Archives for July 2011

Learn the Herbs: Garlic

I am creating a series of herbal fact sheets to aid in learning individual herbs. To learn about garlic, click here to download the PDF fact sheet.

Garlic is a powerhouse of an herb, with so many uses it is hard to know where to start in describing it. It is gentle enough for even young children and yet powerful enough to kill resistant strains of bacteria. I have used garlic in place of antibiotics for both strep throat infections and mastitis.

In fact, I had heard for years that nursing babies enjoy the taste of garlic in their mother’s milk. However, as I was doing research on garlic, I found that there was an actual study done to determine the validity of this claim. The result of the study confirmed that infants nursing habits improved when the mother’s breast milk contained garlic volatiles. That is great news for us mommies that don’t want to have to subject our little ones to antibiotics.

Another property of garlic is its normalizing effect. Garlic is used to lower blood glucose, but not below normal levels as some other herbs can do. Garlic inhibits platelet aggregation, but doesn’t thin the blood.

Garlic really is a great all around herb. It has so many practical uses and very few contraindications. Another benefit is that it is very inexpensive and readily available. This makes it perfect for the beginning herbalist to practice using!

Contributing: Sanka Pup Designs: The Virtuous Woman – Jack of All Trades

My daughter Kendra is in NM on a missions trip this week, so I am guest posting over at her blog, Sanka Pup Designs.  Today’s post: The Virtuous Woman – Jack of All Trades.   I would love for you to stop by.

She would love it if you took a few minutes to read some of her post, like her on Facebook, and subscribe to her email updates. 

The Perfect Mistake

My day today could have been a script for a movie.  A comedy. The plan for today was a Texas Three-Step Tweetup Meetup.  I found out a few days ago that one of my favorite bloggers, KimC from Life in a Shoe, was going to be meeting up with some other mommy bloggers in Austin.  Seeing as we are only 1 1/2 hours from Austin, I thought it providential that we should get to meet KimC. 

As it turned out, she wasn’t able to meet up with us after all.  I was a bit bummed, but totally understand as she has been travelling and had some sick kiddos.  I contemplated staying home myself, but then decided that I would really like to meet some of the other bloggers–Heather from Sprittibee and Jenn from Daze of Adventure.  

So I ventured out with my littles (both big kids are in NM on a missions trip) anxious to see what the Lord had in store for us today.  In my mind, I was assuming I would meet these great ladies and their families and make some great blogging friendships.  I hit the road knowing 2 bits of info–they were meeting up at 11am at a museum and they planned to be there all day.  I don’t know why, but I just assumed that the museum they were meeting at was the Austin Children’s Museum.  I tweeted to confirm this, thought I had confirmation, and drove on to the museum.

I arrived at the museum without any trouble.  I go to pay the $26 admission and the lady saw my military ID in my wallet. “Oh, this month is military appreciation month, so you can get in FREE!”  What a blessing!  Not only was I going to be able to meet up with some great ladies, I was going to get in free!

We walk into the museum and the kids eyes got as wide as silver dollars.  There were kids everywhere running and playing…talk about over-stimulation!  Immediately they were wanting to go and try every activity. 

I made it to the elevator and got a call from one of the ladies asking where I was.  I told her I was at the elevator…Pause…”I’m at the elevator too, but I don’t see you here”…Another Pause…”Are you at the Texas History Museum?”…Nope, wrong museum.

Now for a split second I thought we would just head over to the other museum, after all, we didn’t have to pay to get into this one.  Then I looked down at my 8-year-old, my 6-year-old, and my 2-year-old.  I saw the excitement and anticipation in their eyes, and I know how disappointed they would have been to have to leave all this and go to the Texas. History. Museum.

Today was providential.  It was a day for my kids to have mama all to themselves, no internet, no blog (or other bloggers), just a fun day at the children’s museum!  And what a GREAT day it was!  (Even the TWO blowouts Cooper had didn’t bother me–that’s how GREAT it was!)

There was a table covered in paper, cardboard, egg cartons, boxes, empty yogurt containers, and tape, lots of tape.  They could create anything they wanted.  Ikey saw the scissors and went crazy cutting every paper he could find.

They got to sing in a Mariachi band while Hannah twirled to the music.

As we drove home, the kids couldn’t stop talking about how much fun they had that day.  I hadn’t heard that in such a long time.  What a blessed day!

Wordless Wednesday

A Love That Knows No Barriers

From the moment he was born, Cooper has been different than my other children in so many ways.  He is such a sweet baby and he just melts my heart.  There are times, though, that my heart hurts over Cooper.  Sometimes the reason is very clear, like when he had to wear his casts, or have surgery. 

