Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cleaning: The Natural Way

The nesting urge has set in so I've been cleaning like mad lately (although it almost seems like I'm making more of a mess since I feel like I need to take everything out of each closet so I can re-organize my closets). I was thinking about how we clean the other day. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about natural ways to keep your home clean.

Tools of the trade:
A really good stiff scrubbing brush
A couple micro-fibre clothes
Spray bottles of various sizes
Tea Tree Oil
Baking Soda
A broom/vacuum

The motivation for us to switch to cleaning products that contain no chemicals was not so much about the environmental impact but about my asthma. Cleaning with those strong chemical cleaning products really made my asthma flare up so I just decided to stop using them.
In the kitchen I mainly use a vinegar and water mixture for cleaning the counters and stove top (we have a glass top stove). Recipes for vinegar cleaning products can be found here. But I will admit that sometimes there are those sticky spots that you need to use something extra on. Enter baking soda. Put a little bit of baking soda on the sticky spot and with a damp (not wet) cloth scrub in a circular motion until the spot is gone. For the dishes and the dish washer we use a biodegradable soap. My favorite is Seventh Generation.
In the bathroom is where the scrubbing brush is the most handy. To clean the tub and shower baking soda and the scrubbing brush should get off any soap scum. Then I like to give the whole tub a spray with the vinegar/water cleaner and wipe it down. The sink and counters are done is a similar way. If you notice any spots in your bathroom that are beginning to develop mold or mildew this is where you would use your tea tree oil. To make a mold-killing cleaner at home add about 4-5 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle with about 1 cup of water. Spray on the affected area and either wipe clean or scrub, depending on how much mold you are dealing with. Cleaning the toilet was a challenge to do without a cleaner. We got a good toilet brush so that helped and I tried just using vinegar but it just didn't seem to do the job to my standards. So again I turned to Seventh Generation for a natural cleaning product. For the mirror, which always seems to get toothpaste on it, I use the Method Mint Glass Cleaner. Yes, you can probably make a natural glass cleaner that will do the trick but I was getting frustrated with the smudges my mixes seemed to leave so I just decided to give into the commercial products.
General household cleaning is a lot easier to do without chemicals. We have hardwood and area rugs in the majority of our house so we use our broom a lot and vacuum the carpets. Every so often I bring out the Swiffer. I don't like the Swiffer products so I use Method Compostable Corn Clothes (which I think might be discontinued since I can't find them anymore) with their multi-floor cleaner. Dusting only requires a good micro-fibre cloth.
Laundry is done with a natural laundry soap, again I find Seventh Generation to be superior. However, if the load I'm doing not necessarily "dirty" but needs a refreshing clean (bed sheets and bath towels usually fall in this category) I just use vinegar and Borax to kill any bacteria or smells. In the spring and summer I dry the clothes on the line outside but in the fall and winter (when it usually raining around here) I do use the dryer. Right now we are using the Method Dryer Cloths but I would really like to get some of these.
I will do a post on all the new organization going on here once things are where I want them. I secretly LOVE this new phase of pregnancy. It's tiring but so satisfying!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Woolly Goodness

The other day I received a package of woolly goodness in the mail. Since we are planning to do EC (elimination communication) with our child we would like to have some wool clothing on hand. Wool is naturally water repellent so having your baby in wool pants during outings or wool diaper covers at night makes it easier on you and your baby when misses occur. I had ordered some beautiful gender-neutral purewool for some wool longies and the wonderful Jennifer Wilson-Parkes knit them up for me. She has a great little shop on Etsy called Dragon's Treasure. She also does amazing custom work.
 These are the two that I custom ordered. I love the orange and blue colorway, I think it is a great gender neutral pair of pants. The burgundy pair are the newborn size and I love them. They are both so soft!
 Jennifer is just so awesome. Her son had outgrown his newborn woollies so she sent them along for me. I love the little cargo pants!
She also included these awesome diaper covers made from up-cycled sweaters. Isn't she just so talented and cool? Seriously check her out if you are looking for woolly stuff for your baby or if you knit since she sells patterns on her Etsy site. Thank you Jennifer!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Poo Update

