Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pioneer Woman Dishes

Tile floors and young children do not mix.

We are quickly running out of dishes at our house.  And I really want some from the Pioneer Woman sold at Walmart.

The Pioneer Woman Adeline Embossed 12-Ounce Footed Glass Goblets, Set of 4

While not real expensive, the bowls and small plates are around $4.50 a piece.   We've had a real run of bad luck and broken 3 salad plates in the last month.  At that rate, even cheap dishes become expensive.

I'm thinking about getting one of each bowl color, nine in total like in the picture below.


That way I can bring in lots of other colors as things slowly break, as they so unfortunately will at our house.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Getting Your Religious Vaccine Exemption

There are three types of vaccine exemptions:

1. Medical 
2. Philosophical
3. Religious

Herd Immunity: Three Reasons Why I Don’t Vaccinate My Children | Organic anti GMO T-shirts | Alternative Way:

Medical is by far the hardest to get, many states do not allow philosophical exemptions, which may leave you with religious exemption as your only option.

We homeschool and happen to live in a state that has great exemption policies.  But we still have to file our vaccination record or exemption with the school district our kids would be in.

I file for the philosophical because it's the easiest to prove.  It's also usually the first to disappear depending on your state's vaccination leaning.  So medical exemptions are almost impossible to get, philosophical exemptions are quickly leaving as a viable option for many states, leaving many of you with a religious exemption, which may or may not affect you.  

Living whole did an amazing write up on how to get your religious vaccine exemption.  It is from a Christian perspective, but you do not need to be a Christian to get a religious exemption.  You only have to have a reason according to your religion, whatever it may be, that vaccination goes against it.

It's definitely written on the snarky side, which she wisely says to leave out if you are in a situation where you have to give an interview to prove your religious exemption thoughts.  But it is awesome and thorough and more importantly has exactly what you need to get your vaccination exemption. Make sure to read the comments because there is some good stuff in there about the first amendment and how the govt. isn't allowed by our own constitution to make rules like forcing vaccinations against our constitutionally protected rights.  (Like that's ever stopped them before....)

This is definitely in my back pocket should my state ever pull the philosophical exemption option.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

Homemade Deodorant- An Alternative to Aluminum

We've slowly been trying to get chemicals out of the products we use.  The last big one is anti-perspirant/deodorant.  I believe that aluminum is a no-no, and so I tackled my last frontier, the underarm.

To be honest, I've tried this before and it worked, I just fell off the wagon, but I recommitted to trying to get more green with my products.  So here we go again.

Essential Oil Deodorant-4
From Fresh Mommy Blog because her pictures are beautiful and I didn't take any.

I also used Fresh Mommy Blog's recipe.  But there are a million on pinterest so use the one that makes you happy.

Homemade Deodorant

1/2 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. arrowroot powder
1/4 c. baking soda
essential oils to smell

Melt the coconut oil over low heat, add the rest of the ingredients, stir.  Pour into small jar.  Let harden into a semi-solid state (it will be harder if colder, more liquid if warmer).  Note the essential oils are added to smell, but a little can go along way.  I used peppermint.   Apply a small amount under arms. It will melt because of your body heat.  I find it helps to move your arms around to help it soak in and wait a minute before putting your shirt on.

Two caveats to mention.  The first is that it is commonly sited that people switching to natural deodorant often have an adjustment period where it doesn't work all that great for about a month.  I have not experienced that this time around, but it is winter where I live and about 25 degrees so I am clearly not sweating all that much.  I am hoping that I will adjust and when it does get hot it won't be much of an issue.

The second is that I don't regularly shave my armpits.  Probably more info. than what you wanted to know.  I do this because I have noticed that I don't seem to sweat as much when there is hair there.  I guess God gave us armpit hair for a reason.  I don't know if my response to how it has worked would be different if I regularly shaved my pits.  So there you go, use that info. however much you want.

I've only been using the deodorant for about a week and I would say it is just as effective as my old deodorant.  Nothing is going to make you stop sweating completely, but this works just as good as what I was using before.  And no potential problem causing aluminum.

