Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nicholas Sparks, a Root Canal, Sweeping and Other Miscellany

I'm totally uninspired today. I have no idea what to write, so I will simply blog some of my thoughts and actions of the day.

Right now as I'm typing, the 10-year-old boy is massaging my shoulders to earn money for snack time at school. In addition, he and the 8-year-old girl struck some kind of deal in which he has to give her half of the money he earns for massaging, which I don't understand, but I don't care, because it's all the same to me.

I started my day at 6:52, when the 15-year-old girl came to my room, shook my foot to wake me up, and told me it was time for scripture study. We read our usual two pages, then knelt in prayer to begin our day.

Over the next hour, I drove three times to the school to drop off various groups of kids, then drove by the 4-year-old's preschool teacher's house to leave the mid-morning snacks with her, as it was my week for snacks, but the 4-year-old boy was too sick to go to school.

I returned home after the morning driving and folded clothes, picked up my bedroom and the 4 four and under's room, then started on the kitchen. The twins and 4-year-old played upstairs in the playroom while I worked, and Baby Hippo jumped in his jumpy toy. I love his jumpy toy.

At exactly 9:30, it was movie time, so I hooked up the IPOD on which the 14-year-old boy had downloaded Toy Story 3, turned it on, gave the twins and 4-year-old warm blankets to cuddle, and pushed play. I then headed to my room, changed Baby Hippo, then nursed him to sleep as I read Nicholas Spark's "THE LUCKY ONE". I'm not sure how I feel about Nicholas Sparks. I love the plots of his novels, and the love stories he weaves, but there is usually pre-marital sex portrayed in a glorified manner, which bothers me. I don't know. I'll have to think more about whether or not I'll keep buying his novels.

After putting Baby Hippo to sleep, I continued doing housework, including cleaning out the storage area under the stairs that go up to our loft. It felt so, so good to do that. I threw away a lot of stuff, mostly mismatched socks. I always wonder where their other halves went. I suppose I'll find them one day, and then have to throw them away, too.

Baby Hippo's nap time was cut short by the screams of Twin A as he ran from the 4-year-old boy. I don't know what the 4-year-old boy was doing to him, but the fact that he caused Baby Hippo to wake up earned him 5 minutes in time out. I also said, "That's One" a lot of times. It's a new discipline technique I've learn from the book "1-2-3 MAGIC". This is a no lecture, no argue, no yelling, no spanking solution to common behavioral problems. I think it is going to change my life. I've already gone for like three days without yelling, and the arguing and reasoning I do with the older kids have been reduced to a fraction of what they were before. I'm loving it and would highly recommend the book.

Since the 4-year-old was sick, I let him decide what he'd like me to fix for lunch, he chose mac 'n' cheese, I made it, then loaded the 4 four and under into the van and drove to the elementary to pick up the other kids.

After everyone ate and cleaned up their kitchen parts, I drove them back to school, then got the twins and Baby Hippo ready for their afternoon naps. The twins only got out of their cribs once, and I only said, "That's One" once, then they went right to sleep. I again nursed Baby Hippo to sleep while reading Nicholas Sparks, laid him down, then put my dress clothes in the dryer in preparation for accompanying the high school choir. As they were drying, I continued to read, then got up to straighten my hair, put my clothes on, answered the door for my babysitter, then left. I always arrive ten minutes early so I can read a little more by myself, then I walked into the chaos that is 99 teenagers in one room. Chaotic as it is, I always have fun, and have never regretted my decision to give an hour every day to help these kids learn music.

After returning home, I had a great visit with a friend about her decision to begin the weight-loss program my sister and I have had such success with. It's so exciting embarking on this adventure with someone!

After she left, I realized that we had left all eight loaves of bread we bought from the states during our Thanksgiving trip there at my mother's house. (Enjoy, Mom!) Since it was the 14-year-old boy's turn to help with dinner, I asked him to make four loaves of bread, but he said that he would take care of Baby Hippo if I did it. I always agree to it when they offer to take care of the baby because it's nice for me to have a break from carrying the 23-pound hunk, and whatever chores need to get done get done much faster. See, we both win.

After making the bread, the 14-year-old boy made grilled cheese sandwiches with it, warmed up a can of green beans, and mixed together pineapple juice and mineral water for a very refreshing drink.

After the kids cleaned up, I took them to the high school to watch the varsity basketball game, then came home to hang with the 4 four and under again. The 4-year-old found a movie to watch, so while I swept the kitchen again, the 4 four and under sat with blankets and expressed sadness when the baby dinosaur started crying for some reason. It's hilarious watching the twins watch TV because they both get the same expressions on their faces at the same time.

I then went to give Baby Hippo a bath and continuously wondered if experts are certain that breastfed infants can't become obese. Even so, his man boobs are so, so cute.

When he got tired of splashing in the tub, I toweled him off, lotioned him up, dressed him in a fleece sleeper, then nursed him to sleep again while reading my novel.