Now that I'm back on the no poo path after my little detour, I've been noticing a few differences in my hair. First is that without the use of conditioner I've been have really dry ends that usually lead to tangles. I've recently cut the majority of my hair off so hopefully that helps but I've been thinking of doing bi-monthly masks to help with this problem. Some of the masks I've been thinking about are either yogurt and avocado or olive oil and honey. I've read that straight coconut oil on your hair can be really hydrating but I'm worried about my hair looking to greasy if I only use oil. Anyone have some suggestions?
The other issue is that I've been having some dandruff. Usually I would treat this with a week of Head and Shoulders but I decided to try using tea tree oil instead and it appears to be working. Occasionally it seems to be really challenging to get the oil to spread evenly through my wet hair but in the end my hair always looks clean so I must not be doing that bad a job.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Christmas Tree

We put up our Christmas tree last night. I love going through all the boxes of memories and finding the perfect place for that ornament you love so much. We got a slightly smaller tree this year because we found the living room to be so crowded last year that walking around the tree was a challenge. I was think of that Nat King Cole song Little Christmas Tree as we were decorating it. I love the way my house smells now that the tree is up. I'm going to go turn on the fireplace, plug in the lights and bask in the Christmas goodness.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Christmas Coat

Being pregnant means no cute (or very functional) winter coats this year. So I decided to make myself a winter coat, only miniature.
 I followed the pattern sold by Alicia Paulson. It was really easy and fun. I'm currently flipping through her book Stitched in Time and making a list of cool little projects to do.
The ornament actually ended up taking me a really long time because it had been so long since I used embroidery  thread and even longer since I did a blanket stitch. But it is so cute. I'm glad I made it.
Since it ended up being so cute, I'm sort of tempted to try making the gingerbread house pattern but then I realize that I just do not have the skills for that one. Oh well, a girl can dream.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wreath Making

This past weekend my mother-in-law and I went to Russell Nursery to do their wreath making class. I took the class last year and loved the results. I think the fresh, real wreath looks so much nice then the plastic berries and glitter wreaths they seem to be selling these days. This year I decided to use cedar as my base. I don't usually wear gloves to these classes because I find they just make things harder but this year I wish I had. I ended up with an allergic reaction to the cedar all over my fingers. But I slapped some Aveeno on it as soon as I got home and it cleared up pretty quickly.
 The cedar made for a floppier looking wreath than the one I made last year but I like the natural look of it.
 Again, I went for the traditional holly to accent my wreath. I have a white front door so I really like to add a little bit of red to anything that hangs on my front door. Red and white are just so Christmasy!
The finished product! I used those beautiful sequoia cones for the final touches. They were beautiful, they had an almost rose-like appearance and I love how they look with the holly. This wreath is now proudly hanging on my front door!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bath Snowballs

A couple years ago for Christmas gifts I made these bath snowballs. Not only did they look gorgeous but they were excellent for a long winter soak in the tub. This is from the Martha Stewart magazine so for instructions on how to make them click here.
The ingredient list is short; just Epsom salts, essential oil, water and food coloring. When I made these in 2008 I made them just like in the magazine. Though the soft blue and peppermint oil make for a lovely bath, I think I might try something different this year. Perhaps pink with grapefruit or purple with lavender....
My recommendation for packaging would be some sort of clear container since they look so pretty. The important thing to remember is that if you are giving it to someone to store in the bathroom make sure the container seals well enough to keep out the moisture (the container in the picture above was just a food storage container from Zellers).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recipe: Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

This is a recipe from Mothering magazine. We had these the other night for dinner and they were so tasty! They would make a great appetizer for holiday potlucks.

You will need:
12 oz canned wild salmon
2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil

Boil sweet potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash in large bowl. Add drained salmon and remaining ingredients, except the oil. Mix well. Shape mixture into palm-sized patties.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add patties and cook until undersides are slightly golden (about 3 mins per side). Serve and enjoy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

30 weeks

We are nearing the end! Time seems to be slowing down a bit now that the end is in sight. I have 5 more weeks of work before I go on maternity leave. To be honest, I really wish I could leave now. I work with children in the community and there are a lot of parents who bring their children to our programs even when they are quite sick. I can't do much to keep these colds away. I've had 3 illnesses in the past 2 months. I'm getting really tired of sniffling and coughing. Plus I just feel like I have so much to do at home that maybe 2-6 weeks won't be enough.
Christmas is coming and I am so excited. This will be our first Christmas as a married couple and our last as just the two of us. Usually I spend much of December making gifts. I feel like homemade gifts mean so much more. This year however, I have been piling in as many hour at work as I can so we can better afford my maternity leave. I'm going to try to spend my evenings crafting and baking but we will see how well that plan goes.
I'm starting to feel like a big slow blob. Last week it snowed quite a bit here so I had to leave my car and walk to work. My belly felt so heavy and it seemed like I was never going to make it work. The babe is pushing on my diaphragm so I feel very out of breath and my hips are sore so I more waddle than walk. Getting a much sleep as possible is on the top of my list. Thank goodness for my body pillow because without it I'm pretty sure sleep would be a lot harder to get.
We are almost totally prepared, product-wise, for the babe. We have our Arms Reach co-sleeper, Beco carrier, Britax car seat, more clothes than my baby could ever need, a couple different types of diapers, bedding, receiving blankets and we are starting to get our homebirth supplies together. I'm really starting to feel excited about this birth. We are almost done our childbirth preparation classes and I think we both are feeling really good about our decision to birth at home. We have also chosen a doula to help us through the process. Yes, I still feel nervous but I am confident that I am making good choices.
Just 7 more weeks and I'll be considered full-term. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Local Eating - Winter Style

