn't take long to feel like a failure when you stretch yourself too far, try to be the perfect everything. 

"You can't have your cake and eat it, too."

The message is slowly sinking in. I may have to give up some of my real food, crunchy mama, From Scratch ideals -- at least for this season of my life.

I work part-time, go to school full-time, and have a daughter who isn't even 3 months old yet.  On top of that, I expect myself to make perfectly nutritional meals (From Scratch), be fit and stylish, have a Martha Stewart home, and run a successful blog, among other things.  When I can't do it, I beat myself up about it and then try even harder to do the impossible.  This incessant guilt cycle is the root of my depression and it has to stop.  I'm working hard to break the cycle and create balance in my life, but it isn't easy.

One of my post-baby gifts was a sack of Seventh Generation products: laundry detergent, diapers and wipes, and disinfecting wipes.  I love using the disinfecting wipes primarily for wiping down kitchen counters.  I have to admit that they are much more efficient -- and I have to admit, easier -- than my usual old washcloth and vinegar/water spray routine.  I resisted using them at first because they're disposable.  I cringe every time I throw one away, quickly imagining how long it's going to sit in a landfill before it decomposes, telling myself what a bad environmental steward I am (how could someone studying Environmental Engineering do such a thing?!).   Still, I might buy more when I run out.  I have found something that makes cleaning fast, easy, and (dare I say?) enjoyable, which helps create some balance in my life.  Isn't it better (for me and my family) to have a clean and sanitary kitchen at the expense of a few disposable disinfecting wipes than to not clean the kitchen at all?

And maybe in a different season of my life, I can think about how to make them From Scratch.

20 June 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Once again, my menu is based around the items we bought at the Farmer's Market: purple kale, zucchini, snap beans, and cabbage.  I'm hoping it won't be too much longer until I can use produce from my own garden :)

Monday: Pizza, Salad
Tuesday: Fish, Macaroni and Cheese, Zucchini
Wednesday: Egg Rolls, Fried Rice
Thursday: BBQ Chicken, Snap Peas
Friday: Quesadillas

I'm using all the kale to make kale chips for snacking on.  It's so easy and they are pretty darn tasty!  Just strip the leaves off the stems, rip into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Yum!

Check out the rest of Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing JunkieWhat is your family eating this week?

18 June 2011

Love List I

In general, I feel like I complain too much and don't focus on the things I am thankful for in my life.  So, I'm joining Bonzai Aphrodite in creating a love list each week:
  1. Getting up early to read journal articles.  Getting things accomplished before Adelaide wakes up.  God has blessed me with a child that likes to sleep in with her daddy, which means I've been able to get in 2-3 hours of PhD work before she wakes up and I don't miss spending any time with her.
  2. Walking with friends in the Botanical Gardens.  Just what I needed several times this week.  Thanks guys!
  3. Sleeping on my stomach.  I was a dedicated stomach sleeper before I was pregnant and it was hard learning to sleep on my side.  Now I'm thankful that it's once again comfortable enough to do so.
What's on your love list?

14 June 2011

Cloth Diapering While Traveling

Two weeks ago, our little family of three took our first week-long trip away from home since Adelaide was born.  Every year, my grandparents rent a beach house off the coast of North Carolina and my dad's whole side of the family gets together for a week-long reunion of sorts.

The last time we took a trip, it was only over a weekend and we decided to switch to disposables since it was our first time away from home with Adelaide.  This time, I was determined to use my cloth diapers, especially since I knew the beach house had a washer and drier.
My diaper packing list:
Things went as well as I could have hoped, but there are a few things I want to keep in mind for next time:
  1. We need a different pail liner/wet bag for traveling.  The Blueberry pail liners we brought only have drawstring closures and didn't do a good job of containing the diaper stink problems we are having.  We'll be looking for one with a zippered closure and loop to hang on a doorknob.
  2. I need to figure out if there's a way to avoid bringing dirty diapers with us.  I'm not sure that's possible unless we use disposables the day before we leave, which I don't want to do.
  3. Be prepared for different washing conditions than we're used to at home.  The house we stayed in had extremely hard water, which meant that it took nearly all day to wash a load of diapers.
Has anyone else here traveled with cloth diapers?  Any suggestions for this new mama?

