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Thursday, March 17, 2016

The New Blog Is Ready!

It's here! It's ready!

Finding Home Blog

Hop on over to see all the fancy new prettiness!  From now on, you can expect new posts from me over there.

(I will probably eventually delete this blog, but I'll leave it up for the moment in case anyone has any links saved from here.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Weekly Goals: March 13-19

Spaghetti squash noodles with a sausage and tomato sauce.  I wasn't sure if this one was going to be good or not, and it was a hit!  The kids even asked for more.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Add at least 5 more ideas to my Whole 30 Planning board on Pinterest, so when I start the menu plan for the second part of the month, I have some fresh inspiration. Not done. And I need to do the menu plan too!
  • Do the Iron Craft project for this challenge: teeny tiny.  Not done.
  • Pick and start another book to read.  I started reading Breaking Busy, which I think will be a good one!  But I only got a chapter in, because...I got busy. (more on that below)
This will actually be my second-to-last post.  Here, at least.  Over the past week or so, I've been working on transferring the blog, and once I'm done, I'll share my new online home with you.  I'm really excited about how it's turning out!  

That has occupied pretty much every spare moment this week, because when you don't pay someone to transfer much of the past five years of posts, it takes quite awhile!  

If you read and enjoy my blog, could you do me a favor and leave me a comment with which posts are your favorites?  Pick from the ones below, or tell me something else you've enjoyed.
  • Book reviews
  • Recipes
  • Homeschool posts
  • Weekly goals
  • Organizing and cleaning tips or projects
  • Craft projects
  • Rambling thoughts posts
Thanks so much!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Quick Tip: Change Your Smoke Detector Batteries

It was the middle of the night.  Everyone was soundly sleeping in their beds, and BEEP!  BEEP!  In a sleepy fog, Jesse and I got up and tried to figure out which smoke detector had a dying battery.
Even better, it was one that couldn't decide if it was dying or not, so it didn't beep consistently. 
1:09AM: 2 beeps, about a minute apart.  Maybe it's the one in the hallway?
2:47AM: 5 beeps.  It's not the boys' room, or they would have woken up.
3:07AM: 3 beeps.  I don't think it's one upstairs.  I'm not going downstairs right now.
4:44AM: 2 beeps. Definitely downstairs.  Must be the dining room, since that's the only one with a battery right now! (Also, don't do this.)

Once we woke up for the day, it stopped beeping.  Lovely.  I was amused by the fact that though my children will wake up instantly from the creaking of the floor when we walk on it, they all slept through the beeping.
These are not the type of batteries that our smoke detectors take.  But I had already changed them, and I wasn't going to get them back out for a picture...

According to the National Fire Protection Association, you're supposed to check your smoke detectors at least monthly, if not weekly, and change the battery every six months to a year.  You're also supposed to replace smoke detectors about every 10 years or so, as they may not function as well with age.

When I went around checking all of ours, I discovered one from 2001, and two that were so old they didn't have dates.  Replaced!  I also changed all of the batteries so that we won't be woken up in the middle of the night any more.  Except by kids who wet the bed, crying babies, and a toddler who needs a hug.

Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend, and it might be a good time to check all of your smoke detectors and change the batteries.  That way you get on a schedule of doing it, and you don't have to worry about nighttime beeps.

Once you do, come back and tell me if you had any smoke detectors older than ours!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Quick Tip: Command Hooks Hold Everything

I love 3M Command Hooks.  I use them all the time.  In fact, if I have a storage problem, this is one of the first ways I try to fix it! (And no, this post isn't sponsored - it's just a product I use and love!)

We were blessed to have these built-in hooks in our entryway, which get a ton of use in winter especially, but if they weren't there, we'd totally have rows of command hooks for all of our coats and snowpants.
Once we got out all of the winter gear last fall, we were having a hard time finding spots for a sweater for each kid.  They were upstairs in the bedrooms, but that's not really convenient when you're downstairs and get cold.  So I hung a row of hooks in the hallway.  Now the sweaters are easy to grab, and they don't get lost in the closets.
Another place we use these is in the toy room.  Each kid (except Elizabeth) has a backpack for longer car trips, but when we're not using them, they hang here.  They also hold superhero capes, in case you were wondering.  We even splurged and got fancy hooks for the boys (Superman here and Batman here), which were a bit cheaper at Target than they currently are on Amazon.
And this is probably where my love of Command hooks started: the kitchen.  I have a rotating dish towel system: one for wiping hands, one for wiping dishes, and a Norwex enviro cloth for wiping counters.  I'm probably the only one who pays attention to it, but we have a few towels out at any given time, within easy reach of the sink.
I'm sure there are many more great uses for these that I'm missing.  Where do you use Command hooks in your house?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you purchase through one of these links, I get more money for Command hooks, at no additional charge to you.  Or diapers.  Or coffee.  All of these are good things...

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Weekly Goals: March 6-12

Aside from food being my focus, I didn't snap a ton of pictures this week.  But I did take this one, of my La La, who likes to lean on my face for comfort.  It was cute when she started doing it, and it's still adorable.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Finish the Whole 30 menu plan, grocery list, and shopping.  Done!  I did A LOT of food prep too.
  • Read Dressing Your Truth.  After all of my food prep Friday, I took a much needed break and read this whole thing in a couple hours on Saturday.  Honestly, it was mostly a rehash of the free video course, and I was disappointed that it basically turned into a written infomercial to buy the course to actually learn HOW to dress your truth.  So I know that I'm a Type 4, but I don't really know what that means for my clothing.  I may have to do some more Googling on that one...
  • Work on some behind the scenes blog stuff.  Some got done, most didn't, in lieu of food planning.  I'll be working more on it this week.  
This Week's Goals:
  • Add at least 5 more ideas to my Whole 30 Planning board on Pinterest, so when I start the menu plan for the second part of the month, I have some fresh inspiration.
  • Do the Iron Craft project for this challenge: teeny tiny.  
  • Pick and start another book to read.  I just bought this one for $2.99, but I also have this one on the shelf and a few free ebooks I want to read.
Interesting Reads:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How To Plan For Your First Whole 30 Challenge

Perhaps a better title for this post might be "How We Planned For Our First Whole 30 Challenge".  Every family is different, and every meal planner is different, so it may not look the same for you.