Once he was settled, I hung out with the 3 little boys in the kitchen, served them more pineapple drink, acted thrilled when they purposely got their motorcyles stuck in Baby Hippo's jumpy toy, then released them, then changed their diapers and got them ready for bed. Just as we started towards their bedroom, the 4 big kids came home, so we said our prayers together, then I resumed our trip to the bedroom for bedtime. This time the twins didn't get out of bed even once, so now I think that "1-2-3 MAGIC" is actually working.

After checking on them a few times, I settled on the couch in the kitchen for my massages, which are still going on. I know I should send the kids to bed, but I'm really liking the massages and listening to the kids talk about the universe, and about atoms, and about how it's too sad that Grandma won't be coming to Utah with us for Christmas.

Seven more minutes of massage, then I'll send them to bed.

Oh, and P.S. I  underwent a root canal yesterday, and it doesn't hurt a bit today. Sometimes the stars align just right and things work out perfectly.

Thanks for listening. :)

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Cranberry Salsa

Welcome to the 110th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Pam over at "From Apples to Zucchini"! Pam posted a recipe for Vegetable Orzo Soup that looks absolutely delicious, and super healthy. Check it out....


For Pam's recipe, click HERE, and thank you so much, Pam, for linking up and sharing your know-how. Have a great Homemade Monday!~

MINE: Cranberry Salsa!


This is a beautiful, delicious, sweet and tangy salsa to which I was introduced by a lovely lady in my life, my 21-year-old daughter! Thanks, 21-year-old girl. I LOVE it that we share recipes with each other! She found this recipe at allrecipes.com, our family's favorite recipe site. This salsa is especially delectable on poultry dishes such as chicken enchiladas, turkey sandwiches, or grilled chicken breasts, or just by itself on tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Cranberry Salsa

<p>This is a beautiful, delicious, sweet and tangy salsa&#8230;</p>

See Cranberry Salsa on Key Ingredient.

1 (12 ounce) bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, cut into 3 inch lengths
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 limes, juiced
3/4 cup white sugar
Pinch salt


Combine cranberries, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a medium blade. Chop to medium consistency. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Serve at room temperature.

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

OURS: Okay, now it's your turn to share your favorite homemaking tips, recipes, or how-tos. Thanks so much for visiting and linking up and I hope you have a wonderful Homemaker Monday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

1-Day Black Friday Vitamix Sale: Up to $180 Off!

If you've ever wanted to get a Vitamix, today, Black Friday, is the day! Go HERE for the deals and have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!

See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup


I found the following recipe in one of my all-time favorite books, Country Beans - 2nd Edition, to which I was introduced by my dear friend, C. Thanks, C! I think of you every time I use this book!

P.S. Don't forget to check the nutrition data HERE.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

<p>A delicious soup using vegetable stock&#8230;</p>

See Vegetarian Split Pea Soup on Key Ingredient.

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!

See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monotonous, Repetitive, Mindless Tasks (i.e. Housework): The Pros and Cons


One of my friends, in an effort to help her husband understand what it is like to do housework day in and day out, explained it like this...

"First, you take apart an engine, then you put it back together again. The next day, you take apart that same engine, then you put it back together again. The next day, you take apart that same engine, then you put it back together again. The next day, you take apart that same engine, then you put it back together again."

Get the point?

And isn't it true? We sweep and mop the same floors, wash the same dishes, wash, dry, hang up and iron the same clothes day in and day out. Women (and sometimes men) all over the world do this, unless they have maids, servants or are disabled in some way.

Have you ever wondered why God set life up this way? I have. Many times. It wasn't until recently that I finally figured out the answer... perhaps.

I'm sure most of you never get into heated discussions with your husbands, but, on a rare occasion, I do. And sometimes, just sometimes, we go to bed mad at each other. (Can you believe that we would blatantly disregard the most slung-around marital advice ever given?) The next day goes something like this...

I start my day upset. Then I get the kids ready and off to school, which is a distraction for a while, then I start with the mindless tasks of dishes, sweeping and laundry. During these tasks my brain has absolutely nothing to do but think of all the ways my husband wronged me and how I was one hundred percent correct in how I handled the situation. I tell myself that he should apologize, but figure he won't, so I get madder. Then I think of all the other times he didn't apologize, and that I'm still waiting for those apologies, knowing that I'll never, EVER get them, so I get madder. Then I start thinking how I am entirely maligned by everyone who is supposed to love me. I think of the wrongs been done to me by my sister, my children, even my late first husband, and I become madder still.

This goes on all day long, until, at the end of the day, I am ready to give John a good talking to. Because he's out of town most days, I call him on the phone and say, "What are you thoughts on what happened with us last night?"

His response: "I'm sorry, Dear, did something happen with us last night?"


You see, his mind has been filled with a million things to accomplish, solve, sort out, and organize all day long, so the previous evening's happenings had no room to fester. They simply disappeared. My job, however, permitted me to mull over every last detail of the event until I was blue in the face.

So why do I bring all of this up? Because I do believe that God gave us women monotonous, repetitive, mindless tasks for a reason. Wanna know what I think? This give us tons of mental time to problem-solve.