Yes, winter is upon us and so begins the challenges of local eating. I find that it is easy to get people excited about local eating and motivated to get out there and find local sources of food in the spring and summer, when fruits and veggies are plentiful. However, once the colder temperatures hit most people give up and hit the big grocery stores. This year is a slightly bigger challenge for us since I did not put nearly as much time and effort in to preserving this year. None-the-less, there are lots of ways to keep your diet local throughout the winter.
If you are like me and did not get around to canning those summer harvests, fear not, someone in your community did. Christmas craft fairs are great places to find preserves. You can usually find a wide variety of jams, chutneys, jellies, sauces and preserves. If you are wondering where they got all their produce just ask, most craft vendors love to tell you about their product.
Although it is cold out, here on the west coast we can still get produce. Take a drive through the rural areas and you might be surprised to see farm stands still going. Leeks, squash, brussel sprouts and root veggies can be grown into the winter. Also, keep your eyes out for greenhouse operations, they will be able to supply you with salad greens and other veggies throughout the winter.
Meat is the thing to get you through the winter when it comes to local eating. We usually eat a mainly vegetarian diet in the summer/fall but in the colder months we turn to roast and stews. We have found that throughout winter local beef, lamb, poultry and fish is available and usually not all that hard to find. 
Don't be afraid to ask around. You might be surprised at the resources that are available in the cold months of winter. Eating locally is not hard not matter what season, as long as you take the time to be informed about what you have at your disposal.

If you live on Vancouver Island here are a couple resources where you can likely find some good local food:
Mitchell Bros. Farm in Saanich is open year-round 250-652-6770
Stonefield Farms in Mill Bay offers organic meat and can deliver 250-743-3861
Touch of Saltspring Craft Fair includes artisans and local preserves 250-655-0967
Galey Farms in Saanich is also open year-round for produce 250-477-5713
Apple Luscious on Saltspring Island has apples through fall and early winter www.appleluscious.com
Victoria Winter Market runs from November until March on the 3rd Saturday of each month in Market Square
Terra Nossa in Mill Bay also offer meat products 250-743-7484
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks in Parksville supplies local cheese year round 250-954-3931
Iron Maiden Seafood in Sooke has fresh sustainable BC seafood year round 250-642-3551
Fresh Beginnings Organic Farm in Saanich offers year round produce 250-658-2585

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Attitude of Motherhood

As I get deeper and deeper into this mommy world I'm noticing a certain attitude that seems to be running through most circles of moms I encounter. I'm actually quite surprised at how other mothers talk to one and other. I really try to be open-minded and I believe that everyone has the right to feel what they want and express those feelings. I do, however, have a problem with people who express how they feel by tearing down how other feel. Is it really that hard to just say "I understand how you feel but I disagree". Why is it that most of these mothers feel the need to rip apart your choices and tell you why it is so bad and why you must agree with and practice what they say is right for you?
This pattern has become apparent to me especially when it comes to talking about homebirth. I am choosing to have a homebirth. I researched my choices and throughout that process I tried to keep an open mind and ultimately decided that a homebirth is right for me. I'm not saying that I will not transfer if the need presents itself but for a normal birth I want to be in my home. There is a shocking number of mothers who gasp and say "But what about your baby?". Suddenly, I am the mother who doesn't care about her baby and is putting his/her life at risk. They continue to tell me (someone they don't even know) how my home with never be as clean as a hospital and how they could never have done it without the epidural. Then come the horror stories of emergency c-sections and the "thank goodness we were at the hospital" stories. After all this, which I graciously listen to, they say to me "what if that were to happen to you?". I smile and say, "If there is an emergency I have a fully trained midwife who make the call and if we need to transfer we have the ambulance." I think they should be able to feel however they want about hospitals, homebirth and their owns births but the idea that they know me and know what the best choice is, is strange. Did I ask you what your thoughts were? I do have a brain of my very own and I have great practice in using it to make my own choices.
The other place I encounter this attitude is while shopping for baby items. There is always some mother who has all the experience in the world telling me that I simply can not live without a baby swing. Why can't we accept and support each other in the choice that work for us as individuals? I've never had a dad come up to me and tell me I'm buying the wrong brand of diapers. Why do mothers scold each other and judge each other so harshly? I thought being in the mommy world would be comforting and supporting but I'm feeling worn down by all the judgment.
I think it also comes down to what kind of role model you want to be for your children. Do you think that when your child hears you telling another parent "Oh no, you are so wrong! You must do this!" that your kid is learning tolerance and open-mindedness? Would you want your child telling another kid that he is painting his picture wrong and that he should only use the colors that your child likes? I want my child to feel free to be the person they want to be and I want my child to know that others have that right too. I think we all need to take a moment to think before we speak. Think about how what you will say will be perceived and who is listening.
I'm terrified of what I might be like in a couple of year. Maybe it's because I don't have my baby here yet? Will I be like this after the birth? Ok blog world, if I become a judgmental know-it-all please bring me back to reality!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Few Pregancy Blessings