13 June 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I'm so glad that summer is here.  Want to know why?  Because that means the farmer's markets have returned!  I'm lucky enough to have three local markets on three consecutive days (Wed-Fri).  I could also go to a market on Saturday morning if I wanted to drive a little further.  And I can't forget what I'm growing in my garden, though nothing is ready to pick yet.

The broccoli and carrots came from the local student organic farm.  We've already eaten the broccoli (note this menu plan starts at the end of last week) and it was amazing!  I'm sure the carrots will be equally tasty.  I'm planning on using the carrot fronds in my first ever green smoothie this week.  I hope I like it!

B - Baked Oatmeal
L - PBJ Sandwiches
D - Ranch Chicken, Rice, Steamed Broccoli

B - Baked Oatmeal
L - BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Cheez-Its
D - Out

B - Cereal
L - Leftovers
D - Pasta Bake, Salad

B - Green Smoothie
L - Tuna Sandwich, Pretzels
D - Black Beans & Rice, Steamed Carrots

B - Green Smoothie
L - Leftovers
D - Cream Cheese Chicken, Steamed Carrots

B - Yogurt
L - Leftovers
D - Sloppy Joes, Salad

B - Cereal
L - Leftovers
D - Franks & Rice, Corn

Check out the rest of Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie! What is your family eating this week?

10 June 2011

Cloth Diapering Problems

Before Adelaide was born, Spencer and I decided we were going to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.  I had a good time putting her "stash" together, composed mainly of prefolds, covers, and pocket diapers.  I even made my own cloth diaper detergent and thought I had a good washing routine.

But now, we've run into our first cloth diapering issue -- diaper stink!  I've since switched to Rockin' Green Classic Rock detergent and tried soaking them, but things aren't much better.  So I've searched the web hoping find a solution to my problem, but of course there are many different options out there!  Here is what I plan on trying until something (hopefully) works:
  1. Cold rinse followed by two wash cyles (hot wash, cold rinse, cold rinse) with detergent.
  2. Normal wash cycle with detergent followed by hot wash without detergent and double cold rinse.
  3. Wash my washing machine: add 1 cup vinegar to machine and run hot wash and rinse cycle.
  4. Strip diapers.
Any other suggestions or modifications to my plan?  I'm not at risk of getting rid of my whole stash or anything, but I would like to walk past the diaper pail without holding my breath :)

26 May 2011

I'm Cleared!

Yesterday I had a postpartum visit to check my stitches, and received the green light to resume "normal" activities.  This is great because my ideal schedule includes 3.5 hours of exercise per week.  I just need to develop a plan.

I've thought about doing a workout DVD like 30 Day Shred or P90, both of which I already own.  Slim in 6 and 10 Pound Slimdown have also been suggested to me, but I'd have to purchase (or borrow) them.  The problem is that I'm pretty sure I won't be able to stick to it.  There's just not enough variety to motivate me for 1-3 months.  Maybe there's more variety available on streaming Netflix.

I used to consider myself a runner (maybe jogger is a better term) and I've thought about doing the Couch to 5k program.  I'm afraid this may be doing too much too fast, though, and might be better suited for when Adelaide is able to sit up by herself and I can use our jogging stroller.

On our walk yesterday, Spencer and I (and Adelaide) stopped by the rec center, which is similar to a YMCA.  The membership fees aren't that expensive and could probably be built into our budget.  They seem to have a variety of classes in addition to a swimming pool, cardio and weight machines, free weights, and basketball courts.  But I've had a gym membership before (just not to this gym) and don't know if I'd keep going.  I'll also have "free" access to the university gym once I'm registered for classes in the fall.

None of these ideas seems like the perfect plan, so I don't know what I'm going to do.  Maybe I just need a workout buddy to motivate me.  That worked in college.

Anyone local looking for a workout buddy or have any other ideas or suggestions?

24 May 2011

Where Does My Time Go?

If my calculations are correct, there are 168 hours in a week.  What exactly am I doing with all that time?  During an average week, I spend:
  • 49-56 hours (~33% of my time) sleeping
  • 50-60 hours (~30%) taking care of Adelaide
  • 21 hours (13%) running errands and doing chores
  • 20 hours (12%) working
  • 10 hours (6%) watching TV, wasting time on Facebook, etc. (aka, screen time)
  • 3 hours (2%) on schoolwork
  • 4 hours (2%) at church and related activities
  • 3 hours (2%) with friends
I think that encompasses most things.  Can you think of anything I may have left out?  While these are my best estimates, I know they're not completely accurate since some categories overlap.  For example, I'm usually watching TV while feeding Adelaide.