When I'm not mad at my husband (which, fortunately, is most days), my mind is an amazing machine that is lubricated during these hours and hours of thoughtless tasks. I can think and ponder on how to solve the problem of the kids not keeping the theater clean. I can pray about how best to support our son on his two-year mission for our church. I can think about how best to potty train twins... one at a time or together? I can come up with amazing meal plans, I can troubleshoot pet problems, I can think how to add more fiber to our diets, how to get the 14-year-old boy to learn Spanish faster, the 10-year-old boy to practice piano more, and how to compliment the 8-year-old girl on trying to keep her room clean. As Dr. Suess says...

You can think, think and wonder,
Wonder and think,
Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!

Some of my best ideas have come from doing monotonous tasks. One of the most monotonous tasks I've ever had to do was when I was teaching the twins to sleep in their cribs. I remember having to turn out their lights, sit on a stool between their cribs, and hold their hands until I heard their deep breathing of slumber. Sometimes this took up to thirty minutes, which was just nothing but me sitting in the dark without moving, staring into space... thinking. The idea to start Mega-Family Blogs was born during those hours, and as a result, I have received innumerable comments and emails about how the listing site has blessed the lives of so many moms with large families all over the world. Some mega-families have even met up in person after finding each other on the website. I never would have thought it, but I am certainly grateful for the mindless time I sat in the dark on that stool if the idea that came to me then has brought happiness and comfort to some!

Now, back to what happens in our minds when we endure a potentially depressing experience.....

I don't know how this began, but one day I realized that I would always think of all of the ways I'd been wronged when I would fold clothes. I would leave my laundry room with such a bleak outlook on life, but try as I would, I could not seem to control those thoughts. Why they came when I was doing laundry, I don't know, but they surely did.

Recently, however, I quite accidentally came across a method of folding laundry that has removed this problem. Do you remember when I wrote THIS POST about doing housework in small bites? One of the things I'd started doing was to fold 30 things every time I walked by the laundry room. This technique has had two major benefits. First, the laundry is taken care of now much more often then it is not, and second, while I'm holding the number in my head as I count and fold the next item of clothing, there is no room for those negative thoughts to enter in. When I first realized this was happening, it was like a light when on. Counting! What a simple way to stave off potentially depressing, disheartening thoughts. I now find that I've started counting other things as well when my brain starts going in a direction I don't want it to. Yes, I realize this could become OCD, so I'll have my kids let me know if I start counting too much. The 4-year-old already has, so I guess he'll be the one to help me keep my sanity. Wait, isn't he the reason I've almost lost it? Oh well, that's a topic for another post.

Thanks for listening!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!

See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Face, Sad Face


P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!

See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Sourdough Starter From Scratch

Before we begin, I need to make two quick announcements.....

1. We have a winner of the $100 CSNstores.com gift certificate! Come see HERE!

2. Please remember that there's still time to enter BlogHer's NFL "Take it to the House" contest and get yourself a chance to win some amazing prizes, including one worth $10,000!

Okay, now....

Welcome to the 109th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Annie at Tea Time with Annie Kate! She writes a unique post about how to look best for the holiday season. Her tips include some of the important things I've been doing to try to become healthier, such as eating well and getting more quality sleep. Take a visit to Annie Kate's blog HERE. Thank you, Annie and we'll look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

MINE: This week I am honored to have Katie at Kitchen Stewardship as a guest poster today. I have known Katie through blogging for a couple of years now, and I have always had a huge amount of respect for the way she truly does treat her job as the provider of nutrition for her family as one of her most important stewardships. Here's Katie!


Just in case feeding your kids and their goldfish isn’t enough to keep you busy, here’s something else you can keep around the house that will need feeding, too: a sourdough starter. Luckily, it will feed you back.

I have to admit I was never much of a bread baker (read that: baked a few doorstop loaves and gave up), so I thought sourdough would be a massive fail and was afraid to even try it for a year after I happened upon the idea. I finally became convinced that traditional sourdough fermentation is the healthiest possible way to prepare grains, and I knew I had to give it a go for my family’s nutrition.

When, at long last, I made the attempt at creating a sourdough starter from scratch, I had a monumental kitchen moment when I finally saw tiny bubbles in my goop. I did a happy dance and whooped with glee. Imagine the Tom Hanks/Castaway triumphant roar: “Look what I have created! I have CAPTURED YEAST! I have made BUBBLES!” It felt like quite an accomplishment.

I’m happy to teach you how to wrangle your own yeast, too.

The basic method for convincing yeast to settle in your sourdough starter is:
  1. Mix whole wheat flour and water.
  2. Feed starter flour and water daily.
  3. Wait for yeast to get hungry and eat your flour, creating bubbles.
A sourdough starter is simply a mixture of flour and water wherein natural yeast or natural leavening from your air consumes the starch and creates gas, giving your bread an opportunity to rise. What is natural leavening? A fancy way of saying bacteria; the the lactic acid-producing good guys that keep our systems going. Sourdough is a fermented food, which makes it easier to digest because the grains are partially pre-digested by the bacteria.