It has probably become clear to those of you who read this blog that I am not having the best time being pregnant however I am thankful for a select few thing that are making the journey a little easier.
 Since about the middle of my pregnancy I would wake up in the night with terrible charlie horses in the legs and then spend the rest of the day limping around with leg cramps. So instead of having to eat half a dozen bananas everyday, I decided to try coconut water. And it seems to be working. One can of coconut water with dinner and the cramps are not a issue.
 Throughout my pregnancy there have been times when I really just need a blood sugar boost. I used to eat these before I got pregnant but now I have to have them in my fridge. I always toss one or more in my purse before I go out. If I'm feeling a little nauseous, having something like this, with a little protein, helps. Or if I'm so hungry I could eat a horse, I'll have one of these to curb that hunger until I can make a proper meal.
 This pillow has changed my life. It was a ridiculous amount of hassle to get it here but now that I have it, I'm in love. Before it arrived I was using up to 4 pillows to support my knees, back, belly and neck but every time I tried to change position one would fall off the bed and lets face it, rectangular pillows don't really mold to the contours of a pregnant body. From the moment I put this in my bed, I have always been able to find a comfortable way to sleep and I've have less stiffness and soreness in the morning. My only complaint is that the pillowcase doesn't fit very well so taking it of and putting it back on after washing is a huge fiasco.
A growing belly is a tender thing and as much as I want to squish into my pre-pregnancy pants, the discomfort is enough to make one feel nauseous. Thyme Maternity's stretchy lounge pants are amazing. I have found them so comfortable and yet warm enough to wear on those cold days we've been having. I really didn't want to spend a lot of money on maternity clothes but these pants were totally worth it.

As some of you may recall from an earlier post, I was suffering from the terrible itch that accompanies stretching skin. My belly was so bad it had broken out in hives. This is the only stuff that seems to help (plus it smells nicer than most of the artificially scented products out there). Jon rubs it on my belly every night. The hives have disappeared and the itch isn't nearly as bad. It's not doing much for the stretch marks but as long as I'm not clawing at my belly because of the horrendous itch, I'm happy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lest We Forget