Win win.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Underestimating Our Kids

Last night at supper Truitt casually mentioned that he knew where the trails on our land lead to- the creek.

Seems that most people would say this about themselves... so we should treat each other how we expect to be treated...:

We were a little surprised seeing as how we have talked about the creek but never that it was on our land and we've never shown the littles the creek from our property.  I asked him how long he'd known about it and he said "since July 4th when our cousins came and saw it".

Needless to say, we were a little flabbergasted at the whole thing.  He correctly gave us details about when we first showed it to guests, and he wasn't even 4 then!  So then a long talk ensued about how they never go to the water without an adult because there are areas that would be over their head and they could drown.  (depending on you definition of creek, it can be a really large creek or a really small river).

Anyway, it was a good lesson in us underestimating the kids.  We would talk about the water in general but our kids were not fooled.  Makes me wonder what else we've said and assumed they either weren't listening or couldn't get it!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Essential Oils That Really Work & How We Use Them

Most people have heard of essential oils by now.  They've been toted from everything as a farce to all-out miracle workers that cure cancer and acne and everything in between.

This is not a debate about the different companies.  There's tons of that on the internet already. Personally, I don't care what company makes it/sells it/distills it as long as it works.


1.  Peppermint

This is probably our most used oil.  It works fantastic mixed with a little carrier oil and rubbed on the tummy for stomach-aches from indigestion and over eating.  We also use it for fevers and diffuse it in the air because we like the smell.  I mix it with rosemary oil and use it in my shampoo.  Using too much of it will make you feel cold and always mix it with a carrier oil or it can irritate the skin.

2.  Lavender

This works fantastic for burns and owies, something we've found a lot with the wood fireplace.  It also works really well on our kids for getting them to calm down for bed.  Especially Owen.  Lavender will knock that kid out quick.  I also diffuse it at night to help with my insomnia.  The smell of it I am not crazy about so I usually mix it with eucalyptus when I diffuse at night.

3.  Tea Tree

Honestly, we mostly use this for cuts and scrapes.  Or when someone picks a zit and makes the situation worse.  I also use it for dandruff mixed with Rosemary and Peppermint.

Peppermint, Lavender and Tea Tree oil are like the Holy Trinity of essential oils.  There are about a gazillion ways on pinterest to use them and I recommend looking the info. up.  I just listed the ways we mostly use them.


1.  Thyme and Eucalyptus

Owen had a dry and persistent cough.  I looked up what to do for it in the book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.    It's written by like the grandmother of essential oil uses.  I highly recommend it.  Anyway, she recommended this combo and it worked.  Even after using oils for a couple of years now, I am still skeptical about if they will work.  This seriously reduced Owen's coughs.  Chris was amazed which only made me feel better about using them.

2.  Respiratory Blend

These are proprietary, meaning that the individual companies make up their own blend using oils that help in breathing.  Truitt is very prone to developing croup and we have used blends to help him breathe.  He hasn't gotten croup since we've used oils when he starts to develop respiratory problems.  I tried RC from Young Living, but literally could not stand the way it smelled.  We currently use Respiratory Ease from Rocky Mountain Oils.

What hasn't worked

1.  Versions of Thieves Oil

This is the blend that has the fun story about robbers during the plague wearing certain oils and not getting sick because of it. We've used it when kids have gotten sick and rubbed it onto our non-sick kids to hope they don't get sick as well.  I would say for our family it is questionable.  This doesn't mean it won't work for you.  I have found oils to be like a lot of things- they work for some people and not for others.  But we do like the way it smells and so I still put it on kids when they get sick and diffuse it in the air.

Advice I wish I had gotten

Go slow when getting oils.  I went crazy and literally bought like 40 different types.  I opened all of them to get the smell, and then really only use less than 10 on a regular basis.  So I have quite a bit invested in oils that sit in a cupboard degrading because they're open.  Life gets busy and I forget about them and don't take the time to research how I could use them in different ways and for different things.