The lengthy rise with sourdough bread means you do have to think ahead and prepare your dough the night before, which is pretty much the opposite of Jen’s “hour to the table” breadsticks that I dearly love. On the bright side, I just discovered a sourdough chocolate cake recipe that I’d been skeptical about is the best cake I’ve ever made in my kitchen (I ought to learn to stop being afraid of healthy recipes!).

I have a decent relationship with my sourdough, but I have to give a shout out to some incredible women who teach an online sourdough baking course with me. While I manage to keep my starter bubbling, they truly understand the art and science of sourdough and can bake just about anything with it! Learn from them (and my little crackers and bread cameos) in our sourdough eCourse.
How to Make a Sourdough Starter
Materials Needed:
  • clean glass jar or bowl (some say switch your jars every day; I use the same jar until it’s too caked with dried starter at the top to pour anymore.)
  • flour (whole wheat preferred in my opinion, but the method works with white, rye, etc.)
  • water, non-chlorinated (If you have city water, you should leave water out in a jar with the lid off so the chlorine will evaporate.)
  • spoon (some say don’t use a metal spoon; I’ve read that that’s outdated advice from when spoons were made of metal that would leach into the batter because of the acidity. I use whatever’s handy!)
  • napkin, cloth or coffee filter and rubber band to cover
  1. Pour some water into the jar. I used about a half cup and saved another half cup of potato water (see tips below) for the next sourdough feeding.
  2. Add an equal amount of flour and stir well.
  3. Cover your sourdough starter with cloth or napkin or coffee filter, secure with rubber band or canning ring. The starter needs to be open to the air to catch the yeast, yet safe from bugs and falling objects.
  4. Store your starter in a warm place, away from any other ferments you have going.
    1. One option is the oven with the light turned on. I didn’t believe that would work, I really didn’t! Just try it overnight and feel your jar for warmth. (Test the temperature of your oven first – some get a lot hotter than mine and would kill the starter – over 145F is too hot.)
  5. About every 12 hours or so, add more flour and water in equal parts. I only used 1/4 cup at a time, because I didn’t want my starter to get too big.
  6. Pour off the bit of liquid that separates and turns dark before “feeding” your sourdough its meal. (The liquid is called hooch, perhaps the closest a Mormon will get to beer on purpose?) ;)
  7. Once you consistently see bubbles in your sourdough starter, congratulations! You have captured yeast! Now you can get even lazier with your feedings.
  8. Feed your starter once daily, either equal parts flour and water or any grain you have – oatmeal, any flour, etc. Just a few Tablespoons will keep your starter happy until tomorrow. Some methods tell you to toss half your sourdough starter every time you feed. No way – no need to waste the flour!
  9. That said, your starter will be happier and have more rise if you do take out some very so often. You can make pancakes, pizza dough, crackers, or any number of baked goods that don’t need much rise, and you’ll be pruning your starter for a great, fluffy loaf of bread.
  10. I usually feed with water and flour at the beginning, then switch to just flour (as if I’m feeding a fish!) for a few days. Once the starter is really thick, I add water with my flour.
***If you’re not going to bake very often, store the starter in your fridge once it is well established (after about 2 weeks of feedings). Just remember to feed it some flour and water once a week, even if you’re not using it.

Tips for Success

Starter insurance? I toss a few extra goodies in my starter to ensure a successful final product:
  • You can start with potato or pasta cooking water. The added starch is a feast for the little beasties and attracts yeast faster. However, some say that starchy water is inviting the wrong kind of bacteria. Apparently you can start with some pineapple juice instead and that will keep it more sanitary.
  • You can toss in a few unwashed organic grapes. You know the white film on the surface of grapes? That’s “bloom” or natural yeast. Be sure to choose organic if you’re going to add the grapes to your sourdough starter, but they’re not necessary if you can’t find them (or they’re way too expensive to bother).
Warm spot? For a good warm spot, turn the oven on for just a minute or less, then put the starter inside with the light on. I wanted to make it easy on myself, so I waited until summer to start mine so that it wasn’t 64 degrees in my house.

Smell? The starter starts out smelling like flour and water, and as it progresses, there’s more of a sourdough tang to it. You can definitely tell something is happening! Sometimes it smells kind of icky, but don’t be concerned. That’s how it’s supposed to smell!

Time to grow? You betcha. A new starter takes time to “mature” before it’s ready for bread. I would recommend starting with pancakes, crackers, or a flatbread that won’t count on much rise the first few times you bake. That way you’re not setting yourself up for failure and doorstop-worthy loaves!

What to do with it?


Once you have a sourdough starter perking along, the baking world is yours, my friends. I remain amazed at all my teaching cohorts can make with their starters: tortillas, English muffins, cinnamon rolls, and pasta are only the beginning.

The best part is that now you can add one more thing to your list of “what to do with your 1,000 pounds of wheat?”!

Feed your sourdough starter.