This Remembrance Day unfortunately I was working so I was unable to attend any of the Remembrance Day ceremonies. However I did spend that remembering. I will admit that my thoughts are usually not for the veterans as a whole but that I tend to focus on one or two special people.
My grandfather was a veteran of the second World War. He passed away many years ago but I do think of him specifically every Remembrance Day. My grandfather was not a soldier but was a medic in the field. My grandmother would not let him talk about (she was also profoundly affected by the war in a very negative way that she would refuse to talk about and would not allow talk of the war in her presence). However, if my grandmother was preoccupied I would ask him about those years and after his death we found a few journal entries from when he was in Europe. Before the war my grandfather worked as an accountant, someone who's job rarely involves death. However during the war, my grandfather looked death in the face more times that I can imagine. He would have to run out to injured soldiers on the battlefield and either carry wounded out of danger and treat injuries or console those who were to injured to survive. His journals recalled men his own age shaking and weeping like children at the fear of dying. He lost many friends and comrades during those years. After his death I found a yearbook of sorts from his regiment that was compiled prior to being deployed to Europe. After the war, my grandfather had gone through and marked off the men who died in battle. There were entire pages of men who were gone.
During the war, my grandfather was awarded a purple heart for the injuries he sustained during a raid. His injuries were not enough to send him though, he said in Europe and served until the end of the war.
I never knew what my grandfather was like prior to the war but some of my relatives did. He was very changed by the war. I never asked him how he felt he changed but he did. After the war, the army offered to pay for my grandfather to attend medical school. He refused, he had seen enough death. He returned to being an accountant and he and my grandmother had another child. I think my grandfather felt a real sense of attachment to the men who lived through situations similar to his. However because of how much the war affected my grandmother, she would not allow him to participate in activities such as reunions and Remembrance Day ceremonies because she needed to pretend the war didn't happen to them. I think that hurt my grandfather, I think he would have really benefited from reuniting with other veterans and acknowledging who was lost and what had happened.
Every Remembrance Day I spend a lot of time thinking about my grandfather. He, like so many others, sacrificed a lot of himself for the life I can now live. He lost friends but I think he lost a little bit of faith and trust in us all. He was a very kind gentle man but I sort of felt as though he was defeated by his own sense of morning over what happened in those years. I'm not sure that I ever thanked him for what he did and what he gave up. But I hope that he (and everyone else who fought for our freedom) know how truly grateful I am.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wedding Things

A couple of weeks ago I married the love of my life. And while I don't want to do an entire post on the wedding I will throw out to the internet world a few little tidbits.
 Above is my beautiful cake and amazing little guest favors. Both were made my my dear friend Kyre. The cake was perfect. We had a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting. The flavor and decoration went perfectly with our fall wedding. She also made our sugar cookie favors. Each guest got both a N cookie and a J cookie.
My flowers were another favorite from the wedding. My aunt bought the flowers and did the arrangements. It was such an amazing gift. I really wanted a seasonal wildflower type look so we worked together to decide what would look nice together. She got the most delicate fern, gorgeous red lilies and daisies and the coolest spider mums and dahlias. The arrangements on our table were in large mason jars (again so fitting with the farm theme).

 We got married on a local farm. Here on the west coast it was a real chance in terms of the weather when we planned on an October wedding. The prediction was for rain but luckily we got a lovely sunny (for the most part) day. The wedding party got ready in the amazing cottage they have on the farm (seen somewhat in the pictures above). We also managed to get all of our portraits done in the gardens on the farm. It was incredible luck that we got the perfect day we did.

All of the pictures I used here were taken by our talented photographer Jessica Bender. You can check out some of her other projects here. She is such an artist and got some truly amazing shots. The entire day was more than I could have hoped for. We had a beautiful ceremony on a beautiful day surrounded by amazing friends and family. Just looking back on these photos reminds me of the love we felt that day and I get all mushy inside!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Salmon Run 2010

A couple weeks ago, my family and I headed to Goldstream Park to witness the annual salmon run. Every year the salmon that live in the waters outside Goldstream head up stream to spawn. The stream itself isn't very deep so it is a good opportunity to watch this natural process. This year it was mostly Chum heading up stream.
At first they were tough to find but we found a narrow spot in the stream where there were quite a few struggling to get through. It was interesting to watch the group dynamic. Most didn't like others getting too close and would turn and attack if they felt they were being too close.
The park itself is definitely a cool place to check out. It was filled with wonderful little natural processes. I have a personal love of ferns and there were tons of little ferns out. We also encountered many different mushrooms during this visit. My favorite were these little ones growing on a tree.
Speaking of growing on a tree, I think nurse logs are amazing but check out this nurse stump. How cool is that tree? I love how the roots wrap around the stump. Nature just amazes me.

Goldstream is a great park to visit at any time of year but if you are on the island I would recommend checking out the salmon run. I don't think there is any other time of year when you can see so many salmon in the stream.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Pregnancy

