Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tropical Traditions nontoxic cleaner giveaway!

As a fun follow-up to yesterday's Healthier Homemaking post, Tropical Traditions is hosting a giveaway of two of their fabulous household cleaners.

I have really enjoyed working with Tropical Traditions for several reviews/giveaways on this blog. They are a great company with really good customer service and such a wide variety of great quality products. I was excited to receive their Powdered Dishwasher Detergent and Glass and Surface Cleaner to review for y'all. And, as with all of their other products, I couldn't have been more pleased.

Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

I had never used natural dishwasher soap before, and to be honest, I was kind of skeptical that natural detergent would get the gunk off of our plates. I don't rinse things very well and often have melted cheese, etc. stuck to dishes (hey, if I don't have to spend the time to rinse them thoroughly, why would I?!).

To my (pleasant) surprise, the Tropical Traditions Powdered Dishwasher Detergent has worked just as well as the dishwasher detergents I normally use, and I don't have to call poison control if one of the children sticks it in their mouth [ahem].

As far as the price is concerned, it goes on sale for $19.99 (and is on sale this week!) for a 5lb. container, which is enough for 40 loads of dishes. I believe this is a little more than you will pay for conventional dish soaps on sale with a coupon.

Glass and Surface Cleaner

 I have been very pleased with Tropical Traditions Glass and Surface Cleaner. I have used it to clean windows, mirrors, etc. and just as the product description on the website, it really does clean without leaving any streaks.

And, of course I love that it's free of any harsh, toxic chemicals. My babies can 'help' me clean the windows and I don't have to worry about what they're inhaling.

Regularly priced, the glass cleaner is more expensive than traditional glass cleaners. However, when it goes on sale, the price is comparable. You can buy a one gallon container for just $0.10/ounce, which I think is really reasonable. You'd just need a spray bottle you could pour it in to.

The giveaway!

Tropical Traditions is kindly giving away one of each of these products to y'all! Two winners will each receive one of the two products.  To enter, just leave a comment on this post.

For bonus entries, subscribe to the Tropical Traditions newsletter, subscribe to the Covenant Homemaking RSS Feed, and/or like Tropical Traditions and Covenant Homemaking on facebook . Also feel free to promote this giveaway on facebook or twitter. Please remember to leave a separate comment for each entry.

The giveaway will be open until Wednesday evening, May 30. Winners will be chosen randomly and notified by email. Please make sure you leave a way for me to contact you! Otherwise, I'll have to choose a different winner.

Disclosure: I was provided with one of each product. I was under no obligation to write a positive review or run a giveaway. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Goals for this week

It's a goal

So, I didn't take the time last week to write out and post my goals and I wish I had! I still kept up with things OK (except working out...), but I know I wasn't as productive, and I don't have any record of what I was able to get done. Having direction at the beginning of the week and as I make my to-do list every day, helps me so much!


::Read through Day 134 of the Bible reading plan I've been doing
::Memorize Psalm 119:9-12
::Exercise 5 times
::Work with Katie to memorize question 17 of the children's catechism

::Finish Unit 13 of the Family Herbalist Course

Home Management:
::Continue the Routine Challenges from 31 Days to Clean (it's in the reader-only downloads section of the site)
::Get the guest room set up for my parents
::Clean out the deep freezer before we pick up our bulk meat purchase

::Work 8 hours for my work-from-home job
::Post 4 times
::Do planning for a new series beginning in June

This post is linked to Money Saving Mom.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this site!

Menu Plan, May 21-27

This is an exciting week in our house! We get to pick up our beef on Wednesday, my parents are flying in on Thursday, and Friday we should get to find out whether this sweet babe is a boy or a girl (and, I go to the chiropractor tomorrow--but that's not very significant in comparison)! I'm excited...and sort of hoping the week passes quickly so Friday can get here. Since it's a busy week, I'm trying to keep the menu relatively simple.

Breakfast casserole, fruit (x2)
Scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit (x2)
Baked oatmeal (x2)
Arepas (which I get to make with my mama this time!), scrambled eggs, fruit

Oatmeal pancakes, scrambled eggs
Potato soup, salad
Shredded beef tacos (served with corn tortillas, salsa, beans, lettuce, cheese); fruit
Not sure yet--want to leave it open for Mom & I to cook together
Birthday dinner for my sister-in-law
Sunday dinner with Ben's family

Lunches are simple around here--usually smoothies or leftovers.