If you’re hungry for more, you’re warmly invited to check out the Sourdough Online Cooking eCourse for 24 weeks of recipes and starter care techniques via PDF, video, and an interactive forum. Enrollment is open anytime, and the price is set at whatever you can afford. (More about “Pay What You Can”) Enroll now HERE.

Katie Kimball blogs at Kitchen Stewardship about the balance between your family’s nutrition, care for the environment, your crunched budget and your precious time…that is, when she’s not watching the bubbles in her sourdough starter or wondering why it seems flat.

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

OURS: Okay, it's your turn to link up and let us know what homemaking tips you have for us this week. Thanks for your visits and your links and have a great Homemaker Monday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Utero, and Out


Some things just never change, do they.

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Copykat Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls


This post is going to seem somewhat incongruous with the post I did yesterday, but there comes a time when we all must have a cinnamon roll. And if we are going to have a cinnamon roll, it should be the best recipe ever made.

I've decided that I'm not necessarily a great cook or baker, but it seems that the 15-year-old girl and I are super-good at finding amazing recipes. Most of our recipes come from allrecipes.com, but another other really cool food site is Copykat.com. I don't know how this lady does it, but Stephanie Manley concocts recipes that taste just like the ones at your favorite restaurants! One thing I love about using Copykat recipes is that when you make them, you can choose to serve yourself a normal portion size, not enough for 4 to 8, as many restaurants are serving today.

I did make these Cinnabon copycats a bit smaller than you would find at Cinnabon, but I think they were even better, because they were so fresh.

Instead of posting the recipe here, I'm going to give you the link, just to show appreciation to Stephanie Manley, creator of Copykat.com. Check out her site. You're going to love it, I promise you!

HERE'S the recipe, which actually came from copykatchat.com, linked to from copykat.com. Enjoy!

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Live chat on how my sister and I have lost 83 pounds combined, without counting calories!

Before I begin, let me just say that I'll be chatting live to answer any questions about this on Tuesday, Nov. 16th from 10:00 to 11:00 AM MST and again from 9:00 to 10:00 PM MST. You can click HERE to get to the real-time chat or you can leave your question in the comments.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I've struggled with losing weight over the course of my 21 child-bearing years. It seems as though I've kept on 6 or 7 pounds with each pregnancy, which doesn't seem like a lot, but multiply it times 9, and it starts to become a bit noticeable!

One thing I totally hated about getting fatter after the deliveries of my last four, was that I was stuck in a wardrobe 2 sizes higher than it should have been. And I REFUSED to buy anymore 16s, because I WAS going to lose this weight! But I didn't. I'd stayed at a 16 for at least 18 months, and you can't IMAGINE how sick I was of that tiny size 16 wardrobe that I refused to expand because I WAS going to lose that weight!

Well, can I just tell you that since I've started the Take Shape For Life program, I've gotten back into my size 12s in only a few short weeks! Now I've got tons of clothes to chose from, I feel more confident, sexy (could number 11 be right around the corner?) and energetic, and I feel that I've taken control of my life, not the other way around. Next step? Getting back into my size 10s! Almost there!

And what, you may ask, is the difference between this program and the million other weight loss programs out there? To me, the biggest difference has been having my own personal health coach, free of charge, who has been there to help and encourage me every step of the way.

On this program, you can lose from 2 to 5 pounds a week. My health coach and sister, Dr. Robyn Hickerson, PhD., has lost an amazing 70 pounds on the Take Shape For Life program, 60 of which she lost in the first four months! I am so proud of her and have been so motivated by her success and also by the fact that she is always there to teach, encourage, motivate, and now, during the holiday season, give me tips on how to stick with my goals of continuing to lose weight during what has traditionally been a difficult time.

Why am I sharing all this with you? Because I would like to help you the way my sister has helped me. I would like to help you gain optimal health by first helping you to achieve a healthy BMI, then showing you how to keep off that weight.

Here's how the program works....

First, you'll be able to eat 6 meals a day. These meals consist of 5 Portion-Controlled Meal Replacements (my favorite are the rich chocolate mint bars!) and one large meal a day, whether it be at lunch time or in the evening, consisting of lean meat or a vegetarian substitute and a large serving of vegetables. It seems like a lot, but eating 6 small meals rather than 3 large meals each day will help get you into the fat-burning state. The meals you will eat are high-protein and low-glycemic, which will keep you from feeling hungry, and will stop those insulin highs and lows that can make you feel so tired in the afternoons.

Second, as you follow the "5 and 1" program (5 meal replacements and 1 "Lean and Green" meal), I, with the mentorship of my sister, will walk you through your progress by offering support, nutritional advice, accountability, and encouragement via phone and email. To me, this has absolutely been THE MOST IMPORTANT part of this weight loss plan, knowing that I was accountable to my health coach and that I always had someone to go to when the going got tough.

