Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"How My Brain Works"

This is me. And I am currently obsessed with healthy foods and going back to foods not riddled with hormones, antibiotics, homogenization, pasteurization (I spelled those two right the first time! Go me!), synthetic additives, and myriad other disgusting stuff I'm sure you've heard of.

Two websites that I've recently stumbled upon and have led me in this new obsession are mommypotamus.com and foodrenegade.com. Mommypotamus talks a lot about natural supplementation and remedies, and more. Food Renegade has posted articles on how your honey is fake and how most olive oil isn't really olive oil and what real food really is. The best part? Well, besides learning that all this food we ingest is rancid and/or has absolutely no nutritive value so after they homogenize and pasteurize the foods they add back in the [synthetic] vitamins and minerals. Yeah, besides that, these people actually source their posts! They're not just he said/she said, they actually post links to their sources. The geek in me loves it.

My inner geek also loves taking this information and actually applying it. My husband isn't so keen on this side of the equation, because in order to get quality food and supplementation (fermented cod liver oil anyone?) we have to shell out lots of dinero (no, that does not mean dinner!) So we'll go slow. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are part of a CSA co-op this summer, and although slightly disappointing, we have gotten some nice goodies. My parents are moving to a hobby farm in the next month or so, so we'll hopefully be getting fresh eggs, buffalo, goats milk, and who knows what else, from them in the near future. Plus we're cutting back on a lot of processed foods and going the more natural, homemade route. It's a big change. It's expensive. But in my mind, it's worth it. For my health, for my husband, and for our future kids, I want us all to be as healthy as we can. And eating junk is not the way to do it.

So I'll keep you updated on how this all goes. What we do and how we do it. Our journey to eating healthier. To whether or not this healthier eating enables, or at least aids, us in achieving our much-desired pregnancy. So stay tuned. I hope you're as interested in this as I am!!

Un-Paper Towels

We go through a lot of paper towels. A LOT. Or, at least, we used to. Now we hardly use any! How is that even possible!? you ask. I'm glad you did. And I'm here to save the day. Or, the paper towels, at least.

The fabric I used

Now, I'm not a "tree-hugger." Sure, I love nature, and I'm glad all those loggers are replanting trees as they go. But these just make sense. I mean, paper products are expensive. And if you skimp on price, you skimp on quality. I've used paper towels that tear quicker than a page in a Bible, and absorb half as well. So these un-paper towels were a quick, easy solution. Sorry I don't have any pictures of the production of such fine merchandise. I will get better at this blogging thing, I promise.

As you can see from the picture above, I used three different fabrics: red flannel, patterned flannel, and white terry cloth. Because I wanted these to be cute as well as functional. I wasn't thinking I'd ever have to bleach them. WRONG.

Terry/flannel cloths
The flannels were 7.99 a yard and the terry was 6.99 a yard if I remember correctly. I got two yards of the patterned flannel and one each of the solid colors. This was enough to make a dozen 12"x12" towels with fabric left over to make more. So, some towels are flannel and terry cloth while some are just flannel. NOTE: I like the terry cloths the best. If you want to make your buck go even further, just do single layer terry cloths. It'll basically be a wash cloth, but at a fraction of the cost. Also, I'd make them white so you can bleach them... one of mine is stained pink already and it's been like 2 weeks. They get dirty fast.

Wash your fabric first. Not with whites!! I colored a white tank top pink. Joy. (I'm so home-savvy!! I thought it would be okay if I used a color catcher. It wasn't. Nothing else got colored, though, just the tank top... the white terry came out nice and clean even though I washed it with the red flannel... go figure.) Iron. Now to the fun part!

Flannel/flannel cloths
Match right sides together. With the flannel be sure the fabrics stretch in the same direction. Then I just used a ruler and some fabric chalk to mark 12x12 inches, then cut them out. Pin together. Using the sewing machine you borrowed from your mother (if you're not lucky enough to own one) do a quick basting stitch around the edge. I used the presser foot as a measurement, and it was probably 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric. Really, it can be as close as you want. (Since I used 12"x12" for the starting piece, my un-paper towels are a little smaller than that. You can add a seam allowance if you want, or if you don't care, I found the ruler to be quite easy.) Try to make your corners square by leaving the needle in the fabric, lifting the presser foot, and pivoting the fabric around the needle. Be sure to leave a few inches open so you can flip your towel right-side-out. Do so after you've finished sewing around the edge. Once it's flipped the right way, iron again.