What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some inspiration, but sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday each week!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A peek into our day today (with lots of pictures plus a video of Katie!)

I haven't done one of these posts in a long time, but I *always* enjoy reading them on other people's blogs, so I thought I'd do one just for fun! Today was a pretty normal day at our house.

6:30~My alarm goes off. Ten minutes later I finally roll out of bed and grab my Bible. When I finish my reading, I get my workout clothes on (not because I work out early in the morning, but because I'm more likely to work out if I start the day in workout clothes!).

7:15~Katie wakes up and we start making breakfast. It's baked oatmeal this morning.

7:35~Benjamin wakes up and after getting a clean diaper, he steps in as my kitchen helper.


7:50~Once the food is in the oven, I make my to-do list for the day and start tidying the house (I try to get the living area, bedrooms, and kitchen as close to spotless as possible every morning). While I tidy, Katie plays and Benjamin whines nearby. He finally decides he's happy drawing while Daddy plays guitar.



8:35~We eat breakfast as a family and then do family worship. Our family worship is pretty simple--we sing a hymn, read one chapter of the Bible, and then pray. Benjamin sits with Ben and Katie sits with me. They distract each other too much if they sit together!


9:25~I help Ben with a couple things for our business before he heads out to the shop. Then I get the children dressed and do a little bit more tidying.

9:50~The children decide they're ready for a second breakfast (!), so I get them a little more baked oatmeal, finish tidying the house, and start a load of laundry.

10:00~We put stickers on Katie's chore chart for her morning chores and then the children play while I clean the bathrooms.
10:30~I start getting ready to work out. This includes changing a diaper and rescuing a stuffed dog from a bath in the toilet (yes, really). About ten minutes later, I actually start working out with the children "working out with me" or playing nearby.

11:20~I drink a big glass of water, switch the laundry to the dryer, and then freshen up and get dressed in real clothes. After five minutes in my room, I come out and find that the children have pulled almost all the books off of one shelf of a book case. So, they help me clean up their mess.

11:45~We make smoothies for lunch. Strawberry, banana, spinach, and milk for Ben and Benjamin and a Peanut butter smoothie for Katie and me (though Benjamin does have a few sips of ours!).
12:10~When we're done drinking our smoothies, I practice the children's catechism with Katie. She's doing really well with memorizing it, so I secretly took a video (she'd be way too shy to do it in front of a camera!). As a side, she wanted to wipe her own face. ;)

12:30~I get the children ready for naps and we read a few books.

12:55~The kiddos are down for their naps and I'm hungry again, so I grab a snack and then do some work for my paid job. My parents own a home health agency. Before Katie was born, I worked in the office. Now, I work from home 10 hours per week (while the children are sleeping) reviewing applications, scheduling interviews with caregivers and checking references.  I also do evening/weekend on-call scheduling. Katie takes a while to fall asleep and I go in her room several times, but she finally does drift off. And, I get another snack somewhere in there.

3:15~I finish up my work for the day and work on some blog stuff. Frustratingly, I was trying to work on a new header and got absolutely nowhere.

4:00~Both of the kiddos are up. Benjamin starts stirring at about 3:30 but just plays in his pack-n-play (they share a room at night, but he naps in the pack-n-play in the guest room) until Katie gets up. Ben comes home for a snack and the kids happily join him while I do a couple more things on the computer. We piddle around for a while.

4:50~I decide to pull everything out of my kitchen cabinets and re-organize them while the children are watching a DVD. Last weekend, I completed my collection of glass food storage containers, so I'm reorganizing to get rid of most of my plastics. When the movie is over, the children join me in the kitchen and play with the stuff that's all over the place. At some point, I stick some leftovers in the oven for dinner.

6:20~I'm finished reorganizing (whew!) and dinner is ready but Ben isn't home yet, so I turn off the oven and leave dinner in there to keep it warm. I take the children outside to play and bring the laundry to fold while we're out there. Then a massive hornet flies by the porch and I freak out and rush everybody inside (I'm so scared of bees/wasps/hornets/etc--probably in large part because I've never been stung!).