If you would like to learn more about Take Shape For Life before the chat, please visit my Take Shape For Life website HERE or contact me at mom2my9 (at) gmail (dot) com. You can also call me at the phone number listed at the top right corner of my TSFL website. Thank you so much for your time, and I'm looking forward to our chat! One of the things we'll be focusing on is how to continue to lose weight, or to not gain weight, during the holiday season. Just in time right? See you at the chat. :)

(As per the new FTC blogging regs, I need to let you know that if you join the Take Shape For Life weight loss program under my mentorship as your health coach, I will be compensated by the company for my time as your health coach.)

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemaker Monday: My Top 10 Delicious Finger Foods for Game Day!

I am honored to have been chosen by BlogHer to write a post on my favorite things about getting ready for NFL game day! And it has nothing to do with watching men in tight pants run around on a tiny TV screen. Included in my post are my top ten favorite finger foods, which are perfect for setting out on the coffee table and chowing down on while watching the game with your fam and friends! And of course, all of my recipes are typed up on Key ingredient's cute little recipe cards for easy printing. Also, there are tons of prizes up for grabs, including one worth $10,000! Please come see HERE. Thank you!

Okay, now it's your turn! What great homemaking tips do you have for us today? Thank you so much for you links and visits and I hope you have a wonderful Homemaker Monday!

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I've been waiting for this moment for nearly 7 months!

My dear friend, BJ, has finally given birth to her precious baby girl, and I got to hold her naked for almost two hours for her newborn photo shoot! She was so easy and only peed twice, once on my blanket and once on her dad, which he deserves. Here's a few of my faves, and if you would like to see the rest, I'll be posting them at Fotografia Colonia soon!


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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Great New Christmas CD!

Hey Guys, one of my best friends in the whole world has a son who has just released his first CD. Below I've copied and pasted her email with all the details and the reasons why the band After Daybreak would love to have a great first week of sales. Thanks so much for your support! :)

From Elaine Boushka... 
"The day we've been waiting for has finally arrived!
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD is available NOW at iTunes, AmazonMP3 & at the Official Online Store.  Or buy a physical copy of the EP at www.brickmanmedia.com/afterdaybreakstore  You can click on this link and it will take you there.  I've already downloaded the album and have been listening to it non-stop.  You won't be disappointed!  The voices of each of the three young men are beautiful and the harmonies they arranged are heavenly.  The three are such great musicians alone.  Together they are unbelievable!

DEBUT ALBUM available NOW worldwide! (click on album cover BELOW for OFFICIAL ONLINE STORE!)

Release Date:U.S. Release: November 9, 2010
Label: Bandhouse Music Group
Debut project from the classical crossover/pop trio: Drew Boushka, Daniel Fritch and David Beck.
.Track Listings
2 ADESTE FIDELES (O Come All Ye Faithful)
4 O HOLY NIGHT (Cantique de Noël)
I can't decide which is my favorite.  But, "Worth" and "Dream On" are in my top three. That's Drew's voice at the beginning of "Worth" in case you can't tell.

Now, this what's really important.  Their next step, career-wise is getting on other labels. As their manager/producer put it: "I have been talking to several folks about licensing our next record (which will be the "Wonderful World" CD expanded to a full CD, but without the Christmas songs) with foreign labels. This is the next step we will be taking career-wise, to start working with labels outside the U.S. They will actually be promoting and marketing AFTER DAYBREAK in foreign territories, and setting up opportunities for career growth, radio and TV opportunities, and eventually, touring.
Our sales numbers are VERY important for these labels...another reason why we MUST have a great first week. "
So, please, don't wait!  Buy the album for Christmas presents-because it's only six songs it's very inexpensive, but is an impressive gift.  The CD costs $8.50 and the download at iTunes is $5.94. Help us get the sales numbers for this first week up to numbers that will convince other labels to pick it up.  Thanks!
Please forward this email to any of your friends who appreciate good music. Thanks."

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Homemaker Monday: Kids Paying Consequences

Welcome to the 108th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: (Today's "YOURS" will be posted soon....)

MINE: So today, I'm going to journal my Saturday, which will include an anecdote about how my kids had to pay consequences.

My day started at about 6:30, as it usually does, because that's what time Baby Hippo awoke. I went to the kitchen where John was already up making breakfast for the twins and 4-year-old boy, which gave me time to make my favorite breakfast of all time, a half peanut-butter and honey sandwich with psyllium husks.

Once I was finished eating, I made the dreaded chore list. Each kid has personal and family chores. The family chores must always be finished first, then the personal chores can be tackled. The personal chores include cleaning their bedrooms, hanging up and folding their laundry and cleaning their bathrooms. Thus, if they stay on top of their personal responsibilities during the week, they won't have much to do on Saturday. And that never happens.

They each have four family chores, which entail deep-cleaning two rooms and their parts of the kitchen and babysitting Baby Hippo for 30 minutes each, thus affording me time to do my work as well. Their family chores include...

The living room
The dining room
The hallways
The entryway
The basement hallways
The basement theater
The basement game room
The basement bathroom
Their monthly kitchen responsibility after breakfast, lunch and dinner

These chores are evenly divided among the four able-bodied children, and while one of them is babysitting, I do my chores, which are laundry, cleaning my room and the 4 four and under's room, John's office and loft, sweeping the kitchen and doing any baking that may need to be done for the day.... and of course, lots of breastfeeding and diaper changing.