Then simply go around the edge again with the top stitch to close up the hole and make it look purrrty. Make your corners the same way you did before with the whole pivoting-on-the-needle business. Iron a third time, if you so desire. I didn't want to, so I didn't do it. I think they're just fine. =] But I'm lazy.

Big picture of where the basket is on our kitchen wall.

Now figure out how to keep them in your kitchen. We have next to no counter space and not much cupboard space either, so I didn't want a basket some place it would take of valuable space. So I had Jonny nail a little basket to the wall above the sink.

Close-up of the basket. You can see the pink cloth towards the bottom of the stack.
To extend the life of your cloths, or if they're not very absorbent, wash them several times with an extra rinse and dry without fabric softener. They should start absorbing better.

I find that for now, a dozen cloths has been sufficient for us. I do wash these with our clothes (bad me; you'd think I'd have learned by now), and do a couple loads a week. We go through the terry cloths the fastest. If I were to make more, I would be sure to make them all terry.

This is a super easy project, that I, as a novice sewer, had lots of fun with. Be creative. Change the size, fabric, or stitches to gain expertise. And remember, when you make a mistake and end up ripping out stitches for hours, that you can chalk it up to EXPERIENCE.

**EDITED TO ADD** These are single use towels. I don't just use one per day, or use them till they stink (I hate smelly towels). Also, I let them hang dry on our oven door handle before putting them in the laundry basket so they don't grow mildew while sitting in that nice, moist, dark environment. An added precaution against stink is putting some soap on them (especially the soaked ones) and rubbing it in so that when you wring it out, it's all sudsy. That will help prevent build up as well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Heart's Desire

Let me preface this post by saying that I absolutely adore my husband and my relationship with him is precious to me; that he is my comfort, my stronghold, my knight in shining armor. Next to God, he is first in my life and I don't want that to ever change. Having said that:

I haven't really kept it a secret. Most people that know me (or have met me, or know of me...) know that, more than almost anything, I want to be a mommy. I want to feel the flutters of their first movements and know that my husband and I created another being. I want to see my belly move and feel the baby grow. I want to hold the baby, and smell its head; to watch it grow and mature and hear it call out to its daddy. To be called "Mommy" and to nourish and be nourished in such a unique way. I'm not hesitant to tell anyone that more than food (as I am proving by working to lose weight!) and drink I want a baby of my own. Even the morning sickness, labor pains, and middle-of-the-night wakings don't daunt me from wanting this one thing.

But so far, God has not seen fit to give me this, the biggest desire of my heart. And it's hard.

Jon and I married in September, 2010. We never really tried to avoid pregnancy, but we didn't push it either and weren't "actively" trying. (Well, at least, he wasn't... I did make sure we were more "active" when I was fertile!) We figured that if it took a year or so that would be fine, but before wouldn't be bad either. Obviously, nothing happened in that first year. Then in October 2011 we decided to get serious. I had been charting my cycles before, but now I got serious and temped every single day, not just when I felt like it. I was diligent. We were diligent. We determined when my ovulation would be and got busy. But month after month, my menstrual cycle would show up, and month after month I'd have gotten my hopes up only to have them dash, rather uncomfortably, against despair.

I read a book titled Taking Charge of Your Fertility after we got married, and they say that with charting and knowing your cycles, etc., 4-6 months should be sufficient to achieve pregnancy. But I  know that most doctors suggest trying for a year before you start to worry, so I thought maybe we would just need more time and I tried to stay calm about it all. Let me tell you. THAT. DOES. NOT. WORK. Worry I did. I had been told in 2011 that I had a tilted uterus, but that by itself that was no cause for concern and many women with that same problem got pregnant and successfully carried their babies to term. But I had, and still have, a feeling that something is wrong; that there is some reason why, despite almost 2 years of no contraceptive, we're still not pregnant. Maybe my low basal body temps and short leuteal phase (the time between ovulation and your period), which should be a minimum of 10 days (mine is 10 on the nose) indicate low progesterone, but I have not been tested for that, simply because we don't have the $$ for it right now.