Get a book to help you out.  Again, I highly recommend The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.  It is definitely my go to.  Pinterest has a lot of stuff, but sometimes it's nice to not have to deal with the internet and sometimes I just question what is there.  The author of the book, Valerie Ann Worwood, is a certified aromatherapist, a reflexologist, member of the London and counties society of Physiologists and lectures all over the world on essential oils and their medicinal qualities.  In essence, she's legit and a lot of people on pinterest don't offer up the same type of credentials.

If you can find a store, usually a food co-op, that sells them, I recommend trying to sniff them if you can before buying.  I bought Geranium because it is regularly in the top 10 list of oils to have for things, but the scent is so overpowering it makes me sick so I never use it.  Similar to the RC from Young Living.  I am in general not a fan of companies that sell their products through salespeople because of the mark-up you see in the price. However, it is a fantastic way to smell the oils and try them for yourself at the party to see if it works and how you would like it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Plants Doing Well In My House

I have a tricky relationship with plants.  Sometimes I can keep them alive and sometimes I can't. Here's what's working so far.

Snake plant.  These are essentially impossible to kill and need hardly any light although they can handle a lot.  You can forget to water them, leave them in a too small planter for years and they never fail you.  

I don't actually know what this plant is.  It sort of borders on a succulent, but not excessively.  I bought it at Home Depot and keep it in our bathroom with a lot of other plants in a huge bay window that faces south surrounding our tub.  I water it like a succulent, maybe once or twice a month in the winter time.

We call this plant defcon fury.  Those white things around the base of this one are huge spikes.  Who ever saw a cactus with leaves?  I actually carried this one in the car on the floor between my legs when we moved.  The moving company wouldn't move anything living.  Sometimes the leaves turn brown and drop off but apparently that is normal, although it hasn't dropped as many this winter.  

Another Home Depot cactus.  This one also has gone crazy, but I find that I am still struggling when to know how to water anything in the cactus family.  In the winter I've basically been doing a really good drenching once a month, but I still feel like I am guessing if it's correct.  I felt like some of the new growth were turning yellow and it had been awhile since I watered so I dumped a bunch in it and then the little buds went crazy.  But the yellow color of them made me think I was overwatering.  I feel like in the end I may just kill this one because I can't figure it out.  


The Fiddle Leaf Fig.  Decorators' darling.  One in the living room and one in the kitchen (still haven't fixed the wall after my wallpaper fiasco).  People always say that these plants are hard to keep alive but I haven't found that at all.  the large one even grew at our old house which had terrible light and I broke the top half off in the move and it has since regenerated a new branch.  I also regularly forget to water them, sometimes over water them and they still keep kicking.  I have found both of mine at Walmart for dirt cheap.  

White Bird of Paradise.  This plant is pretty straight forward. Water when dry, and dust the leaves if you remember.  This one I got at Costco for like $20 and it really helps fill up our living room.  Apparently they are very slow growing, and almost never flower when kept inside.  

And for the epic fail.

The Yucca.  It had a beautiful top portion that you can see is now missing.  This is in the corner of our bedroom near a south facing window, but I think tucked too far back to really get the light.  The top leaves starting turning solid yellow and falling off.  My research said it was because I didn't water enough, but I am not sure.  I definitely didn't water a lot, but we'll see.  It seems like that one plant is doing okay, but I should know soon if it is going to bite the dust as well.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Plant Wall

See this wall?

Plain and boring.  We slapped some pictures up to try and detract from the chair rail.  It's in our kitchen next to a sliding glass door.  Tons of light. Tons of potential. I am thinking this.

8 - Vertical Garden - House Plants - Landscaping Ideas

Can you even imagine a wall of plants in my kitchen?  I can.   Now to get myself to IKEA for some shelving.  Not as easy as it used to be in our community.  Also, it's about time to get that ugly box tv holder off the wall.  If I could only figure how it works......

Friday, February 5, 2016

Lamps on Target

I saw these lamps in Target and loved them at first sight.