There are some things that are not included in this list that should be, such as time with Spencer, a hobby, religious study, and exercise.  Ideally, I would like to see the time distribution look more like this:
  • 50-60 hours (30% of my time) taking care of Adelaide
  • 42 hours (25%) sleeping
  • 20 hours (12%) working
  • 20 hours (12%) on schoolwork
  • 14 hours (8%) running errands and doing chores
  • 7 hours (5%) on screen time
  • 6 hours (3%) at church and on religious study
  • 3-4 hours (~2%) with friends
  • 3-4 hours (~2%) with Spencer
  • 3.5 hours (1%) exercising
This is the distribution I will be aiming for when I plan my weekly schedule.  I'm not going to try to achieve this ideal overnight - that's just a recipe for discouragement - but will hopefully be pretty close by the end of the year.  I'm also pleased that it lays a good foundation for me to reach my goals.

What do you spend your week doing?  Do your weekly activities support your short- and long-term goals?

23 May 2011

Setting Goals

There are many times when I sit and daydream about how I wish my life was different.  Sometime this can be encouraging, while other times it is a destructive waste of time.  That being said, I'm a big fan of setting both short- and long-term goals and so is Regina Leeds.

Changes in my life that I hope to see after I learn how to manage my time:
  1. I protect myself by planning my life at least one week at a time.
  2. Work, school, family, and personal time are all balanced.
  3. I do not procrastinate doing things that I don't enjoy. (And the corollary, "I've learned to say 'no'".)
  4. My advisor is proud of my work as a PhD student and I am a role model for other research group members.
  5. Adelaide is on a schedule.
  6. Spencer and I have quality time together.
What goals do you have in your life right now?

22 May 2011

Looking Back

I've just starting reading a book Spencer got me for my birthday, One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good by Regina Leeds.  Before you ask, no it's not a hint from him, it's a book I've had on my wish list for quite some time now.  I'm just weird like that.  It's set up so that each month has a dedicated focus:

  • January - Understanding Time Management / Kitchen
  • February - Bedroom
  • March - Office / Finances
  • April - Bathrooms
  • May - Attic / Basement / Garage / Laundry Room / Guest Room
  • June - Traveling
  • July - Scrapbooks / Memorabilia / Greeting Card Collections / Address Books
  • August - Moving
  • September - Back-to-School
  • October - Common Rooms
  • November - Entertaining
  • December - Holidays

Although it's May, I've decided to work through the book from the beginning and start with January's concepts.  I think it will be easier on me this way, especially since it's not even the first week of May.

The first week of every month is dedicated to journaling tasks.  The first set of questions are supposed to help you "examine your past for clues to the present reality".  What exactly does that mean?  I'm not going to list the questions here, so you'll have to borrow (or buy) the book for yourself. :-p

I used to believe that if you arrive on time for an event, then you are late.  I think this comes from my adolescence; when I was growing up, I don't remember my family ever being late for anything.  In fact, we were always at least 10-15 minutes early for things.  Of course, this requires some extra planning and adding a buffer to your estimated travel time.  What if there is an accident?  What if you get lost?  Growing up in Northern Virginia, this meant that even if you could get somewhere in 10 minutes, you left at least 30 minutes early.  I distinctly remember leaving for school by 8am when school didn't even start until almost 9am!  Granted, this meant I got a close parking spot and I had time to hang out with friends before classes started.

After I moved south for graduate school, I realized my (excessive) buffer time is unneccessary, and I started to arrive at places (only) 5-10 minutes early.  Two years later, I married my husband and we started to arrive to places on time.  Gasp!  How could this be?!  I'm not kidding when I say I nearly had a panic attack during every car trip.  It was something I was working on...until we had Adelaide.  Now things have completely changed.  It doesn't matter how much buffer time we build into a trip we're still lucky to arrive on time.  Something always takes longer than I had planned despite my best preparations.  Surprisingly, I'm pretty OK with this.  Probably because most people, in general, are more forgiving when you have a newborn, so I don't feel as judged when I'm tardy.  Hopefully by the time Adelaide isn't a newborn anymore, we'll have our act together.

What are your time paradigms?

21 May 2011

My First Real Garden

Last year was my first attempt to grow anything at all, and all I tried to grow were some herbs in a tiny tin on the porch of our third-floor apartment.  I thought I was doing pretty well until the first really hot summer day arrives and everything shriveled up and died.