But I am convinced that part of the reason is my weight (which, thankfully, I can fix without a visit to the doctor!) I have prayed to God about this desire often, and several--if not every--time, God has lain it on my heart to be healthier so that I can better nourish and support a new life. This sacrifice has been so difficult for me. I love my tucker. My entire extended family has centered their lives, more or less, on food and its perfection. And let me tell you. We are good cooks. So, smaller portions, healthier food, exercise, and more movement are all things I've been striving for--and by and large, succeeding, I think. But it's a daily battle for me.

Another daily battle is giving this desire to God and coming to a place where I can honestly say that, if He were to take away everything that I held dear: my ability to be pregnant/a mom, my husband, and my family; I could still say, "The LORD gives and the LORD takes away; blessed be the name of the LORD. He is my all in all; without Him I would be lost, but with Him I am safe and secure, no matter what may come." I want that. More than anything. But it's still a practical issue that I need to give it up every.single.day.of.my.life. Not just in this area, but in every area. It's not easy. I'm stubborn. But I'm getting better.

Jon and I have decided to go back to the "not trying, not preventing" stage for a few months (since July and probably through this month or September), since we had some major bills come up that needed to get taken care of, and Jon was stressed about finances should we become pregnant right now. But in the next few months we're going to try the Sperm Meets Egg Plan. If that doesn't work, I don't know what's going to happen. We don't have money for fertility testing or infertility treatments or adoption. So hopefully God will, in His perfect timing and graciousness, provide a child for us; whether that be naturally, or through other means. I know He will. He is good, and wants to give us the desires of our hearts, if they are godly desires. And I believe this is. So for right now, I need to learn to wait on God. To do what I can to improve our chances of becoming pregnant and not lose hope; to continue with "prayer and supplication," to honor Him and my husband in this time of trial. So pray for me. For strength. For patience. For happiness. For peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful." -John 14:27 esv

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Belly Laughs and Watermelon

Who here loves watermelon? And I don't mean the seedless, flavorless ones you buy from the grocery. I mean the heavy, pink, juicy ones you get from the Farmer's Markets or roadside vendors. I bought one the other day and just cut it up today. WHY DID I WAIT? This baby was so JUICY and SWEET, and BURSTING WITH FLAVOR. It may or may not be half gone now. It's been like 3 hours. Good thing we got another one from a Co-op we're a part of.True story: my cousin used to call it waterlemon. Conversations would go like this:

"Sophie, say 'watermelon.'"
"Sophie, say 'water.'"
"Say 'melon.'"
"Now say 'watermelon.'"

She's all growed up now. She's like... 10 or 11 now (I hope that's right, Soph! You can correct me if I'm wrong!). She can say it right now. Just thought I'd share that tidbit of my history for ya'll.

Tonight's been great so far. I didn't have to work today, and Jon got done with work pretty early, so we sat together and watched How I Met Your Mother while I cut and then we ate the watermelon. Then after a few hours of that, we put on The Hunger Games to enjoy while we ate dinner- BBQ shredded chicken on buns with watermelon. Now he's showing me hilarious videos on youtube like this one and this one and this one. I nearly peed my pants watching them. Then we saw some super cute ones of a husky and a baby. And another. I love living in the 21st century. And enjoy your evening which will now be spent on youtube looking at the cutest videos ever.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Crock Pot: Pork Tenderloin Style

We had a pork tenderloin for dinner today, and it was grand. So tender, so tasty! Here's how I spent all day laboring in the kitchen to make it. I forgot to take a picture of it, sorry. But believe me, it was gorgeous.

First, my husband and I went to Gordy's over the weekend, and saw they had marinated pork tenderloins on sale for less than $3 a pound. So we picked out the marinade we wanted: sherry and teriyaki. Then when we got home we put it in the refrigerator. Step one: complete.

Second, I got up this morning around 9:30 and pulled out our crock pot. At about 9:31 I opened the package... okay, is this too detailed for you? Yeah. Thought so. You get the idea. I put the tenderloin in the crock pot, added some water, and turned it on. Then I decided to look at some recipes online to see if they add water and how much. (I was paranoid it wouldn't turn out, silly me.) I found this recipe to first pan-sear the meat before putting it in the crock pot! That helps keep in the flavor. So I stabbed the meat with a fork and put it in a skillet, then browned both sides of the meat with the stove on high, then put the meat back in the crock pot and almost covered with water. Then left it. All. Day. Long.