Now, I mentioned sweeping the kitchen. As you may remember reading from previous posts, my kitchen is about 600 square feet in area, and it takes me about 15 minutes to sweep it after a meal. I have special sweeping songs that I listen to while I sweep, mostly by Cold Play, and I usually go through three of them before I'm finished. Thus, because I spend about 45 minutes a day, at least, sweeping, it's extremely important to me to have a proper broom. I love a good plastic broom, with clean flexible plastic bristles that can really fling the dirt and food where I need it to go. However, when these bristles get old, they become stiff, and maybe even a little sticky, and make sweeping much less pleasurable.

Recently, all three of my brooms (and I have 3 so we all can sweep without hindrance) began to wax old and I asked John to buy me three more during one of his trips to the states. He gladly did, and I happily swept with my new clean, flexible brooms. However, not a month later, all of the brooms had disappeared. I told the kids that I know that they always leave them in their rooms, so they must be there and they had better start looking or they wouldn't get any computer time that day. They all did, for more than half an hour, but to my dismay, not one broom could be located.

The last thing I wanted to do was to ask John to buy me three more brooms, at the cost of $30 total, after he had just recently bought me a set. However, I couldn't go on sweeping with the one old sticky, stiff broom I had saved from my previous set.

Now normally in a situation like this, I would tell the kids that they would need to earn the money to replace the brooms via working for me or John. Their options are usually being my servant, giving me massages, doing chores, or babysitting. I pay them $5.00 per hour. This time, however, since I was feeling poor, I decided that they were going to have to replace the brooms using outside funding. I just didn't want to pay, regardless of whether I got a massage or not.

So I've told you that we've found the best doughnut recipe ever, right? It's HERE. And I suggested that they make these and sell them around town. I told them that I would be going to the dentist and that they could start on it while I was gone. They were all very angry about this, especially after having had to do their chores in the morning. I was relentless, however, and insisted that they WERE going to pay for the brooms they had lost.

So I went to the dentist and had an interesting experience there. First I must preface this part of the story by telling you that I would rather go to the gynecologist than the dentist. I absolutely loathe dental visits because I had a horrible experience with a dentist as a teenager, and I have been scarred for life. While at my visit on Saturday, I told as much to my dentist, saying it was nothing personal, and he laughed.

My dentist is a handsome man who is about ten years my junior (it's still difficult to get used to the fact that many of my doctors and dentists are now younger than I am) and he began his work on filling two cavities by numbing my entire lower jaw, drilling, filling, shining a blue light and who knows what else. As I lay there listening to him speak Spanish to his assistant, I began to feel relaxed and a little tired, so I closed my eyes. My mind began wandering and I remembered a time when one of my daughters, at the age of five, had fallen asleep for about twenty minutes while our dentist filled a cavity. I couldn't imagine how someone could fall asleep with someone sticking hard, vibrating metal tools in their mouth, but she had snored away until he was finished.

The next thing I knew, I was choking on my own saliva and when I stopped and opened my eyes, my dentist asked, "Did you have a nice nap?" I looked at him in a daze, and after he removed his tools and the two cotton logs from my mouth, I asked if I had really fallen asleep. He confirmed that I had.

Okay, I guess dental visits aren't that bad after all.

When I returned home, the kids had done jack, but I continued to be unrelenting and INSISITED that they WOULD sell baked goods to pay for my brooms. None of them liked the idea of making doughnuts, but they did think they would have success selling other baked goods, so the 15-year-old girl reluctantly made four loaves of white bread and the 10-year-old boy made a quadruple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. He only made one mistake, well no, two. He put 4 tablespoons or baking soda and salt instead of 4 teaspoons. However, I was able to salvage the dough by adding a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla. The cookies were super flat, but they still tasted very good.

When they were finished, they went to the homes of people from our church, told them they were raising money to replace their mom's brooms that they lost, and came back in a matter with about twenty minutes with $30 profit. It was a profitable evening in many ways, one of which was that I don't think they will forget to put the brooms back where they go from now on.

Thanks for listening.

OURS: Okay, it's your turn now! Can't wait to see what your homemaking tip is. Thanks for visiting and linking up and I hope you have a wonderful Homemaker Monday!

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Half Pies


So the other day, my dearest brother-in-law mentioned to one of my kids that he would like to watch a movie in our theater downstairs. I'm not sure if he wanted to watch it alone, but whether he did or not, I invited our whole family to watch it with him and his wife and son.

It seems that one thing the kids LOVE to do is prepare food and eat it downstairs while they are watching a movie. And on this night especially, since we were trying to cram in tons of stuff we needed to do, I was happy to support them. Why not kill two birds with one stone and take dinner downstairs and spend family time together?