Message to baby, written at about 2:30am....
Thanks a lot kid, what exactly is it that is comfy about my spine? Hmmmm? No, no I didn't need sleep tonight. I mean I didn't really get much sleep last night but I'm good to go 3 days with less than 8 hours total sleep. Oh please, by all means shove your butt in my hip socket, I don't need to be able to bend at the waist to get out of bed. No wait, actually I DO! Especially now that you have shoved an elbow into my bladder and I have to pee, like right now! (enter sobbing) I'm so tired and sore. I just want to sleep and go pee. (I beg Jon to roll me out of bed because my hip hurts too much to sit on the side of the bed) Why do women voluntarily do this more than once? I have 13 weeks left and I already want to curl up in a ball and die. I'm constantly hungry but nothing ever appeals to me, I constantly have to pee even though I just peed 10 minutes ago and I'm soo tired but I'm too sore to get any sleep. I think I'm about to loose my mind. (I go pee and lay back down and try to get comfy, when the rolling and kicking begins in my belly). I'm not sure that you realize this baby, but it is really difficult to sleep when you do an entire Cirque-du-Soleil show in my belly. I think you and I are going to have a problem once you are born. See, I like to sleep, I need to sleep and you are just going to have to deal with that. (I look over at Jon who is completely asleep and snoring and mumble...) Stupid Jon, look at him sleeping over there, all comfy and stuff. I hate dads, they get off so easy. Why don't you head over there and keep your dad up for a change, huh? (at about 3am I basically completely give in to the exhaustion and sleep from 3.5 hours).

Message to baby, written at about 4pm the next day...
You are so fun! I feel you kicking me baby! Can you feel my hand? I'm here. I wonder who you will be in this world. Will you love music like I do? Will you love to read like your parents? Will you love the natural world? We can't wait to take you on hikes and walks and discover all the wonder around us with you. And when you are older, we will go camping. We will have so much fun together baby! I hope I'm doing the right things for you already baby, and I hope your dad and I give you the best up-bringing we can. I hope I'm a good mom. I promise to comfort you when you cry, feed you when you are hungry, open your horizons and never hold you back from the person you want to become. (baby rolls in my belly) You seem happy today! I can't wait to meet you baby! We love you already, did you know that? I hope you can feel how much we love you. See you soon!

 Disclaimer: I do not hate my child, in the top post I was tired and grumpy and needed someone to blame. I would never wish bad things for my baby or abuse it in any way.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This year I only managed to get one lonely little jack-o-lantern pumpkin from my garden. So Jon and I went to Mitchell's Farm and got a couple more. It was a little bit of a sad year for pumpkins. Because the weather was so warm the pumpkins were ready almost a month ahead of time so quite a lot of the crop was rotten by the time we got out there to pick some.
None-the-less we found a couple that would work for us and went to work carving. I'm totally happy with mine.

Jon chose to do a Star Wars inspired pumpkin. He was also very please with the results.

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all have a safe and fun day. Oh....and Happy Birthday to my little brother!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Poo Guilt

So October was to be my 6th month without shampoo. I love not using shampoo. For 6 months of clean hair I paid about $6 for the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Using shampoo probably would have cost me triple. My hair was clean and my scalp was less irritated, it was great!
Now for the guilt part. I've been to the hair salon for a cut and an up-do and I let them wash my hair with their salon shampoos. I totally regret it because my scalp felt itchy and my hair had an overly perfume smell to it that I didn't like. I also just feel guilty. I'm not sure why, it's not like there are shampoo police checking if I've used any or not. I think I feel guilty because I kind of betrayed my body. My skin and senses loved my homemade baking soda and vinegar blend and I was so uncomfortable during the shampooing at the salon that I was actually grinding my teeth.
I'm back on the clean, natural path and I'm feeling better. My hair is taking a while to recover from the chemicals at the salon but I know my nose appreciates the change.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Recipe: Not-so-candied Yams

We had these for the first time this Thanksgiving and they were heavenly. I love yams but find the traditional candied yams to be too sweet. I decided to make up something that had a little sweetness but was not overwhelming and still highlighted the awesomeness of yams. These have a little more nutritional value too. The yams themselves are great for vitamin C, the dates have fiber, the cheese has calcium and the nuts have some healthy fats. This is an approximate recipe so adjust it to your taste and to the number of people you are serving. This could easily serve 10 people.

You will need:
2-3 yams, peeled and diced
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp nutmeg
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1 package of fig goats cheese
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup pecan pieces

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add diced yams and boil until tender. Strain and mash with cream. Stir in spices and honey. Transfer mashed yams to a 8x8 baking dish. Crumble goats cheese over yams, then sprinkle chopped dates and pecan pieces over top. This dish can be stored like this in the fridge for up to one day.
When ready, in a 350 degree oven, bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is soft and the top of the yams have darkened.