I got home from work just after 6, put some rice on, sauteed some fresh green beans, cut up the meat, and, viola, a supremely easy, ridiculously delectable dinner for the husband and me! I can't wait until dinner tomorrow to finish it off!

What are your favorite crock pot recipes? What about pork tenderloin recipes?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

So, last night I wanted Parmesan-encrusted Chicken. So what did I do? I hopped on over to Pinterest (figuratively; I don't really hop anywhere. Ever. At all.) Looked up a bunch of recipes. The ones that didn't use bread crumbs or non-fat Greek yogurt (which we don't have) used egg or mayo (yes, mayo. And I can't have eggs OR mayo, since mayo is mostly egg). So, what to do, what to do. Why, experiment, of course! So after asking Jon's permission, this is what I came up with. And sorry, but I didn't really measure anything... I'll give approximate amounts, but they're not perfect.

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I only used 3; you can use more or fewer.)

1/3 cup sour cream

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (save some to put on top of chicken before you bake it, or use extra for that...)

1/2-1 cup breading, potato flakes, flour, what have you (I didn't measure this, but I probably used 1-1/2 cups and it was WAY TOO MUCH.)

Olive oil

Instead of egg, mayo, or yogurt, I used sour cream. Ours had onions and chives in it. I figured that'd be fine; just adds more flavor. Then I added a bit of brown sugar to sweeten it a bit, since mayo and yogurt are pretty sweet. Honestly, I'm not sure the brown sugar was needed. But I have a hard time passing up using brown sugar. I love me some sugar. Anyway. Back to the recipe. I mixed some Parmesan cheese into the sour cream/brown sugar mix. I used shredded cheese. The powdered stuff would work fine. Or the flakes. Use what you have. Don't have Parmesan? I bet Feta would taste pretty good, too. Next I took some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them in half (so the goodies-to-chicken ratio was higher!!) and dried them off, so they were kinda sticky. Next I dunked them in the sour cream mixture. So, remember how I said we had no bread crumbs? I'm sure flour would probably work, but I used dried instant potato flakes. Frankly, I thought these were bland and in the future I'd probably use bread crumbs if possible, but the potato flakes worked. In fact, husband loved them. So, after the chicken is coated in sour cream, put some coating in a bag, add chicken, and shake, shake, shake your booty. Just kidding. Sort of. Pull chicken out of coating, making sure they're coated well; place on a baking sheet lined with foil. I had extra sour cream mix, so I put a dollop on top of the chicken and then pressed more flakes into the top. Drizzle some olive oil and some more cheese on top of chicken. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 or until chicken is done all the way through. I ended up having to put the oven on broil for a bit, because my chicken wouldn't brown.

We also had some noodles with butter, garlic, and parsley, then added some zucchini and cherry tomatoes. Please, be sure to sautee the veggies separately from the noodles. I didn't; I just dropped these into the noodles after they cooked, and the zucchini was hard and tasteless. The french bread was good, though.

I'm a blogger!

Wow! Hi! My first blog ever!

Well, you should all know a few things about me. I'm Taylor. Tatre is a nickname my cousin gave me several years ago. I'm married to the best man ever. In the immortal words of Dory the fish: "I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy." Just kidding. Sort of. His name is Jon, Jonny, Jonald, Jonathan... take your pick. My parents are still married after like... a millennium (just kidding... 28 years in October! Give these folks a medal!) Julie is the oldest, married to Damon. They're expecting their first baby, a boy they're naming Liam, in October. Katie is between Julie and me. She's not married. 

I am 22. I love being the "typical housewife" minus the cleaning. I mean really, who actually enjoys scrubbing the toilet and mopping the floors? But I do enjoy cooking, baking, taking care of my husband, sewing, etc. And reading. And TV. But I'm not sure how reading and watching TV help me be a better wifey.  I just wish he enjoyed washing the dishes as much as I enjoy cooking... then we truly would be the perfect couple. As it is, we're pretty close.

So, this blog is going to be about random things in my life: namely, baking, cooking, sewing, our journey in trying to get pregnant, and, once we finally are, it will morph into a pregnancy blog of sorts. It may [read: will] also contain other random stuff I want to share with those who are crazy enough to read this. Read, comment, follow, enjoy!