Now, my dilemma was what to make. I needed something the kids could just grab with their hands so we wouldn't have to worry about plates and forks and knives. I thought of what movie theaters serve. Nachos wouldn't work because I didn't want cheese all over the carpet. Hot dogs wouldn't work because hot dogs are disgusting. I kept thinking and thinking and finally I received a revelation. I would use the super-easy-to-make bread stick dough, then fill it when mushrooms, cheese and onions, then bake it! I followed some of my pizza-making techniques and these stuffed bread pie things turned our surprisingly delicious! Below is the recipe, and don't forget to check out the nutrition data HERE. Enjoy!

100% Whole Wheat Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Half Pies

<p>A nutritious finger-food your kids will love!</p>

See 100% Whole Wheat Cheese and Mushroom-Stuffed Half Pies on Key Ingredient.

For the Filling:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
20 chopped mushrooms
3 cups of shredding cheese (I used mozarella, but whatever you prefer is fine, too.)

For the bread:
2 1/2 cups warm water
5 teaspoons yeast
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup oil
6 cups whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

Olive oil for brushing
1/4 cup butter for brushing
Salt and garlic powder or granulated garlic for sprinkling


1. To make the bread, dissolve the yeast and sugar in water warm enough that you can barely stand to hold your hand under it when it’s running.

2. When the yeast starts to foam like root beer (after about 5 minutes), add all of the other ingredients, then knead dough in a food processor or by hand for ten minutes.

3. While bread is mixing, saute onions, garlic and mushrooms in butter, then set aside.

4. When bread is finished mixing, divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll out into a 7” to 8” circle. Brush with olive oil to keep the dough from getting soggy.

5. Fill with about 2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture and cheese, then fold the dough over, pressing the edges with a fork to help them stick together.

6. Place the pies on a greased cookie sheet, then let them rise for about half an hour. Brush with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt, then bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes, or until they are lightly browned.

Today on some of my other blogs...
365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time: 100% Whole Wheat Bread Stick Time!l
life in mexico {a picture a day}: {a red pot}

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm giving away another $100 Gift Certificate!

CNSStores.com is one of my favorite web stores to work with because they have thousands and thousands of the coolest things for your home or office at awesome prices. Some of the things you could buy with $100 are extra tall bar stools, food processors, dinnerware, art, rugs, and luxurious bath products. It's super-easy to enter, so come on over to my review blog HERE to see how. Thank you!

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Housecleaning with 8 Kids at Home

So I know I'm always posting my cleaning methods, chore charts, newly revealed housework inspiration and so forth, but that's because things always have a way of changing.

Cleaning house now is different than it was when I was pregnant with Baby Hippo, or exclusively breastfeeding infant twins, or homeschooling 6 kids. Some days it's harder and some days it's easier. Currently, with Baby Hippo still not getting around on his own, he prefers that I hold him constantly throughout the day. Thus, the only time I can really get any serious cleaning done is during his two naps.

This really does not allow me to accomplish what I need to, so I've discovered a way to break up the work throughout the day, and it has been surprisingly effective. Here is what I do...

As you can imagine, laundry is NEVER done at our house, or shall I say, it WAS never done. Things are different now. Every time I walk by the laundry room, I make a commitment to fold, hang up, or put away 30 things. This only takes from 2 to 5 minutes, and I have a little rug with some toys on it on which I sit Baby Hippo to play while I get this done. It feels so good to have finally come up with a system that doesn't completely overwhelm me.

The 4 Four and Under's bedroom...
This was a constant source of frustration for me in the past. Even the 15-year-old girl would stand in the doorway with her arms on her hips and say, "How do they get this room so messy, Mom?" I would throw my hands up in despair and disgustedly shake my head. Now, though, every time I go into their room, I pick up and put away only 5 things. You can't imagine what a change this has made. Their room is almost always clean now and I don't have to feel embarrassed when John goes in to put them to bed at night.

My bedroom...
I don't know about you, but my bedroom has been traditionally known as the catch-all. It's been the place where I throw stuff I just bought from the store, where my suitcases sit unpacked for weeks, and where clutter from other parts of the house is stored until I can think of a place to stuff it. But no more! The new system I use for my bedroom is the same system I use for the 4 Four and Under's room. I simply pick up only 5 items to put away every time I enter into my bedroom. And, if it just so happens that there is absolutely nothing to pick up because I've kept it so clean, which happens like all the time now, then I sometimes even find time to make my bed. See, look...


Looking at this picture, I think the next time I go in my room I will dust the railings on the top of my bed and the fans.... because John bought me a fan duster one time.

Anyways, that's my new system, and I'm sticking to it. Thanks for listening!

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Twin B, Child Prodigy


Now, if I could only get the 10-year-old boy to practice.

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!

Homemaker Monday

Okay, I'm going to have to admit defeat again. I have NOT been able to find the time to finish up my Homemaker Monday post. I'll probably explain tomorrow. However, I know many of you have done yours, so here's Linky Tools. I want you to know how much I appreciate all of you! Last week there were 49 entries! That was the most ever, and it made me so happy. Thanks again and have a wonderful Homemaker Monday!

PSSST! To find great deals on fun stuff to do in your area, go HERE!