6:30~Ben comes home and we eat dinner.

7:10~Ben does the dishes (what a guy!) and Katie helps put away the silverware. While they're cleaning the kitchen, I fold the clothes. Katie joins me to fold the towels once she finishes with the silverware. We put the laundry away and then I finish tidying up the kitchen while Ben helps the children pick up their toys.

7:55~I help the children get their pajamas on and brush teeth and then Katie and I snuggle up on the couch and read stories. Benjamin joins us for part of it and then gets down to play nearby.

8:45~The children get tucked in. They fuss about a few things for a while but eventually, all is silent in their room. I'm working on this blog post and Ben is reading something on his phone. Once I'm done, we have a date with a Netflix DVD and some Ben & Jerry's.

And that's that! :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Menu Plan, May 14-20

I'm very excited--after waiting a few weeks for processing, this should be our last week skimping on beef. I believe we'll get to pick up our 1/4 cow (which we are splitting with Ben's brothers who share a house) early next week, just in time for my parents to arrive and enjoy some grass-fed steaks with us!

Ben also seems to be doing fine with corn (though we do have another week of "testing"), so that leaves just soy and peanuts to test. He's not in a big hurry to add either of those, but it will be interesting to see how they work out anyway. It's so much easier just being gluten, soy, and peanut free than it was taking out gluten, soy, corn, eggs, dairy, and peanuts!

Since we always have smoothies or leftovers for lunch, I'm going to stop posting our lunch "menu." Here's what I have on the menu this week:

Flourless oatmeal pancakes (x2)
Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, fruit (x2)
Baked oatmeal (x2)
Breakfast casserole (with turkey bacon and spinach as add-ins), fruit

Bunless cheeseburgers, salad
Not-sagna Pasta Toss, salad
Peppered beef shank in red wine, polenta, salad (I hope I actually get around to this one this week!)
Cheesy White Chicken Chili from The Everything Beans Book (This is an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting this site!)
Rice and beans with all the fixings, fruit
Breakfast casserole, fruit (breakfast for dinner Saturday night so we can eat the leftovers Sunday morning)
Baked nachos, carrot sticks (bringing this to a fellowship meal Sunday)

What are y'all cooking this week? If you need some inspiration, be sure to head over to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Staying Healthy Through Multiple Pregnancies, Pt. 3

If you missed the other parts of this series you can find them here: Part 1 (pregnancy nutrition), Part 2 (prenatal exercise and chiropractic care).

For those of you who are new to this little series I've been doing, we've been talking about how to keep ourselves healthy when we're in the whole cycle of being pregnant, nursing, or both for many years at a time (this June I'll be at 4 years myself!). Because our bodies are working hard to grow new little people (and we spend so much time and energy pouring ourselves into meeting their needs--as we should!), it's easy for our health to slide, but that's definitely not the best scenario!

We have talked about nutrition as well as the benefits of exercise and chiropractic care (links above). This time we're going to talk about supplements. I don't take all of these throughout my entire pregnancy, but they're all excellent and can be helpful in aiding gaps in our nutrition (though they're definitely not a substitute for good nutrition!).

::Food-based prenatal vitamin: Using a multivitamin that is made of food rather than synthetic "vitamins" means your body will use a lot more of the nutrients. I've been using Garden of Life Raw Prenatal this pregnancy, which contains probiotics. If you use a vitamin without probiotics, I highly recommend adding a probiotic to your supplements. This brand is good.

::JuicePlus+:This is an excellent supplement, especially if you have a hard time getting enough fruits and veggies in. It is made of 100% fruit and vegetable juice. Studies show that it greatly boosts immunity and protects DNA from free radicals. And, it's safe to take along with your prenatal vitamin.

::Liquid Calcium/Magnesium: I use this brand as needed. Most prenatal vitamins don't have enough calcium and it's an especially important nutrient during pregnancy and nursing because your body will leach calcium from your bones if you don't consume enough!