Feel free to make substitutions here. I chose the fig cheese because it had a hint of sweetness that went really well with the dates and the yams but you could use plain goats cheese or a different flavor. Also feel free to try this with different nuts. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, October 8, 2010

23 weeks

I must say that the second trimester is not the fun times that everyone described. Thanks to an anterior placenta, I have a babe who loves to curl up around my spine. I'm so tired of this constant back and hip pain. Trying to get to sleep at night as been a constant challenge. Nothing feels comfortable and some positions make it worse. I need a good nights sleep so badly. Everyone keeps telling me that it just preparation for the baby. But I know that newborn sleep (wake up frequently but do sleep) and I'm totally ok with taking little naps throughout the day to catch up on sleep. Naps are tough when you are working your butt off so you can get a decent maternity leave.
The babe has been kicking a bit more. But again, because the baby is so far back it's had to feel anything really reliable or have an idea of how often I'm feeling it. Every so often I do feel little bumps against my cervix and on my left side.
I'm dealing with a little bit of maternity blues. A couple weeks ago I had a really bad cold. Being pregnant means you can't take any ColdFX, sudafed, Buckleys, etc. I was coughing so much it was keeping me up at night so the doctor said I could use a little Robitussin which did help a little. To spite frequent saline rinses and tons of garlic and vitamin C, I still ended up with a (very very bad) sinus and chest infection and had to do a week of antibiotics. So that all left me feeling a little down and now with the lack of sleep, I'm just feeling worse. I hope this all goes away soon. Maybe when Jon and I start our birthing classes and we interact with more expectant parents my mood will improve.
Well there you go...week 23. Do any mamas out there have a suggestion for dealing with the itch of stretching skin? I've tried belly butter and Aveeno cream but neither is helping much. I'm open to anything.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Apple Festival 2010

This weekend Jon and I attended the annual Apple Festival on Saltspring Island. As usual we had an awesome time. Last year we camped at Ruckle Park but this year we decided to stay in a little cabana on St. Mary's Lake. The day we arrived was beautiful fall weather, it was almost hot! It almost made me regret not camping. We spent Saturday visiting the island. We stopped by the weekly market in Ganges Harbor.

Then we spent most of the afternoon exploring the property at our little resort we were staying out (and indulged in an afternoon nap). We did take the time to drive out to Fulford Harbour and check out the beaches there. What we found was a ton of dead jellyfish.

 I think the one above looks a little like a placenta. It was kind of neat to check them out and marvel at what a cool species jellyfish are but I was really sad to see how many were washed up on the shore. We also got to watch a few otters out in the bay just playing around.
St. Mary's Lake is actually nice quiet spot on the north part of the island. We had never bothered stopping by before this weekend. We stayed in a little cabana that was just fine for our short stay. The place was crawling with spiders though. Yuck....it was pretty bad.
It would be a great place to come in the summer. The lake is small and they have boats and a nice little dock.
The next day was the apple festival. The weather wasn't great but it didn't actually rain. We started at Fulford Hall and checked out all the varieties of apples grown on Saltspring Island. Then headed out on the tour. This year was a bit of a disappointment. There were half the participants of last year. Apparently most people on Saltspring didn't get enough apples this year (if they got any).We've had the same problem (we got maybe 5 apples this year) so I felt for the farmers.

We did visit Mistaken Identity vineyard again this year. Jon sampled their new desert wine made with apples grown on the property. They haven't had any apple troubles. Three thousand pounds of apples went into the making of that wine!
Again we visit Saltspring Cheese. My favorite spot! I love goats cheese. And if you look to the left you will see a picture of one of the goats that gives her milk for the making of that fine cheese. Cheese has been the one thing this entire pregnancy that I've loved. I was a little disappointed though that I couldn't try the mold-ripened cheeses.

We ended the trip with a visit to Harry Burton's fine farm. Apple Luscious is apple heaven! He has the most amazing orchard and is so dedicated to diversity and high-quality, natural product. We munched on some delicious gluten-free goodies from the Laughing Daughter Bakery while we strolled through the apple trees. It was lovely! I can't wait to go to next year's festival with my new baby! Remember the apple festival is the first weekend of October every year on Saltspring Island!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Baby Pictures

 Back by popular demand, it's the new babe! This time it was so co-operative, the whole ultrasound only took 15 minutes. In the picture above you can see the lovely spine we saw so much of the first time.
 This picture is my favorite. On the right there you can see two little feet. I can't wait kiss those little toes and put little booties on them.
This one, I personally find kinda creepy. This is looking at the baby's face straight on. It looks like some sort of dinosaur to me. You can also see a little arm in there too.
The overall outcome was good. Everything is just fine, good heart, good size. My placenta is anterior but healthy. So all-in-all just what we were hoping for!