1. Know the program.  The first thing I did was read all over the Whole30 website to really nail down the rules of what's allowed and what isn't.  I started at the link listed, but I read several other posts about the different categories that are eliminated and why, the basic pantry/perishable lists, and the frequently asked questions.  My favorite was the Whole30 Timeline post, which I have a feeling I'll be referring to often.

2. List the meals you already eat that might work.  Once I felt like I had an idea of where we were headed, I got out my kitchen binder.  I made a list (of course!) of all of the recipes we eat regularly that fit with the Whole 30 rules.  I also included things that could be easily modified by eliminating one ingredient (a tablespoon of honey in a sauce) or could have substitutes (switching from half and half to coconut milk in a creamy vegetable soup).

I organized my list into breakfast, soups, and entrees.  Spoiler alert: Breakfast was pretty much "eggs and...."

3. Find new recipes to try.  Which brings me to my final step: search the Internet.  I didn't start here, because I wanted to go with the foods that we already eat first.  Then we can start experimenting.  If we start out trying new meals, and end up with three duds in a row, it's going to be really discouraging.  I've been enjoying the Whole30Recipes Instagram account, and I've copied a few recipes from there to try, and I set up a Whole 30 Planning board on my Pinterest.

Bonus Step #1: Don't forget to budget!  It's really easy to jump into this, find all these recipes that sound delicious, and buy all the things.  Realistically, we can't afford to eat meat at every meal, so I'm planning on as many vegetarian meals as I can, or meals that use meat as a topping rather than the main deal.  I'd like to buy coconut aminos as a soy sauce replacement and nutritional yeast because I've heard that's good when you're missing cheese, but those aren't things we normally purchase, and I don't have the time or money to find a good source.
Bonus Step #2: What about the kids?  Jesse and I want to do this for us.  But aside from the girls' gluten sensitivity, the kids are doing fine with eating a mostly real food diet.  And let's face it, I'm a lot better about what I feed them than about what I feed myself.

So the kids are getting what I've termed a Whole 30 Plus diet for this month.  They'll be eating most of the same things we will, but they also get the following:
  • Gluten free pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Oats
  • Bread or tortillas
  • Peanut butter
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Sugar only in granola and muffins and homemade breakfasts and snacks (i.e. no cookies, ice cream, etc.)
They don't have food problems that they need to fix, and they're growing, and sometimes, they just want more food, you know?  The one thing they're not having that they might be sad about is cheese.  But cheese may tempt me more than anything else on that list.  No lie.  And they'll be sad about the lack of sugar, but that's something I've been working on anyways.
The photos in this post are a sneak peek at some of the food we'll be eating this month.  I ended up going with a "semi-freezer cooking" approach, which is what I normally do for food, since we grocery shop every other week.  So yesterday I prepped part or all of 14 meals!  This is huge for me to actually get food on the table, especially on busy days.

I did a lot of research going into this challenge.  I looked at the Whole 30 rules, I looked at all the meals we normally eat and enjoy, and then I looked for some new recipes that still fit with the flavors we like.  After all that I kept the budget and the kids in mind.  It took a lot of work, honestly, but I'm really excited to see how it all turns out!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Books I've Read: February 2016

Garbage Land: On The Secret Trail Of Trash by Elizabeth Royte.  The premise of this book is pretty simple: A woman wants to know what happens to her waste after she's done with it, so she tries to follow it.  I say "tries", because it's actually kind of difficult to follow some of your trash.  The book is divided into three sections: landfills, recycling, and sewers.

I'll be honest, everyone has their own level of grossness they can handle, and I made it through landfills and recycling with no problems, but some of the descriptions in the sewer section were a bit gag-inducing.  Imagine the smells.  Or don't, actually.

Most of the book was really informative, and although there were a few parts here and there where Royte went into the technical speak for too long, it was still fairly easy to read and interesting.  Which is impressive, considering the topic.  At the end, she got a little bit preachy about how we need to do a better job of producing less waste, which was undermined a bit by her statistic that consumers produce 2% of waste, and 98% is produced during the manufacturing process.

From reading this book, it seems like there is a way to reuse, recycle, or tear down into source materials pretty much everything, but because the process isn't profitable for a lot of things, it doesn't happen.

And now, quotes:

When talking about decomposition in landfills: "Set and setting hold much sway: depending on its burial context, a Granny Smith apple can biodegrade completely in two weeks or last several thousand years."

Towards people who say that recycling doesn't matter: "Recycling, however, is wise precisely because it's far-sighted.  Unfortunately, it isn't likely that we'll become truly efficient about resource recovery until we've exhausted all our raw materials (at which point the planet will be a fairly dismal place to live)."

On buying "green" products (those with recycled materials, minimal packaging, non-toxic materials, etc.): "Green purchasing tells us to vote with our wallets, but it ignores a third choice: not buying at all.  I resist the green buying message because I hate to think our strength is based in consumption, not in moral clarity."

Total books read this month: 1.  Total books read this year: 4.