::Red Raspberry Leaf: This is basically the miracle herb for pregnant women. It is great for toning the uterine muscles, among other things, and clinical trials actually support a shorter labor and reduced use of forceps during delivery. (Source: Botanical Medicine in the Home) You can buy a red raspberry leaf pregnancy tea or make your own. Red Raspberry Leaf is also available in capsules. I've been using the pregnancy tea blend my midwife gave me which has hibiscus for flavoring and it is delicious!

::Omega 3's: Our standard American diet is very high in Omega 6 fatty acids and sorely lacking in Omega 3's. The ratio of Omega 6's to Omega 3's in our body plays a vitally important role in our overall health. I've read that some studies show a higher IQ in children whose moms takes an Omega 3 supplement during pregnancy. Nordic Naturals makes excellent quality Omega 3 supplements.

While there are other supplements that can be helpful during pregnancy if any particular symptoms show up that need to be addressed, this is a basic list that would be good for most any pregnant or nursing mom.

And, as a note: I am not a licensed health care professional--just a mama who's a nerd about health and nutrition. Please discuss any supplements with your health care provider, especially if you're pregnant!

And, I believe that concludes this mini-series! If any of you have questions I'd be happy to follow up with a Q&A post.

This is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Goals for this week

It's a goal

Last week's goals went really well. I know I say this just about every week, but I just love being able to see at the end of my week exactly what I got done. Some days I feel like all I do is change diapers and deal with fussy babes, so it's encouragement for sure!

Here are my goals from last week:

::Read through Day 92 of the Bible reading plan I've been doing
::Review Psalm 119:1-8 {I only got through verse 4}
::Exercise 5 times {only exercised 4 times, unless a short, leisurely walk counts}
::Finish my book for April, start a book for May

::Work with Katie to memorize question 13 and 14 of the children's catechism
::Make a plan for starting preschool with Katie
::Create a chore chart for Katie

::Finish Unit 11 of the Family Herbalist Course

Home Management:
::Declutter for 1 hour and 15 minutes (15 minutes/day, Monday-Friday)
::Start the Routine Challenges from 31 Days to Clean

::Work 6 hours for my work-from-home job
::Post 5 times {Only posted 4 times}
Here are my goals for this week: 


::Read through Day 106 of the Bible reading plan I've been doing
::Review Psalm 119: 5-8
::Exercise 5 times
::Read at least 50 pages of my book for May 
::Work with Katie to memorize question 14 and 15 of the children's catechism
::Start Progress Phonics with Katie and see how it goes

::Finish Unit 12 of the Family Herbalist Course

Home Management:
::Continue the Routine Challenges from 31 Days to Clean (it's in the reader-only downloads section of the site)

::Work 10 hours for my work-from-home job
::Post 5 times

This post is linked to Money Saving Mom.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this site!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Menu Plan, May 7-13

I'm happy to report that Ben has done well with the re-introduction of eggs over the past two weeks, so this week he's going to try adding corn.

With that in mind, here's what we have on the menu this week:

Grain-free pumpkin muffins (from this eBook), scrambled eggs (x2)
Arepas with cheese, scrambled eggs, fruit (x2)
Baked oatmeal (x2)
Breakfast casserole (with chicken sausage and spinach), fruit (leftovers from Saturday night)


Tammy's fried chicken, mashed potatoes  
Chicken tacos made with corn tortillas, rice and beans, fruit
Fiesta taco casserole, fruit
Peppered beef shank in red wine, polenta, salad
Breakfast casserole (with chicken sausage and spinach), fruit (having breakfast for dinner Saturday night so we can eat leftovers Sunday morning)
Dinner with Ben's family at the farm
Date night for our fourth anniversary on Thursday!

What are y'all cooking this week? If you need some inspiration be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pregnancy Update, 17 Weeks

I'm amazed that I'm already 17 weeks along with Baby #3! In my experience, pregnancy goes faster each time (perhaps because I'm a bit busier each time than you were the time before!).

I have been so thankful to have felt really well this pregnancy, even compared to both of my other two. I had some minor nausea and cravings/aversions during my first trimester but they have all subsided. Though I was a tad bit more tired than usual, most days I didn't sleep in or take a nap and did just fine (though I definitely had my off days). This was quite the contrast from my first two pregnancies, when I had to sleep at least 9-10 hours at night during my first trimester and needed naps most days.