But then there are other things that I would have never thought of.  For instance, I love my babies’ feet.  I love to lay them in my lap and hold on to their feet and play games.  I love to rub the soft souls against my cheeks and kiss their little toes.   With Cooper I missed this terribly.  His entire leg, from the top of his thigh to the tips of his toes were covered by his casts.

Another thing that has been particularly hard has been not being able to carry him as much as I would like.  His braces make it difficult to set him on my hip, or place him in a baby carrier.  I have to ask siblings to hold him much more than I would like.  And when I do get to hold him, I can’t snuggle him up close very easily.  

My other children all slept in our bed until the next baby arrived.  Cooper doesn’t sleep well with me, nor do I sleep well with him.  If I move and bump him, both feet move and cause his entire body to move.  And his braces poke into my as I sleep.

I was thinking about all these things today, lamenting the fact that I couldn’t show my love to Cooper the way I would like to.  My heart was so heavy, because I love this little boy so much and I just felt like there was a barrier between us that preventing me from loving him the same way I did my other kids.

It was then that the Lord put this verse on my heart.

Romans 5:8
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

There was a barrier between me and God, and that barrier was my sin. I was an enemy to God, and yet, His love for me was so great that He sent His son, Jesus to die for my salvation.

God loves us, not in a fuzzy, feel good kind of way, but rather a deep, unconditional, “come to serve rather than be served” kind of way.

Love is an act of servitude.

I shouldn’t try to love Cooper like I loved on my other kids because he is not my other kids. He has different needs and I should love him by meeting his needs, not my own.

So when I place him in his bassinet each night, I am loving him completely. I am giving him the gift of a good nights rest. He wakes up in the mornings cooing and smiling and happy as can be.

I have never been a schedule type mom, but Cooper thrives on a schedule. By laying down my desire to go with the flow, and keep a schedule for his sake, I am showing him love.

And each day, for one hour, I get to take off his braces and rub his feet, and place them on my cheeks and kiss his little toes. And I get to love him just how he needs to be loved.

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Monday’s Menu Link Up and Featured Recipe: Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pie

As part of my quest to be better organized and more efficient in my home, I want to start planning out my menus each week.  Ideally, I would like to be able to do this for an entire month, but I am just taking baby steps right now.

To get started, I created a master list of all the meals my family likes to eat.  I tried to categorize them by type.  For instance, I have a list of Mexican food, Italian food, chicken dinners, etc.  The categories overlap a bit, but it helps me to break the meals up so that we are not having a week of ground beef dinners every night.

Next, I printed off a menu planning sheet from here.  This sheet allows me to write down what we are having each day, then write down what groceries I need to get for this week.  My plan is to place this on the fridge and keep a running grocery list.  Having everything written out also helps me better utilize leftovers or plan to use one item for 2 meals.  For example, last night I made a chicken and dressing casserole from the leftover cornbread we had the night before.  I was fortunate enough to have my mom get eggs for me because I was out.  However, had I written this down before, I would have known I needed eggs for the upcoming dinner.

Now this all sounds good in theory, but the truth is I have a very hard time sticking to “schedules”.  I know that if I will keep practicing it will become a habit.  I am determined to get this down!

Here’s where you come in.  Will you join me each week in creating a weekly menu?  This will keep me accountable and help me with menu ideas for the week.  Here’s how it will work…

Each Monday I will post a featured recipe for that week along with my menu for the week.  You can link up your menu for the week as well.  Let us encourage each other in good works!

Featured Recipe: Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pot Pie

This is not really going to be a recipe, but rather a “how-to” since I don’t have exact measurements.  I just kinda made this one up with ingredients I had on hand.  It turned out really yummy and the kids loved it, so I thought it would be a good one to share this week (plus I had taken a picture of it and it is always nice to have a picture to go along with a recipe!)

First, I put a whole chicken in the pressure cooker and cooked until tender.  I de-boned and chopped the chicken and saved the broth.

Next, to make the gravy sauce, I took a skillet and put in a couple of tablespoons of butter and flour.  I let the flour brown a bit in the butter, then added in a couple of cups of the chicken broth.  I let this thicken up, then added in a couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese.

I then added in my chicken and a bag of frozen broccoli florets.

Last, I took my store-bought pie crust and lined the baking dish with it.  I poured in the chicken broccoli mixture and covered with the other pie crust.  I baked it at approximately 350 degrees until the crust was golden brown and the sauce was bubbling at the edges.

Menu for Week of July 25-August 1

Monday – spaghetti with meatballs, salad, bread
Tuesday – chicken with Mexican rice, pinto beans, avocado 
Wednesday – chalupas
Thursday – meatloaf, broccoli, mashed potatoes, brown gravy
Friday – pizza, salad
Saturday – ribs, baked potatoes, corn and squash casserole
Sunday – leftovers

Now it’s you turn!