Vancouver Island Baby Fair

Today I went to the annual Vancouver Island Baby Fair with a friend of mine who is also expecting. It was actually a really fun experience to be in one area with so many other new and expecting parents. We picked up some great information on Hypnobirthing (not sure if we are going to invest in trying this one but it was interesting to learn about it), cloth diapering and breastfeeding. I listened to an interesting presentation by Eva Bild, the owner of Mothering Touch, on breastfeeding. I didn't get to hear the whole thing but the part I heard was about how to nurse a baby who is fussing and signaling that they are hungry but are having trouble calming down enough to get a good latch. It was interesting and I'm glad I caught that part.
I was also really interested to see all the different types of cloth diapers out there. We are definitely planning on using cloth diapers and I already have a variety going. I want to make sure I try different styles so I can find the type that fits and works best (so I've got pre-folds, fitted, all-in-ones and one size).
We also checked out the huge variety of children's toys that were on display. I'm really taken with all the natural wood toys. There were some really beautiful toys out there. I'm hoping to stay away from all those plastic (not really BPA free plastic either) and enameled toys. I love the stack-able wooden houses, rainbows and trees. They had wooden push bikes, wooden cars and just a whole bunch of really cool things. I'm going to try not to buy toys though until Jon has finished building the toy box.
Finally, my friend and I both got an awesome maternity dress. It's organic bamboo and it was 60% off. It was a major score. I also got a coupon that I later used to get some bamboo leggings to go with my new dress. Definitely a good day for maternity wear!
In the end I left with some good info and some good deals. I also entered a bunch of draws so fingers crossed that we win at least one of them! The fair is on tomorrow as well so for more information visit their website.

Friday, September 24, 2010


As some of you may recall from last year, we thought we might never get grapes again (after some workers cut out a huge tap root). So far this year we've gotten about 3 lbs of grapes from our vine. They are this beautiful (and healthy) red grape. They are a little on the tart side but I like it that way. The grapes themselves are quite small but I've been thinking that perhaps that is from the lack of water this summer (I did my best but the heat and morning sickness got the best of me). There are still a whole bunch of green grapes out there so we may double our tally for the year. I'm really happy with the grapes this year, they are a big improvement over the 5 little grapes we got last year.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The quickening has begun. I wasn't really sure at first that what I was feeling was movement but the past two days I've definitely felt little flicks and twitches deep in my belly. It's still a little difficult to distinguish baby from gas but I enjoy the moments when I know for sure.
I've had a wicked cold for the past 6 days so I wonder if the baby is moving around more from the stress I've been under. I've been doing my best to rest (sleep isn't really happening since I'm having so much trouble breathing at night) and get lots of vitamins.
I like these little flutters I feel. I wish they stayed this faint and magical but I know I'm in for some solid kicks and punches as the baby gets bigger. Oh well, at least I know you are still there baby!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Butterflies and Birthdays

This weekend I celebrated yet another birthday. I started the day off by sleeping in and then waking up to a homemade waffle breakfast and a house full of flowers (isn't my hubby the sweetest?). It was kind of a crummy day in terms of the weather so we decided to visit the Butterfly Gardens. I've lived here since I was 4 years old and I've never been to our local Butterfly Gardens.
Butterfly Gardens was probably the best place of visit on a cold day, it was so warm and humid. It was almost like a mini vacation. You are greeted by flamingos and koi as you walk in.
The number of different varieties of butterflies is amazing. We had an absolute blast walking around with our little identification chart trying to finding each different butterfly.

Look closely at this guy. You can see his little tongue curled up in front. They had little trays of citrus fruit out for the butterflies to feed on. It was neat to see them land there and uncurl their tongues.

This guy here on the right has this interesting brown design when his wings are closed but when he opens them up they are a beautiful iridescent blue (we tried to get a picture with the wings open but they are just so darn quick!)

Can you spot all the butterflies on this bush (click on the photo to make it bigger)?

Butterflies are not the only residents at the butterfly gardens. We managed to catch a glimpse of several tropical birds including budgies and little finches.

The whole place was really peaceful, interesting and serene. Towards the end of our visit we sat down on a bench just let the butterflies surround us as we listened to the sounds of the waterfalls and the birds. It was a really nice way to spend the day.
After that we had lunch at a local farm/bakery that grows their own wheat and mills it into the bread they serve with lunch. It was really nice.
Finally as the day was wrapping up (and I was realizing I was getting a cold) we headed to my parents house for some awesome Thai soup. What an awesome way to spend your birthday!
(Sorry for the weird formatting, Blogger and I weren't getting along today)