Now that we're renting a house, I figured I could take a stab at growing some real food.  We decided a little strip of land next to the house would be the best spot.  I wish I had remembered to take a before picture.  This tiny strip of land was half covered with vines, weeds, and nasty roots, not to mention the fact that it's horrible red clay.  Not the most ideal growing conditions for vegetable plants.  At first we tried to till the ground with the few hand tools.  After we had worked for several hours without seeing much progress and my husband had developed a blister, we decided it was time to give in and buy some normal sized tools.  Oh, and Adelaide hating being outside the entire time.

It's amazing how much faster things went after we had the proper tools.  It only took us 30 minutes to finish preparing the ground and maybe another 30 minutes to plant our crops.  I wasn't sure how far apart the plants should be planted, so they're roughly a foot apart.  Here's what we planted:

  • Four everbearing strawberry plants.

  • Six tomato plants of three different varieties.
Red Brandywine Heirloom Tomatoes

Better Boy Tomatoes

Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes

  • Four yellow squash plants of two different varieties.
Butternut Squash

Yellow Straightneck Squash

  • Six cucumber plants of two different varieties.
Three "slicing" and three "pickling" plants.

The cucumber plants have since been planted in containers that are on our porch.  That little strip of land next to the house is shorter than I thought it would be and there wasn't enough room for them there.  If I had thought to lay the plants out on the little plot of land before digging any holes, I might have avoided this.  We've also rabbit-proofed the garden by encasing it in chicken wire.

I make it a habit to water my garden every day before noon.  I'm not sure how much water I should be giving them.  Is there any rule of thumb?

I'm already starting to see some buds form on some of the plants, so I'm eagerly awaiting my first bounty!  I'm looking forward to updating everyone on the garden's progress throughout the season.

Do you have a garden this year?  If so, what did you plant?

04 May 2011

Facial Cleansers

Right before heading off to grad school, I signed up to be a Mary Kay consultant.  I don't know what I was thinking, but it was a huge waste of money (for me).  I promised myself I would at least use all of the stock I could if I wasn't going to sell it, and after nearly six years, I'm on my last bottle of facial cleanser.  Time to look for something new!

Since beginning my quest to be From Scratch, I've learned a lot about the questionable ingredients that are used in skin care products and cosmetics.  Unfortunately, this industry is not properly regulated by the Federal government.  Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which provides safety ratings on over 68,000 products!

From what I can tell from the database, the Splash Facial Oat Flour Face Wash from Coastal Classic Creations is the highest rated facial cleanser rated by EWG.  You know why?  Because it's only ingredient is "finely ground colloidal oatmeal".

So my question is, why can't I just grind us oatmeal in my blender/food processor/coffee grinder and use that instead of paying $10 + S&H for 75 grams?  I might just give it a try!

What facial cleansers do you use on a regular basis?

19 April 2011

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!

I am pleased to announce that I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Adelaide, on March 27 at 6:56am.  She weighed 8 lbs. 10 oz. and was 22 in. long.  There were some complications with her birth, but I was able to deliver her at home as planned and we are both doing well.

15 March 2011

39 Week Update

Spencer and I had a pretty rough weekend.  Instead of making major headway on the nursery as we had planned, I wound up taking Spencer to the ER for gastroenteritis (read: stomach bug).  We then spent the rest of the weekend recovering.  He's back to normal now, though, and I thankfully didn't catch it from him.

As of yesterday, I'm 39 weeks pregnant.  I can't believe I'm going to have a baby any day now!  I'm really excited because my mom flew down yesterday.  Today we made a large batch of breakfast burritos to put in the freezer and put together the pack-n-play/bassinet.  We were hoping to go for a walk, but it was pouring rain for most of the day.

On the to do list for tomorrow:
  • Long walk
  • Decorate baby room
  • Last home birth preparations
That should make for a pretty full day.  We'll also be joining the college group for dinner at the church (yay for free meals!).  This week is already flying by too quickly.  I can't believe tomorrow is already Wednesday!

23 February 2011

36 Week Bump Picture

I got my hair cut today and I wanted to capture it while I can before I wash it and it's all curly again.  I figured we might as well get a picture of my 36 week bump while we're at it, so here it is.  Please excuse the mess!  What do you think?