Please make sure that you link to the specific post (your menu) and not your homepage. At the end of your post, please include a link back to this post so that others can join in as well.  Also, the post that you link to must be completely family friendly.

If you don’t have a blog or haven’t written a menu post, share your menu for the week in the comments!

I Vant to Be a Vlogger, ah, ah, ah

When I started this blog, one of my greatest desires was to teach others some of the skills that are lacking in our generation.  Most of the things I have learned, I read about on the internet, or in books.  There were several times that I wished I had an older woman to take me under her wing and teach me the skills she has learned over the years.  It is not always easy to learn from still pictures.

Last week I posted my first vlog, a Lip Balm Tutorial.  I plan on making many more video tutorials that will help others learn new skills.  To be honest, I thought the process would be a simple one.  It turned out to be much more work than I anticipated.  However, we learned so much making this first video. 

These are the steps we took in making our video:

~First, write out a script.  I just wrote a simple outline of the steps we would cover.  I also wrote down important information I didn’t want to forget.  I taped the script to the wall, thinking it would be out of camera shot.  If you look carefully at the video, you can see that I was wrong. 

~Another thing that you might want to do at this stage is to write out a story board.  This is just a simple cartoon type strip showing the progression of the video.  For instance, I started my video talking about making the lip balm, then the screen cuts to a list of the ingredients.  A story board would show this shot so that I don’t forget to put it in.  We didn’t do a story board this time because it was a short and fairly simple video.

~This may be a no brainer, but make sure you have everything your need for your video before you start.  Whether you need props, or tool, or ingredients, set them all out close by so that you don’t have to run around searching in between takes.

~Do a few practice run throughs.  I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep a steady flow of conversation going.  Even after practicing, we still did over 20 takes for our short video!  I am sure we (I) will get better with practice, but it is still a good idea to run through your script before you start filming.

~We don’t have special lighting or anything at this point, but we did practice with different lights turned on or off.  We also took a few shots at different angles to see which we liked the best.  You might have to be a bit creative here, especially without a lot of equipment.  We had to place the tripod on top of three chairs pushed together. 

~Like I said before, we did over 20 takes making our video.  Most of these were mistakes, but it is also good to get a few takes of the same shot so that when you edit, you can use the best of each take.  There were some takes that I had to clip short at the end due to a mistake, then I just edited on another take.

~For editing our video, we used Adobe Premiere Elements.  Tristan got this for Christmas last year, but we hadn’t really used it until now.  There were several things that we wanted to do with the video and couldn’t figure out how to do it.  I found a website that offers classes for all kinds of software at  I have found that Tristan learns so much when he is able to apply what he has learned in a tangible way.  This is one of those times that his learning increase rapidly because he had a reason to learn!

A few things I didn’t anticipate…

~Being nervous.  It was just me and the kids doing the video, but for some reason I had butterflies.  I wanted to make sure that I did everything just right.  And really, I felt a little silly talking into the camera.  After a few takes, I got over my nervousness.

~Being natural.  I had to work really hard on just being myself.  I felt like I was talking like Rachel Ray.  I wonder if she ever feels like she is talking like someone else.  Anyway, I had to keep reminding myself to relax and talk to the camera like I would to a friend that was there in the kitchen with me.

Overall, this was such a great learning experience and a teachable moment, both for myself and the kids.  I pray that these videos would have a purpose and would be a blessing to those of you wanting to learn these skills.

If there are any videos you would like for us to make, let me know and I will see what we can do!

Tutorial: Quilt Binding Part 2

If you missed Tutorial: Quilt Binding Part 1, please take a look at it to learn how to attach the binding to your quilt.

In this lesson, I will cover how to sew the binding to the back of the quilt.    There are several different ways to do this, including machine sewing.  However, I don’t think any of them turn out as nice as hand stitching.  When done correctly, the binding will be continuous and the stitches will hardly show. 

It does take a bit more time and practice, but once you have it mastered you will be so pleased with your handiwork!

Hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt:

When you are finished sewing the binding onto the quilt top, fold binding over the raw edge of the quilt towards the back of the quilt. You will now hand sew the binding to the back of the quilt using a slip stitch.

To begin sewing, I like to start my stitch from the inside of the binding to hide the knot in the thread. Place the needle along the outside edge of the binding. Insert needle along the edging, bring needle out and catching the edge of the binding.

When you reach the corners, fold the binding down and catch the corner edge of the binding, creating a mitered corner.

Continue stitching around the quilt until all the binding has been stitched to the quilt.

insert needle under edge of binding

push needle up through edge of binding

bring needle up through corner of binding

If you would like to learn more about binding a quilt, check out my Quilt Binding Video Tutorial.