Threshold™ Brass Task Lamp with Cylinder Shade

I admit the picture isn't all that great, but they are lovely, and heavy, which is what I really like about them.  Here is our current lamp situation.

I actually really like the lamps that we have.  But we love having the windows open whenever we can and the wind blows these right off the end tables.  We've had to buy a new set of shades already, and I have to take them down if I want the windows open.  Not a huge deal, but annoying and the kids sometimes bump them.

They have a fun little chevron pattern that you can sort of see.  And below the lamp is Owen's squirrel...

I'm debating the lamps, normally they are $50 bucks a piece, but they are on sale right now plus an additional 10% off, but I don't know if I should pull the trigger or not.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Secret to Amazing, Nutty Bread

I've been making our bread for a long time now.  My favorite way to do this is using the book The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

It's mostly my favorite because you don't have to knead it.  One day I saw a bag of Chia seeds I had bought and not done a thing with.  So I tossed in two handfuls to my bread dough.  According to the Mayo Clinic, chia seeds pretty much rock (high in antioxidants, omega-3).

It was awesome.  Everyone in the family loved it.  Chris wants me to make loaves just for him that he can take to work and freeze there so he can always have some.  My favorite way to eat it is to drizzle with olive oil and add fresh parmesan cheese to it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Jess Reads January

I kept the same resolution for 2016 as 2015- read 100 books.  To do so I need to read an average of 9 books a month.  (plus two more put in somewhere!)  I fell a little short for this month, reading 8 books.

To be honest, I sort of felt like I was in a slump in January.  I wasn't all that interested in reading, and the books I did get from the library just didn't seem to do it for me.  (That's why I love reading more than book at a time, you usually have something to fit your every mood.

Here's what was read in January:

1.  The Silkworm

This series is written by JK Rowling, yes the Harry Potter author, under a pseudonym.  If I remember correctly she wanted to see if she could sell other books not in her name.  Apparently, the first one didn't sell so great and then they found out who really wrote it and everything flew out of the stores like hotcakes.

In my opinion, they are okay.  Not terrible, but not exceptionally great.  She writes random stuff like the main character picking his nose.  He also lost a leg in the war, but for some reason, is unable to take care of it correctly, which ends up only making you infuriated at how far he lets himself go.  The Silkworm in particular was graphic with the death and I am not all that into details like that.  I got the third one from the library, started it and then let it go.  I just don't care that much.

2.  Mycroft Holmes

This one I already talked about.  It kicked off my interest in reading some Sherlock Holmes again as you will see further down the list.  A quick and fun read.

3.  The Five Red Herrings

I kept seeing this one pop up multiple times on Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Another detective book.  My month seems to be filled with these.  Highly unusual for me.  Fun and fairly quick.  I will definitely read some of the others.

4.  Anne of Green Gables

I started this one after we watched some of the movies.  Anne Shirley may very well be one of my all-time favorite fictional characters.

5.  A Study in Scarlet

I'd never read this before, but have seen the excellent Sherlock BBC miniseries version for this episode.  So fun to read the original and see how they stuck to the plot and changed some things.  I would totally be in the Holmesian fan club.  The difference between Sherlockian and Holmesian.  I prefer Holmesian.

6.  The Wind in the Willows

I can't believe I made it into my 30s without reading this.  It's practically required reading when you are young.  Fun, and I can clearly see where the Redwall series by Brian Jacques was inspired from.

7.  The Hounds of the Baskervilles

I have read a modern retelling of this in the last several years, but I can't for the life of me remember when or who wrote it.  Fun to read the original, which was actually a reread for me again.  I had forgotten a lot though, so I didn't mind a second go round.

8.  The Mermaid's Sister

Don't remember where I saw this book, but there are a lot of reviews on amazon for it.  I agree with one reviewer who said that it started out with so much potential and then fell flat.  That accurately sums it up.  Middle school girls (the younger ones) will love it, but for those who are expecting a fully fleshed out story it will disappoint.  Not terrible, but could have been so much better.

And that's it for January.