Monday, September 24, 2012

Answering the Question, "What do you do all day?"

I was asked yesterday what I do all day after I said I had made our own laundry detergent. Well, at first when I started to stay at home, I fed my boy nonstop it felt like, cleaned, and tried to keep our daughter busy and out of trouble all the while being sleep deprived. Now it's a bit of a different story.

In a previous blog regarding my update, the reduction of our joint income went down but our quality of life has surprisingly increased tremendously! However, my mind is still going a million miles a minute since quitting my job. So I've been keeping busy analyzing the things we buy. Everyday I'm researching different techniques to do or make from real professionals as well as feeding the family, cleaning, schooling, and running (well that last one is a daily struggle).

In my family everyone is mechanically inclined but since I'm a girl, I never really took interest to it until just recently. Now, I do pride myself in the ability to detect a battery problems a few days in advanced just by listening to the turnover time it takes for a car to start or determining the make and model of a car by either the head lights or tail lights, though some cars have proven to be a little more difficult to identify. That's about it though, until... YouTube! Oh yes! That's right!! I learned how to change my cabin and engine air filters! Being so excited, I thought I'd entertain the idea of changing the oil too but I felt that is best left up to professionals who have the tools and do it daily. So the car research stopped there.

Then, there was the laundry detergent that busted me loose on the idea of making more of the stuff I use on a daily basis. My friend posted on Facebook that she had made hers so then again, watched YouTube and there you have it! A years worth of laundry detergent for $9 and the next batch will be only $1 for another year. Next was the fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, anti-static remedies with aluminum foil, shower cleaner, deodorant and I can't forget I learned how to take apart my dryer to clean out the internal lint trap!

So I've tried to do as much by myself for car maintenance and cleaning supplies. Next I turned my attention to food!! Who doesn't like bread?? If you said "Me!", skip to the end... I, for one, love bread! However, in my recent research I thought it would be really cool for my daughter and I to make our own sourbread starter. It was quite similar to growing dendritic cells, a cancer cell line or cloned T cells that I was used to in the lab but I knew it would taste better.

I mixed equal parts of flour and water together covering it with a lid with holes and sat it on the island in our kitchen hoping the right yeast would drop in and take over. After a few feedings, I started to see bubbles like yeast was growing!! My daughter and I were so excited!!! We came back the next day to feed again and an ugly blue mold took over!! We had to toss it out. You can't make good bread with blue mold... Gross. Unfortunately, that was a failed attempt but I'm still researching it and will try again.

Once I have that down it will be deer season and what better way to stock up on meat than going hunting and learning about deer anatomy in the process. Ok... Ok... I might not be able to because my brothers live far away and I don't have anyone I trust enough to go out there with me. It's a good thought though and it's a leaner meat than the cow. Just sayin'...

LlUntil next time,
Kindest blogging wishes!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sugar, Honey, or Molasses: The Sticky Truth

Do you prefer sugar or honey? Maybe agave nectar perhaps? Well why not molasses? This line of thought came to me when I was making miniature cup-cakes (not to be confused with cupcakes) for the youth group at our church. Cup-cakes are small cakes that are mixed in a coffee cup and microwaved. When I was making them and adding sugar I remembered one in the group has type II diabetes. This meant white refined sugar was a no no. So I remembered I had agave nectar to use and made our buddy his own personal cake. My thought ended there.

A couple of days later, me and my daughter made peanut butter play dough. I had just enough honey to use for the recipe and then it was gone. Beside it in the pantry was a barely used bottle of molasses. I bought it during the Christmas season to make my old coworker ginger bread men cookies with raisin buttons (which reminds me, I need to perfect this recipe before Christmas gets here). I wondered if it was a good substitute for honey... So what did I do?? You guessed it, I researched it.

Surprisingly, I found that molasses is profoundly more nutritious than sugar, honey, and in most cases even maple syrup! For example, in a 1/2 cup of molasses vs 1/2 cup honey:
56% vitamin B6 vs. 2%;
35% calcium vs. 1%;
44% iron vs. 4%;
102% magnesium vs. 1%;
70% potassium 3%;
41% copper vs. 3%;
129% manganese vs. 7%;
43% selenium vs. 2%;
22.4 mg choline vs. 3.7mg

I know, I know... 1/2 cup (or 8 T) of molasses is a bit much but it gives a good contrast between the sweeteners. As seen in the link below where I found this data, maple syrup has more zinc and manganese than molasses. Sugar and agave nectar only have trace amounts if any nutrients.

Do we then totally substitute molasses for everything? No. A major benefit of agave nectar is it contains cancer fighting saponins and inulin. Using honey grown locally can stimulate the immune system to adjust to the local allergens. Sugar on the other hand... Simply put, it just tastes good. So moderation and variety is key as they all have something appealing. However, for our morning waffles or pancakes, molasses is the new favorite goo for all in my house. Me for the nutrients, my husband and daughter for its sweet taste, my dog for an accidental treat (as my daughter would say) and well, the boy is too young for such things.


Until next time,
Kindest blogging wishes!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Update: 4 Month Post Stay-at-Home Mom

So it's been 6 months since my little man made it into the world, 5 months since we moved to the burbs, and nearly 4 months since I parted ways with my research position. I will say it has definitely been different.

I never knew how much of a fast paced life we lived in the city. When we went to the grocery store on the weekend or at night it was always packed. It was an event. It would take us 15-30 minutes to get there, an hour shopping to make sure we didn't forget something on the list, 15-30 minutes back, and then unloading the car. Now it takes me 30 minutes start to finish no matter what time of day.

Staying at home has really lessened the amount of stress our family is under. When I stop to think about it, it baffles me. We spent more on groceries because of convenience, paid for day care, multiple lunch dates out with friends, spent more on gas, had very little time with our toddler let alone for each other, colds once contracted lingered for weeks!! At times I'm still anticipating some fast-paced scenario and get worked up over nothing. Adjusting, I'm told, takes time.

Half a year has gone by and my boy has two teeth, partly crawling and going from tummy to sitting up all by himself!! He loves my butternut squash puree, likes carrots - sometimes, and hates peaches. It has really been such a blessing to see first hand!

Him and my daughter battled their first cold. For both, it lasted 3-4 days. No complication! Now I had previously wrote about the ear infections but the saline mists 2-8 times a day, I feel, has reduced the potential for ear infections and has made the duration very short!! That makes me happy!

For myself, staying at home is very different then what I was doing. When I was designing experiments, I am now teaching my girl as well as being an authority figure 24/7. When I was wearing business casual and pointy-toed flats, I now wear whatever I know spit-up, puréed carrots, or butternut squash will come out of in the wash. When I used to get a paycheck, I now get to witness things that are priceless!

Even though there have been many difficult times adjusting to staying at home, it's truly amazing that we lost my income but our quality of life has gone up tremendously!

Until next time,
Kindest blogging wishes!!!