Tutorial: Quilt Binding Part 1

When I first started quilting, I would get so excited when I would near the end of making a quilt. Most of the time I just wanted to get finished with it so that I could enjoy my quilt. Needless to say, I didn’t do a very good job of binding my quilt. I had spent time (lots of time) and money on creating a masterpiece, and I would often frame my masterpiece in a cardboard frame (figuratively speaking).

Over the years I have learned how to do a better job of binding my quilts. I have even learned to love the handwork involved. I really believe that the binding is like a good frame, it makes the picture stand over and look even lovelier than it does alone.

If you are having trouble binding your quilts, or perhaps have never bound a quilt, this tutorial is for you. In this tutorial, I walk you through step-by-step binding your quilt.

It takes a little practice to become good at binding a quilt, but once you learn, your quilting will never be the same!

How to Bind a Quilt:

trim edges of quilt

cut strips

join strips

Prepare quilt and binding:

The first thing you will need to do is trim away the excess fabric and batting from the edges of your quilt and make sure it is squared up.

Next, you will need to cut your binding strips. I like to cut mine 2 1/2 inches wide. I measure the perimeter of the quilt and add 12 inches to it for the total length of my binding strip. To create one long continuous strip, take the ends of 2 strips of fabric and lay them perpendicular, right sides together. Sew diagonally as shown in picture. Trim leaving a 1/4 seam allowance. Press open binding strip. Repeat until you reach the desired length of binding strip.

Press entire binding strip in half lengthwise, right sides facing out. 

Attach binding to quilt:

Starting in the middle of one side of the quilt, lay the binding on the top of the quilt, raw edges together.  Leaving a 6 inch tail, begin sewing the binding to the edge of the quilt top leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Continue sewing the binding around all sides of the quilt.  Stop sewing approximately 6 inches before reaching the beginning of the quilt binding.  You will need to join the tails together before you continue to sew.

Mitered Corners:

As you approach each corner, stop sewing 1/4 inch before your reach the end of the side.  Fold the binding strip up, creating a 45 degree fold in the fabric.  Next, lay the fabric down over the 45 degree angle making sure it is held in place under the binding.  Begin sewing again, starting at the top of the corner, over the fold.

stop 1/4 in. from edge

fold binding up

lay binding down

Creating a continuous binding strip:

In order to create a continuous binding strip, first determine the amount of overlap of your two ends of binding. The overlap should be the width of your binding. I learned this technique from Heather Mulder Peterson’s website, where she suggest using a piece of your left over binding as a measuring guide. Once you determine the amount of over, in my case 2 1/2 inches, open the binding up and place the right sides together, perpendicularly, just as you did to sew your binding strips together earlier. Again, sew diagonally and trim excess fabric.

Fold fabric into place and continue sewing binding strip onto the quilt top.

measure overlap

right sides together, sew across diagonal, trim

fold into place, sew to quilt

To learn how to sew the binding to the back of the quilt by hand, please see the next post in the series Tutorial: Quilt Binding Part 2.

You can also watch my Quilt Binding Video Tutorial.

Redeeming the Time

I read a Facebook post that made me cry tonight. It was a simple post from a mother saying happy birthday to her 30 year old daughter, remembering her first homebirth all those years ago. At the end of the short post, she said she missed having her girls as her babies. For some reason, this just brought tears to my eyes.

My oldest daughter will soon (too soon) be an adult. I know how fast time flies by and how quickly they grow up. And yet, so many days I just hurry life along…always waiting for tomorrow to get here and never fully enjoying life today.

It’s easy to do.

The days are hard without a husband coming home each evening. There is a calendar hanging in my bedroom. I don’t know how many times I stare at that calendar wondering when I will get to see him again. I find myself just wishing the days would pass by quickly.

I have a super busy little 2 year old boy. Every day I look forward to naptime, when I might get a break and not have to wonder what part of the house is being destroyed.

I have a new baby that demands my energies at all hours of the day and night. I wait impatiently for him to fall asleep each night so that I can get on the computer and have some “me” time.

It hurts my heart when I think about how many times a day I just wish the day would end. How many precious moments am I missing out on by wishing for tomorrow instead of loving today?

In the Lord’s timing, I will reunite with my husband. That time is not now. The Lord has other plans for “now”.

My 2 year old won’t be 2 forever. I know one day I will look around my clean house and cry tears of remembrance as I miss my 2 year old mess maker.

The baby won’t need me someday. He will grow up and I will get my sleep and all the “me” time I want. And I will miss holding him in my arms for hours a day. I will miss those moments in the middle of the night when wakes needing my love and comfort.

I will miss having my boys as my babies.

Lord, help me to fully enjoy each day you have given me with my precious children. Let me love them in a way that redeems the time you have given us together. Let me take each moment that has been given to us, rejoice and be glad in it!

Psalm 118:24
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

*This post is linked up at