14 February 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Valentine's Day 2011

This is my first time joining the Menu Plan Monday linkup at I'm An Organizing Junkie!  Here is my menu plan for the week.  We'll see how well we stick to it:

B - Cereal
L - Tuna Sandwiches
D - Out to celebrate Valentine's Day

B - Green Smoothie
L - Leftovers
D - Middle Eastern Rice with Black Beans and Chickpeas, Spaghetti Squash, Yogurt, Pitas

B - Yogurt
L - Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
D - Church

B - Oatmeal
L - Leftovers
D - Egg Pie, Salad

B - Green Smoothie
L - Hummus & Veggies
D - Chicken-Broccoli Bake (Batch cooking)

B - Breakfast Burrito (Batch cooking)
L - Out
D - Leftovers

What is your family eating this week?

01 February 2011

Cleaning Schedule

After all the recent changes in our lives, the cleaning schedule has gone out the window (not that I really kept up with it in the first place).  Time to reclaim it!  In the past, I've made pretty spreadsheets and charts and fantasized about having a Martha Stewart home.  And you know what?  It never worked.  Why?  Because I was trying to establish way too many habits all at once and I wound up overwhelmed.  So this time, I'm going to focus on adding one or two chores to my list at a time.  What am I focusing on first?
  1. Make the bed every day
  2. Do a load of laundry every day
Sounds simple, right?  I hope so, because that was the point.  If other chores get done in addition to these, that's great, but my goal is to do these two things every day for two weeks.  By then, they should be a habit.  The other key is to not beat myself up if one (or both) of these don't happen sometimes.  No one is perfect, not even me (though my brain thinks otherwise).  Life happens and you move on.  Tomorrow is a new day.

What are your every day chores?

31 January 2011

Vermicomposting Update

I'm not sure the wormies survived the move.  Last time I added kitchen scraps to the bin, I saw no movement.  I added more wet shredded paper, hoping it would revive them, but I've been afraid to check on their progress.  I know, I'm a big chicken, but I just feel so bad.  I may have killed 500 of God's creatures!

I promise to get up the courage to check on them soon.  Maybe we'll be building a new compost bin outdoors (sans worms) now that we live in a real house instead of a third story apartment!

Anyone else having composting woes?

02 January 2011

Our December Travels

For the last three weeks, Spencer and I have been traveling:

We spent a week in Honolulu, HI for the Pacifichem 2010 conference.  While I was presenting and sitting through symposium sessions, Spencer got to check out Waikiki beach and downtown Honolulu.  Our last two days we spent sight-seeing.  We went up to the Polynesian Cultural Center (amazing!), visited Pearl Harbor, and stopped briefly at the Dole Plantation (pineapples) and a macadamia nut farm.

We were home for barely 24 hours before heading off to Virginia to visit our families for Christmas, but we had a few hiccups first.  At 10pm the night before we were supposed to leave, Spencer started having chest pains.  We called an on-call nurse at the university who told us to call 911.  We did, and the EMTs showed up shortly after.  Although an EKG of his heart looked normal, they still recommended a trip to the ER, so I drove Spencer there myself instead of letting the ambulance take him.  Another EKG and blood tests came back normal enough, so we left with a list of symptoms to look out for.

After a few hours of sleep, we were off to VA, or so we thought.  Not 5 miles from the house, Spencer's car broke down.  At least we were close, right?  A good friend (who we are very indebted to) came to pick me and the cats up while Spencer waited for the tow truck.  We had the car towed back to our house, repacked everything in my car, and finally got on the road.

We had a very nice Christmas Eve day with my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend ending at church.  All day Christmas was spent with Spencer's family.  It was the first time I started dating him that all the siblings were home for Christmas.  Nine (and a half) people plus seven cats makes for a full household, but it was a lot of fun.  On the way back home, we made a short stop in KY to see my grandparents, cousins, aunt, and uncle.

We made it back home just in time to spend New Year's eve with our friends, then zonked out for a good 10 hours or so.  Yesterday we spent doing nothing, which was nice, but today we need to get back with the program!  I'm trying not to stress and worry about everything that needs to be done, and remembering my therapist's advice to keep it to four things or less per day.  So, here are my TODO's for today:

  1. Go to church
  2. Go to Hypnobabies class
  3. Meal planning
  4. Grocery shopping
I'm hoping much more gets done today, but that defeats the purpose of this whole exercise.