I don't know if this is related to our ever-improving diet plus the fact that (for the first time), I was consistently exercising before getting pregnant and have continued working out several times a week from the very start of the pregnancy. But, I know those things certainly haven't hurt and I'm thankful to God for such a kind providence!

This is The Bump and I on Wednesday, at exactly 17 weeks. I think I look a lot smaller than I did last go around (here's a picture at 10 weeks) but I think it's probably because I weigh so much less than I did last time and I was able to work my core more in between pregnancies.

I've gained seven pounds so far. At 17 weeks with Benjamin, I was only up one pound, but at 15 weeks I had gained five and then lost it all in a nasty stomach bug. With Katie, I had gained 13 pounds by the time I was 16 weeks.

We've had three check-ups with our midwife so far and everything has looked great. All my labs came back fine and Baby's heartbeat has been strong (between 150 and 180). I've also been going to my chiropractor every two weeks, which has helped my back and hips tremendously.

I felt my first definite baby kick on April 23 at 15 weeks, 5 days. It was sooner than I've ever felt movement before, and oh-so-sweet! I'm feeling movement at least a couple times per day now. It really is so incredible to feel a person kicking around in your belly, and I am so thankful for every day with this precious babe as my constant companion.

We have our next midwife appointment in a week and a half, and then on May 25 we have our big 20 week ultrasound scheduled! I'm really excited to see our baby. In addition to making sure Baby is developing well, we're hoping to catch a glimpse of the gender. Unlike my last two pregnancies, I have absolutely no "hunches" this time around (I was right the first two times), so it will be really fun to find out! We have tossed around some names but we haven't decided on a name for either gender yet.

I can't believe the halfway point in this pregnancy is only three weeks away (technically--though given my record of going overdue it's probably more like three and a half weeks away. ha!). I'm so thankful to the Lord for a third healthy pregnancy. His grace toward me is so incredibly abundant, and far beyond what I could've ever dreamed of.

How are you other pregnant mamas doing? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: The Money Saving Mom's Budget

I have been reading Crystal Paine's blog(s) since I was 15 so I was quite excited for her when she announced she was writing a book. And of course, I was thrilled when my review copy came in the mail!

Even though we're already pretty frugal folks and I've read almost everything Crystal has written online, I still found a lot of helpful information and things to consider in The Money Saving Mom's Budget.

I love that Crystal masterfully breaks down everything into baby steps. While she's honest about the fact that getting in a good place financially takes real work, nothing that she lays out in the book seems overwhelming (besides maybe discontinuing the use of debit cards for three months!).

Crystal's seven "rules" are:
  1. Set realistic short and long-term financial goals (with your spouse if married) and work towards them.
  2. Streamline your life by managing your time well and getting rid of all the clutter in your home.
  3. Set up a realistic, workable budget (she gives a three-month process for going from no budget at all to a thorough budget--again, baby steps!).
  4. Take a cash-only challenge by "freezing" your credit AND debit cards for three months.
  5. Learn to use coupons.
  6. Learn how to never pay retail by stocking up on items you need when you can find them at their rock-bottom price.
  7. Learn to be content.
We follow a somewhat loose budget and while we have ideas of where we want our money to go, we haven't set specific goals and plans to reach them. I have certainly learned the value of goal-setting in my every-day tasks this year, so I know it would be profitable to work harder in this area.

I don't think we do too badly, since we have zero debt and we give each month--but we also don't have much in savings, either. I don't know that we'd be willing to completely give up our debit card (I use it for paying bills and buying gas--and occasionally for buying groceries if I forgot to take cash out or I'm ordering something online), but I'm sure there are definitely some loose ends we could tie up if we took a more careful look at a written budget on a regular basis. And, since Crystal and her husband saved up and paid 100% down on their first home before she turned 30, I think she knows a thing or two about how to get in good financial shape!

At the back of the book there are helpful worksheets to go along with each step she outlines.

Overall, The Money Saving Mom's Budget was an easy and enjoyable read that contained a lot of really great information that I think would be useful for anyone, stay-at-home mom or single guy, someone loaded with debt or someone who's been living frugally and debt-free for years.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book at no cost for review purposes. All opinions expressed are mine. Also, this post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this site!